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West Virginia Personal Injury Law Blog

Auto-pedestrian crash may result in wrongful death suit

Many West Virginia residents include walking as part of their regular routine, whether for health purposes or as a method of transportation. Certainly, anyone participating in this type of activity understands the risks involved, especially when walking routes include urban areas where pedestrians often must share space with various types of motorized vehicles. Even pedestrians who follow all the rules sometimes encounter drivers guilty of negligent and/or reckless behavior. Unfortunately, a Morgantown woman was killed recently when she was hit by a vehicle as she was walking, and if the driver is found responsible, her family may consider suing him or her for wrongful death.

The incident happened early on a Sunday evening on Grafton Rd. in Morgantown. According to the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department, a vehicle struck a pedestrian in front of Whitetail Crossing. The pedestrian was later identified by police as a 37-year-old woman.

Motor vehicle accidents: West Virginia driver charged with DUI

Most people understand the general safety precautions one should take before and during the operation of any motor vehicle. In particular, virtually everyone has heard frequent warnings about the potential for motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, some drivers continue to ignore the warnings and get behind the wheel after imbibing. Often, this type of irresponsible behavior ends badly, with one or more people seriously injured or killed. Such was the case in a 2018 crash that ended with a fatality and the West Virginia man responsible serving prison time for several DUI-related charges.

Reportedly, the crash occurred in southern Berkeley County late in 2018 when the driver lost control on a curve and struck two trees. A 43-year-old man who was a passenger in the vehicle died at the scene. Following the incident, the driver faced several charges. According to the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney, he pleaded guilty to DUI resulting in death and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, among other charges.

Head-on motor vehicle accidents often end in tragedy

Most West Virginia residents know that many factors may lead to a driver traveling in the opposite lane of traffic: reckless behavior, distractions, road obstacles, etc. Even a driver experiencing an unexpected medical crisis can cause him or her to suddenly be facing oncoming vehicles. Whether the driver is at fault or not, tragic motor vehicle accidents very often result from such circumstances. This is certainly what happened in a recent incident in which two people were killed.

The fatal crash happened on Interstate 79 in Lewis County very early on a recent Sunday morning. Reportedly, local authorities responded to a call about a vehicle traveling in the wrong lane, then later received a call about a collision. According to witnesses, a vehicle was traveling north in the southbound lanes before it crashed into a southbound vehicle.

Motor vehicle accidents: 2 dead following crash in West Virginia

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has officially confirmed the deaths of two women in a tragic single-vehicle accident in Martinsburg the morning of Dec. 25. The accident reportedly happened on Interstate 81 in West Virginia. The families of both deceased parties have been notified, but their identities are still being withheld pending the autopsy report. As with many motor vehicle accidents, it may be some time before authorities determine its cause. 

According to the limited information available in the report, it appears the vehicle was traveling northbound on I-81 around 4 a.m. when the accident happened. It appears the vehicle left the highway and crashed into a pole near exit 14, causing the vehicle to catch fire. By the time authorities arrived, the vehicle was engulfed in flames, and both occupants, two women, were already deceased. 

When should a family pursue a wrongful death claim?

The loss of a loved one can be devastating, and it can leave a West Virginia family with unexpected expenses and financial losses. If the death of a family member was the result of the reckless or negligent actions of another party, it is possible those left behind could have grounds to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. There are certain circumstances that could justify this course of action, allowing family to secure damages and move forward.

By itself, an unexpected fatality is not necessarily grounds for a civil claim. There are certain elements that make up a wrongful death claim, and the plaintiffs must prove the liable party is responsible for the actions or circumstances that led to a person's death. Some of the factors that must be present for this type of claim include:

  • Proof of a death
  • Evidence the death was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party
  • Proof of monetary suffering as a result of the death
  • Appointment of one person to act as representative of the estate

Oh Deer! Hunting and personal injury

Especially during the autumn and winter months, hunting is a popular sport in West Virginia. Hunters must obtain a license and follow myriad of rules that define things like which weapons are acceptable for hunting, the seasons for each species, bag limits, locations and other important regulations. Even experienced hunters can be injured in the woods, and a recent incident provides a sobering reminder that personal injury is a realistic scenario. 

According to reports, a man was attempting to unload his firearm. The gun went off, striking a fellow hunter in the hip. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. He is expected to survive, but it is still unknown what permanent or long-term suffering he will have to contend with as a result of the gunshot wound. 

Coal mine accidents remembered

West Virginia is full of hard-working coal miners, and some of them can trace their family's history in the industry back for over a hundred years. Generations of Mountaineers have spent countless hours underground, facing dangerous conditions and long-term health problems to make a living and provide for their families. Sometimes, coal mine accidents are so terrible that the stories are told for centuries. 

In 1907, an explosion rocked a West Virginia coal mine. The miners inside had no warning, and nearly 400 were killed. Others suffered severe burns, but they were unable to reach the safety of the surface because a collapse blocked all escape routes and they ran out of oxygen trying to dig out. The total death toll is still unknown. 

Winter weather and motor vehicle accidents

The holiday season is in full swing, and West Virginia residents may find themselves running here and there to complete last minute preparations. Even if drivers take extra care, the winter months historically carry a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents. Extended hours of darkness and inclement weather may be contributing factors. 

When people think of winter weather, blustery snowfall may come to mind. While snow is certainly a weather condition that can make driving difficult, it is certainly not the only seasonal hazard a driver will face. Other conditions, like ice or even rain, can make the road surface slick and may be more difficult for a driver to negotiate. 

Coal mine accidents still adding up as year draws to close

As the majority of Americans took a pause to gather and focus their thoughts on all there was to be thankful for, one family and the small West Virginia community where they live was given cause to mourn. Coal mine accidents claim lives each year, and 2020 has been no exception. With six deaths nationwide already recorded for the year, the death of a 20-year-old man brings the total to seven as December arrives. 

Other than a brief statement by the governor of West Virginia, in which he expressed his condolences for the friends and family of the dead miner, little information about the incident has been released to the public. This is not unusual, as mining companies often try to keep the industry's dangers out of the public eye. OSHA will be conducting an investigation into the death, as is standard in such cases. 

Errors linked to blasting in coal mine accidents

Workers in the mining industry in West Virginia risk their lives with every shift they work. Blasting-related coal mine accidents are preventable but continue to happen. The highly explosive methane gas trapped in between the coal layers could cause catastrophic coal dust explosions. Improper use of explosives, or mechanical errors like malfunctioning or improper use of mining tools, has claimed many mineworkers' deaths.

Workers must stand a safe distance away from the blast to avoid being struck by fly-rocks, which have caused many fatalities in the past. Improper planning of the explosion could also cause fly-rocks thrown farther than anticipated. Premature explosions can cause other dangerous circumstances. These are typically due to using degenerated explosives, faulty fuses, accidental percussion or plain carelessness.

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