After a serious injury, your priority should be to recover and get well. But the stress and uncertainty of a personal injury lawsuit can make that difficult. To help put you at ease, we have provided a summary of what to expect during the Missouri personal injury lawsuit process.
Not all injuries will result in a lawsuit. But when serious injuries or harm are caused by the negligence of another person or business, then the injured person (known in the lawsuit as the plaintiff) may need to take legal action to recover the cost of medical bills, time away from work, or other expenses related to the injury.
If you’ve been injured, the first step should always be to seek medical attention. This is most important for your health and safety, but it can also influence a future injury claim. In order to win a personal injury claim, you will often need medical evidence that helps to show your injury occurred in the manner you have described and that the defendant is liable. By seeking medical attention immediately or as soon as possible, you will have a clear medical record to support your case. You will also be able to avoid the possibility of the defendant raising the issue of comparative fault and alleging that you are at fault for the severity of your injuries because you failed to seek timely medical attention.
If you were recently injured and another party may be at fault, it is important to seek advice from an experienced Missouri personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to find out more about moving forward with a claim for financial compensation.
Acting quickly can be important in injury cases. The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is five years under Missouri law. Failure to file your lawsuit within that time window can result in your claim being time-barred by the statute.
For some types of personal injuries, you will need to report the accident and injury to an insurer. This is particularly relevant for motor vehicle accident cases. After reporting the injury to your own insurer, you will likely work with a Missouri personal injury attorney to determine whether to file a first-party claim or third-party claim in order to seek financial compensation from an insurance company.
The next step in the personal injury claims process is to gather evidence for your case. This may continue throughout the case but is especially important immediately after the accident. If you are able to do so, document the scene where the injury occurred, whether it was a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, or an injury resulting from a defective product. Obtain witness information, take photographs where they may be relevant, and write down your immediate impressions or recollections.
Before filing a lawsuit, your attorney will attempt to reach an agreement with the party who caused your injuries by sending a demand letter, usually to the plaintiff’s insurance provider. The letter will carefully explain why the other party is liable for your injuries and what compensation you are seeking.
Most personal injury lawsuits allow you to seek compensatory damages, which are supposed to compensate you for your losses. Compensatory damages can include both economic and non-economic damages. An experienced injury lawyer can help you determine what amount is appropriate for your case and make sure you request a fair settlement.
The negligent party (known in the lawsuit as the defendant) may be required to file an answer to the demand letter, but not always. The defendant may choose to agree to the demands in the letter, offer a different settlement, or deny that they are financially responsible at all. Your attorney will negotiate with the other party to try to reach an acceptable settlement without going to court if possible.
If the parties are able to reach an agreement, the settlement is written out and signed, and the claim is resolved. But if the other party or insurance company will not agree to a fair settlement, then your attorney may file a civil lawsuit so the matter can be decided by a jury at trial.
Before the trial can begin, a pretrial conference will be scheduled with both sides and a judge to discuss the case and make another attempt to reach an agreement. Some courts may also involve a mediator in pretrial proceedings. If no agreement is reached, the trial will be scheduled.
If your case does proceed to trial, you should understand the elements of a personal injury claim that are necessary for the court to find in your favor. While the detailed elements of each personal injury claim will depend upon how and where the injury occurred and who is at fault, personal injury lawsuits generally require a plaintiff to prove the following:
Before the trial, your attorney will continue to gather evidence that supports your claim and helps prove the elements listed above. Settlement negotiations may continue, and a settlement is still possible any time before the trial.
Most personal injury claims settle out of court to avoid the additional costs of a trial. If your case goes to trial, your attorney will present your case to a jury, and the plaintiff’s lawyers will present their side. The jury will review the evidence and determine what they believe is a fair settlement. Both sides will be held to the jury’s decision, although they may file an appeal.
If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in an accident or in another kind of incident where somebody else may be at fault, you should get in touch with our Missouri personal injury attorneys as soon as possible to find out more about seeking compensation and holding the at-fault party accountable for your losses. Contact Scott A. Hamblin for more information.
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A mother was seeking sole custody of her children following a divorce. The father refused to cooperate, leaving the client in a difficult situation as she felt as though her children didn’t have a voice. Scott recognized her need for an advocate and carefully listened to the children’s wishes, which conclusively helped the client achieve sole custody of her children and protected their best interests.
A client from Fulton was accused of drug possession as a result of a home search. While drug charges may potentially be filed as a Class C felony involving severe consequences, Scott was able to help the client receive a reduced sentence. Ultimately, the client faced significantly smaller penalties compared to the initial charges.
Scott assisted a defendant in a particularly challenging divorce case in which the other spouse was not cooperating. Scott was able to help the client avoid court through an aggressive legal approach to resolve all outstanding disagreements while maintaining the client’s long-term needs.
One client sought legal assistance after an altercation with another individual in Jefferson City. The client was arrested on assault charges despite allegedly not starting the fight. Since an arrest can lead to life-altering penalties such as being terminated from employment and serving jail time, Scott was able to build a solid legal defense in the client’s favor and argued in favor of the client’s innocence.
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Scott assisted a client who was injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence. The defendant claimed that the opposing party using their phone at the time of the crash, and Scott emphasized this claim to show that the other driver was at fault for the client’s injuries. The case concluded with the client receiving the necessary compensation for medical bills following a long hospital stay due to injuries.
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