Skilled Charleston, West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
No one ever plans for a serious injury. Even if you had the foresight to think ahead by purchasing great health insurance and disability insurance, a serious accident may result in more costs than either of these insurance types can possibly pay for. When a personal injury is caused by the negligent or reckless actions or omissions of another party, the injured party deserves to be compensated.
At The Masters Law Firm, L.C., we are here to help. Our experienced Charleston personal injury attorneys understand that you may not be prepared for the costs and losses that accompany a serious injury. When you retain our legal team, we will work hard to build your case, prove fault and recover a settlement that fully compensates you for your losses.
Types Of Personal Injury Cases We Handle
If you have suffered a serious injury in West Virginia, our legal team can help you understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. We have helped many individuals who have been involved in a tragic accident or who have suffered catastrophic injuries.
We regularly work with clients on a variety of injury-related cases, including:
- Construction Accidents: Construction accidents can be very severe. You need an experienced lawyer who can help guide you through the process of collecting for your damages. We protect victims of construction accidents in Charleston and all of West Virginia. This includes claims of construction equipment defects involving dozers, trucks, cranes, ditching equipment and electrical.
- Wrongful Death: While suffering an injury yourself can be very traumatic, losing a loved one to an accident caused by another’s negligence is nothing short of tragic. If you can prove that the accident and death would not have occurred but for the at-fault party’s actions, you can bring forth a wrongful death claim for damages.
- Car Accidents: Car wrecks continue to be one of the leading causes of injury and death in West Virginia. If you’ve been in a crash caused by another party’s negligence, we can help you to understand our state’s “fault” insurance rules and bring forth a claim for liability.
- Motorcycle Accidents: Even more dangerous than getting in a car, riding a motorcycle is a risky way of getting around. With few protections to prevent injuries in the event of a crash, the injuries that a motorcyclist suffers if a crash does occur are often very severe and debilitating.
- Semi Truck Accidents: Collisions with 18-wheelers are among the most dangerous types of motor vehicle accidents. Going up against well-funded trucking companies can be a complex process that is best handled by an experienced attorney.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: Our law firm is adept at handling accident claims involving all types of vehicles, including SUVs, ATVs, trains, bicycles and aviation accidents.
- Medical Negligence and Malpractice: Proving that a doctor or hospital was responsible for causing an unnecessary injury requires a skilled attorney. Our law firm is experienced at litigating cases involving surgical errors, medication errors, hospital or physician negligence, birth injuries, wrongful death and more.
- Nursing Home Negligence And Abuse: Learning that a nursing home staff member has neglected or even abused an elderly family member who is depending on care can be nothing short of shocking. If the elderly resident suffers harm, the nursing home can be held liable.
- Premises Liability Accidents: When headed to the park, a friend’s house, or the grocery store, being involved in an accident is surely the last thing you expect. But when dangerous conditions on a property exist, accidents can happen. When they do, the property owner may be held liable in some cases.
- Defective Product Injuries: When a product is made available for consumer purchase and use, the manufacturer of that product has a duty to ensure that it is safe. If it’s not and a consumer is harmed, the manufacturer could be held liable. Our attorneys have handled a wide variety of defective product lawsuits, including but not limited to defective drugs, household products, automobiles, recreational vehicles (RVs), motorcycles, vehicle wheels and tires, medical devices, wheelchairs, home appliances, tools, consumer products, toys, sporting equipment, and more.
- Workplace Injury Claims: People go to work expecting their employer to follow safe practices, to have safe equipment and to comply with health and safety laws. At times, an employer does not follow safety rules, which can cause you great harm. Under certain circumstances, you can file a lawsuit against your employer in addition to filing for traditional Workers’ Compensation. (Please note that we do not handle Workers’ Compensation.)
- Coal Mining, Farming and Industrial Accidents: Working in these types of industries is known to be dangerous, but employers still have an obligation to protect their employees. Our law firm works diligently to protect workers who have been harmed due to dangerous conditions, asbestos or chemical exposure, negligent construction, workplace accidents, explosions, electrical injuries, machinery and equipment, and more.
