General Factors and Considerations
If you were seriously injured due to the negligence or wrongful actions of someone else, you are probably wondering what the value of your personal injury claim may be. It is important to keep in mind that every individual claim will vary in value based on a wide range of variables. Nevertheless, there are some general aspects that can be considered when determining what your personal injury claim may be worth in West Virginia.
What Is a Personal Injury?
Personal injury refers to any physical, mental, or emotional harm that a person suffers as a result of the negligent or wrongful actions of another person or entity.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is another term used to describe a civil lawsuit filed in court seeking financial compensation for damages caused by another person or entity.
What Are Damages?
The value of your personal injury civil claim may include compensation for what we refer to as “damages.” Damages are the personal injuries and losses you suffered as a result of the incident in question. There are two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages may be of two types: tangible and intangible.
Tangible damages are monetary compensation awarded for specific or actual financial losses you have already suffered and are currently facing, as well as those you may reasonably face in the future, as a result of the negligence of another party. Tangible losses may include such things as hospital and medical bills, medication and out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages and benefits, expenses related to nursing care, and other costs directly related to the claim. These losses are measured according to the actual financial losses you have incurred plus the calculated estimate of future financial expenses.
Intangible damages are monetary compensation awarded for non-financial losses caused by a negligent party. These losses may include the pain and suffering you endured, are currently experiencing, and may be expected to endure in the future, as well as mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of life quality and enjoyment, loss of companionship, physical disfigurement, cognitive damage, and other harms. These losses can be more difficult to calculate, but factors that may be considered include the health and age of the victim, how long he or she will likely live (and suffer), whether the losses are likely to be temporary or permanent, the degree of pain and suffering, and the victim’s earning capacity. There is generally no limit on the financial amount of intangible damages which may be awarded; however there is a $500,000 limit on intangible damage awards in lawsuits filed against the government. If this amount cannot be agreed upon out of court it will be left to the discretion of a jury.
Why Should I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Instead of an Insurance Claim?
Compensatory damages for personal injuries may be pursued by filing a claim directly with your insurance company (as applicable), the at-fault party’s insurance company, or by filing a personal injury claim in civil court. At Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, we strongly advise against attempting to secure fair compensation through direct contact with an insurance company. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that the insurance company has motive to offer you the lowest possible financial compensation and that your avenues for recovery through this method are restricted to the liability limits of the policy.
Punitive damages are monetary compensation awarded in addition to compensatory damages in certain eligible cases only. Claimants eligible to be awarded punitive damages will have suffered actions that were particularly heinous from a legal standpoint, such as when the at-fault party’s actions were intentional, especially reckless, committed with malice, fraud, oppression, wanton disregard, and/or indifference to the consequences of the at-fault party’s actions.
Punitive Damages may be awarded in cases involving criminal assault, motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers, and others that meet the requirements.
The intent of awarding punitive damages is to simultaneously provide the victim additional compensation based on the egregious nature of the offense, encourage fairer settlements, punish the at-fault party for the nature of their actions, and serve as a means of deterring others from acting similarly.
Under West Virginia law, the maximum amount of punitive damages that can be awarded is generally limited to $500,000 or four times the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the claim (whichever is greater). There are no punitive damage limits in claims against the government.
In West Virginia, victims that have been deemed partially at-fault for their injuries may pursue compensatory damages; however, the total amount of the award will be reduced by the percentage the victim is determined at-fault. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, your claim will be denied.
In West Virginia, injured victims that have filed a personal injury claim may be countersued by the at-fault party, what may allege that the injured party’s action’s caused or contributed to the injuries and losses claimed. This counterclaim of contributory negligence, if proven valid, may be used as a defense to negate or limit liability, thereby reducing the total amount of the award (see comparative negligence, above).
Insurance Coverage and Assets of the At-Fault Party
Although a specific financial award may be arrived at, the manner in which the actual compensation is received by the winning claimant may vary. This can be based on factors including the liability limit of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage and any attachable assets and future earnings.
The Severity of Your Injuries and Degree of Your Losses
A nearly infinite range of variables beyond those discussed here can affect the amount of financial compensation awarded for your personal injury claim, but generally the award will be based on the severity of your injuries and the degree of your losses. The best way to find out what the value of your personal injury claim is – and have a chance of actually receiving this amount – is to contact Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law in Morgantown.
Call Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law
We Know What Your Claim Is Worth and Will Not Accept One Penny Less!
At Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law, we know what your personal injury claim is worth. We will not accept anything less than the maximum possible recovery you are entitled to receive. If you or your loved one has suffered a serious loss you must act quickly. Contact Angotti & Straface as soon as possible so we can begin working on your case. Call us to learn more or request a free initial consultation at: (304) 292-4381.
Exceptional Legal Representation – Serving All of West Virginia
Angotti & Straface Attorneys at Law offers exceptional personal injury legal representation for clients in Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, and throughout all of West Virginia. Too injured to come to our office in Morgantown? We will come to you.
Learn more about our commitment to excellence.