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West Virginia Court Records

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What is a Tort Case, and What does it Involve in West Virginia?

Tort cases in the State of West Virginia occur when individuals bring tort incidents before a state court. A tort is a civil wrong that inflicts injury or harm on an individual. Persons who commit tortious actions can incur legal liabilities that require them to compensate the injured party.

The Circuit Court and Magistrate Court have the responsibility of handling court cases in the state. While the Magistrate Courts jurisdiction is over cases with claims of less than $10000, the Circuit Courts handle disputes involving over $2500.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What is West Virginia Tort Law?

Tort law in West Virginia guides the procedures of different tort cases in the state. Typically, tort law is contained in Chapter 55 Article 7 and Article 12A of the West Virginia Code. The Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act guides the process of filing claims against government entities.

For personal injury cases, the state tort law gives a time limit of two years (from the injury occurrence) for interested persons to file a lawsuit.

Under Chapter 55–7–13a, claimants may not recover the damages for torts fully or partially if the comparative fault is established to show that they contributed to the negligent action. Claimants may also not recover any damages if they are responsible for more than 50% of the fault.

There is a limit to monetary damages a claimant can recover in the state. Persons can receive maximum non-economic damage of $500,000 in tort cases involving wrongful death or severe and permanent bodily injuries. Recoveries for other torts such as medical malpractice is capped at $250,000.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, tort law covers the following issues:

  • Discrimination
  • Disputes arising from financial fraud
  • Physical injuries and wrongful deaths
  • Misrepresentation
  • Defamation
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Infliction of emotional distress claims
  • Product liability
  • Strict liability

What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in West Virginia?

The West Virginia Criminal Code covers criminal law concerning criminal offenses and the punishments they attract. However, tort law involves the rules that are followed in civil matters on tort case proceedings.

The government brings criminal charges to court against persons that commit crimes, while tort cases are initiated by individuals who suffer injuries due to a civil wrong. If the court finds a defendant guilty in a criminal case, the defendant usually faces a jail sentence. Imprisonment is not a punishment that defendants face in tort cases.

While crimes are mostly deliberate wrongdoings, torts are usually unintentional and occur due to negligence or recklessness.

Criminal law hardly considers the victim’s fault in the offense, compared with tort cases where defendants can use the plaintiff’s contributory negligence as a form of defense. Also, many offenses under criminal law (such as gambling or controlled substance abuse) are victimless crimes. Tort cases only occur when a victim suffers from a civil wrong.

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in West Virginia?

The purpose of tort law in West Virginia is to ensure that the plaintiff receives damages as compensation for any harm they suffered following a civil wrong. It also provides a way to hold defendants that commit civil wrongs liable, to serve as a deterrence for future torts.

What is a Tort Claim in West Virginia?

Interested persons can file a tort claim in West Virginia to receive monetary damages as compensation for the injuries sustained, following a civil violation done by another party. Tort claims can arise as a result of negligence, car accidents, medical malpractice, and the likes. Tort claims can be filed against individuals, business, or government agencies. However claimants should note that the process for tort claims against the government is different from that against an individual.

How Do You File a Tort Claim in West Virginia?

Interested individuals shall bring tort claims in West Virginia at the Magistrate Court or Circuit Court located in the county where the defendant resides or where the incident happened.

However, claims against the state are brought before the WV Legislative Claims Commission (Court of Claims). The Clerk of Court or the commission provides claimants with the Notice of Claim form. The plaintiffs are required to complete the form with details of the claim and a statement to show that they are entitled to compensation. The defendants receive a copy of the court paper, and if they wish to file an Answer, they must do so within twenty days of receipt. The law also permits defendants to file counterclaims or cross-claims. Upon the successful filing of a tort claim, a court hearing occurs.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in West Virginia?

Features of a tort claim in West Virginia include the following:

  • Name and address of the individual filing a tort claim
  • Respondent state agency (if any)
  • Name and address of the claimant’s attorney
  • The amount claimed in dollars
  • Facts of the claim which includes the location, time, date, and circumstances of the incident
  • Signature of the claimant

What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in West Virginia?

Upon the filing of a tort claim in West Virginia, the court or claims commission holds a hearing to decide on the settlement of the case. The claims commission may also carry out investigations for claims against the state. If the plaintiff’s claim is approved, the court or commission will award damages.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?

It is not mandatory to get a personal injury lawyer for a tort claim in West Virginia. However, parties filing a tort claim can hire a lawyer to assist them during the process. Personal injury lawyers can also represent plaintiffs or defendants in claims hearings and negotiate a settlement with the opposing party.

How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?

The West Virginia Bar Lawyer Referral Service is a public resource that connects individuals to lawyers with experience in different legal matters, including personal injury cases. Interested persons can use the search tool to find personal injury lawyers in their city or county of residence.

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