Getting through a car accident’s aftermath may be difficult, especially if liability is unclear. Whether you were in a small-scale collision or a serious collision, understanding your rights and options is crucial. That is why seeking legal guidance and representation from an experienced car accident attorney is recommended.

An essential component of auto accident lawsuits is determining who is at fault, and the experienced Morgantown car accident attorneys at Manchin Injury Law Group understand the complexities of comparative negligence laws to determine fault and recover just compensation for our clients.

A skilled car accident lawyer can navigate a complicated comparative negligence case by gathering evidence, collecting police reports and witness statements, and investigating the accident to see where the blame lies and protect your rights every step of the way.

Comparative Negligence Impact on Compensation

Your % of Fault Compensation
0% 100% of damages
1-49% Reduced by your % of fault
50%+ Cannot recover damages

How is the liability established in the case of a car accident?

Traffic law violations, negligence, and comparative Fault are all factored into liability. Liability is also established by examining evidence such as:

  • Police reports
  • Witness accounts
  • Accident scene pictures and videos
  • Accident reconstruction studies

What happens if there is a partial Fault on my end for the car accident? Can I still seek compensation?

West Virginia’s comparative negligence statutes have been amended. You may still be entitled to compensation if you bear less than 50% of the blame. Your proportion of guilt will nevertheless be deducted from your reimbursement. You are not entitled to damages if you are at least 50% at fault.

Determining Liability

Determining blame for any vehicle accident is vital in recovering compensation for damages from the accident. The idea of negligence—the failure to use reasonable care that causes loss or damage—often serves as the foundation for liability. 

To prove liability, your attorney will gather and analyze evidence from the accident, which may include:

  • Police accident reports
  • Photos and videos from the scene
  • Witness statements.
  • Vehicle damage assessments
  • Medical records and bills
  • Lost wage documentation

In some complex cases, accident reconstruction specialists may be consulted to provide expert analysis of the incident. This establishes a clear picture of how the accident occurred and who is at Fault, laying the groundwork for seeking appropriate compensation.

Determining Liability

Comparative Negligence in West Virginia 

West Virginia uses a modified version of the comparative negligence doctrine regarding who is responsible for auto accidents. If the injured person bears partial blame, they will still be eligible for damages under this approach, provided their responsibility is less than 50%. Their proportion of Fault will be deducted from the settlement sum.

For instance, if it were determined that you were 30% at fault and the total damages were $100,000, you would be entitled to $70,000, which is 70% of the total damages after reducing your share of fault.

You are not entitled to compensation if your guilt is 50% or more. That is why it is so important to have a knowledgeable lawyer who can present a compelling case and work to reduce the percentage of fault allocated to you.

Dealing with Insurance Companies 

After a car accident, you will likely need to communicate with insurance companies—both your own and the other party’s. It is important to remember that insurance adjusters are trained to protect their company’s bottom line, which often means minimizing payouts.

Insurance adjusters may attempt to have you admit fault, minimize the severity of your injuries, or coerce you into accepting an undervalued settlement. This is where the expertise of a skilled car accident attorney becomes invaluable.

Your attorney will handle discussions with the insurance companies on your behalf to preserve your rights and ensure that you do not unintentionally say something that might hurt your case.

Additionally, they will negotiate on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve for your lost income, medical costs, pain and suffering, and other losses.

When to Seek Legal Help 

It is crucial to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an automobile accident, especially under circumstances that include:

  • Disputed liability issues
  • Significant injuries or property damage
  • Claims being rejected or undervalued by the insurance provider
  • Questions about your rights and options

An expert auto accident lawyer can offer priceless advice, help you understand the court system, and vigorously defend your rights at every turn. They can also relieve some of the stress and worry of dealing with the fallout after an accident, allowing you to focus on recovering.

Understanding Types of Car Accident Damages 

It is extremely important to understand the types of damages you may be entitled to as you pursue a claim for a car accident. These types of damages include:

  • Economic Damages:
    • Medical expenses (current and future)
    • Lost wages and earning capacity.
    • Property damage
    • Out-of-pocket costs related to the accident.
  • Non-Economic Damages:
    • Pain and suffering
    • Emotional distress
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Loss of consortium (impact on relationships)
  • Punitive Damages:
    • In rare cases involving extreme recklessness or intentional harm
    • It is intended to penalize the offending person and discourage such actions in the future.

