I Slipped and Fell and was Injured in a Store. What Should I Do?

Most people do their shopping without any incident. But wet or wintry weather conditions can make any shopping trip a little more adventurous. Wet floors, ice, snow, and cracked floors or sidewalks add obstacles to an already busy day. An incident where you slip in a retail establishment can lead to serious injuries if there are dangerous conditions.

I Slipped and Fell and was Injured in a Store. What Should I Do?

Many slip and falls lead to a little bruising, including the ego. But broken bones, lacerations, concussions, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries can also come from a slip and fall accident.

Premises Liability

A slip and fall injury in a retail store comes under West Virginia’s premises liability laws. Under premises liability, the store’s owner, manager, and employees have a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep the place safe for anyone who is an “invitee.” This includes customers, employees, vendors and anyone else on the property for any legal reason. The law also concerns when a manager, owner or employee knew about the unsafe condition and had an opportunity to do something about it. Negligence is involved when someone knew about the problem but failed to remedy it.

Negligence of this duty of care can lead to conditions that can lead to conditions such as:

  • Wet or slick floors
  • Loose or missing handrails on stairs
  • Uneven or loose steps
  • Trip hazards
  • Inadequate security and dark walkways
  • Cracked or broken sidewalks
  • Holes not easily visible
  • Protruding objects in concrete

Any kind of condition that can cause a slip and fall may be negligence if someone failed to correct the condition. However, Virginia’s “open and obvious” doctrine excludes something that should have been apparent to anyone, such as signs warning off wet floors or hazardous areas where non-employees should not be walking.

After An Accident

Of course, you should immediately seek medical assistance, even if you don’t think you’re injured. Some injuries, such as soft tissue damage, may not show up immediately. If you plan to file a claim, you’ll also need medical records to back up your claim of injuries.

Keeping written timeline documentation, started right after your accident, is also helpful to keep all the details in one place.

If you have any damaged property, such as a broken watch, keep it somewhere safe for evidence later.

Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of the accident scene, and store them in Google Drive, Dropbox or another safe place. Pictures will come in handy when you speak with your attorney.

Get names and contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident.

Since video surveillance is very common in businesses, you (or your lawyer) should immediately ask the business to preserve any video taken of your accident. Many stores use video to disprove frivolous injury claims but may delete the video if they know you’re planning to file a claim. Make sure this evidence is preserved in the event you’re required to head to court.

Keep track of all your expenses, including medical expenses, lost wages and other out-of-pocket costs related to your accident.

Talk to an experienced West Virginia slip and fall personal injury attorney before speaking to anyone with any insurance company. You may unwittingly accept an unsuitable settlement, or admit fault without realizing it.

Caveat: Comparative Negligence

One defense against a slip and fall that a defendant may have is that you were at fault, or partly at fault, for your injuries. Known as “comparative negligence,” it means that you share in the responsibility for your injuries. If you’re assigned a percentage of fault in court, any settlement can be reduced by that percentage.

For instance, if you were talking on your phone and didn’t pay attention to the caution signs that warned everyone about a water spill, or walked into an employee-only area and were injured, you may be held partly responsible. If your settlement is $5,000, and the court finds that 15% is your fault, your settlement becomes $4,250.

Another factor is whether or not you were on the property legally. If you were injured while trespassing, breaking in, or otherwise should not have been there, you won’t be able to collect for your injuries.

Injured In A Slip & Fall? Call Us

The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling slips & falls and premises liability cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 or contact us online and schedule your free consultation. There’s no fee until we win your case, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case.

 

What Questions should I Ask When Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney?

If you’ve never hired a personal injury lawyer before, you probably have a number of questions. Should you get a referral, go online and search, or pick someone from the ads on TV?

Much like hiring an employee, you should ask questions of the attorneys you are considering. Hiring a personal injury attorney may be the biggest decision you’ll make in the case.

What questions should I ask when choosing a Personal Injury attorney?

So what do you ask an attorney to assess his or her skill, ability and suitability for your accident case? Once you get past a greeting and initial pleasantries, here are some questions to get you started interviewing attorneys.

Do You Specialize In Personal Injury Cases?

Some attorneys handle a myriad of things, including personal injury. Others do nothing but personal injury. If you have a serious personal injury claim, you want an attorney who understands the complexities of personal injury and stays on top of new developments.

