Missouri Auto Accident Laws
What's In This Article
No one ever wants to get in an auto accident. But if this happens to you in Missouri, it’s critical to understand the laws and regulations in the Show Me state. When you understand these things, you will be better equipped to handle a potential auto accident claim or lawsuit. This article details the most important Missouri auto accident laws that could affect your case.
Missouri Auto Accident Insurance Laws
All Missouri drivers must have basic liability insurance with these minimum coverage amounts:
- $25,000 for bodily injury for each person
- $50,000 for bodily injury for each accident
- $10,000 for property damage for each accident
Missouri requires you to keep proof of insurance at all times in your car. Also, law enforcement can give you a ticket if you cannot provide proof of auto insurance.
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Auto Accident Settlements In Missouri
Like many states, Missouri uses the ‘fault’ system when it comes to auto accidents. It also applies to liability for injuries and damages related to an accident. If injured in an auto accident, you have three choices in Missouri:
- File a car insurance claim with your own insurer
- File a 3rd-party claim with the other driver’s auto insurance company
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver
You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable driver in Missouri. This allows you to obtain compensation for your injuries and property damages. Potential compensation for injuries include lost earnings, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.
However, most auto accident claims in Missouri and most states settle out of court. If you file an auto accident claim with your insurance company, it will look into your case. Afterwards, they may offer you a settlement, or deny the claim.
If you think your insurance company isn’t paying you enough for your claim, you can file an appeal with the company.
Determining Fault In A Missouri Auto Accident
Figuring out who is at fault for an accident may not be easy. Determining the damages can be complex. This is why many people in serious auto accidents hire a personal injury attorney.
If you were partially at fault for the accident, Missouri uses the pure comparative negligence standard. This means you can recover compensation for your injuries even if you were partially at fault. However, the damages you receive reduce according to your level of fault.
For example, the jury may state that your personal injuries, lost wages, and medical bills are $100,000. You would receive all that money if the other driver was 100% at fault. But if you were 10% responsible for the car accident, your award would reduce by $10,000.
Missouri is unusual in that the comparative fault rule still applies even if you were MORE responsible for the accident than the other driver. For instance, even if you were 90% at fault for the crash, you still could receive 10% of your award. Of course, you or your insurance company will need to pay the other 90%.
Note that the amount of assigned liability can vary greatly between insurance companies in Missouri. So, it’s vital to take steps to reduce your level of fault if you can. Here are some tips:
- Don’t say you’re sorry to the other driver, even if you caused the crash.
- When you talk to the other driver, keep all comments to a minimum.
- Take photos of all sides of each car and get pictures of the accident scene.
- Ask for a formal police report at the crash scene.
- Don’t agree to a recorded statement unless your personal injury attorney is present.
- Don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company.
- Don’t post anything on social media until the case settles.
Average Auto Accident Settlement In Missouri
It’s hard to say what the typical settlement is for a Missouri auto accident. All cases and injuries are different.
However, you may be in a Missouri car accident without personal injuries. The typical settlement with the insurance company is between $3000 and $15,000.
If your accident involves personal injuries and medical costs, you could see a settlement between $10,000 and $1 million. Obviously, in any serious car accident with injuries, you should have the case reviewed by a Missouri car accident attorney right away.
Missouri Auto Accident Statute Of Limitations
A state’s statute of limitations puts a timeline in place in regards to filing claims and lawsuits. In Missouri, the window of time you have is longer than many other states. The statute is conditional, however, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.120 states that injured parties must file a lawsuit within five year to pursue compensation for personal injuries. Anyone hurt in an accident, the driver, passenger, pedestrian has a five year window. That said, if the accident resulted in a death, this changes the type of lawsuit you would file. A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years from the date of death.
The limitations only apply to lawsuits though, not insurance claims. In some cases, it is okay to file a claim promptly. But if you are suffering from injuries after the crash, you want to wait until you are healed before filing. Otherwise, you may continue to accumulate medical bills but you won’t be able to collect compensation for them. However, you do have to remember the statute of limitations that applies to lawsuits. If you wait too long to file a claim, you may lose your ability to sue.
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Reporting An Auto Accident In Missouri
Missouri Revised Statutes section 303.040 establishes the requirements for reporting a car accident in this state. Under this law, there are three types of accidents where you must report the crash.
