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Car accidents follow comparative negligence rules of recovery

Not every claim for damages filed in a West Virginia court is always victorious. Some car accidents are speculative on the issue of liability but are filed due to extraordinarily high damages. That may be an underlying consideration behind a claim filed recently in Mercer County against a truck driver and the truck owner by a couple claiming personal injury damages.

The gist of the complaint is that the defendant truck driver and his employer left an overturned tractor-trailer blocking the roadway on Interstate 77 in Nov. 2016. The plaintiffs violently collided with the tractor-trailer and suffered injuries for which they seek to be compensated. The complaint says that the defendants left the disabled vehicle in the middle of I-77, where it was blocking both lanes of the highway.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants should have taken steps to notify the traveling public of the presence of the danger ahead. These factual allegations are not vulnerable to attack, and the plaintiffs may have some risk that they will ultimately not be compensated. One who operates a vehicle on a roadway must keep a due vigilance out for other vehicles ahead on the roadway.

Generally, in West Virginia and other states, the rule regarding such truck and car accidents is that one must have sufficient control of one's vehicle to be able to bring it to a stop within an assured clear distance ahead. If the plaintiff car operator had a relatively clear view ahead of the interstate, and if the operator was keeping a vigilant lookout ahead, how did the operator fail to stop his car in time to avoid a collision? It may be that the plaintiffs are relying on the comparative negligence laws, which would give them a recovery as long as they are found to be less negligent than the truck driver and his company.

Source: wvrecord.com, "Mercer County couple blames trucking company, driver for crash", Philip Gonzales, June 5, 2017

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