Determining What a Car Accident Claim is Worth in Missouri & Kansas

As a Kansas City car accident lawyer, I'm often asked by clients and potential clients about the settlement value of their car accident cases.

Despite what you may read elsewhere, there is no secret "formula" in Missouri or Kansas law for calculating the value of a personal injury or car accident claim.  Instead, the answer depends on a number of factors.  By understanding these factors and answering the questions below, you can get a better understanding as to the potential compensation you may be able to receive after a car accident.  

However, before we discuss these factors for calculating the value of your claim, there is an important question that you must be able to answer to establish you are entitled to compensation in the first place. That question relates to "liability", which is a legal term that means "who's at fault" for the accident.

Who's Liable for the Car Accident?

Before we talk about damages and the value of your car accident claim, we have to understand liability. The key questions that you must answer to determine "liability" are:

  1. Was the other party at fault in causing the car accident, and
  2. Can you prove that they were at fault?

The reason liability is important is really simple. To the extent you were somehow at fault for this accident, the amount of money you may be entitled to under the law will be reduced and it may even be eliminated. This is because the law in both Kansas and Missouri known as comparative fault may apply to your case.  Comparative fault is a legal doctrine that reduces or eliminates one's right to recover money for injuries that he or she was partially or entirely at fault for causing.

What Amount of Car Insurance Is Available?

It's very important from the outset to understand and be able to establish what happened and how the other party was at fault for causing the car accident.  After understanding who was at fault, the next important factor to consider is what insurance is available.  Here are some key questions to consider:

  • Does the at-fault party have car insurance? 
    • If the at-fault party does not have car insurance, you will need to consider what alternatives are available, including "uninsured motorist" coverage, medical payment or personal injury protection coverage. These are coverages that you should look for in your own car insurance policy.
  • If the at-fault party has insurance, is it enough? Does it sufficiently compensate you for your injuries?
    • If the at-fault party has insufficient insurance, you will want to find if there are any other parties who may share in the fault, and if not, then you should look to see if your own car insurance policy contains "under-insured motorist" coverage.

How to calculate the value of my car accident claim

After you consider the above questions, there are many additional factors that need to be evaluated to calculate the value of a car accident or personal injury claim?  Some of the most important factors are:

1.  Your Medical Bills and Records

For example, your medical bills and records will need to be reviewed. Do your medical records substantiate that you had injuries from the accident?  What is the value of your the medical bills? Do they properly document what expenses you've had to incur for treatment and the value of that treatment? What about future medical? Will you need future medical treatment? What is the future cost of that medical treatment.  We may need testimony from doctors or medical providers as to that future cost.

2.  Your Lost Wages

In addition to medical treatment and costs, we need to look at lost wages. Did you sustain lost income because of the accident, and if so, what is the value of that? If you're going to sustain lost income in the future or lost earnings capacity, we may need to have an expert to put a value on your lost future earnings.

3.  Permanent Impairments or Physical Restrictions

Depending on the type of case, we may need a life care planner if your injuries result in impairments or restrictions that affect your daily living and daily activities. A life care planner is an expert that can help us put a value on those costs both in the present and in the future. 

4.  Pain and Suffering

Lastly, I'm sure you've heard of pain and suffering. This is one of the most difficult legal concepts to put a precise value on. There are always differing opinions about the value of pain and suffering, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help calculate this amount based on other similar cases and by work with medical experts.

Our Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

While there is no precise formula for calculating what a personal injury or car accident claim is worth, the above factors will be important in determining your personal injury case value. A qualified personal injury attorney will be able to apply these factors to your case and help you understand the potential value of your claim.


For more information about personal injury claims in Missouri and Kansas, please download a free copy of my book, Crash Course, from our website. To get your questions answered and learn how much your claim may be worth, you can also contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.  You can contact our firm by calling (816) 203-0143 or by filling out the form below.

Kevin J. McManus
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Kevin McManus is an accident injury and disability lawyer in Kansas City, MO, and Overland Park, KS