Comparative Fault in WV


Hmmmm……..20 promised articles………8-10. How about 3 tonight. I wrote to the WV State Bar Social Media Committee some thoughts, answered some calls, received one, and walked the dogs, and here I am. (Editor: as I edit this post, the new “Red” WV Legislature is rewriting a great deal of the employment, environmental, insurance, and personal injury law in the State. Comparative Fault will be one of the laws changed, under the “Joint and Several Liability” bill. Just another reason to have an experienced, up to date, personal injury lawyer on your side. 2-27-2015.)

Personal injury law in WV is based on fault. If you make a mistake (negligence) and injure someone else, you are legally responsible, SO carry insurance.

WV requires us to carry $20,000 per person and $40,000 per occurrence of personal injury liability insurance. Homeowners are largely free of serious injury claims because the standards to recover from them if you are a social guest is very high.

Commercial establishments are liable to their customers for their negligence. WalMart never saw a claim it felt was just (this of course is an exageration, a SLIGHT exageration.)

WV allows claims for defective products, the three wheeler that is inherently unstable (they don’t make them anymore!), the Coke with a dead mouse or severed thumb, etc, and the vehicle that rolls over because of a design defect.

In the most basic case, a car wreck, the claimant can recover if the other driver was 51%, or more, at fault. If the claimant was 20% at fault, he/she gets 20% less, and if the claimant was 50% at fault or more, she/he gets nothing. It is that simple.

Good lawyers and claims adjustors understand these concepts and settle most cases without suit. A lawyer who is quick to file suit, who doesn’t communicate with the adjustor, or who does not consider using pre-litigation mediation, MAY be looking at that 1/3 contingent fee instead of 1/4, 1/5 or 1/10. More likely, he/she just isn’t innovative.

Call or write for answers to your questions.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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