The average car accident settlement for severe injuries is $41,783. However, every case is unique, and this figure should not be relied upon when determining the value of any single car accident case. Some car accident cases can be worth millions, while others may be worth $10,000 to $15,000.
The best way to estimate the value of your case is to contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis and Kansas City.
How much can you sue an insurance company for?
You can generally sue the insurance company for the amount of your damages up to the coverage limits. The coverage limits vary based on the type of insurance involved. In the State of Missouri, compensation usually starts with the other party’s liability insurance.
As directed by the Missouri Department of Revenue, St. Louis and Kansas City drivers are required to carry the following liability insurance:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
These are only the state minimums. It is possible to purchase higher amounts. In many cases, damages exceed the state minimums, requiring plaintiffs to look to other sources to recover the full extent of their damages.
What if the at-fault driver is uninsured?
If the at-fault driver lacks the required insurance, you are entitled to sue the driver. However, drivers who do not carry insurance are unlikely to have assets from which to collect, so suing the driver may not be beneficial.
You can seek medical coverage through your own uninsured motorist coverage and your health insurance. Our attorneys at Brown & Crouppen can help you find additional options by looking for liable third parties and filing an uninsured report on the driver with the DMV. In some cases, the DMV can provide insurance information that was not immediately apparent.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The state of Missouri requires all drivers to carry the following uninsured motorist coverage:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
You can purchase higher amounts, and it is recommended to purchase as much insurance as you can afford. In the event of an accident in St. Louis or Kansas City, the insurance company is only required to pay up to the coverage limits, and if your injuries are severe, the minimum coverage amounts are unlikely to cover your medical bills.
Can an at-fault driver sue?
Missouri law allows at-fault drivers to sue as long as they are not 100 percent at fault. However, the damages for which an at-fault driver is eligible will be reduced proportionately in accordance with Missouri Statute 537.765.
For example, if the injured party is 60 percent at fault and the damages are $100,000, the damages will be reduced by $60,000, resulting in a net award of $40,000.
What determines how much I can sue for?
Your share of the fault is one of many factors that must be considered when calculating the value of your case. While there is no formula to determine its exact value, the facts of your case can help an experienced personal injury attorney determine a fair amount of compensation to seek.
The Extent and Impact of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries is central to determining the level of your compensation. As a general rule, the more severe your injuries, the higher your case value. When determining the extent of your injuries, the following factors will be considered:
- Whether your injuries are permanent
- If your injuries are not permanent, how long they will impact you
- The impact of your injuries on your ability to earn an income
- The effect of your injuries on your quality of life
- The projected lifetime cost of your medical treatment
Your economic losses are measured by the expenses you incurred or will incur as a result of the injury in addition to the total income lost. This includes:
- Time missed at work
- Your earnings before and after the accident
- How long you will be unable to work or return to full earning capacity
- The value of domestic services you will no longer be able to provide, if applicable
- Your medical expenses
- Property damages
Who Is Liable
Liability in car accidents in St. Louis and Kansas City does not always lie solely with the drivers involved. While driver error is frequently a contributing factor in a car accident, accidents can also be caused by factors outside of a driver’s control, such as a road condition or a defective vehicle part. In these cases, the following parties could be liable:
- A government entity
- Premises owners
- Vehicle manufacturer
- Vehicle parts manufacturer
- An auto mechanic
In accidents involving commercial vehicles or company vehicles, the insurance policy may have coverage limits as high as $750,000 to $1,000,000, and multiple insurance companies are often involved.
Federal regulations govern the conduct of trucking companies, including how many hours truckers can work in a given day or week. Companies that violate these regulations may be liable for the accident.
The Behavior of the At-Fault Party
You may be eligible for punitive damages if the defendant’s behavior was intentional or if they deliberately and flagrantly disregarded the safety of others.
Car Accident Lawyer Qualifications and Experience
An important factor in determining how much compensation you recover is the law firm you select to handle your case. Well-established personal injury law firms like Brown & Crouppen have the necessary experience and resources to ensure insurance companies pay fair and reasonable compensation.
Brown & Crouppen is one of the largest and most experienced law firms in the Midwest and cities like St. Louis and Kansas City. Established in 1979, we have defended the rights of injury victims for over 40 years with great success. Many of our attorneys initially started in the insurance industry, which gives our law firm the advantage of inside knowledge.
