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Can family members not named in a will still be beneficiaries in a wrongful death claim?
Yes, West Virginia Code §55-7-6 specifies that surviving family members including a spouse, children, brothers, sisters, and parents and any other person who was dependent on the decedent may be beneficiaries of wrongful death claims. A judge or jury may specify in which proportions to distribute the damages from a wrongful death claim to these parties.
If there aren't any such survivors, then damages are distributed in accordance with the will. If there are problems with the will, then it may become contested.
Reasons a Will Might Be Contested
Even with the best intentions in mind, when someone drafts a will it could still end up being challenged by family. Although there are many reasons this can happen, some are more common.
Wills are contested most often for these three reasons:
- State laws surrounding signing of will weren’t followed. In West Virginia there must be two witnesses. The individual drafting the will (testator) must sign it in front of those witnesses, and they must also sign the will.
- Fraud or forgery. When the signature on a will is forged or it was signed fraudulently, family may fight it. It could be that the testator believed that what he/she was signing was another document other than the will.
- Undue influence. Another issue that can arise is when someone is physically and/or mentally incapable of making sound decisions regarding a legal issue, such as a will. Someone else might take advantage of that situation and influence the individual to sign the will.
These are just some examples of when a will might be contested. To better understand your rights and those of other family members in a wrongful death claim, seek legal advice from a local attorney in Clarksburg. Call the Miley Legal Group at 304-931-4088 to schedule your free consultation.
How do I file a claim if I was in a car accident with a rental car?
Filing a claim after a car accident with a rental car depends on which driver was at fault for the accident and the state where the accident occurred. It may also be dependent on the type of coverage you have on your policy and if you have any additional coverage.
How Fault Impacts an Accident with a Rental Car
Whoever caused the accident would be an important factor if you're in an accident while driving a rental car and wish to recover damages. However, drivers first must consider the laws in which the accident occurred.
For instance, West Virginia is an at-fault accident state. It requires the insurance company of the driver responsible for the crash to pay for damages. So if the accident occurred in West Virginia and another driver is at fault, you may file a claim with that driver’s insurer to cover your damages.
But if you were the one who caused it happen, the other driver may file a claim with your own insurer. Further, you may be able to recover damages from your insurer if you have the appropriate insurance.
Other Options That May Be Available When Involved in an Accident with a Rental Car
There may be other means of covering damages in an accident with a rental car; for instance, if the person opted to purchase supplemental insurance offered by the rental company. Oftentimes, the credit card used to pay for the rental vehicle may offer insurance for rented cars. Be sure to check the terms of your credit card company, or inquire with the company directly.
With so many variables that can impact this type of case, accident victims should talk with an attorney if an accident with a rental car resulted in serious injuries. If you were in an accident while driving a rental car in or around Clarksburg, West Virginia, call the Miley Legal Group at 304-931-4088 to set up a consultation.
Can I file a claim against both the truck driver and truck company?
Accident victims may be able to file an injury claim after a truck accident against both the truck driver and company if the truck driver caused the accident. Trucking companies are vicariously liable for their employees’ actions, so if a truck driver is responsible for your accident and resultant injuries and damages, you may pursue a claim against the driver and trucking company.
Liability of a Truck Driver and Trucking Company after an Accident
The first thing you must consider is fault. Was the truck driver responsible for the crash? Examples in which this could be the case:
- impaired driving;
- distracted driving;
- violating traffic laws; or
- driving recklessly or carelessly.
Generally, when someone’s negligence is the cause of an accident while performing job duties, the employer is also liable. So the next thing is to determine if a trucking company employs the driver. Even if the driver was an independent contractor, though, a trucking company that hired the driver may still be liable, especially if it knew the driver was unqualified or inadequately trained.
When a Trucking Company May Be Directly Liable
Generally, a trucking company does not have to be directly negligent itself to be liable for its trucker’s actions. However, in some cases the company is actually negligent as well.
For example, a trucking company may negligently allow unqualified drivers behind the wheel. A company may also allow a driver to operate a truck that’s not been properly maintained, repaired, or inspected.
Other Parties May Be Liable
Finally, other parties might be liable in some cases as well. This might include a truck manufacturer if the truck or a part was defective and led to the accident. It might also include a party charged with repairing the truck if it did not adequately correct the problem and that problem led to the accident.