How Long Have You Handled Personal Injury Cases?

The more experience the attorney has in PI cases, the better your chances of a successful settlement.

Who Will Be Handling My Case?

You may interview with a partner in the law firm, but much of the work will likely be done by non-legal staff with junior attorneys attending the hearings. It’s important to ask, and also to find out who your point of contact will be when you call.

Do You Actually Try Lawsuits In Court? How Often?

Some attorneys are ready to take a case into court; others aren’t. It’s important to know who will and who won’t. Insurance companies take this very seriously and want to know who is representing you. If you hire an attorney who takes every case as a potential court case, you’ll receive a better settlement. If your attorney prefers to settle rather than go to court, you won’t receive as much.

Please Explain Your Contingency Fee Arrangement

Many attorneys will offer this, and you’ll owe a fee “contingent” upon winning the case. However, there are other expenses in a case besides an attorney’s fee. Filing fees, court costs, medical reports, expert witnesses and other costs involved in preparing your case may be billed directly to you while the case is ongoing. Other law offices may take them out of your settlement in addition to the attorney’s fees. These charges will happen win or lose. It’s important to ask so that you are not surprised with bills while you’re trying to recover from an accident.

Do Your Own Research Too

One of the best ways to research an attorney is one of the three online websites:

All three are peer-reviewed directories that will give you additional insight into an attorney you are interviewing or plan to hire.

Accident information website Enjuris offers a free PDF and additional information on interviewing and hiring a personal injury attorney.

Should you have a question about an attorney’s disciplinary history, the West Virginia State Bar also has a website.

Take Precautions Against Chasers

You may receive solicitation letters from attorneys offering to represent you immediately after your accident. They may be of the high turnover variety that will get you a “quick check” but not negotiate for your needs. If you decide to talk to one of them, always commit to due diligence before signing anything.

The Love Law Firm Is Ready To Help

Do you need a personal injury lawyer, but aren’t sure what to expect? Call The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 and schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys. We’ll discuss your case with you, explain your options and what to expect in a personal injury settlement. We can offer you a free consultation, and a contingency fee arrangement to make it easier for you to afford a strong legal representation. There’s no fee if we don’t win your case.

How do I Get Compensated if My Spouse was Killed in a Mining Accident in Charleston, WV?

Mining is one of the top industries in the state. Even with continuous improvements in safety processes and equipment, it’s still one of the most dangerous. West Virginia still leads the US in mining accidents and fatalities. Despite the country’s dependence on coal, the mining part is still dangerous enough that on average, 70 people a year die in mining accidents.

How do I Get Compensated if My Spouse was Killed in a Mining Accident in Charleston, WV?

Wrongful Death

This type of case is filed when an individual dies as a result of another’s negligence. In a mining environment, negligence can result in:

  • Defective equipment (improperly maintained, etc.)
  • Surface mining accidents
  • Explosions of methane gas
  • Electrocutions
  • Collapsing of coal stockpiles

As with any wrongful death suit, the case hinges on finding the cause of the wrongful death and the individual behind it. Another factor is showing who suffered as a result of the wrongful death. Generally, the surviving spouse, children, parents and other dependents are awarded compensation after a mining accident that results in a wrongful death ruling.

While no amount of money will replace a loved one, a wrongful death award after a mining accident can help compensate a family that has lost their main source of income.

Safety And Coal Mining

Even though safety has improved since the first days of mining, danger and negligence still exists in the industry. Defective equipment, safety rules that aren’t followed, and other unsafe working conditions are common as employers attempt to evade MSHA regulations.

In many cases, the fault of a mining accident can be traced back to equipment manufacturers, oversights on the part of the mining companies or even other employees. Some of these accidents are caused by:

  • Lack of maintenance for equipment
  • Toxic chemical exposure
  • Explosions
  • Employee error—failure to report dangers like unsafe conditions or follow company processes
  • Falling roofs
  • Electrocution
  • Toxic chemical exposure (including inhaling silica dust and other dangerous substances)

In order to file a wrongful death case, you must prove deliberate intent on the part of the employer. Like any workplace accident, proving a mining accident is the fault of the employer requires demonstrating a “willful, wanton, and reckless misconduct” on the part of the employer.

