Discussing your personal injury or wrongful death case with an insurance adjustor
Our Kansas City law firm recommends that you do not talk to an insurance company adjustor, attorney, or any other defense representative until you have retained a Kansas City/Johnson County/Wyandotte County personal injury attorney to look after your interests
Insurance companies have hundreds of attorney and staff working on their side to protect their interests, you deserve to have an aggressive Kansas City personal injury attorney on your side. These folks make a career out of limiting the money paid out by their employer and rarely care about how their tactics will affect those who are the victims in the case. They will often attempt to settle Kansas City wrongful death or injury cases quickly, before all of the damages can be ascertained and while people are still emotionally affected.
Insurance companies will also attempt to take statements before all of the facts and circumstances around a case are fully known in an attempt to commit you to their version of events. Do not allow them to deny you your rightful compensation, instead, contact the Kansas City and Johnson County personal injury firm of The Law Offices of Jeremiah L. Johnson, LLC, to get help on your side, at (816)621-2320. We deal with the insurance companies for our clients, saving them the hassle of talking/corresponding with them, and maximizing the recovery from these companies and those they insure.
How our law firm represents clients in the wrongful death and catastrophic injury litigation process in Kansas and Missouri:
We take all Kansas City, Johnson County, and Wyandotte County personal injury cases with the assumption that they will end up in trial. While this attitude may sound normal, it contrasts that of many personal injuries attorneys in the Kansas City/Johnson County area who never or almost never take their cases to trial, either because they are unwilling or unable to do so. This attitude may adversely affect the cases of their clients because they may not be able to get them all of the compensation they deserve.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys are less likely to offer reasonable settlement figures if the attorney working the case is not willing or afraid to take the case to a jury. They know that they can simply wait the attorney out, figuring that the attorney will eventually tell his clients to settle the case even though they have not received a fair offer. The lesson is simple - you want an attorney who will properly prepare your Kansas City personal injury case for a jury trial from the beginning. Not only will this enhance your chances at trial, but it may also force higher settlement offers from the defendants in your case as they will realize that they face the expense and risk of losing at trial.
This does not mean that we take every case to trial - in fact, the statistics show that the vast number of Kansas City and Johnson County personal injury cases will end in settlement. What it does mean though, is that our attitude in preparing the case should help you get the maximum recovery through settlement or trial as the defendants and their attorneys will realize that we intend to take the case to a jury.
When we represent someone on a personal injury case in the Kansas City area, we regularly work with accident reconstructionists, clients' own medical providers, investigators, economists, and other experts to build the strongest possible case. Each of these professionals will help us meet the burdens that must be proven in Court and will help us demonstrate the amount of damages our personal injury clients have suffered. We have handled neck, back, leg, arm and head injury cases, and can fight insurance companies' attempts to deny, discourage and delay claims. We are firm in settlement negotiations and skilled in trial.
The first step in a Kansas City personal injury lawsuit involves investigation. This is where we talk to witnesses, look at the publicly available documents and records, and formulate our case theories.
The second step is our demand. This is where we make a formal demand to the defendant or defendants in your case, asking for a dollar amount, an admission of fault, and other remedies.
The next step is to file the lawsuit. This is where litigation begins and starts the countdown until you get your day in Court. As mentioned, this process begins when we file the lawsuit. From there, the Court will order that discovery take place.
Common causes of serious injury and wrongful death include car, motorcycle and truck accidents, work-related accidents at construction sites, farms and industrial sites, DUI- and DWI-related accidents, defective products, unsafe premises and medical malpractice.
Important Terms relevant to Kansas City & Johnson County personal injury and wrongful death cases:
Litigation: This term refers to a personal injury claim once it has been filed in court and is being pursued by each side.
Contingency Fee: A contingency fee arrangement is a method that allows many individuals who have been injured or seeking damages, such as those resulting from an auto accident or a medical malpractice case, to obtain legal representation even if they do not have money to pay a lawyer at the outset of a case. In such a case you do not pay legal fees unless and until you win, and then the lawyer receives a percentage of your recovery as his or her fee. If you lose your case, there would be no legal fee at all for the lawyer.
Plaintiff: This is the party filing the lawsuit. In personal injury and wrongful death cases we only represent plaintiffs.
Defendant: This is a party being sued.
Plaintiff ad litem: A plaintiff ad litem is a person appointed by the court having jurisdiction over a wrongful death action upon application of a person entitled to share in any wrongful death proceeds. A plaintiff ad litem must be a suitable person who is competent to prosecute a wrongful death case and whose appointment is requested on behalf of any persons entitled to share in the proceeds of a wrongful death action.
