On this page, we will look at personal injury lawsuits in Missouri. We will provide a very general overview of Missouri tort law, including the types of damages plaintiffs can get in Missouri and how long they can wait before filing a case. We will also look at the average compensation payout in Missouri personal injury cases by examining sample verdicts and reported settlements from recent Missouri cases.
Damages in Missouri Personal Injury Cases
Under Missouri law, a plaintiff who is physically injured due to the negligent actions of the defendant is entitled to “damages” in the form of financial compensation to restore the plaintiff to the position they were in before the injury. Plaintiffs in Missouri personal injury cases are entitled to the following categories of damages:
- Medical Expenses: Missouri accident victims can get financial compensation for the full cost of any medical treatment that is reasonably necessary to recover from the injuries they suffer in the accident. This includes hospital stays, operations, physical therapy, diagnostic imaging, medications, and surgery. Missouri plaintiffs can get compensation not just for medical that have already been incurred, but also for future medical expenses that will reasonably be incurred in the years to come.
- Lost Income: if the injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence force the plaintiff to miss work or leave them temporarily or permanently unable to earn a living, then Missouri law entitles to the plaintiff to compensation for the amount of lost income or lost wages. This includes both past lost income and future lost income.
- Pain & Suffering: plaintiffs who successfully bring a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri are entitled to financial compensation for the mental pain and suffering that they experience as a result of the physical injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Caps on Damages in Missouri Personal Injury Cases
In recent years, many states have enacted laws that limit the maximum amount of financial compensation a plaintiff can get in a personal injury lawsuit. In Missouri, only medical malpractice cases are subject to a maximum cap on damages. For all other types of personal injury cases (e.g., car accidents, slip and fall, etc.) there are no damage caps in Missouri.
For medical malpractice cases in Missouri, then there is no cap on the amount of “economic damages” that a plaintiff can recover. Economic damages are medical expenses and lost income. Malpractice cases in Missouri are subject to a cap on pain & suffering damages. In a normal Missouri malpractice case, the maximum amount of pain & suffering damages is $442,574. If the medical malpractice case involves death or “catastrophic injury,” however, the cap on pain & suffering damages goes up to $87,671.
Missouri Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Missouri has a 5-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. This means that a prospective plaintiff in Missouri must file their personal injury lawsuits within 5-years or they will be barred from suing. Missouri follows the so-called “discovery rule” for determining when the 5-year limitations period begins to run. Under this rule, the 5-year time limit begins to run when the plaintiff reasonably could have discovered that they had a potential personal injury claim against the defendant.
In auto accident cases, the 5-year period begins to run immediately from the date of the accident because all reasonable drivers should understand that they may have a claim when they get in an accident. In more complex cases, such as medical malpractice, however, the date when the limitation period begins to run is much less clear.
How Much are Missouri Personal Injury Lawsuits Worth?
The potential value of a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri depends on a number of different factors. The most significant factor for determining the possible value of a Missouri injury case is the type and severity level of the plaintiff’s physical injuries. The settlement value of the case goes up with the severity level of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Another significant factor impacting the potential value of injury cases in Missouri is what type of case it is (e.g., medical malpractice, auto accident, premises liability, etc.) and whether there is insurance to cover the damages. In auto accident cases, the potential value of the case is often limited by the amount of insurance coverage available. By contrast, if the defendant is a doctor or company they usually have insurance with much high liability limits.
Missouri Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements
The best way to evaluate the potential settlement value of your own Missouri personal injury case is by looking at settlements and verdicts in prior injury cases involving comparable facts. Below are summaries of recent tort cases in Missouri that resulted in verdicts or publicly reported settlements.
- 2022, Missouri: $340,000 Settlement. A man was struck. He fractured his sacrum and lumbosacral areas, his pelvis, and ribs. The man also suffered a liver laceration and a lung contusion. He spent five days hospitalized. The man underwent physical therapy and rehabilitative therapy. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed he ran a red light. He received a $340,000 settlement.
- 2022, Missouri: $375,000 Settlement. A woman exited a store at a mall. She slipped on ice. The woman fractured her kneecap. She underwent knee surgery and physical therapy. The woman recovered after four months. However, she developed permanent post-traumatic knee arthritis two years later. The woman alleged negligence against the property owner and the snow and ice contractor. She claimed they failed to maintain safe premises and remove the ice. This case settled for $375,000.
- 2022, Missouri: $1,000,000 Settlement. A woman was rear-ended while turning left. She injured her head, neck, back, left shoulder, and left knee. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he failed to yield the right-of-way and watch the road. This case settled for $1,000,000.
- 2021, Missouri: $108,155 Settlement. A 35-year-old passenger was involved in a rear-end collision. She suffered a T2 compression fracture. The woman alleged negligence against her driver. She claimed she failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $108,155.
- 2021, Missouri: $400,400 Verdict. A beverage deliveryman attempted to remove kegs from a trailer. The trailer’s ramp fell while he did this. The man suffered severe right lower limb injuries, including calcaneus and tibia fractures. He alleged negligence against the saloon. The man claimed its employees improperly attached the ramp to the trailer. A Phelps County jury awarded $400,400.
- 2021, Missouri: $100,000 Settlement. A man was T-boned at a Kansas City intersection. He suffered sternum, head, back, and right knee pain. The man also suffered forehead abrasions and scalp and facial abrasions. He underwent physical therapy. The man sustained recurring back pain, migraines, and memory lapses. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed she failed to watch the road and yield the right-of-way. This case settled for $100,000.
- 2021, Missouri: $2,800,000 Verdict. A man was rear-ended on I-44. He suffered a C3-4 injury. The man underwent a disc replacement three years later. He experienced residual neck pain. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he failed to slow down for traffic and maintain an appropriate lookout. The St. Louis County jury awarded $2,800,000.
- 2021, Missouri: $3,000,000 Settlement. A 33-year-old motorcyclist was struck by a delivery van. He suffered right leg and left arm fractures. The man underwent multiple repair procedures. He alleged negligence against the delivery van driver. The man claimed he made an unsafely left turn and failed to watch the road. He also made a vicarious liability claim. This case settled for $3,000,000.
- 2021, Missouri: $300,000 Verdict. A woman was rear-ended. She suffered multiple disc bulges. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she failed to watch the road. The St. Charles County jury awarded $300,000.
- 2021, Missouri: $2,000,000 Verdict. A Canadian truck driver delivered a combine header to a farm implement dealership. A forklift helped unload it. The combine header fell and fatally struck the man’s head. The man’s widow alleged negligence against the farm implement dealership. She claimed it used inadequate equipment and improperly trained staff on how to use them. The Linn County jury awarded $2,000,000.