If you or someone close to you has been the victim of an automobile accident, contact an experienced Kansas City car accident attorney at Dickerson Oxton, LLC. At our law firm, our lawyer offers client-specific strategies to help make your case a success. To ensure a full recovery, it is essential to get the full compensation you deserve after you are injured from a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
- Why hire our car accident attorney after a car accident?
- Should you hire a car accident lawyer for a minor car accident?
- Is it worth it to hire an attorney if an uninsured motorist hit you?
- What is the statute of limitations in Missouri and Kansas?
- What are the basics of a car accident settlement?
- How much compensation for a car accident case?
- Could you receive an award for pain and suffering?
Why Hire Our Car Accident Lawyer After an Accident in Kansas City?
Many people say to themselves, “I don’t want to pay for a lawyer, I’ll just deal with the claim myself.” Why not just handle the insurance company directly? Well, without a lawyer, the insurance company may very well try to get you to take compensation that is not very fair to you. A lawyer can handle the claims process and take on the legwork of negotiating an insurance settlement, which can allow you to focus on recovering from your injuries.
Medical bills and lost wages due to missed work can be easily calculated, but it’s more difficult to place a monetary value on the loss of quality of life. Injuries that cause permanent or long-term disabilities can place a strain on relationships and keep you from enjoying life. This is where hiring a lawyer can be crucial, because they will fight for your rights and just compensation not just for the injuries themselves, but for the pain they caused.
Should You Hire an Accident Attorney for a Minor Accident?
A lawyer is not necessary after every vehicle collision in Kansas City. If you were in a minor auto accident, you may be able to settle your case without representation from an attorney. Contacting an injury attorney, however, could help you determine whether hiring one is right for you. Our lawyers offer free, zero-obligation vehicle accident consultations, so you can get answers to your questions without paying a dime. You can discuss your minor auto accident and any injuries or damages you may have suffered from an attorney for free.
No law in Kansas or Missouri requires you to hire a lawyer during a minor accident case. Claimants involved in minor wrecks can often settle their cases successfully with insurance companies without legal intervention. If, however, your case involves a dispute, such as a disagreement regarding fault, a lawyer could help you resolve the dispute while protecting your rights and best interests. A lawyer could also help your case if you notice more serious injuries later, such as the symptoms of whiplash a few days after the collision.
It is common to hire a car accident lawyer for a minor collision if an insurance company questions liability, requests more evidence or takes a case to court. If you cannot settle your claim for a reasonable amount with the insurance company alone, hiring a lawyer could help you negotiate or take the case to trial in pursuit of better damages. Renegotiating with an insurance company or another defendant is easier with qualified legal representation.
Is it Worth it To Seek Legal Counsel if an Uninsured Motorist Hit You?
It is against the law to drive a vehicle in both Missouri and Kansas without adequate car insurance. Driving with little or no insurance could lead to difficult questions of liability after a crash. If the driver that is responsible for your accident does not have enough insurance to cover your damages – or any insurance at all – your claim will take a different direction. You will seek reimbursement from your auto insurance provider instead of the at-fault driver’s. While this is already the case under Kansas’ no-fault laws, in Missouri you would typically seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer first.
In both states, the law requires drivers to carry $25,000 in uninsured motorist insurance per person and $50,000 per accident. Uninsured motorist insurance protects you if an uninsured or underinsured motorist causes your collision. Call your insurance company to report the crash if you find out the at-fault driver does not have insurance. Explain to your insurance agent that you will need to file a claim since the other driver is uninsured, and follow the agent’s instructions for filing. If you encounter any issues, it may be worthwhile to hire an attorney.
Hiring an attorney may be appropriate after an uninsured motorist accident if you suffered serious or catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one. It may also be a good choice if your insurance company tries to deal with your claim unfairly. Denying your claim without a valid reason or unfairly delaying your payout could require assistance from an accident lawyer to force the insurance company to treat your claim fairly. A car accident attorney can make sure no one takes advantage of you during your uninsured motorist claim.
