Many people return home after a car accident feeling shaken and exhausted, but thankful to be alive and ready to put the incident behind them. Unfortunately, gratitude soon turns to fear and frustration as the full extent of their injuries starts to show, forcing them to undergo diagnostic testing and unforeseen medical treatment. Even a minor accident can result in weeks of painful physical rehabilitation, sleepless nights from psychological trauma, and financial difficulty due to the inability to work. When this happens, victims have the right to seek compensation from the negligent person who caused their suffering.
What Victims Need to Know After a Car Accident Results in an Injury
The first thing victims must realize is that they only have a limited period of time to file a lawsuit after an accident. In Missouri, victims must file a civil lawsuit within five years of the date of the accident, or three years from the date of death if the accident caused fatal injury. In Kansas, victims must bring a lawsuit within two years from the date of the crash. If the deadline is missed, the judge can refuse to hear the case—forever barring victims from recovering compensation.
It is always best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a crash. Vital evidence such as witnesses, road conditions, surveillance tapes, wrecked vehicles, and debris at the scene usually starts to disappear within hours of an accident, and an attorney will be able to gather and preserve evidence in your case. The attorneys at Foster Wallace will work diligently on building your case while you take the time you need to heal. We do not collect any payment from you until after your case is won.
We advise clients after severe car accidents involving:
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- Complicated roadways
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Drugged driving
- Teen drivers
- Elderly drivers
- Hit-and-run incidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on crashes
- Side-impact collisions
- Multi-vehicle pileups
Who Can Be Held Liable for the Costs of a Car Accident?
While victims have the ability to hold an at-fault driver responsible for the costs of a crash, their ability to collect compensation is determined by state injury laws. Missouri subscribes to a comparative fault system for car accident injuries, meaning the person at fault is liable for the damages, but the victim’s compensation will be reduced by his or her portion of fault. On the other hand, Kansas follows a no-fault car accident system, meaning each driver pays for his or her own injuries under his or her own insurance. Kansas injury victims can only file a lawsuit against at-fault drivers for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering if their injuries are considered life-changing or have caused extreme financial difficulty.
Of course, drivers are not the only people who may be held liable for the costs of a crash. Under Missouri law, some third parties may bear legal responsibility for the accident, including:
- City and state governments. Each municipality is responsible for maintaining its roadways, including filling potholes, installing traffic control devices, and posting signs to warn drivers of hazardous conditions. If a governmental entity could be held liable for the costs of your crash, you must give written notice to the mayor within 90 days of the occurrence in order to claim damages. While these cases are more complicated due to the government’s ability to claim sovereign immunity, our attorneys have experience negotiating with governmental entities.
- Government contractors. Cities and counties often outsource their road and highway maintenance duties, extending liability to construction companies, groundskeepers, engineers, architects, and road design firms. We can determine whether a contractor failed to take necessary safety measures and intervene before the government or company attempts to avoid liability by fixing the issue or making temporary repairs.
- Bars and restaurants. Missouri law allows people who are injured by drunk drivers to seek compensation from the entity that over-served alcohol to the driver. Under the “dram shop” law, any restaurant or bar that serves alcohol by the drink may be liable for a driver’s actions if its bartender knowingly served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.
- Auto manufacturers. Many car accidents are the result of vehicle defects, such as flaws in the vehicle design, faulty auto parts or systems, defective tires, poor installation or construction, and other forms of manufacturer negligence. Similarly, the maker of certain vehicle components (such as airbags, tires, brakes, steering systems, or engines) may be liable for injuries caused by their defective products.
How Can Car Accident Lawyers Help?
Foster Wallace, LLC takes all car accident injury cases on a contingency fee basis, allowing victims and family members throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area to get the legal help they need without adding to their financial burden. If you or someone you love was injured in a crash, call our office today or fill out our online contact form to set up your free initial consultation.