If you’ve been injured in an accident in Kansas City, you may be able to recover financial compensation from the party responsible for your injuries. But pursuing compensation can often be a drawn-out and challenging legal battle. Your chances of winning a fair settlement may be greatly improved with an experienced Kansas City personal injury lawyer on your side.
Filing a personal injury claim often involves negotiating with unhelpful insurance companies, gathering detailed evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability, negotiating firmly to maximize your damages, dealing with mountains of paperwork, and perhaps even filing a lawsuit to try the case before a judge and jury. All this at a time when you’re undergoing medical treatment and potentially also facing lost income and looming financial hardship.
Lawyers Provide Much-Needed Support and Guidance
A lawyer can step in to remove this burden from your shoulders and handle the entire case for you. Experienced personal injury attorneys know your rights under the law. Even during their initial free consultation and free case evaluation, they can answer your questions and provide more clarity about your case and legal options.
Personal injury lawyers know how to handle insurance companies, are familiar with the ins and outs of personal injury litigation, and can fight hard to win you the full and fair compensation you deserve. And personal injury lawyers almost always work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only receive payment from the final settlement payout. This puts them in alignment with you, seeking to attain the best possible financial outcome.
Find a Lawyer Who Specializes in Your Type of Accident
Personal injury law is a broad field that can cover any kind of accident. Whenever someone has been harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence, a personal injury lawyer can help to protect the accident victim’s rights and gain financial compensation for their losses.
Some of the most common types of personal injury cases are motor vehicle accidents, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents. Other common cases include slip-and-fall accidents, workers’ compensation claims, medical liability, premises liability, product liability, nursing home abuse, and wrongful death cases.
Each type of personal injury claim has a slightly different legal process and faces its own unique challenges and legal matters when proving liability and damages. So whatever accident you’ve experienced, it’s advisable to find a Kansas City personal injury attorney or law firm with a great deal of experience handling and winning similar injury law cases to yours.
Hire a Lawyer When a Life-Changing Outcome Is on the Line
The more serious the injury and the larger your losses, the more important it is to find legal representation to handle your case. This is particularly true for accident victims suffering catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries.
Even less serious injuries can be hugely disruptive to the victim’s life. Not only do injury victims often face long-term or even permanent health problems, but their finances can be hugely disrupted by the loss of work and mounting medical bills. On top of this, injury victims frequently suffer non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment in life, and more.
With any serious injury, the outcome of your personal injury claim or lawsuit can alter the course of your life for better or for worse. And you only have one shot at winning full and fair compensation.
Avoid Mistakes That Can Undermine or Destroy Your Claim
Studies have found that 85% of personal injury plaintiffs who achieve a successful outcome do so with the help of a personal injury attorney. And there’s a good reason for this.
Without the guidance of experienced Kansas City personal injury attorneys, there are many common potholes and pitfalls that claimants can stumble into. One common mistake is accepting the first settlement offer an insurance company puts forward.
Some accident victims are so distraught by their injuries and worried about mounting medical expenses that they eagerly accept the very first settlement figure laid before them. But insurance companies often take advantage of this: they offer a quick lowball offer, hoping it will be accepted before the accident victim seeks proper legal counsel.
Don’t Accept a Settlement Until You Know Your Full Losses
The problem is that at an early stage, accident victims often don’t know how much their total medical care costs will amount to. And without legal help and guidance, nor do they realize all the other damages they have a legal right to claim.
But once a settlement is accepted and paid, that’s it. You rarely have a second chance to pursue additional compensation for the same accident twice, even if your medical costs turn out to be much higher and longer lasting than you initially realized. Good Kansas City personal injury lawyers can help you avoid this costly mistake.
The Risk of Admitting to Contributory Negligence
There are many other mistakes an inexperienced plaintiff can make at an early stage. Another unfortunately common example is admitting to some degree of contributory negligence.
