Archive for the ‘auto accident lawyer’ Category

West Virginia Drivers Risk Neck Injuries in Rear-End Crashes

Feb 2015

West Virginia motorists, like all drivers throughout the United States, could become involved in a rear-end accident at any time. In fact, a personal injury lawyer knows that a rear-end crash occurs once every 17 seconds on U.S. roadways. When rear-end accidents occur, drivers risk many different injury types including facial injuries and broken bones. However, one of the most common injuries to occur after a rear-end accident is whiplash.455681155

Whiplash can be debilitating and there is no clear cure to this condition. As a result, prevention of whiplash is very important. The best way to prevent whiplash is to avoid a rear-end crash, but you cannot control who is behind your vehicle and what they do. This means you need to make sure your car is as safe as possible so you have a reduced chance of serious injury when a rear-end accident happens.

Preventing Whiplash in Rear-End Accidents

According to Consumer Reports, many vehicles that were made before 2009 do not have adequate protections for whiplash.

Whiplash can be prevented by using an effective head restraint system. However, in 2004 and 2005, tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that almost half of all front head restraints in vehicles received a rating of “Poor.” Only 12 percent of head restraint systems in vehicles of these model years received a rating of “Good.”

To address this problem, new federal standards were set in 2005 imposing minimum height restrictions for the restraints and setting limits on the amount of distance allowed between a person’s head and the front restraint. The new regulations phased in over several years and by 2009, all vehicles were required to have the new head restraint systems. This made a big difference and IIHS tests of 2014 vehicles showed that 95 percent of cars received a “Good” rating for their head restraints.

Because safety technologies have advanced a lot in recent years (and not just when it comes to whiplash prevention), those with older vehicles may wish to consider an upgrade to a car with more advanced safety technologies.

Any driver, however, can take some steps to try to prevent whiplash in whatever vehicle he happens to be in. For example, most head restraints are adjustable so you need to make sure that they are positioned properly. The top of the restraint should be ideally at the top of your head, but when this is not possible, it needs to reach at least up to the top of your ears. The restraint should also be no more than four inches from the back of your head.

Wearing a seat belt and sitting upright in your car can also reduce the chances of whiplash occurring. And, if you are in your car and see a rear vehicle coming towards you, be sure to lean back and press your head against the restraint while looking forward.

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

Teaching West Virginia Kids to Avoid Winter Auto Accidents

Dec 2014

Driving can give young teens a sense of independence and can take the pressure off of parents to chauffeur their kids to school and extracurricular activities. While many young people in West Virginia  get their driver’s license as soon as they are legally allowed to do so, parents may be nervous about the day when their son or daughter gets behind the wheel.

Young people who are inexperienced at driving are at greater risk than other motorists of becoming involved in a collision. In fact, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows that a new teen driver has 10 times the chances of becoming involved in a car accident during his first year of driving a compared with someone who has had a license for a longer period of time. Drive Steady indicates that the most dangerous time of all for a teen driver is during the first six months of having a new driver’s license.

Young people are at great risk of collisions all the time when driving, which helps to explain why collisions are a leading cause of death for teens. However, it is especially risky when teens are behind the wheel during their first winter of driving. They may be unable to respond appropriately to bad weather conditions like snow on the roads; icy roads and snow falling. Parents need to help their kids prepare for these adverse weather conditions in order to reduce the chance of a serious or deadly car crash from occurring.

Helping Kids to Avoid Winter Driving Collisions

Primary reasons why teens have such a high accident risk is that they are not as good as older drivers at recognizing dangers and responding to hazards. They lack experience that they need to be good drivers, yet at the same time are overconfident in their driving abilities.