Q,. If I bring a wrongful death action, do I have to notify other potential class members entitled to sue?
A. A claimant or plaintiff in a wrongful death action must make a diligent attempt to notify any other persons having a cause of action under the statute.
Q. How much time do I have to sue?
A. In Missouri wrongful death cases, class members typically have 3 years to file suit in circuit court. However, other factors can come into consideration which can lessen your time for filing suit. Therefore, it is critical that individuals wanting to sue not delay.
Q. If I sue along with other class members, what portion am I entitled to receive?
A. If more that one class member sues, and if agreement cannot be made between the class members on the percentage of recovery they should get, an apportionment hearing will be held before the judge within the circuit that the case is pending. At the apportionment hearing, evidence will be introduced and the judge will issue a ruling determining the percentage of recovery each class member receives.
Selected statutes regarding wrongful death cases in Missouri:
537.080. Action for wrongful death--who may sue--limitation
1. Whenever the death of a person results from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof, the person or party who, or the corporation which, would have been liable if death had not ensued shall be liable in an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, which damages may be sued for:
(1) By the spouse or children or the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, natural or adoptive;
(2) If there be no persons in class (1) entitled to bring the action, then by the brother or sister of the deceased, or their descendants, who can establish his or her right to those damages set out in section 537.090 because of the death;
(3) If there be no persons in class (1) or (2) entitled to bring the action, then by a plaintiff ad litem. Such plaintiff ad litem shall be appointed by the court having jurisdiction over the action for damages provided in this section upon application of some person entitled to share in the proceeds of such action. Such plaintiff ad litem shall be some suitable person competent to prosecute such action and whose appointment is requested on behalf of those persons entitled to share in the proceeds of such action. Such court may, in its discretion, require that such plaintiff ad litem give bond for the faithful performance of his duties.
2. Only one action may be brought under this section against any one defendant for the death of any one person.
537.090. Damages to be determined by jury--factors to be considered
In every action brought under section 537.080, the trier of the facts may give to the party or parties entitled thereto such damages as the trier of the facts may deem fair and just for the death and loss thus occasioned, having regard to the pecuniary losses suffered by reason of the death, funeral expenses, and the reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support of which those on whose behalf suit may be brought have been deprived by reason of such death and without limiting such damages to those which would be sustained prior to attaining the age of majority by the deceased or by the person suffering any such loss.
In addition, the trier of the facts may award such damages as the deceased may have suffered between the time of injury and the time of death and for the recovery of which the deceased might have maintained an action had death not ensued. The mitigating or aggravating circumstances attending the death may be considered by the trier of the facts, but damages for grief and bereavement by reason of the death shall not be recoverable.
537.010. Action for damages to property to survive regardless of death of either party
Actions for wrongs done to property or interests therein may be brought against the wrongdoer by the person whose property or interest therein is injured. If the person whose property or interest therein is injured is dead, the action survives and may be brought against the wrongdoer by the person appointed as fiduciary for the estate of the deceased person. If the wrongdoer is dead, the action also survives and may be brought and maintained in the manner set forth in section 537.021. Such actions shall be brought and maintained in the same manner and with like effect in all respects as actions founded upon contracts.
537.020. Action for personal injury or death to survive regardless of death of either party
1. Causes of action for personal injuries, other than those resulting in death, whether such injuries be to the health or to the person of the injured party, shall not abate by reason of his death, nor by reason of the death of the person against whom such cause of action shall have accrued; but in case of the death of either or both such parties, such cause of action shall survive to the personal representative of such injured party, and against the person, receiver or corporation liable for such injuries and his legal representatives, and the liability and the measure of damages shall be the same as if such death or deaths had not occurred. Causes of action for death shall not abate by reason of the death of any party to any such cause of action, but shall survive to the personal representative of such party bringing such cause of action and against the person, receiver or corporation liable for such death and his or its legal representatives.
2. The right of action for death or the right of action for personal injury that does not result in the death shall be sufficient to authorize and to require the appointment of a personal representative by the probate division of the circuit court upon the written application therefor by one or more of the beneficiaries of the deceased. The existence of the right of action for death or personal injury that does not result in death shall be sufficient to authorize and to require the appointment of a personal representative for the person liable for such death or injury by the court having probate jurisdiction upon his death upon the written application of any person interested in such right of action for death or injury.
