Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Typically Missouri personal injury victims have 5 years to file their injury case. This is called the Missouri Statute of Limitations. If the personal injury case deals with a wrongful death, the Missouri Statute of Limitations is typically 3 years. If you do not file your case within the Statute of Limitations you will most likely be barred from pursuing your claim. There are several factors that can alter the Missouri Statute of Limitations. It is important to speak with an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney as soon as the injury occurs so you can determine if any of these factors apply to your case. Your injury attorney will tell you if your case has factors that might alter the standard Missouri Statute of Limitations applicable to your case.
What happens if I am partially at fault for the Missouri car accident that caused my injuries?
Missouri is a comparative fault state. This means your recovery for damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you have a personal injury claim worth $100,000 and you are found 25% at fault, you are able to recover $75,000. Your claim is reduced by your percentage of your fault. If your personal injury case is not settled before trial, a jury will determine the percentage of fault for each party.
Do all Missouri personal injury cases go to court?
Not all Missouri personal injury cases go to court. Typically, when you hire a personal injury lawyer, they will file a claim with the defendant’s insurance company. After you are done with your medical treatment your injury attorney will collect the medical information and will negotiate with the insurance company to settle your case. If a settlement can’t be reached, a personal injury lawsuit will be filed. During the lawsuit, depositions will be taken of the parties and witnesses. After the depositions the parties may attempt to settle the case one more time before going to a jury trial.
What should I do if I have just been involved in a Missouri auto accident?
I you have recently been involved in a Missouri auto accident it is important get medical attention immediately. Follow the doctor’s orders and make sure you document everything. If the doctor tells you to take time off work, ask for a note to give your employer. Keep a copy of the note. If you have not hired a Missouri personal injury attorney yet, it is important to get pictures of the vehicles involved in the crash, the scene, and your injuries. It is also smart to get a few estimates for vehicle repair.
It is important to notify the defendant’s insurance company as soon as possible. Time will go by when the defendant’s insurance company is investigating the crash and you may be without a vehicle. Once the defendant’s insurance company makes a decision regarding fault, they may pay for a rental car. It is important to contact an experienced injury attorney before making any calls to an insurance company. Simple statements can and will be construed against you. It is important for you to understand your rights after a Missouri car accident. Personal injury attorneys are in the business of helping people. Insurance companies are not.
What will a Missouri personal injury lawyer do that I can’t do myself?
Time is of the essence when you are injured in an auto accident. Your number one priority should be getting proper medical care. If you don’t get proper medical attention it could affect you the rest of your life. Let a professional worry about all the other issues surrounding the car accident.
When we are hired we immediately preserve all the evidence we can. We take pictures of the vehicles and the scene of the crash immediately. We take recorded statements from the defendant and any witnesses with information about the crash. It is important to get a Missouri personal injury attorney that will do all of this quickly since crash scenes change and witness’ memories fade quickly.
As personal injury attorneys, we are trained to deal with large insurance companies. We have handled thousands of personal injury claims and we know the tricks insurance companies pull and the games they try to play. As your personal injury attorneys we collect all of the records and bills from your medical providers. We contact your employer to get the information we need to calculate your lost wage claim and we also contact the defendant’s insurance company and keep them updated on your status. In addition, we will be gathering a significant amount of personal information from you so we can understand how the injuries are impacting your daily life. This will allow us to put together a thorough settlement demand package on your behalf.
What should I do when I feel like my personal injuries have healed?
Make sure you are truly healed. Sometimes personal injury victims have good days and bad days. Insurance companies know this and they use it to their advantage, typically by offering a quick low ball settlement. The insurance companies try to catch you on a “pain free” day and hope you will take their inadequate offer. Don’t fall into this trap.
Doctors will typically release you when they feel there is nothing else they can do for you. We suggest you wait a month or so after this time (assuming you are within the Missouri Statute of Limitations) before making a demand on the defendant’s insurance company to settle. Waiting an additional month while performing daily activities will help ensure you have reached maximum medical improvement, meaning you are as good as you are going to get.
What does the defendant’s auto insurance company do after a car crash?
Your Missouri personal injury attorney will submit a settlement demand package to the defendant’s insurance company. The adjuster will review all the material submitted by your injury lawyer. After the insurance adjuster reviews the demand package the adjuster will recommend a settlement amount that they believe is reasonable.
At this point your injury attorney and the adjuster will discuss the pros and cons of each side of the case. During the negotiation process a final settlement number will hopefully be reached. The length of the negotiation process depends on the insurance company. Some insurance companies require everything to be done through the mail, while others are fine with using email. Insurance companies that allow negotiations to take place through email usually have a shorter negotiation process since no one is waiting for mail.
