Frequently Asked Questions
› What is the Court of Claims?
› What type of claims are eligible?
› Is there a filing fee?
› How is a claim processed?
› What are hearings?
› Where are hearings held?
› Do I have to hire an attorney?
› How is a hearing conducted?
› What can I expect in road hazard claims?
› Is there a limit to the amount recoverable?
› Who represents State agencies?
What is the Court of Claims?
The Court of Claims was created by the Legislature in 1967 to hear claims against State agencies. There are three judges
What type of claims are eligible?
A claim for money damages for:
- Personal injury
- Wrongful death
- Property damage
- A contract
- An individual wrongfully arrested and imprisoned
- An individual wrongfully convicted and imprisoned
- Claims may be filed against a State agency by any person, firm, or corporation
Is there a filing fee?
How is a claim processed?
Once a claim is filed, the claim is investigated by the respondent State agency, which files the results with the Court in a pleading titled "Answer". The Answer sets forth the position of the agency. The claim is set for hearing. Hearings are held throughout West Virginia.
What are Hearings?
The claim is heard by the Court and transcribed by a court reporter.
The Court reviews the transcript and exhibits and issues an opinion either making an award or disallowing the claim.
If an award is made, the award is included in a Claims Bill presented to the next legislative session for approval.
Once claims Bill passes, governor signs the bill.
Release forms are sent to claimants.
Claims are processed for payment after release forms are returned.
Where are hearings held?
Do I have to hire an attorney?
- An individual resident of West Virginia may appear and conduct his or her claim without counsel unless the Court, for good cause, shall otherwise direct.
- Nonresident counsel appearing in the Court shall conform to the requirements of Rule 8.0
of the Rules for Admission to the Practice of Law of the West Virginia State Bar.
- Partnerships, firms, or corporations in contested claims are required to be represented by counsel.
How is a hearing conducted?
- The claimant must prove the claim.
- The claimant and witnesses testify and are cross-examined by the State's attorney.
- The State's witnesses testify and are cross-examined by the claimant.
- Written statements are not normally admissible when the author of the statement is not present at the hearing.
- The claimant may obtain subpoenas for witnesses from the Clerk of the Court.
What can I expect in road hazard claims?
- Vehicular damage - The claimant is the titled owner.
- For personal injuries -
The claimant is the injured party.
- For wrongful death claims -
The claimant must be the qualified personal representative of the estate.
- The driver of the involved vehicle should testify as to the circumstances of the accident
- Evidence that the State agency knew or should have known of the existence of the hazard in the road is necessary to establish negligence on the part of the State agency.
- Negligence on the part of the State agency must be proven.
- The amount of damages to a vehicle may be established through an estimate of repair or a paid repair bill, but the claimant is limited in recovery to the amount of the deductible provided in the claimant's insurance policy. However, if the estimate or cost of repair for the vehicle exceeds the difference in market value immediately before and immediately after the damage occurred, the damages are limited to the difference in the fair market value.
Is there a limit to the amount recoverable?
No. Claims may be filed in any amount but the amount must be proven.
Who represents State agencies?
- Attorney General of West Virginia
- Legal Division attorneys for Division of Highways
- In house counsel assigned by certain agencies.