Car Accident Attorneys
It is often said that the most dangerous weapon a person can own is his or her vehicle. High speeds, irresponsible drivers and risky road conditions can all combine to make car, truck and motorcycle accidents a significant cause of injury in the United States.
Addressing Every Detail That Matters To You After A Vehicle Accident
At Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C., your safety and security is our primary concern. That is why when your future is in jeopardy because of someone else’s negligence, causing a personal injury to you or a loved one, we will be here to stand up for you. With more than 40 years of experience and a noteworthy record of success in recovering compensation for West Virginia’s injury victims, we handle a wide range of vehicle accident cases, including those that involve:
- Car accidents including in Beckley, Huntington, and Charelston
- Motorcycle accidents
- ATV/UTV accidents
- Railroad crossing injury
Vehicle Accident Attorneys
When you have been in a motor vehicle accident, your primary concern should always be about your health and physical recovery. Make sure to get the medical care you need. Beyond this, however, there are many unanswered questions related to an injury victim’s financial situation and daily living needs. How will you get to work or pick up your kids when the property damage to your vehicle makes it impossible to drive? How can you pay your bills while you are unable to work because of your injury? What do you do if you are not getting answers from your insurance company, or worse, your health care provider? We understand that this accident is an uncommon event for you.
We, on the other hand, are intimately familiar with the injury claims process and have handled a wide range of typical and atypical cases, such as those that involve product defects (as in a GM recall) or large freight companies (as in railroad crossing accidents). Our focus will always be on you and your individual needs as we find a solution together.
Common Vehicle Defects that Cause Accidents
Following an auto accident, it is not always clear what exactly caused it. An experienced attorney will know what common factors to look for, and they can initiate a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of what happened. It may turn out that there are problems with a vehicle or vehicle part.
Some of the most common auto part defects that may contribute to an accident include:
- Tires: Tire design and manufacturing defects can sometimes lead to uneven tread wear, belt separation, and other problems. Reduced fuel efficiency is one problem that often results from tire defects, but other more serious issues that can cause accidents include loss of steering ability and tire blowouts.
- Steering Systems: Almost all new cars today come with power steering, and this feature makes it much easier to control the vehicle. When power steering systems fail, however, there is significantly more force required to steer the vehicle properly, and many people do not have the strength to do it.
- Accelerators: One of the more terrifying vehicle defects is an accelerator that seems to have a mind of its own. When a vehicle accelerates suddenly without the driver doing anything, it can result in serious crashes.
- Braking Systems: Another scary situation is when you try to apply the brakes and they do not slow down/stop the vehicle. If this happens with a newer braking system, it is likely because of either a vehicle defect or improper installation.
- Electrical Systems: Defective electoral systems that malfunction can cause parts of the vehicle to shut down, and in the worst cases, they can result in vehicle fires and explosions.
- Passenger Restraints: Seatbelts, airbags, and other passenger restraints are there for the safety of vehicle occupants. But when there is a defect with any of these systems, it can lead to serious and even fatal injuries.
- Vehicle Stability Defects: Some vehicles have a higher center of gravity as well as weight distribution problems that make it more difficult to turn corners safely. This is commonly seen with SUVs and some large trucks. Driving at high speeds with heavy winds can also cause the vehicle to wobble and sometimes roll over or tipped to its side, often resulting in severe and catastrophic injuries.
Pursuing a Product Liability Claim for a Defective Auto Part
As we talked about earlier, an extensive investigation is usually needed to uncover the existence of a vehicle defect that might have contributed to an accident. It can be challenging to prove negligence with these types of cases, however, because of all of the complexities involved.
A damage claim could be pursued under the legal theory of strict liability, or it could be a breach of express warranty or breach of implied warranty claim. Responsible parties might include the vehicle or vehicle part designer, manufacturer, supplier, car dealership/distributor or installer. It might also be possible that several of these parties are at fault.
In some cases, there may be an existing class-action lawsuit for the defective vehicle part. If this turns out to be the case, then joining the lawsuit could be an option for the injured person. However, if there are more severe injuries and the situation is different (for the plaintiff) than for other class action suit members, then it might make more sense to file a separate product liability lawsuit. Your lawyer will examine the specific factors and unique circumstances of your case to determine which is the best course of action.
Damages in West Virginia Car Accident Cases
Most auto accidents occur because of the negligence or reckless actions of one or more parties. As mentioned earlier, these accidents can often result in serious injuries and fatalities. Those injured in a vehicle crash that was the fault of another party are eligible for compensation, which is commonly known as “damages”.
Compensatory damages can be divided into two general categories:
- Economic damages: These are actual monetary losses resulting from the injury; such as medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, property damage, and funeral and burial costs (in the case of a wrongful death).
- Non-economic damages: These are losses that are intangible and more difficult to quantify. Examples of non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, psychological distress, loss of enjoyment, disfigurement, and loss of consortium.
In rare cases in which the conduct of the party responsible for the auto accident was especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and help deter them (and others) from similar behaviors in the future. West Virginia caps punitive damages at four times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
It is important to note the West Virginia applies the “modified comparative negligence” legal doctrine to personal injury lawsuits. This means that, if you are found to be partially at fault for the car accident, your damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share in the accident; unless you were more at fault than the other party, in which case you may be barred from recovering damages at all.
Here is an example of how modified comparative negligence might work. If total damages are $200,000 and you were found to be 10% at fault, your award would be reduced by $20,000, leaving you with $180,000. However, if you were found to be 51% at fault in the same scenario, you would not receive any compensation at all.
There is no doubt that the insurance company for the other side will employ all kinds of tactics to try to get you to admit at least partial fault for the accident. This is why you should never agree to give any type of recorded statement to the insurance company. They may tell you that this is just a formality and that the statement is necessary in order to process your claim expeditiously. However, the questions they ask are usually worded in a way that is designed to get you to admit fault or otherwise weaken your case. Do NOT agree to give any type of statement to an insurer without first speaking with your lawyer.
Even the Odds Against the Insurance Company
Be aware that the insurance attorney, insurance agent or insurance claims adjuster is not your friend, although he or she will certainly pretend to be. They will often contact you just a few days after the accident before you have had a chance to get organized and assure you that you will be “taken care of”. They may even imply that you are better off without an attorney.
It is important to keep in mind that the interests of the insurance company are not aligned with yours. You are seeking full and fair compensation for your injuries, and they are working hard to escape or limit liability. If the insurance company has experienced lawyers and others trying to limit your recovery, shouldn’t you have someone on your side trying to maximize your recovery? We have successfully handled hundreds of auto accident cases, and we are ready to go to work for you!
Immediate Action and Investigation Is Critical
Insurance companies want you to procrastinate. They want as much time as possible so that the scene of the car accident can be cleaned up and they can send your car to the scrap yard, erasing evidence that may be crucial to your case against them. Insurance companies are also mindful of the two-year statute of limitations in West Virginia for filing a personal injury lawsuit. They would like to delay your claim as much as possible, so the clock will expire, and you will lose your right to pursue damages for your injuries in court.
As soon as you retain our services, our lawyers will take action and begin the investigation. We will examine the scene of the car accident. We will prevent your car and any other vehicles involved in the collision from being scrapped until we can review them. We will talk to witnesses and gather all the information we need to lay a foundation of facts. Our lawyers will also work with your medical providers to gather details about your condition, which will also be important in terms of determining the amount of compensation to seek.
We work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you do.
Contact an Attorney To Advocate For You
Contact our office in Charleston, West Virginia, to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no legal fees until a compensation package is successfully recovered on your behalf.