Car Accident Attorney in St. Louis, Missouri
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you deserve to have a competent and experienced personal injury attorney working by your side. After incidents like this, you may feel overwhelmed with all the tasks you’ll now be responsible for, from attending to property damage, getting medical attention, making insurance claims, or filing a personal injury claim. And through this all, you’ll also be recovering from the trauma of the crash itself. No one should have to go through all this alone. If you’re in the St. Louis, Missouri, region, including areas throughout St. Charles, St. Louis City / County, or St. Clair County and Madison County, Illinois, call me at The Summary Law Firm to discuss your options.
Liability for Car Accidents in Missouri
The first thing accident victims need to understand about state law is that Missouri follows an at-fault model for car crashes. Essentially this means that whoever is determined to be at fault for the accident happening is also the person who’s responsible for paying any damages associated with the accident. However, you always have the option to first file a claim with your own insurance provider regardless of the car driver's negligence. Some people prefer this option because they can usually get compensated faster, but it also may not cover all your expenses. Therefore, most people choose to file a claim against the at-fault driver right away, but it may take a while to see a final settlement come through. And, even when you do reach a settlement, even this may not be enough to cover all damages. In these cases, you’ll have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Central to any claim you make after a crash is being able to answer the question, “who is liable in a car accident?” because this will tell you who’s responsible for paying damages. Working with a skilled car accident attorney can help you better understand what kind of evidence you’ll need to support your case to prove fault. Gathering as much evidence as you can will help this process, including police reports, medical bills and diagnosis, photos or videos of the accident site, witness statements, and documentation of your income if you’ve had to miss work due to your injuries.
Missouri Insurance Requirements
Every driver in Missouri is responsible for carrying a certain amount of insurance to cover themselves, as well as anyone injured by an accident they were liable for. Most car insurance policies require a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for two people injured, $25,000 for property damage, and uninsured motorist protection of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Personal injury protection (PIP) is not required by the state, but some drivers may choose to carry it as this can be helpful if you choose to file a claim on your own policy after an accident, whether or not you were at fault.
State Laws Addressing Personal Injury Claims
In most Missouri cases, you’ll have five years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim against the other driver, which is quite a bit longer than most states, whose limit is two to three years. Even though this is a long time, if you file after the statute of limitations is passed, a judge will almost always dismiss your claim. You should also have a basic understanding of the state’s comparative fault rule because it could impact how much you receive in your settlement. This law states that liability can be shared between two parties in the case of a car accident, and the amount received in damages will be proportional to your share of the fault. For example, if you were found to be 20% responsible for the crash and the final settlement amount was $20,000, you would only receive $16,000.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
In the most devastating cases, a car accident may take the life of someone you love. Under these circumstances, you may wish to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit in which you have five years to file, you only have three years to file a wrongful death claim. These claims can be filed anytime someone dies because of someone else’s negligent or intentionally harmful actions. Wrongful death lawsuits are typically brought forward by family members of the deceased such as a surviving spouse, adult child, parent, or sibling. In rare cases where no family member is able to file, the court may choose to appoint someone to act as “plaintiff ad litem” who can file on behalf of the deceased.
Car Accident Attorney Serving St. Louis, Missouri
If you’d like help filing insurance claims or a personal injury lawsuit after being injured in a car crash, contact me at The Summary Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri, to speak with an attorney you can trust. I have the knowledge, resources, and practice necessary to walk you through the entire process.