Catastrophic injuries can be devastating to the victim’s physical health, mental well-being, and finances. If you’ve suffered a severe injury or illness, you might be facing months or even years of recovery with steadily mounting medical costs. At the same time, your ability to earn a living may have been disrupted or lost altogether.
If your injury or illness was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. This will require a personal injury claim, and perhaps even a personal injury lawsuit. When initiating the claim process, the guidance and representation of an experienced personal injury attorney can be extremely valuable for the following reasons.
Your Future Medical Costs Are Uncertain
Catastrophic accident injuries or illnesses can be long-lasting and sometimes permanent, requiring extensive medical care that could potentially last for a lifetime. And at the early stages, while a personal injury claim is initially being filed, you might not yet know the full extent of your injuries.
This creates a problem for injury victims seeking compensation today for the uncertain financial cost of medical bills extending indefinitely into the future. Without relevant legal knowledge or experience working with medical experts, it’s exceedingly hard for most claimants to calculate and prove how much several years of treatment for a serious brain injury or spinal cord injury might amount to.
Nonetheless, it’s crucial to seek to recover the full future costs of your treatment to ensure that you won’t run out of money before your treatment is completed. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to start paying out of your own pocket. This dire outcome can best be avoided with the help of a good personal injury attorney.
How Future Medical Costs Are Estimated
Your lawyer will work with your medical practitioners to predict the future costs of your treatment. They’ll use calculation models to figure out a reasonable and fair total settlement figure for all your medical bills: past, present, and future.
A well-established Kansas City personal injury lawyer or law firm will also have access to a network of medical experts and accountants who can help analyze your case and estimate future medical bills. These experts can use their prior experience with similar medical cases to help calculate an accurate figure, taking into account inflation and the trend for medical care costs to rise over time.
Examples of Ongoing Medical Care
Severe injuries can be caused by many different kinds of accidents, including car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, workers’ compensation accidents, product liability, premises liability, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, and medical malpractice accidents. Examples of severe injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, accidental amputation, multiple broken bones, extensive burns, loss of hearing or vision, internal organ damage, neurological disorders, respiratory disorders, reproductive disorders, and many other life-altering injuries.
Ongoing future medical costs might include hospital and doctor’s visits, pharmacy prescriptions, diagnostic testing, dialysis, surgery, medical equipment, prosthetics, physical therapy, rehabilitation, home care, and more. Whatever the accident, injury, and treatment you’re facing, the chances of accurately estimating and winning a full settlement are often increased with the help of an experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney.
You Typically Have Only One Chance To Win Compensation
When dealing with a very serious personal injury case, the outcome will often dramatically impact the course of your life. It’s therefore important to proceed with caution from the very beginning.
In almost all cases, you only have one opportunity to accept a financial award as compensation for a single accident. If you fail to negotiate a suitable settlement for your losses, it will be very difficult to recover more money later, even if your payout runs out before your medical treatment and bills do.
Personal Injury Attorneys Help Win Larger Settlements
According to data collected by the Insurance Research Council, the average personal injury claimant recovers three and a half times more money in their final settlement than claimants who fail to find legal representation. Not only can Kansas City Personal attorneys investigate your case, estimate the full damages to pursue, gather evidence to prove your damages, and negotiate with the insurance company for a higher settlement, but they can also prevent you from making costly mistakes early on in the claims process.
Avoid Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Case
Following an accident, without the guidance of an attorney, there are numerous ways to slip up and harm your ability to recover a fair settlement. Sometimes a single error can greatly harm or even destroy an entire personal injury case. The following are a few common mistakes inexperienced claimants make.
Accepting a Settlement Offer Too Readily
Many personal injury victims fail to realize that the insurance company doesn’t have their best interests in mind. When you initially file your claim, the insurance company will often make a quick lowball settlement offer, hoping you’ll accept it before seeking the advice of a lawyer or law firm.
When facing the pressure and looming medical costs of a severe injury, some claimants agree to the first offer they receive. In doing so, they’re usually leaving money on the table and subsequently face the prospect of financial difficulties down the road.
Admitting to Contributory Negligence
The insurance adjuster sent by the insurer to investigate the accident will sometimes ask the accident victim to make an official statement. During this process, they’ll often ask leading questions and encourage you to unwittingly admit to a modicum of the blame for your own injuries.
Once this mistake is made, you’ll have a much harder uphill struggle to claim compensation in Kansas City or anywhere else in the country. It’s usually best to have personal injury attorneys handle all communications with the insurance company, thereby maintaining the strength of your claim.
Sharing Details of Your Case Online
In our social media age, claimants lacking legal counsel sometimes share details of their accidents and injuries online. But your social media presence is one of the first places an insurer will search for any evidence they can use to cast doubt on your character, your injuries, or your claims.
Failure To Follow the Physician’s Orders
If you fail to follow the doctor’s instructions, the insurance company might dispute the value of your claim. They’ll be able to argue that your injuries are not as severe as claimed or that the injuries were caused elsewhere to some degree.
