Things to Know About Wrongful Death Cases in Missouri

 

Losing a loved one due to the recklessness or carelessness of another person is an overwhelmingly traumatic experience that is often difficult to recover from both emotionally and financially. Though the damages done are irreversible, many families who have tragically lost a member should seek some form of financial compensation for their loss to cover the extra expenses that have resulted from the death. The following will provide some key information regarding filing wrongful death cases in Missouri for those who are looking to receive damage related payments.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case?

When it comes to the filing of a wrongful death case in Missouri, certain family members are prioritized in the following manner

  • Class 1 – Kids, spouse, and parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim.  
  • Class 2 – Brother and sister or heirs of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim if no class 1 beneficiaries exists.

 

In a situation where none of the previously mentioned parties are alive, a person who desires to file a wrongful death case could go through the court system and have the courts assign another individual to pursue the case on their behalf.

When dealing with wrongful death claims, it is important that families work together. If surviving family can’t reach common ground, then it is wise to quickly obtain a lawyer to prevent certain members (sibling, parent, step parent) from filing their own wrongful death claim apart from the rest of the family. 

Limits of Compensation

In Missouri, the law allows the family of the individual who passed to receive compensation for each of the following: 

  1. Medical and funeral cost
  2. Impacted income
  3. Emotional damages related to having lost a source of support and loving companion

For the majority of wrongful death cases in Missouri, no limit is enacted on how much financial compensation a family can receive from a filed claim. The only situation where a limit on compensations unrelated to finances will be enacted is in cases involving medical mistakes made by medical professionals. 

Statute of Limitations

In Missouri, the time a family member has to make a wrongful death case is three years; however, in cases that involve medical mistakes made by medical professionals, the statute of limitations is two years. After this time frame, cases are not accepted. In cases where the reason behind the death has yet to be determined, the time frame for filing can be altered as a result of the discovery rule.

Survival Actions

A survival action is a case that family members can make that seeks to provide compensation related to the personal damages the deceased individual had to endure when they were still alive and suffering from injuries. While in other states, wrongful death cases and survival actions may be filed separately, families in Missouri only have to file one case since the compensations related to wrongful death cases and survival actions are both included.

Bills of Decedent

Some wrongfully deceased loved ones may owe money or have outstanding debt due to medical bills at their time of death. Because different rules apply for each of class 1 beneficiary, certain survivors may not always be obligated to pay such “debt of decedent.” However, an issue could arise that would require you or another survivor to pay their remaining bills, so it’s always best to have a wrongful death attorney in your corner for legal protection.

Our Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers Are Here to Help

All wrongful death cases require court approval, so it’s best to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side to ensure everything is handled properly. At Lanzotti & Rau, we understand that trying to recover from a tragedy involving a loved one on your own is extremely difficult. That’s why our lawyers are dedicated to helping you get through the emotionally draining, complex, and stressful road to normalcy by ensuring that you are rightfully compensated for your struggles. To learn more about how we can help, call us at 573-335-9300 for a free consultation.

 

Are All My Bills Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Work-related injuries often happen unexpectedly and are hard to prepare for. Luckily, workers’ compensation coverage can greatly help employees in a time of need. For the most part, workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory in the state of Missouri and employers are required to offer assistance when one of their employees sustains injuries while on the job. It’s very comforting to know that you will be supported in a time of need; however, it’s important to understand that the company you work for and the nature and severity of your injuries could affect your compensation. 

What Was the Nature of Your Injury?

