Never admit fault for causing a car accident in St. Louis, Missouri. You should not apologize or say you are sorry the accident happened. Any admission of responsibility for a car accident could prevent you from recovering compensation for injuries and damages.
Is Missouri an At-Fault State for Car Accident Claims?
Missouri is a fault state for car accident claims. You must prove fault to recover compensation after a car accident. Proving fault requires you to establish the elements of negligence.
Injured victims have the burden of proving the following elements of negligence:
- Legal Duty of Care – The other motorist owed you a legal duty of care. All drivers have a duty to follow Missouri traffic laws and exercise the highest degree of care.
- Breach of Duty – The motorist breached their duty of care through actions or omissions.
- Causation – The motorist’s breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the car accident.
- Damages – You sustained damages and harm because of the other motorist’s conduct.
A driver cannot be held liable for damages caused by a car crash if you cannot prove that they caused the accident. Furthermore, sharing fault could impact how much money you receive in a personal injury claim.
What Are the Automobile Insurance Requirements in Missouri?
Missouri drivers must have a minimum amount of liability insurance. Liability car insurance pays claims to injured parties when the covered driver causes a car accident.
The minimum amount of car insurance you must have in Missouri is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people in a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage
A minor car accident can result in more than $25,000 in damages. If your damages exceed the value of a car insurance policy, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
A St. Louis car accident lawyer will investigate your claim to identify all sources of compensation to maximize your recovery for damages. In some cases, multiple parties could share liability for damages. Identifying all responsible parties can give you a better chance of receiving compensation covering all your damages.
Insurance Companies Look for Ways to Blame You for Causing a Car Accident
Missouri does not require drivers to have no-fault insurance. Therefore, the primary source of compensation for car accident victims is usually the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
However, insurance companies are in business to make money. Therefore, the insurance company for the at-fault driver often searches for ways to minimize its liability for damages. Its goal is to pay as little as possible to settle your insurance claim.
With that in mind, the insurance company will look for ways to deny or undervalue your claim. One way is to blame you for causing the accident. If you caused the car crash, you are not entitled to compensation.
Therefore, admitting fault after a St. Louis car accident is a huge mistake. The insurance company will use any statements you make to their advantage. For example, if you say you are sorry about the accident, the insurance adjuster will use your statement to argue that you admitted fault for causing the crash.
Are You Really Responsible for Causing a St. Louis Car Accident?
The moments after a car crash can be confusing. You might be in shock. You could also be in severe pain because of the accident injuries.
It is difficult to think clearly after a car wreck. Therefore, you should not admit fault for causing the accident. You could be confused about the factors that led to the crash.
Many factors can contribute to the cause of a car accident. Therefore, even if you are partly to blame, other parties could share responsibility for causing the accident.
For example, you might believe a rear-end accident is your fault. Therefore, you tell the police officer the accident was your fault. However, your brakes failed, so the accident was not entirely your fault.
It is best to allow a St. Louis car accident attorney to investigate the collision to determine all factors contributing to the crash. Avoid discussing the car accident with the insurance adjuster until you talk with an attorney.
The statements you make to an insurance adjuster could hurt your case. Do not consent to provide a recorded statement. Always ask if calls are being recorded so you can decline to have your conversation recorded.
Sharing Fault for a Car Accident in St. Louis Can Reduce Your Compensation for Damages
Missouri’s pure comparative negligence laws could reduce your compensation if you are partially at fault for causing a car accident.
Comparative fault is the legal doctrine of apportioning damages for a personal injury claim based on the negligence of all parties involved in the case. If you do not share any fault for causing the car accident, you should be able to recover up to 100% of your damages. However, if you share fault, you are liable for a portion of the damages caused by the car accident.
Suppose a jury decides you were 30% to blame for causing a head-on collision. The jury awards you $500,000 in damages.
However, the judge reduced the jury award because you were 30% at fault. Instead of receiving $500,000 for damages, you receive $350,000. The judge deducts 30% or $150,000 from the jury award for your responsibility for the accident.
Does Comparative Fault Apply to All Damages in a Car Accident Claim?
If you are partially to blame for a car accident, comparative fault applies to your economic and non-economic damages.
Therefore, you might not receive full compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- A decrease in future earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Impairments and disabilities
- Rehabilitative therapies
- Long-term care
- Diminished quality of life
Contributory fault is alleged as a defense in a personal injury lawsuit. However, insurance companies often use allegations of fault as a tool during settlement negotiations. If the insurance company has enough evidence to prove you are partly at fault, receiving a fair settlement amount could be difficult.
A St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer Will Protect You from Allegations of Fault After a Car Accident
Insurance companies may try to shift blame for your injury to you. If so, you need an experienced St. Louis personal injury attorney to fight unfair allegations of contributory fault. Call our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss how we can help you if you’re blamed for causing your injury.