Car Accident Attorneys Assisting You Throughout Festus
Many of us perceive our cars to be an extension of ourselves; they are essential to our day-to-day activities, and we tend to minimize the risk of an accident or issue. Sadly, however, car accidents are very much a part of life, and research suggests that fatalities are on the rise. Finding yourself involved in a car accident can be traumatic and frightening, and you may be left with injuries which can change your entire life.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved In A Missouri Auto Accident?
Missouri law states that it is a legal requirement to report an auto accident in almost all situations. There are two examples where reporting is a must, and these are:
- Any accident which results in an injury, fatality, or property damage in excess of $500
- Any accident with an uninsured driver, whether this occurs in a street, highway, or a parking lot. In the event that the uninsured driver is found to be at fault, they will be found liable for two offences: negligence, causing injuries to the other party, and also driving without insurance
- Any accident involving a parked car – the owner is required to report if the accident results in injury, fatality, or property damage over $500
An accident will need to be reported to the Missouri Department of Revenue within 30 days of the incident – this allows for the driver to be injured or unavailable at the time of the accident. In the event that a police officer is not present at the scene, the driver reporting the incident should visit the nearest police station. A skilled car accident lawyer can help you determine the correct steps.
Can I File A Lawsuit If I Am Involved In An Auto Accident?
In many cases, you will find most of your costs and expenses covered by your insurance, and in a best case scenario, you will not need to pursue legal action. In some cases, however, the insurance company may refuse to pay out, or the sum offered may be inadequate to meet your medical and ongoing financial requirements. Here is where a lawsuit can come in handy.
If you are involved in an auto accident and the other driver can be proven to be at fault, you will be able to claim damages and compensation. In order to qualify, it must be proven that the actions of the other driver were negligent, and that this negligence directly caused your injuries.
What Are The Statute Of Limitations For Auto Accidents in Missouri?
For auto accidents in Missouri, you have five years from the date of the incident to file your case. In the event that you are pursuing a wrongful death claim against the driver deemed to be at fault, there is a three-year deadline which starts from the date of the accident.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Missouri operates under the principle of comparative negligence. If you are found to have played some part in your accident, the amount of damages you will receive after an auto accident will be reduced by the same percentage that you are considered to be at fault. This factor is important when it comes to determining settlements.
As an example, a judge may rule that your injuries entitle you to $100,000 compensation. At the same time, however, you are judged to have been 10% responsible for the accident through your own actions. If this is the case, your total amount of damages will be reduced by 10%.
Comparative fault applies even if you bear a higher level of responsibility than the other driver involved in the accident.
What Can I Claim For?
In the event that you are involved in a car accident, you may be able to claim for damages if it can be proven that the other party was negligent.
Negligence is defined in Missouri law as being an individual acting, or failing to act, in a way which violates their duty of care. A classic example is a motorist who runs a red light due to distraction, and hits another car. In this case, the former would be found to be negligent and be required to pay damages.
Missouri is a ‘comparative negligence’ state, and this means that the plaintiff will be required to accept a reduction in damages if they are proven to have been at fault. As an example, if an individual is found to be 10% responsible for their car accident, then any damages they are awarded will be reduced by 10%. Missouri does not, however, recognize contributory negligence, meaning that the plaintiff can still recover damages if they are found to be slightly responsible.
Which Damages Can Be Claimed in a Missouri Car Accident?
There are a number of damages which can be claimed if the other party is found to be liable. These can be used to cover a wide range of costs and expenses, and these include:
- Medical bills, including hospital stays and visits, ambulances, emergency room costs, medication, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, or doctors visits
- Any permanent injuries or disabilities
- Adaptations and alterations to your vehicle and home if required
- Pain and suffering incurred as a result of the accident
- Emotional distress, e.g. from witnessing a traumatic event
- Loss of income while you are recovering. You can also claim if you are unable to return to work as a result of your injuries, have a reduced earning capacity, or are forced to take on a less profitable role
- Any repairs to your vehicle if it can be fixed, or any vehicle replacement costs in the event that your car cannot be fixed
- Costs of a rental vehicle while your car is being fixed
- Punitive damages
- Wrongful death damages if applicable
Unlike some other states, Missouri does not impose a limit on the amount of damages which can be awarded; this is at the discretion of the judge, and there is no upper limit.
Is There A Time Limit On My Case?
Like many cases, individuals who are affected by a car accident will have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. The Missouri statute of limitations states that an injured party will have five years from the date of the accident to pursue legal action. Any cases which are filed after this date are very unlikely to be successful, and the defendant is likely to file a motion to have them dismissed.
Do I Need Legal Assistance To Tackle A Car Accident Claim?
One of the major disadvantages of car and auto accidents is the involvement of insurance companies. They tend to be reluctant to pay out unless absolutely forced to do so, and can throw a number of obstacles in your path.
These companies often have huge legal teams at their disposal, and so employing an experienced, skilled personal injury attorney offers you a chance to level the playing field. They can be your ally and focus on ensuring that you get the best possible outcome for your case.
For most of us, cars and automobiles are an average part of everyday life, and we tend to take every uneventful trip for granted. When an accident happens, the consequences can be life-changing, and they may result in serious injury or even death.
If you are involved in an auto accident, it is important that you are able to access the support you require and deserve. Here at Grafe & Batchelor, P.C., we are criminal defense attorneys who have the skills and experience you need to take your case all the way to the top.
What Is Considered A Total Loss in Missouri?
In order for your vehicle to be deemed a total loss, one clear concept must be met: the cost to fix any damages must exceed the value of the car itself – the ‘Actual Cash Value’ or ACV. Insurers will use a simple formula – the Total Loss Threshold. This consists of the Total Loss Ratio (the cost of any repairs/actual cash value) plus the Salvage Value. If both of these figures combined exceed the actual cash value of the vehicle, and the loss ratio exceeds the established state percentage = 80% for Missouri – it is considered to be a total loss.
How Is A Fair Settlement Decided In A Total Loss Car Accident?
One of the most common issues faced by motorists is insurance companies undervaluing their car. This can reduce the payout which is offered and can leave vehicle owners in a difficult situation, where their car is written off, but the amount offered is insufficient for repairs.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Here at Grafe & Batchelor P.C., we have defended and assisted individuals across the state of Missouri to fight for justice. We have a wealth of experience in dealing with car accidents, and we can work with you to prove liability and secure the compensation you need to move forward in safety and security. Reach out to us at (636) 933-9151.