Legal Question in Personal Injury in Missouri

Serious Neck Injury

I was involved in a motor vehicle accident on 8/21/04. I was a passenger in a vehicle that lost control and hit a tree. I fractured 2 vertabrae in my neck and completly smashed a third. As a result I had to have a donor vertabrae and a metal plate with several screws placed in my neck. I have severe nerve damage and will have for the remainder of my life. The driver of the vehicle had 300k worth of coverage. My medical bills total aroun 111k. At the time of the accident I had been a Corrections Officer for 3 years. I will never be able to return to that line of work again. My questions are what would be a good estimate on how much my case is worth? Would the insurance company offer a settlement for more than what the policy covers? If it goes to trial will and I get awarded more than 300k would I get that from the insurance company or would I have to go after the driver for the remainder? How long does it usually take to get a settlement after one is agreed upon?

Asked on 6/01/06, 1:58 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

Michael R. Nack Michael R. Nack, Attorney at Law
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Re: Serious Neck Injury

Are you currently being represented by an attorney? If so, all of your questions should be directed to your attorney. If not, you should hire one immediately. I would be happy to offer you a free telephone consultation if you are not already represented.

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6/01/06, 11:13 pm
Richard Stevens The Stevens Law Firm
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Re: Serious Neck Injury

your situation requires the aid of an experienced attorney.did you have auto insurance? this could be significant because your case is probably worth more than 300000.i cannot tell you the value however without more information.

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6/02/06, 11:13 am
Jeff Heinrichs McLeod & Heinrichs
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Re: Serious Neck Injury

Those are all good questions frequently asked by people who have been injured by someone else.

Estimate of value - This is the toughest question to answer. You should be compensated for your medical bills and lost wages, past and future. The past bills and wages are easy since it is just a matter of adding up the numbers. Future medical bills and wages are more difficult. At trial, an expert such as an economist, life care planner, or doctor would testify on your behalf about how much your future medical bills and lost wages would be. It is generally not information the judge would allow you to talk about on your own. You should also be compensated for any permanent injuries, and your pain and suffering. This is the hard part because it is not easy to put a price tag on these items since they are priceless. In addition, if you were married at the time of the accident, your spouse may have a claim as well. With all these unknown variables, it is hard to give you an exact amount. It would be easier if I was able to talk with you.

It would be extremely unlikely for the insurance company to offer you a settlement that is higher than their amount of coverage.

If it goes to trial and the jury awards you an amount higher than $300,000, the driver may be responsible for the remainder. However, there is a legal theory that may be applicable in your case that could possibly shift the burden of amount in excess of $300,000 back to the insurance company. Unfortunately, it is a little complicated and not easy to explain on this forum.

Once you settle with an insurance company, it typically takes 2 - 4 weeks before you have the money.

Here are some additional things to remember. The insurance company makes money by getting people to settle for a low amount of money that is very unfair. Once you settle the case, you will never be able to ask for more money even if you deserve it. You only have one shot to get it right.

If you would like to get a better estimate on the value of the case or ask a few more questions before you settle, please feel free to contact me at jheinrichs@mclaw.com. Myself or my partner, Rich McLeod, will be happy to give you any additional information you may need.

Good luck.

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6/01/06, 2:38 pm
Anthony DeWitt Bartimus, Frickleton Robertson & Gorny, PC
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Re: Serious Neck Injury

You really need to retain counsel pretty quickly and have someone investigate this case. Not only is the other driver potentially liable for your injuries, there could be a claim regarding the crashworthiness of your vehicle. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorists insurance, there may be claims you can make under those policies. The best thing you can do is consult with an attorney. You will rarely get full value for your claim negotiating on your own because the insurance companies have lawyers to protect them, and they know you don't.

Also, depending on the facts, there may be other potentially liable parties. For example, if the person driving the car was on an errand for their employer, that company's insurance may provide some coverage. There are numerous potential issues an attorney can investigate, and the amount of available coverage is only one of many things that may determine the value of your case.

Time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the more difficult your claim is to evaluate. You should see someone in your area with experience with these kinds of cases. My partners in Kansas City, Mike Rader or Steve Gorny, would be perfect choices if you're on the west side of the state. I'd be happy to visit with you if you're in central Missouri. I can certainly make a referral to someone in your area if you would like.

But irrespective of whom you see, see a lawyer as soon as possible. A consultation in a case like this is almost always free.

Good luck,

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6/01/06, 2:58 pm
Jeffrey Carey Carey Law Firm, LLC
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Re: Serious Neck Injury

Let me begin by saying that I understand what you have been through. My brother in law had a similar injury and has been fighting many of these same issues. It is not possible to place a value on your case based on the facts presented. Each case is unique and often intangible factors such as the degree of negligence of the responsible party and the honesty of the parties plays a large role in the verdict that a jury will return.

The insurance company will not likely offer more than policy limits. It is likely, in fact, that you will be offered less than policy limits even though you have significant injuries that would likely be valued in excess of the applicable coverage.

As previous posts indicate, there are ways to recover amounts in excess of the policy limits against the insurance company with careful planning. The key is to take advantage of the insurance companies' tendency to act in bad faith. I can consult with you at no charge to help you either 1) recover the policy limits on your own or 2) set up a bad faith insurance claim. You can visit my website to see the success I have had in this area before. If the insurance company responds to your request for payment of policy limits as I suspect they will you can open up a substantial excess recovery.

Contact me to discuss further in a less public setting.

Jeff Carey

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6/01/06, 3:07 pm

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