Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uber or Lyft Accident in Charleston, WV?

One of the hottest new trends for getting around is ride sharing. Instead of calling a taxi, you use a smartphone app to call someone to give you a ride. Everything is done on the app, including payment. You get where you’re going and someone else is earning money driving their car. What’s not to like?

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uber or Lyft Accident in Charleston, WV?

Millions of Americans have taken to these app-based on-call ride services, and they all get where they’re going, every day, whether at home or out-of-town. Convenient, less expensive than a taxi, But occasionally, like anyone who drives anywhere, accidents happen. Now what?

Uber And Lyft

If you’ve ever given a ride to a friend or picked them up when they called, you’ll understand what ridesharing is. These two ridesharing companies employ people nationwide to give folks a ride in their own cars. Quick, convenient and on the spot.

Uber arrived in Charleston in 2016, and Lyft arrived a year later. Both employ people to pick up and deliver people for pay. But like any taxi ride, there is just as much of an accident risk as there is when you drive yourself. And that’s where it can get complicated.

Independent Contractors

In the event of an accident with a company vehicle, you might have to deal with a company insurer. But rideshare drivers are independent contractors (aka “freelancers”), not employees, and aren’t generally covered by a company’s insurance policy except in limited circumstances. CDLs (commercial drivers’ licenses) are generally not required as they are with taxi, limo, and big truck drivers, so the rules are different.

There are three phases of the driver’s time:

  • On their own time, not driving. Any accidents are paid out of their personal insurance policy
  • When a driver is available and going to pick up a rider after being notified
  • When a driver is taking the individual to his or her destination. When the ride ends, the driver is again “available” and on their own time, and is called out for another pickup.

Insurance

Uber’s drivers are required to have their own personal insurance. Most drivers also have a separate insurance policy for when they are working as a rideshare driver. The premiums come out of the driver’s pockets.

Uber also has its own $1m company policy through James River Insurance, which covers accidents while a driver is working and transporting a passenger in their vehicle. If the driver going to pick up a passenger and is “available” in the app at the time of the accident, the driver’s own insurance is responsible, and Uber’s policy picks up part of it. If the driver is on his or her own time, and not working, the driver’s personal insurance covers the accident as it normally would.

Uber has its own process for handling accidents that involve their drivers. You may also be contacted later to give a statement. (Uber’s website has drivers’ instructions that one can check out.  )

However, Uber is a business, like any other. They will try to avoid making any payouts for crashes or other accidents.

Do I Need A Lawyer?

Chances are, you will. Just because a driver has insurance doesn’t mean things will go well. Additionally, Uber and Lyft have been notorious about leaving their drivers hanging after an accident, without any help. Like any other insurance company, you may be offered a small settlement to settle your case completely.

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 can offer you a free consultation, and a contingency fee arrangement to make it easier for you to afford a car accident lawyer. There’s no fee if we don’t win your case.

Who Is Liable When A Pedestrian Causes An Accident?

If you’ve been in a car accident, you’ve probably been through the process where the fault is determined and liability is established. And more importantly, who pays for everything. There may have even been a pedestrian involved.

But what if the pedestrian was the cause of the accident?

Who Is Liable When A Pedestrian Causes An Accident?

It Happens Frequently

The Centers For Disease Control found in 2008 that a pedestrian is injured every eight minutes, and one dies every two hours in the US from traffic accidents, about 11% of all traffic fatalities (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)  Since pedestrians don’t have the usual protection a car or truck would have, injuries from even an otherwise minor accident can be devastating.

Pedestrians normally always have the right of way, so many people believe that they can’t be at fault—but that’s not completely true. Drivers should yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and other intersections. Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to “exercise reasonable care” on the road, and failure to exercise care as a pedestrian is considered negligent.

If you’ve ever seen someone walking down the street staring at their phone, you’ll understand how quickly a pedestrian accident can happen.

Negligence

It’s not common, but a pedestrian can be found “at fault” for an accident, although successful legal action may not be possible. Distractions (like a smartphone), carelessness, impairment (alcohol, drugs) or otherwise not paying attention to surroundings and traffic can play a part in pedestrian negligence.

Under WV State Code 17C-10-01, pedestrians are also subjected to state law and rules of the road, including using crosswalks and obeying traffic signals. Violations are subjected to fines of at least $100.

In order to prove negligence against a pedestrian, you’ll need evidence, such as witness statements, surveillance video, a police report and other pieces of evidence that prove the pedestrian’s negligence.

Using the NTHSA data from 2008, it’s important to note that time is an important factor in pedestrian accidents.

  • 38% of car/pedestrian fatalities involving drivers aged 16 or younger occurred between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm
  • 48% of all pedestrian fatality accidents happened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • 48% of the cases involved alcohol and/or inebriation as a factor with either the driver or the pedestrian
  • 36% of involved pedestrians involved in these accidents had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit
  • 13% of the involved drivers had a BAC over the legal limit.