Although it may seem like workers’ compensation would cover all of your bills, which benefits get paid may vary by employer and the circumstances of your injury. If you sustain a small claims injury, you still have same rights as big injuries; however, your benefits will depend on the nature and extent of your injury — especially if you recovery fast and can be back to work within a day or two. If you were to sustain a large injury, you will likely have a better chance of getting more benefits. In terms of a serious, long term injury, you can expect the following bills to be covered: 

  1. Medical bills, including any required medical equipment  
  2. Missed wages from time off
  3. Lawsuits related to the incident
  4. A settlement for a disability caused by the accident 

Reasons Claims May be Denied

Unfortunately, there are instances where workers’ compensation claims may be denied. It is important to always follow-up with your employer and physician to make sure you are adhering to their guidelines. Below are common reasons that workers’ compensation claims are denied: 

  1. The injury isn’t covered by workers compensation
  2. The injury wasn’t reported within 30 days of diagnosis
  3. The claimant was using illegal substances
  4. The claimant didn’t use their assigned physician
  5. The claimant files the claim after being let go from their position 

Contact a Missouri Workers’ Comp Attorney for Help 

Unexpected injuries and time off work are never easy to deal with, but the lawyers at Lanzotti & Rau can help you pursue legal action to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve. If you have any questions about how our firm handles workers’ compensation cases or any of our services, feel free to give us a call today at 573-335-9300. If you have been injured, you can receive a free consultation and our determination to seek the best outcome for you. 

Who Is Liable in a Weather-Related Car Accident

Getting into a weather-related car accident can induce a serious amount of stress for all those who were involved. Not only is the accident itself a jarring experience, but the aftermath of having to make payments related to potential damages and recovery can be overwhelming and taxing. Though many can understand that drivers involved in a weather-related car accidents are not entirely to blame, especially if the conditions hindered their ability to make quick judgments, a majority of insurance companies often still assign fault to the driver of the vehicle that initiated impact. The following information provides more insight as to why drivers are often held liable for accidents that occur in bad weather. 

Driver Liability in Weather-Related Car Accidents

When a driver decides to get behind the wheel and drive in questionable/dangerous weather conditions, they must exercise even more caution than they normally would if they happened to be driving during normal and preferable circumstances. The rules of the road still apply to drivers, no matter the external conditions. For example, if a driver were to rear end a car in front of theirs while rain is pouring down and obscuring their vision, the poor weather will likely not be accepted as an excuse for the accident. This is because the driver responsible for the accident should have exercised more precautions to avoid bumping into the car in front of them. 

The liability of a driver is often influenced by the following decisions made while driving during undesirable weather conditions:

  1. Driver was not fully focused on the road
  2. Driver was not maintaining proper speeds
  3. Driver did not have hazard lights/headlights on
  4. Driver was not maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of them
  5. Driver knew before operating the vehicle that the weather they would be driving in was not desirable

Exercising Caution When Driving in Undesirable Weather

For drivers that find themselves having to drive in undesirable weather conditions such as rain, snow, etc, the following tips will provide some precautionary measures that could prevent accidents from occurring.

  1. Do not speed, abide by the posted speed limits
  2. Maintain a safe distance from other cars
  3. Ensure your headlights are on
  4. Keep your eyes on the road at all times
  5. Consider waiting for the bad weather to pass before getting behind the wheel and driving
  6. Park your car in a safe spot and wait to drive until you feel more comfortable and alert, or the weather becomes more desirable

Expert Legal Help for Weather-Related Car Accidents

The legal experts at Lanzotti & Rau know that trying to recover financially, physically, and emotionally from an accident is extremely difficult. That’s why our lawyers are always dedicated to helping you navigate the financially draining and stressful road to recovery by ensuring that you are rightfully compensated. To learn more about how we can help, call us at 573-335-9300 for a free consultation.

What Should I Include in a Truck Accident Claim?

Getting into a truck accident is not only a scary experience, but a stressful one as well. After an accident, those who were directly impacted are often overwhelmed by a list of payments that they have to make to recover financially or physically. Depending on the severity of the damages caused by the accident, victims often have to make sacrifices in order to get back on their feet. 

For victims involved in truck accidents, it is important to know that they do not have to take on the financial burdens on their own. Knowing what to include when filling out a truck accident claim is important, as these claims allow victims to receive financial compensation for the accident. To ensure you get your full compensation, here are some important details that you should include in your truck accident claim.

