Archive for the ‘Accident Attorney’ Category

New Developments in Brain Injury Diagnostics Could Help West Virginia Victims

Jan 2015

Brain injuries are far too common in West Virginia and throughout the United States. Each year, around 50,000 people in the country die because of a traumatic brain injury. Another 235,000 people are admitted to the hospital to receive treatment for damage to the brain.  Among individuals 35 and under, traumatic brain injury is the top cause of death.

Traumatic brain injuries frequently occur due to car crashes; sporting accidents; slip and falls and violence.  Many TBIs need to be promptly treated in order to prevent permanent and serious damage from occurring to the brain. Even milder traumatic brain injuries like a concussion can have an impact on your health that lasts for weeks. A personal injury lawyer knows that traumatic brain injuries also have a long-term adverse impact on your health because they can make you more likely to develop dementia in the future.

Treatments for brain injuries are limited because these injuries can be hard to detect, hard to diagnose and hard to monitor. A lack of a classification system to quantify brain injuries has also made it difficult for medical professionals to run clinical trials to advance brain injury treatment.  Now, however, Forbes reports that a new study could be an important step forward.

Eye Tracking Technology Could Help Brain Injury Patients

Forbes reported on a study that was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The study tested the ability of eye tracking to detect brain injuries. Eye tracking technology was developed at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

There were 169 patients included in the study, including 157 people who were neurologically normal and 12 people who had sustained damage to the brain. The patients with the damage to the brain had either injury to parts of the brain affecting the optical nerves or they had swelling in the brain that was near to these nerves.

All of the study participants were asked to watch television videos or music videos. Their eye movements were tracked as they watched. The purpose was to detect the ratio of horizontal and vertical movements (moving the eyes up-and-down versus moving the eyes side-to-side).

In the neurologically normal patients, the ratio was very close to 1:1. In the patients who had problems with the nerves in the brain, on the other hand, these ratios were abnormal. When the brain swelling was surgically corrected, however, the ratios returned to the standard 1:1.  The extent of the abnormality in patients with neurological problems varied depending upon the extent of the brain injury and the location of the brain injury.

Because this approach can be used by physicians to identify brain injuries and monitor improvements, there is hope that it will be a positive step forward in helping brain injury patients. One day, first responders could potentially use this eye tracking technology to determine if people who suffered accidents sustained brain injuries. Doctors could also use it to monitor a patient’s progress over time.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation or visit

Drowsy Driving a Serious Risk for West Virginia Collisions

Aug 2014

Driving while you are fatigued can result in significant risk. A driver who has not gotten enough sleep may have delayed reaction times, impaired judgments and reduced cognitive function. The limitations faced by an impaired driver are similar to those faced by an intoxicated motorist.

Unfortunately, despite the dangers, most adults are not getting enough sleep and many are driving while fatigued. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help victims of motor-vehicle collisions.

Drowsy Driving Accident Dangers

Psych Central reports that an adult will generally require between seven and eight hours of sleep in order to get enough rest. An adult who gets less than this amount of sleep will start to build up a “sleep debt,” that has to be paid. The adult may experience health effects from the lack of sleep and may start to nod off or become extremely drowsy during the course of the day.

Unfortunately, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll and found that more than half of adults are getting less sleep than they should. Just 21.48 percent of adults responding to the survey said that they got between seven hours and eight hours of sleep. By contrast, 29 percent of survey respondents got less than six hours of sleep and 41.31 percent got between six and seven hours of sleep. Finally, 8.21 percent got eight hours or more of sleep. It should come as no surprise, then, that the data also shows that 1/3 of people admitted to dozing off behind the wheel in the past year and 60 percent of drivers admitted to fatigued driving in the prior 12 months.

The consequences of this can be seen on U.S. roads. A recent survey of drivers conducted by found that about half of motorists drove their cars even when it was not safe to do so. Of these motorists, 68 percent drove when they were drowsy. This was the number one problem cited by people who said that they operated a car despite concerns about safety.