- Catastrophic Injury Claims: A catastrophic accident refers to any event that causes permanent and disabling injury. Examples of catastrophic injuries may include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal injuries, burn injuries, amputation injuries and serious fracture injuries.
- Pedestrian Injury Claims: We are all pedestrians at some point, so we can all identify with the fear of being struck by a vehicle. We handle such cases and help provide financial relief to victims of pedestrian injuries.
- Electrocution Injury Claims: Sometimes electrocution can be the result of negligence on the part of someone else. We can help you recover compensation for those injuries.
- Toxic Exposure: Our law firm can help prove claims of negligent exposure to toxic substances found in drugs, groundwater, soil contamination, or chemical exposure at work or at home.
- Bad Faith Insurance: Going up against an insurance company can be daunting. Our attorneys can help resolve insurance disputes involving mishandled claims and insurance fraud.
- Corporate Fraud: We hold companies responsible for corporate wrongings such as wrongfully charging for products and services, wrongfully deducting money from your account, and more.
- Property Damage: Our attorneys help homeowners recoup losses caused by fire, flood, nearby construction activity, coal mining, blasting damage, gas drilling, faulty home construction or repair, timber removal, eminent domain, landslides, well water damage, and more.
- Logging Injuries/Timbering Accidents: Dangerous working conditions and unsafe equipment can lead to workplace injuries for logging workers. We help injured workers recover lost wages, medical expenses and more.
What Types Of Damages Can Someone Recover In A Charleston Personal Injury Case?
After being involved in an accident, who is to blame for your injuries or what your rights are may not be obvious. When you call our Charleston personal injury attorneys, we’ll work with you to guide you through your rights and legal options. If you can prove that another party’s negligent actions were the proximate cause of your accident and injuries, you can hold that party liable for the full extent of your damages, such as:
- Medical Bills: You deserve compensation for 100 percent of your medical bills and future medical bills.
- Lost Wages: Being injured often means being unable to work, sometimes long-term or permanently. If you have lost wages and suffered other income-related benefits, such as the future value of a 401(k) or investments, you can seek compensation for the full value of these losses as well.
- Property Damage Costs: Was your car, motorcycle, or another type of personal property damaged or destroyed in your accident? If so, you are entitled to compensation for the full value of this property.
- Pain, Suffering And Other Noneconomic Losses: Finally, in addition to the value of all of the economic damages you have suffered, you also deserve compensation for all of the non-economic losses, such as the value of the pain and suffering you have endured.
Mistakes To Avoid During A Personal Injury Case In Charleston, WV
1. Putting Off Getting Medical Attention
One of the first mistakes people often make after suffering an injury is waiting to see a doctor. This happens frequently with accidents in which it takes a while for the injuries to be felt.
For example, you might be involved in a high-speed collision and the trauma of the crash accelerates your heart rate and gives you an explosion of adrenaline. While at the accident scene, you might not have felt any immediate pain, but after a day or two, you start to notice aches in various places like your neck and back.
If there is any hint that you might have any injuries, you should always get medical attention right away. This will help ensure that any injuries you have are quickly diagnosed and you receive the appropriate treatments. You have a legal duty to mitigate your losses after a personal injury. If you put off seeing a doctor, your recovery could take longer and your legal claim could be in jeopardy.
2. Ignoring The Doctor’s Advice
Recovering from an injury is hard work and you need to be diligent about following your doctor’s orders. It is easy to get complacent and miss appointments or not do your physical therapy exercises. It is also very tempting to want to get back to normal life and do the things you were doing before you got injured.
It is very important to avoid any of these behaviors as they can set your recovery back significantly. You could also end up in trouble with your legal claim if the insurance company finds out that you are not following your doctor’s advice.
3. Being Active On Social Media
In today’s digital age, just about everyone has at least one social media account that they like to use to keep connected with their friends and family. This is fine under normal circumstances, but when you are in the middle of a personal injury case, it is best to unplug from social media until the case is over. Insurance companies have ways of uncovering your posts even if you take steps to make them private.
Insurance companies can be very skilled at using your comments and photos out of context in ways that may undermine your claim.
