Have you been caught off guard by a wet floor and slipped because of a negligent person who forgot to put up a wet floor sign? Have you injured yourself because of a defective product? Or have you been in an accident, whether at home, at work, or while on the road? If you said yes to at least one, then you might be able to file for a personal injury lawsuit.
What’s Personal Injury?
Before we go into details specific to West Virginia, you must know first what personal injury is. It’s an event when someone’s negligence causes an otherwise preventable accident, inflicting bodily harm to you or someone. Its scope is not restricted to physical harm, however. Intangible harm like slander also falls under personal injury as they harm someone’s reputation.
What are the types of cases under Personal Injury?
There are many kinds of personal injury cases. Here are some of them:
- Slip-and-fall injury – As the name suggests, it’s concerned about when a person slips or falls. Examples are falling down a flight of stairs or slipping on a wet floor.
- Road accidents – These cases pertain to accidents that occur while outside. While the most common causes are car accidents, pedestrian-related accidents may fall under here.
- Work accidents – It’s an accident that happened during your duty at work. Any accidents that would fall under this are subject to laws concerning workers compensation.
- Medical malpractice – These concern any medical error made by a healthcare provider. Medical malpractice cases could stem from medical errors before (e.g. non-disclosure of risks, misdiagnosis), during (e.g. surgical errors, incorrect administration of anesthesia, wrong medical treatment, birth injury), or after (e.g. wrong prescription, wrong medicine dosage) a procedure.
- Defective products – These focus on how a defect on a product had caused you or another person harm. It could be attributed to the product’s design, flimsy make, or the product is just defective.
- Animal bites – It focuses on the harm animals bring to you or other people. As pet owners, they are responsible for their pets and whatever damage or injury they do to other people. Dog bites, severe animal scratches, and damage to property caused by pets fall under here.
- Construction accidents – Despite its name, a person passing by and was injured by an unsafe construction-related action can also file for a personal injury case.
- Defamation – even non-physical injuries are included. This act causes damage to the reputation of someone or something, like a family or a business.
- Government claims – Yes, you may even ask for compensation due to injuries and damages dealt by the government. However, pursuing a case against the government, the city, or the state is tedious and risky.
Experienced one of these? You may need to consult a personal injury lawyer to know if you can file for a personal injury lawsuit.
What’s in it for me when I file a lawsuit?
As the accident victim, you can be compensated for the injury dealt with you by the causes above. Hospital expenses and lost wages are the common inclusions in an accident settlement. But you may not be aware that you will be able to ask for compensation for special and general damages.
What can be considered as special and general damages?
Two types of damages can be compensated when you win the injury claims: special and general damages.
- Special damages also referred to as financial damages, are quantifiable damages dealt by the accident. It includes medical bills, lost income, medications.
- General damage, also called non-financial damages, includes emotional pain and trauma, defamation, consortium loss, among others.
Is there anything to remember when filing?
In West Virginia, there are some things to take note of when you consider filing a lawsuit:
- The statute of limitations for personal injury is two years. So, you have to file a case within two years after an accident. After that, you may not file for a case.
- Unlike financial damages, the compensation you can receive from non-financial damages is limited by the Tort Reform. In it, you can receive a maximum of $250,000 in compensation for non-economic damages. Some can receive up to $500,000 if the injury is proven to be permanent and catastrophic.
- Unlike in many other states, dog owners in WV are liable for any property damage or injuries done by their dogs regardless of any condition or circumstance. So if someone filed a complaint about a dog bite, the one-bite rule would not apply.
- The state follows the modified comparative fault rule.
What is the modified comparative fault rule?
In some cases where you, as the claimant, are partially responsible as to why the accident occurred, you may still be compensated as the comparative fault rule takes effect. It is where the jury determines how much of the accident was your fault. Of course, if you are proven to be not at-fault, you are most likely to receive full compensation for your damages.
For example, if the total damage dealt with you due to the accident added up to $75,000 and the jury has decided that 20% of the accident was your fault, instead of being compensated the full amount, 20% or $15,000 will be deducted and you will only get $60,000 in compensation.
However, if the jury verdict shows that you and the other party/ies are equally accountable or you are held more responsible for the cause of the accident, you are less likely to be compensated for the total damage it cost you.
Do you need an attorney to review your case or to fight for you? Ghaphery Law Offices, PLLC is Wheeling, West Virginia’s premier law firm. Our injury attorney may also represent you to insurance companies so that you can get the compensation you deserve. Our competent accident attorney can round up the witnesses, secure an accident report, and represent you in court to protect your legal rights. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help assess your case.