Kevin Etzkorn Law

Understanding the Basics of Personal Injury Claims: A Guide for Victims

When an individual experiences harm or injury as a result of the negligence or intentional actions of someone else, he or she has the right to pursue a personal injury claim. This type of claim is one that falls within the civil justice side of our legal system, as opposed to the criminal side.  Personal injury claims often arise from car accident, truck crashes, premise liability incidents, and medical malpractice. Many times, the claims are made without a lawyer. Sometimes, lawyers are needed. Whether there is a lawyer involved or not, some injury claims can be settled and ended without a lawsuit being filed at all.  If you have a personal injury claim, regardless of whether you have a lawyer and whether your case is in the court system, here are the basics of personal injury claims that you should understand: Duty of Care: The first element in a personal injury claim is establishing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. This means the defendant had a legal obligation to act reasonably and avoid causing harm to others. Breach of Duty: The next step is to show that the defendant breached their duty of care. This involves demonstrating that the defendant’s actions (or failure to act) fell below the standard of care expected in the given situation. Negligence and Liability: These concepts are often used to describe a breach in the duty of care. Most personal injury claims are based on the concept of negligence, which involves proving that actions were careless or negligent. In some cases, intentional misconduct or strict liability (liability without a need to prove negligence) may apply. Causation: It must be proven that the defendant’s breach of duty was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. There should be a clear link between the defendant’s actions and the harm suffered by the plaintiff. Damages: To pursue a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must have suffered actual damages. These can include physical injuries, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other measurable losses. In some cases, if there are actual damages proven, a plaintiff may also be able to claim punitive damages. Statute of Limitations: There is a time limit within which a personal injury lawsuit must be filed, known as the statute of limitations. It varies by jurisdiction and the type of case, so it’s crucial to file a claim within the specified timeframe. Insurance Coverage: In many cases, the defendant’s liability insurance will cover the damages in a personal injury claim. Dealing with insurance companies is a common part of the process, and it may involve negotiations to reach a settlement. Consulting an Attorney: It is highly recommended for individuals involved in personal injury cases to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can provide legal advice, evaluate the strength of the case, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, represent the client in court. Contact Kevin Etzkorn Law at (314) 987-0009 to discuss your case. Understanding these basics can help individuals navigate the process of filing a personal injury claim and seek compensation for the damages they have suffered due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions.

Published
Categorized as General

Personal Injury Case Misconceptions

We have been handling personal injury cases for years. Over the years, we have come across a number of ideas that for, one reason, or another, are simply not accurate about these types of cases and this area of law. Here are just a few of those many misconceptions: 1. You can handle a Personal Injury Claim Alone: REALITY: Personal injury law is complex, and having an experienced attorney can significantly enhance your chances of success. 2. Insurance Will Cover All Expenses: REALITY: Insurance companies may resist paying certain costs, and negotiations are often necessary to ensure fair compensation. 3. You Must File a Lawsuit Immediately: REALITY: Some cases have successful resolution without a lawsuit. There’s a statute of limitations, but it varies by jurisdiction. Consult with an attorney to understand the specific timeframes. 4. Filing a Claim Is Expensive: REALITY: Many personal injury attorneys like Kevin Etzkorn Law work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you receive compensation. We require no out of pocket costs! 5. Medical Treatment Can Wait: REALITY: Prompt medical attention is crucial for your health and strengthens your claim by documenting injuries. 6. Personal Injury Cases Are Quick: REALITY: A personal injury case takes anywhere for a few weeks to several years depending on the case.

Published
Categorized as General

$750,000 Verdict After a Drunk Driver in the Wrong Traffic Lane Causes Head-On Collision

