Personal Injury Law Blog

West Virginia and Ohio Personal Injury Legal Topics by Jan Dils & Jim Leach

Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents in Winter Weather

December 15th, 2014

Icy roads are a danger to any type of vehicle. However, the risk of motorcycle accidents can increase substantially in the winter months for a variety of reasons.

Motorcycles are completely exposed to the elements, which makes it important for riders to ensure that their bodies are not. Along with a helmet, wearing a heavy coat, gloves, pants, and boots will insulate your body from cold temperatures, wind chill, and freezing precipitation. Dressing in layers can also provide additional protection in the event of a crash.

Other steps motorcycle riders can take to avoid accidents this winter season include:

  • Modify your speed when taking corners or riding over patches of road that look wet or covered with deicer
  • Don’t brake or turn the handlebars too quickly
  • Check your tires for sufficient tread, and warm tires up for better traction
  • Maintain a safe following distance from passenger vehicles – make sure your bike is visible in other drivers’ mirrors
  • Never ride while impaired

Checking the weather forecast before you ride can reduce the risk of encountering snow, ice, and more. Staying indoors and avoiding slippery roads, minimal visibility, and other dangers might be the safest solution for bikers who aren’t confident about riding in poor conditions.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) to schedule your no-cost consultation today. Our attorneys know the risks facing riders in Morgantown and other areas of West Virginia.

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Honda Airbag Recall Tops 5 Million

December 10th, 2014

It’s a tragic reality that the parts of a vehicle intended to keep passengers safe can sometimes backfire. This has been reaffirmed several times by the growing defective product recall issued for 10 years of car models outfitted with faulty airbags.

According to Reuters, Honda has issued a nationwide recall for 5.4 million cars manufactured between 2001 and 2011. Defective airbag inflators supplied by the Takata company are at risk of exploding and launching shrapnel into the vehicle’s interior.

The recall was initially confined to parts of North America with a hot or humid climate, but the motor company has since expanded the effort to get unsafe Honda and Acura models off of roads throughout the United States.

Defective safety features can prove just as dangerous as vehicle defects that affect the operation of a car. Poor design or faulty manufacturing can result in:

  • Seatbelt defects such as excessive slack or faulty buckles
  • Airbags that preemptively deploy, or don’t deploy at all
  • Failure of seat components
  • Poorly attached or reinforced side doors

Though not a part of a vehicle, defective child safety seats can also cause severe injury to children. Like any feature in your vehicle, it’s critical to secure car seats properly and make sure all of the parts are in good working order to minimize risk to everybody in the car.

If you or a family member has been hurt by a defective product, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today for a no-cost consultation. Our Charleston attorneys represent injury victims throughout West Virginia.

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Tips for Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

December 1st, 2014

Started by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Older Driver Safety Awareness Week runs December 1 to December 5. The goal of the week-long observance is to help seniors and their families adapt to transportation needs with age and help elderly drivers avoid auto accidents.

While it’s important to respect our elders, it’s also important for senior citizens to respect and abide by the rules of the road. The effects of aging can increase the risk of auto accidents involving seniors by compromising the key faculties needed for safe driving.

Getting older is different for everyone, and some seniors can be on the road safely well into their golden years. However, all elderly drivers and their families should be aware of potentially hazardous declines in:

  • Vision: The risk of serious eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma increases with age, as well as decreased visual acuity and problems with night vision
  • Hearing: Hearing loss can make it difficult to hear car horns, sirens, and other audio cues to changes in traffic and driving conditions
  • Muscles and joints: Weakened bones and sore, inflamed soft tissue can make physically operating a car difficult and diminish reaction time
  • Focus: Drivers who develop confusion and other cognitive impairments have trouble processing a continuous stream of information while behind the wheel
  • Memory: Disorders like dementia can gradually undo years of safe driving skills, familiarity with one’s surroundings, and more

Certain medications also carry physical and mental side effects that could cause difficulties with driving. If you believe your loved one is a danger on the road, talk to them before a catastrophic crash occurs.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident caused by a reckless driver of any age, you might be entitled to compensation. Please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today for a no-cost consultation with our Morgantown attorneys.