People were driving drowsy despite the fact that Cheat Sheet reveals that 60 percent of survey respondents said they think drowsy driving should be illegal. Drowsy driving is not criminalized in most states. Only New Jersey and Arkansas deal directly with the offense; New Jersey classifies drowsy driving as reckless driving and Arkansas law says drivers can be charged with negligent homicide if they kill someone while fatigued.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that a motorist who is fatigued behind the wheel is more likely to become involved in a road departure crash, a head-on accident or a rear-end crash. Drowsy driving accidents are taking a major toll on motorists. The National Sleep Foundation has reported that accidents caused by fatigued drivers cause 1,500 annual fatalities and 71,000 injuries each year. The costs of drowsy driving accidents exceed $12.5 billion annually.

Drivers need to understand these risks and make better choices when it comes to prioritizing sleep and avoiding fatigued driving.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation.

West Virginia Trucking Accident Risks Little Impacted by Federal Efforts

Apr 2014

A lawsuit has been filed against a trucking company after a family was involved in a collision with an employee driving a logging truck. The West Virginia Record indicates that the lawsuit was filed in February and arose from an accident on Route 193 in which the driver of the logging truck reportedly failed to stop his vehicle.

This case is one of many filed each year by victims of truck accidents who take legal action against trucking companies. When drivers are negligent, companies are often to blame because a company fails to enforce safety rules or because it is liable for careless acts of employees. A West Virginia truck accident lawyer can represent victims and help them to pursue claims against the appropriate defendants for losses.

Since trucking companies can have so much control over whether their employees behave safely, it is important to identify companies that violate safety rules or fail to comply with regulations in ways that could lead to collisions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) aims to identify high-risk trucking carriers in order to better enforce the standards it sets for long-haul and interstate trucking companies. Unfortunately, FMCSA efforts are not always successful.

FMCSA Faces Intense Criticism of Truck Safety Review Methods

The FMCSA adopted a new method of trying to identify high-risk trucking companies whose past violations meant the carrier was more likely to have trucks involved in accidents. The new method, Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), was intended to replace the old system that had not worked very well.

Under the old system, an onsite compliance review could take between three and four days to determine if carriers were living up to safety responsibilities. Just a small percentage of active carriers were ever investigated by the FMCSA and the FMCSA’s SafeStat system for measuring safety performance wasn’t very accurate at focusing on behaviors that were likely to increase the risk of collisions.

Unfortunately, CSA may not do a whole lot better. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has raised some harsh criticisms of the FMCSA’s efforts and the Department of Transportation (DOT) has echoed many of these concerns and raised additional issues.

The biggest problems the GAO identified were a lack of data and a lack of proof that the safety violations that CSA focuses on were actually linked to an added collision risk. CSA aims to use a scoring system to identify trucking companies that have violated regulations and thus are at increased risk of a collision. Unfortunately, FMCSA only really has safety records for 200,000 active carriers out of more than 525,000.  Further, regulations FMCSA looked at weren’t violated often enough to make a reliable assessment of whether the carrier was high risk.

The DOT added to these concerns the fact that 40 states are still awaiting the technology from the FMCSA that would allow participation in CSA enforcement efforts.  This obviously makes the system even less effective than it could otherwise be, despite FMCSA’s many other shortcomings.

Contact a West Virginia accident attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a free consultation.

West Virginia Traffic Accidents & The Risks of Summer Distractions

May 2013

According to a new NHTSA study, when a driver is engaged in visual-manual activities, such as using a cell phone or inserting a CD into the CD player, the chance of being involved in an accident increases threefold. Visual-manual activities put the driver of a vehicle at greatest risk, and include anything that takes the driver’s hand off the wheel or eyes off the road.

Our West Virginia car accident attorneys know that text messaging and using a handheld cell phone is illegal in West Virginia. These laws are important in protecting drivers since even a few seconds of distraction can lead to disastrous consequences. Now, however, there are some new guidelines that are intended to improve safety by addressing in-car distractions that aren’t illegal but that still increase the car accident risk.