4. Accepting A Quick Settlement Offer
Insurance companies know that an injured person is usually highly motivated to receive compensation to get their medical bills paid and get caught up on other household expenses. They will often offer to settle early on so they can get the case off of their books. While it might be tempting to take the offer, it is usually not wise from a financial standpoint.
Early settlement offers are typically for a significantly lower amount than your case is really worth. In fact, you may not even know the extent of your injuries at this point in the process, so it would be impossible to fully calculate all of your losses. As the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait”. It may be tough in the short term to hold off on taking a settlement, but it will most often yield much better results in the long run.
5. Handling The Claim On Your Own
In some circumstances, an accident injury victim might be able to handle the claim on their own. For example, if you sustained minor injuries after being rear-ended by another vehicle and the insurance company has given you a settlement offer that you think is fair, then you might be okay to accept the settlement and move on with your life. But even in a situation like this, it would still be beneficial to run this by an attorney to make sure there are no complicating factors that you might have overlooked.
If there are any complicating factors, then you will probably need a lawyer to help ensure that you recover full and fair compensation for your injuries. Here are a couple of examples of situations when having an attorney would be extremely beneficial:
5.1 If You Have More Extensive Injuries
There are many cases in which accident injuries are more serious than they originally appear. For example, at the time of a vehicle crash, you might not feel any pain initially because of the adrenaline rush you are experiencing, but a few days later, you might start experiencing neck and back pain that gets progressively worse and doesn’t go away. Whenever you are involved in an accident, particularly one in which the collision occurs at a higher speed, you should always get prompt medical attention.
If you do end up suffering moderate to severe injuries, they could require you to leave work for an extended period of time and accrue significant medical debt. You should be compensated for these ramifications, as well as the intangible losses like physical pain and suffering, anxiety and psychological distress, and diminished quality of life if the injury is keeping you from participating in activities you once enjoyed.
5.2 If You Are Being Treated Unfairly By The Insurance Company
Maybe you have already started working directly with the insurance company on the claims process and you are finding out that it is a lot more difficult than you anticipated. Maybe the insurance company is trying to pin some of the blame on you. Or maybe they are slow walking the claim and not contacting you in a timely manner in the hopes of frustrating you into giving up or accepting a lowball settlement.
You also need to be aware of the statute of limitations in which to file a personal injury lawsuit, which is generally two years in West Virginia. When an insurance company delays processing of a claim, they are “running out the clock” on this deadline, which means eventually you will not have the option to take them to court if they do not give you a fair offer.
Dealing with the insurance company on your own is wrought with pitfalls. Negotiating with the insurance company can also be a difficult process if you are not experienced with these types of proceedings; it is often better to have an experienced attorney handle this for you.
Negotiating A Fair Settlement For Your Injuries
In many auto accidents, drivers walk away without being aware of what they are owed, how they need to be compensated, or their legal rights. Sadly, insurance companies use this lack of knowledge to downplay claims, convince claimants to accept less than they deserve, or limit payments.
In such scenarios, where the thought of negotiating with your insurer or that of the other motorist is daunting, a seasoned personal injury attorney can guide you through the complex process of negotiating a claim and securing a settlement. A personal injury attorney with a proven track record at trial can negotiate from a greater position of strength knowing that the case can be litigated if the other side is not willing to be reasonable.
According to studies, people who hire a personal injury lawyer are more likely to collect a larger compensatory settlement than those who attempt to negotiate directly with insurers. Make sure to keep the following steps in mind in order to give yourself the best chance at success.
6 Ways To Help Your Personal Injury Claim Succeed
1. Maintain Accurate Records About The Car Wreck
It is a good idea to maintain a file of records on your car crash that is organized in chronological order. In this file, there should be a police report (if one exists), records of medical appointments, vehicle repair bills and anything else that is pertinent to your car crash. These documents will often be presented during negotiations and the settlement process will be made faster if these records are on hand.
2. Calculate A Reasonable Settlement Amount
You will need to calculate what you believe your claim is reasonably worth before sending a demand letter to your insurer. The following should be taken into account when determining the settlement amount:
- The costs related to your medical care and associated expenses
- The loss of income you incurred due to your inability to work
- Whether you need long-term medical attention or are permanently disabled
- Any pain and suffering you experienced following the crash
- The expenses related to the repair or replacement of your vehicle, or any other property that sustained damage due to the accident
On the basis of the above, you can determine a minimum settlement amount that you are willing to accept. A personal injury lawyer can assist you in calculating a fair settlement for your losses.