Comparative Fault

It is possible, but somewhat unlikely, that you could pursue a claim against a pedestrian. It’s more likely that the driver will be sued in a personal injury claim by the pedestrian.

Both drivers and pedestrians can be found negligent and liable for an accident, either singly or together. West Virginia’s comparative fault rule means that if a pedestrian is found to be at fault for the accident, any settlement can be reduced by the percentage. If a pedestrian is found to be 25% responsible for an accident, he or she will see any settlement reduced by 25%. This is also true for a driver.

Intoxicated or otherwise impaired pedestrians who fail to follow the rule of law may be responsible for a higher fault percentage, and may not be eligible to recover damage and/or compensation.

Defend Yourself

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.

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.

Settlements in West Virginia Accident Injury Cases

After a car crash, there is a lot to process—who, what, when, where and why are the most obvious questions that need an answer. Once those are answered and you’ve begun the process of filing insurance claims and maybe hiring an attorney, you’ll start to hear the word “settlements.” It’s important to understand what it means and how it affects you before you sign anything.

Settlements in West Virginia Car Accident Injury Cases

Take Care Of Yourself First

One of the first things you should do is see a doctor—whether your own or in the emergency room right after the crash. You may not have any obvious signs of injuries, but you may show symptoms later. Establishing your medical condition after the crash is important for your case. You’ll need to be as well as you can be when it’s time to speak to insurance companies and attorneys.

While you are recuperating, you may receive a call from an insurance adjuster with the other party’s company. Their job is to settle your case as quickly as possible, for the least amount of money. If you’ve been injured, your car has been damaged (or totaled) or you suffered other property damage, there are a number of costs that must be taken into consideration when discussing settlements. If you will need continuing long-term medical care, your car needs replacement, or you’ll require other compensation for the accident, those costs must be figured into the final amount.

Once your case is settled and you’ve signed all the papers, you won’t be able to go back and get any more money if you didn’t get enough the first time. A settlement should make you “whole,” or compensate you enough to where you are in relatively the same position you were in before the accident.

Settling a case can be a long time, especially if there is a large amount of money at stake. If you’re being pressured to sign settlement papers, don’t—it’s time to find a West Virginia personal injury attorney and ask for help.

Don’t Accept The “Quick Check”

Some attorneys may dazzle you with multi-million dollar judgment amounts they’ve won for previous clients. Some may suggest that they can “settle your case quickly.” But before you accept a “quick check” from an attorney, you should understand how the settlement process works. You may be signing your rights away and leaving a lot money on the table. Every case is different, so a “quick check” may not be the right way to go. An experienced personal injury attorney with car accident experience can better help you understand your case.

The Statute Of Limitations

There are time limits for filing your claim. Called the “Statute of Limitations,” West Virginia allows two years from the date of the accident to file, or you lose your right to sue (West Virginia Code section 55-2-12.) If a fatality was involved, there is also a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim by the deceased person’s family (West Virginia Code section 55-7-6.)  You must file within the two-year period of the date of the accident to have your claim processed and settled. A personal injury attorney can give you an idea of how long you may have to wait for a settlement. If the end date is coming up soon, it’s time to call an attorney now.

Settlements

Your settlement may not require you to go to court, but it might. Should your attorney not be able to reach a suitable agreement with the insurance company, it may become necessary to file a lawsuit.

When an agreement is reached between you (and your attorney) and the other parties (the other driver, their insurance company, and any other attorneys involved) on the dollar amount that is owed to you, then you’ll receive a settlement. At that point, your attorney will let you know how much your settlement will be, how much you owe in attorney’s fees from that settlement amount, and final amount you will receive. The settlement will include pain & suffering, loss of wages, medical expenses, and other related compensation. Depending on the severity of your injuries, this settlement may include monies for future medical expenses.

If your attorney took your case on a “contingency fee basis,” it means that they are paid a percentage of your settlement amount. He or she will advise you of their fees at that point and can answer any of your questions.

Let Us Help With Your Case

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 for you.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Car Accident Settlement in West Virginia?

After the police report has been filed, your car has been fixed (or at least estimated), and you’re starting to heal from your injuries, you may be wondering how long it might be before you actually receive a settlement from a car accident. West Virginia has a process for car accident cases to go through before you actually “get a big check.” There are a lot of variables involved with a car accident settlement, and getting a fast settlement may leave money on the table that you may need later.

getting a car accident settlement

Quick settlements aren’t always a good idea. If you’re being pressured by an insurance company to settle your car accident case, it’s time to ask for help from a qualified personal injury attorney who knows how to handle accident cases in West Virginia. Even if you have an attorney you’ve worked with on other matters, it’s best to find someone who works exclusively with personal injury cases.

West Virginia Statute of Limitations

West Virginia has a two-year window of time, called the “statute of limitations,” for claims and lawsuits to be filed. That window begins the day of the accident. Most people aren’t able to file a suit the day of the accident, so you should find a personal injury attorney to assist you as soon as you’re able to.