These problems could lead young people to take unnecessary and dangerous risk during a storm; or simply not to make smart choices when the weather is bad outside. Parents can help to mitigate the risk by preparing their sons or daughters to drive safely during the snow. Brand Connection has some tips for parents including:

  • Practicing driving with your teen. When the first snow starts to fall or there is ice on the ground for the first time, go to a big empty parking lot with your kids. Have them spin the car out and practice regaining control of the vehicle. Have them learn how to spot black ice on the roads, and learn what to do if they hit a patch of ice. Go over winter braking tips as well.
  • Keeping tabs on the weather. If it is bad outside and there is snow or ice in the forecast or on the ground, consider trying to keep your kids off the roads until the roads are clear and the weather has improved. While it is not always practical to avoid driving in bad weather, trips should be minimized.

Many schools and driver’s education programs also offer special winter driving courses. Parents may wish to enroll their kids in such a class to help them be as prepared as possible for winter weather.

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

When is a Car Declared a Total Loss in a West Virginia Crash?

Motor vehicle accidents can cause expensive and devastating damage to individuals. After a crash causes an injury, getting compensation for the medical bills, loss of wages and pain and suffering is a top priority.

A personal injury lawyer can assist with the process of recovering monetary damages after a negligent driver causes a collision.

Crashes inevitably cause property damage as well. In cases where your vehicle is greatly damaged, property damage claims will be handled through an insurer.

Recovering money from your insurance company for a damaged vehicle can be a hassle. The insurer is supposed to pay for the cost of repairs if the vehicle is fixable. If the car cannot be repaired, the insurer should pay for the replacement value of the car.

Unfortunately, sometimes the insurer will decide your car cannot be fixed. In these cases, you are to be compensated for the value of the “totaled” vehicle. However, you will not necessarily be able to obtain enough money to replace the car with something comparable.

When is a Vehicle a Total Loss?

If the insurance company decides your vehicle is too damaged to be eligible to be repaired, the insurer may declare the vehicle to be a total loss. This happens if the cost of repairs would exceed the actual value of the vehicle. However, according to Claims Journal, this is not the only situation in which an insurance company will make the decision to declare that the car is a total loss.

If the insurer does not believe that repair is a practical option,  the insurance company will make the decision that the car should be “totaled.” This can happen especially with lower valued cars. For example, if a car is valued at just $4,000 and the cost to repair the vehicle would be $3,000, the insurance company may decide that it is not worth paying 75 percent of the replacement cost just to repair the car.

When the insurer totals the vehicle, the insurance company takes possession of the car and obtains a salvage title. The insurer can then sell the car as a salvage vehicle. If the insured driver wants to keep the car for any reason, the insured’s payout would be reduced by the amount that the insurer would have gotten at salvage.

The insured doesn’t get to decide how the damaged car will be classified. If the insurance company makes the choice the car should be totaled, then the insured will have to accept a payment for the replacement value.

This can be an issue if it is difficult for the insured driver to actually find another vehicle that he can buy for the amount of money that is being offered. It can also be a problem when the insured has a new car, which depreciates in value very quickly.

The insured may not be able to find a similar new car for the cost that the insurer provides. While an insured can’t typically decide if he wants the car totaled, it is sometimes possible to convince an insurance company to pay more than the initial offer for a totaled car. Doing this requires the aid of an experienced crash attorney.

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

West Virginia Collisions Claims – Insurance Companies v. Consumers

No matter what clever jingle your auto insurance firm’s advertising department has dreamed up, you must remember: They are not your friends. They are not “like a good neighbor” or “on your side” by any means.

This does not mean that you can’t get your car insurance company to work for you in the event of an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured. But if you were to go it alone, you would soon find out the hard truths. Vehicle insurance companies very rarely will grant you the maximum to which you are entitled without a fight, and usually only after you’ve involved the services of an experienced West Virginia accident attorney.

No matter what is alluded in the commercial, keep in mind that the bottom line of these firms is their bottom line. They want to minimize their own liability and pay you as little as possible.

Study reveals controversial insurance company tricks and tactics

Common insurance company tactics were outlined not long ago in a research article called, “Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse,” published by the American Association for Justice.

The authors focus on all different kinds of insurance, from housing insurance to health insurance. The article notes insurance companies systematically work to deny claims through a series of tried-and-true tactics that cross ethical lines and skate just this side of legal.

