Car accidents happen without warning. In the span of a few seconds, your car can be totaled, and you can be seriously injured. Your life can be flipped upside down, and you could be left dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial hardships. The good news is, you can get help by hiring the car accident lawyers at Colombo Law in Morgantown.
Our car accident attorneys specialize in helping victims who have suffered personal injuries or property damages as a result of a car accident. Through years of schooling and countless hours of hands-on experience, our car accident lawyers in Morgantown are versed in local and federal laws, the legal system, and the litigation process.
Our car accident attorneys are your personal advocate. Our job is to make sure you are treated ethically and receive maximum compensation from the responsible party and the insurance companies. When you work with our auto accident attorneys, you will feel comfortable knowing that someone is in your corner and fighting for your rights every step of the way.
Why You Need a Morgantown Car Accident Lawyer
The statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage suits in West Virginia is two years. Legal battles can be lengthy, and you may not be able to reach a successful outcome in your case if you try to handle it yourself.
The process of dealing with insurance adjusters and filing a lawsuit, if need be, is a difficult one that involves many small steps and takes a lot of time. When you hire a Morgantown car accident attorney, you can relax knowing that they will take the burden of this process on their shoulders.
A car accident lawyer will handle every last detail for you, including:
- Collecting police reports
- Keeping track of medical records
- Collecting phone call recordings and CCTV footage (if available)
- Dealing with insurance adjusters
- Talking to witnesses
- Finding expert witnesses to testify in court
- Assessing whether an automobile defect or recall may have caused your accident
After a car accident, your focus should be on healing so that you can get back to work and normal life. When you hire a personal injury lawyer at Colombo Law, we can take on the stress of the legal aspects of your case so you can concentrate on healing.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in West Virginia
Being involved in a car accident can lead to a number of unwanted consequences. These include permanent injuries, loss of earnings, medical bills, and more. The most common causes of car accidents that we see on a yearly basis include the following:
Distracted Driving Proves Deadly
An outstanding number of drivers throughout Morgantown still fail to pay attention to the road. Because our world is so technology-centered, the rate of distracted driving has only gone up. Common distractions that cause car accidents in West Virginia include:
- Talking or texting on a cell phone
- Eating and driving
- Using a GPS for directions
- Changing the radio or listening to the music too loud
- Personal grooming (putting on makeup, etc.)
The United States government’s website for distracted driving, distraction.gov reports that 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015. Additionally, 391,000 people were seriously injured.
Driving Under the Influence Remains an Issue
Drunk driving accidents have been well-documented in West Virginia for quite some time. Regardless of the press it attracts, drivers in Morgantown and the rest of the state still get behind the wheel after drinking. West Virginian drunk driving fatalities average about 120 per year according to the CDC. In 2016 alone, there 145 people killed in alcohol-related accidents in West Virginia according to IIHS statistics. While these numbers fluctuate on a yearly basis, the problem is still right in front of us.
Often, car accidents caused by fatigued drivers may seem like innocent mistakes. However, victims of these accidents must know that these drivers made a conscious decision to keep driving instead of pulling off of the road to rest. Fatigued driving accidents are often compared to drunk driving accidents because of the nature in which they occur. Often, fatigued drivers will swerve across lanes and run stop lights and stop signs. These accidents can cause tremendous damage and catastrophic injuries to those who are involved.
Some examples of reckless driving incidents that occur in West Virginia include tailgating, changing lanes without warning, driving too close, and weaving in and out of traffic. While there is no reason for anyone in Morgantown to engage in any of these habits, they still happen on a day to day basis. Driving recklessly and without any regard for others on the road can easily kill or seriously injure an innocent person. Not to mention, it carries a 6 point deduction off of one’s license.
Related to reckless driving, speeding is a contributing factor in many car accidents. Speed limits exist for a reason, and many people consciously choose not to follow them. When people choose to drive too fast, they may not have enough time to stop and avoid an accident with another motor vehicle. Because speeding drivers are traveling so fast, the accidents they cause are often very serious or fatal.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents can cause severe injuries and death to their victims. Most people who are hurt in a car accident suffer from impact injuries. Other common injuries in car accidents include cuts and abrasions from broken glass and shrapnel. In serious rollover accidents, victims can often be completely ejected from their vehicle.
