Motor vehicle accidents are common in West Virginia. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, motor vehicle accidents in WV in 2019 resulted in 260 deaths and 906 serious injuries.
Auto accident victims and their families often have to deal with property damage, medical bills, and income loss while they try to recover from injuries or grieve a wrongful death. Unfortunately, insurance providers often refuse to offer fair compensation, which can lead to severe financial hardship for the victims.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact Prim Law. Our team of personal injury lawyers has years of experience helping West Virginia car accident victims pursue fair compensation. Your initial consultation is free, and we’ll help you understand your legal options. Schedule a consultation online or call our office in Hurricane, West Virginia, at 304-201-2425.
How do you file a claim?
After an auto accident, you’ll need to file an insurance claim for property damage and/or medical costs for any injuries. Most providers allow you to file a claim online or through an app. Generally, the claim is paid by the liable party’s insurance provider.
However, many insurance companies try to shift liability or offer less-than-fair compensation for auto accidents. As such, it’s often a good idea to contact an injury lawyer before talking to the insurance company or accepting a settlement. An experienced attorney can help ensure you get proper medical care and a fair settlement after an accident, especially one that’s caused by someone else.
Should you file an injury lawsuit?
Liable parties and their insurance providers don’t always provide enough compensation for an auto accident, especially in their initial offers. There are many things that can affect how compensation is calculated, but it’s often necessary to take legal action to ensure you get a fair settlement.
By filing a lawsuit against the liable party or parties, you can pursue financial compensation for variety of damages. This is sometimes the only way to get a settlement that’s enough to cover medical bills, loss of income, and property damage. If a loved one died in the auto accident, you can initiate a wrongful death suit to cover loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and funeral costs.
What kinds of damages can you sue for?
West Virginia allows you to seek two types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit. The first type is economic damages. The purpose of this type of compensation is to offset the financial consequences of your injuries. The amount of economic damages is based on your accident-related expenses:
- Lost income and/or reduced earning potential
- Medical bills for the treatment of injuries
- Financial value of household services you can’t perform due to your injuries
You can also pursue non-economic damages. The amount of compensation you’re awarded for non-economic damages is determined by the judge because there isn’t a fixed cost associated with them:
- Loss of enjoyment
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (i.e. loss of physical and/or sexual affection)
Generally, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000, although damages may go as high as $500,000 in cases with catastrophic injuries. A judge can also assign punitive damage to the liable party if they acted recklessly.
West Virginia’s comparative fault laws affect how much compensation you can receive. Your compensation is affected by your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if the authorities decide you were 15 percent responsible for the accident, you can only receive 85 percent of the total damages the judge awards. Parties who are over 50 percent liable cannot sue for damages.
Do you need to hire an attorney?
You aren’t required to hire an attorney to file an accident claim or initiate a personal injury lawsuit. However, there are many potential benefits to working with a personal injury attorney.
An experienced injury attorney can help you know whether an initial settlement is fair. They can explain your options for filing a lawsuit and give you an estimate of how much compensation you may be entitled to.
When you hire an attorney, you don’t have to worry about filing claim paperwork, gathering evidence, or negotiating with the insurance company. Your attorney can handle all communication and encourage the liable party to reach a fair settlement without having to go to court.
How long do cases last?
Each case is different, but most of them take time to resolve. It can take several months to over a year to resolve a personal injury lawsuit, especially if it ends up going to court. Appeals may take additional time.
What should you do after an accident?
After an accident, you should seek medical care for everyone involved. It’s also important to make records of your injuries and of the damage to your vehicle and other property. You should get contact information for all involved parties and witnesses and insurance information from all the other drivers.
Contacting an attorney after the accident gives you the option to let them deal with the insurance company. It may also be easier to file a lawsuit if you have an attorney involved from the beginning.
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit is two years. In most cases, the timer for those two years starts on the date of the accident. However, some injuries are not obvious right away. If you don’t recognize that you were injured in an accident until a later time, the statute of limitations may apply to the date of “discovery” rather than the date of the accident.
Contact a local injury lawyer for help with your car accident claim
At Prim Law, we understand how hard it is to pursue an auto accident claim, especially if you or your loved ones are recovering from injuries or dealing with expensive medical bills. Whether your accident happened in Hurricane or the surrounding areas (Charleston, Huntington, Putnam County, or elsewhere in WV), we can help.
Prim Law is dedicated to helping West Virginia victims and their families get fair financial compensation from liable parties. When you contact our team, we’ll listen to your story and help you understand what options you have moving forward.
To schedule a free consultation, use our online form or call our Hurricane office at 304-201-2425.