These tactics include denying virtually all claims outright, without any real consideration as to the veracity of that decision. Employers are given rewards when they deny a certain percentage of claims – and punished when they fail to meet that quota. Then there are efforts to thoroughly confuse consumers with contracts that contain extensive fine print, and which are written in such a way as to intentionally keeps consumers from understanding the type of coverage they have – or don’t have. These firms have also been caught dragging out cases as long as possible. Using tactics such as “lost” paperwork, countless customer service personnel who can’t keep the facts of your case straight, long telephone hold times and seemingly endless motion-filing in court, these firms are hoping that the claimants will either give up or die.

Knowing your rights after a West Virginia car accident

You are required by law to keep a minimum amount of auto liability coverage if you wish to drive a car legally in the state of West Virginia. Those amounts are $10,000 for property damage, $20,000 for one accident and one injury or death and $40,000 for one accident involving two injuries or death.

These amounts are very quickly exceeded when a serious accident occurs.

Drivers here are also required to maintain uninsured motorist coverage, which means if you hit someone who isn’t insured or whose coverage doesn’t fully compensate you for all damages, you can seek recompense from your own insurer.

But again, just because you have the coverage doesn’t mean your insurer will pay up without a fight. In addition to the aforementioned tactics, companies will also attempt to downplay the extent of injuries or damages. They might even try to say that under the circumstances, you weren’t covered at all.

Our attorneys successfully fought car insurance companies for years. Let us help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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

Marijuana-Related Car Accidents in WV Triple

West Virginia was among six of the states studied recently by the Center for Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, which determined marijuana-related car accidents have tripled in the last 10 years.

Clearly, drugged driving is rapidly becoming a serious problem, and the West Virginia car accident lawyers of The Recht Law Offices believe it’s time to fully address it.

Just recently in Keyser, WV, authorities reportedly happened upon an allegedly drugged driver when on officer spotted him using his cell phone while driving – an illegal act in this state. Not only was he operating the vehicle without a license, he was in possession of drugs and appeared to be impaired.

That no one was hurt before officers remove him from the road was pure chance.

According to the Columbia study, published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, one out of every nine drivers involved in deadly crashes during the study period tested positive for marijuana.

The researchers say if the trend continues, bolstered by the numerous states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, within five to six years, drugs could overtake alcohol in becoming the most common substance involved in impaired driving deaths.

Of course, this research defies what pro-marijuana advocates have been spouting for years, which is to say that marijuana is a “safe” drug, or at least safer than alcohol when used by those behind the wheel.

Driving and Marijuana Use Is a Dangerous Combination

The reality is, marijuana affects a driver’s ability in much the same way alcohol does. It affects a person’s vision, impairs judgment and can make a person more prone to distraction and risk-taking.

Researchers in this study looked at crash data from six states, including West Virginia. Not all have approved medical marijuana, but each regularly initiate toxicology tests on drivers in deadly wrecks.

In all, the study authors looked at information culled from some 23,500 drivers who died shortly after crashes that happened between 1999 and 2010.

Consistently throughout those 10 years, alcohol consumption appears to have played a substantial role in these cases, as it was involved in about 4 out of 10  incidents.

However, drugs are undoubtedly beginning to become more prevalent. While impairment due to drugs contributed to roughly 16 percent of traffic deaths in 1999, that figure shot up to nearly 30 percent by 2010.

While prescription drug abuse was certainly on the rise during that time, it was marijuana that was the most significant catalyst behind the increase. In 1999, marijuana was the main drug involved in less than 5 percent of fatal crashes. By 2010, that figure tripled to 12 percent.

In cases where a driver was found to have used both marijuana and alcohol, the chances of driver death increased dramatically. Someone driving under the influence of alcohol is 13 times more likely to die in a crash than a driver who is sober, researchers said. But a motorist who is impaired by both alcohol and marijuana is 24 times more likely to be killed in a crash than a person who hasn’t imbibed.

