West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
Tiano O’Dell, PLLC is a Charleston, West Virginia-based law firm devoted to personal injury cases. West Virginia personal injury attorneys and firm founders William Tiano and Tony O’Dell have been recognized for their hard work and professionalism: they have been named as Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the prestigious American Trial Lawyers Association and have been designated as West Virginia Super Lawyers. Cheryl Fisher has years of experience representing insurance companies and brings that particular expertise to the table. They truly believe that injured clients deserve to be compensated for harm imposed by the negligence of others and that the families of deceased victims should be properly and generously compensated for their losses.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
When a person suffers harm as the result of another person’s wrongdoing, he or she may be able to file a claim for damages under personal injury law. Personal injury, or tort law, allows a person to appear in civil court for the purpose of gaining a financial remedy for the losses stemming from the incident. The purpose of a personal injury claim is to attempt to allow a person to be “made whole,” at least financially, following someone else’s negligence.
What Do Personal Injury Claims Cover?
Personal injury claims can apply to a wide variety of situations. The personal injury laws of West Virginia apply whenever someone acts in a careless manner involving incidents such as car accidents, premises liability claims, or medical malpractice. Others include:
- Intentional Acts. You may also be able to file a civil claim against a party when the defendant’s international conduct causes harm to another person. Examples of these intentional acts include homicide, assault and battery, or other criminal acts.
- Defective Products. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must use reasonable care in producing and testing products. If they create or sell a product that injures another person, they may be liable for damages that result under product liability law.
Finally, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim if another person’s defamatory statements damage your good reputation. For more information regarding what injury claims cover, speak to a knowledgeable West Virginia personal injury attorney.
Who Creates Personal Injury Laws?
The practice of tort law is wide in scope, and many laws date back to “common law,” which refers to a time when judges made the rules, not legislatures. When a judge makes a ruling on a case, he or she sets a precedent, which becomes binding to all courts lower than the judge’s jurisdiction. This is how common laws emerge, and how many personal injury laws first came into being.
Today, however, personal injury laws vary from state to state. While many of the common laws still exist, both federal and state legislatures pass new statutes that apply to personal injury issues. Workers’ compensation laws serve as good examples.
West Virginia Negligence Laws
The general laws of personal injury dictate that several principles must apply for a plaintiff (or claimant) to collect damages from a defendant (or person committing negligence). These basic principles include:
- Duty – a defendant must owe a plaintiff a duty of care. For example, drivers owe a duty of care to all other motorists on the road.
- Breach – secondly, the defendant must breach their duty of care, or commit negligence. Using the example of a car accident, a person may breach his or her duty of care by breaking traffic laws.
- Causation – the claimant must prove that the defendant’s breach directly led to their injuries.
- Harm – finally, the plaintiff must show that he or she suffered harm as a result.
Other factors might affect your ability to collect compensation in a West Virginia accident. For example, West Virginia Code 46-4-406 outlines the idea of comparative negligence, which holds that a plaintiff might experience a reduction in damages if he or she shares fault for an accident.
Types of Personal Injury Cases We Handle
A personal injury claim may arise from any incident in which a person causes harm to another. Here are some common examples that our West Virginia personal injury lawyers have handled:
- Car accidents – these initiate the greatest number personal injury cases in the United States, as they are a leading cause of accidental injury. A careless driver can be liable for injuries and other losses stemming from a car accident.
- Slip and Fall Cases – these may also be called “premises liability claims” and arise when a person incurs injury due to another party’s negligent upkeep of his or her property.
- Dog Bites – West Virginia law holds that dog owners are financially responsible for the injuries their animals cause, in most cases.
- Defamation or slander – personal injuries don’t always have to be physical. You may be able to collect damages if someone’s else’s words damage your good reputation.
- Medical Malpractice – these claims arise when a healthcare provider fails to adhere to an established standard of care, leading to a patient’s injury.
- Intentional Acts – if someone faces criminal charges because of a crime they committed against you, you may be able to collect damages in an additional civil action.
Time Limit to File an Injury Lawsuit in West Virginia
Each state has a time limit for filing a personal injury claim, called the “statute of limitations.” In West Virginia, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim in civil court so it is wise to contact a West Virginia personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident. If you fail to file your lawsuit within this time frame, the courts will likely refuse to hear your case and you will lose your right to file a claim for damages.
There are certain exceptions to the statute of limitations rules. Claims against the government require an additional procedure called a “notice of claim” before filing a traditional suit. Similarly, in medical malpractice claims featuring minor children, the two-year “clock” begins to run on the minor’s 18th birthday.
What to Do After a Personal Injury Accident
If you are ever injured in an accident and believe that someone else may be responsible for your injuries, our West Virginia personal injury attorneys recommend taking the following steps:
- Collect and preserve evidence, such as taking pictures of the damage and collecting personal information from the person you believe was responsible.
- File a police report. This could prove invaluable to your personal injury claim.
- Get names and contact information from anyone who may have observed the accident.
- Contact a personal injury attorney. It’s in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
At the Charleston law firm of Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, we can help you understand your rights and options under West Virginia law.
How Much Is a Personal Injury Claim Worth?
One of the most common questions we hear in a consultation is “How much is my claim worth?” Several factors might affect your personal injury claim, but most include:
- Compensation for economic losses. These include tangible expenses such as medical bills, lost wages from missed work, and any future rehabilitation costs.
- Reimbursement for intangible losses. Also called “general damages,” these address things like pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of partnership and consortium, in the case of wrongful death.
A personal injury attorney can help you determine how much your claim is worth based on the severity of your injuries and the subsequent impact on your quality of life.
Why Hire a West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer?
Many people assume that they can handle the insurance companies by themselves following an accident. Unfortunately, insurance company representatives do not have your best interests at heart. Insurance companies seek to pay out as little on your claim as possible and may take advantage of the fact that you don’t know how much your claim is worth. A personal injury attorney has extensive experience in negotiating with insurance companies and will not stop fighting for your right to fair compensation under the law – even if it means taking your case to trial. Sometimes, the simple act of getting an attorney involved is enough for an insurance company to take your claim more seriously.
Successful Client Representation in West Virginia
Successful legal representation is a result of years of study and years of practice in and out of the courtroom. If you choose to work with a West Virginia personal injury attorney at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, you can rest assured knowing that:
- We answer and return your calls and keep you abreast of your case. We like to keep you informed. We know how important your case is to you.
- If we are offered a settlement from an insurance company, we will always tell you first and ask for your permission and approval.
- We utilize the skills of experts, such as medical experts, accident reconstruction engineers, and forensic scientists when appropriate.
- We will always prepare your case for trial. We will not be intimidated by, nor bow down to insurance companies. Because we prepare every case for trial, they know we are serious.
Free Consultation with a West Virginia Injury Lawyer
If you were injured by the negligence of another person or business, or because of a defective product, or for any other reason, contact Tiano O’Dell, PLLC for a complimentary and confidential case review. We can help you understand your options and possible courses of action. The consultation costs nothing and the conversation is confidential. Compensation may be available in the form of medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, and more. We are available by email or phone. Call our Charleston office today at 304-720-6700.