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West Virginia Personal Injury Laws

The expenses of recovering from an injury can add up quickly. Doctor’s bills, physical therapy, and lost wages from missed time at work can cause a financial burden. Even the non-economic costs of your pain and suffering takes a toll.

When someone else injures you, it may be their responsibility to cover the cost of your care. Many types of accidents, from the intentional to the accidental, can be a valid basis for a personal injury lawsuit. If the court finds in your favor, the person who injured you may have to pay you monetary damages for the cost of your care and the general impact the injury has on your life.

Each state has its own specific laws tied to personal injury laws, so for injuries in Charleston, Huntington, or Martinsburg, be sure you’re following the guidelines for West Virginia.

What Is a Personal Injury in West Virginia?

A personal injury in West Virginia is generally defined as bodily harm caused by one person to another. It typically doesn’t include property damages. These cases are tried in civil courts. Some injurious actions can also result in criminal charges, which are tried separately in a criminal court under the criminal code. Civil courts are where the injured are able to pursue their financial compensation from the case.

Different types of inflicted injuries can lead to a personal injury lawsuit include:

  • Intentional injuries, like assaults and batteries, include when a person intends to hit you, even if they don’t intend to cause injury. They could still be liable for any harm they cause you.
  • Negligent and reckless injuries are accidental injuries that could have been prevented if the person who caused the damages had acted more carefully. They didn’t intend to do the action that injured someone, but they should have known their careless actions could have led to those consequences. Most medical malpractice cases, for example, are tried as negligence.
  • Strict liability injuries are accidental injuries where the injurer did act responsibly, but the type of harm they caused still makes them responsible for paying damages. Dog bites and manufacturing defects usually fall under strict liability if they cause an injury.

What Are the Limits on My Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Some specific circumstances of your case, like the type of injury or how it was caused, can add some limitations to what you can collect in your lawsuit.

The statute of limitations is a time limit for how long you have to file your claim in order for the court to hear your case. Wait too long and you likely will not be able to file, with a few exceptions, such as being so injured you were incapable of filing in a timely fashion. In West Virginia, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your injury for most personal injury lawsuits.

You may also be limited in how much money you can collect, depending on your specific case. While most types of injuries have an unlimited ceiling on compensation amounts, medical malpractice suits usually have a cap on non-economic damages of $250,000.

This amount changes in some negligence cases depending on how you contributed to your injury. Under what’s called a modified comparative negligence rule, injured parties in West Virginia may have their compensation reduced if they’re found partially responsible for their injuries. If you went hunting and were injured by another hunter using their firearm recklessly, for example, they could be responsible for paying your medical bills under a negligence theory. If, however, you weren’t wearing orange, as required by West Virginia’s hunting regulations, the courts could decide you were partly responsible for getting hurt, and your compensation will be reduced accordingly. If you’re 20% at fault for your injury, you’ll likely only be eligible for 80% of the amount you’re after.

This rule only applies if you’re up to 50% responsible, however. If the court deems you more at fault than the other party, you will usually be prevented from collecting any damages at all.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in West Virginia?

Typically, there’s no rule saying you must have a personal injury attorney to file such a suit in West Virginia. However, it’s usually beneficial to have an experienced professional to help you evaluate your case, file it, and argue your case in court. Working with a lawyer could help you recognize how much money you’re able to collect so you can fight for the highest amount available to you.

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