Compensation And Damages

If your spouse was killed in a mining accident, there are several forms of monies you can collect under the law:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral, burial, and related expenses
  • ·         Lost wages and benefits of the deceased
  • ·         Lost household services of the deceased
  • ·         Loss of the deceased’s companionship
  • ·         Mental anguish and solace suffered by deceased’s plaintiff surviving family members

As a surviving spouse or other relative you will have only two years to file your lawsuit or lose your right to do so.

West Virginia’s Mining Accident Attorney

Chad Love has 20 years’ experience working with personal injury victims, representing miners and victims of mining accidents.  The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling mining accident cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 (or use our online contact form) and schedule your free consultation. There’s no charge for the first visit, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case and recover money for you.

What’s The Best Way To Handle A Slip-And-Fall Accident in Charleston, WV? 

Injuries from slipping and falling can be debilitating and painful—especially if due to another’s negligence. Like any kind of accident, you must be careful what you do afterwards—both from a medical perspective as well as a legal perspective, especially if you need to recover damages.

What’s The Best Way To Handle A Slip-And-Fall Accident in Charleston, WV?

Medical

Get medical attention immediately. Visit your doctor, an urgent care center, or an emergency room if the injuries are serious. You’ll do two things: first, get treated, and two, begin documenting your case. Make sure to follow instructions, get necessary tests and prescriptions, attend follow-up medical visits and start the healing process.

Report It

You should also inform the facility’s owner, manager or employee of your accident and injuries, and get the details in writing. In addition to keeping your own notes, you should request a copy of their written report before you leave.

Legal

There are a number of things you should do to prepare for filing your claims and possibly filing a lawsuit.

If you are able at the time of the accident, use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene. (If you aren’t, a friend or witness may be able to help you.) This includes the surroundings, what caused your accident, your injuries, and any property that you may have had with you that was damaged or broken (jewelry, a watch, a phone or tablet, torn clothing, etc.) Store these damaged items in a safe place after you take pictures of them. Take as many pictures as you can to be able to give to your attorney.

Document everything, including the location of the incident and business name. Get names, addresses, emails and phone numbers of any witnesses to be contacted later if it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. Write down every detail you can; don’t rely on recall, especially if you’re going to court.

Collect any documentation related to your injuries and the accident.  This can be anything from a police report, medical records, including prescription and testing records, X-rays, etc..  If you’ve missed a significant amount of work because of your injuries, this should all be documented as well, even if you have to keep them in a notebook or journal.

Scan these documents and store them in a cloud-based service platform, and give copies to your attorney. You can also give him or her copies of these documents on a flash drive. Always keep your originals; if your attorney requires originals, make sure you keep at least one copy.

Do NOT Give Statements

No matter who should ask, politely decline to give statements over the phone or in person to the property owner, any insurance company or their attorney until you’ve spoken to one yourself. Be calm and polite to the property owner, of course, and don’t post anything on social media.

Statute Of Limitations

West Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations for you to file any claims related to an accident.  If you do not file your claim two years from the date of the accident, you will not be allowed to file.  Any filings will be dismissed by the court.

Caveats

West Virginia also has a comparative fault statute for nearly all accidents.  This means that if were partially responsible for your accident, you’ll probably be assigned a percentage of fault.  If you are assigned a 25% were shown of your accidents responsibility, any settlement you receive will be reduced by 25%. In other words, if you would have received $10,000 as an accident settlement, but you are partially responsible for your Slip-And-Fall, your settlement will be reduced and $2500, and will only receive $7500.

Injured? Call Us

The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling slips & falls and premises liability cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 (or use our online contact form) and schedule your free consultation. There’s no fee until we win your case, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case.

 

Pedestrian Accident Statistics In Charleston, WV

In January of this year, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a motor vehicle and Dunbar.  The accident happened on Roxalana road, and then person was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that fatal accidents in the state of West Virginia outnumber accidents every other state. And the Post And Courier cites Charleston as one of the most dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists in the state. From 2011 to 2015, there were 26 pedestrians and bicyclists killed or severely injured in vehicular accidents.  Kanawha County leads the state in pedestrian accidents; Cabell County is second.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics In Charleston, WV

Pedestrian deaths have increased 16% since 2007, according to a study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. West Virginia’s rate is 1.56 per 100,000 (as of 2016.)  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration statistics show a 9% increase in pedestrian fatalities nationwide from 2015 to 2016.

