In 2022, more than 45,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents in Missouri. That does not include the more than 960 people who were killed on Missouri roadways.
Anyone who has ever been injured in a car accident will probably say the insurance claims process is stressful. Insurance companies make them difficult because they will do anything to avoid opening the purse strings to pay claims. That is, after all, how they keep the company’s profit margin healthy. Because practice makes perfect, insurance adjusters are skilled at preserving that bottom line.
If you have been injured in a car accident anywhere throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, including Liberty, Lee’s Summit, or Independence, Missouri, we are here to help you pursue the maximum settlement you deserve. Contact us at Chionuma Law Firm, LLC, today to get the guidance you need.
Is Missouri a No-Fault or At-Fault State?
Missouri is an at-fault car accident state. As such, the negligent driver who caused the crash is held financially responsible for the injuries and damages they cause others.
To help ensure that a negligent driver would have some means to compensate their victims, Missouri law requires every auto owner to carry at least minimum liability coverage. Although they can choose to carry more, the minimums required are $25,000 per person per accident, $50,000 per accident injuring more than one person, and $25,000 for property damage.
Missouri also recognizes pure comparative fault in auto accidents. The comparative fault rule makes it so that you can pursue a claim against another driver, even if you share part of the blame for the accident.
Here is an example of how comparative fault works:
You are talking on your cell phone as you drive through an intersection on a green light. A car drives through a red light and T-bones your car, injuring you. Of course, the driver who ran the red light was negligent. However, you could be found partially at fault for being on your cell phone at the time. Let us say you are found to be 20% at fault and the other driver is found to be 80% at fault. Using pure comparative fault, your personal injury settlement would be reduced by your percentage of fault. So, if your settlement is $50,000, it would be reduced by $10,000 (20% of $50,000) and you would receive $40,000.
What Is the Claims Process in Missouri?
Every automobile accident case is different, but there is a structured process in place for filing your claim. It's important to work with an experienced car accident attorney may help decrease your stress and increase your chances for receiving a fair settlement.
Any accident involving a motor vehicle less than one year ago, any accident involving an uninsured motorist, and any accident that injured or killed someone or caused more than $500 in property damage must be reported to the Missouri Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Division.
You will want to report the accident to your auto insurance carrier so a claim can be opened. If you have medical payment benefits under your policy, you may want to access them to help cover medical expenses while you pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. If the other driver’s liability limits are not sufficient to cover your medical expenses and other damages, you may want to file an underinsured motorist claim if that coverage is included in your policy.
Filing a Claim
You should know that claims related to your injuries and claims related to getting your car repaired are treated separately. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your vehicle, it may be faster to work with your insurance company to get repairs made. Your insurance company can then pursue reimbursement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for the property damage claim, including the potential of recovery of your deductible.
You will want to file a personal injury claim against the auto owner’s liability insurance coverage. That insurance adjuster will want to interview you, have you sign consents for obtaining copies of your medical records and bills, employment records, and other documents. It is in your best interest to retain the services of a personal injury attorney soon after the accident to protect your claim. Insurance companies use tactics designed to place fault on you, undervalue your damages, and settle for as little money as possible if they cannot deny your claim outright.
Recovering expenses after an accident requires that you prove the other driver was negligent. To do prove negligence, your claim must follow this structure:
The other driver owed you a duty of care,
The other driver failed to uphold that duty, and
You suffered injuries and damages as a result of their breached duty of care.
Again, your attorney will know how to investigate the crash, will work to prove the other driver’s negligence, and deflect assertions of fault against you since fault can reduce your settlement.
Your attorney will also negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company in an attempt to obtain a settlement that fairly compensates you for your damages. If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. No matter what, you make all decisions regarding your case. Your attorney provides all the information and insight you need to make those decisions.
How Long Do I Have to File My Claim?
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Missouri is five years. For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is three years. The clock begins ticking on the date of the crash. Because every case is unique, there are some exceptions in place. To fully understand your time limit on filing, you should consult a skilled attorney in your area.
What Damages Might I Recover?
Damages in personal injury claims include economic damages, such as the cost of your current and future medical bills resulting from the accident and compensation for current and future income loss due to your injuries. You can also recover non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering.
Speak With an Experienced Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney in your corner can be the best weapon you have in your fight to garner compensation for the injuries and related damages you suffer. At Chionuma Law Firm, LLC, we draw on our vast experience in our representation of each and every client we represent.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Kansas City, Missouri, or anywhere in the metro area, call us today to schedule a free case consultation. We are ready to answer any questions you have and guide you through the claims process.