In West Virginia, the party at fault is required to reimburse the injured party for all accident related expenses. If you have been assigned partial fault, this may affect your settlement, depending on how much you were at fault. If your fault is less than 50%, you can be awarded a settlement.

Your claim with the other party’s insurance company may be all you need to file if your case is minor and you’re able to handle it yourself. Insurance companies want to settle quickly and get your case out of the way. They also may drag out talking to you so that you’re unable to file during the statute of limitations. But if your case involves debilitating injuries, the death of a passenger, or other devastating disruptions, filing suit may be your only option. Don’t speak to an insurance adjustor, sign anything or give any kinds of consent before talking to a personal injury attorney about your case!

You should also not discuss your case details with friends or on social media. Much like a divorce case, these things can be used against you in court, and can potentially impact settlement.

Each car accident case is different, and so is each settlement. When considering an offer, there are a number of costs that have to be added into the final figure. They include:

  • Car repair/replacement costs
  • Other property damages
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages/work time
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other related expenses

For instance—if your car was totaled, will you be able to replace it? If you’ve suffered severe injuries in the accident, will you be able to return to work one day, or are you permanently disabled? Will you need additional medical treatment, physical therapy or other medical-related expenses later? An experienced personal injury attorney working for you can help you decide on a suitable settlement.

In addition to compensatory damages, you may be eligible to recover punitive, or “punishment” damages, if the other party was in some way willfully malicious or negligent.

So to answer this question: it depends. On so many things, since every case is different. There isn’t a timetable that can tell you how long it will be before you’ll receive a settlement. A personal injury attorney who is experienced in these kinds of cases will be better able to give you an idea.

How much will an attorney cost? Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis—that is, there is only a fee if they successfully win your case and you’re awarded a settlement. We offer free consultations, contact our law firm today and book for an appointment at (304) 344 5683.

The Car Accident Wasn’t My Fault! Do I Still Need a Lawyer?

A car accident is one of the scariest things to live through. Even if you’re not injured and your car wasn’t a total loss, there are still police reports, insurance claims, doctor visits and lost work time to deal with the aftermath. Maybe you’ve talked to a few friends who’ve “been there, done that.” They’re full of all kinds of advice, some of it is conflicting.  It’s confusing to know which way to turn. Even if you aren’t at fault, it might be best to get a lawyer. Here’s why:

you should always get a lawyer, regardless of fault

You’ve probably read the police report and discovered that car accident was not your fault. Great! But do you still need an lawyer?

The answer is probably, “Yes.

But If You’re Not At Fault, Why Do You Need A Lawyer?

If you were at fault, hiring a lawyer would be to defend you and try to get any charges reduced or eliminated, and possibly keep you out of jail, depending on the circumstances. But if you’re not at fault, who’s looking out for your best interests? Nobody—and that’s why you may need a lawyer in West Virginia to make sure your rights are protected, and you get any settlement or compensation you’re entitled to receive. Contacting The Love Law Firm to talk about your accident and your rights is a good place to start.

Beware Of Time Limits

From the date of the accident, West Virginia has a two-year window to file an accident-related lawsuit (known as the “statute of limitations.”) As the injured party, you’ll be required to prove that the other party was at fault (“burden of proof.”)  Pay attention to this deadline, even if your case may settle out of court. You don’t want to lose your rights if the  settlement negotiations fail. If you don’t file by the two-year deadline, your case will probably be dismissed.

The statute of limitations only applies to court filings. Insurance companies may have a shorter window of time for you to file accident claims, like 180 days or one year from the date of the accident. Each company has its own schedule of deadlines. Filing insurance claims immediately gives you time to work on denials, and file additional suits if necessary. Find out and keep track of these deadlines so you don’t miss them. A lawyer can also help if your accident-related claims are denied.

Who’s Fault Was It, Really?

West Virginia recently implemented “comparative fault,” for situations where both side share fault in an accident. This can reduce the amount of your settlement. Known as “modified comparative negligence,” this means that you can recover damages if your injuries amount to more than injuries of the other parties, even if you were found to have contributed to the accident.

But if, at the time of the accident, you were involved in or fleeing from committing a felony, the other party won’t be held liable for any damages, even if he or she was at fault.

In West Virginia, you may be awarded compensation as:

  • Car repair expenses
  • Related medical expenses
  • Lost wages/earnings
  • Pain & suffering
  • Punitive damages

Auto Insurance Requirements in West Virginia

West Virginia requires that anyone who drives in the state have insurance with these minimums:

  • $25,000 for accident-related property damage
  • $25,000 for one accident with one injury
  • $50,000 for one accident with two or more injuries

Call Love Law Firm Today

If you’re involved in an accident with a big truck in West Virginia, you’ll definitely need a lawyer to represent you. The Love Law Firm can definitely help you. While comparative fault still applies, a lawyer is your best ally to help protect your rights, represent you in court and ensure your compensation is fair and covers your loss.

We hope you’re never involved in a car accident. But if you are, call us today at (304) 344 5683 and talk to one of our West Virginia lawyers who can help you through the aftermath of a car accident.