Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do immediately after an injury causing accident?
First make sure to address your medical needs. No matter how insignificant
your injury may seem, it is very important to get a full and complete
evaluation by a medical professional. Do not try to tough it out; some
injuries do not begin to affect an individual until later. Any serious
personal injury case should have a skilled attorney to protect the injured victim's
best interests and future.
Be very careful about what you say to the police, insurance adjusters,
and the other individual involved in the accident. Carefully review the
statement you gave to the police before you sign it, some statements can
significantly hurt your case. Do not speak with the other individual's
insurance company or sign any agreements without first receiving the sound
legal advice of your attorney.
What constitutes a valid personal injury case?
The surest way to determine the validity of your case is to consult a Kansas
City personal injury attorney. At Martin & Wallentine, we offer free
consultations to all potential clients and will not charge any fees unless
you receive compensation for your injuries.
A valid case usually entails that one individual was injured as a direct
result of the reckless actions or
negligence of another individual. If you can trace the cause of your injuries or
hardships back to another individual's specific action or inaction,
then you have a valid case. Injuries sustained do not have to be strictly
physical. They can include defamation of character, severe emotional distress,
and extreme anxiety caused by fear for your safety.
How does a personal injury lawsuit work?
First your lawyer will gather all relevant documents and materials to establish
the true extent of your injuries, what caused these injuries, and how
these injuries will affect you in the future. Depending on the circumstances,
your attorney may hire experts to assist in accident reconstruction, economic
forecasts to determine future medical needs and costs, and research on
the responsible party.
Next your attorney will use this information to make a compensation demand
from the insurance companies for monetary damages. Your attorney will
then negotiate with the insurance companies to reach an injury settlement.
If negotiations fail, your attorney will file a
personal injury lawsuit. Negotiations will continue with a greater scrutiny on all relevant
information and personal testimonies.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the lawsuit will be brought before a
judge and a jury will determine the outcome of the case.
What are your damages?
This is among the first questions that any defense lawyer, or a judge,
will want you to answer. "Damages" is a term of art in law.
The law allows for the recovery of money only for specified things. Those
are your "damages." Commonly,
personal injury cases involve argument over not only the amount, by types of damages recoverable
under the law. Naturally, that takes legal training and experience. You
need a skilled
personal injury lawyer by your side both to assess your damages recoverable and to effectively
present your case for compensation.
Contact a Kansas City personal injury attorney
if you have any other questions about personal injury cases.
In a personal injury case, there are two main types of damages typically
sought by a plaintiff. "Economic damages" are more-or-less direct
monetary losses, both past and future, that you have incurred or expect
to incur as a result of someone else's
negligence. Commonly, they involve lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical
expenses (including rehabilitation, if required), and any damage to property.
A defendant may not raise as a defense the fact that some of your losses
are covered by your insurance.
"Non-economic" damages typically are what people mean when they
refer to "pain and suffering." Some people initially are uncomfortable
asking for money for such things, fearing it might be unseemly to do so.
They shouldn't be reluctant to do so, however. The hard fact is that
the only civil remedy the law allows to compensate you for your pain and
suffering is the award of money. And the fact that such suffering often
is hidden from sight makes it no less real. However, the legislatures
of some jurisdictions, such as Kansas and Missouri, have placed "caps"
on the amount of non-economic damages a Plaintiff may win in a judgment—despite
the fact that the jury may have awarded a much higher amount. Consult
an experienced personal injury attorney about how these might affect the
amount you may recover.
Sometimes a personal injury of one person greatly affects the lives of
that person's intimates, such as a spouse or children who naturally
rely on the injured person. Depending on the jurisdiction, such people
so affected may bring "derivative" claims against negligent
defendants. The loss of companionship, material services, love, affection
and even sexual intercourse (collectively, known as "loss of consortium")
may be recoverable in such cases. However, it is not necessarily wise
to bring such a claim in every case where it may apply. If you believe
you or your spouse might be so affected, you should consult a personal
injury lawyer to determine whether it is helpful in your particular case.
Punitive or "exemplary" damages are intended to punish a wrongdoer
(and others who would be inclined to repeat the wrongful conduct in the
future), rather than to compensate the victim of personal injury or
medical malpractice. However, they are not available in every case. Generally, they are not
available in the case of "ordinary negligence;" the law requires
something more. Nevertheless, if your case involves "willful"
or "wanton" misconduct, or the defendant has exhibited an intentional
disregard for the rights of others, then punitive damages may form an
element of your claim. To make the determination of whether the legal
threshold of punitive damages is met in your particular case, contact
an experienced personal injury attorney.