3. Send A Comprehensive Demand Letter To The Insurer
Upon determining what you believe your claim is worth, send a detailed demand letter to the insurer. This letter describes your car crash, your injuries, the medical treatments you required, any associated medical problems you have, how severely your car was damaged and any other losses you experienced due to the car accident.
After this, tell the insurer how much money you demand with the given circumstances. Importantly, you should quote an amount that is 25 to 100 percent above what you are willing to settle for, which helps counter the fact that insurance companies typically reply with a lower settlement amount than what you asked for in the demand letter.
It is vital to have paperwork and evidence to support every element in your demand letter. You may not receive the offer you deserve if there is a lack of evidence.
4. Don’t Accept The Initial Offer
An initial offer made by an insurance adjuster may be too low. The insurance company might check whether you know what you claim is worth by sending an unreasonably low first offer. In such situations, you should ask the insurance adjuster to state their reasons for the low offer and why they believe your claim is so low.
Draft a reply letter explaining your reasons for rejecting the offer as well as responding to each of the points the insurance adjuster makes. Wait to see whether the insurance company raises its offer and do not propose a reduced figure.
In case the initial offer is fair but still too low, you may counter with a somewhat reduced amount than you sought in your demand letter. The insurer will be more than ready to settle if your counteroffer is reasonable.
5. See A Doctor Or Medical Professional To Diagnose And Document Your Injury
In order to present a strong case to the insurance company, you need to have “proof” of your injury. You may need to have an MRI, X-ray, spiral CT or CAT scan. These can provide an accurate amount of information, but they can also be quite costly. Not every injury is visible.
For example, a concussion may not leave a mark on your head, but you may be dizzy or have double vision that prevent you from working for days or weeks. An injury to the cervical spine (the neck) may cause debilitating migraines that also prevent you from being able to exercise, drive or do your job. This is why a medical diagnosis right after an injury is crucial.
6. Hire An Attorney Who Works In Personal Injury Law
As you can see, there are several steps to take after a serious motor vehicle collision. Pursuing compensation may be too much to take on after a serious accident for you, your spouse or family member. The good news is that an experienced personal injury attorney will assess your case, know which damages to pursue and how to effectively obtain them. A skilled attorney will also know when to negotiate and settle and when to move forward with a court case.
Insurance companies typically want to avoid going to court. Besides bad publicity (since trials are public), court cases for insurers take time and cost money, in addition to monopolizing their legal resources. Studies show that more than 90% of personal injury cases settle at some point—weeks, days or hours before a trial.
Here is where the acumen of your attorney comes into play. Your attorney will know when to accept a satisfactory offer and when to wait it out. At The Masters Law Firm, L.C., we’ve been cutting through the red tape to attain verdicts and settlements for our clients since 1974.
You Need A Skilled West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney On Your Side
Knowing your rights can be difficult enough; bringing forth a personal injury claim and navigating the legal landscape on your own after suffering a serious injury can prove impossible. When you call our personal injury lawyers, we will handle the process for you.
Our process begins with an investigation into your case. During this time, we will gather evidence, talk to eyewitnesses and, if necessary, consult with experts to reconstruct your case and determine exactly what happened and who is to blame. Then, we will calculate your damages and determine what your claim is worth.
From there, we can issue a demand letter against the at-fault party’s insurer, review a settlement offer and negotiate an award on your behalf. While we always seek to settle claims out of court for the benefit of our clients, we will be prepared to file a lawsuit and bring your claim to litigation (when necessary) in order to pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Call The Masters Law Firm, L.C., For Your Free Consultation Today
Suffering a personal injury can turn your life upside down. We want you to know that you are not alone. When you call our Charleston personal injury law firm, we will sit down with you to discuss your case free of charge, providing you with the valuable information you need to make the most informed decision about how to proceed.
To learn more about how we can serve you, please call us today at 304-342-3106. You can also visit our Charleston office in person or send us an email telling us more about your injuries using the contact form on our website.