When filing a Cape Girardeau personal injury claim, auto accident victims must prove that another driver was negligent in order to collect monetary damages following a crash. Negligence is defined as "a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances." In general, drivers can be negligent in two basic ways: (1) by doing something careless or illegal; or (2) by failing to do something that should have been done. If another driver's negligence caused you to sustain injury in an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation, and you may need to seek advice from a Missouri personal injury lawyer.
Here are the four elements of a successful Missouri personal injury claim:
• The law requires drivers to use the "highest degree of care." Under Section 304.012 of Missouri law, Missourians are required to drive "in a careful and prudent manner...so as not to endanger the property of another or the life and limb of any person."
• The other driver did not use the highest degree of care. To determine whether or not another driver violated his or her duty of care, the law will compare that driver's actions to that of a reasonable, careful driver. Was there speed involved in the crash? Was the driver following traffic laws? Was he or she following too closely? Or keeping a watchful eye out for pedestrians? If the other driver is guilty a traffic violation - and especially if he or she was cited by police - your attorney can use that violation as evidence that the driver was not using the highest degree of care.
• Because the driver failed to use the highest degree of care, you suffered injuries. A successful personal injury claim must demonstrate that another driver's lack of care led to your physical injury and financial losses. For instance, let's say a driver follows your vehicle too closely, causing a rear-end collision. You must demonstrate that your resulting back and neck injuries are a consequence of that rear-end collision, and not of another incident or accident. A personal injury lawyer may rely on testimony from your doctor (or from another expert witness) to establish this point.
• Because you suffered injuries, you also sustained damages and losses. You must prove that your injuries caused physical suffering and financial loss in order to receive compensation. If you haven't incurred any damages like medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering, you cannot recover compensation. For this reason, it's essential that you keep records of all your damages. We recommend that you keep all paperwork related to the accident in a folder or binder: that way, you have all pertinent information stored in the same place, and nothing is lost or forgotten.
In working to prove your case, your personal injury lawyer may need to do the following:
• Send an investigator to check into the circumstances surrounding an accident. This step may involve interviewing witnesses, taking photographs, and gathering other evidence to determine what caused a crash.
• Locate expert witnesses to support the key points of your claim (law enforcement officials, medical professionals, mental health specialists, accident reconstructionists, economists, vocational rehabilitation professionals, life care planners, etc.).