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After an auto accident in West Virginia, one of the first questions will be: who is at fault? Determining fault is a critical step toward obtaining compensation for your property damages and medical bills. In West Virginia, you cannot even file an auto insurance claim until you have determined who was at fault for your wreck. This is because West Virginia is a fault-based insurance state.
As a fault-based state, West Virginia imposes certain minimum insurance coverage amounts every driver must carry to lawfully be on the road. Auto insurance policies will pay for victims’ damages after an accident, up to the policy’s maximum. The following are the minimum insurance amounts required in the state.
These are the bare minimum amounts. Drivers may opt for additional coverage for themselves or others if they wish. Failing to maintain adequate insurance amounts can result in fines of up to $5,000 and a suspended license.
Only 12 states in the country abide by no-fault insurance laws. In a no-fault state, neither driver has to determine fault before calling their insurance companies. They will seek benefits from their own auto insurers, regardless of fault. The only time someone in a no-fault state would need to know who or what caused the wreck is if the victim is pursuing damages through a personal injury lawsuit. This is only possible in no-fault states if the victim has serious, debilitating injuries.
Under West Virginia’s fault laws, someone injured in a car accident must identify the at-fault party before filing an insurance claim. This is because the claim will go through the at-fault party’s insurer. Most people will not admit fault at the scene, even if they know they were in the wrong. It is important to call 911 and report the accident if you have injuries or expensive property damage. Police can investigate and assign fault, giving you the ability to call the correct auto insurance company.
You typically have to file your insurance claim as soon as possible for the provider to accept it as valid. This could be 24 hours to a few weeks after your accident. Make sure to get the other driver’s insurance information before leaving the scene of the accident. Once you have received medical care, call the insurance company and report the crash. Do not admit any fault over the phone and do not agree to give a recorded statement. Call a West Virginia car accident lawyer for a free consultation before accepting a settlement.
West Virginia’s tort-based insurance laws give victims the right to file lawsuits against at-fault parties for actual damages. You do not need to prove your injuries are serious before filing a civil claim. You do, however, have to make sure you file within the state’s two-year deadline. A personal injury lawsuit could result in greater compensation for your damages than an insurance settlement alone. You could recover compensation for other types of losses besides medical bills and property damage.
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a West Virginia car accident, speak to a West Virginia personal injury attorney about a potential personal injury lawsuit. A lawsuit against the at-fault driver or another party could yield the financial recovery you need to move forward.