Understanding Car Accident Laws in Missouri
It’s important for you to know that most car, truck, SUV and motorcycle accidents do NOT result in criminal charges. This happens because auto accidents are considered a civil matter unless someone involved actually broke a law – such as leaving the scene of the accident.
So, if you were seriously injured in a car accident and considering legal action then you’ll most likely file a civil action — a lawsuit.
Your goals in a lawsuit are…
- To prove that you’ve been injured in some way
- That the people you’re suing injured you
- That the law requires them to pay the costs of your injuries.
There are Three Ways to Show Someone is Liable for Your Injuries…
This is carelessness, or failure to prevent something when a reasonable person should have known it was likely to happen. This is the most common type of claim in Missouri auto accident lawsuits, because most accidents are caused by driver inattention.
For example, if another driver rear-ends you because he is “rubbernecking,” he was almost certainly negligent, because he failed to take a reasonable amount of care to make sure he didn’t hit you. The general rule is – if the other driver broke a traffic law, chances are good that he or she was negligent.
This is when someone deliberately did something that injured you. If a driver left the scene of a crash, he probably committed an intentional wrong. It’s important for you to know that you can file a lawsuit over an intentional wrong regardless of whether the defendant is already being criminally prosecuted. Again, if the other driver deliberately broke a law, it will be easier to prove an intentional wrong.
This almost always applies to cases where a defective product caused an auto accident. Strict liability says manufacturers are legally liable for injuries caused by their defective products, regardless of whether they were negligent or intended to manufacture a substandard product. Cases over defective child car seats, tire tread separation and SUV rollovers could ALL be strict liability cases, depending on the circumstances.
Under Missouri law, if you can prove the defendant caused your injuries, you can ask for compensation for ALL of the costs the collision caused you. This includes (when appropriate) compensation for:
- Past and Future medical bills
- Repair or replacement costs for your vehicle and any other property that was damaged
- Wages you lost when you were too injured to work, as well as any future loss of earning potential
- Costs caused by the accident: a baby-sitter or landscaper who filled in while you were injured
- Lost future wages of a deceased breadwinner
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Funeral costs
Missouri state law allows you to sue even if you’re partly responsible for your own injuries, but reduces your recovery.
Under a rule called comparative negligence, a jury will decide how much fault you bear for the crash and reduce your compensation accordingly. So, if you win $1 million – but a jury decides you were 25% responsible for the accident – you will collect $750,000. That’s three-quarters of that $1 million.
This works the same if you sue more than one person at the same time. When that happens then the people you sue have to share the costs between them, minus any % of responsibility of fault on your part.
Almost all auto accident cases involve an auto insurance company. Many will cooperate in a lawsuit. However, an insurance company may refuse to pay a legitimate claim simply because it thinks cheating a customer is cheaper. This is called insurance bad faith, and it’s illegal.
If you’re a victim of insurance bad faith then you have options. Per Missouri State law you can sue the insurer for attorney fees, punitive damages, and the cost of the claim you’re entitled to. Punitive damages are payments that punish an insurer for illegal behavior. That makes an insurance bad faith lawsuit a better deal for you — and a worse prospect for the insurance company.
Like all states, there is a statute of limitations for car accident claims in Missouri — a time limit for being able to file a case. The sooner you start, the better your chances of preserving important evidence and winning your case. That’s why you should call the St. Louis injury attorneys at Page Law as soon as you start thinking about filing a claim. Our experienced car crash attorneys can help you…
- Decide whether to file a claim,
- Determine the extent of your injuries
- And win you the best possible compensation!
Get started with a Free Evaluation of your case with an experienced injury lawyer online now or Call Us at: (314) 322-8515