Understanding Car Accident Liability
Since Missouri is an at-fault state, it’s essential to understand what this means, and the factors considered when it comes to determining who is responsible for a car crash. Here’s what you need to know.
What is an At-Fault Car Accident?
An at-fault car accident is based on the assumption that when a car accident occurs, the driver who is believed to be responsible for the accident is the person who is considered liable for any incurred damages. Individuals causing the accident, either through their actions or failure to act, could be regarded as the at-fault party.
What is Comparative Negligence?
When insurance companies in Missouri follow at-fault system guidelines, they will allocate the ratio of fault between drivers. Under comparative negligence rules, a defendant can use a “partial defense” by demonstrating that the plaintiff was partially at-fault for the accident.
For example, Driver #1 is making a left turn and hits Driver #2, who is speeding. Driver #2 suffers injuries and sues Driver #1 for negligence. By using comparative negligence, Driver #1 may be 80% at fault, and Driver #2 is 20% at fault. When it comes to using comparative negligence as a defense, it’s critical to contact an experienced car accident lawyer to assist you with your claim.
What Are Some Examples of an At-Fault Accident?
Some of the most common types of at-fault accidents may include:
- Rear-end collisions.
- Driving under the influence.
- Disobeying traffic signals.
- Driving while distracted.
Refraining from the above bad road habits can reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident.
Which Factors are Used to Determine Liability?
There are four factors under “common law” that are examined carefully in determining fault:
- Negligence - Conduct that fails to protect others against an unreasonable risk of harm.
- Recklessness - Acting with utter disregard for others' safety while knowing that these actions could harm others.
- Intentional misconduct - Causing harm to another on purpose.
- Strict liability - A party is held responsible for their actions without the plaintiff having to prove negligence or fault.
What Happens if You Are Deemed At-Fault?
Sometimes accidents can’t be avoided no matter how defensively you are driving — and when having to make a last-minute maneuver, it could end up being the wrong move. However, when involved in a car crash, do not admit fault at the crash scene. Here are some tips to help you stay protected:
- Take photos of the damage.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver.
- Get a copy of the police report.
- Contact a car accident lawyer.
- Report the accident to your insurance company (refrain from answering any questions or admitting fault. Let your attorney handle the insurance companies on your behalf).
Can Other Parties, Besides Drivers, Be Held Liable for a Car Accident?
In short, the answer to the above questions is yes; however, it can be tricky. If you were involved in a crash due to missing road signs or malfunctioning traffic signals, you might be able to sue municipalities or companies responsible for their maintenance.. However, before you make a claim against a city, you must prove that the accident was caused by a hidden or missing sign. Here are some steps to take:
- Immediately call law enforcement and obtain a police report.
- In the police report, be sure to inform the officer about the missing road sign or traffic signal.
- Take photos of:
- The accident scene.
- Your vehicle.
- The surrounding area of where the accident occurred.
- Hidden/obstructed road signs or malfunctioning signals.
- The location where the missing road sign should have been.
Injured in a Car Accident? We Can Help
Dealing with insurance companies that often give pushback can be a daunting experience for those who don’t understand personal injury laws.
At Meyerkord, Meyerkord & Kurth, we’ll work tirelessly to help you determine liability and hold the responsible parties accountable for your accident. Our experienced team of attorneys are ready to negotiate settlements and argue cases in courts to get the maximum compensation that you deserve. Let us help you recover full compensation.
From medical expenses and future costs to lost wages and pain and suffering, contact us today at (800) 391-4318 to learn your rights after sustaining injuries in a car accident.