When two or more vehicles are involved in an auto accident, the insurer's top priority is to determine who is "at fault" for the accident, meaning who caused it to happen. In order to determine auto accident liability, the insurers will have to analyze the circumstances of how a particular car accident played out. From there, they will apportion fault to the drivers involved.
Apportioning fault is not a simple process. Determining fault depends on the auto accident laws in the particular state, as well as the facts of the particular accident. In some cases, fault is immediately identified, such as when someone runs a red light, is are speeding, or is driving the wrong way down a highway. It is easy to determine who is at fault for accidents in these situations.
In other cases, apportioning fault is not as clear, such as when someone runs a stop sign but there were no witnesses to see it, and the two drivers are both pointing fingers. Often, if a driver is ticketed for an accident, that ticket can tip the liability scales.
Missouri's Comparative Fault Laws
Missouri follows a pure comparative fault rule when it comes to liability in a car accident case. This means that – if you file a lawsuit in court after being injured in a car accident in Missouri – after hearing your case, the jury will decide if you are at fault at all. If so, that percentage will affect your damage award (the amount of monetary compensation you receive).
To illustrate: If the jury decides the total damage award should be $20,000 and it finds the other driver to be 70% at fault, and you to be 30% at fault, your total damage award would be $14,000.00 (70% of $20,000) under Missouri's comparative fault rule.
Due to the fact that Missouri is a "pure" comparative fault state, the formula is consistent regardless of the amount of fault that you are found to have – you can always recover some level of damages from another at-fault driver.
Missouri Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims
A "statute of limitations" is a time limit that you have to file a lawsuit for damages. In Missouri, if you are injured in a car accident, you have five years from the date of the accident to file a claim for damages; however, the five-year statute of limitations only affects how long you have to file a case in court; it does not limit the time you have to file an insurance claim. You can look to your insurance policy to determine its relative deadlines.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Missouri
Whenever you are injured in a car accident, it is wise to file a claim as soon as possible, during a time when eyewitness reports, and valuable evidence is still fresh and readily accessible. To discuss your case with a Missouri personal injury attorney, call DeFeo & Kolker, LLC to schedule a free case evaluation. They can be reached at (314) 684-8285.