- First, the driver or owner of the car must report the accident when anyone dies or becomes injured. Also report if property damage is more than $500.
- Second, the driver or owner of the car involved in the accident where a person died or becomes injured, must report the crash if the driver or owner did not have car insurance. Also, if there was damage more than $500.
- Third, the owner of a parked vehicle involved in a car crash where anyone becomes injured or killed, or in which there was more than $500 of property damage, must report the crash to law enforcement.
If no police show up at the crash scene, you should report the accident at the nearest police station or state trooper office.
Driver’s Duty To Give Information And Render Aid In Missouri
If you are involved in a car crash that results in injury or death in the state of Missouri, you are required to provide your contact information to the other parties involved. This includes passengers, other drivers, and the police. The information you must give includes your name, a way to contact you, a picture of your driver’s license, and your insurance information.
You are also required to give aid to anyone hurt in the crash. This may mean providing first aid, or calling for emergency services to tend to the injured. It is crucial to remember that leaving the scene of an accident is a class A misdemeanor in the state of Missouri. The charges become a class D felony if the accident resulted in any injuries or damage to property totalling over $1,000. Stay at the scene and provide only the necessary information, but do not admit fault or provide too many details of the crash. Oversharing details or admitting fault could potentially be used against you later.
Missouri Dram Shop Law
Missouri has a modified Dram Shop Law. This law establishes that bars, restaurants or social hosts who provide alcohol to people can be liable if those persons are in a car accident. A social host is the host of a private event, such as a wedding, party at someone’s home, or a corporate sponsored event which provides alcohol. Missouri state law states that a social host or bar or restaurant owner cannot serve alcohol to anyone under 21, or is clearly intoxicated.
However, the law in Missouri doesn’t extend to protect victims of a car crash, as many other states do. If the social host or commercial business broke the liquor control law, they cannot be held liable for the actions of the intoxicated party. The social host or business owner can face fines for providing alcohol to the minor or intoxicated person. The business also can lose its business license.
If a third party becomes injured in a car accident involving alcohol given by a commercial business or social host, they must file a personal injury lawsuit. In this instance, the victim likely sues both the at-fault driver, and the entity that provided the alcohol.
Missouri Government Tort Claims
In this state, you can file a claim or lawsuit against a government entity or employee. These claims may cover property damage or personal injury due to the negligence of the agency or its employees. The claim needs to refer to an unlawful action that the agency or worker performed while working. When bringing charges against a government employee, it is important to have solid evidence to back your claim and prove the negligence that caused the accident.
If the property damage or injury happened because of the result of a person’s unlawful accident, you can only sue the person who caused the injury or property damage. The government agency has sovereign immunity in this instance. The only way that you can recover damages from the state of Missouri is if the entity itself, not an individual worker, is found responsible for the accident. After an accident, you only have 90 days to file a claim. The process of pursuing compensation from the state is complicated. The help of an attorney is necessary in most cases.
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Proving Fault With The Help Of a Missouri Auto Accident Attorney
Your auto accident attorney will know what to do after the crash to give you the best chance to obtain compensation. Your Missouri car accident attorney will generally do the following:
- Collect all of the facts pertaining to the crash. The amount of compensation you can receive in an auto accident case in this state relies on proving fault. So, you need to collect as many facts that you can. Your attorney can help you obtain necessary documents. These may include the other driver’s insurance information, Missouri police reports, and even the cell phone records for the other driver.
- Collect other types of evidence. Your attorney will talk to the police and witnesses at the crash scene. They will take photos and collect evidence you would need if fault falls under question.
- File auto accident claim. Your attorney can work with the insurance company and attempt to get you a fair settlement. If not, he can take the insurance company and other driver to court.
Remember that if you are in a serious auto accident with injuries, you will always be better off if you hire a Missouri car accident attorney. These professionals have the skill and experience to obtain the best possible compensation for you.
Even considering that personal injury attorneys typically take ⅓ of the settlement or award for their legal expenses, most injured parties receive far more money than if they had handled the lawsuit alone.
Get Legal Help For Your Auto Accident Case
Accidents are not something anyone wants to experience. But Lawsuit Info Center is here to help if you find yourself in one of these stressful situations. If you are ready to talk to a personal injury attorney, reach out today. We offer a risk-free consultation to review the details of your case and put you in contact with a lawyer in your area.
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