When the matter of a personal injury lawsuit is brought up, most people automatically think about car or truck accidents. Naturally, it is quite relatable for the citizens of St. Louis because the city was ranked as the most dangerous in the US, according to a WalletHub report.
The three main factors upon which this ranking was based included crime rates, natural disasters, and road accidents. As a logistics hub, St. Louis’ roads and interstates are bustling with traffic throughout the day. However, some of St. Louis’ roads are such that drivers need to merge over multiple lanes, frequently change speeding limits, and cross numerous bridges, all of which hold the potential to cause a severe accident.
According to a 2021 road accident report for the city, 178 people died in a crash and 14,000 suffered severe injuries. This report was the fourth in a row showcasing that traffic crashes across the city were increasing each year. Were drivers becoming more reckless, or were government authorities slacking in their road safety measures? That’s a discussion for some other day.
In this article, we will explore the different reasons (other than road accidents) for which St. Louis residents may file a personal injury lawsuit.
Understanding a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In simple terms, a personal injury lawsuit may be filed in court when one party suffers personal damages at the hands of another party. The personal damages could be a result of gross negligence or malpractice. According to TorHoerman Law, physical injuries are not the only form of personal injury damages, which may also include emotional distress, financial loss, and property damage.
The St. Louis court is no stranger to personal injury lawsuits, especially those related to automobile accidents. After all, the city has some of the worst drivers in the US, with at least 24 fatal crashes for every 100,000 residents.
In most cases, St. Louis personal injury lawyers strive to settle in the pre-trial phase. This is because a trial would involve further loss of time and resources (the sentiments are shared by both parties). Even if a settlement may not be on the horizon, the case may proceed to arbitration or mediation, which is a middle ground between settlement and trial.
Types of Personal Injuries That Don’t Involve Auto Accidents
Automobile accidents (be they cars, buses, or trucks) are one of the major categories of personal injury lawsuits in St. Louis. Accidents involving a semi-truck or a large trailer are often complex due to the possibility of more than one liable party. Hundreds of personal injury lawsuits under this category are filed every year.
Other than automobile tragedies, the following accidents also call for a personal injury lawsuit in St. Louis’ court.
1. Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and trip or fall is a term used in personal injury lawsuits to refer to a case where a person slips, falls, and is injured due to someone else’s negligence or deliberate action. It may also be valid if the accident occurred on someone else’s property. An important thing to remember is that a slip-and-fall accident is only valid in court when the plaintiff can present either an object or a credible circumstance that caused the fall.
Common injuries from this accident include –
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Spinal cord and brain injuries
- Nerve damage
If death occurs, the case may become one of wrongful death under personal injury. The liability of slip and trip accidents will only fall on the property’s owner or the helper if it is proven that they owed the duty to care for the victim. The St. Louis court will demand evidence like medical treatment records, photos and videos, maintenance logs for flooring installations or repairs, etc.
2. Workplace-Related Injuries
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the top five industries facing the worst workplace-related injuries include firefighting, transportation, manufacturing, installation and repairs, and construction. Some of the common reasons why workplace injuries occur include –
- Falls from a significant height
- Getting hit or struck by large and sharp objects
- Getting electrocuted
- Coming under equipment, which leads to being crushed or compressed
The first remedial action for such cases is the Missouri workers’ compensation – a state-mandated, “no-fault” insurance program under which employees are eligible for compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Since this program is often used as an exclusive remedy, employers are immune from workplace personal injury lawsuits (with certain exceptions).
These exceptions include cases where an employer failed to provide adequate safety equipment, acted recklessly or grossly negligent, or is not covered by the state workers’ compensation system. Now, if the injury was caused due to defective equipment, such as the collapse of a faulty crane, the manufacturer also becomes a liable party (under product liability personal injury).
3. Medical Malpractice
Every doctor across the US has to take the Hippocratic Oath, promising that they would uphold certain ethical standards in their profession. However, the reality is that medical malpractice is far more common than many believe.
If a patient suffers any physical or psychological damage owing to medical negligence and error, they can file a personal injury lawsuit under medical malpractice. The plaintiff’s attorney’s burden of proof is the link between the expected medical care or standard from the physician and how far they’ve fallen short of that standard.
Some common examples of medical malpractice include –
- The doctor not obtaining the patient’s or their family’s (whichever may apply) informed consent
- Incorrect medication or treatment procedure
- Surgical malpractice
- A delay in diagnosis
- Birth injuries to the mother or the baby due to the healthcare provider’s negligence
In medical malpractice personal injury cases, the plaintiff can sue the physician in question or the hospital/clinic (for not following stringent hiring practices). These lawsuits are often complicated because they’re highly technical, involving deep investigation, studies, and witness accounts to reach a verdict.
4. Product Liabilities
Products, be it electrical appliances or cleaning goods, can cause harm using electrocution and harmful chemicals, to name just two causes. In such cases, the victim may file a product liability personal injury lawsuit in St. Louis court.
The different types of product liability lawsuits include –
- Defective product design
- Incorrect or faulty manufacturing process
- Misleading packaging or marketing ploys
The liable parties may be the product’s manufacturer, the wholesaler, or the retailer. As per the Missouri product liability law, the statute of limitations or deadline for lawsuit filing is five years from the day the injury occurred.
Settlements in product liability cases are made to cover medical expenses, lost wages, psychological trauma, and property damage. One classic example of a product liability personal injury lawsuit would be Monsanto/Bayer’s Roundup weed killer case. Recently, a St. Louis jury gave a defense verdict for this lawsuit. Even product liability cases are challenging, especially when the plaintiff is up against a multi-billion-dollar corporation like Bayer.
5. Wrongful Death Cases
When one party dies due to the gross negligence of another, a wrongful death personal injury lawsuit is filed. In some wrongful death cases, criminal charges are also involved, but in general, it is a civil action where the standard of proof is lower than the criminal court.
A wrongful death may occur due to a myriad of reasons, including road crashes, toxic torts, manufacturing defects of a product, etc. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim’s family (spouse, parents, children, etc.) usually sues the liable party.
Most wrongful death cases involve the witness of an economist who proves the decedent’s life expectancy as well as the financial losses incurred, such as out-of-pocket expenses, funeral charges, etc. Each state across the US has its statute of limitations for wrongful death, which is three years from the date of the victim’s death for Missouri.
Plaintiff attorneys need to prove the following to win a wrongful death lawsuit –
- The victim’s death
- The death was caused by the liable party’s intended or negligent action
- The monetary injuries suffered by the victim’s surviving family members
- The appointed personal representative for the victim’s estate
Though it all depends upon a case-to-case basis, personal injury lawsuits are often complicated (despite involving a lower burden of proof than criminal lawsuits). This is particularly true in cases where the defendant is extremely resourceful and powerful.
Nevertheless, a reliable attorney in St. Louis can help plaintiffs secure fair settlements even in millions. But it is important to choose a personal injury attorney after careful consideration. Their experience in the field, and expertise in dealing with (and winning) settlements in complex cases, is a must-have.
During the consultation process, the lawyer’s approach and communication will give away their degree of professionalism and empathy. Finally, it is best if the lawyer can provide a free consultation with no upfront fees on the case.