There are few things more terrifying than when you’re in a car accident. Out of the blue, and often with no warning, you can go from driving along to scared, angry, and hurt. If this has happened to you or a loved one, there’s no need to go through the aftermath of a car accident alone. At Colombo Law, there is always a Parkersburg, West Virginia car accident lawyer standing by to help you through this difficult time.

What is a Car Accident Lawyer?

Car accident lawyers are legal experts whose job it is to help the victims of auto accidents. Once you consult with a car accident lawyer, they will take the burden of this experience off your shoulders and handle everything that needs done to either settle your claim or file a lawsuit.

What Can I Get Compensated for After a Car Crash?

Car accidents can be financially devastating, costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The good news is, depending on your specific situation, you may be able to get compensation with the help of a Parkersburg car accident lawyer for items like:

  • Medical bills
  • Physical and emotional injuries
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Inconvenience
  • Missed activities
  • Loss of wages
  • Lost earning ability
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

West Virginia Car Insurance Requirements

If you drive a car in West Virginia, you must obtain a car insurance policy with a minimum amount 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 in West Virginia

West Virginia drivers also have to carry uninsured motorist coverage in addition to their regular policy. These protect the driver if they are ever in an accident with someone who has no insurance, and must be purchases in the minimum amounts of:

  • $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) is another kind of coverage you can buy, but it’s not required by state law. Even so, you may want to consider buying this coverage to protect you in the event you get into a car accident with someone who has insurance, but whose limits are too low to see you made whole.

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Driving Safety Laws

West Virginia also has a number of driver safety laws to keep the public safe. Failing to adhere to these laws can cause accidents, injuries, and catastrophic loss of life.

Drunk Driving

If you are over 21, you can’t operate a vehicle in West Virginia if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Commercial drivers can’t drive with a BAC of.04 BAC or higher and the Zero Tolerance law prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02 or higher.

Failure to adhere to these laws will result in:

  • First time offenders being sentenced to up to 6 months in jail and fines between $100 to $500. They will have their license suspended for 6 months and will be required to take a safety program before they can drive again.
  • Second time offenders being sentenced to between 6 months and 1 year in jail and fines between $1,000 to $3,000. They could also lose their license for 10 years or lose it for 1 year if they agree to have a mandatory ignition interlock system in their car. They also have to take a safety course before getting their license reinstated.
  • Third time offenders being sentenced to between 1 and 3 years in jail and fines between $3,000 and $5,000. They could have their license suspended for life, or face a 1 year suspension and be required to have an ignition interlock device in their car. They also have to take a safety course before getting their license reinstated.

Seat Belts

Seat belt use is required in all West Virginia vehicles for:

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

Those who violate these laws will be made to pay a $25 fine.

Car Seats

Any child who is 8 years old or younger and less than 4 feet and 9 inches tall, must sit in a child safety seat that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when the vehicle is in motion. Safe Kids Worldwide provides more information on how to find the right seat and make sure it is properly installed.

Those who violate this law will pay between $10 and $20 in fines.

Cell Phone Use and Texting

West Virginia drivers are banned from texting while driving.

They are also banned from using handheld cell phones to make calls, but can use hands-free devices to make calls. Any driver 18 or younger is banned from making any call while driving unless they are calling 9-1-1.

Headlight Use

West Virginia vehicles must have 2 functioning headlights on the front of their car, one on each side of the vehicle. Headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise, when fog, rain, snow, or smoke affect the driver’s ability to see, or any other time when low light prevents drivers from seeing 500 feet ahead of them.

Unattended Vehicles

You cannot leave a vehicle unattended while running in West Virginia. You have to turn off the car and remove the key if you intend to leave your vehicle unattended.

First time offenders will incur a $100 fine and repeat offenders will be fined even more harshly.

Unattended Kids and Animals

Leaving kids or your pets unattended in a vehicle can hurt or even kill them if it is hot outside. It can also be illegal in many places. Check with your local law enforcement for your city’s laws.

Who Pays for Damages After a West Virginia Car Accident

To understand who is responsible for damages after a car accident, you have to know how West Virginia law works. Our state employs an at-fault system and a modified comparative negligence rule to determine exactly how much you might be entitled to after an auto accident. Here’s an example of how that works:

Imagine your case goes to trial. You may claim that the other driver is 100 percent at fault and that they owe you $50,000 for your damages. The court may agree that your damages are worth $50,000, but they may also say that you are actually 20 percent responsible for causing the accident. Using the modified comparative negligence rule, this would reduce the damages you’re entitled to by 20 percent, leaving you with a settlement of $40,000.

The modified comparative negligence rule applies to any person who is 49 percent or less at fault for the accident. But, you should not that if your fault is 50 percent or greater, you can;t receive damages.

Fortunately, if you are allowed to receive compensation, it’s relatively easy. You can be compensated by the at-fault party’s insurance provider or by your own. You can also try to sue the individual or entity who caused the accident directly, but that that can be a difficult process that is best handled by a Parkersburg, WV car accident lawyer.

West Virginia Car Accident Facts

The most recent information on West Virginia car accidents comes from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when in 2015 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 Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?

After a car accident, you have probably suffered property damage and may have suffered personal injuries. You may also be afraid or angry, but it’s crucial you stay calm and avoid talking to the other driver or making claims about who or what you think may have caused the accident.

Instead, direct your attention toward:

  • Calling 9-1-1
  • Checking for injuries
  • 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 Parkersburg, WV car accident attorney

Should I Hire a West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer or Not?

It is always a good idea to talk to a local car accident lawyer to find out if you have a case. Doing so protects your financial best interests and gives you the best chance of reaching a successful settlement or verdict.

On top of that, when you work with a car accident attorney, they will handle all of the details, from large to small, doing things like collecting:

  • Police reports
  • Medical bills
  • Phone call recordings
  • CCTV footage
  • On-scene witnesses and expert witnesses
  • Information about vehicle defects or recalls

Parkersburg, West Virginia Car Accident Lawyers

At Colombo Law, we think everyone should have access to high quality legal representation. That’s why we work with clients throughout the Parkersburg area, including neighborhoods like:

  • Blennerhassett
  • Mineral Wells
  • Williamstown
  • Boaz
  • Washington
  • Vienna
  • Mustang Acres
  • South Parkersburg
  • City Center
  • Woodland Park
  • 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 help you deserve is only one phone call away. Contact us to schedule a free, no obligation review of your case. If you decide to work with us, you won’t owe us a penny unless we reach a successful settlement or verdict for you. Get in touch to get started by calling 304-599-4229.