Medical Costs

The medical costs that result from getting in a truck accident are often more expensive than people may think. Even less severe injuries such as breaking an arm or leg can cost a victim at least $2,500 to fix, while more serious injuries lead to even higher costs depending on their severity. No victim of a truck accident should have to choose between pursuing treatment or risking financial instability, which is why the following medical costs should be included in your truck accident claim so you can receive your just compensation.

  • Cost of medical exams or scans performed
  • Cost of ambulance rides
  • Cost of surgery
  • Cost of recovering through different forms of therapy
  • Cost of having to alter your living environment to accommodate for your injuries
  • Cost of any items designed to help you recover, such as crutches or wheelchairs

Impacted Income

Physical and emotional damage caused by a truck accident can also have an impact on the amount of income a victim is able to acquire in the time following an incident. After an accident, victims are often no longer able to function similarly to how they did in the past, either mentally or physically. The following information should be included in your truck accident claim to reduce your negative financial impact. 

  • Workdays or shifts not attended due to medical related check ups
  • Impact of injuries on the number of hours you are capable of working
  • Length of time you were unable to work

Including how the accident impacted your income can lead you to being compensated with paid schooling to acquire a different degree or assistance with finding a new, more fitting job. 

Physical and Emotional Distress 

The injuries sustained from being in a truck accident have the potential to cause distress beyond just possible physical pain. After working for years at a career or enjoying a hobby, an injury can limit a victim’s ability to continue pursuing their interests. That is why you should clearly illustrate in your claim how the truck accident has negatively altered your quality of life by including the following:

  • Any form of emotional distress that has been caused by the accident
  • Any discomfort or humiliation you have endured due to the accident

Get in Qualified Counsel in Your Corner

Here at Lanzotti & Rau, we know that trying to recover financially, physically, and emotionally from a truck accident is extremely difficult. That’s why our lawyers are dedicated to helping you get through the financially draining and stressful road to recovery by ensuring your claim is accurate, and that you are rightfully compensated. We have the experience, resources, and determination to fight for you. To learn more about how we can help, call us at 573-335-9300 for a free consultation.

The Trouble With Giving Recorded Statements Following an Accident

After you experience a car accident, you may be asked to make a statement about what happened. When the other driver’s insurance company asks you to give your statement, they will most likely ask for permission to record your account of the events. Many accident victims fall into this trap and often regret doing so in the long run. Below are just a few things to consider before giving a recorded statement following an accident. 

What You Say Can Hurt Your Case

Immediately following an accident, it is imperative that you do not comment or speculate aloud on the cause of the accident or engage with the other party other than exchanging insurance information. Even common courtesies and apologies can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt if recorded, so try to stay in your vehicle, if possible, and limit your interactions until authorities arrive.

Your Insurance Policy May Require a Statement

In rare instances, your own insurance company may request a statement for their records; however, most of the time they do not require that it be recorded. They will most likely just ask what you remember of the accident and you also have the ability to ask what they will do with the statement and if they plan on sharing your statement with anyone. Be sure to check your policy if your insurance company asks you for a statement following an accident. Refusing to provide a statement to your own insurance company can affect your claim if your policy guidelines require you to provide a statement in order for your coverage to be valid. 

Other Parties Can Not Force You to Provide a Statement 

Soon after an accident, you may be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company in an attempt to draw a statement from you. The most beneficial thing to do in this case is to simply reject their request because providing a recorded statement to the other insurance company offers no benefit to you and will only hurt you in the long run. 

