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By Jeff Robinette
Take a moment to reflect back on what happened at the instant of the collision, while your mind and body were still in the process of reacting to the traumatic event. Your initial thoughts most likely turned to immediate needs like assessing your own physical condition and, if possible, deciding whether to stay in the vehicle or get out of it.
You may have called 911 to report the collision and requested WV emergency medical support. You may have even been able to check on the physical condition of the other persons involved in the collision.
If you were coherent and realized some unsafe conditions still existed, like your vehicle is in a dangerous position on the road, you may have felt that you needed to take additional steps to protect yourself and others from further injury.
Little consideration, if any, was probably given to how you thought others would view your immediate reactions to the collision and the actions you took immediately following the collision. All your actions or omissions will have an effect on your ability to pursue your legal rights for full and fair compensation for your injuries.
West Virginia law provides that you have two years from the date of the auto collision to take legal action against responsible individuals and companies, including insurance companies, to seek compensation for the damages you sustained in the auto collision. If your child is injured in a collision, your child will have two years from the date of adulthood to file such a claim.
Waiting until your child is an adult, however, creates a significant loss of evidence you will need to prove your child’s claim. For adults, if you do not file a lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations period, your claim will be forever time-barred.
Two years may sound like a long time from now, but believe me, it is not when considering all the things that must be done to secure your legal rights against the responsible parties. Every day that you wait to seek legal counsel equates to a loss of opportunity to obtain full compensation for your injuries.
In reality, it is the first 60 to 90 days following your auto collision that will make or break your case. It is within this shorter time period that necessary evidence and testimony must be secured, treatment rendered and medical opinions obtained. If you wait until after this time period has passed, and you have not developed your claim properly, it will make the job of even a good lawyer very hard to obtain a full recovery for you.
Worse yet, if you wait until close to the two-year statute of limitations period to consult with a lawyer, it is almost guaranteed that your claim will be compromised. It is somewhat like getting cancer diagnosed early — your chances of improvement are greater the earlier the diagnosis is made. So, don’t wait to get your legal claim diagnosed by a qualified lawyer.
In a typical auto injury case, the injured person is entitled to pursue compensation for their past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and their loss of enjoyment of life. If the injuries are very serious and diminish the relationship with a married spouse, loss of consortium (physical and emotional intimacy and services) damages may be awarded to the spouse for those losses they have sustained stemming from your injuries.
Finally, if the at-fault driver was intoxicated or was guilty of grossly negligent behavior, punitive damages may also be awarded in a court of law. With each category of damages, however, there are complex laws and trial court procedures that must be strictly followed in order to prove your injuries in a court of law.
If you are unrepresented, there will be no one to advise you on the law and to ensure that you have met all your legal obligations — any failure on your part to follow these strict rules will have an adverse impact on your auto injury claim. Remember, only those damages that can be proven in a court of law will be considered for compensation.
Jeff Robinette and the attorneys at Robinette Legal Group PLLC are based in Morgantown, but we serve all of West Virginia. Through digital means, we can easily represent and communicate with our clients no matter where they live.
If you or your loved ones have been injured in a vehicle or workplace accident in West Virginia, please contact our personal injury attorneys at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC in Morgantown, WV.
Call (304) 594-1800 for a Free Case Review.
Jeff Robinette is an award-winning West Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney with over 30 years of experience handling catastrophic injury cases. Mr. Robinette started his career working for insurance companies, and he now uses that experience to exclusively represent the injured and their families.
Morgantown, WV is the home base for the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, but Mr. Robinette and his skilled team represent clients all over West Virginia.
Mr. Robinette is the author of three authoritative books to help the injured understand their rights and the personal injury claims process — Collision Care: A Guide for West Virginia Car Accidents; Righting the Wrong: A Guide for West Virginia Personal Injury Cases (including workplace injuries), and Beside Still Waters: A Guide for West Virginia Wrongful Death Claims.
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