Just like the weather, the rules of law vary from one location to another. What is particular to one state can be different in another state. There is a time limit in every state in which a case can be raised—this is called the “statute of limitation.” In the following paragraphs we will discuss statutes of limitations and how they affect personal injury claims here in West Virginia.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
Simply put, a statute of limitations is the how long you can wait to file a personal injury claim. The rule of law differs from state to state. Even though two cases might be the same or similar in some aspects, the time to take action as a plaintiff can be different depending on the location.
Let’s look at two states as an example. West Virginia allows a plaintiff who has a claim of personal injury—say a broken arm—to file a suit within two years (2 years) of the accident while a state like Connecticut allows a personal injury victim a period of three years (3 years) to file their claim in court. Generally, depending on the state, the statute of limitations ranges from as short a period as a year to as long as six years (6 years).
Honestly, the rules can be complex. This is why it is always in your best interest to hire a legal professional such as an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you understand the statute of limitations.
The Time for Statute to Begin
First, you and your lawyer will determine the type of statute that applies to your case. The second step is to know when the period for taking action begins. Commonly, for almost all kinds of situations according to the West Virginia law, the statute of limitations usually starts from the day the harm happened; that is, the day the victim is injured in an auto accident, commercial truck accident, the workplace, etc.
What Happens When the Statute Runs Out?
In some cases, victims may fail to file a lawsuit within the time which has been stipulated by the law. In such cases as this, a victim may be unable to seek the compensation they deserve from the at-fault party, especially if the case is considered to have been time-barred. This is why it’s so important to talk to an attorney as quickly as possible after you have been injured.
Special Rules for Injury Claims
In some cases, you may have a bone to pick with the government—especially when the state or an agency has been deemed to be the at-fault party in the injury which you have sustained. In such cases as this, it is recommended that you know the special rules that apply.
In cases where the government has been named to be the at-fault party, you need to make sure that your lawsuit is filed within a period of two years. However, prior to filing the claim, it is a good idea to provide a ‘basic notice of claim’ directly to the government as this gives them a heads up with regards to the injury you have suffered and the imminent personal injury claim.
To determine whether you need to present the government with a notice of claim, you need to consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the state.
In the event you are filing a claim against a local municipality such as a town, city, or county, you may need to double-check with the municipality to ensure that you are updated with the laws in the area. A great way to know this may be to visit the offices or consult with your attorney who is familiar with the local laws.
Comparative Fault Rules in West Virginia
In some cases, such as dog bite accidents or auto accidents, the accident may have been caused solely due to the negligence of the at-fault party. In a case like this, the victim may be entitled to compensation for the damages which they have suffered. The court may award damages in the cost of the medical bills incurred, rehabilitation cost, prescription medicine cost, transportation cost, compensation for pain and suffering, property loss, loss of earning power and others. The amount awarded in compensation to such a victim will be dependent on the extent of injuries sustained, whether temporary or permanent.
However, in other cases, some plaintiffs may be named as partly responsible for the accidents which had led to their injury. In such cases as this, the court aims to determine the level of contribution of the plaintiff to the accident. West Virginia follows the comparative negligence rule in such cases of shared negligence leading to injuries. In cases like this, the court seeks to measure the level of plaintiff’s contribution to the accident resulting in the injury and award compensation to them based on this.
In essence, if a plaintiff has been involved in a car accident which has led to injuries and has cost him or her a total of $60,000 and the jury has found that such a plaintiff was 20% at fault in the accident, then, the plaintiff will be awarded the total amount of the damages at 20% of the cost, which is $48,000.
However, if such a plaintiff has been established to be 50% or 60% at fault in the accident leading to their injury, the client may forfeit their total claim as they are most likely not going to recover anything at all from the case under the state’s shared fault rules.
What To Do When Injured
If you’ve been injured recently due to no fault of your own, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer like those at Mountain State Law. We can discuss your case and your injuries, and determine the compensation you are entitled to for medical bills, disability, and pain and suffering the injury has caused.
It all starts with a FREE Consultation, so contact us today!
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