A cross from Matt Jarvis which was allowed to slip past a clutch of bodies in a crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner opened the scoring during a tight first half.
The Hammers netted their second of the afternoon 10 minutes from time when Nolan turned an acrobatic volley into the back of the net – and they are now through the 40-point mark for the season while the Latics continue to languish in the bottom three.
Wigan started brightly and were the first side to create an opening as Antolin Alcaraz – who was replaced after 15 minutes due to injury – fired a low shot straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Hammers skipper Nolan had found the net just once since the turn of the year before the clash with Wigan, but he had two half chances to open the scoring as the hosts came back into the game. Firstly he could not rise high enough to make meaningful contact with a Gary O’Neil corner that had been flicked into his path by James Collins before latching onto a free-kick and seeing his volley pushed clear by Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Dead-ball specialist Shaun Maloney put a 22-yard free-kick just over Jaaskelainen’s bar with both sides still in search of the opening goal.
It came just four minutes later when Jarvis’ cross from the left flank evaded both Mohamed Diame and Nolan before sneaking inside Robles’ far post.
West Ham then had strong claims for a penalty following an exchange of passes between Ricardo Vaz Te and Nolan, with James McCarthy appearing to trip Nolan as he prepared to shoot.
Roberto Martinez made his second change at half-time as he introduced James McArthur in place of Callum McManaman.
The visitors came out attacking with both Jordi Gomez and Arouna Kone having strikes at Jaaskelainen’s goal within two minutes of the re-start.
Wigan finally created a decent opportunity as Maynor Figueroa lofted a ball over the West Ham defence and Emmerson Boyce’s diving header was kept out by Jaaskelainen.
That effort seemed to galvanise Martinez’s side and they dominated for the next 15 minutes, culminating with substitute James McArthur forcing a smart save out of the Finnish goalkeeper with 20 minutes remaining.
Paul Scharner then headed straight at Jaaskelainen when free inside the area with the home fans starting to show their tension as their fragile lead continued to be threatened. But those worries were put to bed with a little over 10 minutes remaining as Nolan latched on to Carroll’s pass to volley West Ham into a two-goal lead and score his seventh goal of the season.
Carroll should have added a third himself after bursting into the area but he put his shot wide.