Not Keeping Track of Medical Records
Needless to say, you must keep all medical records and bills in order to prove your full medical expenses. This is important even if you think a particular injury is minor. Sometimes the symptoms of even severe, long-term brain or neck injuries can be delayed.
Once you’ve committed one or more of these errors, your personal injury case is weakened, which might amount to tens of thousands of dollars lost in compensation. It’s far better to hire a Kansas City personal injury lawyer as early as you can and follow their advice to build a strong, successful claim.
You Need To Prove Lost Earning Capacity
The majority of serious injuries leave the victim unable to work for a prolonged period. If this is your situation, you can seek recompense for your lost wages.
This includes salaries, hourly pay, and business revenue. You can also seek compensation for any missed overtime, paid time off, bonuses, work-related perks, retirement fund contributions, raises, or promotions that resulted from the accident.
Demonstrating lost wages usually requires pay stubs and a statement from both your physician and employer. It can also sometimes require bank statements and tax returns, especially if you’re self-employed.
Proving Future Lost Earnings Is Usually Harder
The monetary value of past and present lost wages is often relatively straightforward to prove. Where it becomes more complex is when your future capacity to work has been diminished by your injuries: you can no longer earn a living in the same way as you could before the accident.
This is unfortunately quite common with more severe injuries. And when a victim has suffered a reduced earning capacity, they are within their rights to seek financial justice for this loss.
But as with estimating future medical expenses, calculating lost future earnings is necessarily speculative. And it therefore ideally requires the attention of a skilled and experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney or law firm.
How To Prove Diminished Earning Capacity
Estimating the proper financial award due for any diminished capacity to earn requires analyzing your mental and physical condition. Your Kansas City lawyer will look at your age, experience, skills, qualifications, earning history, job performance, and expected age of retirement.
They’ll take into account your career trajectory, your ambitions, and your ability to learn new skills should you need to. They also need to study the conditions and opportunities in your industry and any current trends of growth or decline.
They might call upon various expert witnesses in Kansas City who can help with the analysis and also provide testimony to prove your lost earning damages in court. Such witnesses might include vocational rehabilitation experts, forensic accountants, economists, and experts in your specific field of work.
Your Lawyer Can Help Calculate Non-Economic Damages
Following an accident, the medical costs, lost wages, and property damages you’ve suffered are all examples of economic damages: losses with a clear and objective monetary value. But it’s quite likely that you’ve suffered in other ways as well.
Personal injury cases often also include non-economic damages such as disfigurement, emotional distress, or pain and suffering. These more subjective losses may not have a clear receipt attached, but they can still cause an immense amount of harm to your life.
As such, you’re within your rights to seek to recover compensation for them, providing that you can prove the value of these damages. Effectively accomplishing this often requires personal injury lawyers with a strong understanding of the legal system and prior experience with similar cases in Kansas City.
Common Non-Economic Damages
Most severe injuries cause a great deal of physical pain and suffering. This is perhaps the most common non-economic damage involved in serious personal injury cases.
You can also seek to recover compensation for any emotional distress that you’ve suffered. This is usually a particularly significant factor in wrongful death cases, where the plaintiffs suffer immense emotional pain from the sudden loss of their loved one.
Injury victims are sometimes left scarred or disfigured, which can have an awful impact on their lives. Any disability or permanent physical impairment can also be included in non-economic damages.
You can also seek compensation for the loss of enjoyment in life that you’re suffered and also any disruption to your relationships and social support structure. This is another huge factor in many wrongful death cases.
You can even gain compensation for any humiliation you’ve suffered because of the at-fault party’s negligence. And if your personal or professional reputation was harmed, you can include this damage as well.
As you can see, there are many significant non-economic damages that many catastrophic personal injury victims can seek to recover. With the right legal help, your Kansas City personal injury lawyer or law firm can fight for your rights under Missouri personal injury law and ensure you’re including every viable damage in your claim, with nothing left out.
You Must Prove the Negligent Party’s Liability
We’ve spoken about the importance of proving the value of your damages. But it’s also essential to prove the liability of the at-fault party: you must demonstrate that they caused your injuries through their negligence or recklessness.
But if the defendant or insurance company is disputing liability, you’re going to need enough evidence to build a rock-solid claim. In some Kansas City personal injury cases, this can be a challenging task requiring a highly skilled and experienced specialist attorney.
When Car Accidents Are Harder To Prove
With relatively simple truck accidents or car accident cases, it’s often quite straightforward to prove the liability of the at-fault party. But this becomes more complex and difficult when multiple vehicles are involved in an auto accident, and various parties share negligence. And if the victim demonstrates any negligence of their own, such as glancing at their phone or going even slightly over the speed limit, the waters are further muddied.
Motorcycle accidents involve their own challenges, as jury members are sometimes predisposed to view motorcyclists as somewhat reckless. This common bias can negatively impact jury verdicts even if you were driving your motorcycle responsibly.
Whether you were in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or any kind of motor vehicle accident in the Kansas City area, consider hiring an experienced attorney right away to iron out the details and prove the other party’s liability. A law firm and attorney based in Kansas City, MO will best understand the local Missouri law as it applies to road accidents.
