If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in West Virginia and someone else’s careless actions are to blame — or if you have a personal injury claim of any other kind — you deserve to be compensated for your losses.
It’s only natural that you wonder, “What can I be compensated for in a personal injury case? It’s not uncommon for us to answer the phone and hear that very question right off the bat.
The answer depends on the particulars of your accident — how it happened, the nature of your injuries, who was at fault, and so on. But as a general rule, if someone else’s negligence contributed to your injury, you should not have to pay the costs out of your own pocket.
In today’s article, we look at some of the most commonly recognized damages (i.e. things you can be compensated for in a personal injury case) under West Virginia tort law.
If you were recently involved in an auto accident of any kind, it’s a good idea to get to the doctor right away.
Even if you don’t suspect serious injuries, it is in your best interest to let a medical professional examine you. Victims are sometimes unaware of their injuries, and symptoms don’t always show up right away.
The party whose negligence caused your injury has a duty to compensate you for any medical expenses related to the accident. This can include but is not necessarily limited to:
- Doctor’s bills (for examinations, consultations, treatments, etc.)
- Hospital & ambulance bills
- The cost of medications and/or medical supplies
- The cost of surgeries or other procedures
- Ongoing / future cost of care
- Physical therapy
- In-home health care or assisted living services
If your injuries cause you to miss work — either because you can’t do your job or because you need to seek medical care during business hours — you may be entitled to full compensation for those lost earnings.
If the accident is responsible for your lost income, an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney can help you make that case and fight for optimum compensation.
Loss of Future Earnings
Depending on the facts of your case, you might also have a claim for future lost wages. For example, your injuries might make it harder for you to do your job, force you into a career change where you’ll make less money, or, the necessity of ongoing care might require you to miss work on a regular basis in the future.
While the compensation in a personal injury case is based primarily on your physical and emotional injuries, if you also suffered property damage in the accident, those losses can sometimes be included in your claim.
Compensation may be available for:
- Vehicle damage
- Damage to personal items inside the vehicle
- Damage to your home, mailbox, or other structures (if they were involved in the accident)
- Diminution of value in property
If your claim is resolved by way of settlement, it is important that you make sure your settlement agreement includes reimbursement for any property damage before you sign anything.
Insurance companies have been known to write release agreements in a way that leads victims to unwittingly sign away their right to compensation for property damage.
An experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney can fight to protect your interests and help you avoid mistakes throughout the claims process.
Pain, Suffering, and Emotional Distress
Accidents aren’t purely economic in nature. The physical pain and emotional distress you experience is very real, and deserves recognition too. Fortunately, the laws in our state allow victims to recover for their physical and mental anguish in many cases.
The courts in West Virginia also recognize the emotional distress that disfiguring or debilitating injuries can cause. Beyond the physical and mental anguish associated with the injury itself, disfigurement or long-term disability can cause emotional damage for many years to come. If you have suffered facial disfigurement or any permanent injury, you may be entitled to emotional damages.
An experienced attorney can advocate for a settlement or verdict that encompasses the full range of your physical and emotional suffering.
In addition to the various losses described above, you may be able to make a claim for out-of-pocket costs that you face as a result of someone else’s negligence.
An attorney can ask you detailed questions about your situation, as well as gather relevant evidence, to help you identify all the losses or expenses that might be included in your personal injury claim.
Wrongful Death Damages
If the accident in your case resulted in the death of a loved one, you and your family members may be entitled to certain damages under the personal injury and/or wrongful death laws in our state. These damages might include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of the deceased person’s future earnings
- Pain and suffering damages the deceased experienced between the injury and the death
- Medical expenses the deceased incurred between the injury and the death
- Loss of consortium (i.e. loss of love, affection, or sexual relations)
- Loss of household services provided by the deceased
- Loss of financial support provided by the deceased
Note: loss of consortium, loss of household services, and loss of financial support damages may even be available in cases where no one dies, if the damages are so severe that they deprive a spouse or dependent family member of those benefits.
In some cases, plaintiffs are able to recover punitive damages, which are not intended as compensation and are not based on any loss that the plaintiff has suffered. Rather, punitive damages exist solely to punish the defendant.
For that reason, punitive damages are reserved for cases where a defendant’s negligence or recklessness is especially egregious or indifferent to the health and safety of others (or where the defendant has acted intentionally and with malice).
Punitive damages are not available in all cases. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether the negligence alleged in your case might support a claim for punitive damages.
Talk to a WV Personal Injury Lawyer at Colombo Law
Want to learn more about what you can be compensated for in a personal injury case? Contact Colombo Law and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced Morgantown personal injury lawyers.
We fight hard to get our clients every penny they deserve. In the majority of our cases, we have even been able to negotiate favorable settlements without going to trial. We’d like to work toward that same goal for you and your family.
A strict legal time limit (i.e. statute of limitation) does apply in WV personal injury cases, so please don’t delay. Contact Colombo Law and schedule a free case review right away. Call us at 304-599-4229 or contact us online.