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Bicycle Accident Fatalities on the Rise

November 24th, 2014

Research by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that the number of cyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents has increased 16% in just two years. Car crash deaths, meanwhile, have increased only 1% in the same time period.

The study found that rider carelessness was a leading factor in fatal bicycle accidents, specifically failure to wear a helmet and riding while drunk. West Virginia law states that bikes enjoy the same privileges and are subject to the same responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.

Not every bicycle accident is the fault of the cyclist, but it pays to be safe and prepared. Steps you can take to reduce your risk of serious injuries in a collision with a vehicle include:

  • Wear a helmet and other safety gear
  • Place a light on the front of your bike and a reflector on the back to make you more visible at night (required by state law)
  • Stay on the shoulder of the road or in designated bike lanes
  • Avoid alcohol before a bike ride – don’t drink and pedal
  • Use a bell and appropriate hand signals to alert other drivers when you turn or perform other actions

Bicycling has many benefits, so it only makes sense to keep your ride enjoyable and safe. If you take all precautions but still get hurt due to a driver’s recklessness, you might be entitled to recover compensation for your accident injuries.

Please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) to discuss the details of your accident claim in a no-cost consultation.

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Is the Driver Always at Fault in a Single-Car Accident?

November 19th, 2014

When a car crash involves only one vehicle, the driver of that vehicle is usually considered liable for passenger injuries, property destruction, and other damages. However, this isn’t always the case, which is why it’s critical to speak with experienced Morgantown car accident attorneys who will listen to your account of events and represent your best interests.

All drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road. If you were speeding, not paying attention, or driving recklessly at the time of the accident, claiming that you weren’t responsible will probably not be a successful defense.

However, some circumstances can reduce the driver’s fault in a single-car accident, including:

  • Sudden failure of key components due to a vehicle defect
  • Reacting to avoid collision with a driver behaving carelessly
  • Wildlife darting into the road
  • Poor road maintenance or insufficient signage to indicate a hazard
  • Sudden onset of bad weather

The presumption that a driver is at fault for a car accident in which only his vehicle was involved can be difficult to overcome, but our Morgantown lawyers will investigate thoroughly to determine the potential liability of any other parties.

If you were in a single-car accident and you believe the crash wasn’t your fault, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today to schedule your no-cost consultation. Our lawyers serve clients in and around Morgantown.

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Alzheimer’s and Nursing Home Abuse

November 12th, 2014

November is designated National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. More than 5 million Americans suffer from this heartbreaking disease, which often requires families to place aged and incapacitated loved ones in nursing homes to receive the round-the-clock care they need.

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse can affect any family. Staff members who victimize an elderly resident might be even more likely to target someone with Alzheimer’s because the victim’s diminished mental state makes it more difficult for the abuser to get caught.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can make it hard for family members to detect signs of abuse or neglect. Typical symptoms patient experience include:

  • Memory loss, especially short-term memory
  • Forgetting people and events
  • Confusion about where they are, what day or year it is, and what’s happening around them
  • Difficulty with verbal and written communication

Patients with Alzheimer’s also experience changes in temperament, including anxiety and depression. If your loved one seems agitated or withdrawn, it’s important to be aware of what might be causing the change. Keep an eye out for physical signs of abuse, unclean or unsafe conditions, or staff mistreating other residents.

If you believe your family member is in danger, it’s important to get grandma or grandpa to safety as soon as possible. To begin building a nursing home abuse case, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today to speak with our experienced Charleston lawyers.

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Drowsy Driving: Keep Your Eyes Open and On the Road

November 5th, 2014

November 2 through November 9 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Though it might not seem that dangerous to hit the road if you’re feeling tired, fatigue creates dangerous driving conditions, with car accident risk increasing the longer you’re behind the wheel without sufficient rest.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20 hours without sleep is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 – the legal limit for driving while intoxicated. Drowsy driving diminishes the ability to drive safely by increasing the risk of reckless behavior such as:

  • Drifting from your lane
  • Inattention to the road, signs and signals, exits, and more
  • Longer reaction time
  • Tailgating
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Nodding your head and shutting your eyes, even for a second

Before driving for a long distance, try to get enough sleep so you can feel refreshed. A traveling companion can also help you stay awake, watch the road, and relieve you of driving duties if you’re too tired.

