No one should have to accept the injuries they suffered because of someone else’s negligent actions. Injuries from a motor vehicle crash, falling accident, or defective products are often the fault of someone else.
Personal injury laws in Missouri protect injured individuals by allowing them to file a lawsuit and claim compensation for expenses related to their injury, such as pain and suffering and even medical bills. However, individual aspects of these laws can be tricky to understand and to apply to unique cases without an attorney’s assistance, so anyone wishing to file a lawsuit may want to speak to a St. Louis personal injury lawyer who could outline them in detail. Contact a dedicated injury attorney to move forward in assessing your potential legal solutions.
In many cases, when an accident occurs it is the fault of someone else. Maybe a store owner did not keep their property in a safe condition, or a driver of a vehicle sped through a red light. In St. Louis, lawsuits filed to claim compensation typically revolve around this kind of negligence—the legal term for civil fault.
While you do not have to prove this fault beyond a reasonable doubt as an injured plaintiff, you would have to be able to prove that the defendant most likely is to blame based on a preponderance of the evidence. There are four basic elements to proving negligence:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care to ensure they were safe
- The defendant breached that duty of care
- The breach of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries
- The injuries are actual damages that can be compensated
Everyone has an implicit duty of care to ensure the safety of those around them. Drivers cannot drive recklessly, and property owners cannot allow their property to fall into a state of disrepair. However, proving that someone has breached that duty can be difficult. A personal injury lawyer in St. Louis could work to identify that breach and prove it occurred.
Recoverable Damages in St. Louis
There are three types of damages, or compensation, an injured individual may receive after suing a negligent individual, but not all of these may be included in a lawsuit. The only two that you could ask for in a lawsuit are economic and non-economic damages.
These two types of damages identify actual injuries you suffered. Economic injuries are those that have an actual dollar value, such as medical expenses or compensation to repair or replace property that was damaged during the accident.
Non-economic damages cover injuries that do not have an actual dollar value. For example, the pain you experience from a severed, broken leg due to an accident that was the fault of someone else is hard to quantify. Similarly, if you lost a spouse because of the negligent conduct of another individual, you could file a wrongful death case and pursue damages for pain and suffering and the loss of companionship.
Valuating these types of damages can be difficult, but an experienced St. Louis personal injury lawyer who has helped file these lawsuits in the past may be able to help place a value on non-economic damages.
Finally, the court may also award punitive damages in an attempt to discourage the at-fault party from acting negligently in the future. Punitive damages are solely up to the court’s discretion and are not included in the actual lawsuit.
Pure Comparative Fault
In many instances, there is more than one person at fault for an accident. In St. Louis, anyone can claim civil compensation as long as someone else was partly to blame for the accident that caused them harm.
For example, if one driver ran a red light and hit another driver that was speeding, the court may find the driver that ran the light 80 percent at fault for the accident. Likewise, the driver that was speeding may be found only 20 percent at fault for the accident.
Because each party was partly at fault, each may technically claim compensation. However, the person who was less at fault would typically be the only one who receives compensation for damages, albeit a reduced amount compared to their total damages. In the above example, the speeding driver would be eligible to receive 80 percent of their total damages, since their own 20 percent liability would be subtracted from the final compensation decided by the jury.
Speak with a St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney Today
Missouri law allows five years after an accident before your right to file a personal injury lawsuit may be time-barred. However, this can be less time than you might think, especially for complex cases with multiple potential defendants—just one of many reasons it may be so important for you to speak to a St. Louis personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
No one wants to miss out on compensation they may be eligible to receive, and assistance from a qualified attorney could give you your best chance at receiving that compensation. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.