Asbestos: A Cause of Personal Injury in Missouri

The state of Missouri is home to many different industries – including agriculture, mining and truck assembly plants. The state has spent over 700 million dollars on private industries involving transportation and warehousing, as well as 400 million on private industries involving agriculture. A huge problem with these industries, truck assembly plants and power plants has been the use of asbestos – a deadly mineral that may cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and/or lung cancer.

Righting the Wrong

Over the years, there have been lawsuits filed against cities of Missouri and/or certain companies that have used asbestos. An environmental group, Families for Asbestos Compliance, Testing and Safety (FACTS), has sought to educate the public and private industries on the dangers of asbestos, as well as hold responsible parties’ accountable for the injuries they cause. For example, in 2005, the group filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for using an illegal method of asbestos removal. Other cases involving asbestos in Missouri were also filed in 2006 and 2007.

Personal Injury Attorneys Dealing with Cases Involving Asbestos

A personal injury lawsuit not only compensates the injured parties for damages; it also holds the responsible parties accountable which may lead to positive changes in the future. A personal injury case should be filed within five years of the discovered problem – or three years if the case concerns wrongful death. It is best to take photographs and collect evidence to help prove the injuries and the fault of the defendant, and a personal injury attorney is extremely helpful in proving a case, receiving compensation and settling out of court. There are many personal injury attorneys willing to deal with cases involving asbestos, and the success of the cases are likely as long as the plaintiff is able to prove the existence of asbestos and negligence on the part of the defendant.

Auto Accidents: The Most Common Personal Injury in Missouri

The State of Missouri’s Department of Transportation reported that there were over 100,000 crashes in 2009 on the state highway system. Over 30,000 of these crashes involved injuries or fatalities. Over 80 percent of the accidents involved a motor vehicle in traffic. The responsible parties must be held accountable for the injuries suffered by the victims of the accidents. Often this involves filing a lawsuit for a personal injury claim.

Must-Do’s in an Auto Accident

If you are in an auto accident, you should take photographs of the accident if your health allows you to do so. Take pictures of both vehicles involved, including the license plate of the other party’s vehicle (or at least write this information down, as well as the other party’s name, address, license number and insurance company). If any witnesses exist, it may also be helpful to receive their names and contact information as well. You must also receive medical attention as soon as possible – even if you don’t immediately feel injured. This will prevent a defense attorney from claiming that your injuries are due in part to your own negligence in receiving treatment.

Consult with an Attorney

The next thing you should do is consult with a personal injury attorney. Time is of the essence, since there are statutes of limitations on personal injuries (most have five years, whereas wrongful death is limited to three). Although you are not required to have an attorney to file a lawsuit, it is beneficial to you since legal matters can become very complicated. Personal injury attorneys are skilled at working with insurance companies to settle out of court, which means that you can get your settlement quickly. Many attorneys also will work for a portion of the compensation you receive from the accident – which means you won’t have to pay the attorney anything if you don’t get compensated, and you won’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for the attorney’s fees. Involvement in an auto accident is an overwhelming and painful experience. Be sure you know your rights and the laws that exist to protect you in the state of Missouri.

The Most Common Personal Injuries in Missouri

In 2010 the estimated population of the state of Missouri was just under six million people. With the millions of citizens living in Missouri, the potential for personal injury is huge. Automobile accidents account for most of the personal injury cases in the state; but other problems include the numerous industries and truck assembly plants containing asbestos (which may cause lung cancer or mesothelioma), and accidents at work or due to faulty equipment or product defect. Even pedestrians crossing roads at a crosswalk and then being hit by vehicles account for a percentage of the personal injury cases filed in Missouri.

How Most of the Personal Injury Cases are Handled

In the state of Missouri, most personal injury cases are handled by clients’ attorneys and settled out of court. Since the majority of personal injury cases are due to automobile accidents, the parties in the cases include insurance companies who are willing to settle – rather than waste time and money on legal proceedings in a courtroom. To file a lawsuit for a personal injury case in Missouri, one must act within five years of the discovered problem. For a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations is limited to three years. If the problem involves an amount of money below $3,000, the lawsuit should be filed with a small claims court.

