In early October, a tractor-trailer hauling lumber lost control and overturned on Interstate 77 near the Edens Fork exit. Just one week prior, a pedestrian was struck and killed only a few hundred feet from the site of the tractor-trailer crash. Earlier in 2012, the same place hosted yet another accident, in which a tractor-trailer veered off the road and rolled into the northbound entrance ramp.
What's happening on the highways outside of Charleston? A large number of fatal crashes have occurred on the Charleston to Sissonville stretch of I-77 over the years, and the latest string has State Department of Transportation engineers reviewing reports to determine if road conditions played a role.
"We are studying that area right now," WVDOT spokeswoman Carrie Bly told the Charleston Daily Mail on October 2. According to Bly, traffic engineers had been considering doing a field study of I-77 for a long time. Now, it has been prioritized, and WVDOT hopes to complete the study by the end of 2012.
Dangerous roadway conditions can mean accident liability for West Virginia highway authorities
So far, it is unclear whether roadway conditions on I-77 contributed to any of the recent accidents. But, Ms. Bly mentioned that highway crews had installed new asphalt on the section of I-77 between Charleston and the Edens Fork exit last year, and that the new smoother surface could increase the risk of losing traction; she said engineers may explore putting a high-friction surface on the road to improve traction and water drainage.
Traffic engineers will also look into whether to install cable barriers on I-77 that would prevent vehicles from crossing the median, and whether signage instructing tractor-trailer drivers to slow down should be posted in the area.
If these safety improvements are ultimately made on I-77, they could help many motorists avoid devastating crashes. But what about those already injured due to a problem with a roadway?
Dangerous conditions are relatively common on West Virginia roadways. When these conditions were caused by a person or a public entity, they contribute to an accident, and someone is injured as a result, compensation may be available through a dangerous highway lawsuit.
Who has to pay for crash injuries and property damage depends on the facts of a particular crash. For example, a landowner could bear liability for a crash if he or she failed to properly maintain a hedge or tree, thereby obstruction line-of-sight for oncoming vehicles or obscuring traffic signs.
WVDOT or highway contractors are sometimes responsible for creating a dangerous roadway condition that causes an accident. There are numerous ways these entities can invite an accident, including failure to correct dangerous conditions like pothole or bumps, insufficient salting or sanding in winter, leaving debris on the road from construction trucks, or even being negligent in designing a highway.
Contact a Charleston attorney for more information about dangerous highway lawsuits
If you have been injured in a traffic accident on a West Virginia highway, or if a loved one has been killed, it is important to explore all possible avenues to secure the compensation that can help get you through a difficult time. In single vehicle accidents or crashes involving motorists who do not carry enough insurance to pay for the full cost of an accident, a dangerous highway lawsuit can be especially important.
When those responsible for highway safety do not diligently attend to their duties, it is only fair to hold them responsible for the harm that results. Talk to a Charleston car accident lawyer today if an accident on a dangerous West Virginia highway has impacted your life.