US DOT Guidelines to Reduce Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of distracted driving accidents. These guidelines are directed toward car manufacturers and aim to limit distractions by making changes in the automobile’s electronic devices, such as the navigation system, entertainment and communications systems.

The guidelines are meant to reduce the amount of time a driver takes his eyes off the road to two seconds or less. The new guidelines address the design of various in-car systems as well as recommending that certain operations are disabled while driving.

NHTSA issued the guidelines after studying how people use passenger cars, so the new guidelines will apply only to light vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less.  The design guidelines were based on the principles that:

  • The driver’s eyes should be focused on the road ahead.
  • The driver should be able to perform secondary tasks in the car without having to take both hands off of the steering wheel.
  • The driver should control interactions or tasks, not the system or device.
  • All displays should be easy for drivers to see.

NHTSA also uses a two-test system to determine the impact of performing a task while driving. NHTSA considers the time that it takes to complete the task as well as the level of interference the task creates with the driver’s ability to pay attention to the road.

After evaluating these criteria, NHTSA either recommends design changes to cut the task time down and make the task easier or recommends that certain in-vehicle devices are designed so the driver is not able to do the task while driving. For example, the guidelines recommend that manual text messaging, video-based entertainment and displays of text messages and social media content are disabled while the car is operational and while the driver is driving.

The new NHTSA guidelines are voluntary so NHTSA will not be monitoring car manufacturers to ensure that they comply with the new recommendations. However, if carmakers do comply, then the simple changes made to in-car controls to follow the guidelines could save lives by reducing the number of distracted driving accidents significantly.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office. Call us today at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Bicycle Safety Month Aims to Prevent Accidents

May 2013

According to the Detroit Free Press, West Virginia ranks 45th out of 50 states when it comes to being bike friendly. Obviously, with these statistics, the state has a long way to go in improving conditions for bicycle riders. This includes not just adding more bike paths and more bike friendly areas, but also making sure that drivers are educated about how to keep bike riders safe on the roads.

While bike safety should always be a priority, the month of May is dedicated to helping to make bike riders safer. Our West Virginia accident attorneys know that the number of bicycle accidents increases in the summer months as the weather gets warmer and as kids are out of school and doing outdoor activities. As the warm weather starts to arrive, Bicycle Safety Month comes at a perfect time to remind you to make safe biking decisions and to keep your kids safe while riding.

Bicycle Safety Month Tips

While everyone is at risk from a bicycle accident, kids are especially likely to be involved in a crash over the summer months. Kids offers a number of different tips for helping to ensure that the risk of injury is minimized for kids riding bikes. Some of the tips include:

  • Ensuring kids have a helmet on. Since 1996, West Virginia state law has required children younger than 15 years old to wear helmets while bicycling on public roads, public bicycle pathways or other public rights-of-way. Helmet use is important as a study of bike accidents from 2008 to 2010 revealed that 91.6 percent of kids in a bicycle crash had no helmet on at the time. Those without helmets had twice the risk of concussion and were more likely to be admitted to an emergency room. Further, all bike accident deaths that occurred over this time involved kids without helmets.
  • Restricting where kids can ride. A child should only bicycle on sidewalks and paths until the age of 10 and should not be allowed to cycle with traffic until he is a competent cyclist and has good traffic skills and judgment.
  • Using caution for night riding. If cycling after dark or low visibility conditions, the bike should have reflectors and a light and the cyclist’s clothes should have reflective materials.
  • Properly maintaining the bicycle. Bikes should be checked at least once a year to ensure they are in good working order. The tires should be checked before each ride. The bike should also be appropriately sized, with one inch of clearance between the rider and top bar while the rider is standing flat-footed over the bicycle.
  • Using traffic hand signals. When making a left turn, the left arm should be extended straight out to the side.  When making a right turn, the left arm should be bent in an upward motion. The left arm should be extended downward to stop.

By following these tips, hopefully kids and adults can both be safer when it comes to biking this summer season. Bike Safety Month focuses on education and awareness and everyone in West Virginia should pay attention to safety tips as part of efforts to help improve West Virginia’s rating as a bike friendly state.