537.030. Section 537.010 not to extend to what action
Sections 537.010 and 537.020 shall not extend to actions for slander, libel, assault and battery or false imprisonment.
Selected wrongful death statutes in Kansas:
• 60-1901: Cause of action. If the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, an action may be maintained for the damages resulting therefrom if the former might have maintained the action had he or she lived, in accordance with the provisions of this article, against the wrongdoer, or his or her personal representative if he or she is deceased. History: L. 1963, ch. 303, 60-1901; Jan. 1, 1964.
• 60-1902: Plaintiff. The action may be commenced by any one of the heirs at law of the deceased who has sustained a loss by reason of the death. Any heir who does not join as a party plaintiff in the original action but who claims to have been damaged by reason of the death shall be permitted to intervene therein. The action shall be for the exclusive benefit of all of the heirs who has sustained a loss regardless or whether they all join or intervene therein, but the amounts of their respective recoveries shall be in accordance with the subsequent provisions of this article. History: L. 1963, ch. 303, 60-1902; Jan. 1, 1964.
• 60-1903: Amount of damages; jury instructions; itemized verdict. (a) In any wrongful death action, the court or jury may award such damages as are found to be fair and just under all the facts and circumstances, but the damages, other than pecuniary loss sustained by an heir at law, cannot exceed in the aggregate the sum of $250,000 and costs. (b) If a wrongful death action is to a jury, the court shall not instruct the jury on the monetary limitation imposed by subsection (a) upon recovery of damages for nonpecuniary loss. If the jury verdict results in an award of damages for nonpecuniary loss which, after deduction of any amounts pursuant to K.S.A. 60-258a and amendments thereto, exceeds the limitation of subsection (a), the court shall enter judgment for damages of $250,000 for nonpecuniary loss.
(c) In any wrongful death action, the verdict shall be itemized by the trier of fact to reflect the amounts, if any, awarded for:
(1) Nonpecuniary damages;
(2) expenses for the care of the deceased caused by the injury; and
(3) pecuniary damages other than those itemized under subsection (c)(2).
(d) Where applicable, the amounts required to be itemized pursuant to subsections (c)(1) and (c)(3) shall be further itemized by the trier of fact to reflect those amounts awarded for injuries and losses sustained to date and those awarded for injuries and losses reasonably expected to be sustained in the future.
(e) In any wrongful death action, the trial court shall instruct the jury only on those items of damage upon which there is some evidence to base an award.
History: L. 1963, ch. 303, 60-1903; L. 1967, ch. 329, § 1; L. 1970, ch. 241, § 1; L. 1975, ch. 303, § 2; L. 1984, ch. 214, § 1; L. 1987, ch. 224, § 2; L. 1998, ch. 68, § 1; July 1.
• 60-1904: Elements of damage. (a) Damages may be recovered for, but are not limited to: (1) Mental anguish, suffering or bereavement;
(2) loss of society, companionship, comfort or protection;
(3) loss of marital care, attention, advice or counsel;
(4) loss of filial care or attention;
(5) loss of parental care, training, guidance or education; and
(6) reasonable funeral expenses for the deceased.
(b) If no probate administration for the estate of the deceased has been commenced, expenses for the care of the deceased which resulted from the wrongful act may also be recovered by any one of the heirs who paid or became liable for them. Those expenses and any amount recovered for funeral expenses shall not be included in the limitation of K.S.A. 60-1903 and amendments thereto.
History: L. 1963, ch. 303, 60-1904; L. 1984, ch. 214, § 2; July 1.
• 60-1905: Apportionment of recovery. The net amount recovered in any such action, after the allowance by the judge of costs and reasonable attorneys fees to the attorneys for the plaintiffs, in accordance with the services performed by each if there be more than one, shall be apportioned by the judge upon a hearing, with reasonable notice to all of the known heirs having an interest therein, such notice to be given in such manner as the judge shall direct. The apportionment shall be in proportion to the loss sustained by each of the heirs, and all heirs known to have sustained a loss shall share in such apportionment regardless of whether they joined or intervened in the action; but in the absence of fraud, no person who failed to join or intervene in the action may claim any error in such apportionment after the order shall have been entered and the funds distributed pursuant thereto.
If you have questions regarding brain injuries and other catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, contact us. We work on a contingency basis, so that you pay nothing unless we recover damages. We are available for free initial consultations weekdays, evenings and weekends. To contact us and speak to a Kansas City/Johnson County personal injury attorney, call 1-(816) 621-2320. You may also email me personally at Jeremiah@kcatty.com