If you are worried about the cost of hiring a Kansas City car accident attorney, the lawyers at Dickerson Oxton, LLC work on a contingency fee basis. They do not charge anything unless they secure compensation for their clients. You will never have to pay for your auto accident lawyer’s services out of pocket. Instead, any legal fees will come directly out of the financial award your lawyer obtained for your claim. You will pay $0 upfront and $0 if we lose. Our law firm takes all the risks of litigation on your behalf. Contact our accident lawyers today for a free consultation.
How Much Compensation Can You Get for a Car Accident Case?
If you are curious what your case could be worth, contact us to ask an attorney for an in-depth review. Each claim is unique and will lead to different results. The value of your case will depend on the types and severity of your damages. In general, you may be able to receive compensation for losses such as medical bills, property damages, lost wages, physical pain, emotional suffering and wrongful death.
There is no average auto accident case value. Your case could be worth $10,000, $50,000 or over $1 million depending on your specific losses. In general, the more catastrophic your losses and injuries, the more your case will be worth. The actions of the defendant could also determine award amounts such as punitive damages. Our lawyers can help you calculate your specific economic and non-economic accident damages during a free consultation.
Could You Receive an Award for Pain and Suffering?
Pain and suffering is a non-economic damage award that may become part of your car accident case if you or your loved one suffered physical pain, emotional harm, psychological damages, lost quality of life, shortened lifespan, loss of consortium and/or grief because of the collision. If a jury rules in your favor during a car accident lawsuit, the jury may award pain and suffering damages through one of two main ways: the multiplier method or the per diem method.
The multiplier method is most common in cases involving long-term or permanent disabilities. A jury will multiply the plaintiff’s compensatory damage by a number that signifies the severity of the injury, typically between one and five. The per diem method is more common in short-term injury claims, where the plaintiff will most likely recover. It awards a pain and suffering amount per day for the duration of the injury or disability.
Contact Us Today to get Compensation for Vehicle Accident Injuries
Find out whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim and what your case could be worth during a free consultation at Dickerson Oxton, LLC. Our auto accident injury attorneys can review your case, take over negotiations with a car insurance company and take other measures to maximize your financial award. Get answers to your questions today. Call (816) 286-1960 to speak to an attorney.
Proving Car Accident Injuries For Your Case
In order for someone to be proven negligent in an auto accident in which an injury occurs, five things would have to be true.
- Duty – The other person, a.k.a the defendant, owed a duty of care to you, the plaintiff. This is true every time a person drives a car. A duty is owed to all the other drivers that you drive as safely as possible.
- Breach of Duty – By failing to exercise reasonable care, the defendant put you in jeopardy. If the defendant was speeding, inattentive or under the influence, these would all qualify as actions which breached the duty of care.
- Cause in Fact – The actions of the defendant directly caused harm to you and/or your property, and would not have happened otherwise if the defendant wasn’t caring less.
- Proximate Cause – This means that the potential harm caused by the plaintiff should have been foreseeable, which may be the most difficult aspect of negligence to prove, depending on the situation.
All four of these things would have to be true in a negligence claim stemming from an injury accident. Deciding how much they were at fault may be another issue.
Missouri operates under the comparative fault rule, which means that fault is determined as a percentage. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 in damages from an auto accident, but were found to be 25 percent at fault, you would only receive $7,500 of that. Things that may change your percentage of fault depend on whether you were wearing a seat belt or whether you disobeyed any rules of the road. Kansas has a modified comparative fault rule, which means that if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault, you won’t receive any compensation at all.
While many different behaviors and acts can constitute negligent driving, several stand out as the root for a majority of Kansas City automobile accidents. Such acts include:
- Traveling with excessive speed
- Driving under the influence (Speak with our drunk driving accident attorney if you have been injured by an intoxicated driver)
- Running stop signs or ignoring other posted signage
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Texting while driving
As mentioned before, there are a number of varying situations that give rise to automobile accidents. If you feel that a negligent driver was at fault in your accident, contact an experienced Kansas City car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Determining Who Is At Fault
Under state law, the Kansas City automobile accident fault is determined by the law of negligence. Drivers commuting on public and private roads have what is known as a “Duty of Care” to those sharing the road with them. This duty was created to ensure the safety of those around the driver and extends to pedestrians and cyclists alike. When a driver breaches this duty, thus acting negligently, then that driver is said to be “at fault” or the “causation of” a given accident. Negligence by definition is conduct that a person engages in which is culpable in that it falls short of what a reasonable person would or would not do in a given situation.
