Missouri revised statute section 408.040 allows an injury victim to recover prejudgment interest in a tort case when the judgment is higher than the settlement offer. However, in order for a personal injury victim to recover prejudgment interest, certain procedural requirements must be met by the injured victim or his or her Missouri personal injury attorney.
First, the injury victim must sign an affidavit swearing that the settlement offer correspondence fully and accurately describes the nature of her claim, her injuries claimed, and contains a general computation of the categories of damages sought with supporting documentation.
R.S.MO. SECTION 408.040 further requires that the settlement offer reference the statute, with a notification such as the following:
YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED THAT CLAIMANT'S DEMAND FOR PAYMENT OF A CLAIM OR AN OFFER OF SETTLEMENT OF A CLAIM IS BROUGHT PURSUANT TO R.S.MO. SECTION 408.040, MISSOURI'S PREJUDGMENT INTEREST STATUTE.
In practice, strategy may indicate that the settlement offer proposed by a Missouri personal injury victim seeking prejudgment interest in the event of a denial be just under the round figure most likely anticipated at trial.
For example, an injury victim anticipating a $1,000,000.00 verdict at the trial of his Missouri injury case might offer to settle for $9,999,999.00. If the jury verdict comes back at $1,000,000, prejudgment interest shall be awarded, calculated from 90 days after this demand or offer is received, as shown by the certified mail return receipt, or from the date this demand or offer is rejected without counter offer, whichever is earlier. On the other hand, if the Missouri injury settlement offer had been for a million and the jury came back at a million, no prejudgment interest would be awarded as the result did not exceed the offer.
R.S.Mo. 408.040.2 contains a list of the requirements the Missouri settlement demand must meet in order to qualify for prejudgment interest:
(1) In writing and sent by certified mail return receipt requested; and
(2) Accompanied by an affidavit of the claimant describing the nature of the claim, the nature of any injuries claimed and a general computation of any category of damage sought by the claimant with supporting documentation, if any is reasonably available;
(3) Accompanied by a list of the names and addresses of medical providers who have provided treatment to the claimant or decedent for such injuries, copies of all reasonably available medical bills, a list of employers if the claimant is seeking damages for loss of wages or earning, and written authorizations sufficient to allow the party, its representatives, and liability insurer if known to the claimant to obtain records from all employers and medical care providers; and
(4) References section 408.040 and is hereby left open for 90 days.
PREJUDGMENT INTEREST RATE
Per 408.040.3, prejudgment interest awarded pursuant to this subsection will bear interest at a per annum interest rate equal to the intended Federal Funds Rate, as established by the Federal Reserve Board, plus 3%.
Despite some other harsh anti-claimant tort reform laws that went into effect in 2005, the Missouri prejudgment interest statute does not limit the ability of a personal injury tort victim to recover prejudgment interest.
The best Kansas City and Missouri personal injury attorneys know that following the Missouri prejudgment interest R.S.Mo. section 408.040 in order to recover prejudgment interest in the event that the judgment exceeds the offer becomes more important the more catastrophic the injuries and damages and anticipated trial verdict in the event of trial. A personal injury victim whose right to prejudgment interest is well served by his Missouri personal injury lawyer in the event that a large jury verdict that exceeds the settlement offer is awarded following a period of long delay by the insurance company. The additional benefit that the experienced Missouri injury lawyer can provide to the seriously injured Missouri personal injury victim by following the Missouri prejudgment interest statute R.S.Mo. section 408.040 in these situations can be very substantial.