Sometimes, identifying the person responsible for a car accident isn’t always easy. Some car accidents may be caused by both drivers, which means both drivers are liable for the accident and responsible for paying compensation. Learn more about how your percentage of fault can affect your financial compensation after an auto accident.
Is Missouri an At-Fault State?
Missouri is a tort state that follows a pure contributory negligence doctrine. Unlike a no-fault state, this means each driver and their respective insurance companies are responsible for paying damages after an accident.
In Missouri, contributory negligence or comparative negligence is a way of assigning a certain percentage of liability to individuals who are involved in a personal injury lawsuit. Comparative negligence lawsuits are typically settled in court with a judge since a jury will need to assign each individual a percentage of fault.
How Pure Contributory Negligence Works
In a car accident, each driver involved in an accident may have contributed to the accident in some way. One driver may have been driving over the speed limit, while the other driver may have been violating a different traffic law. In these cases, because both drivers did something wrong, both drivers will need to bear the cost of all damages associated with the accident.
How Is Compensation Affected If I Have Partial Fault For the Accident?
Contributory negligence has a direct effect on how each driver can recover compensation after an accident. In general, the percentage of fault will determine the percentage of compensation each driver will receive from the lawsuit settlement. Under a pure comparative fault doctrine, the at-fault driver can be as much as 99 percent at fault for the accident and still receive one percent of compensation to cover damages.
Calculating the Settlement
Your settlement amount will be calculated based on the baseline compensation you are entitled to for economic and non-economic damages. Once a jury assigns your percentage of fault, you will be entitled to a percentage of the total settlement.
The rest of your settlement may be paid to the other driver to cover the other driver’s damages since you will be held financially responsible for your percentage of fault for the accident.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages generally refer to medical expenses, lost wages, loss of income-earning ability in the future, loss of employment, property damage, and other financial losses. Property damage can include vehicle damage, personal property damage to an individual’s belongings, and private property damage, such as to a home or business from the accident.
Economic damages are easy to calculate since medical bills and payroll records can be used to tally the dollar value of these damages. Economic damages are usually calculated by default when you pursue compensation after a car accident.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
Many people who file a personal injury claim are also entitled to pain and suffering. Pain and suffering refer to physical pain, emotional pain, mental anguish, and other consequences of serious injuries, such as a reduction in your quality of life. Pain and suffering may be calculated by a judge or jury, or may be calculated by an insurance company. You and your lawyer may have to request pain and suffering damages.
What Are Elements Required to Prove Comparative Negligence?
The percentage of fault is calculated by examining various elements of a car accident case. All of these elements must be met for a driver to be considered partially at fault for an accident. A judge or jury will be able to determine the amount of fault based on elements such as:
Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle
For the comparative fault doctrine to be applied to your case, it must first be proven that the at-fault driver was negligent in the operation of a motor vehicle. Negligence can include driving under the influence, violating traffic laws, distracted driving, and other behaviors that can cause an accident. It’s essential to establish this element since it will be used to prove liability. Both drivers can be guilty of negligence.
Negligent Operation Caused Damages
Next, it will need to be proven that negligent driving caused physical damage or damages to personal property. Specifically, an at-fault party who violated road laws and caused an accident is also responsible for any of the subsequent injuries and damages associated with that accident. Actual causation and proximate causation can be used to prove this element.
What Should I Do After an Auto Accident?
After an auto accident, there are several things you will need to do. One of the first actions you should take after an accident is to call the police and, if it is safe to do so, move your car out of the direct flow of traffic. When the police arrive, you will be able to file a police report for the accident, which will be used as evidence when you file a lawsuit or a claim with your insurance company.
You should also gather important information, if you can, such as information about the other drivers, information about the police officers filing your report, witness statements, and even photographs. Taking note of the weather conditions can also be important to prove your claim later on.
Should I Go to the Hospital?
After an auto accident, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention. Whether you think you are severely injured or not, going to the emergency room after an accident will generate a medical report that can be used to prove the extent of your physical injuries later on. This is essential since, without medical documents, an insurance company or the at-fault driver may claim you did not sustain any injuries from the accident.
What Should I Say to My Insurance Company After a Car Accident?
When you file your insurance claim, you should do your best to stick to the facts, such as when the accident occurred, the vehicle damage, and the information of the other party involved in the accident. Although your insurance company should be on your side, it’s very important to avoid admitting fault when you are speaking with your insurance claims adjuster.
Even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you should not say anything to take responsibility for the accident since this could disqualify you from seeking compensation. If you admit fault to your insurance company, you may be held responsible for the total damages associated with the accident. Admitting fault can make your situation worse.
What Happens To My Insurance Coverage After an Accident?
After a car accident, you will need to contact your auto insurance company to file an accident report and insurance claim. Your car insurance policy will pay for the other driver’s damage, so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket, which is one of the main reasons Missouri law mandates all drivers must carry auto insurance. If you are the at-fault driver, it’s possible your insurance rates will rise in the future.
What Should I Do If the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Contacts Me?
Sometimes, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you, especially if the other driver insists you are partly at fault for the accident. Just like when you speak with your insurance company, you will need to avoid admitting fault to the other driver’s insurance company – even apologizing for the accident could increase your degree of fault. It’s best if you allow your personal injury lawyer to speak with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you want to seek compensation after a car wreck, it’s best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Ideally, you should call a car accident lawyer as soon as you are medically able so that your lawyer can talk to your insurance company on your behalf. A lawyer with expertise in personal injury cases can help you recover damages you are entitled to, even if you are partially at fault for the car accident.
- When multiple parties are partly at fault for a car accident, each driver will be assigned a degree of fault by a judge or jury. Drivers who are partially at fault may still be entitled to a percentage of the settlement to recover compensation for the injuries and damages they may have suffered in the accident. Get in touch with Holman Schiavone, LLC at 816-320-6108 for a free consultation today.