Because of the complexity of establishing liability in a truck accident case, accident victims should talk with an attorney about issues pertaining to fault and liability. Don’t delay in seeking legal advice from the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg. Call today at 304-931-4088 or contact us online to set up an appointment.
What is an underinsured motorist?
What is an underinsured motorist? An underinsured motorist is someone who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for damages in an accident. In other words, the accident-related costs exceed policy limits.
Insurance Requirements and How They May Impact an Accident Case
The state of West Virginia requires motorists to carry liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum amounts for liability include $20,000 per person (bodily injury), $40,000 per accident (for bodily injuries to two or more people) and $10,000 property damage.
The minimum requirements for UIM are $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. This coverage helps pay for costs when involved in an accident with another driver who isn’t insured.
If someone is involved in a serious collision in which the other driver was at fault, the losses to be covered -- such as medical bills, lost wages and more -- may be higher than the liability coverage available. For instance, the other driver has the minimum $20,000 in bodily injury but the expenses are $30,000. This would be considered an underinsured motorist.
Options When a Driver Is Underinsured and at Fault for an Accident
What an underinsured motorist costs those who do have insurance is the gap between the other driver’s coverage and the total in damages, unless the injured Clarksburg driver has additional protection, such as underinsured motorist coverage.
This optional type of insurance pays for bodily injuries and/or property damage when the other driver’s liability insurance isn’t enough. But again, it’s up to the limits of the policy.
If the injured person doesn’t have this extra protection, then it would be a good idea to consult legal counsel like the accident attorneys at the Miley Legal Group. An attorney can determine if a personal injury lawsuit could be filed against the at-fault driver in order to recover the remaining amount of damages not covered by his or her insurance policy. The Miley Legal Group contact form is a quick and easy way to investigate if you have access to more restitution for your car accident with an underinsured driver.
If I suffered a shoulder injury from gun because my rifle misfired, is that a defective firearm for which a claim can secure monies for a gun hunting injury?
If a rifle misfired and caused a shoulder injury from gun, damages can be filed only if it was caused by a defective firearm. The defect may stem from malfunctioning of the trigger and/or safety. At the same time, it would only be worth pursuing a gun hunting injury claim if the physical harm suffered was significant.
Evidence Necessary to File a Claim against a Rifle Manufacturer
Gun accidents frequently are caused by misuse of the weapon. It will be up to the injured person to prove that the shoulder injury from gun was something other than that. If the safety fails and it misfires, or it goes off without even pulling the trigger, these could be caused by a defect in the design and/or manufacturing.
Injuries Caused by a Defective Rifle Must be Significant
Injured victims who would want to hire a defective product attorney should be able to say the following occurred because of the Clarksburg gun hunting injury:
- multiple surgeries;
- becoming disabled;
- chronic, life-altering pain; or
- a long-term recovery.
A lawsuit may be filed against the manufacturer of the rifle in these cases. Of course, there could also be others who are liable for injuries. Anyone involved in the chain of distribution who bears some responsibility could be included in the claim, such as the company that designed the rifle or parts (trigger/safety) or the retailer that sold it.
The corporations that make guns have, by the nature of the products that they create, protections and law advisors in strong numbers. The language used to protect these companies from mishaps that consumers suffer by using their products can be confusing for those not well versed in law.
Additionally, victims who can even prove that they did not misuse the product must go the extra step to prove that the injuries were serious, when of course, most gunshot wounds wouldn’t be considered “minor.” For these reasons, most gunshot wound sufferers find it is in their best interest to hire defective product attorneys for their claims.
The Miley Legal Group, is a longstanding West Virginia institution that has experience with claims like these. One of our representatives will be more than happy to discuss your circumstances. Call us at (304) 931-4088.
Can I hold a dog park liable if I was attacked on its premises?
When someone is attacked on the premises, dog park liability will depend on the circumstances. In general, the owner of the attacking dog is usually responsible. Each case would need to be evaluated and have a variety of factors that could impact responsibility.
Dog Park Liability for Injuries Sustained on Premises
There are certain settings in which a person assumes the risk. Using a dog park, particularly one where leashes are optional, does pose the risk of something going wrong -- such as getting bitten or attacked.
