Most of us get into the car on a daily or near-daily basis without thinking much about it. Few of us consider how dangerous it can be to drive or ride in a motor vehicle. But each year, an average of 292 West Virginians are hospitalized due to car crashes, and an additional 341 people die due to motor vehicle accidents.
If you have been injured in a collision, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or any other responsible parties. Through this type of personal injury claim, you can recover financial compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress. An experienced Parkersburg car accident lawyer can take on the insurance company for you and help you get the money that you deserve.
The legal team at Johnstone & Gabhart fights for injury victims throughout West Virginia, including the greater Parkersburg region. We work hard to help our clients get justice, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for money. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a West Virginia personal injury attorney, give us a call today.
When Can I File a Claim for a Car Crash?
Car accidents happen all too frequently across the United States, including right here in West Virginia. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), human error is a leading cause of traffic accidents. Some of the most common causes of motor vehicle crashes include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Distracted driving
- Road defects
- Poor weather
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to pay attention
- Improper turns
- Backing up without paying attention
- Driver fatigue
- Running red lights, yellow lights, or stop signs
If your motor vehicle accident was caused by another person, then you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. In most situations, these lawsuits are based on a theory of negligence or carelessness. In some cases – such as drunk driving crashes – your attorney will argue that the at-fault driver acted intentionally or recklessly.
To prove negligence, you will need to demonstrate four things:
- Duty: the at-fault driver (defendant) owed you (plaintiff) a duty of care
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty in some way
- Causation: this violation was the proximate or but-for cause of the accident (i.e., but for the other driver speeding, they would have been able to stop in time to prevent a rear-end accident).
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered financial losses as a result.
If you are able to prove these elements, then you may prevail in a West Virginia car accident lawsuit.
Of course, many car accident claims are far more complex than one vehicle striking another due to driver error. For example, there may be cases where a single-vehicle crash was ultimately caused by a government agency failing to properly maintain a road. In other situations, a manufacturing defect may have caused an accident.
It can be hard to figure out whether you have a claim without talking to a Parkersburg car accident attorney. If you were hurt in a motor vehicle collision, don’t hesitate to call our law office. During a free initial consultation, we will listen to your story and advise you of your legal rights and options for pursuing a claim.
What Type of Compensation Can I Get in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
In any type of personal injury claim, you may be entitled to compensation, which is referred to as damages. There are three main types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages cover direct financial losses that a victim suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Examples of economic damages include property damage, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, medical bills, and future medical treatment. You can usually prove economic damages through invoices, estimates, pay stubs, and other documentation.
Non-economic damages compensate an accident victim for their intangible losses. These can be harder to quantify, but they are no less important than economic damages. Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium, scarring, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Finally, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where a defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. Punitive damages are meant to penalize a wrongdoer while deterring other people from engaging in similar conduct. A classic example of a car accident case where punitive damages are appropriate is a drunk driving crash.
How Can a Parkersburg Car Accident Lawyer Help?
After a motor vehicle accident, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster. They may ask you to give a statement or sign some paperwork. They may even offer you a settlement. You should never talk to an adjuster or sign anything until after you have had a chance to talk to a Parkersburg car accident attorney.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Part of the way that they are able to rake in massive profits is by paying out as little as possible on legitimate personal injury claims. When an insurance company makes you an initial settlement offer, you can be sure that the amount is far less than the true value of your case.
Hiring a lawyer helps to level the playing field between you and the mega-corporation. The insurance companies have teams of attorneys and adjusters to advocate for them. It only makes sense that you would also have someone on your team to fight for you. Remember: the insurance company isn’t bound to act in your best interests – but your attorney is.
Studies show that people who are represented by counsel recover an average of 40% more than people who represent themselves in personal injury lawsuits. The reason why is simple: insurance companies know that when you have legal representation, they can’t get away with paying you pennies on the dollar for the claim. They understand that your lawyer is ready, willing, and able to take the case to trial – which motivates them to offer a fair settlement.
Johnstone & Gabhart has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We have more than 50 years of experience helping West Virginians get the money that they deserve for their losses. If you have been hurt in a car accident, you can rest assured that we won’t stop fighting until we achieve justice for you.
Call Our Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation
Being hurt in a motor vehicle accident can be traumatic and overwhelming. In the weeks and months that follow the collision, you may now know what to do or where to turn for help. Johnstone & Gabhart is here for you.
Our team of seasoned Parkersburg car accident lawyers is dedicated to helping our clients get maximum compensation for their injuries. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you never pay a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.
What If I Was Partially at Fault for the Car Crash?
Even if you were somewhat to blame for your car accident, you can still recover money from the at-fault driver under West Virginia’s comparative negligence laws. As long as you were 50% or less to blame, you can seek compensation through a settlement or a verdict at trial. Your total compensation will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
For example, if you suffered $250,000 in damages in a wreck and were 30% at fault, then your total compensation will be reduced by $75,000 (30%) for a total recovery of $175,000. In this way, you can still get the money that you deserve for your injuries even if you made a driving error. Contact Johnstone & Gabhart to schedule a free consultation with a Parkersburg car accident attorney.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Parkersburg Car Accident?
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in West Virginia is 2 years. With a few exceptions, this means that you have 2 years from the date of your car accident to file a claim. If you don’t file a lawsuit within that time period, then the defendant can seek to have your case dismissed.
2 years may seem like a lot of time, but it can go by quickly when you’re busy with doctor’s appointments, therapies, and other steps in the recovery process. Your best option is to consult with a skilled Parkersburg car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Reach out to Johnstone & Gabhart for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment with a WV personal injury attorney.