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.
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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.
Below are accident statistics from 2012 to 2014 in Missouri:
- Of the 2349 fatal car accidents in this period, 1057 of occupants failed to wear their seatbelts; this means almost 50% of the deaths may have been avoided.
- 688 of car accident deaths involved one or more drivers either drunk or under the influence of drugs.
- 323 involved tractor trailer drivers
- 447 of the fatal car accidents involved an unlicensed driver or a driver with a suspended or revoked license.
- Of the 2349 deaths in this period, 395 occurred due to speeding.
- 261 of the fatalities involved motorcyclists.
- Texting and driving involved 245 fatalities.
St. Louis and the surrounding area led the other parts of the state in this period for fatalities with 501 deaths.
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.
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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.
Missouri Negligence Laws
Missouri features a legal doctrine to assign fault in an accident known as pure comparative negligence. The legal system will examine a car accident and determine who was responsible for the crash and will then assign a degree of fault to all parties. For example, if you have in an accident with $10,000 of damages to yourself and your vehicle and are 20% at fault, the comparative negligence standard would reduce your award by $2000. If the accident is 100% the fault of the other driver, you would receive the full $10,000. This law allows you to recover damages even if you were 99% at fault for the accident.
Some legal experts criticize the pure comparative fault system because it allows a plaintiff who is mostly responsible for the accident to recover damages from a defendant who was less at fault for the crash. Twelve states currently have the pure comparative fault rule. Other states have modified comparative fault; this is the same as comparative negligence, but it holds that if you are more than 50% or 51% at fault, you cannot recover damages.
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Missouri Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri is five years from the date of the accident. However, if the accident caused a death, you have only three years from the person’s date of death to file suit.
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
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.
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.
- To determine whether you want to file a claim or lawsuit, it is important to get an idea what your case could be worth. Lawsuit Info Center can help.
- If you were in an accident on a Missouri highway and need a copy of the accident report, you can get it at the Missouri State Highway Patrol website.
- You are required to report any accident that caused injury or death, or property damage above $500.
- To report an accident in Missouri, you will need the Missouri Motor Vehicle Accident Report form.
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