Who is at fault for a crash can be obvious. Similarly, figuring out what injuries have resulted from a crash seems like it should be simple. However, no matter how clear things might be, there is no guarantee any insurance company is going to treat you fairly if you are involved in a crash. C.L and M.H. discovered this reality after a drunk driver hit them and caused injuries, tens of thousands in medical bills, and financial loss from time away from work. At around 3:30 p.m. on April 30, 2021, our clients – C.L. and M.H. – were stopped at a red light facing south on southbound Mid-Rivers Mall Drive with their daughter, restrained in a car seat in the back of their Chrysler 300. They had just finished lunch at a Bar-B-Q restaurant and were headed home. Mark Thiele was driving a GMC K3500 northbound on Mid-Rivers Mall Drive at the IS-70 overpass in St. Charles County, Missouri. He crossed several lanes into southbound Mid-Rivers Mall Drive, struck a curb, and ran over an electrical crosswalk signal. After knocking the pole down, Mr. Thiele accelerated northbound into southbound traffic and hit our clients’ vehicle and one other. Mr. Thiele fled the scene and was eventually captured and arrested. He was visibly intoxicated by the time he was found. He was charged with DWI and fleeing the scene. M.H. sustained a comminuted (i.e., meaning reduced to multiple particles) tibia fracture, a fibula fracture, and an ankle fracture. She underwent emergency Open Reduction Internal Fixation surgery that day. C.L. sustained a shoulder injury and was eventually diagnosed with a labral tear in the shoulder that required surgery. The Insurance Companies Responses Mr. Thiele was insured by State Farm. Once the victims hired us, one of our first steps was to contact State Farm and request a copy of Mr. Thiele’s insurance policy. In response, State Farm provided a policy showing a $250,000 per person/$500,000 per occurrence limit. This would mean that Mr. Thiele was covered for up to $500,000 that could be divided amongst all claimants and that no claimant could receive more than $250,000. We requested more insurance information from State Farm. Although they had initially provided a $250,000/$500,000 policy, further investigation revealed there was an extra “umbrella” policy that added $1 million in coverage to the case. We contacted our clients’ insurance carriers to set up claims for medical payments coverage and for underinsured motorist coverage. One of the underinsured carriers initially denied the claim, blaming our clients for the crash (despite the fact they were stopped at a red light). We pushed back and pointed out what would seem to be obvious to any reasonable person, and the insurer agreed, reversing its liability decision. At this point, with liability being agreed to and coverage being disclosed, we attempted to negotiate a settlement. During settlement discussions, Mr. Thiele passed away for reasons unrelated to the crash, leading to failed negotiations. The Lawsuit We filed suit against a Defendant Ad Litem, which is someone appointed by the court to stand in the shoes of the person at fault for the crash. We litigated the case for about two years, requiring us to spend time and money on about a dozen depositions, to respond to numerous motions to dismiss various claims and subtle attempts to delay trial. We did not receive a settlement offer until the week before trial. We settled the claims of C.L. for $150,000. However, the offer to M.H. was only $300,000, which was about half of what we believed the case was worth. Despite making a counter-offer to settle for $700,000, State Farm insisted on sticking to $300,000. The Trial The case proceeded to trial. State Farm admitted fault but not that Mr. Thiele was intoxicated. It also admitted M.H. had suffered a broken leg but disputed the extent of her injuries. State Farm wanted to talk about the fact the amount needed to satisfy M.H.’s medical bills was only about $20,000. Insurance companies love to talk about medical bills, particularly in conservative venues like St. Charles County because they think jurors will feel like they are giving the plaintiff a great deal by forcing the defense to pay for medical bills. The reality, however, is that a judgment for $50,000-$75,000 (which is what State Farm told the jury to award) would not have put much of any money in M.H.’s pocket at all, particularly after all she was put through with the lawsuit. Knowing these numbers did not in any way reflect the extent of M.H.’s injuries, we withdrew the claim for medical bills and successfully moved to exclude any reference to them. That, however, did not stop the defense. State Farm went so far as to hire an “independent” medical doctor to review all of M.H.’s records and offer an “expert” opinion about the extent of her injuries. The spine surgeon expert testified M.H.’s leg was basically back to normal, despite the fact it has a metal rod in the bone and despite her complaints of ongoing pain. The jury disregarded the “expert” testimony and awarded M.H. $750,000. The court assessed taxable court costs and interest as well. There was no basis for appeal, and the judgment was paid shortly thereafter. In addition to the more than $900,000 recovered from State Farm, Kevin Etzkorn Law was also able to recover the limits of our clients’ medical payments coverage. Hurt in an Accident? Call Kevin Etzkorn Law Whenever you are in a car accident, you should contact a lawyer. You ultimately may not need to hire one, but you should at least get a free consultation before you try to resolve the claim on your own. The unfortunate reality is that most insurance companies aren’t going to make a reasonable settlement offer unless you have a lawyer. And even if you have a lawyer, litigation or even a trial might be the only way to get fair compensation. While C.L. and M.H. were fortunate,… Continue reading $750,000 Verdict After a Drunk Driver in the Wrong Traffic Lane Causes Head-On Collision

