What is a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases occur when someone is injured by the action or inaction of others. These cases range in severity and type as some cases involve minor injuries whereas others unfortunately result in a fatality. Some of the more common causes for personal injury cases are:
- Alcohol Over-Service (Dram Shop)
- Car Accidents
- Climbing Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Dangerous Conditions
- Dog Bites
- Design Defects
- Defective Products
- Failure to Supervise
- Failure to Warn
- Falling Objects
- Food Poisoning
- Medical Malpractice
- Premises Liability
- Product Liability
- Slip & Fall
- Snow, Water, & Ice
- Swinging Objects
- Welding Accidents
What to do After an Injury
The most important issue with a personal injury case is your health and safety. After you’ve been hurt, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Seeking medical attention will ensure that you are doing everything you can to ensure your safety. Likewise, by seeking medical attention, you are helping your personal injury case. On many occasions, victims of personal injury cases do not experience immediate pain after the occurrence of their injury. On these occasions, personal injury victims decline medical treatment only to realize – usually the next day – that something is wrong. If this occurs, do not feel as if you chance for medical treatment has passed. Follow the general rule:
IF YOU ARE HURT, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY
Process of Filing a Personal Injury Claim
It is important to have a St. Louis personal injury attorney who understands both your injury as well as the process for maximizing your claim. Attorney Steve Slough will take as much time as needed to gain an understanding of what your injury is as well as getting you what you deserve.
Length of Time to File a Lawsuit
Not all personal injury cases involve the filing of a lawsuit. In many situations, your case can be settled without filing a lawsuit as the insurance company covering the liable party will pay. When an agreement cannot be reached though, a lawsuit is necessary.
In Missouri, the governing laws that set forth the time limits for a filing a lawsuit on a particular case are referred to as the Statutes of Limitations. Simply stated, these statutes are Missouri laws that set forth specific and strictly enforced lengths of time to file lawsuits after the cause of action has happened. In most cases, the clock begins ticking at the moment the injury has been sustained.
Most personal injury cases in Missouri have a 5 year statute of limitation. That means if you are hurt on January 1, 2015, you must file a lawsuit by January 1, 2020. In cases involving a wrongful death, the timeframe is 3 years. Cases involving medical malpractice have a 2 year window.
Significantly, if you fail to file your lawsuit during the statute of limitations time frame, YOUR CLAIM WILL BE BARRED FOREVER. You will not be able to recover anything from your injury, despite the severity and clear fault of the other party.
Insurance Company Tactics
When dealing witha personal injury claim, it is important to note the following:
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE
When insurance companies find out about a potential personal injury claim, they will contact you immediately. They will ask you to obtain at least one, sometimes two estimates on your car’s damage. They will ask you to provide a statement of what happened and they will ask you to provide them with all of your medical records and bills related to the accident. At first, these insurance companies will appear to be on your side and may come across as someone who is trying to help you get through your injury. Despite this, after complying with all of their demands, the insurance company will offer you a settlement which is substantial inadequate. Most of the time, the offer doesn’t even cover your medical bills, let alone your pain and suffering.
Missouri Comparative Fault Law
Insurance companies will employ many different tactics to try to convince you that your claim isn’t what you think it is. One of these tactics is to tell the injured party that they contributed to the accident. This is called comparative fault.
Comparative fault is a doctrine recognized by Missouri law which essentially allows fault or blame to be placed upon the injured party. Specifically, juries are told that if they see fit, they may assign a percentage of fault to an injured party based upon the facts of the case. For example, a jury may find that an injured party’s actions, although not the main reason, still contributed to the accident occurring and as such will assign fault to the injured party. This assignment of fault will reduce your award in proportion to the percentage assigned.
Insurance companies are well aware of this doctrine and will often times abuse this doctrine in an attempt to make the injured party believe they played a role in the accident. Insurance companies will make a determination for themselves as to what percentage of blame is to be placed upon the injured driver. For example, insurance companies will allows assign a significant percentage of blame to an injured driver who was injured in an accident due to being cut off by another driver. Despite following all applicable rules and regulations, insurance companies simply think being cut off by another driver is the injured party’s fault. Of course, this doesn’t follow simple logic, but that is how insurance companies think.
Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer
When an attorney gets involved in a personal injury claim, insurance companies take notice. They begin to realize that they can no longer take advantage of an injured person who is in a bad situation. Insurance companies know that an attorney has the ability and resources to properly investigate an accident. Likewise, an attorney understands all the facets of a personal injury claim giving you a distinct advantage against the insurance company. All in all, when an attorney gets involved, the insurance company knows that the injured party means business.
What We Can Do For You
The Law Office of Steve Slough routinely handles personal injury cases. The firm prides itself on standing up to insurance companies and fighting for car accident victims. We have experience in dealing with insurance companies and know how to quickly discredit the theories they use to deny your claim.
If you have been injured, please feel free to call our office for a free consultation.