Your Car Accident Attorney in West Virginia
In the blink of an eye, your life can drastically change the moment you experience a car accident. The decisions you make in the days and weeks to follow, however, can have equally as dramatic an impact. The next moves you make after the accident such as identifying who is at fault, dealing with insurance claims and filing police reports can all have lasting consequences that affect your ability to recover damages from medical bills, lost wages, and other damages or expenses associated with the accident. Even if you don’t think you require a car accident attorney in West Virginia, it’s essential to ensure your interests are protected.
So, if you or a loved one has been in a car accident, contacting a personal injury attorney quickly can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.
Shaffer Law has extensive experience in the area of car negligence law. Our results speak for themselves. If you’ve been in a car accident in West Virginia, Contact Shaffer Law today.
What Do You Do After a Car Accident?
There are certain actions you have to take in the wake of an accident to make sure you’ve complied with the law and haven’t put your future car accident claim in jeopardy. After an accident, you have to stay at the scene. Leaving the accident will turn the car accident into a hit and run, a much more serious crime that has severe consequences like jail time and hefty fines.
The most important thing to remember is to remain calm. If you’re able to move, make sure to move your vehicle out of traffic if you can. Once you’re safely out of the road you can assess the situation. Watch out for possible immediate dangers like car fires. If a vehicle is on fire, move a safe distance away from it and call 911. You’re also responsible to help any severely injured parties by contacting authorities and an ambulance if needed.
Everyone involved in the accident needs to exchange information. You should get:
- Names and Contact Information.
- Insurance Policies.
- Driver’s License Numbers.
- The Make, Model, and Vehicle Identification Numbers.
It may help your claim to take photographic evidence of the accident showing the scene of the accident and any damages done to your car. Any eyewitnesses could provide an unbiased perspective and help corroborate your story. If you are able, it is extremely important to record your injuries and any property damage to the vehicles at the accident scene. If unable to take any photographs or video, simply draw the positions of the cars involved to the best of your ability.
Contact a car accident attorney so you can start to make your claim and provide all of the above information you’ve gathered.
The West Virginia Car Accident Statute of Limitations
A “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a strict time limit on your right to bring a lawsuit to court.
The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim for your car accident is two years. You may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include medical bills, lost wages, or vehicle repair costs. Non-economic damages may include emotional distress, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. So, any lawsuit over car accident injuries or damage to a vehicle or other property — by any driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, pedestrian, or property owner affected by the crash — will be subject to this two-year filing deadline, and the two-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
West Virginia has a modified comparative negligence law. In most states, if a person is found to be at fault for an accident in any way they are not entitled to compensation. In West Virginia, however, the modified comparative negligence law says that a person can recover damages even if they hold 99 percent of the liability.
For instance, suppose that the jury determines that your injuries, pain and suffering, and other losses total $10,000. However, the jury also thinks that you were 10 percent responsible for the crash. In that situation, the total amount of your damages, $10,000, is reduced by 10 percent, or $1,000, leaving you with a total award of $9,000.
The comparative negligence rule binds West Virginia judges and juries (if your car accident case winds its way to trial), and it will also guide a car insurance claims adjuster when he or she is evaluating your case. Also keep in mind that since there are no empirical means of allocating fault, any assignment of liability will ultimately come down to your ability to negotiate with a claims adjuster or to persuade a judge or jury.
Filing a car accident claim in West Virginia can be confusing. Our car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping you understand your rights and recover from your accident. Contact Us today for a free evaluation of your claim.
West Virginia Car Insurance Requirements
In almost every West Virginia car accident scenario, insurance coverage is sure to play a key role, so it’s important to understand the state’s liability auto insurance requirements and other coverage rules that could affect your car accident claim. Read on for the details of West Virginia’s auto insurance requirements, how coverage affects claims made in the wake of a crash, and the kinds of penalties you’re likely to face if you drive without insurance in West Virginia.
West Virginia is a “Fault” Car Accident State
The first thing to know is that West Virginia follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a crash: that includes car accident injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on.
So, the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm (from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to policy limits).
Car Insurance Requirements in West Virginia
In West Virginia, all registered motor vehicles must be insured by a liability policy that includes at least the following minimum amounts of coverage:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
- $25,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
Liability coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you’ve given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Remember that liability coverage doesn’t apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a West Virginia car accident. You’ll need different (additional) coverage for that if you’re involved in a car accident and no one else’s coverage applies to your losses. For example, collision coverage (optional in West Virginia) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident. Note that collision or comprehensive might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement.
Driving Without Insurance in West Virginia
According to West Virginia Code section 17D-2A-7, any vehicle owner who fails to comply with the state’s coverage requirements may face the following penalties:
For a first offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days and until proof of insurance is provided, and you’ll be required to pay reinstatement fees. (Note that if compliance can be shown before the suspension takes effect, and a $200 penalty is paid, registration/license suspension may be avoided.)
For second and subsequent offenses (within five years), your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, and your registration will be revoked until you provide proof of insurance (and you’ll be required to pay reinstatement fees.)
Of course, that’s all in addition to serious financial consequences if you cause a car accident and you don’t have car insurance.
Knowing the accident and insurance laws in West Virginia will help you know what to do in the event of a car accident and can help you avoid accidentally harming your claim.
If you’ve been in an accident, Contact Us immediately for a case analysis. No matter what county you live in, Shaffer Law will fight for your rights