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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a lawyer?

How much is the average personal injury settlement?

What kind of automobile insurance coverage should I have?

If I am injured in a car or truck accident that is not my fault who pays the medical expenses?

If I am in a motorcycle accident, car accident, truck accident or other serious personal injury should I try to settle the case on my own or should I hire a lawyer?

What is the statute of limitations in a personal injury case?

Are there caps on damages that a jury can award?


How much is the average personal injury settlement?

This is one of the first questions all clients ask. The truth is each case is very unique and different from every other case. When considering the settlement value of any case all clients have to consider the following issues:

  • How strong is the liability case?
  • How much are the past and future medical expenses?
  • How much are the past lost wages and future lost wages?
  • How much risk is the client willing to accept when considering a settlement versus a trial?

The answers to these and many other questions are different for every case. However, each client must carefully consider each of these issues along with many others when determining whether to accept a settlement offer or risk going to trial. 

What is generally true is that people who are involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents and other serious personal injuries generally receive a larger settlement when they hire an experienced trial attorney as opposed to going it alone. Insurance companies are hoping that victims of car wrecks, work related accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle crashes do not hire an attorney. The insurance company is represented by attorneys so should you.

What kind of automobile insurance coverage should I have?

First, we recommend that you seek the advice of an experienced local insurance agent who can explain the various car insurance options that you have. We strongly recommend that you purchase as much underinsurance coverage and uninsured coverage as you can afford. We have been involved in many cases where our clients have been severely and permanently injured and some have been killed by the negligence of another. Unfortunately, often times the negligent party does not have enough insurance coverage or may not have any insurance coverage. You need to protect yourself and your family. Please consult with your local insurance representative and ask about underinsurance coverage and un-insurance coverage. By purchasing underinsurance coverage and uninsured motorist coverage you are protecting yourself and your family.

If I am injured in a car or truck accident that is not my fault who pays the medical expenses?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. First, the person who is at fault is responsible for the medical expenses that you or a family member incurs. However, often times it takes several months before a settlement is reached with the driver who was at fault and in most circumstances your healthcare provider is not willing to wait until the case is settled. In these circumstances we look to your insurance carrier to determine if you have “medical payments” insurance coverage. This is insurance coverage that you have on your vehicle that pays for medical expenses no matter who was at fault. The amount of medical payments coverage varies on how much coverage you purchase. We strongly recommend that you purchase as much medical payments coverage as you can afford.

If you have medical payments coverage then that insurance coverage would initially pay your healthcare providers and then you would have to reimburse your insurance carrier once the case is settled. If you do not have medical payments coverage then we would offer to your healthcare provider a “letter of protection” which is a promise to pay your healthcare provider for the medical expenses you incur once the case is settled. Many local healthcare providers are satisfied with a letter of protection. However, some are not. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you have incurred medical expenses and the person at fault as no insurance and you have no medical payments coverage or uninsured motorist coverage/underinsured motorists coverage then you will ultimately be responsible for the medical expenses you incur even though you are not at fault. Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of purchasing medical payments coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage.

If I am in a motorcycle accident, car accident, truck accident or other serious personal injury should I try to settle the case on my own or should I hire a lawyer?

The insurance companies are hoping that you do not hire an attorney so that they can quickly and cheaply settle your case. The insurance companies know once you hire an experienced injury lawyer that the value of your settlement goes up. 

By hiring a trial attorney you are relieved of the responsibility of investigating the accident, taking statements from witnesses, obtaining the police report, getting copies of all medical records and medical bills, hiring expert witnesses, etc. Your attorney will handle all of these important tasks for you, will complete all paper work, and is experienced in negotiating the best possible settlement. Simply put, if the insurance company has attorneys working for them, shouldn’t you?

What is the statute of limitations in a personal injury case?

This is a more complicated question than one might think. In a personal injury case such as a car accident, tractor trailer accident, or motorcycle accident case the statute of limitations is typically two years. This means, that the client is required to file his or her lawsuit within two years of the date of the injury.

Even though this seems relatively straight forward, there are numerous circumstances that make the calculation of when the statute of limitations begins to run and when it expires difficult to determine. If you are considering pursuing a personal injury case I strongly recommend that you contact us directly so that we can discuss your specific situation with you to determine when the statute of limitations will expire. Please remember if the statute of limitations expires with no lawsuit being filed the case will be forever over. Therefore, knowing exactly when the statute of limitations will expire and filing your lawsuit prior to this expiration is extremely important.

Are there caps on damages that a jury can award?

In most personal injury actions there is no cap on non-economic damages.

When a client has been injured in a car accident, truck accident or motorcycle accident the jury is permitted to award non-economic damages (such as pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life) in an amount that the jury feels is reasonable and will fully compensate the client for the injuries he or she has incurred. No cap applies in this situation. In addition to non-economic damages, the jury is permitted to award the client compensation for the medical expenses incurred and to compensate the client for past and future lost wages. There is no cap on these damages and a jury is to use their collective common sense and apply the facts of the case to the law given to them by the Judge. 

In a medical malpractice case, there are caps for non-economic damages. West Virginia Code §55-7B-8 states that there is a $500,000 cap for non-economic damages:

Where the damages for non-economic losses suffered by the plaintiff were for:

  1. wrongful death;
  2. permanent and substantial deformity, loss of use of a limb or loss of a bodily organ system; or
  3. permanent physical or mental functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for himself or herself in performing life sustaining activities.

In short, there is a $500,000 cap for wrongful death cases and permanent injuries that significantly affect the injured person. 

If a medical malpractice case does not involve the wrongful death of a person and does not meet the above definition then the cap for non-economic damages is $250,000.

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