Missouri Personal Injury Law – What You Need to Know
March 8 2023
In Missouri, personal injury laws allow victims of another person’s negligence to seek compensation for their injuries. Generally, this includes medical bills and lost wages due to the injury.
Missouri Personal Injury Laws
Missouri personal injury law provides injured individuals who have been harmed by another’s actions with the right to seek damages. These damages may include compensation for medical bills and other expenses related to the injury, recovery for lost income, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, or other damages allowed under Missouri law.
Under basic negligence principles, a plaintiff must prove four elements in order to be successful in a personal injury lawsuit: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. The first element requires that the defendant owed the plaintiff some duty of care. The second element requires that the defendant breached that duty of care. The third requires proof of causation, both actual and proximate. Lastly, the plaintiff must prove they suffered some type of damage due to their injury.
In Missouri, statutes limit how much time an injured person has to file a personal injury claim. In addition to these laws, the state also uses contributory and comparative negligence rules which restrict how much compensation an injured person can receive based on their fault in causing or contributing to their own accident.
Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine wherein any plaintiff found to be responsible for even a small portion of the accident may be entirely barred from recovering any damages. On the other hand, comparative negligence allows plaintiffs to recover at least some damages even if they are partially at fault for the incident; however, the amount of those damages is reduced by an amount equal to their proportionate share of fault for the incident.
Missouri remains one of several states that follow contributory negligence rules instead of comparative negligence principles; however, courts often shrink from strictly enforcing this doctrine which can make it difficult for defendants (or their insurance carriers) to block all recovery based upon allegations that an injured person was partially negligent in causing their own harm.
Understanding Missouri’s personal injury laws can seem overwhelming but important legal concepts are not as complicated as they may appear at first. To begin this understanding, it is important to understand how the general statute of limitations applies to personal injury cases in Missouri. The following section will provide an overview of the statute of limitations related to personal injury lawsuits in Missouri.
- In Missouri, plaintiffs must prove that their injury was caused by another party’s negligence or wrongful act in order to be successful in a personal injury lawsuit.
- According to the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, cases involving personal injury alleging serious physical injury must be filed within 5 years from the date of the injury.
- A study conducted in 2014 found that over 80% of jury verdicts relating to medical malpractice claims were awarded in favor of plaintiffs in trials held across the state of Missouri.
Overview of General Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations in Missouri dictates the timeframe in which individuals have to bring a legal action against another person or entity. For any kind of personal injury case, they must generally be brought within five years of the date of the incident which caused the injury. It is important to note that there are exceptions to this rule depending on the type of personal injury claim and the specific circumstances.
The Statute of Limitations is in place so that civil suits are timely filed, evidence is preserved, parties do not wait too long to seek justice and also in order to prevent fraud and preserve fairness for all parties involved. The argument for why a strict timeline should apply is primarily due to the fact that time can lead to many difficulties like lost evidence or delayed medical treatment, which could harm one’s ability to prove their case in court.
However, many experts agree that exceptions should exist in certain circumstances such as when it involves minor children, those with disabilities, or victims of domestic violence who may fear proceedings due to ongoing harassment or abuse by their abuser. In these cases, a longer period for filing claims may be allowed as a way to preserve justice. Additionally, if an insurance company has been unreasonably delaying payment or a claim has been improperly denied, more time may be provided as appropriate and reasonable under the law.
While additional considerations exist, the bottom line remains the same: all personal injury cases must generally be brought within five years from the date of injury in Missouri. It is important for victims of malpractices or accidents to act quickly and consult with an experienced attorney about their options in order to protect themselves and ensure they meet this deadline when applicable.
Having established an overview of Missouri’s General Statute of Limitations pertaining to Personal Injury Law, this section will now progress into exploring Types of Damages recoverable in Missouri – an equally important aspect to understand when bringing forth a Personal Injury suit.
Types of Damages in Missouri
When it comes to personal injury law in Missouri, there are several types of damages that a plaintiff can seek from a court case. These damages are categorized into economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic Damages: Economic damages are those that are intended to reimburse the plaintiff for monetary losses stemming from the incident in question. Examples of economic damages under Missouri law include medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning potential, repair or replacement costs for property damage, and legal fees.
Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damage awards are given as compensation for immaterial aspects of a personal injury claim not easily quantified in monetary terms. Non-economic forms of compensation might include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium (loss of companionship or physical affection). The exact amounts awarded for non-economic damages vary based on the specifics of each case.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their misconduct and/or negligence leading up to your personal injury claim. To order punitive damage awards, plaintiffs may need to prove either intentional wrongdoing or gross negligence on behalf of the defendant — depending on the circumstances of their cases. While punitive damages are available under Missouri law, they are typically not often or easily awarded.
The exact types and amount of damages that an individual can expect in a personal injury claim vary depending on the unique facts and circumstances of the claim at hand. When it comes to understanding what legal options you have available under Missouri law, consulting with a qualified attorney is always recommended.
In order to move forward with a personal injury settlement or lawsuit in Missouri, you’ll also need to be aware of how litigation works within the state’s legal system — which we’ll explore further in the next section.
Litigation Process for Personal Injury Claims
Under Missouri Law, a personal injury lawsuit is initiated with the filing of a complaint in civil court. It is important to note that there can be statutes of limitations with respect to when a personal injury claim may be brought, depending on the type of incident and/or injury sustained. As such, it is imperative for individuals to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after an accident in order to ensure that all applicable filing deadlines are met.
Once the complaint has been filed, defendants must file an answer within 30 days of being served with the complaint. In some cases, the defendant will deny any liability or fault, while in others they may admit liability but dispute certain elements of the claim. After both parties have disclosed their positions, they then begin working towards settlement negotiations outside court or proceed through legal proceedings inside court.
Negotiations outside court typically involve meetings between the parties and/or their lawyers to discuss the facts of the incident and determine whether a settlement agreement can be reached. If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, either party has the option of requesting mediation or arbitration from a third party neutral. However, if no resolution is achieved during this process, then both parties may have no choice but to proceed inside court.
At this point, practicing discovery through questionnaires and requests for admission becomes critical in preparing for trial. The discovery process allows each side to collect data about damages and other factual information that is necessary for the outcome of the personal injury claim. This stage will also include depositions where attorneys on each side ask questions under oath to parties involved in the case before they take their testimonies in front of a judge and jury at trial.
Ultimately, how long it takes for a personal injury claim to resolve depends on several factors such as whether or not it proceeds to trial and/or what pre-trial motions are decided by Judge presiding over the case. On average though litigation involving personal injury claims may take anywhere from two (2) years up until five (5) years to achieve resolution depending on how complex it is each situation varies greatly depending on its complexity.
Next we will discuss Steps involved in the Personal Injury Process; including evaluation of liability, assigning damages and making a demand for compensation.
Steps involved in the Personal Injury Process
When an individual has been injured due to the negligence of someone else, there are several steps that need to be taken in order to pursue a claim for monetary damages. While the exact path of each case will vary, there are some common parts of the personal injury process that apply in most cases.
The first step is filing a personal injury claim. A formal complaint must be filed with the court in order to initiate the legal proceedings necessary to pursue a settlement or judgment against the party responsible for your injuries. An attorney should be consulted to ensure that all of the necessary paperwork is filed and that all deadlines are met.
Once a claim is filed, typically both parties will then engage in pre-trial discovery. During this time, both sides may exchange information regarding their accounts of the accident, any medical records or reports from doctors or hospitals involved, and any other evidence related to the case such as witness statements or security footage. This is done in order to assess each side’s case before going to trial.
The next step is usually mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This is an informal negotiation between both sides in an attempt to settle out of court, thereby avoiding a potentially lengthy and expensive trial. If an agreeable settlement cannot be reached through ADR, then it will be necessary to proceed with litigation in court.
Finally, if a settlement cannot be reached even after going to trial, then damages can be decided by a jury or judge at trial who will hear evidence from both sides before deciding on an award amount which, if fair and just, both sides agree based upon legal decisions within their state.
These steps together comprise the personal injury process—from filing a claim to reaching a resolution through either negotiated settlement or court awarded damages. The next section discusses evaluating damages suffered by an injured person when seeking compensation for their losses in Missouri.
Evaluation of Damages
When a defendant’s negligence causes personal injury or harm to the plaintiff, most Missouri courts will consider not just actual costs that occurred as a consequence of the harm but also potential long-term losses. In determining these damages, the court may take into account medical expenses, lost wages and suffering, among other things. The court evaluates the extent of these losses or damages by looking at both tangible and intangible issues. For instance, it considers not only the economic impact of the injuries but also the pain and suffering that the injury has caused.
In addition to assessing direct costs stemming from an incident, many state courts also determine whether any “affordable preventive measures” could have prevented or reduced the liability of a defendant. By considering what measures were available and practical to mitigate potential damage before it occurred, judges can better evaluate which party should bear responsibility for any losses.
