Navigating the aftermath of a serious accident be an emotionally and financially taxing experience. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer to guide you through the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact Tom Wilmowski to learn more.

When individuals are injured due to the negligence or intentional actions of others, they often find themselves battling not just physical and emotional distress but also the complex world of legal claims. This is where a personal injury lawyer steps in.

Personal injury lawyers play a vital role in the justice system, providing both legal representation and a measure of solace to individuals who have been harmed through no fault of their own. Their tenacious pursuit of fairness ensures that clients can focus on the most crucial matter after an injury: their recovery. 

This article will explore the role of a personal injury attorney in Missouri, including various types of cases, recoverable compensation, steps to pursuing a personal injury claim, and more.

Ready to discuss your case with a lawyer? Consider speaking with Tom Wilmowski, one of the most trusted personal injury lawyers in Missouri and Southern Illinois. Call 314-860-1644 or email us to schedule a free case evaluation. 

Types of Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury law is a broad field that encompasses various types of accidents and injuries. Personal injury lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in helping injured victims seek compensation for their damages and losses caused by the negligence of another. 

Here’s an overview of the specific categories of legal cases that personal injury attorneys typically handle: 

  • Car accidents. Car accidents make up a sizable percentage of personal injury cases. Injury claims can arise from head-on collisions, rear-end crashes, rollovers, side-impact collisions, and other types of automobile accidents. Personal injury lawyers work to prove negligence on the part of the other driver and secure compensation for their client’s medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs. According to the National Safety Council, Americans suffer an estimated 5.4 million medically consulted injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents annually. 
  • Truck accidents. Truck accidents often result in significant injuries or fatalities due to the size and weight of large trucks. Legal cases involving truck collisions can be complex, with lawyers navigating regulations specific to the trucking industry, such as hours-of-service laws, maintenance requirements, and cargo loading standards. In 2021, 155,000 people were injured in collisions involving large trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles offer less protection compared to other vehicles, which is why these accidents often result in debilitating injuries. Personal injury lawyers work to support motorcycle accident victims and their surviving family members, dealing with biases against riders and fighting for justice and fair compensation. Each year, motorcycle accidents in the U.S. result in approximately 80,000 injuries, according to the Insurance Information Institute
  • Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians struck by vehicles can sustain life-altering injuries. A personal injury lawyer advocating for a pedestrian accident victim must often handle intricate details, from analyzing traffic patterns to investigating how the driver’s negligence contributed to the accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pedestrian accidents caused 104,000 emergency room visits for non-fatal injuries in 2020. 
  • Bicycle accidents. Cyclists are some of the most vulnerable users on the road, as their interactions with larger, motorized vehicles can result in tragic and devastating outcomes. Lawyers handling bicycle accidents must understand cycling laws and roadway rights to effectively argue these cases and achieve just compensation for injured victims. According to the CDC, an estimated more than 130,000 cyclists are injured in collisions on U.S. roads every year. 
  • Slip and fall. Slip and fall accidents, which fall under a broader category of premises liability accidents, relate to accidents where individuals are injured on someone else’s property due to unsafe conditions. Personal injury lawyers help injured victims demonstrate that the property owner was negligent in maintaining safe premises or warning about potential hazards.
  • Dog bites. Dog bite cases involve holding the dog owner liable for injuries caused by their pet. These cases can range from minor injuries to fatal attacks, and laws concerning the owner’s responsibility vary greatly from one state to another. A personal injury lawyer helps injured victims navigate local statutes and seek to recover damages for their physical, emotional, and financial hardships.
  • Wrongful death claims. When a person is killed in a negligence-based accident, their surviving loved ones may be eligible to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal injury law firm will work with family members to calculate a settlement and pursue it in a legal claim.
  • Product liability claims. When a person suffers injuries caused by a defective product, they may be able to pursue a product liability lawsuit. A personal injury attorney can help them establish the cause of injury, pinpoint the at-fault party, and pursue compensation in court.

