Insurance claims following an automobile accident work in one of two ways depending the state in which the incident took place:
- At fault: The injured party files a claim against the driver who caused the accident. Once that person’s responsibility has been proven, their insurance company pays compensation.
- No fault: Each party claims compensation through their own insurer. Who was at fault, and to what degree, is irrelevant.
Like most states, Missouri operates on an at-fault system. To cover medical expenses and other damages following a car accident, all drivers in Missouri are required to carry at least the minimum amount of liability coverage. If an accident occurs, the at-fault driver’s insurance company compensates the innocent parties.
Filing an at-fault insurance claim involves proving that the other driver was responsible for the accident. This is a complex legal process that should always be handled by a specialist in automobile accident law. If you’ve been in a car accident in Missouri that wasn’t your fault, contact Phalen Law now for a free consultation.
No-fault vs at-fault insurance
In a no-fault insurance claim, a person’s insurer pays benefits regardless of who caused the accident. This makes no-fault claims much simpler, as there’s no need to gather evidence or prove responsibility.
However, no-fault insurance has certain flaws that at-fault insurance doesn’t.
One such flaw is that, while it’s easy to make a no-fault claim, compensation typically only covers a percentage of medical bills and lost wages. At-fault insurance, on the other hand, includes a wide range of compensations, such as those for:
- Medical treatment and care
- In-home and long-term nursing care
- Lost wages, benefits, and other incomes
- Reductions in future earning capacity
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional and mental suffering
- Reduced quality of life or loss of enjoyment of life
Another issue with no-fault insurance is that it can be difficult to sue for other damages. The victim would need to prove they suffered severe injuries or a specific amount of financial loss to sue the responsible driver. But Missouri’s at-fault system allows a driver to freely file a lawsuit for damages, or if the responsible party’s insurance provider won’t offer fair compensation.
Minimum car insurance requirements in Missouri
All drivers in Missouri must carry liability insurance of at least the following values:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more individuals per accident
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
They must also carry Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage of at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
Uninsured drivers of those who don’t meet these minimum coverage requirements can have their license suspended by the state. And if a driver without the minimum insurance causes more damage than they can afford to pay, they can face serious legal consequences including imprisonment.
If you live in another state but are driving in Missouri or through it to reach another state, you don’t need to take out a new car insurance policy. Your existing policy will include a “broadening clause” that temporarily changes your insurance to satisfy Missouri’s minimum requirements. For more details on the precise details of your car insurance policy’s broadening clause, please contact your insurance provider.
How does comparative negligence affect a car accident claim in Missouri?
As well as being an at-fault state, Missouri also uses a pure comparative negligence system. This means each party receives compensation relative to their responsibility for the car accident.
For example, in a $100,000 claim a jury might determine that Driver A was 25% responsible while Driver B was 75% responsible. Through comparative negligence, this means Driver A will be awarded $25,000 (25%) and Driver B will receive $75,000 (75%). Of course, if one party is thought to be entirely responsible, they would receive no compensation at all.
Depending on how long it takes for fault to be determined, you might be able to make a claim against your own insurance company. They would then recoup the compensation they pay you from the at-fault driver’s insurer.
What if the at-fault driver has no insurance?
Without insurance, it’s unlikely a driver would be able to pay for injuries and damages. In such a case, the innocent party can make a UM claim against their own automobile insurance policy. Missouri requires all drivers to carry UM insurance, meaning you can claim at least some level of compensation if the at-fault driver was uninsured at the time of the accident.
What if the injured party caused the accident?
Under Missouri law, if a driver is wholly responsible for the accident, they’ll be unable to make a claim against the other party’s insurance for injuries and damages. Any medical expenses, property damage costs, and other payments will need to be made out of pocket.
Make a strong case for compensation with Phalen Law
When an automobile accident occurs, insurance companies do their best to protect their bottom line. That means they’ll argue that their client wasn’t responsible and try to part with as little cash as possible. And if the compensation you receive doesn’t reflect your injuries and trauma, recovery can become very difficult.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, get in touch with Phalen Law right away. Our specialist automobile accident lawyers know the right evidence to gather and how to protect you against the strategies insurers use to reduce your compensation payments. With us by your side, you can get the justice you deserve and start your journey to recovery with confidence.
Call us now or fill in our Free Case Evaluation form to arrange your free no-obligation consultation.