Every state in the U.S. follows fault-based insurance laws, no-fault insurance laws, or a combination of the two. Most states, including West Virginia, abide by fault laws. Only 12 states have no-fault insurance statutes in place. As drivers in a fault state, West Virginians need to understand how the coverage and claim processes work after a vehicle collision. That way, they’ll know how to protect their rights and obtain financial recovery for their property damage, medical bills, and other losses. Here are the facts on West Virginia’s insurance laws. If you need additional information, speak with a qualified car accident lawyer in West Virginia.
Minimum Insurance Requirements in West Virginia
Except for Virginia, New Hampshire, and Mississippi, all states require drivers to carry at least minimum levels of liability insurance. As a vehicle owner in West Virginia, you must purchase and maintain certain levels of auto insurance if you wish to drive. The state insurance system enables car accident victims and their families to recover benefits that will help them repair their vehicles and pay for medical treatments in the aftermath of a crash. Purchasing a policy is mandatory in West Virginia. The following are the minimum coverage amounts you must carry:
- $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance
- $50,000 per accident in BIL insurance
- $25,000 for property damage liability insurance
- Uninsured motorist coverage in the same minimum amounts as listed above
Uninsured motorist insurance will cover your damages if a driver without car insurance negligently causes your collision. The maximum coverage amounts you can take out for this insurance type are $100,000 for bodily injury per person ($300,000 per accident) and $50,000 for property damage. West Virginia insurance companies also offer optional coverage types, such as collision, comprehensive, towing/labor, medical payments, and underinsured motorist insurance. It’s up to you how much insurance you take out on top of the minimum amounts.
How a Fault-Based Insurance Claim in West Virginia Works
Since West Virginia is not a no-fault state, drivers involved in a collision must determine and prove fault before they can file car insurance claims. The at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy will cover others’ damages. It won’t matter to you whether the at-fault driver has enough insurance for his/her injuries; it will only matter whether he/she has enough to cover yours. Here’s what to do:
- Start the process by writing down the other driver’s name and insurance company information at the scene of the accident.
- Call the at-fault driver’s insurance company as soon as you can after a collision to report the accident. Many insurers will deny claims if you wait too long after the crash to file.
- Give the facts of the case without speculation or guesses. Do not admit fault for the accident. Wait for the insurance company to investigate and assign blame.
- Describe your injuries in detail. Keep copies of your medical records as proof of your injuries and take your damaged vehicle to the mechanic shop the insurance company requests.
- Once you fill out all the paperwork the insurance company requires to file your claim, your case will go to an adjuster. It is an insurance adjuster’s job to review your claim and either grant a settlement or issue a denial.
- Before you say yes to the first settlement offer, speak with a West Virginia personal injury attorney to find out what your case is worth. Insurance companies often take advantage of victims by offering low-ball settlements, knowing most don’t take the time to evaluate the true worth of their claims.
Insurance companies aim to minimize recovery, while lawyers strive to maximize how much you’ll receive. A conversation with a lawyer could make all the difference in your West Virginia car accident claim. You could even have the power to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and/or another party in pursuit of higher compensation awards. Work with an attorney for more information.