Most car accident cases do not go to trial in Kansas City. This does not mean they are unsuccessful; on the contrary, it means they managed to settle out of court without a lengthy trial process. With help from attorneys, most car accident victims in Kansas City can successfully negotiate fair settlements from auto insurance companies without needing full-blown court trials. In some cases, however, going to trial could result in better recovery for the victim – especially if the insurance company is refusing to offer a reasonable settlement. Knowing when a case may go to court could help prepare you for what lies ahead after an auto accident in Kansas City.
About Insurance Settlements
When a car accident victim files a claim with an insurance company, the insurance company has a legal obligation to deal with the claim promptly and fairly. This duty may include offering a reasonable settlement to resolve a valid claim. Insurance companies want to settle cases rather than go to court. They know if a case does to court and the insurance company loses, it could pay much more than it would have during a settlement. Trials are unpredictable, with no guarantee of a positive outcome for the insurance company. For this reason, insurance providers will usually attempt to negotiate with claimants rather than going directly to trial.
Insurance settlement negotiations are best handled with help from a lawyer. A car accident attorney could evaluate your claim and give you an accurate measure of what it could be worth. Your lawyer can then request a suitable amount from the insurance company, at which point the insurer may either accept the terms, renegotiate or refuse to settle. A lawyer will also know when it will be in your best interest to take your car accident case to trial instead of settling during insurance negotiations.
A personal injury trial could be worthwhile for you as a victim if you suffered life-changing, catastrophic injuries in a car accident or if you lost a family member. In these serious car accident cases, the expense and time of a trial could be worth the amount of money you receive via a jury verdict. A trial could end in payment for damages an insurance settlement will not, such as for pain and suffering or punitive damages. More minor car accident cases, however, typically do not need to go to trial to achieve fair and full settlements.
Missouri vs. Kansas Car Accident Laws
A car accident victim in Kansas may have different legal opportunities than one in Missouri. Kansas is one of 12 no-fault states, while Missouri follows more traditional fault laws. Missouri’s fault-based insurance laws give most victims the option of taking a case to trial in pursuit of greater recovery for their damages, even in minor car accident cases. In Kansas, however, a victim’s only right to recovery may exist through the insurance system. A claimant on the Kansas side of Kansas City may only be able to take a case to trial in certain circumstances.
- If his or her injuries exceed $2,000 in medical costs
- If the injuries caused permanent scarring or disfigurement
- If he or she fractured a weight-bearing bone
- If the crash caused a compressed, compound, splintered or displaced bone fracture
- If the car accident caused permanent injury, disability or permanent loss of a bodily function
- If the victim suffered a traumatic or medical amputation
- If the claimant lost a loved one in a car accident
Kansas’ no-fault laws only permit victims involved in serious and fatal car accidents to file lawsuits outside the insurance system. A crash case in this state would only go to trial rather than settling out of court if the victim suffered a catastrophic, permanent or fatal injury listed above. Otherwise, the victim’s only choice may be to file a damage claim with his or her insurance company in pursuit of recovery. A car accident lawyer in Kansas City could help you understand the likelihood of your particular case going to trial.