Non-automotive travelers are at a higher risk for injuries even from the most minor of accidents. Most roads are designed strictly for automotive traffic and don’t allow for pedestrians. People who walk and bike to work (or bus stops) find themselves at greater risk for injuries by drivers who are speeding or not paying attention.

Changes For Charleston Pedestrians

The City of Charleston has recently implemented new urban plans, including the People Pedal Plan, aimed at increased pedestrian and bicycle safety for residents.

Previously, The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester City Of Governments’  2017 Walk and Bike Plan has already established specific infrastructure upgrades for the area, which includes 117 miles of new sidewalks for pedestrians and 55 miles of new bicycle lanes.

While these improvements will take time, pedestrians will, in the future, have more road space to walk safely.

Take Precautions

Morning and afternoon rush hours are the most dangerous periods for pedestrian accidents, with accidents commonly between 5 pm and 7 pm. As a pedestrian, you have an increased duty of care to protect yourself.

Of course, paying attention is paramount. Smartphones are one of the biggest distractions for both drivers and pedestrians. Putting them out of reach and ignoring them while walking is important to keeping your attention on your surroundings.

If you’re listening to music or a podcast, use only one earbud at a normal volume to be able to hear traffic.

Cross at designated crosswalk areas. About 82% of pedestrian accidents occur away from intersections and crosswalks.

When crossing a street, look left, look right, and then left again. Vehicles travel fast, and you’ll see it if you look left again.

Do not assume a car will stop—many drivers are also distracted, and won’t see you.

Avoid alcohol if you need to walk home—especially after dark.

If you must walk after dark, wear brightly colored clothing to be seen.

The Help You Need Now

We stand ready to protect your interests and help you get back on your feet after an accident. We’ll examine all the facts in the case, the police report, and advise you on how to proceed.

You may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain & suffering

If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident, contact us at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we only collect if we win your case.

Charleston Premises Liability 101: What Property Owners Should Know

If you spend any time with managers or owners of businesses who do business with the public, there’s one phrase you’re likely to hear at least once, in one form or another: “I just don’t want a lawsuit.”

As a property owner, manager or responsible employee, you’re probably aware that keeping your home or business safe for your employees, family, as well as guests and customers, is extremely important. But it’s more than just that.

Charleston Premises Liability 101: What Property Owners Should Know

What Is Premises Liability?

It’s the area of personal injury law that covers accidents and injuries that happen on someone else’s property, usually (but not always) a business. As a property owner or manager, you have a “duty of care” to provide a safe place for anyone who enters. Once you are made aware of a danger, it’s your duty to either repair it or place warning signs around to prevent anyone from unknowingly walking over it and becoming injured.

An injured plaintiff is required to prove that the owner knew, or should have known, that the hazard existed, and failed to do anything about it. Anything from slippery floors to bad walkways to dark halls can be a hazard that causes injury.

If you have workers on the property, you are also responsible for keeping safe conditions for these workers. West Virginia recognizes two groups of people, “trespassers” and “non-trespassers,” meaning that a premises faces additional exposure to a lawsuit should anyone become injured.

Injuries

Premises liability injuries can include:

  • Slip & Fall injuries (including water leaks and snow & ice incidents)
  • Defective conditions due to inadequate maintenance (such as broken sidewalks)
  • Elevator, stair and escalator accidents
  • Toxic fumes and chemicals
  • Fires
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Amusement park ride accidents
  • Workplace injuries
  • Insufficient premises security that leads to assault or other injuries
  • Dog bites

Open And Obvious

For many years, West Virginia had a clause called “open and obvious.” That is, someone injured by something that was obvious to everyone else could not hold a property owner/manager liable. The property owner still has a duty to warn visitors about a dangerous condition.

But in 2013, the state Supreme Court abolished “open and obvious,” with Hersch v. E-T Enterprises, Ltd. et al.  The plaintiff in the case was a shopper who fell on a staircase without a handrail, a safety violation. Because this hazard was obvious to anyone using the staircase, the plaintiff was barred from filing suit. The majority of the court disagreed, because despite the missing handrail being “obvious,” it still didn’t preclude the owner or manager from remedying the condition.

