How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in Missouri? Unraveling the Legal Process

Photo of a Car Accident

No matter how safe you drive, car accidents can happen to anyone. Every year, thousands of car accidents happen in the state, resulting in various injuries and property damage. The most severe car accidents can even lead to fatalities. Human error or negligence plays a key role in car accidents. Human factors contributed to 94 percent of car accidents. If an accident happened due to someone’s fault, they are responsible for the accident and liable for damages suffered by the victims. However, determining fault in a car accident can often be difficult. 

Understanding Fault Determination in Missouri

Missouri uses a pure comparative negligence system for car accidents. In this system, each party is assigned a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the accident. Their share of fault determines how much compensation they can recover from a claim or lawsuit. For example, if you are 30 percent at fault for the accident, you can only recover 70 percent of the total compensation. Even if the driver is more than 50% at fault for the accident, they can still recover compensation for their damages. 

To help establish liability and prove the fault of the other party, you can gather and submit evidence such as witness statements, medical records, police reports, and surveillance footage.

Common Causes of Car Accidents 

Car accidents happen for many reasons. However, if you are filing a claim or lawsuit against another party, you must prove that they were negligent. The most common negligent behaviors include speeding, road rage, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or inadequate vehicle maintenance. In some cases, more than one party is liable for the accident. For example, if you had an accident with a truck, then the potential liable parties include the truck driver, cargo loading company, or manufacturer. In some cases, the government entity that designed the road or is responsible for maintaining safe road conditions could be liable. 

Getting Compensation for the Damages 

If you can establish liability in a car accident, you could receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages. This includes property damage, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical bills, and pain and suffering. To recover compensation, you need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the responsible party.

Missouri uses a fault-based system for auto accidents. This system is also referred to as an at-fault system. This means that all Missouri drivers must carry minimum liability coverage in their auto insurance. If a driver gets into an accident, liability coverage pays for the other party’s damages. 

To initiate your claims process, you need to submit a demand letter explaining your injuries and damages that you would like to recover. The insurance company will investigate the case to determine if they accept or deny it. They may also assign an insurance adjuster to your case to determine the amount of damages. If the insurance company denies your claim, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. 

Car Accident Settlement Process

A car accident settlement allows you to resolve the dispute without going to trial. The majority of car accident claims are resolved out of court. There are a few key advantages to doing that including having some control over the outcome, which you don’t get with a court verdict. You also get cost and time savings with a settlement out of court.

Vehicle accident lawyers can help facilitate the settlement. They can also handle the negotiation process with the insurance company or the opposing party’s legal team. If no settlement can be reached, you have the right to take the case to trial. Just remember that once you accept a settlement, you lose the right to file a lawsuit or ask for further compensation. Every state has its own statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim. The statute of limitation in Missouri for car accident claims is five years from the date of the accident.

Legal Resources to Help Prove Fault in Missouri Car Accident 

Your best legal resource for proving fault in a Missouri car accident is an experienced lawyer who has handled similar cases and is well-versed in state laws for such incidents. A lawyer can also help you gather evidence and guide you on common pitfalls to avoid when dealing with auto insurance companies. While you are not required to have an attorney, using the vast resources of an experienced lawyer can make all the difference in your case.