West Virginia Comparative Negligence Laws

west virginia comparative negligence laws

West Virginia’s comparative negligence laws determine whether you can recover compensation for an accident based on your share of the blame. If you have been harmed in an accident, these laws can limit or even prevent you from receiving compensation for your damages. 

At Warner Law Offices, PLLC, we fight for the rights of accident victims, providing our clients with personalized attention, honest communication, and aggressive advocacy. With 20+ years of experience and a proven track record of success, we are committed to leveling the playing field for our clients. Our personal injury lawyers are knowledgeable and passionate about fighting for justice.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal principle that allocates fault among the parties involved in an accident based on their respective contributions to the incident. Comparative negligence recognizes that multiple parties may share responsibility for an accident, unlike traditional contributory negligence, where any fault is a bar to recovery.

The significance of comparative negligence lies in its impact on legal and financial outcomes. It calls for a more equitable distribution of damages in which each party’s financial liability corresponds to their level of fault. This system allows for fairer compensation, reflecting the accident’s actual circumstances.

How Comparative Negligence Works

In comparative negligence cases, each party is assigned a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the accident. These percentages directly influence the compensation you can recover. For instance, if the court finds you to be 30 percent at fault, you can only recover 70 percent of the total damages.

Comparative negligence helps achieve justice by proportioning fault. It also can affect plaintiffs’ and defendants’ legal strategies. 

Is West Virginia a Comparative Negligence State?

Yes, West Virginia is a modified comparative negligence state.

Following an accident, the court apportions fault among all the parties involved according to their degree of responsibility. Unlike a pure contributory negligence system in which the court bars a slightly at-fault party from recovering damages, comparative negligence allows for more nuanced compensation.

Comparative Negligence Laws in WV

West Virginia’s comparative negligence laws dictate the determination of fault and valuation of compensation in personal injury cases. These laws stipulate that a party can recover damages if they are no more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. West Virginia Code §55-7-13c provides the legal foundation for comparative negligence in our state.

Statute of Limitations in West Virginia

The statute of limitations in West Virginia dictates how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. In West Virginia, the deadline is generally two years from the accident date. However, certain circumstances can extend that timeframe, such as if you were a minor or were unaware of your injury. 

Types of Comparative Negligence

Different states follow different negligence rules. Even the same negligence rule can have nuances in each state. Generally, the following standards apply:

  • Pure comparative negligence: All parties are assigned a percentage of fault. You can recover damages even if you are 99 percent at fault in a pure negligence state. However, the court reduces your damages by your share of the fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence: You may recover damages, but they are reduced in proportion to your share of the fault. However, you are barred from recovery if you are mostly responsible for the accident. “Mostly” is defined as either 50 or 51 percent at fault, depending on the state. 
  • Contributory negligence: Few states follow this strict rule, which holds that you cannot claim damages if you contribute to the accident in any way.

West Virginia follows a modified comparative negligence scheme. The law provides that you cannot recover compensation if your share of the fault exceeds the other party’s. Thus, you cannot share more than 50 percent of the fault. If the court assigns you 51 percent of the blame for the accident, you cannot recover damages.

What Are the Rules of Comparative Negligence?

The burden of proof determines which party must produce evidence to prove their claim. In West Virginia negligence claims, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff. If you attempt to recover damages from an accident, you must demonstrate that the other party’s actions or negligence contributed at least as significantly to the accident as your own. Establishing this fact is critical for your claim to succeed and for determining compensation.

Damage Reduction Based on Fault

The principle of damage reduction based on fault is a key component of comparative negligence. The compensation you can receive depends on the court’s assignment of your degree of fault in the accident. 

For example, if you are 30 percent responsible for an accident, your compensation will decrease by 30 percent. However, once your percentage of fault exceeds 50 percent, you are ineligible to recover damages.

How Can Comparative Negligence Impact Compensation?

In West Virginia, comparative negligence significantly influences how the courts determine compensation in personal injury cases. This system directly affects the damages you can recover after an accident. Specifically, your compensation is adjusted to reflect your level of fault. If the court finds you partially responsible for the accident, it will reduce your damages in proportion to your fault.

Example of Comparative Negligence Compensation

In a two-car accident where both drivers share the blame, the court may deem one driver 60 percent liable and the other 40 percent at fault. If the damages totaled $100,000, the driver who is 40 percent at fault can only recover $60,000. The other driver cannot recover damages, as they were more than 50 percent at fault.

How Can Our Personal Injury Lawyers Help You?

Navigating the West Virginia comparative negligence laws can be trying. It can be especially taxing when recovering from an injury as you deal with legal uncertainties and mounting medical bills. That’s where the experienced attorneys at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, can help. 

Known for aggressive advocacy, our team of exceptional lawyers offers customized legal representation and comprehensive guidance to help you through the maze of personal injury law. Led by founder Bobby Warner, Esq., we have deep knowledge of the law and how it applies to every situation. It is our goal to protect your rights and recover fair compensation.

Our client reviews attest to our knowledge, skill, and unwavering client dedication.

How We Can Help

Our exceptional team will carefully guide you through your entire case by informing you of every legal development and answering your questions. Specifically, we’ll handle the following for you:

  • Case preparation. Preparation is the key to success in personal injury claims. Our lawyers will meticulously gather evidence, build a strong case to establish fault, and work to minimize your share of the blame. We’ll handle everything from witness statements to reconstructing accident scenes. 
  • Settlement negotiations. We’ll negotiate with insurance companies and the defense and fight for the compensation you deserve. Whether it’s in your best interests to settle or take your case to court, we will advise you on each decision so you can confidently make the right choices for you and your loved ones.
  • Litigation. Our well-prepared team will turn your evidence into a compelling argument inside the courtroom. We will advocate relentlessly for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Contact the Attorneys at Warner Law Offices Today

If you or a loved one is grappling with the aftermath of an accident, you don’t need to face this challenge alone. Contact Warner Law Offices, PLLC, to explore your legal options. Whether you’re in Charleston, Morgantown, or elsewhere in West Virginia, our dedicated team is ready to provide the support and representation you need. Let us seek the compensation you need to move forward.

Call us at (304) 345-6789 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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Attorney Bobby Warner
Content Reviewed by:
Bobby Warner

Bobby has received many accolades throughout the years from both his peers in the legal community, as well as the media. The National Trial Lawyers association named Bobby a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and he has been selected as a Member of the Nation’s Top One Percent. Additionally, he has been named a Best Attorneys of America by Rue Ratings, which also named Warner Law Offices to its Best Law Firms of America.