The insurance adjuster who comes to investigate your claim will often ask you to make an official statement about the accident. During this process, they’ll encourage you to speak and ask many leading questions, hoping you’ll say something that reveals you were partially responsible for your own injury. Once you’ve made this mistake, it becomes far harder and sometimes even impossible to prove the defendant’s liability.
Don’t Give the Insurer Ammunition To Use Against You
Carelessly sharing the details of your case on social media might also be used against you in a similar way. And failing to seek immediate medical attention following the accident, or failing to follow up with your doctor’s instructions, might be used to dispute the extent of your injuries.
There are many other mistakes that can hinder your chances of recovering maximum compensation. All of which might be avoided with proper legal guidance at an early stage of your personal injury case.
Local Lawyers Know Injury Law in Both Missouri and Kansas
Kansas City personal injury law is somewhat unique in that the law differs in each of the two states that share our city: Missouri and Kansas. Both states have a few key differences in injury law that affect your options when filing a claim.
For example, the statute of limitations on filing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit is only two years in Kansas. But Missouri has a longer five-year deadline for when you can file your claim following the accident. Wrongful death and medical malpractice cases are an exception to this five-year deadline, with a three-year and two-year deadline respectively.
At-Fault vs No-Fault
With regard to auto accidents, Missouri is an at-fault state and Kansas is a no-fault state. This means differing rules regarding the type of auto insurance coverage that drivers are required to hold.
It also influences the injured driver’s route to recovering compensation from any at-fault driver who caused their injury. It tends to be easier to do so in at-fault states like Missouri.
With these differences in mind, it’s essential that your Kansas City personal injury attorney has an in-depth understanding of injury law in both states. With the help of a local personal injury lawyer, Kansas City law becomes far easier to navigate.
Know the Full Value of Your Damages
All Missouri and Kansas residents should ideally know the full value of their claim before they file and seek compensation. But if you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of Kansas City personal injury law, you’re likely to ask for too little.
Beyond the medical bills and property damage of a wrecked car, there are many more potential damages to pursue in personal injury claims. Achieving a full financial recovery usually requires a personal injury law firm or lawyer to thoroughly investigate your case and establish the full extent of your damages.
The first type of damages sought in most personal injury claims are economic damages: losses with a clear and objective monetary price tag. These include medical expenses, property damages, and lost wages.
You can claim compensation for all medical care costs relating to your injury. This includes hospital stays, ambulance fees, personal physician fees, pharmaceutical costs, physical therapy equipment and fees, and any other costs involved in your treatment and recovery.
As most personal injury attorneys will advise, it’s generally best to wait until you’ve fully recovered from your injury before claiming your medical damages. This is because you never know the full extent of your treatment costs until they’re over.
But with long-lasting or permanent injuries such as a severe spinal cord or brain injury, this may not be an option. In these more severe cases, your attorney can calculate how much your future medical bills are likely to amount to. You may then be able to include these future medical expenses in your damages.
You may also be able to recover the value of any damaged property in your claim. Property damages are most commonly sought in car accident cases where vehicles are damaged or even written off.
But any carried personal property such as electronics, jewelry, and clothing might also be damaged during an accident, in which case you may be able to include them in your damages. Real property such as land and your home might also become involved in a case, particularly where trespassing is involved.
Personal injury cases also frequently include damages for income lost because the injured party was unable to work for a period of time. As such, you may be able to recover compensation for any lost salary or a lost hourly wage.
Your lost income damages might also cover any other financial loss related to your time away from work. This could include missed bonuses, commissions, promotions, insurance coverage, business opportunities, pension payments, sick days, vacation days, free canteen meals, and more.
With more serious injuries such as a physical disability or traumatic brain injury, your capacity to work in the future might also have been diminished or even destroyed. In these severe cases, it’s essential that you recover full and fair compensation for the loss of your wages for years to come.
Estimating future lost wages usually requires an experienced personal injury attorney with the help of various expert witnesses. As with predicting future medical costs, it’s usually unwise to attempt the task alone.
In many cases, personal injury law also allows the plaintiff to recover non-economic damages. These are more subjective damages that lack a clear and objective monetary value.
