Is my case too small? Some of the best class actions involve individuals who only lost small amounts of money.  For example, a phone company may elect to add an illegal fee of only $.35 to each bill.  Individually, it may not make sense of one person to bring an individual suit against the phone company.  If the case is brought as a class action, the value of the case may reach tens of millions of dollars.

What is the value of a wrongful death case? Factors to consider in assessing the “value” of a wrongful death claim include: (1) the age of the victim, (2) the health of the victim, (3) the lifetime earning capacity of the victim, (4) whether the victim has close surviving relatives, specifically any surviving children and/or a surviving spouse, (5) whether the victim contributed the cause of the accident, (6) the amount of pain and suffering experienced by the victim, if any, (7) other aggravating circumstances such as whether the person who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What factors do insurance companies, juries, judges, and lawyers, consider when evaluating the amount of damages to award or pay in a wrongful death case? Factors to consider in assessing the “value” of a wrongful death claim include: (1) the age of the victim, (2) the health of the victim, (3) the lifetime earning capacity of the victim, (4) whether the victim has close surviving relatives, specifically any surviving children and/or a surviving spouse, (5) whether the victim contributed the cause of the accident, (6) the amount of pain and suffering experienced by the victim, if any, (7) other aggravating circumstances such as whether the person who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What should I do if I cause an automobile accident? What steps should I take? In Missouri, you have a legal obligation to do one of two things: (a) call the police and wait for the police to arrive, or (b) provide the other driver with your name, address, license plate number and insurance information.  You probably also have a contractual obligation with your insurance company to immediately report the accident to your insurance company.

What should I do if I am injured in a car accident? What steps should I take if I am injured? Seek medical treatment immediately and follow the advice of your physician.  Do not try to avoid seeking treatment on the grounds that you do not have health insurance.  Many healthcare providers negotiate their charges and some providers either completely forgive patient debts or reduce the debts to as low as ten percent of the actual charge.  Continue to follow the advice of your physician until you have reached a maximum recovery.  Call and retain an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases.  Your attorney will advise you whether to provide the insurance companies with a statement.  Your attorney will also begin gathering all evidence of liability and investigating the value of your case.

What is a medical pay ("med pay") provision in an insurance policy? A medical pay provision is a provision in an insurance policy that covers the cost of medical expenses without requiring a showing of liability.  The limit of coverage is usually small ($2,000 or $5,000 in many circumstances), but the insurance companies will often make the payment while your claim is pending.  The insurance company will also make the payment even if the insurance company believes that their insured did nothing wrong.

What is uninsurance? Uninsurance (“UM”) coverage provides coverage when the accident or injuries are caused by a person who is either (a) unknown, or (b) without any insurance.  An unknown person is often a hit-and-run driver.

Does my insurance policy provide uninsurance ("UM") coverage? Yes, an insurance company cannot issue a contract of automobile liability coverage in Missouri without including uninsured motorist coverage on the policy.

What is underinsurance? Underinsurance (“UIM”) coverage provides coverage that makes up the difference between the amount of your damages and the amount of insurance coverage of someone who caused your injuries.  For example, assume you carry a State Farm policy on your automobile with $100,000 in UIM coverage.  Another driver (insured by Allstate and carrying a liability policy limit of $25,000) fails to stop at a red traffic light and collides with your car.  If your damages amount $73,000, Allstate will pay $25,000 and State Farm will pay the remaining $48,000.

Does my insurance policy provide underinsurance ("UIM") coverage? Not all insurance policies provide UIM coverage.  Insurance companies may issue insurance policies that lack UIM coverage.

Do all automobile operators, owners, and drivers carry liability insurance? In Missouri, all drivers, except in limited circumstances, are required to carry liability insurance with minimum policy limits.  The policy limits vary depending on the number of victims per accident/occurrence.  Parties who can meet certain financial requirements may be exempt from minimum policy requirements.  For example, a trucking company might be self-insured up to $1,000,000.  This means that the company carries an insurance policy that only provides coverage when the damages exceed $1,000,000.  On all substantiated claims under $1,000,000, the company provides compensation from its own funds.

Will our law firm be able to assess the approximate amount of damages that I will be able to recover? It’s possible.  After reviewing all medical records, insurance policies, accident reports and other information, we will attempt to provide you with an assessment of the value of your case.  Many companies provide summaries of recent jury verdict awards, so it is possible to compare these past awards in much the same manner that a real estate appraiser assesses comparable home sale prices.  Obviously, we cannot guarantee any result.  But, we can compare your case to previous cases.

Can I recover money damages in an injury or automobile accident case when I contribute to the cause of the accident? If I am partly liable, can I possibly recover money damages? Yes, so long as you are not the sole cause of your injuries, you may recover a percentage of your damages from another party.

Is it possible to recover money without filing a suit? Will it be necessary to file a lawsuit or is it possible to settle before suing? This is entirely your decision.  Our firm will conduct all necessary investigative work and provide you with what we believe to be the value of your case.  We will create a demand package demanding a specified sum of money.  If the amount of money offered to compensate you for your damages is insufficient, we will initiate litigation.

What are the fees on a personal injury or automobile accident case? How are attorney fees calculated on an automobile accident or personal injury case? We usually calculate fees pursuant to a contingent fee agreement.  This means that we keep a percentage (usually 33%) of any recovery. 

Will the client be responsible for costs on an automobile accident or personal injury case? Who pays for the costs? Costs typically include the amounts paid for depositions, expert testimony, filing fees and record production fees.  These costs are paid by the client only so long as we are able to recover on your behalf.  We do not charge clients for travel expenses, copies and faxes.

What costs arise in an automobile accident or personal injury case? Costs typically include the amounts paid for depositions, expert testimony, filing fees and record production fees.  These costs are paid by the client only so long as we are able to recover on your behalf.  We do not charge clients for travel expenses, copies and faxes.

Is it possible to change a police or accident report? What should I do if a police or accident report is incorrect? Yes, reporting officers are often amenable to amending reports so long as there is some evidence that the information contained therein is in fact inaccurate.

I served on jury duty for a personal injury (auto accident) case. Why didn't any of the lawyers tell us whether the negligent driver was carrying insurance? In Missouri, attorneys are prohibited from telling jurors that the defendant (or negligent party) was carrying insurance.  There is a strong public policy in favor of carrying insurance, and people are considered more likely to carry insurance if they know they won't be penalized in court for carrying it.  Many scholars contend that juries are more likely to give larger plaintiff awards if they know the funds will be paid from an insurance policy (as opposed to a clumsy individual).  However, we are unaware of any conclusive evidence supporting that argument.

Can my health insurance company claim a lien or obtain part of my personal injury settlement? Generally no.  Your health insurance company cannot claim a lien or take a percentage of your personal injury settlement.  One exception arises if your insurance company is considered a self-funded ERISA plan.  In that situation, the ERISA plan may have a right to reimbursement. 

Can a hospital, clinic, doctor's office, or ambulance company claim a lien or seek reimbursement from my personal injury award or settlement? Generally yes, but only under certain conditions.  The medical provider must be a qualified provider.  This usually means that the company is a public hospital or is organized under the law of this state (Missouri).  However, even if they are able to claim a lien, all of your medical providers together are only entitled to one-half of your net proceeds.  By "net proceeds", this is the amount calculated after all costs and attorney's fees.  Our firm has had a great deal of success in negotiating down these liens.  We can often negotiate these liens to percentages significantly less than 50%.