What type of damages can West Virginians receive following car accidents?

When people who are injured in car wrecks take legal action, they may be awarded economic, noneconomic or punitive damages.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 268 traffic-related fatalities across West Virginia, and many more people suffered injuries in motor vehicle collisions. Following auto accidents, those who are injured may suffer a range of losses for which they may pursue compensation. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, they may be entitled to economic, noneconomic or punitive damages. Having an understanding of the types of recompense they may receive may help people protect their rights as they navigate the legal process.

Economic damages

Due to being injured in an auto accident, people may suffer a range of tangible losses. Among other things, these may include any medical bills resulting from the collision; any projected future medical expenses; and past, present and future lost income. Economic damages may be awarded to compensate for these measurable losses. Seeking to make people as close to whole as possible through this type of damages, there is no cap on the amount that may be awarded.

Noneconomic damages

While some of the losses people suffer as a result of car crash injuries are easily measured, others are not so readily quantifiable. For example, a man is in a collision and suffers a spinal cord injury, resulting in paralysis. Consequently, he can no longer perform his job and must make other substantial lifestyle changes. Although somewhat subjective, the court may seek to compensate people for these types of non-monetary losses through noneconomic damages awards. In addition to the disability resulting from the injury, other losses accounted for through noneconomic damages may include disfigurement, pain and suffering, or loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages

In cases when the court seeks to reform, punish or deter the at-fault driver from engaging in the conduct that led to the wreck in the future, punitive damages may be awarded. These are typically requested or advised in cases when the motorists' actions were willful, malicious, violent or reckless. Punitive damages may be awarded on top of any compensatory, or economic and noneconomic, damages. State law specifies that such awards cannot exceed $500,000 or four times the amount of any compensatory awards, whichever is greater.

What Warner Law Offices can do for you

When people in West Virginia are injured in motor vehicle collisions, the effects may be devastating. In addition to the physical and emotional challenges they may face as they recover from their injuries, they may also face financial difficulties or be forced to make significant lifestyle changes. Thus, those who have experienced such situations may benefit from discussing their case with a legal representative.

Over the course of my career at Warner Law Offices, I have represented over 1,000 men, women and children who were injured in auto collisions. While many individuals ultimately recover from their injuries, many others do not and are forced to live with the consequences of someone else's negligence for the remainder of their life. In the most tragic cases, I have represented the families of those who were killed as a result of another's negligence behind the wheel.

In my experience, hiring a competent personal injury attorney to represent your interests following a motor vehicle crash is extremely important. I have heard numerous stories of individuals who came to me after receiving a letter or phone call from the "at-fault" driver's insurance company attempting to facilitate a quick and nominal settlement. Many of those individuals had permanent injuries and had not even begun the extensive medical treatment they would ultimately need.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle crash, please call our office so we can discuss your rights and options.