missouri auto accident laws

Missouri Car Accident Laws and Resources

From Kansas City to St. Louis or Columbia, Missouri offers plenty of roads and worthwhile destinations to explore. You can see the Ozark Mountain Plateau, cotton fields of Boot Heel and even part of the original Pony Express that goes into Jefferson City. Roads in the Show Me State are used by more than 4 million licensed drivers and each drive an average of 11,400 miles per year. Driving that much does lead to many serious auto accidents. If you intend to drive in Missouri, it is wise to know local laws and regulations in case you are in an accident.

Missouri Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitation is a law that limits the amount of time that a plaintiff has to bring a case to court. The Missouri car accident statute of limitations is generally 5 years as per the Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.120. That means you have five years after an accident to file a wrongful claim against the at-fault driver.

That said, Missouri’s auto accident statute of limitations is flexible based on the outcome of the accident. Section 537.100 holds that if the crash led to someone’s death and a family member wants to file a wrongful claim, the case must be brought to court within three years.

It’s important to note that the time will be counted starting from when the person died, not when the accident happened. Those two times may differ if the victim didn’t die on the day of the accident.

Statistics and Notable Accidents

Teen drivers in the state comprise 13% of inattentive driving deaths, which is the largest of all age groups. From 2010 to 2012, drivers from 15-20 were most likely to have an accident that caused serious injuries. Teen drivers and inattentive drivers in Missouri rank in the highest percentage of deaths and accidents in the state.

Missouri is famous for The Pony Express, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Mark Twain, delicious BBQs, and traffic accidents! Numbers indicate that despite implementing stringent measures, the Show-Me State doesn’t have much to show for when it comes to reducing traffic accidents.

  • There were 876 traffic fatalities in Missouri in 2019. That was a modest decline from the 921 deaths recorded in 2018 and 932 in 2017.
  • Despite the overall reduction in traffic deaths, pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities increased over the same period. 118 motorcyclists died on Missouri’s roadways in 2019; a 10% increase from 2018. The same year (2019) saw 108 pedestrians killed; the highest number in a decade.
  • Drunk driving is the leading cause of traffic deaths in Missouri, accounting for over 40% of all fatalities. Speeding comes in second with 37% of the cases. Distracted drivers, weather, and poor road conditions complete the top 5 causes of traffic fatalities and accidents in Missouri.
  •  Jackson County registered 49 speeding-related deaths; the highest of any county in Missouri. St. Louis County came in second with 30 fatalities as St. Louis City earned a top three finish with 26.
  • Missouri is one of the three American states that legally allow drivers who are 21 years or older to text while driving. Unsurprisingly, the number of traffic deaths that are directly attributable to drivers who are 21 years and above increased.
  • Long holidays are the most dangerous for Missouri drivers. While there were zero traffic-related deaths in the 30-hour New Year’s holiday of 2020, there were 11 fatalities in the 102-hour New Year’s holiday of 2019.
  • Route 63 is Missouri’s most dangerous road. The highway has recorded an average of 15 fatal crashes per year for the past decade.

A major, notable car accident lawsuit in Missouri involves four teenagers who were killed in a 2014 crash in Stone County on Pleasant View Road. According to news reports, a southbound pickup truck driven by one of the teens ran off the left side of the road and hit a tree. The three other teens were passengers. The lawsuit has been filed against Stone County. The lawsuit stated that Pleasant View Road was in a dangerous state during the crash. One of the reasons, the lawsuit states, is there was a downgrade of 1000 before the curve where the teenager lost control of the truck. There also were no warning signs of a steep grad or curve and were no signs to advise drivers of a safe speed.

Missouri Car Accident Settlement Calculator:

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in Missouri? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Injury Settlement Calculator.

Missouri Accident Settlement Taxes

After you get your personal injury settlement in Missouri, you probably breathed a huge sigh of relief. You may think that you do not have to think about the case again. But when tax season comes around, you do not want any unpleasant surprises. It is smart to verify with a tax professional whether any part of your settlement is taxable as income.

The good news is, most personal injury settlements are not taxable. This is the case for any money that you receive for physical illnesses and injuries. It includes compensation for your medical bills and treatments. The reasoning is that this is not income but is compensation to get you back to the level of health you had before the accident.

