Car accidents can lead to severe injuries for victims, and these cases are often complex. However, those involved in car accidents in Charleston, West Virginia, have a powerful advocate ready to stand by their side. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, our Charleston car accident attorneys will bring their expertise and resources to your case in an effort to obtain full compensation for your injuries and property damage. We are not afraid to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers or at-fault parties, and we will see your case through to the end.
I Was Injured in a Car Accident in Charleston; Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you were recently injured in a car accident, the last thing you need is to be stressed out about your injury claim. You need to focus on resting and recovering. Hiring a skilled Charleston personal injury attorney will enable you to take care of yourself and your family while resting in the assurance that your case is in good hands.
The right car accident lawyer will be fight for you and help you win maximum compensation for your injuries. They will take care of the details of your case while you recover. A personal injury lawyer will:
- Calculate your financial losses from the accident, including an accurate projection of future losses.
- Interview crash witnesses
- Find evidence to prove negligence
- Ensure paperwork is completed and filed in a timely manner
- Negotiate with the insurance companies
- Prepare your case for trial, if necessary
Why Choose Tiano O’Dell, PLLC?
Hiring an attorney after a car accident is a major decision, and you need to be sure you are working with someone you can trust both personally and professionally. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, we are ready to stand by your side. Reasons to choose us include:
- Our Charleston car accident lawyers have more than two decades of experience handling injury cases for our clients.
- We have the resources necessary to handle complex car accident injury cases, and we are not afraid to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers.
- We offer free consultations to all potential new clients so we can help you fully understand your legal options before committing to representation.
- Our team takes Charleston car accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that we will not collect any legal fees until after we secure the compensation you need.
Charleston, West Virginia Car Accident Resources
- Common Causes of Charleston, WV Car Accidents
- Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
- What to Expect After a West Virginia Car Accident
- Time Limit on Charleston Car Accident Claims
- How to Choose an Attorney After an Auto Accident
- How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take?
- Proving Negligence in a Charleston Car Accident
- Comparative Fault in West Virginia
- Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
- How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
- How Much is My Charleston Car Accident Claim Worth?
- Charleston, WV Car Accident FAQs
- Contact a Charleston, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Charleston, WV
Car accidents occur in various ways in and around the Charleston, West Virginia area. At Tiano O’Dell, our investigation often determines that car accidents are caused by the careless and negligent actions of other drivers on the roadway. This includes the following:
- Distracted driving behaviors
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Operating too fast for conditions
- Reckless driving
- Failing to follow traffic laws
Sometimes car accidents are caused by vehicle defects. Such defects can lead to severe accidents and are often caused by:
- Auto-body mechanics who perform shoddy repairs
- Auto companies or manufacturers
- Auto part manufacturers
Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
Unfortunately, car accident injuries sustained by victims in the Charleston area are often severe. The team at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC regularly helps clients who sustain injuries at all levels of severity, including the following:
- Brain Injuries. Traumatic brain injuries can occur anytime there is a severe collision, and these injuries often lead to short- or long-term disabilities for victims.
- Broken Bones. Broken and dislocated bones often occur in high-impact crashes, and they can significantly effective victim’s daily life and ability to work.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. Spinal cord injuries one of the most severe injuries that can occur in a car accident, and they can lead to varying levels of paralysis.
Types of Car Accidents
- Head-On Collisions. Head-on collisions occur when the front end of a vehicle collides with the front of another vehicle. These incidents often occur when one or both vehicles are traveling at higher rates of speed, which can result in catastrophic injuries.
- Highway Accidents. There are various of highway conditions ways that can cause motor vehicle accidents. Driver behavior, in combination with equipment failure, poor roadway design, and poor roadway maintenance, can lead to devastating accidents.
- Rear-End Accidents. Rear-end accidents are common in West Virginia, but they must be taken seriously. A rear-end accident can lead to substantial injuries for drivers and passengers as well as unexpected property damage.
What Steps Should I Take After a Charleston Car Accident?
The aftermath of a Charleston car accident can be confusing for victims. Immediately following a crash, it is vital that car accident victims take the following steps:
- Seek medical care. Regardless of how minor or severe the injuries may seem, victims need to be evaluated by a medical professional. This will ensure their well-being while also establishing a link between the crash and the injuries.
- Call the police. Nearly every car accident needs to be reported to law enforcement so an accident report can be completed. The police will conduct a preliminary investigation into the incident, determine fault, and issue citations as necessary.