Published
Categorized as General

Safeguarding Consumers: Understanding Fraud and the Importance of Consumer Protection

Introduction In today’s fast-paced digital age, consumer protection is of paramount importance. As technology advances, so do the methods employed by fraudsters to deceive innocent consumers. This blog post delves into the world of fraud, shedding light on its various forms, and emphasizes the crucial role of consumer protection in maintaining a safe and fair marketplace. What is Fraud? Fraud is a deceptive act perpetrated by individuals or organizations to gain an unfair advantage, typically at the expense of innocent consumers. It encompasses a wide range of illegal activities, including identity theft, deceptive advertising, and fraudulent financial schemes. Understanding the different forms of fraud is essential for safeguarding ourselves and our communities against these malicious acts. The Impact of Fraud on Consumers Fraud has severe consequences for consumers, both financially and emotionally. Many victims of fraud suffer substantial financial losses, leading to crippling debt and financial hardship. Moreover, falling victim to fraud can cause emotional distress, eroding trust in online transactions and the overall marketplace. Fraud can tarnish the reputation of legitimate businesses, leading to a decline in consumer confidence. Understanding and preventing fraud are vital to ensure a safe and thriving digital marketplace. The Role of Consumer Protection Consumer protection plays a pivotal role in curbing fraudulent activities and fostering trust between consumers and businesses. Governments, regulatory bodies, and industry watchdogs collaborate to establish and enforce laws and regulations that safeguard consumer rights. The presence of consumer protection laws helps consumers seek redress and compensation for financial losses caused by fraudulent acts. These laws also serve as deterrents to potential fraudsters, reducing the prevalence of fraudulent activities in the market. Missouri Consumer Fraud Law. MMPA stands for the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. It is a consumer protection law in the state of Missouri that prohibits deceptive, fraudulent, and unfair practices in the sale or advertisement of merchandise or solicitation of funds for charitable purposes. The act covers a wide range of conduct, including deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practices, and the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact. Under the MMPA, individuals or businesses that engage in such unlawful practices can be held liable for damages, including actual damages, attorney fees, and punitive damages. The measure of actual damages under the MMPA is often determined by the “benefit of the bargain” rule, which means that the injured party is entitled to recover the difference between the value of what they received and the value of what they expected to receive based on the deceptive or fraudulent representation. However, there are exceptions to this rule. One exception is when the injured party received nothing of value or rescinded the transaction and returned the property. In such cases, the benefit of the bargain rule does not apply, and the injured party can recover the amount paid, incidental losses, and expenses suffered as a result of the deceptive or fraudulent practices. Another exception is when the benefit of the bargain rule is inadequate due to the peculiar circumstances of the fraud. In such cases, alternative measures of damages may be used, such as out-of-pocket losses or consequential damages that directly result from the fraud. The determination of the appropriate measure of damages depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. In addition to these “actual damages,” Missouri law also allows for recovery of attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, in certain cases. It’s important to note that the information provided is specific to Missouri law and may not apply to other jurisdictions. Legal advice from a qualified attorney should be sought for a comprehensive understanding of MMPA claims and their application to a particular situation. Conclusion Fraud poses a significant threat to consumers and the integrity of the marketplace. By promoting consumer protection and awareness, we can create a safe, fair environment for everyone. As consumers, let us remain vigilant and proactive in combatting fraud, and let us advocate for stronger consumer protection measures to ensure a secure and trustworthy marketplace for all. Together, we can build a resilient digital ecosystem that fosters trust and confidence in the marketpace. Remember, your awareness and actions today can protect yourself and countless others from falling victim to fraud tomorrow.

Published
Categorized as General

What are Depositions?

