Car accidents are common. They can happen on your way to work, on your commute home, or even when you run to the store. Before you know it, you’re hurt, your car is totaled, and you have thousands of dollars in repairs and medical bills. Fortunately, with the help of a Clarksburg, WV car accident lawyer, you may be able to be compensated for personal injuries and property damages.

Car Accident Lawyers Helping Injured People in Clarksburg

A car accident lawyer is a professional who has years of education and real-world experience helping the victims of auto accidents get financial compensation for their injuries and/or damages. Their job is to know the law and use it to your advantage to fight for your right to a fair settlement.

What Can I Be Compensated for After a Car Crash in Clarksburg?

In West Virginia, you can be compensated for both emotional and physical injuries, as well as property damage. As Clarksburg car accident attorneys, we’ve also helped our clients receive compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Inconvenience
  • Lost earning ability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship
  • Wrongful death

West Virginia Car Insurance Laws

All West Virginians who wish to operate a passenger vehicle must acquire the appropriate amount of car insurance. According to state law, that means minimum coverages of:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Requirements in West Virginia

In addition to their regular car insurance policy, all West Virginia drivers must buy uninsured motorist insurance (UM) to protect them if they’re involved hit by an uninsured driver. You can purchase more UM coverage if you want, but the minimum amounts required are:

  • $25,000 UM bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 UM bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 UM for property damage

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), on the other hand is not currently required. Even so, you may want to consider this coverage as a way of protecting yourself and your passengers if you are in an accident and your damages exceed the limits of the other party’s insurance policy.

Expenses After a West Virginia Car Accident

West Virginia uses an at-fault system for deciding who is liable after an auto accident. Additionally, the state alsos uses a modified comparative negligence rule to determine the settlement award amount based on each driver’s percentage of fault. For instance:

If you think the accident is 100 percent the other driver’s fault, you could go to court and ask for an award in the amount of $50,000. The court could decide you’re entitled to this amount, but that you were 20 percent at fault for the crash. Under the comparative modified negligence rule, that means you’ll receive 20 percent less damages for a total of $40,000.

The example above would be how any case would work, as long as you are 49 percent or less at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, if you’re 50 percent or more at fault, you won’t be entitled to damages.

Damages in a car accident can be sought from the at-fault party’s insurance company or your own. They can also be sought from the at-fault party directly, but doing so without a Clarksburg, WV car accident lawyer could be tricky and is not recommended.

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Driving Safety Laws

The laws mentioned below keep both motorists and pedestrians safe. When they are ignored, drivers can cause injuries and kill innocent people.

Drunk Driving

In West Virginia, you can’t drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more. Commercial drivers and truckers can’t drive with a BAC of .04 or more and drivers under 21 can’t drive with a BAC of .02 or more.

First time offenders of West Virginia’s drunk driving laws will face:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $100 and $500
  • 6 months of license suspension
  • A mandatory safety course before license reinstatement

Second time offenders will face:

  • 6 months to 1 year in jail
  • Fines between $1,000 and $3,000
  • A mandatory safety course
  • 10 year license suspension or a 1-year suspension if they agree to use an ignition interlock system

Third time offenders will face:

  • 1 to 3 years in jail
  • Fines between $3,000 and $5,000
  • A mandatory safety course
  • Lifetime license suspension or a 1-year suspension if they agree to use an ignition interlock system

Seat Belts

Seat belt use in West Virginia is required for:

  • All drivers
  • All front seat passengers
  • All back seat passengers under the age of 18

Violating these laws will result in $25 in fines.

Car Seats

Whenever a vehicle is in motion, children who are 8 years old or younger and less than 4 feet and 9 inches tall, have to sit in a child safety seat that’s been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Check out Safe Kids Worldwide for more information on selecting the right seat and making sure it’s installed correctly.

Violating these laws will result in $10 to $20 in fines.

Cell Phone Use and Texting

No West Virginia drivers is legally allowed to send or write text messages while driving.

Drivers over 18 are allowed use hands-free devices to make calls but can’t use handheld cell phones to make calls. Additionally, all drivers under age 18 are prohibited from making any call unless they need to contact 9-1-1.