- Gather evidence. If it is safe to do so at the scene of the crash, gather as much evidence as possible. This could include taking photographs of any damages, causes of the crash, injuries, and more. This also includes gathering the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses and the names, driver’s license number, and insurance information for any other driver involved.
- Report the incident to your insurer. Most insurance carriers require that accidents be reported fairly soon after the incident occurs. When you report the accident to your insurance carrier, you do not need to go into significant detail initially. They just need to know an accident occurred, and they need to have the information of the other drivers involved.
- Continue medical care. It is critically important that car accident victims continued to receive medical care until their doctor determines they have reached maximum medical improvement. A failure to continue medical care could result in an insurance carrier delaying or denying a claim.
What is the Time Limit on Charleston Car Accident Claims?
Car accident victims need to be aware of the West Virginia personal injury statute of limitations, which is two years from the date an injury occurs. This means that a car accident victim has a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. If they fail to file a claim on time, they will lose the ability to recover any compensation for their losses.
However, this statutory timeframe has no bearing on deadlines put in place by insurance carriers. Most auto insurance carriers require that a car accident be reported within a day or two after the incident occurs. Failing to report an accident to an insurance carrier in a timely manner could result in the claim being delayed or denied by the insurance carrier, further complicating an injury victim’s ability to recover compensation.
How To Choose a Lawyer After a Car Crash
After a car crash, it can be overwhelming when trying to choose the right lawyer for your case. Here is what to look for to help you narrow down your search:
Choose an attorney that specializes in or has extensive experience with car accident cases. They will know how to work with insurance companies and what it takes to be successful. Experience in negotiating, going to trial, and handling complex claims can also be critical to your success.
Proven Track Record
A solid car accident lawyer will have a record of their trial and settlement results. The higher the number of successful car accident cases and the broader variety in types of car accident cases, the better. However, firms with high turnover rates are typically ones to steer clear of since they often settle claims quickly for less than they are worth.
No Upfront Fees
Car accident attorneys typically use a contingency fee arrangement, which means you do not have to pay any money upfront, and only pay for their representation if you win. When a lawyer accepts your case on a contingency fee agreement, they believe you have a good chance of recovering compensation.
Time to Dedicate to Your Case
Be sure to ask which lawyer(s) from the firm will work on your case and how many cases they take on at a time. The attorney you choose must be able to dedicate the time and attention to your claim that it deserves.
Recognition by Peers
Research whether a car accident attorney has received recognition from peers for their dedication and success. You can also ask what percentage of their business comes from attorney referrals. An attorney with many referrals indicates that other lawyers are willing to risk their own reputation to recommend their colleague as legal counsel.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take?
How long a car accident claim takes to resolve is unique in each case based on factors such as its complexity, whether fault is disputed, and the severity of your injuries. In the best-case scenario, the insurance company will settle your claim for fair compensation within 30 days. However, here is an alternative timeline to give you a general idea of how long a car accident claim can take:
The First Six Months
The first six months are typically dedicated to recovering if you are severely injured. Generally, it is advised to wait on settling until you fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). That way, you understand the full extent of the impact of your injuries now and in the future, both physically and financially. During this time, your lawyer will investigate which parties are liable and preserve evidence to support your claim. Once you heal, your attorney will skillfully draft and send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company stating the amount of compensation you need to resolve the case, which will begin negotiations.
Months Six to 12
If you cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company, you and your attorney may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. In West Virginia, you typically have two years from the date of the accident to file suit under the state’s statute of limitations law. Keep in mind that your case can still settle at any point, and frequently, filing a lawsuit is enough pressure to get an insurer to resolve the claim out of court.
Months 12 to 18
The discovery portion of your lawsuit begins and will take up the majority of the litigation process. Both sides to the case will often send interrogatories (written questions), take depositions, hire expert witnesses to testify, and you may have to participate in an independent medical examination at the defense’s (at-fault party’s) request.
Months 18 to 24 and Beyond
The remaining time can involve further negotiations, possibly mediation and trial. If your case reaches the courtroom, a trial can take anywhere from a few days to several months to complete. If you are awarded compensation, it will typically be disbursed to your attorney within 30 days of successful mediation or a favorable verdict.
Proving Negligence in a Charleston Car Accident
To win a personal injury case and hold the at-fault party responsible for their injuries, a plaintiff must first prove negligence. The following four elements of negligence must be proven:
- Duty. Did the defendant owe the plaintiff a legal duty of care? Drivers are expected to operate their vehicles safely and thus have a legal duty to act with care toward everyone else on the road.
