This page looks at personal injury lawsuits in Missouri, focusing on Missouri law and expected settlement amounts and jury payouts in Missouri.
Specifically, our lawyers explain the Missouri tort law you need to know, including the types of damages plaintiffs can get in Missouri, how long they can wait before filing a case, and what damage caps there are. We will also examine 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 physically injured due to the defendant’s negligent actions is entitled to “damages” in the form of financial compensation to restore the plaintiff to their position 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 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 the plaintiff to compensation for the lost income or lost wages. This includes both past lost income and future lost income.
- Pain and Suffering: As we mention below, this is usually the most significant component of damages in Missouri’s personal injury or wrongful death claim. Plaintiffs who successfully bring a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri are entitled to financial compensation for the mental pain and suffering they experience due to the physical injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Missouri Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Lawsuits
Missouri has a five-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. This means that a prospective plaintiff in Missouri must file their personal injury lawsuits within five years, or they will be barred from suing. Missouri follows the so-called “discovery rule” for determining when the five-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 five-year period begins to run immediately from the accident date because all reasonable drivers should understand that they may have a claim when they get into an accident. However, the date when the limitation period begins is much less evident in more complex cases, such as medical malpractice.
2023 Missouri Malpractice Damage Caps
Missouri has a cap on non-economic damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. The cap was established by a law passed in 2015 and is currently set at $457,749 in 2023 for cases involving medical malpractice.
There are some exceptions to the cap. In cases involving catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis, loss of a limb, or brain damage, the cap can be raised to $801,061. In cases involving wrongful death, the cap is $801,061 in 2023 for cases where the deceased was married, had children, or both, and half the catastrophic cap in cases where the deceased had no spouse or children. Additionally, the cap does not apply to economic damages, which cover things like medical expenses and lost wages, so you can get a jury payout in the tens of millions of dollars, as you see below.
Here is how the cap works. The cap number is based, oddly, on the trial date, not the date of loss:
|Year||Non-Catastrophic Injuries||Catastrophic Injuries|
How Much Are Missouri Personal Injury Lawsuits Worth?
The potential value of a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri depends on many 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 payout of a 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 case’s potential value 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 high liability limits.
These are the other variables that matter in determining Missouri tort claim payouts:
- Medical Expenses and Lost Wages: This includes current and projected future medical bills and lost wages related to the injury. These “hard damages” are not only significant in their own right but also an anchor for insurance adjusters and juries in calculating pain and suffering payouts.
- Pain and Suffering: Missouri allows for non-economic damages, compensating the victim for physical pain and emotional distress. Pain and suffering are the most prominent factors in most significant civil personal injury lawsuits.
- Property Damage: This variable is auto accident specific. If personal property was damaged as a result of the incident, the severity of the property damage will drive settlement payouts.
- Comparative Negligence: As we talk about above, Missouri follows the “pure comparative fault” rule. If the injured party is partly at fault for the accident, their compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
- Strength of the Evidence: This is the driving factor in many cases. Of course, if the plaintiff has strong evidence showing the defendant’s negligence, it will push the tort claim’s payout higher.
- Personal Characteristics: Juries pay more to people they like and also pay more when they dislike the defendant. Sometimes, the parties’ age, profession, background, and personality can influence jury perceptions and settlement amounts in Missouri personal injury lawsuits.
- Attorney’s Negotiation Skills: Your lawyer matters. A skilled personal injury lawyer will put you in a better position to negotiate a higher settlement payout. Because for a personal injury lawyer, both skill and reputation matter.
These factors, among others, will influence settlement negotiations. Victims seeking settlement compensation should consult a Missouri personal injury attorney to evaluate their case and potential settlement value.
Missouri Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements
Another way to look at 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.
- 2023, Missouri: $3,900,000 Verdict. A 19-year-old drowned while diving at Offsets Recreation, a swimming and diving area near Fredericktown, Missouri, which had been converted from a flooded quarry. Despite the location’s history of seven previous drownings, there were no lifeguards present. The defense argued that the victim, being an experienced swimmer, was aware of the risks and also highlighted alcohol consumption, but the jury found the business and the landowner liable, pointing to insufficient staffing and supervision during a busy holiday period. The Madison County jury did not buy it and awarded the family a $3.9 million payout.
- 2023, Missouri: $1,500,000,000 Verdict. A jury in Jefferson City awarded $1.5 billion in a Roundup case alleging that exposure to the popular weedkiller caused the plaintiff to develop cancer.
- 2023, Missouri: $1,000,000 Settlement. A 13-year-old autistic boy was molested by another student at a day care facility in a bathroom where staff failed to provide proper supervision. The assailant confirmed during a state official interview that he initiated the abuse and educated the victim about sexual acts. The family of the boy reached a $1 million settlement with the day care.
