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Jun 09Injured Workers – Missouri Labor

Portrait of people from different professions standing together on white

At The Sims Law Firm, we know that you work hard, and that it’s a true hardship when you can’t work. That is why we work quickly and fight fiercely to protect your rights when you have been injured at work. With The Sims Law Firm is on your side, you can feel confident that we will stand up for you against your employer and the insurance company to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

When you are injured there are four things that you need to do:

First. Report your injury.

This is very important. The longer you wait to report a serious injury, the lower your chances for compensation. Failure to report your injury to your employer within 30 days may jeopardize your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits.  Even minor injuries need to be reported to safe guard yourself against this 30 day policy.

Second. Get Medical Care.

Your employer or insurer is required to provide medical treatment and care to cure and/or fix any injuries that have happened on the job.

Third. Know Your Benefits.

In addition to medical care and coverage you may be entitled to a temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits. The Sims Law Firm can help you decide which you may or may not qualify for. And help with the paperwork involved in these claims.

Fourth. Resolve Your Case.

This is when the help of a lawyer will greatly benefit you. If you feel or believe that you have not received all the benefits due, and you have contacted both your employer and the insurance company without a resolution, you may wish to review your options. We can take a look at your case, and help you decide the best course of action.

Contact The Sims Law Firm for any and all questions you may have about your workers compensation benefits. 417-883-4848.

(Source: http://labor.mo.gov/)

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Jun 09Car Accident Attorney – Springfield, MO

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If you have been injured in a car accident, call The Sims Law Firm today to discuss your rights and the best course of action.  Our attorneys will help you from the beginning to help ensure all the proper steps are taken and that you can get the most out of your settlement or case.

Car accidents are one of the most common injuries in Missouri, and because of this frequency, there are several laws around them.  In fact, car accidents are so common in the Springfield, MO area – except for the traffic they cause – you probably barely notice them. That all changes when it’s you on the side of the road or in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

If you have been injured in a car accident, or if a negligent driver has taken the life of a family member, we have the experience to help you. The Sims Law Firm will provide knowledgeable and effective representation for you and your family.

Our Springfield attorneys handle cases that include: bodily injury claims, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accident, tractor-trailer accidents, bicycle accidents, vehicle accidents and any personal injury claims relating to the roadway.

Don’t rely on the insurance companies to give you a fair settlement without legal representation. If the insurance company determined the amount of money you receive from your accident claim, there would be no opportunity for you and your family to plead your case. By doing this, you severely affect your ability to receive the full compensation that you deserve.

After making sure you get the best medical care possible, the next most important decision you can make is hiring an attorney to represent you.  Contact The Sims Law Firm to talk with an experienced lawyer today. 417-883-4848

Walk-ins welcome every Wednesday.

4126 South Kansas Expressway
Suite 116
Springfield, MO 65807

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May 08When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

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When you’ve been in a car accident, you have a lot on your mind. Aside from any emotional turmoil and stress you may be experiencing, you have to deal with your injuries, damage to your vehicle and handling your claim with the insurance company.

We can help you deal with the process of your claim and reduce your stress in the process. As a former insurance defense attorney, Matt Sims, has the inside knowledge that the insurance companies don’t want you to know that can help win your case. The following information will help you determine whether hiring an attorney is the right choice for you.

  1. No Fees if You Don’t Recover – We work on contingency, so if you don’t win your case, there Free-consultationare no attorney fees involved.
  2. Red Tape – Complicated legal procedures and confusing terms combined with lots of paperwork are common. Having someone on your side to help you through the process will help you get back to normal life faster.
  3. Objectivity – Frustration, pain, fear and anger can affect your ability to see the facts. We can offer an objective viewpoint on your case.
  4. Alternative Dispute Resolution – lengthy trials are not always necessary to resolve a case. We can help you decide if a mediation and arbitration might be your best course of action.
  5. Experience With Insurance Companies – Having been on the other side working as an attorney for insurance companies has given us the inside scope on how to best approach the case.
  6. Best Settlements – A large percentage of personal injury cases are resolved by a settlement instead of a trial.
  7. Best Jury Verdicts – If a trial is necessary having an experienced attorney state your case will better your chances for a verdict in your favor.