If you have been involved in a West Virginia car accident, contact The Recht Law Offices at (304) 748-5850 or by visiting for a free consultation.

Black Ice Accident is Important Reminder to be Careful With Winter Driving

Nov 2013

Winter weather has arrived and at least one traffic collision has already occurred this year because of dangerous black ice on the roads. According to WVVA, hazardous travel warnings were in effect on the day the accident occurred and motorists were alerted to falling temperatures, snow and freezing roads.  One driver traveling on the westbound lane of I-64 was involved in a crash because of the snow and ice on the roads, but reportedly did not sustain serious crash injuries.

Any car accident lawyer in West Virginia knows that winter is a dangerous time for drivers because conditions on the road can significantly increase the chances of serious or even fatal accidents.  Drivers need to remember the best practices for winter driving safety to avoid getting hurt as the weather turns worse.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Drivers who want to reduce their risk of winter accidents should follow these key tips:

  • Always check weather and traffic advisory warnings before leaving home. You will be alerted to coming storms, icy conditions or areas where accidents have happened. When you hear a bad weather warning, you can make the choice to put off non-essential trips, or you can be alerted to the fact that you need to be extra careful behind the wheel.
  • Never pass snow plow trucks or trucks that are sanding or salting the roads. Not only could you get into a serious accident if the driver of the truck doesn’t see you, but you will also end up on unpaved roads that are less safe to travel on.
  • Slow down to account for slippery conditions. You should leave extra space between you and the vehicle that is in front of your car during the winter months to ensure that you don’t become involved in a crash if the car in front of you spins out or if your brakes take longer to stop your vehicle as you skid on ice. Remember, you can be ticketed for speeding even if you are going the limit if you are traveling too fast to be safe under the current weather and road conditions.
  • Use your brakes gently, as slamming on the brakes increases the chance of a skid. If you find yourself skidding, ease up on the brakes.
  • Lower your gear in situations where you are going down a hill or where there is a risk of losing traction.
  • Know where black ice is most likely to form. Bridges and overpasses tend to be icier than other areas on the roads.
  • Teach your kids about safe winter driving. If this winter is the first time your child will be driving, be sure to do plenty of practice in snow or icy conditions before sending your child off to drive on his own.

Drivers who follow these tips and who are cautious during the winter driving season will have a better chance of being able to make it through to spring without becoming involved in a serious or even deadly traffic accident.

Car accident lawyers in West Virginia can help if you were hurt in a crash. Call Recht Law Office today at 1-800-HURTLINE for a  free case consultation.

West Virginia Traffic Accidents and the Move Over Law

Sep 2013

Charges are pending against a 26-year-old driver who is blamed for a mid-September accident on I-64, where his SUV reportedly struck several police cruisers, according to WOWK TV.

Our car accident lawyers in West Virginia note the situation could have been much worse. The two police cruisers belonging to Charleston, WV police officers, were stopped at the side of the road responding to another accident. The police were fortunately not in the vehicles at the time, or they might have been injured.

Move Over Laws Aim to Protect First-Responders

The driver of the SUV who hit the police cars was reportedly intoxicated at the time of the accident. The toxicology reports have not yet revealed the motorist’s BAC, but it is expected that he will be charged with drunk driving.

The police vehicles were both pulled off to the side of the road and had their lights flashing when the SUV hit the vehicles. The flashing lights should have been an indicator to the SUV’s driver that there were first responders on the scene and that he thus had an obligation to pass in a safe manner.

Part of driving in a safe way when there are police cars on the road is moving over into a different lane under West Virginia’s “Move Over” law. The Move Over law was originally implemented in 2003 and is codified in section 17c-14-9a. According to this law: “the driver of any vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, when the authorized emergency vehicle is giving a signal by displaying alternately flashing red, red and white, blue, or red and blue lights or amber or yellow warning light” has the obligation to proceed with due caution.