How Case Value Is Calculated
Your case value can only be calculated through an analysis of certain elements. Before your case value can be determined, your law firm will need to retrieve your medical records and conduct a thorough review to get a picture of the costs you have already incurred as well as the projected costs of your injuries throughout your lifetime.
Your economic damages are primarily determined by analyzing records according to the type of expense.
Medical costs include all costs associated with the care of your injury up until now and the care that can reasonably be anticipated in the future:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital bills
- Cost of rehabilitation
- Cost of medical and assistive devices
- Cost of personal care
- Ongoing therapy and maintenance costs related to the injuries
- Mental health services
The Value of Services
Even if you were not employed prior to the accident, you may have provided domestic services that you can no longer offer. This may necessitate paying for outside agencies to perform these services. These costs can be estimated for your lifetime:
Loss of Earnings
Loss of earnings includes the time you missed at work as well as the earnings you could have earned but now cannot because of the accident. Even if you can earn some income, you should be compensated for the difference in your earning capacity.
Noneconomic damages are subjective and non-pecuniary harms that pertain to your quality of life. They include losses such as:
- Loss of society
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life
- Loss of normal activities
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of bodily functions
No formula can quantify these types of damages. Generally speaking, the longer your disability and the more your quality of life is impacted, the higher your case value will be.
Punitive damages are different from other damages in that they are not considered compensatory. This means they are not awarded to compensate a victim, as economic and noneconomic damages are. Instead, they are awarded as a means to punish and deter a defendant who caused the injuries through conduct that was deliberate or flagrant.
Some states place hard limits on punitive damages, but the Missouri Supreme Court found, in 2014, that punitive damage caps violated the right to a trial by jury. One limitation Missouri does apply to punitive damages is if the at-fault party is a government entity, in which case punitive damages are not available
What if my family member was killed in a car accident?
In the tragic death of a loved one in a car accident, the state of Missouri allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit to potentially recover the following damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills of the deceased
- Financial losses that stem from the death, also known as pecuniary damages, including:
- Wages the deceased would have earned
- Other financial benefits lost due to the death
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
- Loss of relationship benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of comfort
Missouri Statute 537.090 does not allow families to recover damages for grief caused by the death.
Wages are calculated based on the earnings of the deceased. If the deceased was caring for minors or disabled persons at least 50 percent of the time at the time of death and was not employed full-time, the state provides a rebuttable presumption that the value of the care provided is 110 percent of the state’s average weekly wage.
For minors, the annual pecuniary losses are calculated based on the combined annual income of the parents or of the earning parent if only one parent earns income.
How to Maximize the Value of a Car Accident Case
To recover compensation, you will need to prove your damages. This requires documentation. In addition, your conduct and your statements can be used for or against you. The following measures will help you recover the highest available compensation:
- Document every aspect of the accident by taking photos from several angles and video if possible.
- Obtain the names and contact information of witnesses at the scene.
- Do not discuss fault with the other driver or the insurance company.
- Do not sign any documents or agree to a recorded statement for the insurance company without first speaking to your lawyer.
- Do not discuss your accident on social media.
- Call a qualified personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
- Complete all recommended medical treatments and keep records of your bills.
- Document and seek treatment for psychological effects.
- Do not assume the insurance company is representing your best interests.
How can a car accident attorney help with my claim?
Our attorneys at Brown & Crouppen will calculate the value of your case, negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement on your behalf, and help you avoid common mistakes that can cost you compensation. When necessary, we can also take your case to court.
Brown & Crouppen has recovered more than $1 billion on behalf of our clients in cities like St. Louis and Kansas City during the four decades we have been in business. Here are just a few examples:
- $100,000 plus medical reimbursement recovered for a woman who was severely injured after being rear-ended by an uninsured driver
- $6 million settlement for a man severely injured in an automobile accident involving a commercial vehicle
- $850,000 for a man who was injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident
While we cannot guarantee every accident victim will get the same results, we can promise you a thorough case review, where we will look at the facts of your case and determine whether it is worth pursuing. We can also help you calculate the value of your case. The initial consultation is free, and we do not charge legal fees until we recover compensation for you.
Contact us today to consult with a car accident attorney in the St. Louis or Kansas City area for free.