When Do I Need to Hire a Missouri Personal Injury Lawyer?
February 9, 2022 | Personal Injury
If someone else’s negligence has seriously injured you, you face considerable physical, financial, and emotional losses that can make moving forward with your life exceptionally difficult. However, having an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim.
Did someone else’s negligence put you in a difficult position? If so, a dedicated Missouri personal injury lawyer can fully commit to skillfully advocating for your rights and your claim’s most beneficial conclusion.
Many people hesitate to call a lawyer for various reasons. However, when you deal with an injury, medical treatment, pain, suffering, and all that comes with it, you should never add the legal process to your plate. Allow a skilled professional familiar with the Missouri justice system to handle your injury claim.
Common Personal Injury Claims
While your personal injury claim will be specific to the exact circumstances involved, personal injury claims often fall into the following basic categories:
- Traffic accidents of all kinds, including car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, bike accidents, and more
- Accidents that lead to catastrophic injuries
- Accidents that lead to serious burn injuries, which can include premises liability claims where commercial property owners failed to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition
Additionally, other negligence-based claims are very similar to personal injury claims, including:
- Wrongful death claims in which the victims succumb to their injuries before bringing their personal injury claims
- Nursing home negligence claims
- Third-party workplace injury claims, including accidents on construction sites
Having a dedicated personal injury lawyer in Missouri on your side for any of these challenging claims is always well advised.
The Elements Necessary to Bring a Successful Claim
Four basic elements must be present to bring a successful personal injury claim. Proving these elements can be more complicated than it might seem, and you want a legal professional to determine what evidence you need to support your claim.
#1. Someone Owed You a Duty of Care
The law helps to ensure we don’t live in a dog-eat-dog world. We all owe one another a significant duty of care-or we have a responsibility to each other’s safety. When you get behind the wheel, you are required to follow the rules of the road due to the duty of care you owe others on it, and this extends to many different situations.
#2. The Other Party Breached the Duty of Care
The at-fault party in your claim must have breached the duty of care they owed you. For example, an impaired, dangerously fatigued, aggressive, or distracted motorist breaches the duty of care that they owe everyone (and a serious accident often results).
#3. This Breach Was the Direct Cause of the Accident that Left You Injured
It’s not enough that the other party breached the duty of care that they owed you. That breach must have been the direct cause of the accident that caused you to be injured. For example, if a driver who is distracted by his phone barrels through a stop sign and T-bones your vehicle in the intersection, his distraction (or breached duty of care) is directly responsible for the accident that caused you to be injured.
#4. The Accident Caused You to Suffer Covered Legal Damages
The accident that the other party caused must lead to losses (or legal damages). This rule means that you must have experienced losses that the law recognizes as compensable. Common examples of compensable losses in Missouri personal injury cases include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
If someone else’s negligence has injured you, the losses you experience can be truly overwhelming. Let’s take a closer look.
If you’ve suffered physical injuries, you’re going to need medical care. The fact is that serious injuries often require ongoing healthcare needs and can lead to secondary healthcare concerns. Failing to address the full scope of your medical needs in your personal injury claim can diminish your ability to regain your health and well-being to the best of your ability.
Some of the most common medical expenses include:
- Emergency services at the scene of the accident, including emergency transportation from the accident scene
- Surgical care and follow-up care
- Hospital care
- Treatment and care from doctors, medical specialists, and other medical professionals
- Medical procedures, treatments, and tests
- Chiropractic care
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Pain management
- Prescription medications
- Home health care
- Devices to aid mobility, including scooters, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers
- Adaptive physical devices
- Adaptations to home and vehicle
- Assistance with the activities of daily living
While you’re focusing on your recovery, you’re likely to be off the job and experience lost income as a result. If your injuries stop you from returning to work altogether or interfere with your ability to do your job, you should factor in a decrease in your earning potential. And losses of this nature can have a strong emotional component—in addition to the financial damages they caused.
Pain and Suffering
The physical pain and suffering you endure because of someone else’s negligence—in addition to the psychic pain—can overwhelm you.
A personal injury lawyer can recover compensation for:
- The immense inconvenience to you
- The physical impairments you suffer
- Any physical disfigurement endured
- A decrease in your general ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium (or losses in your familial relationships)
Additionally, many accident victims experience painful psychological consequences that can include:
- Extreme emotional highs and lows
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances that can include night terrors and/or insomnia
- Emotional lability
- Increased anxiety that can extend to anxiety attacks
- Depressive episodes
- Increased irritability
- Personality changes
- A tendency to lash out and/or push others away
- An overly inward focus
- Accident flashbacks
The emotional component of your losses can be extremely challenging to overcome and should not be underreported.