Similar to your insurance company having your best interest in mind, the other insurance company provides the same thing for their client. Some problems that arise when you provide a recorded statement to the other insurance company include: 

  • Your statement being used against you in order to assign you blame, fault, or negligence
  • The other insurance company reducing the amount they need to pay for injuries or damage
  • You being asked pointedly misleading questions that lead you to admit to being partially at fault 
  • Your statement being used in cross examination if your case goes to court 

Remember, there is no law requiring you to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company, and no one can force you to do so. Speaking to the other party or their insurance provider will only result in a lose-lose situation for you, so it’s best to hire an experienced auto accident attorney to do the speaking for you.

Your Southeast Missouri Accident Attorneys

At Lanzotti & Rau, our lawyers can protect you and guide you in the right direction to pursue legal action related to an accident. We strive to get you the compensation you deserve for the injuries and damages you suffered from an accident. Our experienced and compassionate lawyers are here to help handle your personal injury case. To learn more about the services we offer or to schedule a free case evaluation, call us today at 573-335-9300.

The Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Accidents caused by another person’s negligence may mean you are entitled to compensation for damages. To collect such damages, you will need to file a personal injury claim. Your compensation is not automatic after you do this — the defendant’s insurance company will have to review your claim to determine what damages you are entitled to. As such, you can recover compensation for two types of damages: compensatory or punitive. Here are the differences between compensatory and punitive damages.

What Are Compensatory Damages?

Compensatory damages are calculated when the insurance company totals the cost of the accident. This type of compensation is created to give back for both injuries and damages sustained by you during your accident. For example, if you were involved in a car accident where your car was damaged and you received injuries, such as a broken bone. Sustaining these types of injuries can lead to being unable to work for several weeks while you recover. If this was the case, you would be compensated for property damage, medical expenses, as well as lost wages.

What Are Punitive Damages?

While compensatory damages are used for compensating the victim, punitive damages are different. These types of damages are rewarded as a punishment for the defendant. Punitive damages are meant to push the defendant to refrain from acting again in the same reckless manner as they did when the accident occurred. When the court decides that the compensatory damages are not enough, they can award punitive damages as well. This happens when the compensatory damages do not fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her physical damage or pain and suffering. 

Main Compensatory and Punitive Damage Differences

One of the main differences between compensatory damages and punitive damages is that they are directed at different parties. Punitive damages can be rewarded in several personal injury cases, but they are most common when the defendant has been grossly negligent. Some other common cases regarding punitive damages include: 

Simply put, compensatory damages are rewarded to benefit the plaintiff while punitive damages are rewarded to punish the defendant. 

Are You Owed Compensation for Damages?

If you have fallen victim to an accident caused by negligence, let our lawyers fight to gain you justice. At Lanzotti & Rau, our lawyers will help guide you in the right direction to win the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages as a result of your accident. The experienced and compassionate lawyers here at Lanzotti & Rau are here to answer any questions you may have. For your free case evaluation, call us today at 573-335-9300. 

How to Prove Lost Wages After a Car Accident

Recovering lost wages is a critical part of ensuring that you are fairly compensated in a personal injury case. If you sustained an injury in an accident and were required to take off work, either by the doctor’s request or to attend doctor’s appointments, you are legally entitled to recover any lost wages if the car accident was caused by someone else. But what are the types of lost wages and how can you prove it?

Different Kinds of Lost Wages

Your situation will determine what kind of lost wages you can obtain. The severity of your injuries, past or future work time missed, and any changes your employer has made to your work life are all factors in these common types of lost wages.

Past lost wages

The term past lost wages is pretty self-explanatory, as it refers to any wages you have lost in the past. If you were taken off work by a doctor because of an injury and were not paid by your workplace during that time, you’re able to collect those wages in a personal injury claim. You are also able to collect wages from any time you had to miss work to go to a doctor’s appointment. It’s extremely important to keep all doctor’s notes excusing you from work so that your lost wages can be officially accounted for.

Future lost wages

Future lost wages refer to any future income that you will miss due to an injury, typically a more serious one like broken bones or paralysis. Future lost wages can sometimes be indefinite, as a more critical injury could make you unable to work at all in the future. This claim may also involve wrongful death, and in that case, heirs can recover lost wages based on the decedent’s work history, job title, and experience.

