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Personal Injury Cases and Auto Accidents

If you've been injured and you feel like someone else may be responsible, you might be wondering if you're due compensation for your injuries.

While a variety of factors are taken into consideration when determining liability in a personal injury case, there are a few important things that you should know before pursuing a lawsuit.

Determining Negligence

You're expected to exercise caution and avoid causing injury to others whenever possible. For example, if your porch railing is broken, you can be reasonably expected to fix it so that visitors to your house don't get hurt walking up the steps.

Another example is you're expected to operate a vehicle as safely as possible and without impairment.

In order for someone to be held liable for someone else's injury, it will have to be determined that an average person would have done more to prevent the incident or dangerous condition that caused the injury. If it can be shown that the at-fault party did not exercise a reasonable amount of caution, they may be found negligent.

For example, let's say you're injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver. In this situation, since the drunk driver didn't exercise care to avoid causing a dangerous situation, he would be considered negligent and likely responsible for damages.

It's common knowledge that alcohol impairs a person's ability to drive, and therefore a reasonable person is expected to avoid driving under the influence. Incidentally, auto accidents are a leading cause of injury in Missouri.

Comparative Negligence

Missouri is a comparative negligence state, which means that the amount of your settlement may be reduced by the degree to which you're found at fault.

For example, if you were distracted when another driver hit you, you may be found to be partially at fault. Let's say you prove $80,000 in damages and are found 20 percent at fault. Your settlement would be reduced by 20 percent, and you would recover $16,000 in damages. 

Compensatory Damages

If you file a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney will be seeking compensatory damages for the various ways in which the injury has affected your life. If your life has been minimally impacted by the injury, it's probably not worth pursuing a lawsuit.

However, there are several types of damage considered by the court system in a personal injury suit, some of which you may not be aware of. For example, if the injury has affected your social life or your marriage, these factors will be taken into consideration when awarding damages.

Here are some of the primary factors considered by the court when determining the damage awarded in a personal injury lawsuit:
  • Income from missed work, along with lost income potential in the future
  • Medical bills resulting from the injury and any resulting conditions
  • Pain and suffering caused by the accident
  • Relationship issues caused by the injury, directly or indirectly
  • Loss of enjoyment of life, including loss of ability to participate in hobbies and social events
  • Property damage resulting from the incident
Many factors are taken into account when determining the amount of compensation. You may be entitled to compensation under the law.

Punitive Damages
In certain cases, you may be awarded punitive damages. These are intended as additional punishment for the at-fault party and are usually limited to cases where the injury was intentional or the negligence involved was extreme. However, punitive damages are relatively rare in personal injury suits.

If you've been injured, don't hesitate to contact an attorney. The state puts a limit on how long you can file a claim after you've been injured. The statute of limitations in Missouri is five years, which is longer than most states. However, if you wait too long to file, your suit could be dismissed. Contact the experienced attorneys at David Naumann & Associates for a consultation.

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