The worst-case scenario for victims of someone else’s negligence is not being able to collect the full amount of their damages. The defendant might not have enough insurance to cover damages, he or she might have filed for bankruptcy, or the defendant might have been a company that no longer exists.
Regardless of the reason that a victim or family of the victim isn’t able to collect the full amount of their damages, an option for Missourians to pursue additional compensation is the state’s Tort Victims’ Compensation Fund. Anytime punitive damages are awarded in a judgment for a personal injury case, a portion goes to the Fund. When defendants are not able to pay damages awarded by a judge or jury in a personal injury case, the victim or victim’s representatives may receive up to a maximum of $300,000 from the Fund.
The Fund has gone through long periods without having sufficient funds. As a result, historically, most victims who have filed claims with the Fund have received pennies on the dollar from the Fund. Fortunately, the Fund recently received an infusion of cash from the blockbuster $2.1 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal from the company on the ruling, giving the Missouri Tort Victims’ Compensation Fund a $480 million windfall.
Are You Eligible to Receive Funds?
Your personal injury case must reach a certain point before you are allowed to make a claim against the Fund. To be eligible, you must meet one of four conditions:
- You have obtained a judgment in a personal injury or wrongful death case, the appeals have been exhausted, and you are unable to collect the full amount of what you are owed.
- Your personal injury or wrongful death claim was not successful because the defendant declared bankruptcy.
- Your personal injury or wrongful death claim was settled for available insurance policy limits but your damages exceed the amount of the insurance policy or policies.
- Your loved one passed away before receiving the full amount of his or her judgment in a personal injury case.
How Do You Apply?
You will need to supply a fairly detailed amount of information. There is also a time limit for filing an application. While you can file a claim without an attorney, it is normally best to hire an experienced and skilled attorney to represent you to make sure the proper protocol is followed and the correct documentation is provided.
The recent infusion of cash into the Missouri Tort Victims’ Compensation Fund is big news for victims of others’ negligence. This represents an avenue for Missourians to collect damages when all else fails, but you need to act promptly to take advantage. Talk to our team today to set up your free consultation.