Diminished earning capacity

Diminished earning capacity is when a person can go back to work, but not to the extent that they were able to before the injury. This can mean that the person is only able to go back part-time, or even that they had to take a lesser position with lower pay due to the limitations of their injury. Expert witnesses are often necessary to determine diminished earning capacity, which can also include future lost wages.

Documentation to Support Lost Wages

After a car accident, you won’t be able to collect lost wages until you can provide proper supporting documentation. There are many different ways to obtain this documentation, including:

  1. A lost wage form filled out by HR
  2. A company letterhead that includes your boss signing off on any wages you’ve missed
  3. Bank statements and tax returns (Most helpful if you are self-employed or an independent contractor)
  4. Evidence of past earnings, like pay stubs (Useful for determining the exact wages you would’ve missed)
  5. Expert witness accounts, like a doctor’s statement on your injuries or an economist’s statement on your wage loss (Important for future lost wages and diminished earning capacity)

Get Fair Compensation

The lawyers at Lanzotti & Rau can help you pursue legal action to receive compensation for injuries you sustained, and any past or future work time lost because of a car accident. To learn more about our services and the way we handle personal injury cases, call us at 573-335-9300 today for a free consultation.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

Suffering a personal injury can have devastating health and financial consequences. If involved in an accident, there are ways for you to prevent considerable strain on your well-being and wallet and gain compensation for what you may have lost.

However, the journey of a personal injury lawsuit can be long and involve many steps. Understanding this process can better equip you in facing a personal injury lawsuit and give you the knowledge needed to succeed.

What Constitutes a Personal Injury?

When determining whether to file a claim and pursue a lawsuit, you need to understand if you are able to do so. Personal injury has many facets, but pinpointing which injury best applies to you can facilitate the process. Personal injury is one in which you were either intentionally injured by someone or received an injury from another’s negligence.

Causes of personal injuries often include: 

Such accidents can result in concussions, neck and back injuries, broken bones, or even traumatic brain injuries. Suffering conditions like these are appropriate grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit.

However, to ensure that you are following the correct process, it is important to hire a qualified attorney for expert guidance. 

Gathering Evidence

There are two parts to gathering evidence: establishing fault and calculating damages. Establishing fault means collecting proof that another individual caused you harm. Calculating damages means determining your compensation amount. This can be done by considering factors like medical expenses, loss of income, or emotional distress.

Gathering evidence starts at the scene of the accident. After a personal injury accident, document the scene and take down witness contact information if you are physically able to. That way, you’ll have resources to provide your attorneys so they can follow up with witnesses and gather testimonies. In addition to medical records, eye-witness accounts are crucial in establishing fault and proving that a personal injury occurred.

Taking It to Court

The foremost step in taking the issue to court is filing the lawsuit. Afterward, both parties must start the process of discovery, in which they gather as much evidence as they can from each other. Once the evidence and facts are gathered, an attorney will speak to you about settlement. These conversations determine whether you will conduct the entire trial or settle for less before its conclusion. Finally, conducting the trial is a lengthy process that can take several weeks.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Professionals

Creating a smooth and simple process may not be achievable on your own. Because personal injury cases can be quite complex, it is important to trust in professionals to facilitate and ease the process. 

The lawyers at Lanzotti & Rau can expertly guide you through the process of a personal injury lawsuit. Our knowledge will shape a favorable outcome for you and allow you to receive your due compensation. If you want to learn more about our services or how we handle personal injury cases, call us today to schedule a free consultation at 573-335-9300.

Can You Receive Workers Compensation If You Work From Home?

Within the past few years, technological advancements have led to an increase in employees’ ability to work remotely. The more streamlined processes of video conferencing and messaging platforms have created a work-from-home culture where employees can remain productive in the comfort of their own home. However, working from home has shifted from a perk to a necessity during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many Americans forced to adapt to the sudden change in their workplace environment are left with questions regarding traditional office policies and procedures. 

