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Missouri Auto Accident Laws

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.

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

In Missouri, the statute of limitations applies to an auto accident. But, it depends if the accident caused injury or death. 

Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.120 states that anyone hurt in the accident must file their personal injury lawsuit within five years of when the accident happened. This includes a driver, passenger, bicyclist, motorcycle rider, or pedestrian. 

However, if the accident caused someone’s death, you must file the wrongful death lawsuit within three years of the date of death. 

Note that the statute of limitations is not applicable to an auto accident claim. Any auto insurance company will require you to make a claim in a prompt manner. This usually means a few days, or weeks at the most. 

You may feel certain that you can resolve your auto accident claim with the insurance company. However, remember to leave a lot of time just in case you need to file a personal injury lawsuit. If time is running out, you can find a skilled personal injury attorney on Lawsuit Info Center. 

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

A driver in a car accident in Missouri that caused injury or death must provide their contact information. Give this information to anyone hurt in the accident or the police at the scene. 

Also, the driver must provide aid to anyone hurt in the accident. This includes getting them to transfer the injured party to a doctor.

Note that leaving the scene of an accident is a class A misdemeanor. But, it is a class D felony if the car crash caused injury or property damage above $1,000. 

Remember that you should not leave the scene of any accident in Missouri until told to do so by law enforcement. 

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 doesn’t go further than that in Missouri. If the social host or commercial business broke the liquor control law, they cannot be 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. 

Missouri Government Tort Claims

In this state, you can file a claim or lawsuit against a government agency or its workers. 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 a lawful action that the agency or worker performed while working. 

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. 

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 crash facts. 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

Any auto accident is an upsetting experience, but it helps if you’re prepared. Now that you know more about the car accident and personal injury laws in Missouri, you will know what to do if an accident happens. 

But most importantly, if you’re hurt in an auto accident in Missouri, make sure that you call law enforcement and receive medical assistance if you need it. 

Lawsuit Info Center can assist you in finding a skilled personal injury attorney in your region. You may be due compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. Use our site to find a Missouri auto accident lawyer today.