But what should have been a comfortable win for Nigel Clough’s side turned out to be anything but in the end.
Derby appeared to be cruising at 3-0 just after the hour mark before two goals in the space of three minutes put Charlton, lacklustre until then, right back in the game.
Ward signed off prior to the international break with the final goal in the Rams’ 5-1 thrashing of Watford, and he picked up where he left off by bagging the opener tonight.
Derby dominated but did not add to Ward’s seventh-minute strike until Craig Bryson turned the ball home after 53 minutes.
Ward grabbed his second of the game from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, winning the spot-kick himself after drawing Lawrie Wilson into a foul.
It seemed to be game over, but Charlton suddenly sprung into life.
Danny Green’s long-range effort after 70 minutes appeared nothing but a consolation for the Addicks until Yann Kermorgant netted from close range in the 72nd minute.
Charlton could not complete a remarkable comeback and slumped to a third straight league defeat as Derby held on.
Paul Coutts, Derby’s summer signing from Preston, had missed Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield through illness but recovered sufficiently to take his place on the right-hand side of midfield.
As a result, USA Under-23 international Conor Doyle dropped back to the bench.
Striker Nathan Tyson was not among the Derby substitutes due to a throat infection.
Rhoys Wiggins was absent for Charlton after suffering a broken foot at the weekend.
As against Crystal Palace on Friday night, Wilson came in for the left-back and went to right-back, with Chris Solly moving to the opposite flank to fill the void left by Wiggins.
Another change for the Addicks saw Green make his first league start of the season in place of Bradley Pritchard, who was on the bench.
Ward put Derby in front early on. A poor defensive header dropped to the Northern Ireland international 25 yards out and he drilled an unstoppable right-foot shot past Ben Hamer.
Conor Sammon and Ward, on two occasions, threatened to extend the hosts’ lead before half-time but Derby did not get the second goal they deserved until eight minutes after the restart.
Again Charlton failed to clear their lines and, after Hamer had saved from Sammon, Bryson turned in Will Hughes’ low cross.
Ward made it 3-0 from the penalty spot after he was tripped following a quickly-taken free-kick, but few inside Pride Park were expecting what happened next.
Hamer denied Ward a hat-trick before Green’s 30-yarder and Green then turned provider, his cross from the right setting up Kermorgant to steer the ball past Frank Fielding and make it 3-2.
Charlton’s tails were suddenly up but they could not muster another chance in the remaining 18 minutes and Clough’s side were able to see the game out.