Finally, generally in cases with multiple parties involved, courts are required to assess each person’s percentage of fault in causing damage to another party. This percentage is important in deciding how much each responsible party should pay for compensatory damages if any.
So far, we have discussed what goes into evaluating damages under Missouri personal injury law. In our next section we will discuss how state courts assign responsibility by determining who was at fault for an injury or financial loss.
Determining Causes of Injury
When it comes to determining the cause of a personal injury, the analysis largely depends on the facts of the case and may involve complex legal issues. In some cases, there may be multiple causes of an injury, and hence multiple individuals or entities liable for damages, whereas in other cases, just one defective product or negligent person may have caused a plaintiff’s injuries.
In what is known as “direct causation,” when a negligent party commits an act that directly contributes to another’s injury, the tortfeasor (negligent actor) is held liable for all damages caused by their actions. In cases where litigation is pursued, the plaintiff must prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant’s actions caused the injury. This typically involves presenting evidence of: (1) that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; (2) that this duty was breached; and (3) that this breach proximately caused injury to the plaintiff.
However, in certain cases involving medical malpractice or physical injury claims, there may be disputes about whether a direct causal connection can be established between a defendant’s negligence or wrongful action and a plaintiff’s harm – i.e., whether causation is too remote or too speculative for liability to attach. For example, in Missouri insurance cases, courts will often measure causation with what is known as the “substantial factor test” – whereby if a potential causation factor is something less than critical but still meaningful enough to make an appreciable contribution (even if small) to producing a particular result, then that factor can still constitute substantial cause.
In any event, in order for Missouri courts to find civil liability for personal injury damages to attach in a given case, there must exist sufficient evidence showing that it was more likely than not that there was actual causation between a tortfeasor’s actions and another party’s injuries.
Now turning our attention to quantifying the cost of injury —
The next section will discuss the methods used by Missouri courts to quantify the cost incurred from personal injuries – such as medical expenses and lost earning capacity – and how those costs are assessed for each individual case.
Quantifying the Cost of Injury
Quantifying the cost of injury is an important part of pursuing a personal injury claim in Missouri. Potential plaintiffs must understand the various types and implications of costs that can arise due to a physical and/or emotional injury. All direct costs, such as medical bills, should be calculated at their full value, including possible future medical expenses related to the injury. Additionally, potential plaintiffs must also consider other indirect costs, such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
Calculating the cost of medical bills is relatively straightforward. Medical bills come in two forms: past medical expenses and potential future medical expenses related to the injury. Not only must potential plaintiffs include all of their previous medical expenses, but they may also need to link their out-of-pocket costs to treatments or procedures directly related to their injury. Additionally, assessing future medical costs associated with an injury is much more difficult because these potential medical expenses may increase exponentially over time based on the severity of the injury. Therefore, potential plaintiffs must take into account any sort of rise in medical expenses related to their injury when calculating damages.
Lost wages are another aspect of quantifying the cost of an injury that must be considered by potential plaintiffs. Lost wages should include any amount of lost income associated with missing work due to recovery from an injury as well as any loss in earning capacity resulting from permanent disability caused by the injury. Those filing for lost wages should make sure to document all absences from employment that were associated with recovery from the initial injury or subsequent treatments (if applicable). Lost wages are generally calculated by determining how much money the plaintiff would have earned during those periods if he had not been injured.
Lastly, potential plaintiffs may also pursue damages for pain and suffering caused by their injuries. This concept refers to mental anguish or physical inconvenience caused by an injury that cannot be assigned a dollar value directly. To determine an appropriate amount of compensation for pain and suffering claims in Missouri, courts typically use something called a multiplier system – here, they assign a multiplier between 1 and 5 times the direct economic losses, depending on factors such as severity of pain suffered or duration of treatment needed in order to recover properly. Ultimately, this number is used by courts to decide on expectations for damages awards for pain and suffering related to personal injuries in Missouri cases.
Quantifying the cost of injury can help ensure that an appropriate settlement may be awarded to those who have been injured unjustly through no fault of their own – an important step in pursuing legal action against negligence in Missouri’s court system. The next section will discuss options available for both parties looking to negotiate a settlement without having to go through litigation or file a lawsuit against each other – outlining details about making settlements through negotiation and/or filing a lawsuit when necessary.
