Missouri Law Regarding Fault in a Car Accident
The terms “no-fault” and “at-fault” refer to the type of insurance a state requires for car accidents. These terms can also refer to the right of accident victims to file personal injury claims or lawsuits against other drivers to recover compensation for their injuries.
The answer is that Missouri is an at-fault state for car accidents. Missouri requires its residents to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage in their auto policies. Liability coverage should pay your medical expenses and related damages if you are injured in an accident that was caused by another driver. It is important to remember that liability coverage only pays if the other driver was negligent, or at-fault.
If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, call our car accident attorney in Kansas City, Missouri at 816-203-0143. Our personal injury law firm offers free, no obligation consultations, and we would be happy to answer your questions and see how we can help.
No-Fault Insurance vs. Fault Insurance in Missouri
No-fault insurance policies are often referred to as MedPay or PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance policies. When a person is involved in a car crash, they file a claim with their insurance provider. The insurance company pays the benefits under the no-fault insurance policy to the policyholder regardless of who caused the accident. In other words, the person receives benefits whether they are an innocent victim or they caused the collision.
A problem with no-fault insurance policies is that they generally only cover medical expenses and lost wages. In many cases, the policies only pay a percentage of the medical bills and lost income for a car accident. Furthermore, the coverage does not include compensation for pain and suffering damages, permanent impairments, and other damages.
An at-fault insurance policy is liability insurance. The policy compensates accident victims for damages caused by the insured driver or vehicle. In most cases, an accident victim could recover compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages such as:
- The cost of medical treatment and care
- Expenses related to personal care and in-home nursing care
- Long-term nursing care or personal care
- The loss of salaries, wages, benefits, and other income
- Reductions in future earning capacity
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Disabilities, scarring, and impairments
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
If the limits of the liability insurance policy do not compensate the accident victim in full for all damages, the victim may file a lawsuit against the driver seeking a personal judgment for damages.
Another problem with no-fault insurance policies is that many states restrict a person’s ability to sue the other driver for damages. The victim would need to prove they incurred a specific amount of financial losses or severe injuries to sue the driver.
However, Missouri does not restrict a person’s ability to sue the at-fault driver for damages. If the insurance provider refuses to negotiate a fair settlement amount, you can file a lawsuit against the driver for damages.
What Are the Car Insurance Requirements in Missouri?
Missouri requires drivers to purchase and maintain the following car insurance coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more individuals per accident
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
- Uninsured motorist insurance ($25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident)
In addition, you may purchase optional coverage, such as underinsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, medical payments, and comprehensive coverage.
How Does Comparative Fault Impact a Missouri Car Accident?
In addition to being an at-fault state for car accidents, Missouri is also a pure comparative fault state. Comparative fault or comparative negligence is a method of allocating damages for a car crash when two or more parties are responsible for the cause of the collision.
For example, both drivers could be at fault for the cause of a head-on collision. A jury determines the percentage of fault assigned to each driver. The drivers are responsible for damages equal to their percentage of fault.
Let’s assume that a jury assigns you 30 percent of the fault for the cause of your car accident. Your compensation for damages would be reduced by 30 percent. If your damages total $100,000, you would only receive $70,000 for the car accident claim ($100,000 less 30 percent).
Do I Need a Missouri Car Accident Attorney?
Insurance companies have teams of claims adjusters, investigators, and attorneys to protect their best interests. Therefore, you should have a legal team on your side that fights to ensure you receive fair and just compensation for your damages.
A Kansas City car accident lawyer understands the laws that apply to your accident claim, including negligence, comparative fault, and damages. In addition, your lawyer has the resources necessary to investigate the accident and gather evidence proving fault and liability.
An attorney will assist you in documenting your damages to maximize the value of your claim. The insurance company will not tell you the correct value of your damages. Instead, it will do everything possible to undervalue your injury claim. However, an experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney knows the value of your damages and pursues that amount in settlement negotiations or during a trial.
Contact Our Kansas City Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
Our car accident attorney in Kansas City, Missouri offers free consultations for accident victims. It does not cost you anything to talk with a lawyer and receive legal advice. Therefore, it is in your best interest to learn more about your rights before discussing your claim with an insurance company.
Contact the Law Office of Kevin J. McManus for your free consultation by calling 816-203-0143 or completing our online contact form.