If you are injured in Missouri because someone else was negligent – a property owner or a careless driver, for example – after you’ve been treated by a medical provider, arrange to discuss your legal options and right to compensation with a Jefferson County personal injury lawyer.
In the State of Missouri, the injured victims of negligence are entitled by law to recover compensation for their current and projected future medical costs, their lost wages and projected future lost wages, their personal pain and suffering, and their related losses and damages.
That compensation does not appear automatically in your mailbox or bank account, but if you and your Jefferson County personal injury attorney can prove that you were injured because another party was negligent, your injury claim will prevail, and you will be compensated.
How Are Personal Injury Claims Resolved in Missouri?
Most personal injury and premises liability claims in Missouri are resolved out-of-court when the attorneys for both sides meet privately to hammer out a settlement agreement that is acceptable to everyone who is involved. Only about ten percent of personal injury cases go to trial.
However, if there is a dispute over liability for the accident that injured you, or if no acceptable settlement offer is made in the out-of-court negotiations, a Jefferson County personal injury lawyer will take your case to trial in civil court.
At a personal injury trial, both sides may call witnesses and introduce evidence. Your personal injury attorney will make it clear to the jurors how you were injured and how seriously you were injured. Your attorney will then ask those jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
Why Do Most Personal Injury Claims Prevail at Trial?
Personal injury lawyers in Missouri work on what is called a contingent fee basis. Injury victims pay no attorney’s fee upfront or until and unless compensation is recovered with an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict. If you are not compensated, your attorney does not get paid.
That means that most injured victims of negligence prevail with their personal injury claims. Speaking honestly, if your attorney is not confident of victory, he or she will not handle your case. In these instances, your attorney will clearly explain why your claim is unlikely to prevail.
If your attorney handles your claim and takes the case to trial, it means that he or she is confident of success. It is quite uncommon for an injured victim of negligence to lose a personal injury trial and walk away with no compensation whatsoever, but occasionally, it happens.
If You Lose a Personal Injury Trial, Can You Appeal?
Either party in a personal injury trial may appeal the court’s decision. If you lose your personal injury trial, your lawyer can file an appeal with a Missouri Court of Appeals. Very few personal injury cases are then appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri, but that court has the final say.
If your claim does not prevail at your personal injury trial, have a frank talk with your attorney about the personal injury appeal process, your chances for succeeding with an appeal, the amount of time it will take, and the additional costs of moving forward with an appeal.
If you are injured and you can’t work, a Jefferson County personal injury attorney may also help you determine if other sources of compensation are available to you, including unemployment benefits, workers’ comp, Social Security Disability, and/or Supplemental Security Income.
What Will It Take to Prevail With Your Claim?
If you are injured in Missouri because someone else was negligent, and if you take legal action to recover compensation, you will want your personal injury claim to be as strong as possible. Here are several ways that you can help your personal injury attorney prevail on your behalf:
- Seek medical attention as quickly as possible after an accident: If you are injured in a traffic crash, a slip-and-fall incident, or any other accident scenario, you can protect your health as well as your legal rights with an immediate medical examination and treatment.
- Take photos and talk to witnesses: Take photos of the site where you were injured, any property damage, and your visible injuries. Ask any witnesses for their names and contact details. Photos and witness statements can be powerful evidence in personal injury cases.
- Tell the truth: Do not misrepresent, exaggerate, or lie about any aspect of the accident or your injury. Avoid the subject on social media. Anything you post online about your accident or injury could be twisted and used against you.
- Tell your lawyer everything: As soon as you have been examined and treated by a medical provider, schedule a meeting with a Missouri personal injury lawyer. Tell your lawyer everything about your accident and injury, and adhere to your lawyer’s advice.
No personal injury attorney can absolutely guarantee that your injury claim will prevail. Going to trial is risky for everyone involved, so your attorney will keep your case out of court unless going to trial becomes the only way to move forward with your injury claim.
What is the Deadline for Taking Legal Action?
Missouri’s statute of limitations – the deadline for taking legal action in personal injury cases – is five years. Exceptions to the deadline are extremely narrow, but if you have missed that deadline, your case may possibly qualify under an exception, so go ahead and speak to an attorney.
But if you have been injured recently – or if you are injured in the future – you must contact an injury attorney at once. Especially if you are temporarily or permanently disabled – and you are not earning income – you can’t afford to wait.
Furthermore, it is important for your attorney to examine any physical evidence while it’s fresh and to speak with any eyewitnesses before their memories fade. While most personal injury claims can be resolved out-of-court in just several weeks, if there is a dispute or a complication – or if you lose at trial and pursue an appeal – the process can take months or even several years.
That means the best time to launch the legal process and contact a lawyer is right after you’ve been injured. If you and your lawyer can prove that you were injured because another party was negligent, your claim will prevail, you will be compensated, and the law will be on your side.