I saw it coming, that may have been the worst part. The image of the other vehicle crossing the center line. The unsteady wobble as they too recognized the impending collision. The sharp pains shooting up my arms as I tried to avoid it. The image is now stuck in my brain. A one second loop of terror that I feel in my gut every time a car approaches close to the center line. I was hit head on by a drunk driver.
The collision is foggy in my mind. I was sitting at a stop light and suddenly hit. I didn’t hear a honk. I didn’t hear tires screeching. I didn’t see swerving or sliding. I didn’t even see a vehicle. What I saw was a red light in front of me. What I heard was the radio. I even remember the song. My mind is foggy on how it happened, but not on how it felt. My mind is still very clear on how it felt. I felt the collision. I felt the crunching and breaking of my vehicle and body. I will never forget how it felt.
My back and arm had been hurting for weeks. It was hard to sleep, but even harder to get up in the morning. My doctor suggested physical therapy, so I went. I remember the physical therapists asking me how I was doing. I would always respond, “Oh, pretty good.” I would then proceed to tell him where I felt pain, the level of pain, the frequency of pain, the duration or pain. After an hour of stretching, exercises, and electronic stimulation he would jot down some notes and release me for the day. He would always say, “Have a good day”, and I would always respond, “Will do.” Why do we lie like that? Why do we say things are fine when they are not fine? I wasn’t good, and I would not have a good day.
My life is different now. It’s hard to explain, but its real. Some friends asked my husband and I to go bowling last week. I was never a great bowler, but I always enjoyed it. My goals were low, and if I broke 100 then we would cheer. If by some chance I were to accidently roll a strike we would celebrate like I had just won the Super Bowl. Since the accident my pain is so bad that I have no desire to bowl. We simply declined the invite. “Maybe next time” we said, knowing that wasn’t true. I am not missing out on bowling; I am missing out on everything that comes with it because of my pain.
Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling, their circumstances, their pain. However, everyone’s pain is different. What we know is that pain may manifest differently in people, and the impact reaches far beyond a broken bone. At Harris Law we want to know what you are going through beyond your treatment. We want to know your story.
The most common causes of serious injury and death in the United States each year result from Auto accidents and collisions. Although advancements in technology have made vehicles and roads significantly safer, automobile accidents remain a common occurrence. Advancements in safety technology and improvements in auto capabilities (i.e. 500 horsepower) have made anyone capable of driving a car a potential deadly weapon. Coupled with the increasingly hardline negotiations coming from insurance companies, many injured persons simply cannot get the recovery they deserve on their own. In fact, auto accident lawsuits are among the most common type of civil tort case filed by attorneys today. It is important to note that not every car accident will result in litigation.
Automobile accidents are founded in the principles of negligence.
Negligence is generally defined as the lack of ordinary care. It may arise from doing an act that a reasonably prudent person would not have done under the same circumstances, or, from failing to do an act that a reasonably prudent person would have done under the same circumstances.
The most common types of automobile accidents are caused by driver negligence.
Auto accidents caused by negligence can arise under many situations. The most common cause of automobile accidents is driver error. Driver errors are often a result of failure to yield the right of way, following too closely, driving at an excessive rate of speed, driving while intoxicated and failure to see or obey traffic control devices. In the case of semi-truck accidents, many time too many hours on the road, as seen in the drivers log, will result in a split-second mistake that results in the loss of lives to many.
Distractions to Vehicle Driver
However, these are not the only causes of auto accidents. As a result of our multi-tasked world, distractions to a motor vehicle driver have become an increasing cause of accidents. Common distractions include: car driver uses a cellular phone, car driver attempts to read, car driver puts on makeup, car driver changes the radio station and numerous other distractions both inside and outside of the vehicle.
Liability – “Who pays when both are at fault?”
Often times, the responsibility for an auto accident does not rest with one single person. There can be multiple factors which caused or contributed to an automobile accident. In some situations the accident simply results from both drivers’ negligence. In those situations a Missouri jury is permitted to compare and apportion the negligence of the plaintiff against that of the defendant and adjust its damage award to the plaintiff according to the degree of comparative negligence of the plaintiff. Thus, if a jury finds the plaintiff 35% responsible for an accident, the jury can reduce the plaintiff’s recovery by 35%. In some situations, a jury can even find that an injured party is 100% responsible for a motor vehicle accident. If that is the case, the injured party will not be entitled to a recovery from the other party, no matter how badly injured he/she is. However, there may be limited recovery available under the medical payments provisions of your own insurance policy.
