There is no predicting when a car accident will occur. You could be commuting to work as usual, but suddenly be rear-ended at a red light or broadsided while going through an intersection. Sometimes a car accident can be relatively minor. For example, you sustain minor injuries and need to take some time off from work. Other times a car accident can be life-changing. For example, you or a loved one sustained a catastrophic or fatal injury.
Knowing what course of action to take after a crash is often confusing. Not only are you dealing with the financial and emotional impact of a crash, but you're also up against an insurance company that doesn't have your best interests at heart. Without an experienced West Virginia car accident lawyer on your side, the insurance company will dictate the outcome of your case. That's why you have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney and learning about your legal options. Here's how an attorney can help.
Fault needs to be established
There are many types of human error that lead to car accidents. The common ones we see at Klie Law Offices are distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, aggressive driving and drowsy driving. If you were involved in a car accident, the tricky part is proving that someone else's negligent or reckless behavior was the cause. Without sufficient evidence, the other driver's insurance company can shift the blame onto you.
It's important to first acknowledge that West Virginia is a "no-fault" state. That means you can pursue damages from your own car insurance company regardless of who was at fault. This is known as first-party benefits. But there is a limit on how much you can recover in damages. In order to recover damages from your own insurance company, you must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Unlike many other no-fault states where PIP is required, it's optional in West Virginia. We strongly recommend purchasing PIP coverage.
Our law firm also serves clients in Ohio, which is considered an "at-fault" or "tort" car insurance state. This means that you must prove that you weren't at fault for a crash in order to recover damages.
If the crash was serious and you accrued damages that exceeded the PIP limit in West Virginia, then you have to recover damages from the other driver's insurance company. In this case, fault needs to be proven. This can be accomplished through an in-depth investigation. Your attorney may collect the following pieces of evidence to help you build a strong case:
- Physical evidence from the crash scene with the help of a crash reconstructionist
- Evidence documented in the official police report
- Statements from witnesses
- Footage captured by surveillance cameras or dash-cams
- Electronic records from the at-fault driver's cellphone provider.
Your injury must be linked to your crash
If you never see a doctor after a car accident, it's going to be difficult to link your aches and pains to your crash. It's critical that you see a doctor promptly, get a diagnosis and ensure that your medical evaluation is documented. Without an official diagnosis and proof of treatment, the other driver's insurance company can argue that your injury was pre-existing and had nothing to do with your crash.
The most common crash-related injuries we see include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, most commonly concussions
- Bone fractures
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts, bruises and contusions
- Spinal injuries, including whiplash
- Nerve damage
- Damage to internal organs
You must be fully compensated through a settlement or verdict
At Klie Law Offices, we often help injured motorists recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic damages through a settlement or court verdict. We also help the families of motorists killed in crashes pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Most car accident cases are resolved through a settlement, which is agreed upon by an attorney and the at-fault driver's insurance company. But sometimes an agreement can't be reached, and a case goes to trial. If this happens, it can take several months to resolve your case through a court verdict. But we are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Before we can begin negotiating for a full and fair settlement, your damages must be accurately determined. Be aware that the other driver's insurance company may offer a quick lowball settlement to avoid paying you more in the long run. A quick settlement will likely only cover a small fraction of your current and future damages. For example, after accepting a settlement, you may learn that you need an operation. If you take a settlement, you won't be able to be compensated for the full extent of your losses.
You need an attorney on your side who will place an accurate value on your case and settle for nothing less than what's owed to you. Put your trust in Klie Law Offices. We have served injured motorists and their families throughout West Virginia and Ohio since 2005.
Contact us online or call us to schedule your free legal consultation.