 

The skills of an experienced personal injury lawyer – or at least the threat to an insurance company that such a lawyer is present – will make them take you seriously. The Sims Law Firm is located in Springfield, MO and offers the flexibility of walk in hours every Wednesday. Or if you would like to set up an appointment, please contact us today 417-883-4848.

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Apr 10Do I Have A Case?

do-i-have-a-caseGenerally, the law provides the opportunity for people to obtain compensation if someone else has harmed them. For example, if you have been physically injured as a result of a careless or negligent act, then you may have the right to claim compensation for your injuries.

Every case is different and whether you have a valid claim depends upon the specific facts of your particular case as well as the applicable law. This is why it is important to consult with the experienced attorneys at Sims Law, to discuss potential claims you may have.

Some of the key issues in establishing a viable claim include:

Who is at Fault – Liability
Can either an individual or organization be held legally responsible for your injuries, damages or losses? Are the facts sufficient enough to prove that an individual, or organization, was in whole or in part at fault? In Missouri it is still possible to claim compensation even if your own actions may have been partly to blame.

Sometimes the law does not allow a claim to be brought against certain people. Knowing which laws are or may be applicable (or inapplicable) to impose liability is critical to evaluating whether a viable case exists.

The Nature and Extent of DamagesInjury claim
Even if you think someone has acted improperly, the injuries, losses and damages stemming from those improper actions may be minimal. The cost to bring a lawsuit may be more than what you could recover in damages.

Time Limits – Statute of Limitations
Every potential claim has a statute of limitations or a “window of time” in which you are allowed to file a lawsuit. These time limits vary widely depending on the nature of your case. Knowing the time limitations applicable to your claim is critical because if a claim is not brought before the statute of limitations has run or proper notice has not been provided, your claim is likely to be barred forever. Find out more about the statute of limitations here.

Your Best Interests – Will the potential damages outweigh the costs of the lawsuit?
Even if you have sustained injuries, damages or losses, and even if it is apparent that someone else caused those injuries, damages or losses, bringing a lawsuit may not always be in your best interest. Lawsuits take significant time and energy can take their toll on the parties involved, financially, emotionally, and sometimes physically. At Sims Law Firm, we put the interests of our clients first and if we believe the potential cost of going to trial or bringing a lawsuit are not in your best interests, we will let you know so that you can make an informed decision about your case.

Sims Law Firm, Springfield Mo. Your personal injury and workers compensation lawyer. Call today 417-883-4848, visit us for Walk-In-Wednesday or if you are unable to attend a consultation due to your injuries, we will make arrangements to meet with you at your home or hospital.

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Apr 03Is There a Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents?

oic-statute-of-limitationsIf you have recently been in an auto accident, and initially didn’t think you had serious injuries, or maybe you just didn’t think you had a case. There may still be time to re-evaluate what has happened. It’s not uncommon to feel fine the first day or two after your accident, but then start to suffer from back or neck pain and become unable to work. Now your bills are piling up and you are afraid your time for compensation has passed? We can help.

What is a statute of limitations? A Statute of limitations is basically a legal rule that limits your time to bring a lawsuit. For auto accidents, depending on the injuries or car damage involved, you may or may not be within your statute of limitations window. If you fail to bring a lawsuit within the state of Missouri’s given time period, you may forfeit your opportunity for a lawsuit. That is why it’s important to ACT NOW.

What is the statute of limitations time period for the state of Missouri?

One person died in this three-car crash. (KATU News photo)That answer is dependent on the nature or type of lawsuit you may be pursuing. If it’s a civil lawsuit involving personal injuries, the statute of limitations is generally 5 years in the State of Missouri. Certain facts may increase or decrease the statute of limitations, therefore consultations with a qualified personal injury lawyer is important.

In other cases, where the car accident involves death, there could be a lawsuits for wrongful death. Wrongful death lawsuits have a different statute of limitations in the state of Missouri, and must be brought within 3 years from the date of death. Other factors could increase or decrease the general Missouri statute of limitations.

The time limit to bring a lawsuit stemming from a car accident depends on many factors. Matt Sims, of Sims Law Firm, will be able to guide you through all aspects of bringing a car accident lawsuit to court. If you have questions, you may call 417-883-4848 or simply join us Wednesday as part of our Walk-In-Wednesday program. Consultations are always free.