Proceed with due caution is defined as making a lane change whenever possible under current traffic conditions, yielding the right of way and moving to a lane that is not adjacent to the emergency vehicle. When it is not possible to make a lane change and move over, then proceeding with due caution is defined as reducing the speed of the car to 15-miles-hour or below on non-divided highways/streets and to 25-miles per hour or below on divided highways.

A violation of the move-over law in West Virginia is a misdemeanor that carries with it a fine of up to $500 as well as the potential for as long as sixty days of jail time. If a violation of the move-over laws results in property damage, the driver can have his license suspended for as long as 90 days. If the violation results in injury, penalties can include a one-year license suspension and there is a two-year license suspension if the failure to move over results in death.

The driver in this accident was drunk and thus likely not thinking clearly about his legal obligation to move over. This is yet another reason why drunk driving is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Car accident lawyers in West Virginia can help if you were hurt in a crash. Call Recht Law Office today at 1-800-HURTLINE for a  free case consultation.

38-Vehicle Wreck in West Virginia Causes Nine Victims to Suffer Serious Injuries

Jun 2013

The WV Gazette reported a car wreck that one state highway official described as the worst accident he had seen in the state of West Virginia over the course of his 40+ year career in law enforcement.  The accident involved 38-vehicles and resulted in nine victims suffering serious injuries and being transported to local area hospitals.

Our Weirton accident lawyers know that multi-vehicle car accidents are common in bad weather situations when cars are traveling in close proximity. The circumstances leading to this accident show how important it is for drivers to slow their speeds to adjust to weather conditions and to maintain a safe driving speed at all times.

38-Vehicle Accident Likely Caused by Bad Weather

According to the West Virginia Gazette, the 38-vehicle crash occurred on the Interstate 64 Bridge between Nitro and St. Albans. Witnesses to the accident indicate that heavy rains had resulted in a lot of standing water on the bridge and one driver said that he had seen the water before the crash occurred.

Unfortunately, it is believed that drivers were traveling too quickly on the bridge in light of the rain and the wet conditions. When there is bad weather like this, not only does it increase the chances of an accident happening involving a single vehicle or two cars, but it also significantly increases the chance of a multi-vehicle collision.

When these multi-vehicle crashes occur, typically the problem starts with either one or two cars losing control on the road and being involved in an accident. Other drivers who are in close proximity and who are going too fast for the road conditions are then unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the first impaired cars. The bad weather can make visibility difficult so people do not see the crash right away and the slick roads can result in drivers having a hard time stopping.

A chain reaction then occurs, wherein more vehicles come upon the crash, cannot stop in time and become involved in the accident themselves. In this 38-vehicle crash, this happened on a large scale as many vehicles crossing the bridge were unable to get our of the way of the ever-increasing number of impaired cars. That it occurred on a bridge also exacerbated the problems because there was really no place for cars to go upon approaching the wreckage.

Fortunately, despite the number of vehicles involved in this accident, there were no fatalities. However, 22 people suffered injuries and nine of the injured victims had sustained harm serious enough that they needed to be taken to the hospital. The injured victims may have a legal cause of action against those responsible for the crash, but sorting out who is to blame will be very difficult with so many cars involved in the wreck. Experienced legal help will be critical to recovering appropriate compensation.

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 for a free case consultation.

West Virginia Traffic Accidents – Teens at High Risk

Apr 2013

Recently, shared several tragic stories about car accidents involving teenage drivers. In one such story, for example, CNN indicated that an Ohio SUV went off the road and into a pond. The SUV — which had room for five passengers — had eight teenagers in it. Six of them died.

Tragically, as our West Virginia accident lawyers know, car accidents are the top cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 20.  The Governors Highway Safety Association preliminary data for 2012 also indicates that the number of car accident deaths among young people is increasing, with 19 percent more 16- and 17-year-old drivers killed than the year before. The high number of deaths and the serious dangers faced by teen drivers cannot be ignored, and parents should make a point to sit down with their kids and talk about safe driving.

