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  • Can I File a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident?

    Can I File a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident?

    March 27, 2024 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury

    ​Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern life. Whether you’re a cautious driver or a passenger buckled up for safety, nobody is immune to the possibility of being involved in a car accident. In the aftermath of such an event, the physical and emotional toll can be overwhelming. 

    But what if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence? Can you take legal action to seek compensation for your injuries and losses? Specifically, can you file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident in Missouri? In this article, we will explore the legal options available to car accident victims in Missouri and shed light on the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit. So, if you’ve been in a car accident and want to know what steps you can take to protect your rights, read on to learn more.

    Understanding the Legal Steps in a Car Accident Lawsuit

    Gathering evidence, reports, and documentation

    The first step in a car accident lawsuit is gathering evidence. This includes getting the necessary information from all parties involved, such as names, contact details, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. Additionally, documenting the accident scene through photographs, videos, or witness testimony can greatly support your case. It is important to do this as soon as possible, as evidence may disappear or witnesses may become harder to reach over time.

    Filing a car accident police report

    After an accident, you will want to contact the police as soon as possible. Not only will they be able to help with any medical assistance you may need, but they also play a crucial role in gathering evidence and witness statements. These are the primary factors used to determine fault. The St. Louis Police Department website has a database to review police reports online.

    Filing a claim with your auto insurance provider

    After gathering evidence, the next step is to file a claim with the insurance companies involved. It is required by Missouri law to report any car accidents that involve personal injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $500. The insurance companies will then investigate the claim and determine fault. They will assess the damages and negotiate a settlement, which may cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver

    If an agreement cannot be reached with the insurance companies, the next step is to file a lawsuit. In Missouri, car accident lawsuits must be filed within five years from the date of the accident. It is crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who can guide you through the legal process. Your attorney will prepare the necessary legal documents, gather additional evidence, and represent you in court.

    Common Types of Compensation You Can Receive After a Car Accident

    ​There are many factors that determine both the type and amount of compensation you may receive after an automobile or trucking accident. One thing to keep in mind is the state in which you are driving (and by that we mean the literal geographical State in the US). 

    Car accidents in Missouri, for instance, can result in various types of compensation for the victims involved but may be different in the state in which your accident occurred. 

    These different types of compensation are aimed at providing financial support for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    Compensation for medical expenses

    One common type of compensation covers your medical expenses. After a car accident, victims may require immediate medical attention, ongoing treatments, and rehabilitation. Medical expenses can include hospital bills, medication costs, therapy sessions, and even future medical expenses. To ensure proper compensation, it is important to keep all medical records and bills as evidence.

    Compensation for property damage

    Another type of compensation is for your property damage. When a car is involved in an accident, it can sustain severe damage or even be completely totaled. Compensation for property damage can cover the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle. It can also include compensation for personal belongings damaged in the accident, such as laptops or other valuables.

    Compensation for lost wages

    Lost wages are another common form of compensation. Many car accident victims are unable to work due to the injuries sustained, resulting in lost wages. Compensation can include reimbursement for the time off work, as well as future lost earning potential if the injuries are long-term or permanent.

    Can I Sue the Other Driver After an Automobile Accident?

    The specifics of receiving compensation after a car accident can be confusing. In most cases, insurance information is exchanged and the two agencies are able to come to a resolution to compensate the victim for any property damage that may have occurred due to the accident.

    One thing clients involved in more serious accidents frequently ask is, “Can I sue the at-fault driver for additional compensation?” 

    In short, the answer is, yes, you can.

    Situations When You Can/Should Sue the At-Fault Driver

    The exact answer depends on the state in which the accident occurred, and we suggest consulting with a local can accident lawyer, but Missouri, for instance, is an “at-fault” state which means the driver deemed responsible for the accident (and their car insurance provider) is responsible for compensating the other driver(s) and any passengers involved in the collision. 

    Insurance providers will do everything in their power to pay as little as possible and, depending on the guilty party’s insurance, are only required to have coverage for up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

    In other words, their insurance may only cover $25,000. If you are injured, that amount may only cover a small fraction of your expenses and medical bills.  

    Filing a Lawsuit to Get Additional Compensation

    In a situation when the at-fault driver’s insurance does not cover all of your property damage, medical bills, or other expenses, suing the driver may be worth considering. Even though their insurance may not be liable for providing additional compensation, you may be able to go after their personal money and/or assets.

    Filing a Lawsuit Against a Drunk Driver

    A common example of an automobile accident is when a personal injury lawsuit might be filed when a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Suing a driver under the influence is common because involve negligence on the part of the at-fault driver, and the victim may wish to seek additional compensation for injuries or pain and suffering. 

    Related: What is the average car accident settlement in Missouri?

    Negotiating Settlements vs. Going to Trial in a Car Accident Lawsuit

    ​If you have decided to seek additional compensation, you may be faced with the decision of negotiating a settlement or going to trial. Both options have their pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

    Negotiating a car accident settlement can often be a quicker and more cost-effective option. It involves both parties agreeing without the need for a trial. In a car accident lawsuit, this means that you and the other party, along with your respective lawyers, work together to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. This can result in a faster resolution and can potentially save you time and money compared to a lengthy trial process.

    On the other hand, going to trial allows you to present your case before a judge and, most likely, a jury. This option is generally preferred when the parties involved cannot reach a fair settlement through negotiation or if there are complex legal issues involved. 

    If the at-fault driver is not offering a fair settlement – or a settlement at all – going to trial is the path to take if you believe that a jury or judge will recognize the full extent of your damages and award you a higher compensation than what may have been offered in a settlement.

    Find out more about Missouri’s Car Accident Laws & Missouri’s Insurance Requirements.

    Factors That Can Influence the Outcome of Your Car Accident Lawsuit

    The first, and most obvious, factor is evidence. Strong evidence showing the other party’s liability is crucial in a car accident lawsuit. This can include police reports, photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, and medical records. The more solid evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.

    Find additional information about how Missouri determines fault in car accidents.

    How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

    If you’ve been involved in a car accident it’s essential to understand how a personal injury attorney can help you. Car accidents can be life-altering, resulting in significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. Hiring a car accident lawyer can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

    One of the primary roles of a personal injury attorney is to navigate the legal complexities of your case. They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong case to prove liability. This is crucial in determining who is at fault for the accident and ensuring that the responsible party is held accountable.

    Additionally, a personal injury attorney will fight for your rights and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters working to minimize their payout. Having an experienced attorney by your side can level the playing field and ensure you receive fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    The injury attorneys at Ortwerth Law have helped countless people involved in car accidents in St. Louis, Missouri and the surrounding areas. We offer a free consultation and would be happy to discuss your case.