Look out for Victim-Blaming
Many people automatically blame themselves when they are involved in injury-causing accidents. However, the fact that you believe you share fault for the accident that leaves you injured does not make it so.
The law controls who was at fault under a given set of facts, and your personal injury lawyer Missouri will help make this determination on your behalf. Insurance companies are known for blaming victims for their accidents, so it’s critical to retain an attorney to protect your rights.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You
If you’ve suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you may be at a complete loss regarding how best to proceed. You are facing medical bills (with no end in sight) in addition to lost earnings—with emotional challenges thrown in for good measure—and taking on the involved insurance company at this moment may be more than you can fathom. Fortunately, you do not have to. That’s what your dedicated Missouri personal injury lawyer is for.
- Compile all the relevant evidence, including interviewing eyewitnesses, while crafting your strongest claim
- Obtain expert testimony that bolsters your claim
- Skillfully communicate and negotiate with the involved insurance company on your behalf
- Guide you through the personal injury claims process while helping you make the best decisions for you and your claim throughout
Working closely with a savvy personal injury lawyer in Missouri can make a significant difference in your claim’s overall success.
Hiring a Missouri Personal Injury Attorney
The considerable financial losses you face as a result of suffering injuries because of someone else’s negligence can leave you reeling, and it’s only natural to think that, while you’re in this position, you can’t possibly afford to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Fortunately, this isn’t how personal injury attorneys generally work.
For the most part, personal injury lawyers in Missouri work on contingency. In other words, your attorney’s payment will be contingent upon—or based upon—your claim’s resolution, and you aren’t required to take on any of the financial risk involved. If your claim settles or receives a court award, your personal injury lawyer will receive a predetermined percentage of the total. If it doesn’t, however, you won’t owe a thing.
Watch out for Insurance Company Tactics Designed to Get You to Settle for Less
While you are correct that it is the involved insurance company’s job to cover the losses you’ve suffered due to its policyholder’s negligence, the matter is not quite as straightforward as you might think. The insurance company, like businesses everywhere, is driven by profits, and as a result, it will do what it can to keep settlements like yours as low as possible. Toward this end, it has only too many effective tactics at its disposal that you need a lawyer to combat.
Having your claim denied from the very beginning is disheartening, and the insurance company hopes that you will simply give up and go away. However, the decision ultimately isn’t up to the insurance company. The law decides when a claim is valid and its value, so do not give the insurance company’s opening bid too much thought.
Suppose your personal injury attorney believes you have a solid claim. In that case, the best course of action is to move forward by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the insurance company, which it may—in turn—find very motivating (in terms of negotiating more fairly).
Suppose the insurance company makes an early settlement offer. In that case, it is very likely an attempt to play on your vulnerability before you’ve had an adequate opportunity to recognize the full extent of your covered losses. The insurance company recognizes that you may have reached financial desperation and knows that you may consider an early settlement offer something of a lifeline. It’s always in your best interest to consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney before accepting a settlement offer—the stakes are too high not to do so.
Denying the Extent of Your Damages
If your injury claim settles, the amount you obtain should compensate you for the losses you’ve incurred due to the at-fault party’s negligence. As a result, the insurance company may attempt to deny that your losses are as extensive as you say they are. You can often resolve this issue by presenting the necessary evidence supporting your claim, including your medical bills and pay stubs.
However, the insurance company will also be on the prowl for any information it can find that contradicts your claim. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help thwart such practices, including:
Follow your medical team’s instructions and advice very carefully (it’s the smart thing to do for your health and your personal injury claim). If you don’t take your recovery seriously, the insurance company may follow your lead.
Don’t provide the insurance company with a recorded statement. The insurance company is well prepared to twist your words. Leave the insurance company in the capable hands of your personal injury attorney.
Take a vacation from social media until your claim concludes.
You might have many questions about what you should or should not do before your claim concludes. Your personal injury attorney can advise you on how to best protect yourself and your claim.
A Dedicated Missouri Personal Injury Lawyer in Missouri Is Standing by to Help
An accomplished Missouri personal injury lawyer is ready and available to help you, so you should never wait to start protecting your legal rights. Compensation for your losses can make a huge difference in your future, and the best way to accomplish this is to consult with an attorney about your options today. You have nothing to lose!