When you have suffered a personal injury, the stress from medical bills, lost work, and pain can be overwhelming. How will you pay for all the medical bills? Who will pay for your household bills while you can’t work? A West Virginia personal injury attorney could help.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, is familiar with personal injury law in West Virginia.
What Is a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases fall under a broad umbrella known as tort law. Tort law intends to protect people injured or property damaged due to someone else’s action or failure to act.
There are two components of every tort claim—liability and damages. This is true whether negligence or intentional action was the cause of the injury. A personal injury case has one claimant (you) but several potential defendants. Defendants are those the claimant says caused the injury or damage.
To seek compensation in an injury case, the claimant must demonstrate that the defendant was liable. The defendant would have to compensate the claimant if they caused the injury or damage.
What Qualifies As a Personal Injury?
Personal injuries are the result of many different circumstances. Some of the most frequently seen types of personal injuries are:
- Auto accidents (including trucks and passenger vehicles)
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Mass transportation accidents (planes, trains, and busses)
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Domestic animal bites
- Nursing home neglect and abuse cases
- Medical malpractice
- Construction zone accidents
The umbrella that covers personal injury cases is vast. Suppose you feel that your injuries are due to another person’s negligence. In that case, you might decide to hire a personal injury attorney.
What does a Personal Injury Attorney Do?
A personal injury attorney assists claimants secure compensation after accidents. Although they may also work in other areas, these professionals are familiar with personal injury law.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have injuries from an accident, discussing your case with an attorney might be beneficial. But you do not have to have a lawyer to fight for accident-related compensation.
The laws regarding personal injury, liability, and negligence can be confusing. The statute of limitations for injury cases is generally two years in West Virginia under WV Code § 55-2-12. To file an injury lawsuit independently, you must research a lot of information. A personal injury attorney already has that information available.
What Are Compensatory Damages?
Any damages for which you might be awarded compensation fall under the definition of compensatory damages. Each case is unique, so compensatory damages might be different in your case. Some common types of compensatory damages include:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Medical costs (including ongoing treatments)
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or inability to continue earning a wage
The complete list of damages is much longer. It will include anything that caused you hardship, physically or financially.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
The concept of contributory negligence applies to situations where the claimant had an active part in the resulting injury. For instance, if the plaintiff chose to cross a street even though their “Don’t Walk” sign was flashing, and they were struck by a vehicle, they would be partially liable.
The vehicle driver (defendant) had a reasonable responsibility to yield for pedestrian traffic. However, the pedestrian also had a duty to heed the traffic signal. In this example, the plaintiff’s actions contributed to the resulting injuries.
In cases where the defendant proves contributory negligence, the plaintiff might receive reduced compensation or none at all. In many states, personal injury compensation is affected by this concept.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
West Virginia follows the doctrine of comparative negligence in personal injury cases (WV Code § 55-7-13). In personal injury cases, a percentage of responsibility is assigned to both the plaintiff and the defendant. Damages are assessed and awarded based on the percentage of fault.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
A significant benefit of hiring a personal injury attorney is stress relief. When suffering from the results of an accident, your recovery should be your top priority.
A personal injury attorney can begin to prepare your claim while you concentrate on recuperating. Some of the tasks a personal injury attorney can help with are:
- Identifying all liable parties
- Investigating the cause of your injuries
- Gathering evidence to support your claim
- Filing your claim
- Communication between all involved parties
- Negotiating on your behalf
When you have an attorney, you don’t need to learn all the ins and outs of tort law. You can concentrate on recovery from your injuries while your attorney works on your behalf to fight for compensation.
How do You Choose an Attorney?
Some people might be inclined to hire any personal injury attorney they find. That method might find you a great attorney, but research is a more reliable method to find the right lawyer for you.
Ask Friends and Family for Recommendations
If anyone in your circle has experience with an attorney, you can usually trust their opinion and level of satisfaction.
There Is No Shortcut to Research
Starting on the internet is a good choice. You can discover a lot of information about an attorney, their background, their record of success, and the types of cases they accept.
Some of the areas you should check are:
- How long have they been in practice?
- What percentage of their overall cases involve personal injury?
- Do they usually represent individual claimants or businesses?
- Do they avoid going to trial?
In addition to researching an attorney, you should also check their fee requirements.
What Is a Contingency-Fee Arrangement?
An attorney accepting a case on a contingency-fee basis will not make you pay fees upfront. The attorney works on the promise of a percentage of your total settlement amount.
This type of arrangement benefits you because there is no risk. If you lose your case, you are not obligated to pay any fees. If your claim is successful, the attorney will deduct expenses accrued during the preparation of your case from your settlement amount. Many attorneys offer a no-risk free consultation, including those at our firm.