Missouri’s car accident laws will significantly affect any claim you make after a traffic accident in the state. An accomplished lawyer can help you navigate the state’s legal system after an accident and recover the compensation you deserve. Read on to discover how Missouri’s car accident laws affect your claim.
Auto Accident Reports
All states have laws about what drivers should do after auto accidents. In Missouri, you must contact the police if:
- Someone sustained injuries or died
- Death, injury, or property damage of more than $500 is involved
- Your insurance company requires it
- You can’t contact the owner of a parked vehicle that sustained damage
You must report any accident that matches the above criteria to the police. The report asks for the accident’s details and insurance information and gives you a chance to establish fault. Official documentation helps you recover compensation if you suffered injuries and property damage.
Some drivers hesitate to call the police after an accident if they deem the accident to be minor. However, the damage to your car may be more extensive than you think. Also, you and other involved parties may sustain minor injuries that become serious. For instance, a bump on the head may seem harmless but could reveal itself to be a severe condition, like a brain bleed, hour or days later.
Failure to report an auto accident can result in fines, a suspended license, and a misdemeanor conviction. If you don’t stop to exchange information with the other driver after an accident, the state can pursue a hit-and-run case against you.
A state can either follow the no-fault or an at-fault standard to establish the responsible party after a car accident. Missouri is an at-fault state, so you can recover damages from the driver responsible for the accident. You have three options if you get injured in an accident:
- File a claim with your insurer
- File a lawsuit against the responsible motorist in court
- File a claim against the at-fault party’s insurer
The insurance company of the other driver pays damages up to their policy limits. In turn, the at-fault driver covers the excess if the damages exceed the policy limits.
Missouri follows a pure comparative fault system to settle auto accident claims. This standard assigns a percentage of fault to each driver involved in an accident. In an accident where one party is entirely responsible for the party, that driver is responsible for all damages.
If both parties are responsible, the damages you’ll receive diminish proportionately to the percentage of your fault. For instance, suppose you’re 30% at fault and your settlement amount is $50,000. In this case, you get $35,000.
In an at-fault state like Missouri, the other driver’s insurance party may try to put more fault on you. The insurer’s reps have different techniques to get you to admit fault. Indeed, the reps can use your own statements against you. Hence, you may need to consult a personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
Car Insurance Requirements
Insurance coverage plays a significant role in every car accident in Missouri. The state requires drivers to have liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. The liability coverage requirements are:
- $25,000 worth of coverage per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 for bodily injuries to multiple parties in a single accident
- $10,000 worth of property liability coverage per accident
Liability coverage covers the medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, and other costs of third parties after an accident. You’re liable to pay the injured parties upon the exhaustion of your policy’s limits.
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you and your passengers in case the at-fault driver has no insurance. Missouri requires UM coverage of $50,000 for body injury per accident and $25,000 for bodily injury per person. If you cause an accident in Missouri without insurance, you’re liable to pay the damages.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has a time limit for people involved in car accidents to file lawsuits. If you sustained injuries in a car accident, you have five years to file a lawsuit in Missouri.
The limitation period begins on the accident date and applies to all injured parties, including passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. The statute of limitations allows the injured party to determine the extent and severity of their injuries and recover from the accident.
If an accident results in someone’s death, representatives have three years to file a wrongful death suit. The limitation duration runs from the date of death. You need to file your lawsuit on time to recover all the damages you deserve.
As demonstrated above, Missouri has many laws that impact car accident claims. Our experienced attorneys at Cantor Injury Law can help you determine which claims you should file and how you can recoup maximum damages. Call us today for a free consultation.