If you’re in the middle of a long drive and you start to feel drowsy, get off the road as soon as possible. Many people fail to realize they’re on the verge of falling asleep at the wheel until it’s too late and they end up causing a car accident.

Please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today to speak with our Morgantown car accident attorneys if you were injured in a wreck caused by a drowsy driver.

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Pedestrian Danger High on Halloween

October 27th, 2014

According to AAA, Halloween is one of the leading days for pedestrian injuries. Kids are also four times more likely to be hit by a car. If your trick-or-treating ended in trauma due to a reckless driver, our Parkersburg personal injury attorneys can build a case against the party responsible.

Even when they happen at low speeds, pedestrian accidents can cause critical injuries. Children are especially at risk due to their small size and undeveloped sense of danger. The excitement from candy and costumes only increases the likelihood of a child getting struck by a vehicle.

Drivers should exercise special caution on Halloween when driving at night or through residential areas. If you’re a parent supervising trick-or-treating, you can also reduce the risk of pedestrian accident injuries by:

  • Reviewing the need to stay on the sidewalk and be careful when crossing the street
  • Setting a safe path the kids can follow from house to house
  • Dressing the kids in light-colored costumes or using reflective tape to make them more visible in the dark
  • Making sure masks and other accessories aren’t obstructing their vision
  • Altering costumes so capes or other attire won’t be a tripping hazard

It can be difficult to wrangle excited children while trick-or-treating, but preventing them from wandering or darting into the road could make all the difference in getting the little ones home safely.

If you or a family member was injured in a pedestrian accident involving a vehicle, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today to schedule your no-cost consultation with our Parkersburg personal injury attorneys.

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Treatment for Whiplash

October 22nd, 2014

One of the most common injuries we see in many types of accidents is whiplash. If you sustained whiplash or other injuries because of another party’s negligence, our Morgantown injury attorneys can pursue compensation on your behalf.

Whiplash is a neck injury where the head is forced forward and then jerked backward. The sudden snapping motion hyperextends muscles and other soft tissue in the neck, causing stiffness, pain, and other symptoms.

A doctor could recommend several different treatment options depending on the severity of your whiplash symptoms, including:

  • Painkillers (OTC or prescription)
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Alternating hot and cold compresses
  • Physical therapy exercises

In the past doctors would immobilize the necks of whiplash patients using a soft cervical collar. Nowadays this treatment is only recommended for short periods of time to alleviate discomfort when the injury is relatively new. Wearing a neck collar long-term after whiplash can cause muscles to lose strength and prolong recovery time.

Although whiplash can sometimes be treated with home remedies, more severe injuries could require costly physical therapy. Some victims begin experiencing chronic pain after a car accident or other injury resulting in whiplash.

To schedule a no-cost review of your whiplash case, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today. Our attorneys serve neck injury clients in and around Morgantown.

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Safe Driving Tips for Teenagers

October 17th, 2014

Teen Driver Safety Week runs from October 19-25 this year. For parents, the weeklong observance highlights the importance of setting rules for teens before they hit the road. This event is also a good opportunity to remind Charleston families of the serious impact being found responsible for a car accident can have.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a campaign called “5 to Drive,” a set of five rules parents can adopt to keep kids safe while driving. Each of these rules is intended to curb some of the leading causes of car accidents such as:

Under West Virginia law, a parent is generally only liable for a minor child’s conduct if the child acted with “malicious and willful” intent. However, if the victim’s attorney can prove that the teen was a known danger behind the wheel and the parents didn’t take steps to stop the reckless behavior, the parents could also be considered negligent for letting their child continue to drive.

The best solution for keeping your teen driver safe is to make sure they understand and follow the rules – your household rules and the law. You could help your child avoid a car accident and save your family a substantial amount of financial and emotional turmoil.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a reckless driver of any age, please contact Jan Dils & Jim Leach, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, or call 1 (877) 526-5461 (1-877-JANJIM1) today to schedule your no-cost consultation. Our lawyers serve victims in Charleston and other areas of West Virginia.

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