Archive for October, 2013

7 Steps to Take After an Auto Accident

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Automobile accidents can have disastrous consequences for an individual if they sustain serious injuries. Often times, an injured party will suffer huge financial burdens, being unable to work and/or having amassed large medical bills, which they cannot afford to pay.  Most importantly, serious injuries resulting from auto accidents can cause physical severe pain and discomfort, emotional trauma, and negatively impact a victim’s overall livelihood.  Regardless of the extent of injuries suffered, it is important for motorists to protect themselves and be aware of the necessary steps to take if they are involved in an auto accident.  Furthermore, by following the steps outlined below, there is a greater likelihood, as an auto accident victim, you will be in a better position to negotiate a more favorable settlement with an insurance company.

1. Contact information of witnesses. It is extremely important to immediately obtain the contact information—name, number, address, and email–of any individuals that witnessed the accident. These individuals may be able to appear in court on your behalf, even as neutral witnesses, who would otherwise have nothing to gain or lose at trial.

2. Document the accident scene. If possible, make sure to take pictures of the accident scene immediately after the accident. Your claim will be far more convincing at trial and you will likely be able to better negotiate with an insurance company if attempting to settle out of court.  More specifically, try and get evidence of the damage to all the cars involved, all street signs, street lights, and street divider lines in the vicinity accident scene, any apparent physical injuries that you may have suffered, any damage to the interior of the vehicles involved, and anything else you think may be relevant to the outcome or success of your case.

3. Post-accident medical exam. It is imperative you visit a doctor and receive a medical examination promptly following an auto accident. All too commonly, individuals involved in accidents disregard a trip to the emergency room immediately after an accident. Pain arising from a serious auto accident can not only manifest after the fact, but it can also worsen or persist in the weeks and months following an accident if not aware of and treated properly from the beginning. One other thing to consider is if you fail to visit a doctor shortly after an auto accident, the likelihood of obtaining a favorable settlement may be greatly diminished. If you are pursuing a claim for a “personal injury” but have little or no medical evidence establishing that you were in fact injured as a result of the accident at tissue, then your chances of success with obtaining a settlement or jury verdict will be greatly reduced.

4. Statements to an insurance company. It is advisable to not make any statements to an insurance company after an accident. This recorded statement may be used against you in the future. Insurance company adjusters are trained to ask questions to try and show or prove that the victim was the cause of the accident. Due to the fact that many accident victims have little or no training on how to handle an accident claim, they are usually at a disadvantage and unprepared to give an appropriate recorded statement.

5. Exchanging Information. It is extremely important to exchange relevant personal information with the other driver after an accident occurs. This primarily includes, their name, address, phone number(s), insurance company/policy number, driver’s license number, make and model of vehicle, vehicle registration, and license plate number.  In the event that you do not acquire this information at the scene of the accident, you and/or your attorney will have to expend time, money and resources in an attempt to locate it. If for some reason, you are unable to obtain this information, you may not be successful in receiving compensation for your injuries.

6. Filing an accident report. Filing an accident report will help establish that an auto accident actually occurred at a given time and location. Additionally, law enforcement officials provide relevant facts and details regarding the accident in their report.

7. Release Waivers. Consult a personal injury attorney before signing a release or waiver. DO NOT sign anything beforehand. Doing so, prior to discovering the full extent of your losses and legal rights, may result in substantially less compensation than you are entitled to.

For more information on how to pursue legal action if you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident in Missouri, call Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP now at (816) 472-HOPE (4673).  Our staff of Missouri auto accident attorneys has the experience and knowledge required to deliver results you deserve with your personal injury claim!

Addressing Medical Injuries From an Auto Accident

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Automobile accidents occur throughout Missouri on a daily basis.  As a result, many motorists suffer medical injuries, whereby sometimes the actions (or inactions) of other parties involved are to blame. While it would be impossible to reverse injuries that may have occurred, personal injury law allows a way for the injured to be “made whole” once again. Generally, such relief provides the injured with monetary compensation, also known as “damages.” Other remedies may also be available, for example, a judge’s order to take a particular action. However, lawsuits for auto accident injuries are typically settled out of court, prior to the court reaching a verdict.

Importantly, knowing your own medical history allows for better insight and preparedness should injuries occur.  Oftentimes a lack of knowledge and awareness can cloud or confuse judgment when determining the scope and existence of a current injury.  Although serious injuries are not always the outcome of every single accident that takes place on city streets and highways, the metal and various other materials used to construct vehicles can result in severe bodily damage for both drivers and passengers. Ultimately, whether the injury is minor, as in whiplash, or more serious, resulting in concussions, severed limbs, head trauma, broken bones, burns, and various other bodily harm, medical fees and expenses can be recouped for injuries against the party that caused the auto accident.

