Auto accidents can cause serious physical and emotional injuries, with expensive related health care costs. They also come with property damage and financial losses such as lost income. In Missouri, the car insurance system allows injured victims to seek financial compensation for their injuries and losses from the at-fault party. Understanding how victims get paid can help you recover after a car accident in Kansas City.
Most car accident cases in Missouri settle. This means rather than going to trial to resolve a legal dispute, the injured victim and the defendant’s insurance company reach a settlement. A settlement means that parties agree to a certain resolution – typically an amount of money from the insurance company in exchange for the victim releasing the defendant from liability.
The settlement process begins with filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This is how the system works in a tort-based state such as Missouri. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, you would file a claim with your own car insurance company, even if you didn’t cause the car accident. The other driver’s insurance company will ask you questions and investigate the car accident.
If the insurance company agrees that its client is at fault, it will offer a certain amount of money to resolve or settle your claim. Before you sign a release of liability waiver, however, consult with a car accident attorney to make sure that the settlement offered is fair according to the extent of your injuries and losses. This includes latent or future losses, not just what the car accident has already cost you.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are certain scenarios when filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver is preferred to accepting a settlement. If the insurance company is not offering a fair or reasonable settlement, for example, taking the case to trial could result in greater financial compensation for your losses. If the insurance company wrongfully denied your claim or is refuting liability, you may also need to take the case to trial.
Going to court requires filing a petition with the civil courthouse in the county where the car accident took place. The petition will include a brief description of the accident, the defendant’s information and the amount of money you (the petitioner) are requesting to resolve the dispute. The defendant will then have the chance to respond to your petition.
If you and the insurer cannot work out a settlement during pretrial hearings, you will both speak in front of a jury in court and the jury will determine liability. If the jury rules in your favor, you will receive financial compensation from the defendant’s insurance company via a judgment award. If not, the defendant will not be responsible for paying for your losses.
Are There Minimums for Damages in a Personal Injury Case in Missouri?
No, there is no minimum for damages or financial compensation in a personal injury case in Missouri. If you wish to file a lawsuit against a driver or another party for causing your car accident and your case is worth less than $5,000, you can still file with the small claims court. Note, however, that some attorneys do not work on smaller cases. This means you may need to represent yourself in the small claims court.
If you have a case that is larger in value, however, hiring an attorney can help you achieve a positive outcome. An attorney can make sure that an auto insurance company does not take advantage of you or devalue your claim. This includes taking your case to trial, if necessary, for maximum compensation. Learn more about your options for financial reimbursement after being injured in a car accident in Kansas City today by contacting an attorney.