Teens are at Risk

It is important for parents and kids to be aware of some of the troubling facts about teen drivers. For example, as CNN reported:

  • There were 2,700 people between the ages of 16 and 19 killed in car accidents in 2010.
  • More than seven teenagers died every day in America in 2010 in car accidents.
  • There were 282,000 teen drivers ages 16 to 19 who suffered injury in car crashes in the U.S. in 2010.
  • Only 54 percent of high-school students indicated in a 2011 survey that they always wear seat belts. Every other age group had a higher percentage.
  • Teens with passengers in their car are more likely to be involved in crashes.

Teens are also more likely than their parents realize to text when they drive, with Car Connection reporting that 26 percent responding to a University of Michigan Transportation Survey admitting they sent or received texts as they drove at least once every time.  Other studies have shown that teenage drivers are more likely to speed and less likely than adults to stop when they are feeling too tired to drive safely.

Talking to Your Teen

While car accidents are a leading cause of teen death, the good news is that many of them are preventable. Teens just have to be smart behind the wheel and make good choices and they will have a significantly reduced chance of hurting themselves or others.

It is up to parents to make sure that children understand the importance of safe driving. You can go over some of the statistics on car accident deaths with them to drive home the point, but you should also make some clear rules and have an open discussion about them.

For example, you can discuss the rules for riding with friends or passengers in the car; driving at night; drinking and driving; texting or using cell phones; and speeding.  Parents should also model their own good behavior, as the University of Michigan Transportation study indicated that children often mimic the driving habits of their parents.

By taking the time to talk to your teenager and by setting a good example, you can hopefully help to ensure your teen is a smart and careful driver. If you aren’t confident of this, then there are devices that you can use, including in-car cameras, to monitor what your child is doing as he or she drives. While your kids may not be thrilled about the idea, taking firm action could help to save their lives or the lives of innocent victims sharing the road.

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.

West Virginia Traffic Safety – Avoiding Accidents at Night

Apr 2013

It is a given that is harder to see in the dark than it is during the daytime. Of course, most people know that night driving is more dangerous as a result of reduced visibility. You may not know, however, how great the increase in accident risk is or what to do to stay safe. 180957076

Our West Virginia injury attorneys know that you can see less at night, and that your depth perception and peripheral vision are both compromised by darkness as well. The National Safety Council (NSC) has also released information that is specific about some of the risks that night drivers face. NSC data indicates that drivers depend upon visual cues for around 90 percent of their decision-making when driving. With less visibility and more problems seeing what is going on around you, NSC indicates that the chances of becoming involved in an accident at night are three times greater than during the day.

How to Avoid a Night Driving Accident

Although it is more dangerous to drive at night, there are certain things that you can do to minimize your risk and stay safe. For example, NSC recommends:

  • Regular cleaning of all lights and windows. This includes the inside and outside of the windows, as well as cleaning the head lights, tail lights and signal lights. When the lights and windows are clean, you’ll have a clearer view even at night.
  • Proper alignment of headlights. Misaligned or out-of-place lights can blind other drivers and make it more challenging for you to see.
  • Avoiding nicotine or smoking. The nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarettes impairs night vision.
  • Use of headlights whenever there is a potential need. It is always best to put them on even if they don’t make that much of a difference in your ability to see since the lights can help to ensure other drivers see you.
  • Maintenance of a safe following distance. Driving slower and leaving more space in between you and other cars is advisable since darkness makes it harder to assess distances or to make an accurate guess as to how fast other cars are going.
  • Driving within the area illuminated by the headlights on your vehicle. If you drive too fast, you can essentially drive out of the lights and find yourself with a blind spot.
  • Using your low beams when there is other traffic around so you don’t blind other drivers, and looking at the edge of the road to guide your steering if you are blinded by the high beams of an approaching car.

By following these safety tips, you can hopefully reduce your risk of getting hurt in a night auto accident. Unfortunately, NSC warns that fatigued and drunk driving are both more likely to occur at night than during the day. If you encounter a drunk or sleeping driver, that person could cause an accident to occur no matter how careful you are. The drowsy or drunk driver would be obligated to pay for the costs of any accident he or she caused.

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.