- 2023, Missouri: $10,000,0o0 Verdicts. A 62-year-old woman was driving on Route 52. Another driver crossed the center line and collided head-on with her vehicle, resulting in catastrophic injuries leading to her death. Initially filed in Henry County, this accident lawsuit placed blame on the driver of the pickup truck. A Cass County jury awarded the widower and their eight adult daughters $10 million. The defense lawyer suggested $500,000 would be a large enough payout to cover this death, which probably helped inflate the award.
- 2023, Missouri: $70,000 Verdict. A woman was T-boned at a St. Louis County intersection. She suffered multiple right knee injuries. The woman underwent a knee repair. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he ran a red light and failed to yield at an intersection. The St. Louis County jury awarded $70,000.
- 2023, Missouri: $1,250,000 Settlement. A woman was rear-ended on Highway 270 in Maryland Heights. She suffered severe head, neck, spinal cord, left shoulder, rib, foot, and hand injuries. She underwent multiple repair procedures. The woman also underwent trauma counseling. She sustained anxiety and depression. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he read Facebook messages while operating his vehicle. This case settled for $1,250,000.
- 2023, Missouri: $11,100,000 Verdict. A 32-year-old man died in a Kansas City apartment fire. His mother alleged negligence against the apartment’s owner. She claimed they failed to install adequate smoke alarms and adequately inspect the premises. The Jackson County jury awarded $11,100,000.
- 2023, Missouri: $50,000 Verdict. A pedestrian was struck at a crosswalk in St. Louis County. He suffered left fibula and tibia fractures. The man received hardware implants. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed he failed to yield to a pedestrian and watch the road. A St. Louis County jury awarded $50,000.
- 2023, Missouri: $10,000,000 Verdict. A man was T-boned in St. Louis County. He suffered right ankle tears and lumbar injuries. The man underwent ankle and neck repairs. He could no longer work as an exterminator. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he ran a red light. The St. Louis County jury awarded $10,000,000.
- 2023 Missouri: $85,000 Verdict. The defendant T-boned a woman who had turned left into a Taco Bell driveway. She suffered an avulsed rib, where the cartilage gets detached from the sternum. A jury awarded her $1.5 million, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. The second jury awarded only $100,000, which was reduced to $85,000 due to comparative fault. Her appeal of that verdict was denied.
- 2023 Missouri: $25,400,000 Verdict. During the mother’s labor, an obstetrician delegated the use and monitoring of Pitocin, a medication used to speed up labor, to a student doctor. However, Pitocin can cause harm to both mother and baby if not used properly. As a result, the baby suffered significant oxygen loss, leading to her disabilities. After a two-week trial, a Jackson County, Missouri jury awarded the child and her family over $25 million.
- 2022, Missouri: $3,300,000 Settlement. At a hotel swimming pool during a cousin’s birthday party, a 10-year-old girl drowned in a section of the pool that was 9 feet deep. The pool water was murky, making it difficult to see her after she submerged. Despite immediate CPR attempts by her father, who was momentarily away on a call, and prompt response from paramedics, the girl could not be revived. The hotel had disconnected a device that would signal chemical imbalances in the water and had previous violations regarding the pool’s flowmeter, which was also not functioning at the time of the incident. The hotel faced criticism for inadequate lighting, a sharply sloping deep end, and lack of supervision by staff. Acknowledging the rarity of large settlements in similar drowning cases, the plaintiffs secured a $3.3 million settlement with the hotel, bringing a measure of justice to the family for the preventable loss of their daughter.
- 2022, Missouri: $340,000 Settlement. In a car accident, a man suffered a fractured sacrum and lumbosacral areas, his pelvis, and ribs. He also suffered a liver laceration and a lung contusion. He spent five days hospitalized. The man underwent physical therapy and rehabilitative therapy. He hired a Missouri personal injury lawyer who 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 hired an attorney who filed a lawsuit in Rolla alleging the 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 delivery van struck a 33-year-old motorcyclist. 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 unsafe 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 hired a Missouri truck accident lawyer who filed a lawsuit in Linneus alleging negligence against the farm implement dealership. She claimed it used inadequate equipment and improperly trained staff to use them. The Linn County jury awarded $2,000,000.
Hiring a Missouri Personal Injury Attorney
Our law firm handles serious injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Missouri. Our attorneys have a track record of success. We work closely with trusted colleagues within Missouri. Our lawyers do not charge additional contingency fees for having two law firms working on your case – two law firms for the price of one – and you only owe a fee if you receive settlement compensation or a jury payout.
If you have suffered an injury and believe you have a potential civil tort claim, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. You can contact us online or call us today at 800-553-8082.