One question is whether employees can receive worker’s compensation if they are injured while working outside of the office. 

The answer is yes, however, there are several key points that would have to be documented and proven in order to file an at-home workers’ compensation claim, such as the location of the injury and whether the injury occurred while the employee was doing work.

Proving Your Injury

The difficulty in receiving worker’s compensation when working from home is proving your injury and how it relates to your job. At a traditional workplace, employees may have witnesses to their injury or even be able to access security footage to prove the injury. At home, however, this can prove difficult to measure and document.

Worker’s compensation is based not only on the injury, but how and when it occurred. Employees can take careful measures to document what happened by utilizing webcams or installing cameras in their office to accurately capture footage of any accidental events.

Staying Safe at Home

Work from home employees should actively work to keep their workspace safe and free of hazards. By inspecting the space, they can ensure there are no loose or sharp objects lying around, such as staples or scissors. It is also important to minimize damage in unique ways, such as investing in a stand-up workspace or taking necessary breaks to avoid circulation, muscle, and joint issues or conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fighting for What’s Right

Even when working from home, being injured on the job means that you may be eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits. However, to ensure you get fair compensation for your pain and discomfort, you must trust in the right lawyers to help you. 

The lawyers at Lanzotti & Rau can help you receive your due compensation for any on-the-job injuries. If you want to learn more about our legal services or how we will represent your personal injury case, call us today and schedule a free consultation at 573-335-9300.

When to Contact a Lawyer After an Accident

 

If you are involved in an accident — slip and fall, medical malpractice, or motor vehicle — and suffer a personal injury in Missouri, you may be owed compensation due to the other party’s negligence that resulted in your mental, emotional, or bodily harm. The damages that could be awarded to you could be significant if you react wisely to the situation. 

While you should always seek medical assistance immediately following an accident, the necessity of contacting a lawyer right away cannot be stressed enough. Failure to do so could limit your chances at receiving your full deserved compensation. Here are some additional reasons why contacting a lawyer after an accident is so important.

There May Be a Statute of Limitations on Claims

Depending the type of personal injury claim you are pursuing and the jurisdiction within which the accident took place, you could be up against a ticking clock known as a statute of limitations. In the state of Missouri, personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations that start at the date of your accidental injury. After a specific window of time expires, these statutes can bar you from filing any personal injury claims. 

Therefore, if you wait to start filing your claim, you could forfeit your chance at compensation for your pain and suffering. Don’t allow valuable time to be wasted. Be sure to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

Evidence Could Be Lost or Destroyed

A delay in contacting an attorney after an accident could allow time for the destruction of critical evidence that could help support your claim. For instance, if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, the involved vehicle could be repaired, the eyewitness testimony could be forgotten, and the skid marks could be cleared up by the time you get around to hiring professional legal representation. Therefore, the best time to get a personal injury lawyer working for you is right after you suffer your accidental injury. Doing so will ensure that nothing is missed and that you don’t speak to an insurance company and accidentally admit fault. 

You Could Get Nothing for Your Suffering

An injury suffered in an accident will take a toll on you in every aspect imaginable. In addition to costly medical bills, your injury can prevent you from performing daily activities such as driving, walking, or completing routine tasks. It could also limit your ability to perform your job — forcing you to take a leave of absence that may or may not be covered by your insurance. Furthermore, in your weakened state, you could re-injure yourself, which may complicate your recovery and claim progress. 

Such a reduction in your quality of life and income justifies compensation. Not having an attorney to represent your best interests can be detrimental to your livelihood following an accidental injury. 

Your Missouri Accidental Injury Lawyers

The experienced and hardworking personal injury attorneys at Lanzotti & Rau are committed to expediting your claim and quickly recouping your deserved compensation. To learn more about our personal injury services or to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 573-335-9300.