Why You Should File a Claim As Soon As Possible Kansas and Missouri
In Kansas, the statute of limitations to file an injury claim is two years. In Missouri, it’s five years. In both states, the clock starts from when the incident first occurred that caused the injury or damage, as opposed to when the injury was discovered. These limitations only apply to the deadline for filing a case in court; the deadlines and process for filing an insurance claim may very well be different.
The statute of limitation laws are why it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. Because neither state operates under the discovery rule, it doesn’t matter when an injury is discovered. However, if you do not go to a doctor as soon as possible, the defendant’s insurance may try to deny compensation by saying that your injuries must not have been bad enough to require extensive care.
Kansas City Car Accident Settlement Basics
A settlement refers to an agreement between you and the at-fault party’s insurance company to resolve the case without going to court. A settlement generally offers a smaller damage award to the plaintiff, but with the benefit of avoiding a costly or time-consuming trial. A settlement guarantees payment for a plaintiff, while an auto accident trial does not. Most accident cases in Kansas and Missouri resolve with settlements and do not need to go to court.
Every settlement begins with a demand letter. This is a letter your KC accident lawyer will send to the at-fault party outlining your damages and demanding a certain amount to resolve your claim. The recipient’s insurance company will have 30 to 45 days to issue a response to your demand letter, at which point your lawyer and the insurer may enter into settlement negotiations. If the insurance company responds by denying your claim, however, your case may proceed directly to trial.
Settlement negotiation is a phase in which both parties communicate about the case in an attempt to agree on how much the plaintiff should receive, if any. If negotiations reach a standstill, the parties may enter into mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution to help facilitate an agreement. These use unbiased third-party judges to help settle disputes. Hiring a lawyer could greatly improve settlement negotiations by having someone looking out for your best interests.
Car Accident Statistics in Kansas and Missouri (2015)
In 2015, more than 35,000 people were killed in auto accidents across the country, the most since 2008 and a 4.5 percent increase over 2014. While car accident fatalities are on the rise overall, it varies at the state level. For instance, Kansas saw 355 fatalities in 2015, a 7.8 percent decrease from 2014. Meanwhile, Missouri saw 869 fatalities for a 13.4 percent increase over 2014. Corresponding with the uptick in 2015, Missouri’s motor vehicle fatality rate has historically hovered slightly above the national average.
Car Accident Fatalities
In recent years, there has been a sizable reduction in DUI accidents, along with an increase in safety belt usage, but the total number of fatal and injury accidents have gone up. One possible culprit of this is distracted driving, much of which is related to increased cell phone use.
In Kansas alone, driver inattention was the number one cause of accidents, at 20.7 percent. In Missouri, they caused 27 percent. Texting and driving is the most dangerous form of this, because it takes your mind, hands and eyes off the road. In fact, your eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds when using your phone while driving; if you are traveling 55 mph, that’s enough time to travel the length of an entire football field.
Contrary to popular belief, new drivers (those aged 14-19) were not the most common culprit of distracted driving. In Kansas, drivers aged 20-24 were responsible for roughly 25 percent of injury accidents involving cell phone use. More than one-third of drivers have admitted to using a cell phone while driving. As more young drivers are getting their license and cell phone use is continually rising, many efforts are being made to curb cell phone use.
Young drivers are also much more likely to be behind the wheel in accidents involving excessive speed – both fatal and non-fatal crashes. In Kansas, over 55 percent of speed-related crashes were attributed to drivers between the age of 15 and 29.
Get in Touch With the Best Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney
The mangled steel and broken glass that litters accident scenes pale in comparison to the personal injury that victims of accidents suffer. Many of these injuries last a lifetime. Tragically, the lives they cut short can never be replaced. This is why you need to contact an experienced attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
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