Headlight Use

All West Virginia vehicles must have 2 working headlights, one on each side of the front of the vehicle. Drivers are required to use their headlights from sunset to sunrise, when fog, rain, snow, or smoke affect visibility, or when poor lighting keeps drivers them from seeing 500 feet ahead at any given time.

Unattended Vehicles

Leaving a vehicle unattended while it is running is illegal in West Virginia. If you want to leave your car unattended, you have to turn it off and take the key out of the ignition.

Violating these laws will result in $100 in fines for first time offenders and much higher fines for repeat offenders.

Unattended Kids and Animals

You can hurt or kill a child or animal if you leave them unattended in a vehicle. This is also illegal in many places in West Virginia, so check with your local police to learn more about your city’s laws.

Car Accident Facts for West Virginia

There are thousands of car accidents each year in West Virginia. Unfortunately, many of them result in loss of life. Here are some statistics on fatal car accidents in West Virginia from 2016:

  • A total of 246 fatal car accidents occurred that year
  • These resulted in 268 deaths
  • 99 of those people weren’t wearing safety belts
  • In these accidents, 91 of those killed were in cars, 96 were in SUVs or pickup trucks, 4 were in large trucks, 32 were on motorcyclists, 19 were pedestrians, and 1 was on a bicycle
  • 59 percent of these fatal crashes were single-vehicle and 41 percent were multi-vehicle
  • 147 were caused by alcohol
  • 71 percent of these crashes occurred in rural areas

Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Clarksburg

If you’ve ever been in a car accident before, you know one of your first instincts is to be angry at the driver who caused it. While this is a completely natural reaction, you should take great care to minimize your anger and avoid saying anything you may regret. After all, if you say the wrong thing, you may compromise the outcome of your case.

Instead, you can be more productive after a car accident by:

  • Calling 9-1-1
  • Checking yourself and others for injuries
  • Gathering loose debris and moving damaged cars
  • Getting insurance information, names, and phone numbers from the other driver(s)
  • Taking notes about accident details
  • Photographing everything about the accident scene (cars, injuries, etc.)
  • Calling your insurance provider
  • Contacting the Clarksburg, WV car accident lawyers at Colombo Law

Should I Hire a Clarksburg Car Accident Lawyer?

It’s a good idea to at least consult with one, especially if you aren’t sure if you need a car accident lawyer or not. In many cases, the answer is yes for a few simple reasons:

  1. Lawyers know much more about the law than you do, and that will increase your chances of reaching a successful outcome.
  2. Lawyers can do the legal work more quickly and efficiently than you could on your own. This is important, especially considering that the statute of limitations in West Virginia is only two years.
  3. Lawyers have a support team of staff to help them with the small, but time consuming tasks of:
  • Collecting police reports
  • Gathering medical records
  • Searching through phone call recordings and CCTV footage (if available)
  • Talking to insurance adjustors
  • Finding witnesses
  • Collecting expert witnesses to testify in your favor
  • Finding out whether an automobile defect or recall could have caused your accident

Car Accident Lawyers in Clarksburg, West Virginia

We’re proud to have helped helped hundreds of people get their lives back on track after a car accident. We’ve worked with clients all over Clarksburg, WV, including areas like:

  • Wolf Summit
  • Adamston / Edgewood
  • Stealey
  • Glen Elk / Montpelier
  • North View
  • Broad Oaks
  • City Center
  • Broad Oaks
  • Broadway
  • East View
  • Gregory Run
  • Annmore
  • West Milford
  • Salem
  • Nutter Fort
  • North View
  • Stealey
  • Sycamore
  • Interstate 79
  • Interstate 68
  • West Virginia Route 7
  • U.S. Route 19
  • U.S. Route 119
  • U.S. Route 250
  • U.S. Route 50
  • U.S. Route 48

The Clarksburg, WV car accident attorneys at Colombo Law are passionate, dedicated, and caring. We know this time is incredibly tough, and we want to make this process as easy as possible. That’s why we offer free consultations with absolutely no obligation to use our services.

In fact, we work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay for our services at all unless we help you settle or win a case. All you need to do to learn more about your legal options it call us at 304-599-4229.