St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
Being involved in a car accident is never a positive experience, but if you’ve been injured in a car accident, it could have long-reaching consequences for your health, finances, and your life. Car accident victims are entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and their pain and suffering. If you have been involved in a car accident in St. Louis, you can receive free legal advice from professional auto accident attorneys without paying out-of-pocket.
John Hipskind and Brady McAninch of Hipskind & McAninch, LLC are personal injury attorneys in St. Louis who work on a contingency basis. That means that they will not charge you to review your case, negotiate with your car insurance company, and, if necessary, litigate your case through the courts. Contact them immediately for a free case evaluation.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
When you commit to an auto accident law firm, like Hipskind & McAninch, they will be your legal representatives for all dealings with the insurance company. Your attorney will subpoena the medical records of all parties involved, review the police accident report, calculate your financial costs, and consult with medical and traffic reconstruction experts.
Once they have a detailed account of your car crash injuries and expenses, they will approach the insurance company with a settlement offer. Most insurers will try to minimize their payouts. Your attorneys will either negotiate until all parties agree on the number of damages, or they will litigate your case through the civil courts.
In personal injury cases, the attorneys only get paid for their services if they win. They will either have to settle their accident claims or win in court in order to be compensated.
Different Types of Car Accidents
As you can imagine, there are many different causes for car accident injuries. You may be surprised to find out that the types of vehicles involved can dictate how a car accident attorney will handle your claim.
Car vs. Car Accidents
With over 5.5 million cars and personal trucks in the state of Missouri, car vs. car accidents are by far the most common type of collision. From low-speed rear-end accidents and parking lot fender benders to collisions on the highways, car crash injuries can range from whiplash to spinal cord injuries to wrongful death. However, there are times when a low-speed car accident results in minor damage with no injuries. For cases like these, most people file their car accident claims directly with their insurers. However, if you suspect injuries, you should call a personal injury lawyer for a free case evaluation.
Even without a load attached, commercial vehicles sometimes weigh more than ten times the average weight of a personal car, which is around two tons. With a load attached, their mass can increase exponentially. That means a devastating amount of force can be imparted on a car, even at relatively low speeds. While the occupant of the truck may be hurt, there is a much greater likelihood that the car occupants will suffer serious injuries.
This is why the laws and regulations affecting commercial truck drivers are so stringent. If a negligent driver has struck you, your attorney should subpoena the driver’s logbook and schedules to make sure they were compliant with the federal and state laws.
Severe injuries almost always accompany motorcycle accidents. Because there is no external protection or restraint system, the riders are almost always injured when they hit the ground, even if their contact with the other vehicle is incidental. Even if you are injured in a motorcycle accident that was your fault, you may be entitled to damages, depending on your insurance coverage.
Motor Vehicle vs. Bicycle or Pedestrian
If you’ve been hit by a car while you were walking, skating, or riding a bike, you are very likely to be injured. Because you have no protection as a pedestrian, you may suffer serious injuries.
Financial Compensation for Car Accidents
Regardless of the type of accident you’re involved in, if you have been injured by a negligent driver, you should receive compensation. Auto accident damages are usually divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Here are the differences.
Anything to which you can attach a dollar value is considered a part of economic damages. This would include your medical expenses, lost wages, damage to your car or personal property, etc. In a wrongful death claim, economic damages can include the future lost earnings of the deceased. As St. Louis car accident lawyers, we believe that you should be made financially whole after your auto accident. Contact our office to discuss the details of your auto accident.
In a car accident case, not every item has a dollar value. For instance, you may be in physical pain, or you may have suffered emotional trauma. You may also not be able to do the things that you were able to do before your accident injuries. In personal injury law, this is often referred to as pain and suffering.
These damages are paid by the defendant as a punishment for reckless or deliberate actions. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in the state of Missouri.
Car Accident Statistics for Missouri
The Missouri roadways and highways are dangerous places to drive. In 2020, there was a 12% increase in the number of fatal accidents over 2019. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, there were 881 deaths in 2019 and 989 in 2020.
Car Accident Injury Checklist
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, there are several steps you should take to ensure your safety, make certain that you and others receive the medical help you need, and preserve your legal case. Here are some post-traffic crash suggestions.
Make Sure You’re Safe
You may have heard that you shouldn’t move a vehicle after a car crash until the police arrive. However, hard rules like this rarely apply to accidents. If the position of your car is placing you in danger, you should move it from the roadway. Otherwise, safely exit the vehicle and move away from the danger. The same thing applies to other victims. You should try not to move accident victims unless their current position puts them in danger.
Call 911 or Instruct Someone Else to Call
Don’t assume that someone is calling for rescue. If you are able to access your cell phone, call 911. The dispatcher will ask you the following:
- Your location
- The direction of travel
- A description of the vehicles involved
- License plate numbers
- A description of injuries
Stay on the line until police or rescue arrives.
Identify Witnesses to the Auto Accident
People often stop to see if anyone is hurt or to find out if they can render assistance. Ask bystanders if they witnessed the actual crash. If they did, ask them to remain to speak to the police. If they insist on leaving, try to get their contact information. You may also document their license plate number. A personal injury lawyer can track them down later to testify about your car accident case.
Take Photographs or Videos
Many car accident cases are won with visual evidence. If you are able to, take pictures or videos of the car accident. You should include the vehicles, any street signs that indicate the location, and all visible injuries. Only do this from a safe location. Don’t worry about taking too many images or too long of a video. Back up your photographic evidence to a hard drive or to a cloud service like iCloud or Dropbox to ensure that they aren’t lost.
Talk to the Police, but Don’t Admit Fault
The police will want to ask you questions about the crash. You will need to answer their questions, but you should not admit fault. Also, avoid statements like, “I thought the light was still yellow,” or “I may have been going a little fast.” Insurance companies will use innocent admissions like this to minimize the damages they have to pay out. Remember, your Miranda rights only apply if you are the subject of a criminal investigation.
