Understanding West Virginia modified comparative negligence law

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2021 | Motor vehicle accidents |

Many drivers in West Virginia who are injured in motor vehicle accidents do not realize that their insurance claims may be reduced or even denied in some instances due to the comparative negligence law applied by the state when a case goes to court. Insurance companies understand the law well, and they use it to their advantage in every case by forcing injured drivers to file lawsuits if they do not accept a low-ball settlement offer.

Modified comparative negligence accident laws

All states use some type of comparative negligence law when settling financial claims for victims of motor vehicle accidents. While five states use contributory negligence, which bars any injured party with any fault for their own injuries from being financially compensated, other states use either pure or modified comparative negligence at either the 50% or 51% bar. West Virginia uses the most restrictive of the two modified comparative negligence formats.

How the law is applied

Most passengers do not have a concern with comparative negligence, but injured drivers in West Virginia indeed do have a potential problem. All drivers in West Virginia motor vehicle accidents are evaluated by the court for personal contribution to causing the accident that causes their injury, which is then stated in a percentage. All driver percentages must total 100%. The percentage assigned to the claimant drivers is then used to reduce their total individual claim value. The problem is that drivers with 50% fault or above do not get compensated for their injuries in any amount in West Virginia.

This stipulation in West Virginia law is assuredly established in favor of insurance providers and other drivers unless they are largely innocent of causing an accident. In addition, in questionable fault cases, they almost always go to court when there is a chance of 50-50 comparative negligence fault assignment by the court.