Question

What damages can I recover in West Virginia?

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William C. Brewer - Business Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: William C. Brewer

Brewer & Giggenbach, PLLC
Morgantown, WV
Phone: 304-291-5800
Fax: 304-291-5829

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Answer

In a car accident or other motor vehicle accident, there are basically two classes or types of damages: the property damage (which includes the physical property or personal property contained within the vehicle and the vehicle itself) and the personal injury to yourself or passengers. 

Recovery for the property damage is typically straightforward: You are entitled to compensation for the fair market value of the vehicle at the time it was damaged or destroyed, or you may receive compensation for vehicle repairs and any damaged or destroyed personal property. The damage to you or to passengers is far more complex because it is often harder to identify or prove that a person has the injury or in fact was injured as a result of the accident. 

Two Types Of Damages In Injury Claims

There are two basic components to the injury claim:

  1. Compensatory damages: Costs incurred such as hospital bills, medical bills and expenses, plus special damages such as lost wages
  2. General or noneconomic damages: General damages such as pain and suffering, annoyance and inconvenience 

General Damages

These damages are by far the most complex and difficult to prove and to value. If the insurance company accepts liability for the claims (that their driver caused the accident), it may be willing to pay for the compensatory bills such as medical bills from the accident. The harder parts to value are the pain and suffering, stress and worry, and the inconvenience of leaving work to go to physical therapy every other day. You need an experienced attorney to help you recover the fair and true value of those damages. 

We can’t tell the jury what we think pain and suffering is worth. Typically, what happens is that juries look at the value of your medical bills and the value of your lost wages and use them as a measuring stick. That may be an inequity in our system, but it is often what happens. 

To Seek The Full Damages In Your Case

If you want to recover the true value of a claim, you need to follow through with the medical care because that is what is going to drive the pain, suffering and annoyance claim. For example, if your leg still hurts after an accident, you should be seeking treatment. If you didn’t go to the doctor and didn’t have repeated visits, insurance providers and even many juries will presume you were not seriously hurt; you must not have had a lot of annoyance or inconvenience. Whatever the case, before you settle your injury claim or begin discussing damages with the insurance company, make sure you’ve reached your full value of maximum medical improvement.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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