In a perfect world, getting payment for your injuries after a car accident would be simple: someone else crashes into your vehicle and pays for the accident and your injuries. Indeed, West Virginia insurance laws don’t function like this, and knowing who actually pays for your injuries in a car accident can be quite complicated.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the specifics of West Virginia insurance and personal injury law, helping you understand these complicated (and very important) issues. Whether in Charleston WV or the surrounding areas, contact Charleston WV personal injury attorney Charles M. Love today if you were injured in an accident. With years of experience helping people just like you, attorney Charles Love will fight for a full and fair financial recovery of damages incurred in the accident.
For a free consultation with the Love Law Firm in Charleston WV, call our downtown office at (304) 344-5683.
West Virginia Car Insurance Requirements
Because the average person cannot shell out tens of thousands of dollars to pay for your medical expenses and vehicle damage after a car accident, every driver in West Virginia is required to have car insurance. As a result, all drivers must have the minimum amount of insurance, which includes:
- Bodily Injury Liability — $20,000 per person or $40,000 per accident for accident-related injuries
- Property Damage Liability — $10,000 per accident
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury — $20,000 per person or $40,000 per accident for accident-related injuries
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage — $10,000 per accident
- Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury — $20,000 per person or $40,000 per accident for accident-related injuries
The West Virginia Comparative Fault System
West Virginia follows a legal doctrine known as comparative fault, which essentially means that both parties are assigned a percentage of fault for an accident. For example, if you driving and eating a hamburger (having only one hand on the wheel) and a drunk driver runs a stop sign, the West Virginia courts may see the accident as 90-percent fault for the other driver and 10-percent fault for yourself. This allocation of fault affects the total settlement amount that you are able to receive. This means that, if you are assigned 10-percent fault for the accident, a settlement of $10,000 would be reduced by your percentage of fault (10%), putting the maximum recovery at $9,000.
After an accident, after you have been examined by a medical professional, and after speaking with your insurance company and ensuring that a police report is filed, the insurance companies will review the evidence and assign fault. This is usually not ideal because many insurance adjusters fail to provide a full and fair compensation for damages now and in the future. Generally, you have three options for recovering damages, including:
- File a “first-party” claim with your own insurance company
- File a “third-party” claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault driver
An attorney will be a critical factor in every stage of the recovery process, and it’s important to call an experienced car accident lawyer after you have been examined by a doctor.
First and Third Party Accident Claims in West Virginia
Knowing the best option for recovering damages after a car accident can be stressful and frustrating, as negotiating with insurance adjusters and ensuring a full and fair settlement can be fairly complex, especially when it seems that neither insurance company has your interests at heart.
A first-party accident claim is the most common way that people deal with an accident. With this option, you’ll file a claim with your insurance company and they’ll start working on getting you a settlement, which includes working with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. A third-party accident claim, on the other hand, is often a better option when the total damages exceed your own policy limits. For a third-party claim in West Virginia, you’ll need to send a letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company; an attorney can also send this letter on your behalf.
When either side can’t agree on how much your settlement should be worth, or if the insurance companies try to deny your claim, sometimes the best option is to file a lawsuit in West Virginia civil courts. With the help of your personal injury attorney who’s experienced in car accident claims, you’ll need to present strong evidence to the courts, which can include eyewitness testimony and the police’s official car accident report.
Call Charleston WV Car Accident Attorney Charles Love
So, you have a few options for recovering damages after a car accident. Until your case is resolved, however, there are also other ways to pay for your medical bills. For instance, your auto insurance may have a limited amount of coverage, known as Medical Pay coverage in West Virginia. Other options include:
- Medical coverage through your employer or a private plan
- Medicaid or Medicare
- Some doctors will provide care in exchange for a lien on your personal injury award or settlement
If you feel that you have a case and have questions, call the Love Law Firm today for a confidential and FREE consultation. You can reach us at (304) 344-5683, email or by filling out our online form by clicking here.