Other Hard-To-Prove Personal Injury Cases
In a slip-and-fall accident or any premises liability incident, recovering financial compensation requires proof that the property owner failed to fix the hazard or properly warn visitors. This requires proving they were aware of the hazard in the first place, which isn’t always the case. Another customer might have only just spilled the water that you slipped on, for example.
But even these disputed slip-and-fall cases appear cut-and-dry when compared to product liability cases, nursing home abuse cases, or medical malpractice cases. In all of these instances, you’ll often be in a drawn-out battle to pin down liability, with well-funded legal teams disputing your claim every inch of the way.
With product liability, where the victim has been injured by a defective product, you must prove that the product was used properly and that you weren’t warned of the potentially hazardous element. The sheer number of parties involved in designing, producing, shipping, and selling a modern product also makes it hard to pin down liability.
Nursing Home Neglect
If a loved one has been neglected in a nursing home, causing them to suffer an injury, proving negligence also faces a few obstacles. Elderly people experience a natural decline in health over time, which can make it tricky to identify signs of neglect. Unpreventable accidents also occur in these facilities, even when the residents are properly cared for.
Perhaps the most notoriously difficult personal injury claims to prove are medical malpractice cases, including birth injury cases. This is primarily because injurious events can occur during treatment even when the medical professional acts properly, without negligence. Modern medicine can also be extremely specialist and complex, making it difficult to understand and prove what exactly occurred during your medical treatment.
Mountains of Evidence Are Sometimes Required
Whatever the case type, your chances of winning enough compensation for a full financial recovery are greatly increased with a good Kansas City personal injury lawyer by your side. Your lawyer can investigate thoroughly to unravel precisely what happened. They can then gather evidence to prove the defendant’s liability and do their utmost to win maximum compensation for your losses.
With more complex or disputed cases, the evidence will often involve retaining various expert witnesses. Experienced Kansas City attorneys and law firms have databases of reliable local expert witnesses to call upon.
Accident reconstruction experts, specialist medical experts, structural engineering experts, mental health experts, and many other kinds of experts can be hired. In court, expert witness testimony often proves vital in proving liability and also in proving the full value of a plaintiff’s damages.
Retaining expert witnesses and collecting all the requisite evidence is a daunting task for most inexperienced claimants to attempt alone. This is especially the case when the victim has been catastrophically injured.
Your Lawyer Deals Directly With the Insurance Company
One of the greatest benefits personal injury lawyers provide to accident victims is directly handling the insurance company, so you don’t have to. Dealing with sophisticated, cunning, adversarial insurance adjusters can be an intimidating prospect at the best of times.
When you’re trying to recover from a serious injury, perhaps even a brain injury, it can be a terrible burden. But if you hire a good attorney right from the start, they can file your claim and communicate with the insurer from the start to the finish of your case. This leaves you free to focus on receiving proper medical attention and recovering your health.
Your Lawyer Can Accelerate the Claim Process
Kansas City personal injury lawyers can also counter the various delaying tactics that insurance companies sometimes attempt. Insurers know that claimants can become demoralized over time when a case draws out, and so they delay proceedings intentionally.
But Missouri lawyers who are worth their salt know the state’s personal injury law inside out and can keep your case progressing at a steady pace. Your lawyer can help you reach a satisfying resolution as rapidly as possible.
Pay Your Personal Injury Attorney on a “No Win, No Fee” Basis
Some accident victims hinder their own financial recovery by putting off hiring an attorney because they worry about legal fees. But almost all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
This means they only accept payment out of the final settlement payout: you needn’t pay a dime before then. And if you don’t win the case, you don’t pay anything either. You can ask about the payment structure with any lawyer during your free consultation with them.
Your Personal Injury Lawyer Can Represent You in Court
Even though most catastrophic illness and injury cases are settled out of court, you might need to escalate your case to be tried in court before a judge and jury. And successful personal injury lawsuits almost always require high-quality legal representation.
When you begin your personal injury litigation, you’ll be going up against the defendant’s legal team. If your defendant is a company, hospital, or large organization, they might have a powerful legal defense team, and you’ll need an equally strong law firm or attorney.
It’s worth noting that not all personal injury lawyers have experience trying cases in court. So it’s best to find a lawyer with a great deal of court experience in their legal career. And this experience should ideally be in the courthouses of Kansas City, MO.
National trial lawyers are generally considered to be the best options for a personal injury lawsuit going to court, especially in cases with a serious injury involved. National trial lawyers are members of an organization formed of premier trial attorneys from across the nation.
When you hire an attorney with a reputation for trying and winning similar cases in court, you might find that proceedings never reach the courthouse. The insurance company is more likely to agree to your settlement figure rather than engage in a costly court case that they’re likely to lose.
If you’d like an experienced Kansas City personal injury lawyer fighting your corner, contact Wendt Law today at 816-542-6734 for a free consultation. Our highly qualified personal injury attorneys can file your claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and fight tooth and nail to win you the fair compensation you deserve.