Understanding Types of Car Accident Damages 

Your vehicle accident lawyer will collaborate with you to identify and document any pertinent losses to ensure that your claim reimburses you for all your losses. These documents may include: 

  • Medical bills
  • Pay stubs
  • Repair estimates
  • Any other relevant documentation that substantiates your damages

The Role of Negligence in Car Accident Cases 

Negligence plays a pivotal role in car accident liability. To establish another party’s liability for your damages, it is necessary to demonstrate that their negligence directly caused or significantly contributed to the accident.

In West Virginia, the legal definition of negligence is the inability to exert reasonable care, resulting in harm or damage to others. Examples of negligent behavior in car accident cases may include:

  • Distracted driving (e.g., texting, eating, or grooming while driving)
  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • Failing to obey traffic signs or signals
  • Operation of a vehicle when impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to maintain a safe following distance
  • Neglecting vehicle maintenance (e.g., worn tires or brakes)

To demonstrate carelessness, your lawyer will gather evidence showing how the other party’s acts or actions did not adhere to the standard of care that a reasonable driver would have used in identical circumstances. This might entail looking at camera footage, speaking with accident reconstruction specialists, evaluating police records, and questioning witnesses.

It is worth noting that in some cases, multiple parties may share fault for an accident. Under West Virginia’s comparative negligence system, each party’s degree of fault will be assessed, and their compensation will be adjusted accordingly. 

You can battle to reduce your assigned culpability proportion and negotiate these tricky scenarios with the assistance of an expert automobile accident attorney.

Contact the Morgantown Car Accident Attorneys at Manchin Injury Law Group

Navigating liability issues in a car accident case can be complex and overwhelming. A thorough understanding of key aspects such as fault determination, comparative negligence laws, and effective dealings with insurance companies is essential to making informed decisions and safeguarding your rights.

Remember, seeking legal guidance early on can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. As Morgantown car accident attorneys, we at Manchin Injury Law Group have the knowledge, skills, and resources to guide you through the process and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Morgantown or the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our dedicated team of attorneys is here to explain your rights and the legal process and pursue the compensation you need to recover.

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Member at Manchin Injury Law Group

Practice Areas: Personal Injury

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.

    - PAUL MOUSER

  • Being referred to Taylor was the best thing I could have asked for. Taylor and staff are very easy to talk to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.

    - DAWN FRISENDA

  • If I ever have to go through it again I would definetly call Taylor right away. The group was so helpful through my situation and handled everything that needed to be done. They made a stressful situation a stress free situation. With Taylor you dont have to worry about one thing. Definietly would recomend to anyone.

    - TAYLOR G.

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    - NOAH SCHUMAKER

  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.

    - ANONYMOUS

  • Manchin Injury Law Group, Took care of me when I got into a car accident while I was pregnant. Very scary moment for a first time mom but thankfully Manchin Injury Law Group had my back and treated me great. They made me feel as if I was part of their family. My son is now 7 Months Old and very happy and healthy. I’m very thankful for them for helping me through everything and getting me what we deserved. I 100% would recommend them to anyone. If I ever have an accident again they will be my number 1 phone call!

    - SHAWNNA SHAFFER.

  • The support given helped me to feel like I was included in my personal injury case every step of the way. I was informed about the entire process throughout. It was amazing how quick the turn around time was and I would definitely recommend Attorney Timothy J. Manchin to anyone!

    - ANONYMOUS

  • Taylor and Kelly worked hard on my case so I didn’t have to. Thanks guys!

    - TERRI L. ARMENTROUT

  • Excellent experience dealing with Manchin Injury Law. They were very responsive, professional and easy to talk to. I did my homework before I hired a lawyer after my accident and I am so glad I found Manchin Injury Law Group. If you are injured, give them a call!

    - VILLA COVENANTS

  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.

    - CHAD BILOTTA

  • Kelly and Taylor did all the hard work so that I didn’t have to. They both cared about my circumstance and got me a nice settlement. Taylor knows what he is doing and I felt comfortable with my case in his hands.

    - JASON + STACIE MORGAN

  • Great lawyers. They helped me with a West Virginia case.

    - JOSEPH SAUNDERS

  • Such a great experience with Taylor and this firm. Thankful for their diligence and their work on our case. Thank you to all!

    - RENEE FLORENCE WARNER

  • Had a easy and smooth experience with a great attorney so when you go there make sure you ask for Taylor.

    - TIM CROSS

  • My experience at the Manchin Injury Law Group was extremely positive, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs a compassionate and experienced lawyer on their side.

    - TAMMY LACARIA

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