The state legislature reversed this in 2015 with Senate Bill 13, and Governor Tomblin signed it into law. The Code of West Virginia §55-7-27 reinstates “open and obvious,” and reads in part:

(a) A possessor of real property, including an owner, lessee or other lawful occupant, owes no duty of care to protect others against dangers that are open, obvious, reasonably apparent or as well known to the person injured as they are to the owner or occupant, and shall not be held liable for civil damages for any injuries sustained as a result of such dangers.

As a property owner/manager, you are still liable for a danger that you are aware of that isn’t obvious to a guest or visitor, as well as a condition that is clear to anyone who passes near it. But a party who ignores a danger may also be barred from suing or have any settlement reduced due to comparative negligence.

Statute of Limitations

West Virginia gives plaintiffs two years to file a claim. After that period, with rare exception, most lawsuits will be thrown out.

Premises Liability Defense?

The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling premises liability cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 and schedule your free consultation. There’s no charge for the first visit, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case and recover money for you.

Charleston Premises Liability 101: What Visitors Should Know

When you visit someone’s house, a place of business, or a public venue, you don’t think about the possibility of slipping and falling. But in many places in Charleston every year, it happens—someone trips on stairs, on a broken sidewalk, on something slippery in a grocery store or falls over a trip hazard in a nightclub. Do you know what to do if you’re the next slip and fall victim?

Charleston Premises Liability 101: What Visitors Should Know

Premises Liability

The area of law that governs slip and fall cases is called “premises liability.” That is, the legal liability that the owner, manager or employee of the business on the premises bears to keep a place safe for guests and/or members of the public.

This means if you’ve suffered an injury or other damages because a property owner or other responsible individual should have either taken care of a dangerous condition but didn’t, and you were injured, you may be able to recover damages.

Get Medical Care Immediately

If you’re injured, you should see a doctor right away, even if you don’t think it’s serious. Some injuries aren’t immediately apparent, and an emergency room physician can give a solid diagnosis. If you don’t see a doctor immediately, your claim of an injury may be dismissed or reduced.

There are a number of different types of ways you could become injured in a premises liability accident:

  • Slippery floors can cause dangerous slip & fall accidents
  • Dangerous conditions at a construction site or workplace
  • Hazards in buildings, such as uneven walkways or stairs without safety railings
  • Lack of security resulting in dangers to personal safety

And so many others.

You Also Have A Responsibility For Your Own Safety

Even if a dangerous condition exists, you as a visitor have a duty to pay attention to any warning signs and abide by them. If you’re in an area where you shouldn’t be and get injured (such as an area marked “employees only”), you won’t be able to recover compensation. This is also true if you were trespassing on private property.

West Virginia also has a clause commonly called “open and obvious.”  (Code of West Virginia §55-7-27) That is, if you ignore a danger that everyone else wouldn’t, the property owner won’t be held liable. The law reads:

(a) A possessor of real property, including an owner, lessee or other lawful occupant, owes no duty of care to protect others against dangers that are open, obvious, reasonably apparent or as well known to the person injured as they are to the owner or occupant, and shall not be held liable for civil damages for any injuries sustained as a result of such dangers.

Additionally, West Virginia law also uses “comparative fault.” This means that if you bear any of the responsibility for your accident, your settlement could be reduced by the amount of responsibility you’re assigned.

You Have Two Years To File

West Virginia allows you to file a claim for two years after the date of your accident. Don’t wait too long, or you won’t be able to file. If you’ve been waiting to file, don’t—call us today.

After a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, you need help getting back on your feet. Medical expenses lost wages, and other expenses are part of what you need to get there. Chad Love has been helping people in Charleston for over 20 years, and he’s ready to help you.

The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling slip & fall premises liability cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 and schedule your free consultation. There’s no charge for the first visit, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case and recover money for you.

Charleston Accident Attorney

The Kanawha Valley encompassing the capital city of Charleston is one of the most scenic cities in the US, situated in the Appalachian Mountains. With a population of just under 50,000, it’s a decidedly un-crowded city with one of the lowest crime rates in the US.

Charleston Accident Attorney

The state is home to several thriving industries, including:

·         Chemical manufacturing: providing more than 120,000 jobs, there are 140 chemical manufacturing companies, one of the largest areas in the world for the industry.

·         Biotechnology: including pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies, and agricultural feedstock

·         Energy: especially coal mining. The state produces about one-tenth of the nation’s coal and is a leading top interstate electricity exporter in the US. The state also has over 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale rock formation.

