Automobile accidents are very common throughout Kansas, Missouri, and the entire United States. Millions of cars, trucks, and motorcycles are in accidents every single year. Over a million people are injured each year from automobile wrecks.
Sadly, many of the wrecks could have been avoided, if not for the negligence of one of the drivers. The negligent driver is liable for the damages caused to the injured party.
Negligence is a key component in any personal injury lawsuit. Negligence is a legal term that means the other person failed to act in a reasonably careful manner. You have to prove the other driver was negligent. This may be shown through police reports and witnesses. Additionally, you can hire an accident reconstructionist to show how the wreck occurred and provide their expert opinion as to whose negligence caused the car wreck.
Ideally, an injured person receives the money they need, from the negligent driver's insurance company. This is compensation for pain, suffering, and medical expenses. However, if the person is not insured, this can cause a problem. You can still reach a settlement, but often they don't have the money to pay out anything. Alas, people without insurance often don't have money. Because of the reality of uninsured motorists, it is vital that a driver carry uninsured motorist coverage. There have been many times when I had a client in such a situation. In those cases, we turned to my client's own insurance to receive the compensation my client needed.
Additionally, there are times when the negligent automobile driver does have insurance, but not enough to cover the full extent of the injured party's damages. For example, imagine you have $200,000 in damages, but the insured driver party only has $100,000. I have had numerous cases just like that. In those situations, we again look to my client's own insurance, in the event they have underinsured motorist coverage. That way, assuming my client has a higher policy limit, my client is compensated for whatever the negligent driver's insurance didn't cover.
If there is no insurance company from which to seek compensation, you can still proceed forward, but collectability is a real concern.
Even if all the drivers involved have insurance, by no means does that resolve all the issues. It only resolves the collectability question, but doesn't automatically mean the injured person is going to be compensated. There's still the issue of litigation, proving up your claim, and showing damages. Insurance companies are out to make a profit and do not like to pay out significant funds unless they are forced to.
Over the last 15 years, as a personal injury car wreck lawyer, I have learned how to deal with insurance companies. They will pay out if they believe the attorney is serious and prepared to go to trial. Additionally, you have to clearly show them that their insured is at fault and that a jury will see it your way. Proving damages is a critical component as well. The insurance company must sense the reality and severity of the damages. Affidavits from friends and doctors have greatly assisted us in the past regarding this.
To settle, you must convince the other side that it is in their best interest to avoid trial. You must convince them that you will win and that they are ahead by simply paying out via a settlement.
If the case cannot be settled, trial is the other option. Trial involves significant and expensive litigation, potentially including interrogatories, depositions, testimony, and expert witnesses. Personally, I love going to trial. However, trial means higher expenses, which can cut into overall monies gained by our clients. Therefore, settlement is preferable. On the other hand, trial could potentially lead to much higher damage awards, making it worth it. Whether or not you should go to trial is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Just because you were involved in a car wreck does not mean you are entitled to compensation. You must also prove damages. Damages usually come in the form of pain, suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. We work with medical personnel experts who can often times help treat our clients' injuries as well as explain the seriousness of the injuries to a jury or the insurance company.
You must show that it was this specific wreck which caused your specific injuries. Often times, the other party may concede some of the injuries were caused by the wreck, but not all. For example, they may concede that your soft tissue back injuries were caused by the wreck, but not your neurological brain complications which showed up a week later. In such you cases, you may have to hire an expert doctor to testify about causation. In the above example, you would potentially have to hire a neurologist to provide her expert opinion regarding causation of the brain complications.
Statute of Limitations
After a car wreck, an injured party has a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. In Kansas, you must file within two years of the negligent automobile accident, or you lose your right to file. The statute of limitations is only one year for intentional torts. For example, if the person purposefully ran you over with a car or truck, that is an intentional tort called battery. In Kansas, you need to file that within a year. The general statute of limitations for Missouri car wrecks is 5 years. However, you should NOT wait that long as there can be numerous problems and complications by waiting. Furthermore, some statute of limitations are less and you could be prevented from filing other potential claims and recovering more money.
No Fault and PIP Insurance
No-fault insurance laws greatly affect car wreck litigation. Basically, they ensure that the injured party is quickly taken care of, up to small limits. Then, the insurance companies and parties can sort it out later during the litigation in bigger cases.
Causes and Factors for Automobile Accidents
- Speeding and other traffic violations. If the other driver was going too fast or changed a lane improperly, that can obviously cause a wreck.
- Texting While Driving. Some research has proven that texting while driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving. There are other distraction which can cause wreck as well, including talking while driving, applying makeup while driving, reading while driving, and etc. According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), driving while distracted accounts for approximately 80 percent of car wrecks.
- Equipment Failure. If your wreck was caused as a result of brake failure or otherwise, there may also be a potential products liability issue
- Wet, Icy, or Snowy Roads. We Kansas and Missouri drivers know all about this.
Missing Signs, Dangerous Conditions. If there was a dangerous condition left unattended to by the government, such as if a stop sign had fallen over and wasn't replaced, the government may be liable. In such a case, a suit should be filed immediately as your rights will be severely limited if not filed right away.
When to Hire a Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in an automobile accident and have injuries, you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer from our firm. Do not try to handle it on your own. Let a lawyer who knows how to deal with these cases resolve your situation. Trying to handle it on your own upfront will usually cause problems later. Call an experienced PI lawyer as soon after the wreck as possible.
If you do attempt to handle the case on your own, seek a car wreck attorney immediately when:
- Settlement is not quickly resolved or is delayed.
- They will not fully compensate you.
- The claim in denied.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident in Kansas or Missouri, call our law firm today. We have an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled many serious car accident cases.
Read What Our Former Clients Have Said
"Professional, informative, and vital in working with the prosecutor to secure the most favorable outcome possible".Barb
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