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Who Determines Fault in an Auto Accident?

Published on Jul 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm in Car Accidents.

Smashed front headlight of car

As a responsible driver, you’re well aware of the risk of getting into a car accident. Unfortunately, there are a number of negligent drivers on the road who fail to follow traffic laws. In the event someone decides to drink and drive, drives while distracted, or disregards a traffic signal, they are at risk of striking another vehicle. If you’re injured in an accident, it’s important to understand how determining fault works.

When you’re injured in a crash that isn’t your fault, you can pursue a car accident claim against the negligent driver. To do so successfully, you’ll need to be able to prove how they caused the accident. When you work with a lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, they’ll explain the applicable state laws and how the investigation process works. This way, you’ll know what needs to be done to prove fault and receive compensation.

Modified Comparative Fault in West Virginia

Every state establishes its own method for proving fault when a car accident happens. In West Virginia, a modified comparative negligence rule is followed. In the event a person is found 100% liable for your accident, you will be able to recover total compensation for your losses. If, however, you are determined partially responsible for the collision, what you’re eligible for changes.

Under West Virginia Code section 55-7-13c, a car accident victim can recover damages in an injury lawsuit but can be reduced by their share of the fault. This reduction is typically handled by percentage. For example, if the total amount of damages for a crash is $10,000 and you are found to be 10% at fault for what happened, you’ll only be eligible to recover $9,000.

According to state law, the plaintiff’s share of liability can be no greater than the combined fault of the other involved driver for the total amount of damages. So if someone is found to be 50% or more at-fault, they are not eligible for any type of recovery.

If you decide to pursue a claim, you have one of three ways to do so. In most cases, you’ll file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you were hit by an unknown driver who fled the scene or the at-fault driver’s coverage is insufficient, you can file a claim with your own insurance company. Finally, you have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.

Proving Fault After an Accident in Charleston

The challenges of proving fault after a crash are different for every case. Sometimes, like in the event a drunk driver hit you and a police report confirms they were intoxicated, fault isn’t hard to prove. In other situations, however, you’ll need a significant amount of evidence to prove the other driver caused the collision.

When we investigate a crash, we collect different types of evidence. Some of that evidence could include pictures of the accident scene, damages, and injuries, witness statements, police reports, video footage, skid marks, and road damage or debris. We will use that information to create a picture of what happened and show how the other driver faltered behind the wheel.

In the event you have a particularly challenging case to prove, we may consider consulting an accident reconstructionist. They will use the evidence we’ve compiled, in addition to their own, to determine what happened in the moments leading up to impact to the moments after. This information can be presented to the opposing insurance company or to a jury to establish fault.

Maximize Your Compensation With Strong Legal Representation

When you’re trying to recover from a car accident, the last thing you want to do is think about a legal matter. Fortunately, the lawyers at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC have you covered. When you seek legal representation from an attorney from our firm, they will explain your rights and options and help you decide how to proceed based on your unique circumstances.

If you choose to follow through with a personal injury claim, we will work to build a case that proves you were wronged and the other driver should be held accountable for their negligence. Depending on the crash and your losses, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Filing a claim does take time, and the sooner you get started, the better your chances are of receiving full and fair compensation. To learn more about the claims process or to get started on your case, schedule a case evaluation with our firm today.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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