Signs may even be posted that indicate this assumption of risk. On the other hand, this doesn’t always mean the dog park doesn’t bear some responsibility for injuries that occur while using it. For instance, the owners of the park could be on the hook for dog park liability if they fail to enforce their own rules and it’s connected to someone being attacked.
More often, it’s the owner who is found liable when a dog attacks in a dog park. Owners are ultimately responsible for their dogs' actions and may be liable for injuries sustained. In West Virginia, the dog bite statute indicates owners who allow a dog to run at large are liable when someone is injured. The statute indicates, “liable for any damages inflicted upon the person or property of another by such dog while running at large.” This could apply to a dog park where people bring their animals for a pleasant play day and subsequently have no idea what to do if a dog attacks.
But there are other circumstances in which the Clarksburg owner might be found liable. Bringing a dog that has already been deemed dangerous or has previously bitten or injured a person or animal could be considered reckless. A recently sick dog can pose a disease risk if it bites. Negligence also may apply when deciding to bring a dog that would be considered unlikely to do well in a social setting. Examples include aggressive dogs, unneutered male dogs, and skittish or fearful dogs. They may have a greater propensity to bite and/or attack. Alongside the anger that accompanies an unprompted dog bite in a public setting is the fear of post-traumatic stress disorder or disease. Don’t let uncaring pet owners change your life; hire a dog bite lawyer in Clarksburg: (304) 931-4088.
Will I have to go to court to pursue a truck accident claim?
A truck accident claim may necessitate going to court to reach a fair resolution. If you are unable to reach a settlement with the defendant (often the trucking company), the case will likely go to court.
Initial Steps to File a Truck Accident Claim
Initially, a claim is filed with the liable party, which is often with the insurer for the trucking company. An investigation will be conducted to determine fault. At some point, you will need to communicate with the insurance company about the case. But since their interests are with the trucking company, it’s usually a good idea to have an attorney helping protect your rights.
An attorney can help you gather information and evidence. Your lawyer can also help handle any discussions with the insurer. During this time, the insurance company may decide to offer a settlement. If it’s fair, the claim will be settled. However, if the settlement offered isn’t reasonable, then it may lead to a lawsuit.
Pursuing a Lawsuit after a Truck Accident
Going to court generally isn’t the preferable way to resolve a case. But it’s important to note that there is the potential to still agree upon an amount that is fair before a trial begins. Until then, investigations and evidence gathering will continue. Documents will be exchanged and each side may ask and answer questions. This is called the discovery process.
Of course, if the case cannot be resolved then it will go to trial where a jury or a judge will decide the case. Any verdict will decide not only fault for the accident but how much compensation the injured person is entitled to recover.
With or without going to court, the process of a truck accident claim can be very complicated. Contact an attorney at The Miley Legal Group for help with an insurance claim and/or lawsuit. Call us at 304-931-4088 or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation.
Does a will impact the amount of compensation collectible in a wrongful death claim?
A will doesn’t impact the amount of compensation that a Clarksburg family may collect in a wrongful death claim. However, it could decide who is named as the executor of the deceased’s estate and how any assets should be distributed to wrongful death beneficiaries.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in West Virginia
A personal representative appointed by the state can file a wrongful death claim. If an executor has already been named in a will, those powers are not granted until an oath is taken before the county court. The personal representative may or may not be a relative. The proceeds recoverable in a wrongful death claim are distributed to the heirs listed in the will.
If there isn’t a will, the court may decide who will be the wrongful death beneficiaries such as:
- a spouse;
- parents; and
- others who may have been financially dependent on the deceased.
How Compensation Is Determined in a Wrongful Death Claim
The amount of compensation from a wrongful death case isn’t dependent on the will. The court decides what is fair and just. However, the will might specify how assets should be divided. If not, the court will also determine in what proportions compensation from the wrongful death settlement or award should be disbursed.
Compensation for a wrongful death is based on the damages the decedent's survivors suffered. This is decided on a case-by-case basis because there are numerous factors that could impact this. For instance, if there are minor children left without a parent who would have provided training, nurturing and guidance the claim could account for this. Or if the deceased was the sole breadwinner of the family, the claim may also account for lost earnings.