Tom Wilmowski, who has successfully obtained multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for his clients, also handles the following types of personal injury cases: e-scooter accidents, electric bike accidents, ATV accidents, workplace accidents, bus accidents, train accidents, construction accidents, amusement park accidents, and more.

The Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in representing those who have been hurt due to third-party fault. The role of a lawyer includes some key responsibilities to ensure their client’s rights are protected and justice is served.

Advising a Client on Their Legal Options and Best Course of Action

A personal injury lawyer provides expert legal advice to clients, guiding them through the murky waters of personal injury law. This may involve explaining information about the potential for compensation, the likelihood of a successful claim, and the various strategies that could be employed throughout the case.

Investigating Claims

Personal injury cases often hinge on the finer details of the incident. Lawyers are responsible for conducting thorough investigations to establish the facts and build a solid foundation for the claim. This process may entail visiting the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, and collecting relevant reports and records.

Gathering Evidence

Evidence is the cornerstone of any personal injury claim. Personal injury attorneys must gather pertinent evidence such as photographs, video surveillance, physical evidence, and witness statements, among others. In addition, they will procure medical reports and records to document the extent of injuries and other documentation that may influence the outcome of the claim one way or another. 

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Personal injury lawyers often find themselves negotiating with insurance companies to arrive at a fair settlement for their clients. This requires a blend of skillful communication, tenacity, and strategic negotiation, aiming to ensure that clients receive the compensation they deserve without the need for a trial.

Preparing Demand Letters and Counteroffer Letters

Part of the negotiation process involves preparing and submitting demand letters to insurance companies, which outline the facts of the case, the evidence, and the amount of damages being sought. If an insurance company makes a first settlement offer that does not accurately reflect the client’s losses, the lawyer will respond with a counteroffer to get a higher payout. 

Taking a Client’s Case to Court

When negotiations do not come to a mutually acceptable resolution, a personal injury lawyer must be prepared to take the matter to court. This carries the responsibility of filing a lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction before the statute of limitations expires, meticulously preparing the case, and engaging in pre-trial activities.

  • Note: The statute of limitations differs from one state to another. For example, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Missouri is five years from the date the injury is sustained or discovered (Revised Statues of Missouri § 516.120). 

Representing Clients at Trial

If a personal injury claim proceeds to trial, the lawyer will represent and fight for the client’s interests in court. This role requires a compelling presentation of the case before a judge or jury, including but not limited to opening and closing statements, depositions, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, and presenting evidence. 

The Process of Resolving a Personal Injury Claim

Understanding the claim resolution process is essential for anyone seeking compensation for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence. Successful resolution requires a deep understanding of tort law and the legal system, which is why it’s important to work with an experienced attorney to undertake the tasks described below.

1. Initial Assessment 

The initial phase involves critical steps that lay the foundation for your entire claim:

  • Gathering information. Start by collecting all possible details about the incident. This includes taking photos, obtaining contact information of witnesses, and making notes of what happened.
  • Seeking medical attention. Your health takes priority. Immediately seek medical care to begin the necessary treatment and document your injuries.
  • Consulting with a lawyer. An attorney specializing in personal injury law can offer valuable guidance, explain your legal rights, and interpret how the law applies to your situation.

2. Filing a Claim for Compensation

The actual claim process begins with several administrative tasks:

  • Submission. File the claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company by providing a claim letter outlining the incident and your damages.
  • Documentation. Back up your claim with relevant documentation such as medical records, receipts for expenses incurred, police reports, and any other evidence pertinent to the case.

3. Investigation and Negotiation 

During this phase, you may engage in negotiations with the insurance company after the insurer reviews your claim: 

  • Investigation. Insurance adjusters or legal representatives assess the validity of your claim and the value of your losses.
  • Negotiation. Based on the investigation’s outcome, you may receive a settlement offer or enter into negotiations for fair compensation.

