Incidents of distracted and impaired driving have been on the rise for the past year and are still causing tragic accidents, as a recent Morgantown accident has demonstrated. A Friday afternoon two-vehicle wreck near Mylan Puskar Stadium has resulted in at least two critically injured crash victims.
According to a reconstruction of the scene by Monongalia County sheriff’s deputies, the collision occurred at approximately 1:44 p.m. at the intersection of Route 105 and Willowdale Road, not far from the stadium. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the accident was caused by one driver traveling in the wrong direction.
Car accidents at an all-time high
Even though fewer vehicles were on the road throughout 2020 due to both frequent travel restrictions across the nation and more people telecommuting, when factoring in the total vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the number of fatalities during that time surged.
According to a recent report, there were 42,060 motor vehicle deaths last year, which indicates an 8% rise over 2019. But when factoring in deaths per 100 million VMT, the rate went up to 24%, indicating the highest spike in nearly a century.
Experts attribute the rising fatalities to a dramatic increase in incidents of risky driving behaviors, including distracted or impaired driving, wrong-way driving, driving without a seatbelt or speeding.
Proving negligence in an auto accident
Distracted driving is a form of negligence that can create liability for the driver in question, but it must be proved. A successful negligence claim must establish several elements:
- The injured party must show that the other driver had a duty of reasonable care to other drivers on the road
- That there was a breach of that duty
- This breach was the proximate cause of the injuries to the plaintiff
West Virginia recognizes modified comparative negligence, which means that the degree of fault of each party for causing the accident determines the percentage of damages for the injuries that result. The plaintiff can only recover damages for what they did not contribute to the accident. If the court finds them more to blame than the other party for the accident, they may not be able to collect any damages.