As a responsible driver, you try hard to follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, you could still be involved in a car accident because someone else was acting negligently. The good news is, if you’re in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you could seek financial compensation for your damages with the help of an Elkins, WV car accident lawyer.
Car Accident Lawyers Serving Elkins, WV
Car accident attorneys advocate for your right to compensation after you’ve been in an accident and incurred expenses because of that accident. They use their vast knowledge of the laws and legal system to argue on your behalf and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Can I Receive Compensation After a Car Accident in Elkins?
The bills and medical expenses you incur after an accident can be daunting. It will seem like they just keep piling up and that can leave you stressed about how you’re going to pay for everything. If you work with an Elkins, West Virginia car accident lawyer however, you could get financial compensation for expenses like:
- Doctor’s bills
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Vehicle damage and repair costs
- Lost wages after being away from work
- Lost earning capacity after being permanently or temporarily disabled
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
Car Insurance Requirements for West Virginia
West Virginia drivers must purchase car insurance that will pay for injuries and damages if they’re in a car accident. The minimum requirements for auto insurance in West Virginia are:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person
- $50,000 bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
Is Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in West Virginia?
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) protects the policyholder if the at-fault driver’s insurance limits are not high enough to cover the accident victim’s total expenses. While it’s a good idea to carry this kind of coverage, it is not required under West Virginia law.
Uninsured motorists coverage (UM), on the other hand, is required under West Virginia law. This type of coverage protects the policyholder if the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance at all. You should note that, while your insurance company may try to sell you higher limits than are required by state law, the minimum requirements for UM are as follows:
- $25,000 UM bodily injury per person
- $50,000 UM bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 UM for property damage
Driving Safety Laws
The laws outlined below are designed to keep the public safe and ignoring them is what often causes car accidents.
In West Virginia, nobody is allowed to drive if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more. Commercial drivers and truckers aren’t allowed to drive if their BAC is .04 or more and those under 21 aren’t allowed to driver 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
All drivers, front seat passengers, and back seat passengers under 18 are required to wear seat belts when in West Virginia. Not doing os can result in $25 in fines.
Children have to sit in appropriate safety seats if they are 8 years old or younger and less than 4 feet and 9 inches tall. Car seats must meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards. You can learn more about finding the right seat at Safe Kids Worldwide.
Violating these laws can mean fines between $10 and $20.
Cell Phone Use and Texting
Nobody in West Virginia can text and drive legally.
Drivers over 18 can make a phone call with the help of a hands free device only. Drivers under 18 are only allowed to make a call if it’s to 9-1-1.
All West Virginia vehicles need 2 working headlights in order to operate legally. There must be one on each side of the front of the vehicle. Headlights must be used between sunset and sunrise, when it’s too foggy, rainy, snowy, or smokey to see properly, or any time when a driver cannot see 500 feet ahead.
Leaving a vehicle unattended while running in West Virginia is prohibited. To avoid fines of $100 or more, you have to turn your car off and take the key out of the ignition when leaving it alone.
Unattended Kids and Animals
Animals and children left in vehicles can be killed or injured very easily. This practice also may be illegal where you live, so make sure you are familiar with local laws regarding unattended children and animals.
Who Handles Damages After a West Virginia Car Accident
Despite the fact that West Virginia is an at-fault state, it also employs a modified comparative negligence rule to determine who is responsible for the damages and expenses incurred after an auto accident. This rule states that the amount of damages a person can be awarded depends on their percentage of fault in the accident. For example:
Let’s say your case goes to court and they rule that you are entitled to $50,000 in damages after a car accident. However, in their ruling, they also state that you were found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, whereas the other driver was 80 percent at fault. Using the modified comparative negligence rule, your damages would be reduced by 20 percent, for a total of $40,000.
This rule applies whenever you are 49 percent or less at fault for an accident. Unfortunately, if your fault is 50 percent or more, you won’t be entitled to any damages.
If you can receive damages however, the best way to seek them is from either your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you wish to go after the individual who cause the accident directly, you may want to consider contacting an Elkins, WV car accident lawyer for help.
West Virginia Car Accident Statistics
West Virginia roads see car accidents every single day, many of them fatal. Here are some statistics on fatal car accidents in West Virginia in 2015:
- That year, there were 246 fatal car accidents
- These resulted in 268 deaths
- 91 of people in these accidents were occupants of cars, 96 were occupants of SUVs or pickup trucks, 4 were occupants of large trucks, 32 were motorcyclists, 19 were pedestrians, and 1 was a bicyclist
- 59 percent of these crashes were single-vehicle and 41 percent were multi-vehicle
- 147 of these crashes were the result of alcohol impairment
- 99 of the vehicle occupants killed weren’t wearing a seatbelt
- 71 percent of these crashes happened in rural areas
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
A car accident can leave you in a state of shock and confusion. It can be hard to remember what steps you need to take during this time, so it’s a good idea to write down the following tips and keep them handy in case you ever need them:
- Call 9-1-1 to request emergency personnel
- Keep those who are injured safe until the ambulance arrives
- If you can, collect debris and move damaged vehicles off the road
- Exchange names, contacts, and insurance information with any drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists involved
- Take notes about when and where the accident occurred
- Photograph all vehicles and injuries
- Contact your insurance company
- Get in touch with an Elkins, West Virginia car accident attorney
Remember, no matter how sure you are that the other driver is at fault for or caused the accident, it’s best to keep statements like this to yourself and share them only with your lawyer.
Should I Hire a West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer or Not?
The short answer is: yes. The statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage lawsuits is only two years in West Virginia. Taking your case to court could be a process that could take many months. A lawyer can help this process easier, whereas trying to handle your own case could be much harder and more stressful.
Lawyers also have the resources to help them do things like:
- Gather police reports
- Track down medical records
- Collect phone call recordings and CCTV footage (if available)
- Deal with insurance adjustors
- Talk to witnesses
- Find expert witnesses
- Research vehicle defects and recalls
Elkins, West Virginia Car Accident Attorneys
After a car accident, your focus should be on healing. The sooner you can get better and get back to work, the sooner you’ll feel a sense of normalcy after your car accident.
If you hire an Elkins car accident lawyer, not only will you be able to focus on getting better, you’ll be able to have peace of mind knowing that your case will be handled by a local, legal expert. In fact, we’ve helped clients all over the Elkins area, including neighborhoods like:
- City Center
- Mill Creek
- Dry Fork
- Davis and Elkins College
- Elkins Junction
- 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 attorneys at Colombo Law, offer free consultations, with no pressure or obligation to use our services. If you do decide to work with us, you can do so knowing that we won’t charge you a dime unless we reach a successful settlement in your case.
There’s no need to take the stress of this situation on your shoulders. Let the lawyers at Colombo Law help make this process easier and less stressful. Call us to set up your free consultation at 304-599-4229.