If you or a family member has been injured in a bicycle accident in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office. Call us today at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Frequent Accidents Raise Concerns about Dangerous Curve

Mar 2013

At the end of February, WCHS reported on an accident on the Interstate 64 curve coming into Charleston. According to WCHS TV, traffic was tied up for hours when a logging truck flipped over and lost its load while going around the curve. 

Our West Virginia accident attorneys know that this recent accident on the curved road is not the first to occur in the same location. Motorists have complained in the past that the area is dangerous, and a spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Transportation told WCHS TV that a lot of accidents occur on that stretch of road.

Dangerous Roads Raise Questions About Solutions

According to WCHS TV, the spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Transportation indicates that many of the accidents that occur at the dangerous curve happen as a direct result of speeding drivers. Excessive speed around a curve can significantly boost the chances of a driver losing control, especially when the driver is operating a top-heavy vehicle such as a truck or an SUV.

Because of a belief that excessive speed is the cause of crashes, the West Virginia DOT likely will not put more signs up nor make more changes to the area. The DOT spokesperson told WCHS TV that there are already numerous signs on both the eastbound and westbound roads. The signs have a tilted truck symbol and have large arrows going in both directors to let drivers know they are entering into the curve.

When asked if the DOT would consider additional signage, including an Amber Alert-type warning sign, the DOT representative indicated a belief that no amount of signs would make a difference in cutting the number of accidents. He asserted that ultimately drivers need to take responsibility for slowing down, especially when they have been warned about the curve.

Responsibility of Government Agencies to Make the Roads Safe

When an accident happens and there is a potential problem with the road that may have contributed to the car wreck, it is important to find out why the crash occurred and what can be done to stop any future accidents. The DOT spokesperson said there is often an active investigation after an accident to evaluate whether there are ways to make the roads safer.

Certain roads may also be designated as targeted enforcement areas, which means law enforcement steps up efforts to enforce driver safety laws in those areas.

Government agencies such as the DOT have an obligation to take the steps of investigating accidents and correcting any major problems in street design to reduce obvious risks faced by motorists on the road. While the government agencies responsible for road design and maintenance do have some limited protections against liability, the protections are not absolute. Thus, those in charge of road maintenance must ensure they do their jobs to keep people safe and avoid being negligent in a way that could make them responsible for auto accidents caused by bad road design.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office. Call us today at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Are West Virginia Drivers Falling Asleep at the Wheel?

Feb 2013

Car accidents are a top cause of death in the United States, and there are a lot of reasons for this unfortunate statistic. Most people are aware, for example, that drunk drivers on the road pose a menace to the safety of all drivers. However, studies show some other drivers are just as dangerous as intoxicated drivers. These drivers are people who are too tired to think clearly and act quickly and who, in many cases, are literally falling asleep at the wheel.

Our West Virginia accident attorneys have recently taken a close look at a new study that was designed to reveal how many drowsy drivers are on the roads throughout the United States. The study contains some important details on the dangers of drowsy driving that everyone in West Virginia needs to be aware of.

Drivers are Dozing Off  Throughout the U.S.

The recent study on drowsy driving was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With more than 147,000 people surveyed, the study was the largest ever performed on the subject of drowsy driving.  It was conducted via the telephone and people in 19 states in the U.S. received telephone calls, as well as people in Washington, D.C.

The questions asked via the telephone survey requested that respondents share details about their sleeping habits, about their work schedules, and about their behavior when they were driving. One of the key questions asked in the study was whether the responding driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel any time during the past 30 days. Falling asleep was defined as nodding off or closing the eyes even for a few seconds.