·         Aerospace: one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, for two reasons: one, the large group of experienced workers, and two, the abundance of primary and fabricated metal products the industry needs.

·         Automotive: companies like Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Hino Motors, Gestamp, NGK Spark Plugs and Diamond Electric are located in West Virginia. The National Research Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions is also located here and does research on things like fuel economy, emissions, engines, and cars. West Virginia University’s National Alternative Fuels Training Center also does research on alternative fuels and advancements for the auto industry.

Metal and lumber production are also big West Virginia industries, as well as crops and livestock. One of the first industries in Charleston was salt mining when the West Virginia Salt Brines were found beside the Kanawha River in 1806.  Charleston’s economy began to prosper and was the leading producer of salt in the world. Coal mining then became one of the state’s predominant industries.

Tourism is also a busy West Virginia industry. There are numerous attractions and historic sites, as well as art and culture. From shopping at a Farmer’s Market to hunting, fishing, and skiing, West Virginia has something for nearly everyone.

Transportation

With so much to do, there’s also the matter of getting around. Of course, you can drive, but what if you don’t?  If you’re looking to fly somewhere, Charleston has one major flight hub, Yeager Airport.  You can take Amtrak if you want to travel by rail. The Kanawha Valley Regional Transit Authority covers Charleston’s public transportation needs. And as of 2016, you can now call Uber for a car ride.

West Virginia Celebrities

Did you know that West Virginia is home to a number of well-known famous people?

·         Don Knotts, actor

·         Chuck Yeager, Air Force General, and test pilot

·         Mary Lou Retton, Olympic gymnast

·         Peter Marshall, TV Host

·         Jon McBride, NASA astronaut

Charleston’s Accident Attorney

An accident of any kind can happen anytime, anywhere. Once the initial shock is over, and you’ve moved into recovery mode, there’s a lot to deal with. Don’t try to handle everything yourself. A personal injury case requires an experienced attorney to guide you through the process and make sure you’re treated fairly and get the compensation you need.

The Love Law Firm is ready to help. Call us today at 304-344-5683, or use our online contact form to schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys. We’ll discuss your case with you, explain your options and what to expect in an accident settlement. Our contingency fee arrangement means that if we don’t win your case, you won’t owe us a fee.

Bicycle Accident With No Helmet? Here Are Some Legal Considerations

With spring on its way, people are ready to get out and ride their bicycles. In fact, Charleston is one of the top four cycling cities in West Virginia, hosting regular events like Bike To Work Day, where you can get free coffee and pastries. It’s an enjoyable pastime as well as an economical mode of transportation.

Bicycle Accident With No Helmet? Here Are Some Legal Considerations

But before put your ride on the road, make sure you’re familiar with the laws surrounding it. Like a motorcycle, you’re more vulnerable to serious injuries while you’re riding a bicycle.

A bicycle is, in West Virginia law, still considered a “motor vehicle” (even though you’re the “motor.”) Bicycles and motorcycles still must follow traffic laws, and be especially careful. Drivers don’t always see you, and may do anything from fling open a car door in front of you to change lanes and knock you out of yours. An accident between a car and a bicycle can result in devastating injuries that wouldn’t happen between two auto drivers. (West Virginia Chapter 17C, Article 11, governing bicycle riders, is available online.)

Among other safety requirements, lights are required to be on your bicycle for riding at night. Install both a white one for the front and a bright red one for the back, and turn them on when required. Cars, motorcycles, pedestrians and other cyclists will be able to see you.

Wear A Helmet Every Time You Ride

One of the most essential pieces of safety equipment for a bicyclist is a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 700 cyclists die every year in crashes, totaling 2% of all traffic accidents.

Surprising research shows that cycling is the top sport for traumatic brain injuries—even more than football.  In children under 14, head injuries from cycling are double the number from football. While it might be more enjoyable to ride without a helmet, the risks outweigh the benefits.

New York Times health columnist Jane Brody is a strong proponent, after her own accident that could have left her with a serious brain injury had she not been wearing her helmet.

The NHTSA encourages every rider to wear a helmet regardless of experience since traumatic brain injuries and death are serious risks. Wearing a helmet increases your chances of survival by 88% while riding without one triples your chances of a fatal crash.

