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West Virginia accidents and out-of-state visitors: What to know

Getting into a car accident while on vacation is probably that last thing on your mind as you head out the door and down the road -- but it does happen.

If you're in a car accident while visiting West Virginia this summer, there's a few important things that you should know.

1. You may find yourself dealing with an unfamiliar legal system.

States like Florida, New York and Pennsylvania have something known as "no-fault" insurance which allows motorists to recover financial losses against their own insurance company no matter who is at fault.

West Virginia, however, does not require motorists to carry no-fault insurance. Instead, motorists rely on the regular civil claims process to determine who is at fault.

2. West Virginia's laws will determine how long you have to file a claim.

Each state has its own statute of limitations, or time limit on filing a claim for damages. In West Virginia, you have only two years to file a claim for both your property damage and personal injuries.

3. You'll likely need an attorney from West Virginia to help pursue your claim.

While there are some exceptions that will allow you to file elsewhere, the odds are high that you'll eventually need an attorney from West Virginia to help you pursue your claim for compensation -- which is something that many people don't realize until they're back in their home state.

If the car accident takes place in West Virginia with a West Virginia driver, that gives the courts in the state jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction is the legal authority to hear a case and make binding decisions about it.

4. Working with an attorney when you live in another state is not as difficult as it may seem.

Don't give up on your right to compensation because you think that it's impossible to pursue a claim from halfway across the country in your own home state. In the past, it was sometimes very difficult (and expensive) to try to pursue a lawsuit from a few hundred miles away. However, today's technological advances make it much easier. Video conferencing, email and faxes can accomplish many of the necessary tasks leading up to either a settlement or a trial.

For more information on how to handle a car accident in West Virginia, contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Personal Jurisdiction: How to Determine Where a Person Can Be Sued," accessed May 09, 2017

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