Stephen Schultz | February 1, 2023 | Car Accidents
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 127,485 car accidents in 2022. Fortunately, some individuals were able to escape harm. Approximately 95,000 crashes in 2022 were property-only crashes where no one reported injuries.
Missouri drivers must have a minimum of $25,000 in property damage liability insurance. In most cases, insurance companies and owners settle property damage claims without a lawsuit. The insurance company for the at-fault driver pays to repair damages to the vehicle or pays the victim the fair market value of a totaled vehicle.
However, there could be cases where an insurance company refuses to pay a valid property damage claim. When another person causes damage to your property, you can sue that person in court.
If the insurance company refuses to settle your car accident claim, you may think filing a lawsuit is your only option to recover compensation for damages. You might have the right to sue for a car accident if you were not hurt in St. Louis. However, it might not be the best option for settling your claim.
Instead, a St. Louis car accident lawyer might be able to resolve the matter for you without filing a lawsuit. An attorney will evaluate your case and advise you of your options during a free consultation.
Can I Sue for Emotional Distress and Other Non-Economic Damages After a St. Louis Car Accident?
Many people associate being “hurt” with physical injuries. However, car accidents can cause emotional distress and mental anguish in addition to physical injuries. In some cases, a car crash can cause severe emotional distress without physical injuries.
Missouri is an at-fault state for car accident claims. Victims can sue at-fault drivers for damages. Compensation for car accident claims includes economic damages such as:
- The cost of medical treatment, care, and rehabilitation
- Loss of income, including benefits, future earning capacity, and future lost wages
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Cost of personal care and assistance with household tasks
- Damage to personal property
Personal injury claims for car accidents can also include compensation for non-economic damages. These damages include:
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
The severity of your injuries and other factors determine how much your personal injury case is worth. Typically, the value of damages increases as the severity of the injuries increases. However, other factors can impact how much money you receive for your claim, including allegations of contributory fault.
Suing a Driver for a Car Accident in St. Louis, MO
When you sue a driver for a car accident, you have the burden of proving negligence. Negligence occurs when a person fails to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or harm to another person.
Proving negligence requires sufficient evidence to prove the following legal elements:
- Duty of care- A legal duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid causing injury or harm.
- Breach of duty – Conduct that breaches the legal duty of care through a person’s actions or omissions.
- Causation – The reason the car accident occurred.
- Damages – The harm and loss caused by the accident.
You must prove that the other driver’s conduct was the direct and proximate cause of the accident. Additionally, you must prove that you sustained damages because of the accident.
As discussed above, damages can include financial losses, physical injuries, and emotional distress. If you cannot prove that you were “hurt” in some way because of the accident, you are not entitled to compensation from the other driver.
Evidence in a car accident case can include, but is not limited to:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Videos of the collision from surveillance and traffic cameras
- Statements made by the drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
- Physical evidence gathered at the accident scene or from the vehicles
- Opinions from accident reconstructionists and other expert witnesses
When you file a lawsuit, you must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. You must prove to jurors that it is more likely than unlikely that the evidence proves the legal elements of the case.
Protect Your Right to Compensation After a St. Louis Car Accident
Most car accident claims settle through negotiations with the liability insurance company. Protecting your right to fair compensation begins immediately following an accident.
Always report car accidents to the police. While waiting for the police to arrive, do not admit fault for the accident. Instead, document the accident scene by making a video and taking pictures with your cell phone.
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Delays in medical care hurt your chance of receiving a fair settlement for your accident claim. It is also helpful to consult a St. Louis personal injury lawyer before talking with an insurance adjuster or accepting a settlement offer.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in St. Louis, MO
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, please contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:
Ladue, MO Law Office
9807 S 40 Dr, St. Louis, MO 63124
Columbia, MO Law Office
28 N 8th St # 502, Columbia, MO 65201
Creve Coeur, MO Law Office
999 Executive Pkwy Dr #205, Creve Coeur, MO 63141