Helmet Laws In West Virginia

West Virginia law (§17C-11A-4) requires helmets to be worn by bicyclists aged 15 or under, whether they’re operating the bicycle (or tricycle) or riding as a passenger. It’s also illegal for a parent to permit their child or children to ride a bicycle without a helmet. Doing so can incur a $10 fine and/or two hours of community service in a child injury prevention program. There is no such state law for bicycling adults in West Virginia, but the city of Morgantown does require helmets for all ages since 1993.

The “freedom” and the decision to ride without a helmet comes with risks besides the ones of severe head injuries (and death.) West Virginia’s comparative fault clause that applies to car accidents can also apply to bicycling accidents. Just like a car accident, an insurance company may use the absence of a bicycle helmet to deny your claim, or at least get it reduced by a percentage.

Helmets are known to reduce brain injuries, and failing to wear a helmet could significantly impact your claim, thus reducing a settlement. You may still be able to make an injury claim, and it wouldn’t affect other bodily injuries. But without a helmet, you’ll have to work hard to prove that your injury could have happened even with a helmet.

You can deal with “helmet hair.” A traumatic brain injury lasts a lot longer. And if you’re unable to collect any damages because of comparative negligence, how will you be able to heal with a reduced settlement?

We Handle Bicycle Accidents Too

Even while wearing a helmet, you can be injured in a crash, but the helmet can save your life. It may not be your fault, and we can help you recover damages. Let us help you with your accident case so you can heal your injuries and get on with your life. Call The Love Law Firm at (304) 344-5683 to schedule your free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and discuss your options. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there’s no up-front expense.

 

Should I Settle With The Insurance Company After My Car Accident?

One of the first phone calls you may receive after a car crash is from the other driver’s insurance company. They want to settle your case—fast. You may even receive that call the day of the accident.

Should you accept the offer? It’s great that they’re on top of it, but it’s probably not in your best interest.

Should I Settle With The Insurance Company After My Car Accident?

If your case is minor, and there were no injuries or serious damage to your car, it might be OK—consider carefully before you do. But if you and/or your loved ones were seriously injured, your car or other property was badly damaged, don’t sign away your rights to compensation you deserve.

Once you accept their settlement offer, your case is closed—and you can’t go back later to ask for more once you sign for the check. It may be time to contact a personal injury attorney to help you with your case.

Types Of Damages

Whether you’re a driver, a passenger or a pedestrian injured in an accident, you can pursue compensation for damages. What you can recover and the amount will depend on the types of damages involved, during and after the incident. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Car repairs
  • Disability or disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering

If you settle with the insurance company that quickly, you may walk away from damages that you’re entitled to.

What’s The Hurry?

Insurance companies want to get you and your case settled and off their books as soon as they can, for as little money as they can. They’re not concerned with your injuries and helping you get back on your feet.

But injuries aren’t always obvious on the day of the accident. That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately after the accident, and again as needed. If you delay treatment, it could damage your chances of recovering anything.

West Virginia allows you a two-year time frame to file a claim, and if necessary, a lawsuit, to get the compensation you need for your injuries and damage to your property. If your injuries are delayed, you’ll have two years from the date of discovery to file your complaint.

This is where a personal injury attorney can help you.

What A Car Accident Settlement Should Cover

In addition to covering your car repair/replacement expenses, your medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses. However, if you’re severely injured, and possibly disabled, a quick settlement probably won’t take that into account. An insurance adjuster isn’t going to take these things into consideration, so be very cautious when talking with them, and don’t agree to anything you feel is inadequate, or don’t understand.

Negotiating A Settlement

Some websites offer tips for negotiating with insurance companies for settling claims. If at any point you’re unsure or need help, don’t hesitate to call The Love Law Firm.

Were You Assigned Fault?

West Virginia’s car accident laws allow fault to be assigned. That is, you could be assigned a percentage of fault for causing the accident. Should you be partially responsible, it could impact your settlement amount. But you should know if you are at fault, and by how much. For instance, if the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident, you’ll recover an awarded amount at 100%. But if you’re 20% at fault because a witness saw you look at your phone while the vehicle was in motion, your settlement amount will be reduced by 20%.

Ready To Settle? Call Us First!

Don’t accept a quick settlement without talking to us first. You could lose out with no way to recover. Call The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 and schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys. We’ll discuss your case with you, explain your options and what to expect in a car accident injury settlement. We offer contingency fee arrangements, and there’s no fee if we don’t win your case.