Examples of damages that may be collectible include:
- mental anguish;
- costs for medical treatment;
- reasonable funeral expenses; and
- lost income and services.
Families facing a wrongful death suit can consult with an attorney to learn what rights they have after losing a loved one, including the impact a will may have on the case. The MIley Legal Group helps families in Clarksburg protect and pursue their rights to compensation and benefits after a wrongful death, so call us today at 304-931-4088 or contact us online.
Are electric vehicles like scooters, mopeds, electric bicycles and Segways covered under car insurance?
Which vehicles does my car insurance cover? Electric vehicles like scooters, mopeds, electric bicycles and Segways usually aren’t covered under car insurance. But because there is always the risk of causing harm or getting hurt in an accident in Clarksburg, car insurance coverage is a recommended service for all drivers, regardless of vehicle.
Types of Insurance Coverage That May Be Obtained for an Electric Vehicle
Some insurance companies offer coverage that is designed for specific types of vehicles. For instance, they may provide power sports or scooter insurance. There could be special provisions based on the engine’s size -- such as those with 50 ccs (cubic centimeters) or more, which require motorcycle insurance.
Engine size also might impact the type of coverage that must be purchased. For instance, the requirement to carry liability may be based on a scooter’s ccs. However, some policies might have full coverage, including collision and comprehensive. It’s best to check with the insurance company regarding the types of coverage necessary for your electric vehicle.
How West Virginia Law Defines Electric Vehicles
Each state defines these types of vehicles differently. In West Virginia, a motorcycle is defined as a motor vehicle in which the rider uses a seat or saddle, and it’s designed to travel on no more than three wheels.
A motor-driven cycle is any type of motorcycle with an engine size of 50 ccs but not greater than 150 ccs or with less than five-brake horsepower.
A moped is defined as a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle that’s equipped with two or three wheels, foot pedals and an independent power source (with maximum two-brake horsepower). If a combustion engine is used, the maximum is 50 ccs. And the vehicle cannot exceed more than 30 miles per hour on a road when being propelled unassisted.
Insurance can protect you financially in the event of an accident. Of course, if you have been seriously injured while operating an electric vehicle, and an automobile driver caused the wreck, then car insurance coverage could offer you money to pay for accident injuries. To get the full story on “which vehicle does my car insurance cover?” contact a Clarksburg insurance lawyer at The Miley Legal Group, conveniently located on West Pike Street in Clarksburg: (304) 931-4088. Check out our e-newsletter, The Group with the Scoop, which features a story on fractures in accidents for more background reading that you can do on your own.
Is there a weight limit or height requirement to ride a standard size ATV?
There may be weight limits or height requirements for riding a standard size ATV. Usually there’s a manufacturer warning included (regarding requirements and instructions), so it’s important to read and adhere to them before riding.
Ways to Ensure Safe ATV Riding
Standard size ATVs are typically not safe for children and even some teens. Therefore, someone small in stature might also reconsider using an adult-sized ATV. Riders should be big enough and heavy enough to maintain control of the vehicle.
The risk of injury is significant when someone’s physique isn’t able to handle an ATV. In some cases this leads to a rollover, which can be fatal. It’s also important to note that the state of West Virginia suggests that children under the age of 16 shouldn’t operate an ATV that has an engine size greater than 90cc.
There are other ways that riding an ATV can be safer; for instance, wearing a helmet. Although the law only requires those under the age of 18 wear one, it’s a good idea for all riders to have on a helmet.
West Virginia also does not allow carrying more than one passenger unless the manufacturers’ recommendations allow for it. However, passengers under the age of 18 are not allowed unless the operator is 18 years or older, or has at least a level two intermediate driver’s license (or its equivalent).
Finally, all operators should enroll in an ATV safety course. It’s required for those under the age of 18, but even adults would benefit from taking it.
ATVs can be a lot of fun. But they can also be unsafe when the operator doesn't meet size requirements or doesn't ride it correctly. By following these safety measures, operators may reduce risk of accidents and injuries.
If you are ever in an accident in the Clarksburg area, check out our free guide, 7 Biggest Mistakes that Will Wreck Your West Virginia Accident Claim.