Missouri is an at-fault state, meaning that each driver uses their car insurance to cover the other’s damages and injuries. But that raises an interesting question, how do insurance companies determine who is at-fault in a Missouri car crash?
Missouri, like many other states, uses a system called “comparative negligence.” This means the insurance companies conduct an investigation to determine who was responsible for the car crash. The amount of fault they assign determines who is considered most responsible for the crash, which determines how much each party is able to collect in insurance coverage.
Once each party involved in the crash is assigned a percentage of fault (adding up to a total of 100%), they can receive a settlement for their injuries. However, the settlement is garnished in proportion to the assigned fault.
For example: If you’re found 25% responsible for a crash and you’re awarded a $100,000 settlement, you’d only receive $75,000.
The good news is that Missouri is different in how that fault impacts your recovery case. In most comparative negligence states, you cannot claim any damages if you’re found more than 50% responsible for a crash (in Alabama you can’t claim damages if you’re even 1% responsible).
Not so in Missouri. In our state, anyone can claim damages for a car crash, but they will be garnished in proportion to the fault. You can even claim damages if you’re 90% responsible for a crash, though you’d only receive 10% of the settlement.
Minimizing Your Fault
Comparative negligence is a great idea, in theory. The problem is that fault assignment is usually arbitrary to the point where it can undermine your case. How is an insurance adjuster, relying primarily on second-hand and anecdotal evidence, equipped to determine whether you’re 38% at fault for 44% at fault?
Because the amount of assigned fault can vary wildly between different insurance adjusters, it’s extremely important that you take steps to minimize your fault whenever possible. Here are a few tips to help:
Never, ever say sorry to the other driver after a crash, even if you think it was your fault.
When you meet the other driver, keep your comments to a minimum.
Take pictures of all four sides of both vehicles and get pictures of the surrounding area.
Do not agree to a recorded statement unless your attorney is present.
Do not post on social media or use messenger until your case is settled.
Never agree to talk to the other driver’s insurance company.
Each of these actions decreases your chance of getting a fair settlement after a car crash. During the crash investigation, almost anything you say can (and will) be used against you.
Maneuvering a Missouri Car Crash
Navigating a car accident case in a comparative fault state isn’t easy. That’s why so many people turn to an experienced car accident attorney in their time of need. Studies show that the overwhelming majority of people who win their car crash case do so with the help of an attorney. Not only that, but those who hire an attorney are typically awarded far more compensation than the few who successfully negotiate their case alone.
In a comparative fault state, like Missouri, it’s crucial for car crash victims to minimize their fault while maximizing their claim. If you negotiate for a $100,000 settlement and you’re found 50% at fault, you only get $50,000. But, if your attorney manages to negotiate for a $300,000 settlement, you would receive $150,000 even though your fault in the crash is exactly the same as it was before.
If you’re facing a serious car crash and you’re not sure how you’ll recover, the best thing you can do is limit your comments and call an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash and need help fighting the insurance companies, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney from Kolker Law Firm to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (314) 684-8285.