- Breach. The defendant breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way, based on the “reasonably prudent person” standard. How would the average person responsibly act in a similar situation? Would they have known that someone might be injured as a result of their actions and therefore have acted differently.
- Causation. The plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant’s negligence directly caused their injury. Could the defendant have reasonable seen that their actions might cause injury?
- Damages. The plaintiff was harmed as a result of the defendant’s actions, and the court is able to compensate the plaintiff, usually in the form of monetary compensation.
Proving liability in a Charleston car accident can be challenging. Often, accident injury victims do not have the resources or legal expertise necessary to obtain all the evidence needed to prove the four elements of negligence. However, a skilled Charleston car accident attorney can bring their resources to the table and obtain the evidence, including:
- Photographs taken at the scene of the crash
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Video surveillance captured on nearby cameras
- Police reports
- Vehicle “black box” data
- Mobile phone data
Comparative Fault Laws in West Virginia
Proving fault is important, but it is not necessary to prove that the other party was 100% responsible for the incident. Even those partially responsible for a car accident may still be able to recover compensation so their injuries and other losses. West Virginia operates under a modified comparative negligence system, which means that car accident victims can recover compensation if they are up to 50% responsible for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation the victim receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.
Any person 50% or more responsible for a crash will not be able to recover compensation for their injuries or other losses.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
You will have to report the accident to your insurance carrier very soon after a crash occurs, but you do not need to go into detail. It is recommended that you limit your interactions with insurance companies and avoid talking to the other party’s carrier. You can stick to the details about where the crash occurred, the names and contact information of others involved, and whether or not you are seeking medical care for injuries. Do not engage in back-and-forth communication with an insurance carrier. Insurance carriers do not want to pay out settlements for a claim, and they will use anything you say against you to limit your compensation or even deny the claim.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
Many personal injury attorneys in Charleston, WV, do not charge up-front fees or retainers when taking a car accident case. Instead, they accept car accident claims on a contingency fee basis. This means all upfront costs associated with pursuing your claim are covered, and you only pay legal fees if you recover compensation. Car accident lawyers may charge a contingency fee between 20 to 50 percent of your settlement or award. The fee often depends on the complexity and amount of work involved in your case—such as whether it goes to trial. However, the standard contingency fee is 33.3% or one-third of your recovery.
How Much is My Charleston Car Accident Claim Worth?
There is no set amount of money awarded to car accident victims. Every case is unique, and various factors determine the amount of compensation awarded in a settlement or a jury verdict.
However, the Charleston car accident attorneys at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC have a track record of success helping clients obtain the following types of compensation for their claims:
- Full coverage of their medical bills caused by the crash
- Compensation for any physical therapy or rehabilitation necessary
- General household out-of-pocket the car accident victim incurs
- Any income the victim loses if they cannot work while recovering
- Property damage expenses
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
Our Charleston car accident lawyers will also work to secure punitive damages in cases of gross negligence on the part of the other parties involved in the crash.
Charleston, WV Car Accident FAQs
Q: Do I need an attorney for a car accident claim?
A: An attorney is not always necessary if the injuries and damage caused by a car accident were minor. However, if injuries are severe, liability is disputed, or the insurance company is unwilling to settle for fair compensation, it is in your best interests to hire representation.
Q: Can I still recover compensation if I was partially at fault?
A: Yes, you can still recover compensation if you contributed to causing your car accident as long as you were less than 50% responsible. Under West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence law, each party’s compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Q: What happens if I was not wearing a seat belt at the time of my accident?
If it can be proven that you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of a car accident, then you may have to assume partial responsibility for your injuries. In West Virginia, the penalty can be as much as a 5% reduction in your compensation.
Q: How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a car accident?
In West Virginia, injury victims have two years from the date of the collision to file a lawsuit. This is a law known as the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you will be unable to recover any compensation.
Contact a Charleston, West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If you or somebody you love has been injured in a car accident in or around Charleston, West Virginia, seek legal assistance immediately. At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC we are here to help if you have been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver. Our team is going to be your advocate throughout this entire case, and we will use our full resources to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your claim. Let us handle the aggressive insurance carriers while you focus on recovering and spending time with your family. You can contact our team for a free consultation by filling out our online form or calling (304) 720-6700.