If you are injured in a preventable accident, you have the right to seek damages from the party responsible. Damages is the legal term referring to the compensation that victims can recover in a settlement or be awarded for their losses. One type of compensation that is always sought is compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages are awarded for any losses related to an injury caused by another party’s negligence. Their intent is to make a victim “whole,” or as close as possible to the position they were in before the injury. Under compensatory damages, there are two subcategories:
Compensation for the actual financial losses caused by your injury that must be proven with documentation. Some examples include:
Non-economic damages compensate a victim for intangible harm. These are losses that do not reflect a monetary amount and are subjective, making them more challenging to prove. Types of non-economic damages include:
Compensatory damages are the most common type of compensation awarded in personal injury cases. The other type of damages, called punitive damages, are rarely awarded. The court will only award punitive damages in cases involving a defendant (at-fault party) who acted with an extreme disregard for the safety of others. This compensation is intended to punish the defendant and deter others from similar harmful behavior.
Missouri does not limit the amount of compensatory damages that can be awarded to a personal injury victim unless the case is based on medical negligence. In medical malpractice cases, non-economic damages cannot exceed $400,000. If the case involved a catastrophic injury or wrongful death, then non-economic damages cannot exceed $700,000.
The state also places a deadline on filing a personal injury claim, known as the statute of limitations. By law, victims have five years from the date of the injury to file suit. If you miss the deadline, your case will likely be dismissed, and you will lose your right to compensation. In most medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is two years.
Under Missouri’s pure comparative negligence law, a personal injury victim’s percentage of fault will reduce their settlement or award. For example, if you are awarded $500,000 but found 20 percent to blame, you will only receive 80% of the award, or $400,000. On the other hand, if you are found 80% responsible, you will receive 20% or $100,000, etc. As a result, whether a victim is partially responsible for the accident that led to their injury can significantly impact the amount of compensatory damages recovered.
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