West Virginia has a fault-based system for recovering your losses after an auto accident.
If you have sufficient evidence to prove the other driver is at least partially responsible for your losses, you could recover damages through a civil claim.
Compensatory damages address your economic and non-economic losses. These include the ways your accident and injuries impacted you financially, physically and emotionally. Some common examples of recoverable damages include:
- The expenses related to your medical care, including emergency services and all future treatments
- The loss of income caused by missed work opportunities or loss of earning capacity that often accompanies permanent disabilities
- The cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle
- The physical pain and suffering you endured because of your injuries and treatment
- Any mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress, suffered after the accident
If you need replacement services, such as childcare, transportation or in-home care, during your recovery, you can claim those as damages as well.
Punitive damages are not compensatory. The court only awards this type of damages in cases involving gross negligence or malicious intention by the defendant. For example, if the party responsible for your accident drove aggressively, running red lights and speeding while under the influence, and caused your collisions, the court may choose to punish them further with an order to pay punitive damages. This is rare in auto accident cases, and the amount cannot exceed four times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000 under West Virginia law.
Most auto accident cases end in a settlement without ever reaching a courtroom.