How Comparative Fault in Missouri Affects Your Car Accident Claim

John 7 Min Read

In 2023, Missouri had 990 fatalities and many more injuries from car accidents. This figure represents a decrease of approximately 6.34% compared to the previous year, 2022 when there were 1,057 fatalities. Despite this decrease, the number still exceeded the state’s target of reducing fatalities to 948 or fewer for that year.

Following a car accident, victims frequently face lost wages, medical bills, and severe hardships. If you have been in a car accident in St. Louis, you should understand how Missouri’s comparative fault rules can affect your claim.

Fault in Car Accident Cases and Comparative Negligence in Missouri

Missouri uses a pure comparative negligence (fault) rule in car accident cases. It is one of the few states that does so. This implies you can still obtain damages even if you are found to be 99% at fault. However your compensation would be significantly reduced depending on the degree of your fault.

Some states bar recovery if you are more than 50% at fault. However, Missouri allows recovery regardless of the fault percentage as long as you are not 100% at fault.

Here’s how it works:

  • Establishing fault: The first step is to determine whether another person’s actions caused harm. This could be the result of negligence, intentional behavior, or recklessness, like driving under the influence.
  • Assigning percentage of fault: Once the fault has been established, the court assigns each party a percentage of responsibility for the injuries. This is based on the evidence presented, like, police reports, and witness testimony.
  • Calculating damages: The fault percentage determines the damages a plaintiff can receive after an injury.
  • Multiple defendants: If multiple defendants are found liable for an injury, each will be assigned a responsibility percentage. These percentages will then be totaled.

Let us use an example to better understand this: 

Alice, Bob, and Charlie were all at fault in a three-car accident at an intersection. Alice ran a red light, Bob was speeding, and Charlie was texting while driving. After reviewing evidence like witness statements and police reports, the court assigned fault. Alice received 50%, Bob 30%, and Charlie 20%.

If Charlie’s injury costs were $100,000, his 20% fault would reduce his settlement to $80,000. As Alice and Bob are deemed 50% and 30% at fault, respectively, Alice owes $40,000 (half of $80,000). However, Bob owes $24,000 (30% of $80,000) for Charlie’s damages.

The above was a simple example; real-life cases are usually more complex than this. A St. Louis car accident attorney can help you interpret these complex laws and fight for your rights. They can gather evidence and negotiate with the relevant insurance firm. If necessary, they can even represent you in court.

How to Report a Car Accident in Missouri?

After a car accident in Missouri, you should narrate the incident to the police and complete a police report. Also, submit an official Missouri car accident report form to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Missouri Revised Statutes Section 303.040 defines three distinct scenarios in which an accident must be reported:

  • Accidents involving uninsured motorists or those resulting in death, injury, or damage to property exceeding $500.
  • Accidents resulting in property damage or other injuries exceeding $500 where the vehicle’s owner or operator does not have insurance.
  • Accidents with parked cars that result in death, injury, or property damage exceeding $500.

In Missouri, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after an automobile accident is five years. According to TorHoerman Law, if you don’t initiate a lawsuit within this time period, you may forfeit your right to get compensation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do after being in a car accident?

After a car accident, make sure everyone is safe, call the police, seek medical attention, and gather related evidence. Don’t admit fault or discuss the complete picture of the accident with anyone other than your attorney or police.

2. What is the “Steer It and Clear It” Law?

The “Steer It and Clear It” law in Missouri mandates moving operational vehicles post-accident. It prevents obstruction for emergency responders and averts secondary crashes. Drivers failing to “steer it and clear it” may be fined $10.00 to $50.00.

3. What are comparative negligence damages?

The pure comparative negligence rule allows a plaintiff to claim damages. They can recover for the percentage they are not at fault, even if it is as little as 1%. The recoverable damages are proportionate to the fault percentage mentioned by the court.

4. Can you provide an instance of comparative fault?

If you are at 20% fault and the other driver at 80%, you can claim damages. This is because your fault is under 50%. Typically, you would receive 80% of your damages, reflecting the other driver’s greater fault.

In conclusion, navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and complex. However, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t delay in seeking legal help. A car accident attorney can offer valuable assistance, helping you to fight for fair compensation. Remember, most car accident lawyers provide free consultations and work on contingency, only getting paid if you win.

Share this Article