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Dec 17Walk-In Wednesday

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Aug 15Injured in an Auto Accident: Springfield MO

I WAS INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT:

SHOULD I CONTACT AN INJURY ATTORNEY & HOW WILL I PAY THEM?

 

The simple answer is YES! I always suggest seeking advice early – trust me, the insurance company has professionals protecting their interest, why shouldn’t you? Frankly, if you truly believe the insurance company or their lawyers are looking out for your best interest, then you might be suffering from a brain injury.  Regardless of what stage of the settlement process has been reached, it is never too late to seek advice. Most personal injury attorneys will provide a free consultation…you have nothing to lose!

As a Springfield, Missouri personal injury attorney, I have clients seek my advice and help at all stages of their personal injury claim. Ideally, clients would seek advice from a personal injury attorney prior to speaking to an insurance claims adjuster. Reality, that rarely occurs.

Many injury victims initially attempt to settle their claim with insurance companies on their own. Often times, insurance companies are rude, demanding, and downright mean. I can’t tell you how many clients have hired me to represent them, simply based on the attitude of the insurance adjuster. Many others hire me after they have received what seems to anyone with common sense as a low-ball offer. In addition to the low-ball offer, the insurance company is attempting to force the injury victim to sign a release that is generally not understood by the injury victim.

Some injury victims are concerned with the percentage that an injury attorney will charge as a fee. The standard fee for a personal injury claim such as a car accident, slip and fall, wrongful death, etc., (Non Workmans’ Comp) is 33% prior to filing a claim, and 40% if a claim is filed, or the matter proceeds to within 90 days of trial. Of course, there are attorneys that charge less for particular cases based on particular circumstances, however, 33-40% is standard.

Just what is the 33-40% based on? Generally, personal injury attorneys will only take 33-40% of the damages associated with the injury. In other words, if you were in a car accident, the attorney may help you negotiate a settlement for the damage to the car, but will not likely take a percentage of that particular part of the recovery. Additionally, if an injury client has been offered a particular amount as compensation for injuries, prior to retaining the attorney, the attorney will not likely receive a percentage of that amount.

Who pays for the cost of litigation? Personal injury attorneys generally pay the cost of litigation up front. Once the matter is settled, the attorney recovers his/her costs from the settlement. If they attorney fails to recover compensation, they do not recover their costs or fees. Costs consist of items such as: filing a claim, ordering medical records, copies, postage, retaining expert witnesses, conducting depositions (court reporters), and in some cases travel.

Let’s take a look at how this might all shake out.

Jane Doe, 22 years old and single, was injured in a two car automobile accident. Jane was not at fault. The wrongdoer had insurance totaling $25,000.00 property damage and $100,000.00 per person for liability (injury).  As a result of the accident, Jane suffered a broken arm, soft tissue injury of the neck, soft tissue injury to the low back, and temporary headaches. Jane was taken by ambulance to the E.R., seen several times by her primary care physician, seen several times by an orthopedic doctor, underwent physical therapy for the broken arm as well as the neck and back injuries, and was seen by a chiropractor for the neck and back injuries. In addition to her injuries, Jane missed 10 days of work for which she received no compensation. Overall it took 8 months for Jane to recover from her injuries. The attorney expended $375.00 for medical records, $1,500 for deposition fees, and $35.00 for postage and copies. Prior to retaining the attorney, the insurance company offered Jane $4,900.00 as compensation for her injuries and lost wages, and $5,000.00 for property damage.

-          Medical bills (Total Charged – not total paid) = $18,500.00 (Total out of pocket by Jane $1,850)

-          Lost wages (10 x 8 x 15.00) = $1,200

-          Property Damage = $5,000.00

-          Pain and Suffering = $29,700

-          Total Compensation = $52,450

As stated above, generally, a personal injury attorney will not charge a percentage of the portion of a settlement obtained as a result of property damage. In some cases, however, the insurance company contests whether or not they are obligated to cover the damage under the policy. In such a case, the attorney may take a percentage. For the purposes of the above example, we will assume the insurance company did not contest their obligation to pay.