The most common injuries we see stemming from car accidents in Morgantown include:
A blow to the head during a car accident can cause an injury known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI can be a mild concussion that heals on its own within a couple of weeks, or it can be severe and cause life-altering complications. Some of these complications can include loss of motor function, speech impairments, vision impairments, memory loss, concentration loss, emotional issues and more.
Neck and Back Injuries
Whiplash is the most common injury suffered in car accidents. It describes a neck injury in which the neck stretches and quickly snaps violently. Whiplash injuries can cause damage to vertebrae, ligaments, disks, and the spinal cord. When the spinal cord is affected by an accident, full or partial paralysis can occur. This can alter a person’s life forever and cause them to rely on full-time assistive care. Even when these injuries are less severe, they can still cause tremendous pain and can significantly reduce the quality of life.
The crushing impact of a car accident can break ribs and/or the sternum. This is especially common when the driver or a passenger was not restrained by a seatbelt. The severity of chest injuries from car accidents has been significantly decreased since the introduction of airbags. However, fractures and organ injuries can still occur.
Broken bones of all types are very common in car accidents. Whether it be a broken pelvic bone, femur, rib, collarbone, or arm, the human bone structure stands little chance in a car accident. Broken and fractured bones often require extensive rehabilitation, and if they are serious enough, surgeries are needed to correct them.
Believe it or not, West Virginia has the highest accidental death rate (71.5 deaths per 100,000 residents) amongst all states according to an article from USA Today. This made West Virginia the state with the most deadly accidents. Oklahoma came in second with nearly ten deaths less per 100,000 people. According to city-data.com:
- There were 10 fatal car accidents in Morgantown in 2013.
- There were 20 vehicles involved in fatal car accidents in 2013.
- There were 3 fatal accidents involving drunken persons in 2013.
- There were 27 persons involved in fatal accidents in 2013.
- There were 1,092 people killed from 2003-2012 in crashes involving a drunk driver according to the CDC.
- According to the IIHS, there were a total of 184 car accident deaths in West Virginia in 2016.
Compensation for Car Accident Injuries in West Virginia
West Virginia is an at-fault state when it comes to determining who is liable for damages after a car accident. However, in 2015 lawmakers enacted a modified comparative negligence rule that determines how much an individual can receive in compensation based on their percentage of fault.
For example, you could take a case to court and claim that the other driver was at fault for the accident. After reviewing your case, the court could rule that your damages should be worth $50,000. But, they could also rule that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the other driver was 80 percent at fault. In this case, your damages would be reduced by the percentage of your fault so you would be entitled to 20 percent less money for a total of $40,000.
This comparative negligence rule applies to any individual who is at fault for 49 percent or less of an accident. However, if you are at fault for 50 percent or more of the accident, you are not eligible to receive any damages from the other driver or their insurance company.
If you are eligible to receive damages, you can seek them from your own insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, or the other driver. While it is possible to seek reimbursement for your expenses on your own, finding a West Virginia car accident attorney near you will make the process much easier.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Morgantown
A car accident can leave your body injured and your mind in a state of shock. While it is difficult, it’s important to take a deep breath and remember that everything will be ok. Following these tips can help you stay calm after a car accident and help you preserve your claim:
- Call 9-1-1 so emergency personnel can respond. Typically, the Morgantown PD or the West Virginia State Police will arrive at the scene.
- Make sure anyone who is injured is safe until the ambulance arrives.
- If safe, collect debris and move the damaged vehicles off the road.
- Swap contact and insurance information with any drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists involved.
- Take notes on the details of the car accident.
- Take photos of the vehicles and your injuries.
- File a claim with your insurance company.
- Contact our car accident lawyers in Morgantown.
You’ll probably experience a wide range of emotions after an accident, such as fear or anger. No matter how upset you may be, it’s important to not place blame or harass the other driver over the accident. This could affect your case and is a conversation that is much better had with the attorney who will be handling your claim.
Contact the Morgantown Car Accident Lawyers at Colombo Law For a Free Case Review
The personal injury attorneys at Colombo Law have years of experience helping the victims of car accidents in Morgantown. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t charge you a dime unless we win your case.
We also offer free, confidential consultations with no obligation to use our firm. If you aren’t sure if you need a car accident lawyer, there’s no harm in scheduling a consultation to find out if you have a case. All you have to do to get started is give us a call at 304-599-4229 to learn more.