4. Settlement or Litigation 

The claim can be resolved through settlement or, if necessary, litigation:

  • Settlement. Most claims end with the injured party accepting a settlement after careful deliberation and negotiation.
  • Litigation. If settlement talks fall through, the case may proceed to court for a judge or jury to decide.

5. Resolution 

Once a settlement is agreed upon, the claim reaches a resolution:

  • Signing release forms. Finalize the agreement by signing release forms, which essentially relinquish your right to pursue legal action on the matter in exchange for the agreed compensation.
  • Receiving compensation. The compensation awarded is disbursed to cover medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other damages.

6. Post-Resolution Steps 

With the claim settled, there are still a few concluding steps:

  • Medical bills. Ensure that all medical providers are paid from the settlement funds.
  • Tax Implications. Understand the tax implications of your compensation – some elements may be taxable.
  • Closure. Engage in personal activities to process the event’s emotional aspects and find closure.

Tom Wilmowski is a skilled personal injury lawyer who has been serving clients in Missouri and Southern Illinois for over 15 years. He can walk you through every step of the claim resolution process, building a strong case while you focus on recovery.

Types of Compensation You Can Recover in a Personal Injury Claim

Recoverable compensation in a typical personal injury claim is broken down into economic and non-economic damages. According to the American Bar Association, the term “damages” in personal injury law refers to the amount of money recovered by the injured person. Economic damages, as the name implies, compensate the victim for objectively verifiable monetary losses such as: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Property damage or loss
  • Attorney fees and other legal costs
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Household services
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses that are not measured in financial terms. These include: 

  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Disfigurement
  • Physical impairment

Economic and non-economic damages fall under the broader category of “compensatory damages.” Many states, including Missouri, also recognize another category of damages called “punitive damages.” Under Revised Statues of Missouri § 510.261, punitive damages may be awarded in personal injury cases when the defendant inflicts harm on the plaintiff intentionally without just cause or acts with a deliberate disregard for the safety of others. 

How to Choose the Right Personal Injury Lawyer

If you think you need a personal injury lawyer but feel too overwhelmed by the prospect of finding the right lawyer for your case, consider following these steps to ensure you are making a well-informed decision: 

  1. Ask for lawyer referrals from people you know. Start by talking to your family, friends, and colleagues and ask them if they can provide referrals based on their personal experience with a lawyer. Personal stories from trusted sources can give you insight that extends beyond what you will find on the lawyers’ websites or reviews.
  2. Search for personal injury attorneys online. In the digital age, a wealth of information is available at your fingertips. Use online directories, legal platforms, and professional networks like LinkedIn to find attorneys who specialize in personal injury law. Or simply type in Google “personal injury lawyer [your city]” (e.g. personal injury lawyer St. Louis). 
  3. Make a list of criteria that are important to you. Before proceeding any further, take a moment to write down what you are looking for in an attorney. Consider factors such as location, experience with similar cases, the attorney’s track record, communication style, legal fees, and any other personal preferences that might affect your working relationship with the lawyer.
  4. Shortlist lawyers who meet the criteria. With your criteria established, compare the lawyers you have researched or been referred to, and start building a shortlist. Focus on narrowing down to those attorneys who seem best suited to meet your needs.
  5. Call or meet with shortlisted lawyers. Take the opportunity to reach out for an initial consultation, which many personal injury lawyers – including Tom Wilmowski – offer for free. This consultation is the perfect chance to ask questions about the lawyer’s experience and their approach to your case and to understand better how they communicate. Take notes during each consultation to help you remember key points.
  6. Hire the lawyer who feels like the best fit. After consulting or meeting with potential candidates, reflect on who made you feel most comfortable and confident. Trust your instincts regarding their expertise and your compatibility with them. Once you have made your choice, you should be ready to move forward with your personal injury claim.

Tom Wilmowski has been recognized as one of the premier personal injury law lawyers in St. Louis and throughout the state of Missouri and Southern Illinois. You can schedule a free consultation with Tom to discuss the facts of your case and get answers to your questions. Call 314-860-1644 or email us to get a free case review.