Following a few crucial steps immediately after an accident will put you in a better position, should you decide to pursue legal action after the fact.  First and foremost, if you have any physical injuries as a result of the accident, it is imperative to receive medical attention as soon as possible.  Sometimes, serious physical injuries are not evident immediately, particularly internal damage, so even if you believe you have only sustained minor bruises and cuts, it is in your best interest to get a full medical examination. The next step is to call 911 or law enforcement to report the accident, and to request an officer at the scene to make an official account for the record. Remember to tell the dispatcher your location, as well as any noticeable physical injuries you have suffered. Prior to law enforcement arriving, write down the details of your account of the accident and everything you have observed, summarizing the event for your own records. Also, if available, make sure to obtain the insurance information of the other driver involved in the accident.

In the event that it seems like a minor accident with no apparent physical injuries, a visit to the hospital soon after the accident should not be delayed. You may feel perfectly fine at the scene, but once law enforcement officers clear you, and the damage to your vehicle is minor, it is advisable to get checked out immediately at the closest hospital facility.  If your vehicle is damaged to the extent that you are unable to drive it, ask for a rescue vehicle or ambulance to transport you to the nearest hospital before doing anything else. The most important thing post-accident is verifying the status of your health. Any expenses incurred as a result of the process, i.e. the ambulance bill, can be addressed at a later point.

It is also crucial to be aware of the fact that numerous physical injuries from accidents require medical care over a long duration of time, or for a greater period than originally expected.  Additionally, a minor wound may entail a large amount of pain and discomfort, which could lead to more serious problems.  If you have a legitimate claim for physical injuries sustained as a result of an auto accident, a personal injury lawyer will thoroughly prepare your case by dealing with insurance companies, analyzing the evidence, applying the law to your benefit, and negotiating a settlement, if necessary, to deliver the results you deserve.

If you have suffered physical injuries from an auto accident and seeking legal advice on how to pursue your claim, contact Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP today at (816) 472-HOPE (4673), for more information. Our staff of experienced attorneys has extensive knowledge of personal injury law in Missouri, and can provide you with the necessary expertise required to get you the damages you deserve!

Common Issues that Arise In Wrongful Death Claims in Missouri

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Generally, wrongful death claims can be time consuming and involve highly complicated and unique subject matter. It is not uncommon to encounter unexpected issues and obstacles along the way. However, an experienced wrongful death attorney should be able to navigate through such challenges to successfully resolve the matter in a way that you and your loved ones deserve. When pursuing a wrongful death claim, it is important to be aware of certain circumstances that need to be addressed in every case. The following is an overview of 5 common issues to consider with wrongful death claims:

1. Building sufficient evidence. Investigating and gathering all of the necessary information and evidence is critical for a successful outcome. With the help and cooperation of their client, an attorney must locate evidence, analyze, and prove specific facts according to the law, in order to establish a favorable recovery.  Oftentimes, acquiring relevant information is made more difficult by strict rules of evidence that govern civil actions in each state. An experienced attorney with wrongful death claims should have not only knowledge and expertise of the law, but also investigatory skills to locate and amass sufficient evidence to build your case.

2. Recoverability. An important aspect of your claim of wrongful death is the likelihood of actually receiving a substantial verdict or judgment award decided in your favor against the opposing party.  Sometimes, such an award for damages may prove to be fruitless if a responsible party is unable to satisfy your judgment. In order to get around this, many attorneys often attach as broadly as possible as many responsible parties to the lawsuit in an attempt to obligate insurance companies and other resource rich parties potentially liable as well.  Keep in mind that an attorney will not bring a frivolous claim against a party unless there is a good faith basis to be attached to the suit.

3. Statute of limitations.  Although time frames designated by the statute of limitations vary from state to state, in general, they provide strict time limits by which a party must file a claim for recovery.  In many wrongful death claims, parties that are looking to pursue a suit for damages fail to do so within the statute of limitations.  However, there still may be a chance of recovery. Contact an attorney that specializes in this area to ensure you have not exhausted all of your legal remedies.

4. Governmental Immunity. In certain cases where the local, state, or federal government or their instrumentalities is responsible for the death or injuries of a person, they may be protected by various degrees of immunity from civil suits.  For example, if a person is injured or killed by a police car or fire truck speeding to the scene of another accident, the victim may be barred from bringing suit against the police or fire departments.  Depending on the law governing this matter by each state, bars to recovery may be overcome, if, for example, it can be shown the police or fire departments in such circumstances were acting with wanton or willful misconduct. Regardless, wrongful death lawsuits against governmental agencies and instrumentalities generally present specific obstacles to overcome in order to recover successfully.

5. Cost of Action. The time and effort required to pursue most wrongful death claims can prove to be quite costly over the course of the entire process. However, in the end, an experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney will possess the resources to win your case. Oftentimes, regarding such claims, an attorney will forego a fee until a client receives compensation. There are also many attorneys that will finance the case themselves, so that the client will not have to bear the burden of out-of-pocket expenses throughout the proceedings. Under these circumstances, typically at the conclusion of the matter, expenses that were paid by the attorney to win the case will be deducted from the recovery.

If you or a loved one is interested in filing a wrongful death suit, or you simply have questions on wrongful death law in the state of Missouri, call (816) 472-HOPE (4673) to contact our experienced Missouri wrongful death attorneys at the law offices of Hubbard & Kurtz today!