Negotiating Settlement or Filing a Lawsuit
Whether to pursue a settlement or file a lawsuit is an important decision to make in any Missouri personal injury case. Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance should always be one of the first options considered, as it can be quicker and less expensive than filing a lawsuit. The negotiation process typically involves exchanging information between the two parties and reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. If negotiations do not yield a suitable outcome, then taking legal action may be necessary.
Filing a lawsuit is often seen as the nuclear option and should only be employed when all other negotiation attempts have been exhausted. Lawsuits can become very costly and time consuming, so it helps to understand how Missouri courts work before going this route. Personal injury plaintiffs are responsible for filing all the appropriate paperwork, providing evidence, attending court hearings and proving that their injuries and losses were caused by the defendant’s actions. Plaintiffs must also prove that they followed all posted warning signs and lacked comparative negligence in order to recover damages.
At the end of the day, both negotiating and litigating will help you seek justice in your Missouri personal injury claim. Everyone’s situation is unique, so talk to a lawyer who can help you make an informed decision based on your specific case.
Once you have made an educated decision about whether or not to proceed with litigation, selecting a lawyer and establishing representation becomes essential for success in your Missouri personal injury claim.
Selecting a Lawyer and Representation in a Missouri Personal Injury Claim
Selecting a lawyer and representation in a Missouri personal injury claim is a decision that deserves careful thought, research, and discussion. A good lawyer can make a significant difference to the outcome of any lawsuit. Hiring an experienced professional with a track record of success can help ensure that you get the best possible resolution to your claim, however, not all lawyers are created equal.
The first consideration when selecting a Missouri personal injury lawyer should be experience. An attorney who has handled similar cases in the past will have the knowledge, skill and familiarity needed to effectively provide legal assistance for your particular case. It’s also critically important that you pick an attorney who is familiar with your specific state laws governing personal injury claims as well as federal laws relating to such matters, if applicable.
In addition, it’s critical that you are comfortable working with your lawyer and confident in their ability to handle your case successfully. Before signing an agreement with a law firm or individual attorney, you should meet in person and ask questions about their background, experience and strategy for handling your claim. Understanding how the lawyer handles communication and billing is also essential.
It’s also essential to consider your financial resources before selecting a lawyer. Do they offer any payment options? Are they willing to work on contingency fees? These issues should be discussed ahead of time so that you don’t encounter unexpected charges during litigation or settlement proceedings. And bear in mind that having a specialized attorney on your side doesn’t necessarily mean it’s necessary to pay higher fees; look for lawyers who offer competitive rates without compromising on quality service.
At the end of the day, consulting an experienced personal injury attorney is always going to be more beneficial than representing yourself in court—provided that you do your homework and select the most suitable candidate.
Conclusion: When it comes to selecting a Missouri personal injury lawyer, research and due diligence are key. Choosing the wrong professional may result in costly delays and preventable mistakes that could potentially jeopardize the case outcome. In this section we discussed the importance of experience, comfort level with your lawyer, fee structures and other key considerations when choosing who should represent you in court or mediations regarding a personal injury claim. In the next section we’ll discuss what factors should be considered when assessing potential settlements or awards related to such claims in Missouri, so readers can make informed decisions about resolving their cases out of court if possible.
When it comes to Missouri personal injury law, there are a variety of nuances that must be taken into consideration before filing a lawsuit. Plaintiffs must generally prove that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence was a proximate cause for the resulting injuries and damages. Understanding the potential liability of a defendant can be complex and requires a thorough analysis of all relevant facts and evidence. It is important to educate yourself on the various aspects of a personal injury claim, such as damages types, statute of limitations, and burden of proof.
Moreover, from a practical standpoint, it is essential to consult an experienced personal injury attorney prior to taking any action against someone who may have caused your injury or damages. An attorney can guide you through the entire process, helping you understand your rights and obtain the most favorable result possible. Additionally, many attorneys will take on cases on a contingency basis and may accept payment only after obtaining a successful recovery on behalf of their clients. Therefore, if you have been injured in the state of Missouri due to another person’s negligence, consulting with an attorney is strongly encouraged.
Common Questions Answered
Are there limits to how much damages one can recover in a personal injury case in Missouri?
Yes, there are limits to how much damages one can recover in a personal injury case in Missouri. The state’s laws limit the amount of non-economic damages to $400,000 or five times the amount of the economic damages, whichever is greater. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability or loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages may not exceed five times the amount of compensatory (economic) damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. Additionally, Missouri caps compensation for medical expenses after an injury at 100% of the injured party’s medical costs.
