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Who Pays for Auto Accident Injuries in an “At-Fault” State?

After a motor vehicle collision, mounting expenses may cause more anxiety than the crash itself. Towing and ambulance fees are often followed by repair costs and medical expenses, and if injuries result in missed days of work, there’s the additional financial strain of lost wages. In West Virginia, obtaining adequate reimbursement for these expenses depends largely on establishing who was principally to blame for the accident.

In states with “no fault” insurance regimes, an injured person must first seek recovery under his or her own policy for expenses relating to bodily injury. But Virginia is a “fault” state, so obtaining a fair compensation outcome is dependent on establishing the levels of negligence or appropriate level of care of every party involved in the accident and using those fault levels to apportion damages.

When an accident occurs, a party may be anywhere from zero to 100 percent at fault. An individual who behaves recklessly without concern for others — such as by drinking or failing to follow traffic rules — may be found wholly responsible for a crash. Quite often, however, multiple parties share responsibility. Two drivers who were both speeding excessively may be equally to blame if they crash.

The percentage of fault determines what percentage of damages that party is responsible for as well as how much they can recover. For example, if you were 35 percent at fault for an accident, you can recover 65 percent of your damages from the other driver or drivers. However, you cannot recover at all if you were more than 50 percent at fault.

After an injured person files a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, the company will typically offer a compensation settlement based on calculations for fault and damages,which are favorable to the insurance company. The injured person can either accept that settlement or reject it and seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. If no acceptable offer of settlement is made, a lawsuit can be filed.

If you are involved in a car accident in West Virginia, speak with one of the experienced car accident attorneys at Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC in Bridgeport. We will evaluate your case and advise you how to proceed toward the best possible outcome. To schedule a free initial consultation with our office, call us at 304-842-4300 or contact us online.