Many car accidents are not as simple as one driver being 100% at fault for the crash. The average crash could involve the shared fault of two or more drivers, as well as third parties such as employers or vehicle owners. You are not alone if you believe you were partly at fault for your car accident. West Virginia has a law in place specifically for these situations: the modified comparative fault law.

What Is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault, also called comparative negligence, refers to an injured party’s (plaintiff’s) partial fault for an accident or injury. In comparative negligence states, partial fault on the plaintiff’s part will not bar him or her from financial recovery. This is in contrast to contributory negligence states, in which any amount of fault by the plaintiff will eliminate the opportunity to obtain compensation. Comparative fault states use either pure or modified comparative fault laws. West Virginia uses a modified comparative fault law.

West Virginia’s Modified Comparative Fault Law

West Virginia Code 55-7-13A states that the courts will express the degree to which a plaintiff caused his or her personal injury as a percentage out of 100. In a civil tort claim, the courts will predicate the plaintiff’s financial recovery upon the liability of each person involved in the claim. The courts will analyze the comparative fault of the plaintiff, the defendant and any nonparties involved in the accident. The courts will then allocate a percentage of fault to each person.

If the courts allocate a percentage of fault to the plaintiff, the defendant will have to pay the plaintiff an equivalent amount less in financial compensation. If, for example, you were 25% at fault for causing your car accident, you would recover $75,000 of a $100,000 total award due to the comparative negligence rule. The amount of your portion of negligence will determine how much money you receive for your damages.

The modified aspect of West Virginia’s comparative negligence law caps a plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation at 50%. In a pure comparative negligence state, a plaintiff could be any percentage responsible – even 99% – and still recover some compensation for his or her damages. In West Virginia, however, if you are 50% or more at fault, you will lose all right to recover. Your fault cannot equal or exceed the combined negligence of all other parties to qualify for compensation.

Navigating a Comparative Negligence Claim

If you were partly at fault for your auto accident, do not assume you have lost the right to file a claim to compensation. The law in West Virginia may still enable you to recover at least a partial settlement or verdict award. It is worth speaking to a West Virginia car accident lawyer to find out if you have grounds for compensation after a collision. In the meantime, take certain steps to avoid diminishing your right to recover financially.

  1. Call the police. Call 911 at the scene of your wreck for an official investigation.
  2. Do not admit fault. Never tell the driver, the police or an insurer you caused the accident.
  3. File a claim right away. File your insurance claim within 24 hours of the crash, ideally.
  4. Answer questions honestly. Tell the truth during your insurance claim.
  5. Contact a lawyer. Do not try to navigate your claim alone. Hire an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney to assist you.

A comparative negligence defense from the defendant could reduce your compensatory award. It is up to you to protect your rights by hiring a lawyer to represent you during an insurance claim or injury lawsuit. A lawyer can use evidence and special legal techniques to prove that other parties were more than 50% responsible for your accident. Arguments from your lawyer could minimize your percentage of fault to maximize your compensatory award in West Virginia.

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”.


  • 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.


  • 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.

  • Efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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!


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


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


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


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


  • 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.


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