Accident victims who don’t hire a lawyer are often unclear as to what non-economic damages apply to their case and how to calculate their worth. But these damages can often make up a significant amount of a final settlement figure.
Pain and Suffering
Physical injuries are usually accompanied by a degree of pain and suffering. If you’ve been through a great deal of pain, you have a right to pursue financial compensation for that experience.
The entire ordeal of suffering an injury and its aftermath is often extremely emotionally distressing for the victim. You might have been through a number of negative emotional experiences such as fear, grief, anger, and humiliation. Any such emotional distress may count as further losses to be included in your damages.
Impairment and Disability
If a bodily injury or brain injury has left you somehow impaired and unable to function as usual, then you may seek compensation for this impairment. If the impairment is severe enough to prevent you from working or enjoying a favorite activity, then you may also be able to recover additional disability damages.
Loss of Enjoyment in Life
Injuries can often interrupt the accident victim’s ability to enjoy various pastimes and social activities in the same way as before. This reduction in the enjoyment of life is another loss that may be financially compensated under personal injury law.
Loss of Consortium
Serious injuries or wrongful death can also disrupt a plaintiff’s close relationships and social support structure. This damage is referred to as loss of consortium and is commonly sought in wrongful death cases, where the surviving loved ones of the accident victim have had their lives devastated by the loss. Loss of consortium damages may allow the spouse or children of the deceased victim to recover financial compensation for the lost companionship, love, parental guidance, and any other value the relationship provided to them.
There are many economic and non-economic damages that might apply to your personal injury case. But without the guidance of a personal injury lawyer or law firm, it’s difficult to know which damages to include or how much they’re worth.
Prove the Value of Your Damages
Some damages are harder to prove than others. Your future damages and non-economic damages, in particular, might be open to dispute by the defendant’s insurance company or legal team.
Proving the full value of damages often requires a robust case built upon evidence. And generally speaking, the larger the damages, the more likely they are to be disputed, and the more evidence will be required.
Such evidence might include details from a journal that your attorney advised you to keep, statements from your doctor and employer, and testimony from friends, family, and coworkers who have witnessed how your life has changed since the accident. Photographic and video evidence might also play an important role.
Expert Witnesses Testimony
Another useful source of evidence is expert witnesses. A vocational expert or forensic accountant might attest to the total financial losses you’ve suffered from your inability to continue in a certain career.
A medical specialist might help to estimate and support the medical expenses you’re likely to face in the future while recovering from a serious injury. And a clinical psychologist may be used to verify the value of your emotional distress damages.
When you hire an attorney, not only do you benefit from their individual experience and legal know-how, but you also gain access to their network of local expert witnesses in Kansas and Missouri. Unless they’re a sole practitioner, you may also gain access to the resources and expert witness database of their law firm.
Prove the Liability of the At-Fault Party
The success of a personal injury case often hinges upon proving the liability of the at-fault party. To win full compensation, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant caused your injury through their negligence.
In a straightforward motor vehicle accident where someone rear-ended you because they were driving too closely, the liability of the other driver may be clear and hard to dispute. But some car accident cases are less cut and dry.
As the accident victim, if you’re shown to have been partially liable for your own injury, the potential damages you can pursue are likely to be diminished. For example, you might share a degree of fault if you glanced at your phone when the car accident happened or forgot to wear your seatbelt.
As previously mentioned, an insurance company will look for any evidence that the plaintiff wasn’t wholly innocent of blame. The insurance adjuster might even withhold information from their investigation into the accident if they discover something that demonstrates the defendant’s liability. This is another reason to always have your attorney conduct their own investigation.
Personal Injury Cases That Are Typically Harder To Prove
When a car accident has multiple liable parties, it’s often harder to prove who was legally responsible for your injuries. A motorcycle accident might pose its own challenge; jury members sometimes unfairly see motorcyclists as rather reckless individuals who were probably driving dangerously when the motorcycle accident occurred.
