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Personal injury lawsuits can be complex and time consuming. If you have been seriously injured, you probably need time to rest and recuperate while an attorney who understands personal injury law builds your case. These common questions may help you understand the process when starting a personal injury claim.
Personal injury cases are legal disputes that arise when one person suffers an injury in which someone else may be legally responsible. Typically, personal injury claims are the result of the negligence, or carelessness, of another party.
The goal of a personal injury claim is to compel the responsible party(ies) to compensate you, the victim, for expenses related to injuries caused by the accident.
A personal injury attorney will act on your behalf and handle the continuous flow of communications and tasks. They will also handle tasks such as investigating your claim, gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, handling the discovery process, and representing you should your claim go to trial.
This means that you, the plaintiff, can concentrate on your recovery.
The first step is drafting and filing a complaint to the defendant (the party you believe is responsible for your damages). Your personal injury attorney can draft this complaint and file a copy with the court.
Missouri is an at-fault state that uses a pure comparative fault system. This simply means that all parties in an accident can be held liable for damages based on how much each contributed to the accident. A plaintiff may still recover damages when deemed partially responsible; however, their settlement will be reduced by the percentage of their fault.
For example, if the plaintiff is 20% at fault and the settlement is $100,000, then the amount the plaintiff receives is reduced by 20%.
Photos and/or video can be important pieces of evidence to collect. Photographic evidence can help prove your case and who is at fault. For instance:
Be sure to take photos and/or video at the scene of the accident. Capture damage to vehicles, debris in the road and surrounding area, road conditions, your injuries – anything that you feel may be relevant. It’s good to get photos from different angles, too.
An “injury journal” is just as it sounds. Write down all the details about the injuries you sustained. Describe your physical pain and emotional distress. Write down how your injuries have impacted your quality of life, ability to do daily tasks, if you are able to work, etc. This journal can help you and your attorney with your case.
Other resources on evidence:
It is always good to remember that insurance companies, whether yours or the defendant’s – do not want what is best for you. Their profit always seems to come first.
Insurance companies may try anything so that they do not have to pay (or pay as little as possible) anything out after an accident. One tactic that may be tried is to shift blame to you instead of their policyholder. You want to be careful who you talk to and what you say because they may twist your words to their advantage. Never admit fault to anyone or accept blame, no matter who they are. Best advice is to let your attorney handle the communications with insurance companies when possible.
You are not required to make a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. You do not want to be pressured into saying or doing something that is not accurate or not clearly explained. This is one of their tactics to get information from you that can be used against you. A personal injury attorney can help you draft a written statement instead, one that can be carefully crafted.
Every state has deadlines. Be familiar with the deadlines in the state in which you are brining your claim.
According to the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo) Section 516.120, all personal injury actions must be brought within five years from the date of injury. This Missouri Statute states that all claimants (with a few exceptions) have five years from the date of the underlying accident and injury to file a formal complaint.
Your attorney will help make sure that your claim meets all deadline requirements.
This refers to a law that sets the maximum amount of time that parties involved in a dispute have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense. The length of time the statute allows for a victim to bring legal action can vary based on the jurisdiction and the nature of the offense.
Have you been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall or some other accident in which you suffered serious injuries due to another’s negligence? Call Nash & Franciskato at (877) 284-6600. We have a successful track record helping accident victims collect the compensation they deserve.
One of our experienced staff will speak with you personally and will provide you with a free, no-obligation review of your case.
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