Compensation for Damages

Ideally, the compensation for a personal injury should be enough money to restore the plaintiff to his or her previous condition before the injury occurred. In some cases, this is impossible due to the nature of the injuries or perhaps even death. In these instances, the compensation rewarded is not only meant to aid the plaintiff in his or her recovery – but is also meant to serve as punishment for the defendant’s negligence. A portion of the plaintiff’s compensation will normally go to the attorney to pay for his/her services.

What You Need to Know About Personal Injury in Missouri

A personal injury claim requires the plaintiff to prove that an injury occurred and that the injury was due to the fault of the defendant. Evidence should be collected as soon as possible, and the plaintiff should consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss whether or not there are grounds for a lawsuit. If, in fact, there are, the attorney will file a lawsuit. It is extremely important to proceed with the lawsuit in a timely manner, since in Missouri the statute of limitations for most personal injuries are five years (with a discovery rule that states the time begins when the plaintiff first became aware – or should have been aware – of the problem); and the statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years.

“Act of God” Defense in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Many personal injury cases result from what is called an “act of God,” and this is a common defense in personal injury lawsuits. For example, this may result from a car accident which is caused by the defendant experiencing a heart attack or seizure while driving. The defendant can claim that the car accident was not his or her fault due to the “act of God” being the health problem he or she experienced. To get past this defense, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent in some manner – perhaps he or she had not taken medicine to prevent the health problem from occurring, for example.

Other Defenses in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Other defenses for personal injury lawsuits include arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries were due to the plaintiff’s “assumption of risk;” that the plaintiff’s injuries were due in part to the failure of the plaintiff to receive medical treatment in a timely manner; or that the plaintiff actually had some part in the accident itself. In the state of Missouri, fault is determined by a pure comparative negligence system. This means that the defendant can be found at fault by an amount or percentage – but the plaintiff may also be found at fault in part (by the remaining percentage). For example, if the defendant is found to be at fault for the accident by 75%, the plaintiff may be rewarded 75% of the damages. To be rewarded 100% of damages, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was fully and completely at fault 100%. For more information on defenses in personal injury lawsuits and how to get past these defenses, consult a personal injury attorney in Missouri.

Pain and Blame: Personal Injury in Missouri

Personal injuries in Missouri can range from seemingly physically harmless incidents – such as a caterer promising to serve beef and then serving pork instead – to much more harmful injuries, like asbestos used in industries and truck assembly plants causing lung cancer and mesothelioma and/or even death. Claiming “personal injury” allows a person a chance to collect money to compensate him/her for damages, and it also allows the wrongdoer(s) to be punished.

Lawsuits, Settlements and More

To file a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri, one must go to the clerk of courts and submit the lawsuit paperwork. If the problem deals with an amount of money below $3,000, one may go through the small claims courts. When filing a lawsuit without an attorney, this is called per-se. However, since dealing with legal situations can become complicated, it is best to have a personal injury attorney. If one can not afford an attorney, there may be one who is willing to take the case on for free (pro bono). Most people seek to settle out of court to avoid costly fees and time. If you do choose to accept a settlement, be sure to have a lawyer look over the agreement for you.

Evidence Speaks Louder than Words

A person must remember to collect evidence as soon as possible (including photographs, any written correspondence he/she may have, etc.). There is also a statute of limitations on personal injuries. In Missouri, this is five years for most injuries; but wrongful death includes a statute of only three years. One should speak with an attorney as soon as possible so he/she will know the statute of limitations for filing. An attorney will also be able to know whether or not there is a reason for a lawsuit and if that person should proceed. The nature of personal injury lawsuits requires clear proof that damage was done to someone and by someone else – and personal injury attorneys are able to make sure justice is served.