It’s notoriously difficult to prove liability in medical malpractice cases. This is primarily because unexpected negative events sometimes occur during medical treatment even when the physician acts with all due care, skill, and attentiveness. Nursing home abuse cases face a similar challenge when it comes to proving the source of injury or death.
Both medical professionals and nursing homes also tend to have large pockets and powerful legal defense teams. This goes for product liability and some premises liability cases as well where the victim was harmed on someone else’s property.
Whenever the defendant is a company or other large organization and their liability for your injuries isn’t a clear-cut case, you can expect a long and arduous uphill legal battle. One advantage of such cases is that the financial award is often higher if you win, especially if you’re part of a class action lawsuit involving top trial lawyers and multiple plaintiffs.
The only way to attain success with these larger personal injury lawsuits is almost always with a very experienced attorney or team of personal injury attorneys by your side. Plaintiffs taking on these kinds of cases alone are far less likely to win the compensation they deserve.
Gather Sufficient Evidence To Prove The Defendant’s Liability
In an auto accident, certain evidence will be required from the scene of the crash. At a bare minimum, this includes photo and video evidence, eyewitness accounts and details, and the police report.
Car accident lawyers can often help gather this accident scene evidence if the victim forgot to do so or was incapacitated by their injuries. Your lawyer might also be able to access surveillance camera footage, which can also help prove liability in slip-and-fall accidents.
With any type of accident, the more complex the cause of injury, the more investigation and evidence are generally required. Medical malpractice cases might require specialist medical professionals merely to understand what happened. Your lawyer can then retain all the experts necessary to explain the accident to a jury.
In all kinds of cases, expert witnesses frequently serve an essential function in helping to prove a defendant’s liability. Crash reconstruction experts can visually recreate auto accidents for a jury.
Building inspectors or engineering experts might prove the dangerous conditions in a premises liability case. And toxicologists or material science experts might help prove liability in a product liability case.
Try Your Case in Court With Strong Legal Representation
Most Kansas City personal injury claims are settled out of court. But about 5% of cases end up requiring a full lawsuit and court case; sometimes jury verdicts are necessary to achieve a fair financial award for the plaintiffs’ losses. Some very large cases might even end up trying before the supreme court.
If you intend to escalate your case to a court trial, it’s important to hire a skillful attorney. Without legal representation, a court case is even harder to win than an insurance claim, especially with a serious personal injury such as a traumatic brain injury where the plaintiff is trying to recover compensation for substantial losses.
Find a Law Firm With Experienced Trial Attorneys
Many Kansas City personal injury lawyers aren’t experienced trial lawyers. These law firms settle most or all of their clients’ cases outside of court. Because it’s possible for personal injury lawyers to have a successful legal career without trying cases in court, it’s important to find out if your lawyer has experience trying and winning financial justice in court before a judge and jury.
You can ask about this while approaching potential law firms in the Kansas City area. Verify that they practice areas of law pertaining to your particular case. You can even ask for examples of prior cases similar to yours that they’ve successfully tried while practicing law in Kansas City.
Hiring a Court-Ready Lawyer May Help Your Settlement Negotiations
Your personal injury case might end sooner and with a higher settlement if you retain a Kansas City attorney or law firm with a reputation for trying and winning cases in court. This is because an insurance company will often rather settle a personal injury lawsuit outside of court rather than go through the expense of a court case that they’re likely to lose.
The presence of well-known trial lawyers rarely goes unnoticed. The insurance company will see that you mean business and that you have expert guidance with all the legal matters in personal injury law.
They’re therefore far more likely to agree to your settlement demands. This is one more reason why experienced personal injury attorneys can make all the difference to the outcome of an accident victim’s battle for full financial recovery.
If you have an injury caused by another party in Kansas City, contact Holman Schiavone, LLC at 816-320-6108 for a free consultation. Whatever kind of accident and injury you’ve suffered, our experienced team of personal injury lawyers can fight tooth and nail to win you the fair compensation you deserve