No matter the circumstances, suffering a personal injury can be a traumatic experience, and one which can have life-changing consequences for the victim. Being able to access experienced, qualified advice from a personal injury attorney is crucial in helping you to make a claim, seek compensation, and achieve the justice you deserve.
What Is A Personal Injury?
Missouri law defines personal injury as any incident where harm or damages are caused to an individual because of the failure of another individual to demonstrate reasonable care, making the second party negligent. Bodily harm is a major aspect, such as a slip or fall, or auto accident, as well as pain, suffering, and emotional distress – this could be due to both physical and psychological injuries incurred as a result of the accident, or witnessing unpleasant or distressing scenes which may have caused psychological damage.
What Will I Be Able To Claim?
If you are able to successfully prove the negligence of a third party in a personal injury claim, you will be entitled to receive damages and compensation. A personal injury lawyer is your best resource for all of your questions.
However, it is important to note that compensation can be used to cover essential expenses, including:
- Loss of earnings due to the injury, both at the time of the accident (taking time off for surgery etc), and in the longer-term. This can include situations where you are forced to leave your job or switch to a lower paid role.
- Medical bills and expenses, including surgery and long-term care
- Adaptations to your home which are required as a result of your injury
- Pain and suffering
In order to claim compensation, you will need to prove that the other party involved in the accident was negligent, and that this negligence directly contributed to your injuries.
What if I Was Partially Responsible for My Injury?
Missouri is a comparative negligence state, and this is good news for the injured party; this allows you to still benefit from and claim compensation from the other party, even if you are found to be partially to blame for the injury.
Shared fault is a rule which can apply to personal injury cases in the event that the injured person is found to be partly to blame for an accident. The comparative fault rule means that the compensation paid out to the injured party is reduced by the percentage they are deemed to be at fault. They can, however, still make the claim and receive the payment.
As an example, a judge may determine that you were 30% to blame for your slip and fall case, due to your own inattention and failure to adhere to warning signs. As a result, they will determine that the $100,000 compensation you were due to receive will be reduced by 30%, or $30,000. This means that your final settlement figure will be $70,000, rather than the full $100,000. Unlike some states however, you will still be entitled to claim this amount.
Similarly, if you are involved in a car accident in which your vehicle is rear-ended, you may be able to claim damages if the other driver can be proven to have been negligent. This is still the case even if it is found that you were partly to blame – perhaps your vehicle was in poor condition or you failed to stop in time – part of the damage will be apportioned to you. Once again, any compensation you receive will then be reduced by the percentage you are at fault.
Is There A Time Limit To Claim?
The Missouri statute of limitations means that you are required to pursue legal action within a certain time. There is a 5-year deadline for the filing of a lawsuit, if said lawsuit involves seeking legal remedy for “an injury to the person.” This time limit includes all cases which are driven by both negligence and intentional tort.
As well as restricting your opportunity to pursue legal action, the statute of limitations can also have an impact on your position in personal injury settlement negotiations involving insurance companies. For these reasons, it is best to ensure that the case is seen before a court as soon as possible, and well within the five-year limit.
Are There Any Exceptions To The Statute Of Limitations?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is fixed. If, however, the person injured is under the age of 21, or is mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident, the injured party will have the full five years to pursue action once the period of ‘legal disability’ ends – in other words, once they turn 21, or are declared to be mentally competent.
The actions of the defendant can also have an impact on the statute of limitations. If they are a resident of Missouri, but leave the state once the accident has occurred and before the lawsuit can be filed, the absence is unlikely to be counted in the five years. In short, a defendant cannot simply leave the state for five years and a day in order to escape legal action for their negligence.
What Can We Do?
Here at Grafe & Batchelor, P.C., we have been enabling clients across Missouri to find the justice they are owed. Our team of highly skilled attorneys have the experience to guide you through each and every aspect of your case, working with you to determine negligence, prove your injury, and claim the damages you need to move forward with your life – even if you are found to be partially to blame for your injuries. Get in touch today and see how our team can help.