Each year, tens of millions of Americans are hurt in accidents. In some situations, it’s just a matter of bad luck – like not watching where you are going and slipping on a patch of ice. In other cases, you got hurt because someone else was negligent (careless) in some way.
If another person caused your injury, then you may be able to file what is known as a personal injury lawsuit against them. In most cases, you will be filing a claim against their insurance policy, which will defend them in the lawsuit and pay out any settlement or verdict at trial. You may be able to recover financial compensation for all of your losses through this type of claim, including lost wages, property damage, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, our Parkersburg personal injury lawyers we are committed to helping everyday people get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We know that the thought of filing a lawsuit can be scary. We’ll stand by your side throughout the entire process, starting with a free initial consultation.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
When someone gets hurt because of something that someone else did – or failed to do – then any lawsuit that arises is known as a personal injury claim. These cases may also be referred to as “torts.” In most cases, tort claims are based on a theory of negligence or carelessness.
Negligence is a legal standard that essentially means that a person failed to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. For example, if a reasonable person would keep their dog away from visitors because it has a history of biting people who come into the house, a failure to do so may be considered negligence. In that situation, the victim could potentially file a dog bite lawsuit against the dog’s owner.
To prove a negligence claim, you will generally have to demonstrate four elements:
- Duty: the at-fault party (defendant) owed the injury victim (plaintiff) a duty to use reasonable care.
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty in some way
- Causation: this violation was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses as a result.
This standard changes a bit in different personal injury cases, such as slip and falls (premises liability), dangerous and defective products (products liability), and medical malpractice. In addition, if the defendant violated a statute, then you may not have to prove any of these elements under a theory of negligence per se. Your Parkersburg personal injury attorney can explain these standards to you and what evidence you will need to prove your case.
In some situations, personal injury claims are brought against a defendant who acted intentionally or recklessly. For example, if someone physically assaults you, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them (separate from any criminal charges that they may face). Alternatively, if a person drives drunk and causes a car accident, then their reckless behavior may be the basis of a lawsuit.
It can be hard to know whether or not you have a case until you talk to a lawyer who is experienced in West Virginia personal injury law. Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team. We’ll help you understand your legal rights and options for pursuing a personal injury claim.
Types of Personal Injury Claims We Handle
Our law firm has decades of experience representing injured West Virginians in all types of lawsuits, including:
- Car accidents
- Bus crashes
- Distracted driving accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Drunk driving accidents
- Dog attacks
- Rear-end crashes
- Slip and falls
- Pedestrian accidents
- Product liability (dangerous and defective products)
- Bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Wrongful death
- Rideshare/Uber accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Truck accidents
Each of our cases starts with a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. During this appointment, we will take the time to truly listen to your story. We will then offer you advice on your options, which may include filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
ch case, our goal is to help our clients achieve justice. We fight hard to help our clients get maximum compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured in any type of accident, you can count on Johnstone & Gabhart to advocate for your best interests.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit Process
Personal injury claims typically involve an insurance company. This may be an auto insurer in the case of a car accident, a homeowner’s insurance company if you are attacked by a dog, or even a commercial general liability policy if you slip and fall at a store.
The process generally starts with sending a demand letter to the responsible insurance company. A demand letter will list the facts of the case, legal reasons why their insured is liable, and then concludes with a demand for compensation (damages).
In a personal injury claim, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your direct financial losses (economic damages) as well as your intangible losses (non-economic damages). If the at-fault party acted intentionally or recklessly, you may even be able to recover punitive damages.
Typical damages in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Property damages
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In many cases, the insurance company will focus heavily on economic damages, while downplaying non-economic damages. They may even try to argue that you were partially at fault for the accident. Your Parkersburg personal injury attorney will work hard to put together a strong case for compensation – and to push back against these allegations.
Most personal injury claims are resolved outside of court through negotiation between the parties. It may still be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to meet West Virginia’s time limitation for these types of cases (the statute of limitations). Even after a lawsuit is filed, negotiations will usually continue until a settlement is reached – right up to the eve of trial.
In the rare case that a personal injury case goes to court, each side will have an opportunity to make arguments, introduce evidence, and question witnesses. At the close of the trial, your Parkersburg personal injury lawyer will ask a jury to return a verdict in your favor.
How Our Parkersburg Law Firm Can Help
Most people are lucky enough to never even have to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you are hurt in an accident that was caused by another person, it can be hard to know what to do or where to turn for help. Our law offices are here for you.
Johnstone & Gabhart represents individuals throughout West Virginia who have been hurt in all types of accidents. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Parkersburg personal injury attorney, give us a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer If the Insurance Company Accepts Fault?
It depends. Generally, insurance companies don’t have your best interests at heart – so an adjuster telling you that they “accept fault” doesn’t mean that they’ll pay you a fair settlement. Instead, they will likely offer you a lowball amount that doesn’t come close to covering your losses.
There may be situations – such as an accident that only involved property damage – where it makes sense to handle a claim on your own with the insurer. However, in most cases, you should at least schedule a free consultation with a Parkersburg personal injury lawyer. They will help you understand your rights so that you aren’t taken advantage of by the insurance company.
How Can I Afford a Parkersburg Personal Injury Lawyer?
Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they won’t charge a fee unless they recover money for you through a settlement or verdict at trial. The total attorney’s fee will be a percentage of your total recovery.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, we represent all clients with a contingency fee agreement. This ensures that injury victims can get the legal help that they need even if they don’t have the extra cash to pay an hourly fee. Call our law offices today to schedule a free consultation with a Parkersburg personal injury attorney.