If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury in a car accident caused by another driver, you should be able to recover compensation for your losses. This includes coverage of medical expenses, property damage expenses, lost wages, and more. However, there are various defenses that at-fault parties and their insurance carriers may use to limit how much money they pay in compensation to injury victims. Here, we want to review some of the most common defenses used in these situations.
Perhaps the most common way that insurance carriers or at-fault parties defend themselves against claims is by saying that they did not cause the crash. Liability may very well be disputed in the aftermath of an incident. That is why it is so important to have an attorney by your side who can work together all of the evidence from the scene and work to determine liability.
Saying You Caused the Crash
It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to blame the victims for causing the incident. In some cases, this may be an effective defense, but it may not completely keep a person from recovering compensation. In West Virginia, this state operates under a “comparative negligence” system that allows individuals to recover compensation even if they are partially responsible for the incident, so long as their percentage of fault does not exceed 50%. However, injury victims may receive reduced compensation if they are partially responsible, so it is important to push back vigorously against any allegations of fault.
Failure to See a Doctor
It is crucial for vehicle accident victims to seek medical care after an accident, even if they feel fine in the immediate aftermath. Delaying medical treatment could significantly hurt your claim to damages. The insurance carrier or the other driver may claim that you contributed to the severity of your injuries for failing to seek prompt medical treatment. Additionally, they could argue that the injuries you are ultimately making a claim for were sustained after the fact in some other way altogether.
Not Filing a Claim on Time
In West Virginia, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs. This means that automobile accident victims have two years to file their claim, or they will likely be unable to recover compensation for their losses. However, insurance carriers also have strict reporting deadlines, often within a day or two after the incident. You need to file your claim with the insurance carrier promptly and then make sure to follow up with a personal injury lawsuit if necessary within the required time frame.
It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to try and use a person’s medical history against them. If an individual has pre-existing injuries, the insurance carrier could say that the pain is suffering is caused by the past injuries, not the current incident. However, pre-existing injuries do not prevent individuals from recovering compensation if they sustain a new injury or if an existing injury is exasperated by a new incident.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.