There are 4.3 million licensed drivers in Missouri. Although fewer people were traveling on roadways in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 1,000 people still died in car accidents statewide, a 12% increase over 2019. Missouri’s roadways can be a dangerous place when someone fails to exercise the duty of care they owe to others.
If you or a loved one has been in a car crash, you might be wondering how to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or even funeral expenses. Dealing with injuries or the death of a loved one can cause extreme physical, emotional, and financial stress. Insurance companies are not motivated to help. You need to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for you.
Attorney Joe Phillips started his legal career on the other side, representing corporations and insurance companies until he could no longer watch people injured or killed by someone else’s negligence suffer the consequences. Now, for more than 15 years, Joe Phillips has been representing car accident victims and their families in St. Louis, Missouri and throughout St. Charles County, St. Louis County, and Jefferson County. What he learned defending the other side he now uses to represent his injured clients.
Missouri is an “at-fault” state for car accidents and insurance coverage. “At-fault” means the driver responsible for causing the crash is also responsible for the injuries, death, and property damage incurred by others. There are three ways you can recover compensation for the damages caused by a negligent driver:
File a claim with your insurance company against your own medical payment benefits or underinsured or uninsured driver coverage
File a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance liability coverage to seek a settlement of your claim
File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to seek a judgment from the court
By law, Missouri auto owners are required to carry liability insurance coverage with at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. Although these are the minimum amounts required by state law, the negligent driver’s policy may have higher coverage against which you can file a claim. Your auto insurer is required to include uninsured motorist coverage equal to your bodily injury liability coverage to provide coverage if the at-fault driver is not insured.
While most states allow only two or three years for someone to file a claim, Missouri law requires personal injury claims to either be settled or have a lawsuit filed within five years of the date of the crash.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is three years from the date of death. A wrongful death claim must be settled with the insurer or a lawsuit filed before three years pass.
Missouri is also a “pure comparative fault” state. This means any amount agreed to in the settlement of your claim or awarded by a jury at trial is reduced by any percentage of fault assigned to you.
As an example, say the negligent driver’s bodily injury liability limit is $100,000. Your damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income, exceed $100,000, so a jury awards the full policy limit. If the negligent driver is 100% at fault, you would receive the full award, but if you are assigned 10% fault and the other driver 90%, your award would be reduced by your 10% fault and you would receive $90,000.
In Missouri, certain people may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their deceased loved one. The law establishes the following “classes” to determine priority when filing:
Class 1 includes the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren of the decedent, and the decedent’s parents
Class 2 individuals may file if there are no Class 1 parties. Class 2 includes siblings of the decedent or children of the siblings
Class 3 involves the estate of the decedent. If there are no Class 1 or 2 relatives, the personal representative of the estate may file a claim, or the court may appoint one. Any settlement would become part of the decedent’s estate.
Missouri law also states that only one wrongful death action can be filed. It is important to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney to make sure all negligent parties are named in the lawsuit.
The companies that insure negligent drivers want to avoid compensating you for your damages. Attorney Joe Phillips knows this because he started his career defending insurance companies against personal injury and wrongful death claims.
When you file a lawsuit against a negligent driver, it is that person’s insurer who will hire the attorneys to defend them. You need to have an experienced and aggressive car accident attorney on your side to fight back.
Joe Phillips fights for hundreds of clients in St. Louis, Missouri and throughout St. Charles County, St. Louis County, and Jefferson County. If you have been injured in a car crash or a loved one killed, put the Law Offices of Joe Phillips in your corner. Consultations are free, and you pay nothing unless you settle your claim — so call or reach out today!