Morgantown is a college town with a metro area population of around 130,000. Our community is also home to West Virginia State University, Mountaineer Field, WVU Coliseum, and several popular tourist attractions: Morgantown not only features sports, the University, plenty of shopping, and places to stay, but it also features white water rafting, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Popular events include the All American Grand Bash, the MountainFest Motorcycle Rally, a cupcake and beer fest, the Monongalia County Fair, a wine and jazz festival, and a country festival. People come from all over the country to enjoy the town that has just about everything.
Unfortunately, with the influx of students and tourists taking advantage of these opportunities throughout the year, the rate of car accidents is also troublingly high. Morgantown drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike are all at constant risk of injury due to another party’s negligence.
Accident victims should first seek medical care, and then contact a Morgantown car accident lawyer immediately; one of the compassionate Morgantown car accident attorneys at Wagoner Desai, PLLC can help with filing insurance claims, identifying liable parties, and, if necessary, filing lawsuits to get the compensation clients deserve.
How Many Car Accidents Happen in Morgantown?
A multi-vehicle accident on I-68 near the Pierpoint Road exit resulted in the deaths of two people in Morgantown. The accident occurred when a vehicle allegedly entered the eastbound lanes while driving the wrong direction. The Chrysler 300 reportedly sideswiped an SUV before striking another vehicle head-on. A fourth vehicle was also involved. The driver of the vehicle that was sideswiped was ejected and died at the scene. The wrong-way driver in the Chrysler was transported to the hospital, where she later died of her injuries.
As horrific as the accident was, serious car accidents are actually not an uncommon occurrence in Morgantown and beyond. Nationally, around 143 million Americans commute each day, resulting in the deaths of around 40,000 people each year and injuries to hundreds of thousands more.
In recent years West Virginia had 304 traffic fatalities and 1,063 serious traffic injuries. An older study showed that West Virginia saw 20.56 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 12.38 deaths per 100,000 people nationwide. The vehicle miles traveled fatality rate was also higher in West Virginia during that time, with 1.89 fatalities per 100 million VMT compared to 1.27 fatalities per 100 million VMT for the nation. At the time of the study, Kanawha had the highest number of fatalities with 8.2 percent, while Monongalia had 4.2 percent.
Of the 55 counties in West Virginia, Monongalia—where Morgantown is situated—came in with fourth for the highest number of traffic accident fatalities. Berkeley, Raleigh, and Kanawha ranked third through first, respectively.
All West Virginia Traffic Fatalities
What to Do After an Accident?
Your actions after an accident may depend on your injuries. If all you can do is call first responders, then do that—don’t assume that someone else will call. If able, check on other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists involved. If you can safely move without causing harm, take pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to get photos from all angles.
Get the contact information, driver’s license and registration information, and insurance information for anyone involved in the accident. Finally, get the contact information for any witnesses who saw the accident. Once the police release you, contact your insurance company to let them know your name, and the date, time, and location of the accident.
Do not give the insurance company any other information other than your Morgantown car crash attorney’s contact information. The representative may try to twist your words in an attempt to later deny your claim or to justify a low-ball offer.
Remember, insurance companies are in business to make money. Any claim they have to pay out reduces their bottom line, so they will usually try to pay the least amount possible. If they think they can get away with denying your claim, they will do it. Don’t bother playing their game: Refer any insurers to your Morgantown car wreck lawyer as soon as possible.
What Are Common Accident Injuries?
The injuries you could suffer from a Morgantown car accident vary widely and depend greatly on the circumstances of the accident.
Injuries could range from:
- Bruises, cuts, and scrapes;
- Road rash;
- Strained, sprained, torn, or pulled muscles and other soft tissue injuries;
- Simple and/or compound fractures;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Paralysis; and
What Are Recoverable Damages?
West Virginia allows you to recover three types of damages: Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. The court orders the defendant to pay economic and non-economic damages in an attempt to make you whole again. If the court awards punitive damages, it does so as a punishment against the defendant, and only when the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentionally malicious.
What Are Economic Damages?
Special damages, or economic damages, have a specific monetary value to them. The court orders the defendant to pay economic damages to reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses you have that are related to the accident.
Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses, including expenses for ambulatory aids and accessibility modifications for homes and cars;
- Past and future cognitive, physical, and psychological therapies;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Replacement and/or repair of destroyed or damaged property; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
What Are Non-Economic Damages?
General damages, or non-economic damages, do not have a specific value. The court also orders the defendant to pay non-economic damages in an attempt to make you whole again. Although no amount of money can remove long-term or permanent disabilities caused by Morgantown car accident injuries, nor can it bring a loved one back, the money does go a long way in reducing financial stress and promoting a return to normalcy.
Non-economic damages often include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of use of a body part;
- Loss of use of a bodily function;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium;
- Paralysis; and
Generally, the court only awards non-economic damages if you have long-term or permanent disabilities due to your Morgantown car accident injuries. Additionally, you might win non-economic damages when the car accident injuries exacerbate pre-existing disabilities. The Social Security Administration defines a long-term disability as one that doctors expect to last at least 12 months or to result in your death.
What Are Punitive Damages?
