Car accident injuries present a serious issue on our roads and highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, passenger vehicles make up the vast majority of traffic on the road. They are also highly represented in crash statistics. The NHTSA fatality and injury estimates for 2011* include:
- 8,953,000 passenger vehicles involved in crashes reported to police, out of 9,291,000 total (96%)
- 34,182 passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, out of 43,917 total (78%)
- More than 21,000 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes
- 1.97 million passenger vehicle occupants injured
These figures are sobering, indeed, and show the severity of the situation. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a car accident, it is important to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. Many insurance companies may try to collect information to deny payouts — every claim they can deny will go to the bottom line. You need someone looking out for you and your well-being — we are here to do precisely that for clients in West Virginia, including the cities of Charleston, Huntington, Beckley, Parkersburg, Morgantown and throughout Kanawha County.
What to Expect
While details will differ from one car accident to the next, the sequence of events in most cases is quite similar. The aftermath of your car accident in West Virginia may proceed like this:
- Police will come to investigate the scene of the accident right away, once they receive a call.
- If injured, you (or he/she) may go to a hospital with paramedics or in an ambulance.
- Assuming your car is damaged, it will be towed away.
- In the days that follow, you are likely to miss work as you receive necessary medical treatments.
- Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be admitted to a hospital.
- Right away, questions will arise as to who will be paying your medical bills.
- Police investigators or other investigators will seek to determine who was at fault.
- If you are able, you will likely contact your insurance company - or a family member will do it for you.
What happens next will largely depend on factors such as:
- Was it a car, commercial vehicle, truck, bus or motorcycle that collided with your car?
- If another driver was negligent, did he or she have insurance?
- What evidence of negligence by another driver clearly stands out: drunk driving? Speeding? Inattentive driving? Texting while driving?
- How serious are your injuries? How long will you be off work? Will you need surgery?
Damages You Can Recover
If you were injured due the negligence of another party, you have a right to recover compensation for the damages you have suffered. It's helpful to know what damages are recoverable so you can get the maximum compensation for everything you have lost.
In West Virginia, you can recover both special damages and general damages.
Special damages (also known as economic damages) are damages that are financial in nature such as medical bills, lost wages and damage to your vehicle.
General damages refer to losses that are not financial in nature, but nonetheless have a significant impact on your life. These losses include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, permanence of injury & annoyance.
General damages are usually the largest component of your personal injury settlement or award. General damages are highly personal to you and the effect the injury has had on your life. For example, for a new mother, a back injury may mean that you are unable to pick up your child. For a runner, it may mean that you are no longer able to do the thing you enjoy. It takes an experienced attorney to help document your general damages claim and secure the maximum compensation. It helps to keep a personal journal to help document how the injury has affected your daily life.
Paying Your Medical Bills After An Accident
Paying for medical bills after an accident can be a problem, especially if you do not have medical coverage. However, there is usually an option to help you get the care you need.
If the accident was the fault of another party, his or her insurance company is responsible for your medical bills and other damages. However, the insurance company will not pay medical bills as you go. Instead, it will issue a check for all of your damages, including past and future medical bills, after your case is resolved.
Until your case is resolved, you will need another way to pay medical bills. Here are some of your options:
- Your auto insurance may have a limited amount of coverage, known as Medical Pay coverage in West Virginia and Ohio, and personal injury protection (PIP) in Kentucky.
- If you have medical coverage through your employer or a private plan, you can use that plan to pay your bills. Your insurance company will expect repayment once you recover compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Our attorneys can negotiate with your insurance company to ensure that you keep as much money in your pocket as possible.
- If you are eligible, Medicaid or Medicare will pay your bills. Like private or group health coverage, these plans will expect reimbursement after you recover compensation.
- There are doctors who will provide your care in exchange for a lien on your personal injury award or settlement. Our lawyers will draft a protection letter so your credit will not be affected. We can recommend and set up an appointment with a doctor for you.
You will need to see a doctor and follow his or her instructions to document your accident-related injuries. Otherwise, the insurance company of the at-fault driver is not likely to pay much for your claim.
Vehicle Damage Claims
Dealing with an insurance company over a vehicle damage claim can be difficult when you are laid up after an accident. If we are representing you in your personal injury case against the at-fault driver, we will handle your vehicle damage claim without charge.
In West Virginia, if you are injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, you are entitled to have your vehicle repaired at a body shop of your choice. If the cost of repairs exceeds the value of your vehicle, you are entitled to the fair market value. You are also entitled to a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired or for a reasonable amount of time while you are buying a new car.
Our lawyers will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf so that you can concentrate on your health and your family. Recovering from an accident is difficult enough without having to deal with the hassle of vehicle repairs and insurance companies.
The most important issue after an accident is obtaining the medical care you need and following through on your doctor's treatment recommendations. If you have suffered a serious injury, your personal injury claim will be worth much more money than your vehicle damage claim. However, if you fail to follow up on your medical treatment, the insurance company will assume that you are not injured, so let us help you maximize your recovery starting with repair or replacement of your vehicle.
Whatever the specifics of your car accident, the sooner you get a skillful personal injury attorney on your side, the better positioned you will be to push for a favorable outcome. Johnstone & Gabhart, LLP, files injury claims and lawsuits on behalf of car accident victims in West Virginia. We understand how important it is for injured people and their families to know what to expect in a car accident case. We are here to answer questions, provide guidance and work hard to get results for our clients.
Our attorneys have more than 50 years of experience advocating for motor vehicle accident injury victims in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. We are ready to bring our comprehensive knowledge of these cases to obtain the compensation you need to heal and elevate your quality of life moving forward. We encourage you to reach out and schedule a free initial consultation as soon as possible.
Contact Us To Schedule A Free Initial Consultation
To get in touch and schedule a free initial consultation with us, call 304-553-0830 or email the firm.