You might be wondering how pain and suffering is calculated. The reason pain and suffering is such a mystery, is because, every case is different. There really is no one formula applicable to every scenario. The reason is, each injury victim has unique injuries, affects on their lives as a result of the injuries, and outcomes or recoveries. The more permanent, serious, and painful the injuries, the higher the compensation. In the above example, the pain and suffering amount would fluctuate greatly depending on the severity of the broken arm. For example, was surgery or multiple surgeries required, was there a necessity to implant hardware to repair the arm, was there a permanent loss of feeling in the arm, was the break to Jane’s dominant arm, was their scaring, was the fracture compound (was the bone sticking through the skin), and many other factors.

In the above example Jane would receive $5,000.00 for property damage, and $4,900 representing the previous offer, with no attorney fee applied. The remaining portion would have the attorney fee applied and be distributed as follows.

-          Total $52,450

  • Attorney Fee
    • (52,450 – 5,000 – 4,900) x .33 =$14,041.50
  • Reimbursement
    • Medical records = $375.00
    • Deposition fees = $1,500.00
    • Postage and Copies = $35.00
  • Jane Doe (minus attorney and reimbursement fees)
    • Personal Injury Compensation
      • $26,598.5
      • $4,900.00
    • Property Damage
      • $5,000.00
    • Total
      • $36,498.50

In the above scenario, we assumed that there was no outstanding medical bills. In real life, there are often times outstanding medical bills or liens on medical bills. All outstanding medical bills and many liens must be paid out of the settlement proceeds. Responsibility for paying the outstanding bills or liens will be with the injury victim, here Jane Doe. Fortunately, lawyers have several tools in their tool box that can help reduce or eliminate the total amount of medical bills owed. The ability to reduce or eliminate medical bills is yet another good reason to consult an injury attorney.

Another important factor regarding recovery is the amount of insurance the wrongdoer has purchased. In the State of Missouri, minimum required insurance is $10,000.00 property damage, and $25,000.00 per person, or $50,000.00 per accident liability insurance. Had he wrongdoer in the above scenario had only the State minimums, Jane Doe would have recovered only $25,000.00 despite the fact that her injuries far surpassed that amount. In many circumstances, however, there may be other insurance policies that could apply. It is doubtful that the adjuster handling the matter will volunteer this information to an injury victim. Yet another reason to consult an injury attorney.

Remember, the choice of a lawyer is an important one and should never be based on advertising alone. If you have been injured in accident, you should consult an injury attorney as soon as possible.

 

By Matthew Sims

 

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Aug 08Workers’ Comp: Wrongful Termination, Fired After Making a Claim

Article by Matthew Sims. Matthew Sims is a Springfield, Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney and Springfield, Missouri Personal Injury Attorney at the Sims Law Firm.

Thanks to a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling, workers who are fired after making a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits, now have a realistic chance of recovering damages. I say realistic, because, prior to Templemire v. W & M Welding, Inc. (April, 2014), an aggrieved employee was required to show that the exclusive cause for her termination was in fact making a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits under Chapter 287 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

Chapter 287.780 RSMo. provides “No employer or agent shall discharge or in any way discriminate against any employee for exercising any of his rights under this chapter. Any employee who has been discharged or discriminated against shall have a civil action for damages against his employer.”  This language is nothing new, and has been part of the Section 287.870 since 1925. Missouri Courts first interpreted the statute to mean, “…that a cause of action lies only if an employee is discharged discriminatorily by reason of exercising his or her rights.” Mithchell v. St. Louis County, 575 S.W.2d 813 (Mo.App.E.D.1978). Note, the court used the language “only” leaving open room for discharges based in part at least, on reasons other than exercising his or her rights. Soon thereafter, the Courts again interpreted the meaning  “…there must be a causal relationship between the exercise of the right by the employee and his discharge by his employer arising precisely from the employee’s exercise of his rights, and upon proof that the discharge was related to the employee’s exercise of his or her rights.” Davis v. Richmond Special Road Dist. 649 S.W.2s 252 (Mo.App.W.D.1983). Again, the Court chose to use the word “precisely” which continued to allow the employer to discharge the employee if there were other unrelated reasoning. It is easy to see how an employer would abuse the statutory interpretation. Ultimately, the Missouri Supreme Court weighed in on the interpretation of the Statue and provided the elements terminated worker must prove in order to show retaliatory termination:

  1. Plaintiff’s status as employee of defendant before injury;
  2. Plaintiff’s exercise of a right granted by Chapter 287;
  3. Employer’s discharge of or discrimination against plaintiff; and,
  4. An exclusive causal relationship between plaintiff’s actions and defendant’s actions.

