Comparative Negligence in West Virginia Car Accident Cases – Comer v. Bloch

West Virginia car accident cases often come down to one driver’s version of the events against another’s. That’s why it’s important to gather any and all evidence related to a crash, including police reports and eyewitness testimony. It’s also imperative to combat any possible proof of your own wrongdoing in the matter. Evidence showing that you may have been partially responsible for the crash can not only reduce the damages that you obtain, but – in some cases – can keep you from getting any legal recovery at all. The state Supreme Coignition-key-92360-m.jpgurt recently explained how West Virginia’s comparative negligence system operates.

Ms. Comer and Ms. Bloch were involved in a car accident in Charleston in May 2011 when the vehicle that Bloch was driving collided with the back of Comer’s car. Comer was stopped at the time and waiting to enter traffic. She sued Bloch for negligence, seeking more than $49,000 in damages related to the crash. Some of that money was for back and neck injuries that Comer said she suffered in the accident.

Bloch responded by arguing that the back and neck injuries weren’t caused by the crash. She also alleged that Comer was partly responsible for the collision. Under West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence system, a person suing for injuries can recover a portion of his or her damages if he or she was partly responsible for an accident, as long as the person’s negligence doesn’t equal or exceed that of others involved.

Following a trial, a jury went to deliberate over the evidence presented and reach a verdict. During those deliberations, the jury asked the trial judge whether Comer had paid any or all of the $49,000 in costs stemming from the accident that Comer said she incurred. “You have heard all of the evidence,” the judge responded. The jury ultimately awarded Comer just more than $7,000 in damages. Comer later sought to have the verdict thrown out, arguing that the judge should have instructed the jury about the damages. The trial court denied that motion.

Affirming the decision on appeal, the Supreme Court said there was no reason to believe that the lower court abused its discretion in denying Comer’s motion for a new trial. “The fact that the verdict was less than petitioner sought does not mean that the jury was confused about its role, the applicable law, or substantial justice has not been done,” the Court said.

Instead, the Court noted that Bloch had argued at trial that Comer was partly responsible for the crash. “The conflicting amounts of medical bills that were attributable to the accident was a matter for the jury to decide,” the Court said. “After properly considering all of the evidence, the jury returned a verdict for petitioner, but for less than she sought.”

If you or a loved one has been injured an accident, the Wolfe Law Firm can help. Our West Virginia car crash lawyers have been serving clients throughout the state for more than 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm represents clients in a wide range of personal injury matters. Call us at 1-877-637-5756 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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