Joplin car accident lawyerBefore you can recover for any injuries you sustain during a car accident, your Joplin car accident lawyer must first help you determine who is at fault.  The first step is to figure out whose negligence caused the accident and led to your injuries.  Depending on how serious the car accident was, there could be significant medical expenses and repair costs.  The person who is at fault is the person who should be held responsible for compensating you for your damages.  In some cases, the negligent driver may be killed in the accident.  If that happens, your Joplin car accident lawyer can help you sort through the legal issues.

A negligence claim can still be brought to court if the at-fault driver dies

Simply because the person who caused the accident dies in the wreck, the injured person is not absolutely barred from bringing a personal injury claim in court. Nevertheless, the claim may be a little more difficult to litigate.  Typically, the claim is presented to the negligent driver’s insurance carrier and the claim is then handled in the same way any other personal injury claim would be handled. In other words, if the insurance carrier does not settle the claim initially, then a lawsuit will be filed to recover for the damages.

The question becomes who to sue if the negligent party has died

If an administrator has been named to represent the estate of the negligent driver, then that person will take the place of the deceased for purposes of filing the lawsuit. At that point, the litigation can proceed as normal.  As your Joplin car accident lawyer knows, it will likely be much more complicated if no estate has been established, which means there is no one legally in place to represent the deceased defendant.  Under those circumstances, the injured person would have to go through the extra step of having the estate set up and an administrator appointed. Once that has been accomplished, there will be someone upon whom the lawsuit can be served.

The purpose of the lawsuit does not change if the defendant is deceased

Basically, the purpose of filing the lawsuit is to recover, or be compensated, for the injuries sustained as a result of the actions of another. When you are dealing with a car accident, the purpose of the lawsuit is to make the driver who was at-fault compensate you for all of the injuries and losses that occurred because of the accident.

What recovery am I entitled to?

What you are entitled to receive, in compensation for your injuries, is referred to as “damages” in the legal field. It is often the case that both economic and non-economic damages are incurred following a car accident. Exactly which type of damages you will be entitled to depends on the facts of your specific case. But there are certain types of damages that are generally involved in auto accident cases and your Joplin car accident lawyer can help you determine what that might be in your case.

Economic versus non-economic damages

Economic damages are usually the easiest to establish in a negligence case. Economic damages are essentially the financial losses that you suffer as a result of an accident or injury, including your medical expenses, the income you lost from missing time at work, the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, and many others. As long as the financial loss can be attributed to the accident, you may be able to recover for that loss.
Non-economic damages are often more difficult to prove because they are more subjective in nature and more difficult to quantify. For example, pain and suffering, mental distress, and anxiety are some of the most common non-economic damages claimed following a car accident. The best evidence of these types of damages would be documentation from a psychologist or counselor who has diagnosed you with these problems and provided treatment for them, as well.

 What can I do to prove my damages?

The most important thing you can do is keep records of your damages. Your medical bills can be proven through your medical records and your lost income can be shown with your pay stubs or time records from your employer. The damages to your vehicle should be evaluated by professionals who can provide written repair estimates.
As for non-economic damages, in addition to any treatment records you may obtain, it is also very useful to keep a diary of the accident-related problems you may experience on a daily basis. Keep a written record of your physical discomfort and any limitations you may be experiencing. Take note of the mental or emotional impact your injuries, and the accident in general, have had on your daily life. Although it is not ideal, this may be the only records you have of these subjective damages.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Joplin accident lawyer at the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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