New Law Impacts Personal Injury Awards In West Virginia

The method used to determine damage awards for victims in accidents in West Virginia will soon change.

One of the more exciting aspects of the law is the fact that it is always evolving. Cases in every field, including family law, personal injury and tax law, are impacted by new pieces of legislation on a regular basis. Personal injury law in West Virginia is currently going through an evolution, and these changes will directly impact anyone moving forward with a personal injury suit in the state.

New West Virginia personal injury law

Legislatures in West Virginia recently passed a law addressing the calculation of personal injury awards. The law, H.B. 2002, is scheduled to go into effect in June of 2015. Key components of the law include:

  • Awards will be determined using principles of comparative fault
  • A comparative fault standard and method of computation of damages will be established
  • The currently used standard of joint and several liability will be abolished
The degree of fault for each party involved in a suit will be determined using a percentage. This percentage will be calculated by taking into consideration the fault of all persons that contributed to the injury, not just the parties to the suit.

More on comparative fault

Essentially, comparative fault is a legal term used to describe any risk that each individual contributes to an accident. This concept is based on the notion that there is a responsibility for every individual to act as a reasonable person would under the same circumstances. A failure to do so could contribute to an accident and each individual should be held accountable for their share of any resulting injury. When the comparative negligence approach is used, each party’s negligence is taken into consideration to determine a damage award.

The new law recently put in place by West Virginia legislatures defines fault as any act or omission that contributes to an accident, including acts of negligence, malpractice, strict product liability and absolute liability. This can include a wide range of accidents, such as those that involve motor vehicles, construction sites and coal mines.

Legal counsel can help

Some legal issues connected to this law include the removal of joint and several liability in all but certain circumstances of conspiracy, drunk driving or other forms of criminal conduct as well as a diminished award in cases involving a previous settlement with a third party not involved in the suit.

Navigating through these issues can be difficult. As a result, those who are injured in an accident are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney. Greene Ketchum will guide you through the process, advocating for your rights and working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.