Car accidents are downright scary. It’s an experience filled with uncertainty and doubt, about whether you’ll be ok, how you’ll fix your car, and whether or not you’ll be able to pay for everything. Fortunately, a Fairmont, West Virginia car accident lawyer could help you seek compensation for your personal injuries and property damage.
What is a Car Accident Lawyer
Car accident lawyers exist to help you find out whether or not you’re entitled to compensation after a car accident and to help you fight for what you deserve. They can also help you settle with the at-fault party’s insurance company or take your case to court if need be. The local Fairmont, West Virginia car accident lawyers at Colombo Law are here to make sure car accident victims in our communities have every chance at getting the compensation they deserve.
What Can I Be Compensated for After a Car Accident?
Dealing with a car accident can be financially troubling. All of the sudden, you have to pay for repairs, medical bills, and countless other costs. Thankfully, when you hire a Fairmont car accident lawyer, they may be able to help you get compensation for things like
- Medical expenses
- Physical and emotional injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Missed activities
- Lost of wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
West Virginia Car Insurance Minimum Requirements
To drive in West Virginia, you must purchase car insurance in the minimum amounts of:
- $25,000 in coverage for per person bodily injuries
- $50,000 in coverage for per accident bodily injuries
- $25,000 in coverage for property damages
Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage Requirements in West Virginia
Drivers in West Virginia have to buy uninsured motorist coverage (UM) to protect them against drivers who don’t have insurance. Your insurance provider may offer you more coverage than is required, and while you should consider doing that just to protect yourself, the minimum amounts you need are:
- $25,000 UM coverage for per person bodily injury
- $50,000 UM coverage for per accident bodily injury
- $25,000 UM coverage for property damage
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) can also be useful, but it’s a type of insurance that isn’t mandatory under the law. You should still consider buying UIM so that you’re protected if you’re involved in a car accident with low policy limits.Get Help NowNo Obligation - 100% Private
Driving Safety Laws
West Virginia has several other laws that were created to keep the public safe. They include:
Those over 21 can’t drive if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or more. Commercial drivers can’t drive if their BAC is .04 BAC or more and those under 21 can’t drive if their BAC is .02 or more.
Failing to follow these laws can mean:
- First time offenders will face up to 6 months in jail, fines of $100 to $500, 6 months of license suspension, and a mandatory safety course.
- Second time offenders will face 6 months and 1 year in jail, fines of $1,000 to $3,000, and a mandatory safety course. They could also lose their license for up to 10 years or 1 year if they agree to use a mandatory ignition interlock system before driving.
- Third time offenders facing 1 to 3 years in jail, fines of $3,000 to $5,000, and a mandatory safety course. They could also lose their license for life or 1 year if they agree to use a mandatory ignition interlock system before driving.
West Virginia requires the following in terms of seat belt use:
- All drivers,
- All front seat passengers,
- And all back seat passengers under the age of 18 must wear seat belts when the vehicle is in motion.
Violators will pay $25 in fines if caught.
Kids in West Virginia must sit in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved seat if they are 8 or younger and 4 feet and 9 inches tall or shorter. Failure to seat your child in the appropriate car seat can result in $10 to $20 fines. You can learn how to choose the right seat for your child at Safe Kids Worldwide.
Cell Phone Use and Texting
Nobody in West Virginia is allowed to text while they drive.
Drivers over 18 can make hands-free calls but cannot use handheld cell phones.
Drivers under 18 cannot make calls at all, unless they need to contact 9-1-1.
West Virginia vehicles need 2 working headlights installed on each side of the front of the car. Headlight use is mandatory between sunset and sunrise. Drivers also have to use their headlights when fog, rain, snow, or smoke affect visibilit and when bad lighting keeps drivers from seeing 500 feet ahead.
Leaving a running vehicle unattended in West Virginia is not legal. Instead, you have to turn your car off before leaving it alone.
First time offenders will pay $100 in fines and repeat offenders will pay even more.
Unattended Kids and Animals
Leaving kids or animals unattended in hot cars can result in tragic injuries and deaths. It’s also illegal in many West Virginia cities. Contact local law enforcement to learn your city’s laws about leaving kids and pets unattended in cars.
Who is Responsible for Damages After a West Virginia Car Accident
Our state uses an at-fault system, but it also uses a modified comparative negligence rule to figure the value of the damages you could receive. It works like this:
Pretend your case goes to court. You could say the other driver is responsible for 100 percent of the accident and that your damages are worth $50,000. The court could agree that your expenses are worth $50,000, but they could disagree about who caused the accident and rule that 20 percent of the accident was your fault. Under West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence rule, the damages you’re entitled to would then be reduced by 20 percent, for a total of $40,000.
This rule applies to anyone who is 49 percent or less at fault for an accident. It’s important to note though, that if you are 50 percent or more at fault, you will not be entitled to damages.
The good news is, if you are able to get compensation, you can seek it from the at-fault party’s insurance provider or from your own insurance company. You can seek money from the individual themselves, but that often doesn’t turn out well without an experienced Fairmont, WV car accident attorney’s assistance.
West Virginia Car Accident Stats
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the most recent data for West Virginia car accidents comes from 2015 when there were:
- 246 fatal car accidents
- 268 deaths
- 91 occupants of cars killed, 96 occupants of SUVs or pickups killed, 4 occupants of large trucks killed, 32 motorcyclists killed, 19 pedestrians killed, and 1 bicyclist killed
- 59 percent of fatal crashes that involved one vehicle and 41 percent that involved multiple vehicles
- 147 alcohol-related fatal accidents
- 99 people who weren’t wearing their seatbelts killed
- 71 percent of fatal accidents that occurred on rural roads
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Do your best to remain calm. Getting angry and yelling at the other driver(s) is not going to help your case. You’re much better off doing productive things like:
- Calling 9-1-1
- Checking for injuries and getting emergency medical treatment
- Moving damaged vehicles and debris out of the road
- Swapping insurance and contact info with the other driver(s)
- Writing down the details of the accident
- Photographing the damaged vehicles
- Calling your insurance agent
- Contacting a Fairmont, WV car accident lawyer
Should I Hire a West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer or Not?
It’s never a bad idea to get in touch with a local car accident lawyer to see if you may have a case. Not only can this protect your financial options, it gives you a much better chance of reaching a successful outcome.
Plus, car accident attorneys will handle the details, no matter how big or small, and will gather things like:
- Police reports
- Medical bills
- Phone call recordings
- CCTV footage
- On-scene witnesses and expert witnesses
- Information about vehicle defects or recalls
Fairmont, West Virginia Car Accident Lawyers
We believe that every member of our community deserves to have excellent representation after we’ve been in a car accident. That’s why we service all areas of Fairmont, including
- West End
- Gaston Junction
- Grant Town
- White Hall
- Valley Falls
- Garden Village
- Beverly Hills
- Mount Harmony
- Pleasant Valley
- Timber Ridge
- 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
Don’t hesitate to get the help you need. We offer free consultations and reviews of your case, with no obligation to use our services. We also work on a contingency fee basis and don’t charge you unless we help you win. Call us to learn more about how we can help at 304-599-4229.