If you are involved in a lawsuit, you may get to a point where you need to testify under oath at a deposition. This is an essential part of any legal case. Depositions provide attorneys with the opportunity to gather evidence and witness statements that can be used in court. Depositions are conducted in a formal setting, with the witness being sworn in and questioned by an attorney. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at depositions and their role in the legal process. We will explore the different types of depositions, the purpose of a deposition, and what to expect if you are asked to participate in one. Types of Depositions There are several types of depositions that can be conducted in a legal case. The most common types include: 1. Expert witness deposition: This type of deposition is conducted with a witness who has specialized knowledge or expertise in a particular area. These witnesses are called upon to provide their professional opinions on the issue at hand. 2. Discovery deposition: This type of deposition is conducted to gather information from a witness. It is usually conducted for the purpose of discovering new evidence or information that can be used in court. 3. Deposition upon written questions: This is a type of deposition where the witness is asked to provide written answers to a set of questions. This type of deposition is often used when the witness is unable to physically appear in court. The Purpose of a Deposition The main purpose of a deposition is to gather evidence and witness statements that can be used in court. Depositions are conducted before the trial, and the information gathered during a deposition can be used to prepare for trial and to aid in settlement negotiations. During a deposition, attorneys have the opportunity to ask the witness questions that can help them to better understand the facts of the case. In addition, witnesses may be asked to provide documents or other forms of evidence that can be used in court. What to Expect During a Deposition If you are asked to participate in a deposition, it is important that you understand what to expect. Depositions are formal proceedings, and witnesses are expected to take them seriously. Before the deposition, you will be sworn in and will be asked to answer questions truthfully. You will also be informed of your rights and the consequences of providing false testimony. During the deposition, the attorney conducting the deposition will ask you a series of questions. You should answer these questions truthfully and to the best of your ability. If you do not understand a question, you should ask for clarification. Depositions can be long and sometimes stressful, but it is important that you remain calm and composed throughout the process. You may take breaks if needed, and you may have your attorney present to help you understand the questions and ensure they are relevant to the case. In conclusion, depositions are an important part of the legal process. They give attorneys the opportunity to gather evidence and witness statements that can be used in court. If you are asked to participate in a deposition, it is important that you take it seriously and answer all questions truthfully. Depositions can be long and stressful, but with the help of an experienced attorney, you can make it through the process successfully.

Published
Categorized as General

Health Care Fraud – Elder Abuse

We represent many elderly clients in a variety of legal matters. We find there are plenty of people and businesses out there that are, unfortunately, willing to take advantage of this population. Pending before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is an important and somewhat disturbing case involving elder abuse and Medicare fraud. This whistleblower claim was prosecuted by the United States government against a hospice provider, AseraCare, who had been sending workers to government-subsidized housing communities. There, the workers would solicit poor, elderly people to enroll in a government-funded hospice program. The fraud committed stemmed from the fact these poor, elderly people did not all need “end of life” care, which is what hospice is supposed to be. Although these people were not close to death, AseraCare was taking them out of their homes and using them to get paid. A jury found that AseraCare had committed fraud. But the trial judge reversed the verdict. It is now in the hands of the appellate court. You can learn more about the case here. Click here to learn more about our Health Care Fraud services.

Published
Categorized as General

Child Injury Cases

Just like adults, kids get hurt. However, the system recognizes that children do not have the ability to make legal decisions on their own. Therefore, minors cannot file lawsuits without a guardian or a parent. We represent children who have suffered serious injuries. And we have been involved in child injury claims for the following: If your child has been injured or abused, see a lawyer who represents children. The legal system treats child injuries differently than it does adult injuries. Therefore, you need a lawyer knows how to represent children.

Published
Categorized as General

Legal Liability for Waving Another Driver Through Traffic

Everyone has been involved in this scenario. You are stopped in the center lane waiting to make left a turn into a shopping center. But the lane to your immediate left is bumper-to-bumper. The only way you can get to the shopping center is if there is a gap in traffic. The nice gentleman to your immediate left actually backs up a few feet and waves to you, indicating that you are free to go in front of him. What happens if you make that left in front of him and get hit by a car you couldn’t see in the next lane? Could the gentleman who waved to you be at fault for injuries to you? What if you collide with a car in that next lane and the driver of that car is injured too? Could the “waver” be liable to that injured person too? The answer to all of these questions is “yes.” We see these cases from time to time. We recently filed suit on behalf of a client who was making a turn across two lanes of traffic when waved through by two drivers, and then was struck in a third lane. Both “wavers” fled the scene. We filed suit against our client’s own insurance company under the “phantom vehicle”/uninsured motorist coverage in her policies. Our client had very serious injuries with fractures in her neck and a major head injury. Her insurance company paid to settle. Most clients who come to us with “wave through” cases are uncertain of their rights and of the responsibilities of the waving drivers. Similarly, clients are often unaware that when a driver who causes an accident flees the scene there is still a way to recover through a phantom vehicle/uninsured motorist policy. This is a policy that nearly every insured driver carriers, whether they know it or not.

Published
Categorized as General