PERSONAL INJURY

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Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property.   Personal injury claims and lawsuits are filed against the person or entity that caused the harm through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, or intentional misconduct, and in some cases on the basis of strict liability.   Depending upon the intent or negligence of a responsible party, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from that party through a settlement or a judgment.  Damages are categorized as either special or general. Personal injury torts may result in claims for both special and general damages.  Special damages are measurable costs or out of pocket expenses which can be itemized such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damages whereas general damages include less measurable costs such as pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and loss of consortium.   The injured person may get compensated for the lifetime effect of the injuries.  This is called loss of enjoyment of life and is compensable. Additionally, lost earning capacity (Future ability to earn an income) and future reasonably necessary medical expenses are recoverable.
Common types of personal injury claims include road traffic accidents, auto/truck crashes, boating accidents, motorcycle/bicycle accidents, slip and falls and pedestrian collisions.

Lawsuits
Generally, the most common types of personal injury claims are covered by liability insurance and a settlement for monetary compensation is negotiated with the insurance company.  Injured parties usually end up with a better monetary settlement if represented by legal counsel, even after paying attorney fees.

If however a settlement is not reached it is critical to have a skilled and experienced attorney who can file a lawsuit to seek a monetary judgment to compensate for the damages suffered by the person injured.  In Missouri, the attorney for the injured person can present the case to a jury of 12 people at trial and ask them to find the other party at fault (liable) for the injuries and determine an amount to award as compensation.  Typically, the party at fault will be represented by an attorney hired by an insurance company once the lawsuit is filed.

Legal fees
 MacPherson Law Center LLC represents clients on a "contingent fee basis" in which the attorney's fee is a percentage of the plaintiff's eventual compensation, payable when the case is resolved, with no payment necessary if the case is unsuccessful; although the client may still be responsible for the out of pocket expenses of handling the case.The standard fee agreement at MacPherson Law Center LLC is 1/3 of the proceeds recovered if a case is settled out of court or 40 percent if the matter must be litigated (a lawsuit filed in court or tried to a jury).

Time limitation
Many jurisdictions, including Missouri, have statutes of limitations - laws that determine how much time you have to file a claim. If a lawsuit is not filed in a timely manner the statute of limitations provides a defense that can allow the defendant to have the case dismissed with no compensation to the plaintiff.  In Missouri, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is five years however there are shorter statutes of limitations for some types of claims such as medical malpractice, wrongful death, claims against a government body, workers compensation and some intentional torts, among others.  Because of the varying time limitations it is important that you consult with legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.

Insurance
 Personal injury is often covered by liability insurance. Most businesses carry commercial general liability policies. Missouri has a financial responsibility law regarding auto insurance where drivers are required to have liability insurance, so a driver's liability insurance is often available to compensate others whom that driver may negligently injure, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is available to compensate the driver for injuries inflicted upon the driver by someone else. Therefore, an insurance company will provide a legal defense to the defendant and may settle with the plaintiff (victim).

Taxation of personal injury settlements
In the United States, for federal taxes payable to the IRS, the money awarded in a personal injury settlement as compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and property damage is not ordinarily taxable. Exceptions may apply, for example, if a plaintiff took a tax deduction in a prior year for medical expenses that are recovered through a later judgment or settlement.  Compensation for lost wages or lost business profits will typically be taxed.