Auto accidents can wreck not only your car but also your life. Every year in the United States, more than 4 million people suffer injuries in car crashes that require medical attention. Often that means a costly hospitalization, loss of wages, and disability. Accidents are among the top 10 causes of death and injury in Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri. Before you consult with an auto injury attorney, read about some of the ways a serious injury can affect your case.
Advice From an Auto Injury Attorney in Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri: 6 Ways an Injury Can Affect a Car Crash Case
It’s no secret that a car accident can cause major damage to the human body. Many of the thousands who are hurt every day in crashes have to be hospitalized. Often these injuries require long-term treatment, physical therapy, and home-based care. Others suffer permanent disability, including paralysis and lost limbs. Crashes can cause severe trauma to the brain, neck, and spine as well as disfigurement, burns, broken bones, and lasting psychological damage.
Injury is a major factor when determining how much you are entitled to under the law in an auto accident. In order to get the maximum settlement for your injury, our team of auto injury experts at the Potts Law Firm will assess how your injury has impacted you economically, psychologically, and emotionally. With a comprehensive understanding of your claim, we’ll fight for every last dollar you are owed.
1. Hospitalization Greatly Increases the Settlement Payout
According to one study, the estimated hospitalization costs of a car accident average around $57,000 across a patient’s lifetime nationwide, including interest on medical debt. That doesn’t factor in doctor’s visits or any outpatient treatment you might receive. To get the maximum payout, make sure that you follow your course of treatment until you are fully recovered while keeping track of all your medical bills and statements from your health insurance provider.
Under Missouri law, you are entitled to relief not only for your past medical debts but also for any future medical expenses that might result from your accident. With this in mind, be sure to ask any doctors who treat you to write reports estimating what sort of future medical treatment you’ll need. It should also be noted that even if you have excellent health insurance that covers most of your costs, you can still recover full damages from the other driver’s auto insurance.
2. Debilitating Injuries Can Get You Money for Lost Wages and Long-Term Care
It’s unfortunately common for car crashes to affect a person for the rest of his or her life. Paralysis, disfigurement, and other debilitating injuries can lead to permanent partial or total disability, which may prevent you from working at the same job—or at all. Lasting injuries like these also involve substantial long-term medical costs over the course of someone’s lifetime, such as physical therapy, doctor’s visits, modifications to your vehicle and home, and medications.
In some cases involving total disability, a person may require in-home care from a licensed vocational nurse or even round-the-clock attention. The average cost of a home health aide locally is $19 an hour. Over a lifetime, that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In order to ensure you’ll get all the money you need to care for yourself or your loved one, we’ll painstakingly calculate a fair and just estimate of your future costs.
3. Injuries That Put You Out of Work Entitle You to Economic Damages
Depending on the severity of your injuries, a car accident could put you out of commission for weeks, months, or even years, preventing you from earning a living while you’re hospitalized or recovering. As a result of a long-term injury, you could be forced to work fewer hours, while a disability could put you out of work permanently or keep you from practicing your chosen profession.
In all of these situations, you can recover lost wages under Missouri state law. Past wages can be calculated by looking at paystubs and the hours you work in a given year. Future wages are a little trickier to figure out, but a reliable estimate can be made by a specialist known as a forensic economist. He or she will develop a picture of your potential earning capacity by looking at things like skill level, education, age, physical and mental disability, and employment history.
4. You Are Entitled to Damages for Pain and Suffering With No Cap
On top of your medical bills and debts, you can also receive compensation for any pain and suffering you experienced as a result of your injuries. While some states place a cap on the maximum amount a jury can award in a personal injury suit, Missouri does not. Pain and suffering includes physical pain as well as loss of enjoyment from activities that you can no longer participate in due to your injury, ex. you can’t play your favorite sport because the crash hurt your leg.
This category of damages also includes emotional trauma caused by the accident as well as any resulting psychological conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Unlike medical bills, pain and suffering are hard to quantify in financial terms. Unless there is an out-of-court settlement, a jury usually will decide this by looking at factors like the severity of the crash as well as testimony from doctors and expert medical witnesses.
5. Injury Determines How Long You Have to File Your Claim
In the case of injuries resulting from car crashes, Missouri’s Revised Statutes section 516.120 states that you have five years from the date of your accident to file a claim.
You actually have less time to file a suit for wrongful death or other types of injury. In both of those cases, you only have three years. Five years is a fairly generous window to file a suit but that doesn’t mean you should delay. Personal injury cases often take a long to prepare and litigate.
6. Injuries Involving Government Agencies Could Require a Different Procedure
If your car crash involved an employee of a state agency operating in his or her official capacity, then a different set of rules might come into play. You could be required to file your personal injury claim with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division. In Missouri, there’s a tight 90-day deadline to file a claim against a city government. If you are having some doubts about whether this is the right course of action speak with one of our attorneys.
Car accidents are scary. First, there’s the terrifying experience of suddenly crashing at high speeds, then there’s the overwhelming fear of everything that comes after, like losing your livelihood or spending the rest of your days paying off a mountain of crushing medical debt.
When you’ve just been through a potentially life-threatening trauma, bills are the last thing you should be thinking about. You need someone in your corner who will put your mind at ease. For peace of mind and the maximum settlement, contact the auto injury specialists at Potts Law Firm. You can stop by one of our offices or call us today to set up a free consultation.