What happens if my Missouri personal injury case is settled during the negotiation process with the defendant’s insurance company?
If your case is settled during the negotiation process, the defendant’s insurance company will send your personal injury attorney a check for the amount of the settlement. The check will be deposited in your attorney’s client trust account. A settlement breakdown will be prepared detailing the attorney fee, any applicable costs, and any medical liens that are outstanding. The settlement breakdown essentially shows you how the settlement funds will be distributed. It typically takes a couple weeks for the insurance company’s check to clear and for the settlement breakdown to be completed.
What happens if my Missouri personal injury case is not settled with the adjuster?
If we are not able to get your personal injury case settled by negotiating with the adjuster, we will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. An injury lawsuit typically takes 12-18 months from start to finish. The insurance company typically tries to settle the case throughout the lawsuit. There is usually nothing we can do to speed up the process. The case is typically put on the court’s docket and there are many cases filed before yours. Those cases usually have to be resolved before your case is reached. Once your personal injury case is reached, it will be tried to a jury. The jury will render a verdict for or against you. If the jury finds in your favor, they will also determine the amount of your damages.
What am I able to recover in my Missouri personal injury case?
Personal injury victims are able to recover money damages for their harms and losses. Some examples of compensable harms and losses include ambulance bills, emergency room bills, hospital bills, bills for follow up care, prescription costs, and any other out of pocket costs related to the medical care you need as a result of the crash. You are entitled to recover money for lost wages if you are not able to work after the crash. Your injury attorney will get the necessary information from your employer to support the wage loss claim. Personal injury victims are also able to recover money damages for past, current, and future pain and suffering. In addition, you can recover money damages for any future medical care that your doctor says is necessary as a result of the crash.
How do I know if I need a Missouri personal injury lawyer?
I get calls all the time from potential clients that I wind up telling don’t need a lawyer. Not every personal injury claim warrants the hiring of a lawyer. But, it is important to call a lawyer and explain your situation so the lawyer can help you decide if a personal injury attorney is necessary. Most injury attorneys are happy to discuss your personal injury case free of charge to help determine if you need a lawyer.
We always tell personal injury victims to never sign anything until you have talked to a lawyer. Signing insurance company documents can be detrimental to your case. The insurance company wants you to sign their documents because they want you to sign your rights away. The only person in a personal injury case that will provide advice that will favor you is your attorney. The insurance company is in the business of paying out as little as possible, not as much as possible. Your attorney’s job is to fight for you and get you everything you are entitled to.
What do you recommend personal injury victims do after an auto accident?
The first thing you should do after a car accident is get medical attention. You may have internal injuries that are not readily apparent. Medical professionals are trained to give you certain tests that can determine whether you have internal injuries.
After seeking medical attention you need to get:
- The other driver’s name, address, and phone number;
- The other driver’s insurance information;
- Police report number;
- Police officer’s name and phone number; and
- The names and phone numbers of all witnesses.
In addition, it is important to keep a daily journal starting with the day of the car crash and continuing through the end of your case. The journal should include information about the accident, your injuries, difficulties you are having, and any other information you feel is pertinent to your case.
Who is liable for the injuries I am suffering from as a result of the car accident?
The person who caused the car accident is liable for your injuries and damages. In Missouri, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in automobile liability coverage. If the at fault driver has the minimum $25,000 in liability coverage, that is typically the most the driver’s insurance will have to pay out. The injury victim does not automatically get the $25,000. They have to prove their injuries and damages are worth that amount. Even though $25,000 is the minimum required, many people increase their insurance coverage limits to protect their personal assets in the even they cause a crash and seriously injure someone.
The defendant’s insurance company is offering a settlement. How do I know if I should accept their offer?
You should never accept an offer from an insurance company without first talking with an experienced Missouri personal injury lawyer. This does not mean you have to hire a lawyer to handle your case. We offer free consultations with potential clients all the time to answer questions they may have. Insurance companies are notorious for offering low ball settlements after Missouri car accidents. The low offer usually requires you to sign away your right to pursue a case down the road. The best rule is to never sign anything from an insurance company until you have talked with a Missouri personal injury attorney.
What will I have to prove for my Missouri auto accident claim to be successful?
There are several things you must prove to have a successful Missouri auto accident claim. Your must prove:
- You must prove the defendant was negligent, careless, or reckless and that defendant caused the crash; and
- You must prove you suffered damages as a result of defendant’s negligence (personal injuries, property damage, lost wages, etc.).
Once you prove you were injured because of defendant’s negligence, you must substantiate your damages. We start with the economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, future medical care, and any other out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the car accident. We then look to non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include past, present, and future pain and suffering.