Allow Rescue Workers to Examine You
If you believe you’ve been injured, you should allow the EMTs to examine you. If they recommend transporting you to the emergency room, you should go with them. Accident victims sometimes think that if they’re released from the hospital without treatment, it will damage their car accident cases, but your health is paramount, so get yourself checked out.
Contact Our St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact our personal injury law firm. Insurance companies will almost always try to discourage car accident victims from speaking to attorneys. That’s because their priority is to pay the minimum amount possible on a car accident claim. It’s to your benefit to have an attorney itemize your damages, however. Because we work on a contingency basis, you can have immediate and cost-free representation before talking to the insurance companies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Collisions
As St. Louis car accident lawyers, we have answered questions from hundreds of clients. These are some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve heard. Many car crash victims will peruse sites like this to get some insight into their case. If you have been injured in an accident, just call. We will be happy to answer your questions personally.
How can I afford a car accident lawyer?
One of the biggest concerns that accident injury victims have is their finances. With medical expenses and loss of income, it may not seem possible to pay for an attorney. The good news is that you will not have to pay out of pocket for top-tier legal advice. Car accident attorneys use a contingency schedule for compensation. That means that they take a percentage of your settlement or award. Under Missouri law, the client must sign a written contingency schedule. Make sure you read the schedule and ask any questions before you sign.
How long do I have to make a car accident injury claim?
Missouri has a fairly generous statute of limitations for personal injury cases when compared to other states. For most car accident claims, you have five years from the date of the accident to file your claim. That does not, however, mean that you should delay filing. Over time, witnesses move away, their memories become less sharp, and other evidence may be lost. Contact a personal injury lawyer at your earliest convenience. If your case involves wrongful death, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of death.
What if I’m the victim of a hit and run?
Hit-and-run accidents are common, and if an unidentified hit-and-run driver has injured you, you may believe that you won’t be able to pursue damages, but this is incorrect. Depending on your coverages, you may still receive a substantial settlement. Even if you only carry the minimum coverages under Missouri law, you should still have $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage per person and $50,000 per vehicle. Hit and runs are treated as uninsured motorist claims. Contact an accident attorney before reaching out to the insurance companies. Additionally, the police or your attorney may be able to track down the at-fault driver and hold them accountable.
Can I represent myself in a car accident claim?
There is no legal reason that you can’t represent yourself when making a claim. In fact, drivers who have been involved in accidents do it all of the time when there are only minor damages. If you’ve been injured, however, it’s to your benefit to speak with a professional.
The adjusters who work for insurance companies will try to get you to accept a settlement as quickly as they can. They will offer to write you a check for your doctor bills and vehicle damages. At the time, this money might seem sufficient to cover all of your expenses, but there’s a catch. They will require you to sign a waiver liability before issuing payment. That means when the money runs out, you can’t pursue them for additional damages.
Why shouldn’t I just take the initial settlement offer from the insurance company?
Insurance companies work on a cost-containment model. What that means is that they remain profitable by charging premiums and minimizing their payouts to policyholders. A typical initial settlement offer will include payment for all known economic damages. However, accident injuries can be unpredictable. You may end up being out of work for longer than you anticipated. You may need to have additional procedures in order to recover properly. In addition to medical expenses and time off from work, you’re entitled to pain and suffering damages, which insurance companies often negate. By being patient, you are more likely to receive compensation that’s commensurate with your injuries.
What if I lost a loved one in an accident?
Few things can be more painful than losing someone you care about at the hands of a negligent driver. Wrongful death claims work differently than other types of personal injury cases. In order for you to pursue damages, you must establish standing. That means that you had a relationship with the deceased that gives you the right to sue.
In order for the courts to acknowledge your right to sue, you must be a spouse or direct blood relative of the deceased. If there are no spouses or direct blood relatives, the courts can still appoint you as an ad litem.
Wrongful death damages are similar to other types of personal injury damages, with a few exceptions. The plaintiff receives damages on behalf of the deceased. Also, the plaintiff can sue for loss of consortium and future lost earnings.
What should I bring to meet with a St. Louis car accident lawyer?
If you are just calling to initiate a relationship with an attorney, you don’t necessarily need to worry about having all of the detailed information. Your lawyer can walk you through the items that they require. The following items will be helpful if you’re going to their office:
- A copy of the police report
- Any medical bills or records you received from your doctor or the hospital
- Any photographs or videos you have of the accident. You can also email these items to your lawyer.
- The names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident
- A notepad, tablet, or laptop so you can take down information
What does a car accident attorney have to prove to win my case?
In order to win any personal injury case, plaintiff attorneys must show that the case meets four requirements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Here is a breakdown of these elements:
1. Duty of Care
For a person or entity to be considered a defendant in a car accident case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff. In-car accident cases, this is often assumed. All drivers on the roadway have an assumed duty of care to one another. That means that all drivers must obey traffic laws and do their best to avoid collisions.
2. Breach of Duty
Once the duty of care is established, the plaintiff must then show that the duty was breached. For instance, the other driver ran a red light or was following too closely. In truck accident cases, the driver can breach their duty of care by exceeding their maximum road hours in violation of the law.
For there to be a settlement or judgment, the plaintiff must prove their damages. These can be economic or intangible.
Car Accident Law Firm in St. Louis, MO
For years, the victims of car accidents have been coming to the St. Louis car accident attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch, LLC. With a stellar record of success, our attorneys have helped hundreds of injury victims receive full and fair compensation from insurance companies and negligent parties around the state of Missouri. We work on a contingency basis, which means all appointments are free. Call today for a free case eval and begin your climb toward physical and financial recovery.