Is Missouri a No-Fault State?
By Chris Dixon
There are two types of ‘fault’ rules used to determine who is liable in a car accident: No-Fault and At-Fault. The State of Missouri follows the at-fault rule based on a varying percentage of ‘fault’ for each party involved in the accident.
If you have a car accident in Missouri, speaking with a car accident attorney can help you decide what this means for your case and the options you have for filing your claim in Missouri against the other driver.
What Does It Mean for a State to Be a No-Fault or At-Fault State?
There are 18 states in the U.S. that follow the no-fault rule. If you have a car accident in one of these states, you must have personal injury protection insurance and you’re only able to sue the at-fault driver for damages in limited situations.
Your own insurance company will handle all your claims in no-fault states, except for some states where if the amount of your property damage or physical injury surpasses a certain monetary threshold, you can sue the at-fault driver for the excess amount.
If you rent a car, you’ll discover insurance laws for a rental car will depend on whether you are in a no-fault or at-fault state.
Rental car companies offer four insurance coverage options: a loss-damage waiver, liability coverage, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage.
The State of Missouri is not one of the 18 states that follow the no-fault rule, it is an at-fault state. Someone who has an auto accident in an at-fault state can recover damages from the other driver if that person is responsible for the accident.
Determining who is at-fault in an accident is not always easy because sometimes both parties can be liable for the accident. This is why it is crucial that an investigation into the crash happen immediately to preserve all available evidence.
Missouri At-Fault System
States in the U.S. follow either a no-fault or at-fault rule, but there are a few different types of negligence that determine whether the injured party or both parties involved in the accident can claim damages.
Missouri follows Pure Contributory Negligence, so if you have a car accident where only one party is at fault, that person is responsible for all damages.
If both drivers played a role in the accident, the law assigns both parties a percentage of fault from 1 to 99% and it may entitle both parties to damages.
The law correlates the amount of damages that both parties can claim from the accident to this percentage of ‘fault’, so it’s tricky to know what types of damages you’re eligible to claim and how to calculate them.
It is important to contact a Missouri car accident lawyer so that they can analyze your case, determine the potential outcome of your case and give you legal advice on how to proceed with your accident claim.
Missouri Car Accident Fault Laws
Under Missouri’s car accident laws, the person at fault for the accident is responsible for any property damage, medical expenses, and other harms and losses caused by the crash.
These medical bills may arise from bodily injury or pain and suffering because of the automobile accident. Future medical expenses needed because of the crash can also be included.
So, if you are at fault, your auto insurance carrier will pay for the resulting harm, and if the other party is at fault, their insurance carrier will absorb all the losses. However, insurance will only cover the costs up to insurance policy limits.
If you are found to be responsible for a portion of the accident and the other driver is as well, the percentage of blame assigned will be the percentage that party’s insurance will cover.
Missouri Car Insurance Requirements
Missouri law mandates all motor vehicle owners and drivers have car insurance.
While maximum coverage would be ideal, a driver’s insurance company must at least provide them with minimum coverage.
The minimum liability insurance limit required by Missouri’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law is $25,000 per person for bodily injury, with a maximum liability insurance of $50,000 for each accident.
Missouri car insurance minimum coverage requirements also include up to $10,000 for the other party’s property damage.
Here are three other important things to know about Missouri’s car insurance laws:
- Missouri requires uninsured motorist insurance coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
- Missouri adheres to the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. If a plaintiff’s comparative fault after a car crash is partially to blame, they would only be able to collect damages in proportion to the defendant’s extent of fault. Insurance companies often try to put fault on both parties in an attempt to escape full responsibility.
- Missouri has an unconstitutional “no pay, no play” law. This law has been declared unconstitutional at the appellate court levels and is being reviewed by the Missouri Supreme Court. The no pay, no play law means that if you have a car crash and suffer bodily injury, but are an uninsured motorist — meaning you do not even have minimum coverage — then you’ll get limited compensation even if the other driver was completely at fault! Contact an attorney immediately if an insurance company attempts to reduce your damages under this law.
How Long Do I Have to File an Accident Claim in Missouri?
If you have a car accident in Missouri, report it immediately after it happens. However, this isn’t always an option in everyone’s case because some injuries can take a lot of time and treatment to heal.
This may prevent an injured party from taking immediate action with their case. In most situations, drivers have 5 years after the car accident to file suit or settle their claim under the Missouri Statute of Limitations.
This Missouri law states that if drivers in a car accident don’t take necessary action within 5 years of it happening, it is no longer seen as a legally valid claim and all parties involved give up their rights to claim damages from the accident.
Do I Have to Call a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
It doesn’t matter where you have your accident, whether it is in a major city like Kansas City or St. Louis or a river town like Canton or La Grange, you must file a police report and then talk to a lawyer.
Even if you have a fender-bender on an open country road and don’t have cell phone reception, get directions to the nearest police station and go there to file a police report.
A police report is important even if the accident did not cause serious property damage or bodily injury because it will provide a lawyer familiar with Missouri’s legal system with the information needed to secure a higher settlement amount for your car accident case.
Since you’re protected by the confidentiality of an attorney-client relationship, it’s advisable to tell your lawyer the complete and unabridged truth.
Besides describing the accident, also be open about how closely you’ve abided by Missouri’s insurance requirements.
For instance, admit if you’re one of Missouri’s uninsured drivers on the road who did not have valid insurance when the accident occurred, or if you’ve moved to Missouri from another state and don’t understand at-fault driver’s insurance, or you purchased car insurance without comprehending policy limits.
Your lawyer has more than likely handled a case similar to yours which allows for them to help you write a more persuasive demand letter, file an effective car accident claim and powerfully negotiate for the highest amount in damages for your case.
If you are ready to speak with a lawyer about your car accident case in Missouri, contact the Dixon Injury Law Firm to set up a free consultation. The highly experienced personal injury attorneys at our law firm can help you recover damages for your car accident case.
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