It is common for someone to suffer serious and painful injuries after a car accident, yet have very low medical bills. Some injuries there is no cure for and injury victims must live every single day in great pain. In these types of cases we substantiate the damages through witnesses that testify about the significant difficulties an individual is having throughout their daily lives.
What if my medical bills are more than the defendant’s insurance coverage limits?
It is common for medical bills in Missouri car accident cases to be more than the defendant’s insurance policy limits. In this situation, an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney can negotiate with the medical providers and usually obtain a substantial reduction in the medical bills.
We regularly work out deals for our clients where we are able to reduce their medical bills by 50% or more in limited coverage situations as described here. Medical providers would usually rather work out a deal with us for an up-front partial payment than to send you to collections and collect a few dollars a month for the rest of your life. The medical providers can write off the loss if they work with us and reduce their bill.
How long will my personal injury case take?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. It is also the most difficult question to answer. The length of your personal injury case depends on many different factors. For example, if your medical treatment is already complete when you hire a lawyer, your case will typically be resolved quicker than if you hire a lawyer the day after your accident. There is nothing a personal injury lawyer can do to speed up your medical treatment.
The length of your case will also depend on whether or not a lawsuit must be filed. If your case can be negotiated and resolved with the adjuster then it will go quicker than if a lawsuit must be filed. An experienced Missouri injury attorney will be able to help determine an approximate time depending on the specific facts of your case.
My doctor told me I have a permanent injury. How does that affect my case?
When your doctor tells you that you have a permanent injury, you are able to use that evidence at trial to show this injury will affect you the rest of your life. The defendant in your personal injury case is responsible for all harms and losses they cause, including all future damages and permanent injuries.
I was scared right after the car accident and my adrenaline was pumping. I did not go straight to the emergency room. Now, a few days after the accident I am having terrible neck pain. Help, what should I do?
Contact your doctor immediately and tell your doctor you were recently in a car accident. Describe in detail the exact pain and discomfort you are having. Just because you didn’t make complaints at the scene of the car crash does not mean you were not injured.
People refrain from making immediate complaints at a car accident scene all the time. People have different thresholds for pain. Some people never go to the doctor unless they are about ready to die. Other people go to the doctor at the first sign of a cold. Even if you didn’t make complaints right away at the scene, you are still entitled to money damages for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and any other physical or emotional injuries caused by the car wreck.
What can I be compensated for after a Missouri car accident?
If someone else was at fault for the car accident, Missouri law allows you to recover money damages for past and future medical bills and lost wages caused by the car crash. In addition, Missouri law allows you to recover money damages for pain and suffering caused by the crash. You can also recover other expenses such as gas to and from the doctor, medical supplies, and any other expense that you incurred as a result of the Missouri car accident.
I talked to the defendant’s insurance company after my Missouri car accident and they asked me why I thought their insured was negligent. What does negligence mean?
Negligence is a legal term that means someone failed to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under like or similar circumstance. In layman’s terms it means someone acted careless.
The police officer gave me a ticket for the accident I was in but it was not my fault. What can I do?
If you don’t think you were at fault you should contest the traffic citation. Police officers are very busy helping out in our communities and saving lives every day. Sometimes police officers make mistakes when issuing tickets.
After a Missouri car accident, the defendant’s insurance company asked me if I was wearing my seat belt at the time of the car accident. Why would the insurance company be asking me that?
This may be a question the insurance company has all of its adjusters ask. They will try to use it against you to reduce your recovery. Failing to wear your seat belt in Missouri does not bar you from recovering money damages from the defendant.
I was rear-ended in a Missouri car accident and the other driver is trying to say it is my fault. Is that possible?
Usually when one vehicle runs into the back of another vehicle, the vehicle the does the rear-ending is at fault. There are situations where the opposite is true. If the front car slams on its brakes suddenly or has inoperable brake lights, that driver could be partially responsible for the Missouri car accident. The driver in the back is supposed to be keeping a careful lookout ahead and be prepared for sudden stops. This is called defensive driving. In a situation where the front car slams on its brakes for no reason or has no brake lights, they could be held partially at fault for the Missouri car accident.
What do I do if I caused a Missouri car accident and I do not have auto insurance?
Missouri requires that you have a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage for your car. If you cause a car accident in Missouri and you don’t have the required coverage you can be held personally liable for the damage you have caused. You will most likely suffer some criminal penalties for driving in violation of Missouri law.
What is my obligation to my car insurance company after I am involved in a Missouri car accident?
Most insurance companies require you to contact them right away. They want you to contact them right away so they can investigate the car accident and set the reserves accordingly. If you do not contact the insurance company right after a car accident you are most likely in violation of the insurance contract. If you are in violation of the insurance contract the insurance company may deny you coverage.