Experienced Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Law
The personal injury attorneys at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson provide answers to questions our lawyers often hear as they assist people in Martinsburg and throughout West Virginia who have been injured in a car accident or other incident involving another’s negligence or misconduct. We hope this information is helpful in answering your questions. If you have other questions, or if you have been injured and need an experienced attorney to advise or represent you, contact Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson for a free, initial consultation.
Is it true that I can’t get compensation for my car accident if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt, even though the other driver hit me from behind?
No. In fact, the issue of whether you were wearing your seat belt or not is not even admissible into evidence in a trial. In some circumstances, if the court finds that your not wearing a seat belt was a proximate cause of your injuries, then your financial recovery could be reduced by up to five percent of the medical damages.
What if the other side claims I was partially to blame in some other way?
It is actually a common tactic of defendants and their insurance companies to try to shift the blame to you for causing the accident. It is your attorney’s job to prove that the other party was negligent while also defending against allegations that you caused or contributed to the accident in some way. Even if the jury finds that both parties are to blame, you will not be prevented from recovering as long as you are not primarily responsible for causing the accident. As long as the jury finds you 49% or less at fault, you can still recover, although your monetary award may be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault assigned to you.
I think the insurance company might offer me a settlement. How long do I have to decide whether to sue or not?
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury, but the timeframe can sometimes be longer or significantly shorter, depending on factors such as the age of the injured person, when the injury was discovered, and whether the injury involved a government employee, government vehicle, or public property. It is crucial that you do not miss the applicable deadline, or you could miss out on collecting compensation for your medical expenses and other damages. On the other hand, you do not want to settle or sue too early, because it takes time to fully understand your present and future medical condition and how that will affect the amount of damages available to you.
What if I was hit by a driver who didn’t have insurance?
West Virginia law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance as well as uninsured motorist (UM) coverage to cover at least $10,000 in property damage and $20,000 or $40,000 for bodily injury to one or more persons. If you are hit by an uninsured driver but you yourself are insured, then you may be able to recover from your own insurance company under your UM coverage. You will still want an attorney to represent you and make sure you are being fairly compensated for your damages.