Next, property damage compensation is usually not taxable as income because it is being used to replace or restore what you own.

Further, pain and suffering damages are not taxable if they are related to a physical injury. The IRS states that this money must be tied to a physical injury or illness to not be taxed. But if the money is only for emotional pain and suffering, this will be taxable as income.

If you receive compensation for lost wages such as for lost work, this is usually taxable as income because it is replacement for money that would have been taxed. However, this is a notoriously tricky part of the law, so you should talk to your tax advisor if you have any questions about this.

Last, punitive damages is always taxable as income as this is money that is intended to punish the defendant and is not for any injury that you actually suffered.

Pure Comparative Fault Law in Missouri Auto Accidents

Missouri uses the comparative negligence rule in car accident cases. That means if, after hearing the availed evidence, the jury decides that the other party is fully responsible for the accident, that other party is mandated to compensate you in full.

If, on the other hand, the jury determines that it’s shared responsibility – i.e. the other party bears most of the blame but you are also partly to blame – then the amount awarded to you will reduce by the same proportion as the blame allocated to you.

For example, let’s say that a jury rules that your injuries, pain and suffering amount to a loss of $80,000. At the same time, the jury determines that you were 20% responsible for the accident. Then the amount due to you will be the total amount awarded less the monetary value of your blame.

I.e. 80,000 – (20% of 80,000) = $64,000.

In addition to assigning blame, this law guides auto insurance adjusters during payment of insurance claims.

Auto Insurance Requirements for Missouri

If you drive in this state, you are required to have a minimum level of car insurance. The minimum coverage required here is:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury for each person in each accident
  • $50,000 in bodily injury for every person in each accident
  • $10,000 for property damage liability
  • $25,000 and $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage

The law requires all motorists to keep proof of their insurance cover at all times inside the vehicle. Failure to do so might get you a ticket.

Additionally, if you are involved in an accident, the Missouri Revised Statutes section 303.040 requires you to file an accident report if:

  • A year has not passed since the accident.
  • One or more of the drivers involved in the accident wan uninsured.
  • The accident resulted in property damage exceeding $500, injury to someone and/or death of someone.

Other Missouri Driving Laws

This state has a texting ban for novice drivers, and drivers need to change lanes and yield to Department of Transportation vehicles that have white or flashing amber lights.

The penalty for a traffic violation in an active emergency zone has been increased to $250. It is $300 for a subsequent offense. Violations may include speeding, passing an active emergency zone, etc. Drivers can show electronic evidence during a traffic stop that they have insurance.

Also, note that punitive damages cannot be more than $500,000. The state requires anyone receiving punitive damages in a lawsuit to prove that the person who injured the plaintiff was willful or grossly negligent.

In 2017, there was a law change in the state that could affect the ways in which personal injury attorneys are presented and some lawyers say settlements and verdicts could be affected. After Aug. 28, 2017, under the medical expenses part of a personal injury lawsuit, the victim is only allowed to give the amount that was paid to the hospital and the amount that is still owed. The jury will not be allowed to hear how much the hospital billed the patient originally.

Some attorneys have argued there could be a large difference of thousands of dollars, as hospitals and insurance companies often try to reduce the bill.

Considering the unsettling statistics above, you would be forgiven for thinking that Missouri’s traffic laws are lenient. The truth is that the state has sufficiently-stringent laws.

For one, there are particular auto accident laws in Missouri that ensure due process is followed after an accident. And since it’s not a “no-fault” state, one or both of the involved parties can be held liable for the accident.

Missouri Accident Resources

Have you been in a car accident in Missouri? This is probably a stressful time for you; below are some resources you can use to get you on the right track after your accident.

References

  1. https://www.ky3.com/content/news/Missouri-traffic-deaths-down-for-third-straight-year-567424591.html
  2. https://www.kttn.com/2019-summary-of-traffic-fatalities-in-north-missouri/
  3. https://stjosephpost.com/posts/5de546ea897d147ad4bb1c9f
  4. https://www.therolladailynews.com/news/20200102/mshp-reports-zero-fatalities-72-traffic-crashes-during-new-years-holiday
  5. https://www.geotab.com/the-most-dangerous-highways-in-america/
  6. https://www.grgpc.com/common-causes-of-fatal-motor-vehicle-accidents-in-missouri/