The court typically only awards punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were intentionally malicious or grossly negligent. Additionally, West Virginia caps punitive damages. Consult your Morgantown car accident lawyer to learn more about what damages might apply in your case.
Morgantown Car Accident FAQs
The immediate aftermath of a Morgantown motor vehicle accident can be chaotic and confusing. It is common for individuals involved in a car accident to have questions or feel uncertain as to what steps or actions to take following a car accident.
While your initial focus will likely be to address your injuries and damages; taking the right steps in the moments, days, and weeks following an accident can protect your legal rights and interests to help you seek the compensation you deserve for the damages you have sustained. Start by calling Wagoner Desai’s Morgantown car wreck lawyers.
What actions should you take at the scene of a Morgantown car accident?
Car accident scenes are often messy and hectic.
Knowing what to do in the immediate moments after a car accident can help you be prepared to react in an informed and quick manner.
- Call for emergency medical care if needed. In the seconds following a collision, your immediate attention should be on evaluating whether you, your passengers, or other parties are injured and whether emergency medical services are needed. If you or another party have been seriously injured you must call emergency services for assistance.
- Gather evidence. If you can move around safely and have not suffered a serious injury, then try to collect evidence of the scene as soon as possible. Before moving vehicles out of traffic’s way, take a quick moment to photograph the scene with your mobile phone, and take note of the license plates as well as the make and models of the vehicles involved.
- Exchange identifying information. In addition to taking down information related to the vehicles involved in the Morgantown car accident, you should also exchange basic information with the other driver, such as driver’s license numbers, insurance information, and passenger names. Try to do the same with any witnesses to the accident. Be aware and careful to not make declarations of fault to the driver or any other parties at the scene. You may not be aware of all the circumstances involved in the accident and stress can skew your perception of what actually occurred.
- Contact law enforcement. It is common for drivers to wonder if it is necessary to contact the police following a Morgantown car accident. The reality is that it is always in your best interest, and in most cases legally required, to contact law enforcement when there is a car accident. Even in circumstances where you may think there are no injuries involved, the reality is that many car accident injuries can often present themselves days or even weeks later. Calling law enforcement to the scene of the accident will allow them to conduct a preliminary investigation that will ultimately lead to an official report of the accident, which can help you seek compensation for your damages.
Should you contact your insurance company if you are involved in a Morgantown car accident?
In most instances, insurance companies require that they be notified of a car accident within a specified time frame. Check your policy information to find out if you have an obligation to inform your own insurance company that an accident has occurred.
While you may have an obligation to notify your own insurance carrier, you typically have no obligation to communicate with the opposing party’s insurance company. Take great care not to make statements or answer questions from the other driver’s insurance company without having first obtained guidance from an experienced car accident injury attorney.
What steps should you take if you were injured in a Morgantown car accident?
If you suffer serious injuries in a car accident, then you will likely be transported by an emergency medical responder to a hospital for further care and evaluation.
If you feel pain or unwell in any way following the accident, but are not taken by ambulance, ask a friend or family member to transport you to the nearest emergency department or urgent care center to seek medical attention.
Oftentimes, the rise in adrenaline combined with stress during and after a motor vehicle collision can mask the symptoms of some of the most common car accident injuries. For that reason, seek medical care within 24 hours after any car accident, even if you think you feel okay.
A doctor can perform simple tests that can spot hidden injuries that could turn deadly if left untreated. Then:
- Follow through with all medical treatments. Make certain that you follow the medical advice and treatment plan provided by the medical professionals charged with your care. Follow up with appointments and rehabilitation to help your recover from your injuries. This protects your health, and also insulates you against claims that you made your car accident injuries worse by not taking care of yourself.
- Document as much as possible. Many individuals involved in a Morgantown car accident think they will remember all of the details surrounding the accident, their injuries, and the statements or actions of the other parties. The more time that passes, however, the easier it becomes to forget details that could be vital to your case. It can help to document your recollection of the events preceding and following the accident, and to share them with an attorney as soon as possible.
When should you contact our Morgantown car accident attorneys?
Contact us as soon as you physically can after a car accident. The process of seeking and recovering compensation for your injuries and losses following an accident can feel overwhelming, confusing, and burdensome. Protect your legal rights and best interests by hiring an experienced Morgantown car accident injury attorney who can represent your interests and build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
Morgantown car accidents can lead to complex lawsuits with many competing interests and parties. Find a qualified and experienced Morgantown car accident attorney to handle your case, while you focus on regaining your quality of life and healing from your injuries. With the assistance of a skilled Morgantown car accident injury lawyer, you may have the ability to recover significant financial compensation.
When Should You Contact a Morgantown Car Accident Attorney at Wagoner Desai, PLLC?
While Morgantown is a fantastic place to live, work, and visit, our community is also not immune from the constant risk of injury due to a reckless or irresponsible motorist. The compassionate associates at Wagoner Desai, PLLC are here to ensure no member of the Morgantown community should suffer injury or loss without receiving justice. If you suffer from car accident injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident, contact Wagoner Desai, PLLC at (304) 470-2056 or email us through our contact page for a free consultation.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street, 3rd Floor
Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505
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