Category Archives: West Virginia Injury Attorneys

WV Car Wreck Attorneys – Big or Small?

People who have been injured in West Virginia car wrecks will have a choice to make: hire the big car accident law firm, or choose an individual WV car accident lawyer to handle their injury claim.  Here is one big difference that I have noticed between the two here lately.  The larger car wreck firms in WV, in this economy, have been churning out settlements at very low figures.  I know this because this has made it much more difficult for the smaller firms: those of us who refuse to settle for less than our clients deserve.  The insurance adjustors have lowered their values for most injuries, because they compare to past settlements.  The more low settlements they achieve, the lower their future offers will be for similar injuries.

So what can be done?  Cases need to be tried.  They need to be litigated.  That’s what they build courthouses for.  If the insurance company won’t pay up, take it to the jury.  That is the only way you can get what you deserve.  In my experience, the smaller firms rely less on having a large caseload of cases constantly settling, and concentrate on doing well on a smaller number of cases.

At my law firm, we will always meet with car wreck injury victims for free, and will offer our opinions and insight with no obligation to retain us or even pay a dime.  And generally, our offices are much closer to our clients.  It is always frustrating when a car accident injury victim, or their family, bypasses our office to go to a big law firm in Charleston.  I urge you to talk with a small law firm first in your general area.  You may be impressed.


Personal injury representation: the right way

It’s hard not to notice that almost every attorney out there advertises heavily for personal injury clients.  There are generally two kinds of lawyers who do this: lawyers who regularly handle personal injury cases, and lawyers who do not regularly handle personal injury cases but who would like to.  An injured person must be very careful in his or her choice of personal injury attorney – firstly by making sure that they actually retain a personal injury attorney.  Secondly, even if someone regularly handles personal injury cases in West Virginia, he or she may not be the right choice for the case.

I cannot remember how many times I have had people call me who are unhappy with their choice of personal injury lawyer.  They hired them, signed an agreement, and never heard another word from them.  The reason probably being that they are one in a hundred of clients in a personal injury mill.  In one of those law firms there is little one-on-one attention to the client.  Instead there is a lot of procrastination and mass churning of cases, heavily reliant on forms and always dependent on the early settlement of cases for less than the client fairly deserves.  This is the wrong way to do it.

There is a right way to handle a personal injury case.  From day one, the law firm must undertake their own investigation of the cause of the injuries.  Evidence must be preserved.  I would bet that in probably 75% of personal injury cases, the lawyers do not adequately perform an investigation and do not adequately preserve evidence.  The result is that the client will not be adequately able, or prepared, to go to trial and win.  This usually means that the client must settle – and must settle for less than he or she deserves.

Thirdly, a personal injury case must be actively prosecuted.  This means that the law firm must work on it no less than once per week.  Things must get done.  The case must be kept moving – toward trial.  I would venture to say that 70% of personal injury cases are chronically delayed to due to no reason other than the law firm’s caseload or laziness.  Generally, the closer and more quickly you move towards trial, the better the settlement will end up being (assuming it is not done recklessly or without diligence).

Fourthly, the client must be kept involved and informed in what is going on.  The client must have constant access to the law firm.  There should be many questions answered.  The client should not feel left out of the process.  Likewise, a good personal injury case also requires a reasonable client.  If a client has unreasonable expectations (sometimes that is the fault of the attorney who has misled them in order to get the case) proper handling of the case can be impossible.  Where clients are reasonable and informed, cases get much better settlements.

So don’t just open the phone book and call whomever has the largest ad.  And don’t just call the attorney who handled your divorce.  This is a complex area of the law that requires specific talent and experience.  Utilize the free consultation process to find the right person for your case.

Multiple injury claims in one auto accident case

Many times you have multiple passengers injured in one auto accident.  This can complicate matters, but fortunately most good insurance policies are prepared for this situation.  Most policies will have a maximum amount of insurance available, say for example $300,000.00.  That policy will then put a limit of $100,000.00 per person.  So if you have three passengers injured in the other vehicle (where the driver was not at fault) each have $100,000.00 in available bodily injury insurance available to cover their insurance claims.

Each claim is separate, but they share the common set of facts when it comes to who was at fault in the accident.  Of course, each claim is different when it comes to damages: how much each individual is entitled to be compensated from that insurance policy.  This depends on a number of factors which is best determined when working with an experienced and successful West Virginia Auto Accident Attorney.  We always meet with people for free, whether or not they end up hiring us, and frequently assist people in coming up with a fair amount of compensation deserved.

“Small” personal injury cases in West Virginia

Many of the West Virginia personal injury cases which we handle could be described as “small” cases.  Cases where there were no catastrophic injuries.  There is a medium-trauma car accident, resulting in painful, but not immediately devastating injuries.  Sometimes people may think they are fine and uninjured at first, only to end up in the emergency room that evening with numbness, swelling, dizziness, or pain.  These are the types of cases where the insurance adjustors will contact those who have been injured in a car accident, and will try to devalue the person’s claim.

The insurance adjustors are trained to take actions which will directly result in the injury victim getting less from the insurance policy.  They will ask misleading questions which will be recorded and documented.  The result will be an answer or statement which was misunderstood and which severely limits the injured person’s ability to collect a fair settlement.  They may ask, “looking back, is there anything you could have done differently to avoid the accident”.  They will ask about injuries, and try to place limitations on the claim before the treating doctor has even made a diagnosis.  This is a practice which thrives on ignorance.  The best way to avoid it is through legal representation.

However, this brings up something else that the insurance adjustors do.  They manipulate the injury victims.  From day one, they make a point of telling the injury victims that they should not call a lawyer.  That all they will be doing is giving up a percentage of their settlement.  That their settlement will end up getting delayed.

This is pure manipulation and deceit.  Lawyers have to abide by a code of strict ethical regulations.  They cannot lie to you.  They have to  look out for your best interests.  Insurance adjustors are quite the opposite.  You have no ability to get their licenses revoked or suspended.  You are not even allowed to sue them for lying to you and misleading you.  They have an incentive to cause you to settle for less.  They have an incentive to keep you away from a personal injury lawyer.  Almost all West Virginia personal injury lawyers will meet with you for a free consultation about your circumstances.  If the one you called does not, then call someone else.  Personal injury lawyers are not the bad guys.  They help people, and at no up-front cost to the client.  Only if you agree to hire a lawyer, and sign an attorney client agreement to that effect, does a percentage get taken from your settlement.  And in that case, the lawyer has almost always provided or enabled a larger settlement than the insurance company was ever going to offer you before you had the ability to file a lawsuit.   Lawyers are also familiar with what the fair value of one’s case is.  They are trained in providing supporting documentation and proof, as well as in professionally presenting that information to the insurance company, and ultimately to a judge or jury.

In the end, in most cases, even though your legal fee is paid by a standard percentage of your settlement, you have taken that into consideration before accepting the settlement.  An ethical personal injury lawyer will never force a client into accepting a settlement.  If the client is not happy with his or her portion of the ultimate settlement proceeds, they always have the choice to proceed with the case towards jury trial.

So when the insurance company tries to manipulate you or someone you know over a personal injury claim, you need only take one step: call a West Virginia personal injury attorney (obviously it should be a personal injury attorney with a good reputation and a good track record).  We will meet with you for free.  There will only be a cost if you decide that you want us to take over your case.  Regardless of what the adjustor said, there’s no obligation, fee, or trick when you call a personal injury attorney because you have questions or need help.  A case is only “small” when the insurance company tricks you into believing that your injury is not worth a fair value.  Get a second opinion.

– John H. Bryan, a West Virginia personal injury attorney who helps people in “small” personal injury cases everyday.