What are the most common types of personal injury cases in Missouri?
The most common types of personal injury cases in Missouri include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and workplace injuries. Motor vehicle accidents are probably the most prevalent type of personal injury case in Missouri. These occur when a driver’s negligence leads to an injury or damages another person’s property. Medical malpractice refers to negligence on the part of a healthcare provider that results in a patient suffering harm. Premises liability covers instances when a property owner is held responsible for an injury sustained by someone who was lawfully on their premises. Product liability covers people who have been injured due to a defect in a product they used. Finally, workplace injuries can occur when an employee is injured due to unsafe working conditions or hazardous materials present in the workplace.
What are the damages that can be recovered in a personal injury suit in Missouri?
In Missouri, the general types of damages someone may be able to recover in a personal injury suit include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that have a financial component – such as medical expenses, lost wages or income, property damage, and the cost of future medical care. Non-economic damages include items that do not have an exact financial worth – such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, decreased enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium.
The amount of damages one can recover in a personal injury suit will depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the claim. Generally speaking, if an injured party is found to partially responsible for their own injuries due to comparative fault or negligence laws in Missouri, then any potential award for damages will be reduced proportionally depending on their degree of responsibility.
It is important to establish all possible sources of compensation before filing a claim and seeking recourse from the courts system to maximize one’s recovery. An experienced attorney can help identify all avenues for pursuing legal action against any at-fault party or entity in order to receive appropriate compensation for all economic and non-economic damages suffered by an injured party.
What constitutes an act of negligence in Missouri that would lead to a personal injury claim?
Negligence in Missouri consists of a four-part test to determine if a person or entity can be held liable for an injury. In order to establish negligence, the following must exist: (1) Duty – a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff; (2) Breach – a failure of the defendant to exercise that duty of care with reasonable care; (3) Causation – a direct link between the breach and the resulting damages suffered; and (4) Injury – actual damage suffered as a result of negligence.
In regards to duty, Missouri courts recognize that each individual has a duty to act reasonably and responsibly when conducting day-to-day activities in order to prevent harm to others. Generally, people owe each other a greater duty when they enter into an agreement or contract involving services or goods. An example of an inadequate duty breach would be when someone drives recklessly on a public roadway and crashes into another vehicle causing injury or death.
However, in addition to showing that the defendant breached their duty, it must also be established that their breaches were direct causes of the plaintiff’s injuries. This is known as “causation.” For example, if someone is injured due to another person’s negligence but could have avoided being injured if he or she had taken precautions, then this may be considered contributory negligence on part of the plaintiff, which could bar them from recovering for all costs associated with their injury.
Finally, in order for any personal injury claim in Missouri to move forward, one must actually suffer some loss or damage. In other words, there must be tangible evidence demonstrating that the plaintiff did indeed get hurt as a result of someone else’s negligent action. Without this element present, there is no legal basis for determining liability regarding personal injury claims in Missouri.
What are the personal injury laws in Missouri?
The personal injury laws in Missouri vary depending on the type of accident or incident. Generally speaking, injury laws in the state of Missouri require that victims be compensated if they sustain damages due to another party’s negligence. To be eligible for compensation, the injured party must be able to establish four basic elements: Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.
Duty: The first element of personal injury law is that of Duty; this means that the defendant (the negligent party) had a certain legal obligation to act with reasonable care towards the plaintiff (the injured party). A typical example of a duty would be a driver’s obligation to operate their vehicle in a safe manner.
Breach of Duty: Once it has been established that the defendant had a legal obligation, the plaintiff must then demonstrate how the defendant breached this duty. This breach is what typically leads to an accident or other form of injury. An example of this would be a failure to follow traffic laws resulting in an auto accident.
Causation: The third element is causation which links the breach of duty directly with the damages that occurred as a result. In order to receive compensation, it needs to be proven that there was an actual connection between the negligence of the defendant and any injury or losses sustained by Plaintiff.
Damages: The final element requires an assessment into whether any form of damage was sustained as a result and if so, to what degree? Damages typically include both physical and mental injuries, loss or damage to property or financial loss caused due to medical expenses or diminished income opportunities caused by such injuries or disabilities incurred from an accident.
Overall, understanding and satisfying these four core elements are essential in determining whether someone has grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri. If you believe that your rights as an injured party have been violated due to another’s negligence, then consulting a qualified personal injury lawyer may help answer any questions around liability and guide you through potential steps you can take towards obtaining compensation.