The study results were surprising and upsetting, especially in light of the fact that many drivers may fall asleep for just a split second and are not even aware of it. Despite the fact that the numbers may have been underreported, far too many people said they had dozed off in the 30 days before answering the phone survey. For example:

  • Of all drivers surveyed, 4.2 percent said that they had fallen asleep.
  • Of all male drivers surveyed, 5.3 percent said they had fallen asleep.
  • Of all female drivers surveyed, 3.2 percent said they had fallen asleep.
  • For drivers ages 18-44, 4.9 percent said they had fallen asleep.
  • For drivers over 65, 1.7 percent said they had fallen asleep.
  • For drivers who were retired, only 1 percent said they had fallen asleep.

The data revealed that sleep habits played a big role in whether a driver had dozed off or not, with those who snored or who got less than 6 hours of sleep per night more likely to admit to drowsy driving. Educational attainment, on the other hand, was not a factor that had an impact on dozing off.

Unfortunately, as these statistics show, there are lots of drowsy drivers out there — including right here in West Virginia. These drivers put themselves and everyone else in a position where the chances of a crash are much higher.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in West Virginia, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office at 1-800-HURTLINE.

Use Caution if Vehicle Breaks Down During Holiday Travel

Two West Virginia highway workers were struck in separate accidents and suffered severe injuries as they cleared debris left by Hurricane Sandy earlier this month.

This has prompted state transportation officials to issue words of warning to all those on the roadways: Watch out for Workers.

Additionally, our West Virginia car accident lawyers would add another warning: Watch out for stranded motorists, particularly as you head out for lengthier trips over the holiday.

The fact is, more people may find their vehicles disabled on the roadway because more people are going to be on the roads. This is particularly important to remember in West Virginia because of our winding highways, long tunnels and wintry weather conditions, which create not only snow and ice, but the potential for power outages. All this creates a heightened risk for serious injuries – or worse – when motorists who are stranded with broken down cars.

Throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, the National Safety Council estimates that approximately 450 people will die in traffic crashes throughout the country. We don’t know how many of those will be in West Virginia, but we do know that in addition to the residents who live here, our highways see a lot of action from interstate travelers from across the country, traveling to and from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland. These are individuals who may not be as familiar with the roads as residents and who are often trying to organize long trips that sometimes stretch into nighttime.

For these individuals, make sure that both you and your vehicle are fueled up: this means plenty of sleep, coffee (if you drink it) and a full tank (for the car).

Other things to do in preparation for a long trip to avoid increasing your risk of a crash or breakdown:

  • Know the route you plan to take before you leave. Know where you’re going. Tell someone else about your plans, and work it out to call or text that person when you arrive.
  • Apprise yourself of an adverse weather conditions on the road ahead that could make travel tougher.
  • Be alert of the construction areas and any other hazards that may be presented along the way.
  • Minimize the number of distractions. Limit your conversations with other passengers, keep the music volume to a moderate level and keep your cell phone tucked away.
  • Always wear your seat belt and make sure children and infants are secured properly.

If you do break down or are about to break down, here are some actions AAA recommends you take immediately:

  • Figure out where you are. If you realize you are soon going to be forced to pull over, make a quick note of your general location. Specifically, where the nearest major exit or cross street is.
  • If possible, find a well-lit spot. If it’s at all possible to get to a gas station or some other business or rest area, do that. Otherwise, if you’re on a highway, get off to the far right shoulder, as far as you possibly can while remaining on level ground. If you’re on the interstate or some other multiple-lane highway, you may also pull off to the left shoulder, but again, make sure you are as far away from traffic as possible.
  • If you get out of the car, do so carefully and watch for oncoming traffic, particularly if it’s at night or in bad weather. Don’t ever stand behind or directly in front of your vehicle. Oncoming cars won’t be able to see you.
  • Alert other motorists with either emergency flashers, by raising the vehicle’s hood or by putting warning flares behind the vehicle to direct traffic away.
  • Call for help. If your cell phone does not work, you may need to wait for a good Samaritan, but if they stop, communicate with them only through a cracked window.
  • Stay in your vehicle.

Remember to stay alert, and drive safely.

If you’ve been in a car accident in West Virginia Ohio, or Pennsylvania, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office. Call us today at 1-800-HURTLINE.