Hansome v. Northwestern Cooperage Co. 679 S.W.2d 273 at 275 (Mo. Banc 1984).

As a result of the above interpretation by the Missouri Supreme Court, the law in Missouri has long been, an employer was not liable for retaliatory or discriminatory retaliation for discharging an employee after making a claim for benefits, unless it was the exclusive reason for the termination. In other words, the employer could essentially make up any reason and avoid liability.

In April, 2014, The Missouri Supreme Court handed down the decision in Tempelmire v. W & M Welding. The decision reasoned that nowhere in Section 287.780 does the statute require that the “exclusive” reason for termination be retaliatory for making a claim for benefits. The Court points out that the legislative intent of Section 287.780 was to prevent the evil of employers terminating, or discriminating against workers for claiming their benefits. Additionally, the Court provided that it must under Section 287.800, apply strict construction to the language contained in Section 287.780, and they must not presume anything that is not expressed in the statute. The Court’s decision overruled the previous decision in Hansome v. Northwestern Cooperage Co.

In overruling the decision in Hansome, the Court threw out the “exclusive causation” standard, replacing it with “contributing factor.” The Court provided several reasons why the contributing factor standard was more appropriate. First, the plain language of the statute, prohibit employers form discharging or in any way discrimination against an employee for exercising his or her rights under Chapter 287. Second, the Court determined that terminating a person for exercising their rights under Chapter 287 was reprehensible. The fact that an employee was terminated for other reasons along with the reason of exercising their rights under Chapter 287 makes the termination no less reprehensible. Third, using another standard, such as the “motivating factor” would continue to allow the employer to discriminate against or terminate employees, at least in part for exercising their rights under chapter 287. Forth, and finally, the Court reasoned that use of the “contributing factor” standard placed discrimination or termination of employees for exercising their rights under Chapter 287 in line with other employment discrimination law, such as discrimination or termination under the Missouri Human Rights Acts.

With the change in the Court’s position, comes what I referred to above as, a “realistic chance” for those terminated or discriminated against for exercising their rights under Chapter 287 to recover damages. It is now possible for a terminated or discriminated against employee to recover, back pay, front pay, lost opportunity, lost advancement, pre judgment interest, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages.

If you have been terminated after filing a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits you should contact a qualified Employment or Workers’ Compensation lawyer.

 

By Matthew Sims

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May 02Springfield, Missouri Injury Attorney Walk-In Hours

Those injured in a car accident, slip & fall, and work related accidents often times find it very difficult to meet with a partner of a personal injury firm on a schedule that fits their needs. That is no longer the case in Springfield, Missouri. Personal injury attorney Matthew Sims has set aside every Wednesday to meet with injury victims. “Walk-In Wednesday” is a time for injury victims to simply walk-in to the Sims Law Firm, and discuss their injury case with Matt Sims that day…and it’s FREE.

One large problem facing injury victims is the ability to actually speak to the attorney that will handle their case. Many times, injury victims see a paralegal or some intake personnel before talking to an attorney. Not so at the Sims Law Firm on Walk-In Wednesday. I have made myself available to see every client that walks-in between 9:00 am & 5:00 pm, I will stay until the last consultation is fully conducted. Injury consultations at the Sims Law Firm are always free. Of course, if Wednesday does not fit their schedule they can always set a traditional appointment.

If you have been injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident, work accident, or are the family member of a wrongful death victim, you can speak to personal injury attorney Matthew Sims on any Wednesday between 9:00 am & 5:00 pm free.

Walk-In Wednesday Personal Injury Attorney

By Matthew Sims

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Apr 25Walk-In Wednesday Springfield Missouri Personal Injury Attorney.

 

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