Coverage is many times the name of the game. It is an unfortunate, but sometimes the negligent operator of a car may not have sufficient insurance coverage to cover the victim of his/her negligence. In some cases, the victim of an automobile accident may be entitled to make a claim under his/her own automobile insurance policy. This is often known as Uninsured Motorists or Under Insured Motorists (UM/UIM) coverage. It typically arises under two circumstances:
1. The negligent driver has no insurance
2. The negligent driver has minimal insurance
Where the negligent driver is uninsured, it is often difficult for a person who is injured in an auto accident to obtain a fair recovery. If the injured person carries what is known as "uninsured motorist coverage" through their own automobile insurance policy, they may be able to receive compensation in the case that the other driver fails to carry insurance or cannot be identified (i.e. a hit and run accident or the phantom driver). Sometimes the at-fault driver is under-insured and carries insurance coverage that is simply too low, often at the minimum level required by state law. Missouri has very low minimal insurance requirements of $25,000.00, which unfortunately means that some drivers on the road carry inadequate coverage. In those cases a person may be able to protect themselves by purchasing additional coverage, called under insured motorist coverage, through their own insurance company. If they are injured through the fault of an underinsured motorist, they may be able to obtain recovery through their own insurance policy. In the case of an uninsured motorist the available coverage is many times greater than had they been covered under Missouri “stacking” laws.
Missouri Stacking Provisions of Uninsured Motorists Policies
Stacking refers to combining the available insurance coverage found on the multiple insurance policies a party may have. Missouri law allows victims of uninsured motorist to combine or “stack” policies in order to receive just compensation. For example, say you are injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist, and you have auto insurance in Missouri. If your injuries are severe enough you may not have enough coverage under a single policy, especially if you only have the state minimum coverage of $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. However, a person with multiple policies may be able to “stack” the policies in order to cover the injuries. In that case if you had 3 policies, with $25,000.00 in coverage, you would have at least $75,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.
In the case were an accident occurs involving the named insured on the policy and the at fault driver has no insurance coverage then Missouri case law is well-settled that UM coverage can be stacked given the statutory mandate for UM coverage, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 379.203, and the strong public policy derived from the statute. Cameron Mutual Insurance Co. v. Madden, 533 S.W.2d 538 (Mo. 1976). In some cases insurance companies have attempted to avoid this liability by including “anti-stacking” provisions in their policies. “Anti-stacking” provisions, with respect to the named insured, are void. Galloway v. Farmers Insurance Company, Inc., 523 S.W.2d 339 (Mo. Ct. App. 1975).
In the case were an accident occurs involving and occupant of the insured vehicle, other than the named insured and household residents, appellate courts have historically held that stacking is not required. Hines v. Government Employees Insurance Company, 656 S.W.2d 262 (Mo. banc 1983).
No matter your situation, Harris Law is here to help you find the best possible outcome.
Don't let pain control your life. Don't let insurance adjusters tell you that you are not hurt. Don't let someone else make you question, what you already know.
There are many types of personal injury cases, but they all come down to one basic concept: You were hurt because of the negligence or intentional act of someone else.
Because injuries come in all shapes and sizes, your case will be unique. That means that I can’t give you a dollar amount of what your case is worth. That being said, I can tell you how it will be evaluated.
Things to consider:
While these aren’t the only damages that exist, they are certainly the most common.
Of course, the biggest issue is attributing a value to some of these items. Medical bills is easy, but what about pain & suffering? There is no rule, no chart, and no instruction on how to determine this amount. Sometimes we will use the “Multiplier” approach: Medical bills multiplied by a number ranging from 1-4. This will many times give us a starting point to negotiate from.
No matter your situation, know this: the insurance company is looking to minimize the amount they pay out. They will attempt to settle quickly, but the only thing they care about is your signature on a release saying you cannot sue them.
AT HARRIS LAW, LLC IT WILL COST YOU NO MONEY UP FRONT TO HIRE OUR OFFICE FOR AN INJURY CASE. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT IF WE DON'T WIN, THEN YOU NEVER PAY.