Can I Sue After an Auto Accident in Missouri?
April 6, 2022 | Car Accidents \ Personal Injury
An auto accident can happen at any moment across the state. This frequency means there are new injury victims every day. You will need to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.
While this may sound like the insurance company will handle the claim quickly, insurance companies may not be too willing to offer you the compensation you deserve after an accident.
If this is the case, you will need to have a Missouri car accident lawyer file a lawsuit on your behalf.
How does suing for an auto accident in Missouri work?
You will file a claim with the right insurance company for benefits for any losses or damages you may have incurred from the car accident. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can start a lawsuit in civil court.
Unfortunately, insurance companies will usually offer lower settlements than your case is worth. While an attorney will work to negotiate with insurance companies, they may refuse to come to a fair settlement. This reluctance is when you may need to file a lawsuit.
Types of compensation available from a lawsuit
Depending on your injuries, you may have to undergo various medical treatments. Your insurance claim should cover all of these medical expenses in an insurance settlement. There are also other damages you may be entitled to recover.
Other compensable damages you may receive include:
- Hospital and emergency care
- Doctor’s visits
- Time off of school or work
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Out of pocket expenses
You may deserve many different economic and non-economic damages after an auto accident in Missouri. A car accident attorney can determine which ones to seek and the amount of the damages you need.
Is there a deadline to file a lawsuit after an auto accident in Missouri?
The short answer is yes. After an accident, you will need to file a claim as soon as possible. Plaintiffs have a five-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. Once you reach the five-year mark, you will often lose your right to file a claim or lawsuit.
While you may think that five years is ample time to file a claim, it can go by very fast. Move quickly and speak with an experienced Missouri car accident lawyer to begin filing a claim.
How does fault play a role in Missouri car accident claims?
Before filing a lawsuit, you need to address several items. The first and often most important is fault. In Missouri, you can recover compensation for your car accident damages from an at-fault party. The key to recovery is determining fault for your accident.
Once you determine fault, your car accident lawyer in Missouri will need to:
- File an insurance claim
- File a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company
- File a lawsuit against negligent parties in a court
Several steps need to happen before a case goes into litigation. So do not assume that contacting a lawyer means that you are filing a lawsuit, come what may. First, they will try to negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement.
An insurance company will try to lower your settlement and cite that your injuries are not as extensive as you claim. They may even argue that their insured is not at fault and point fingers at you instead. Since this is common after an accident, you will need a car accident attorney to protect your rights.
Proving liability in court after a Missouri car accident
Once your case goes to the litigation phase, it will be imperative that your attorney can prove who is liable for your injuries. There are three general ways that this can happen.
Negligence is the first and most common way that liability is determined. Driver inattention is the leading cause of car accidents in Missouri and all across the country. Many claims will cite this as the reason for the party to be held liable after an accident.
Intentional wrong is another way to prove liability in a case. This rule applies when a driver acts intentionally in actions that harm others. This law means the driver intentionally broke a law that they knew might result in the injury of another party. One typical example is when a driver leaves the scene of an accident they caused.
Lastly, a strict liability standard applies when a defective product is involved in a car accident. This rule means a third party can be held liable for the accident. You can hold a manufacturer liable for any injuries and damages their defective product caused, whether they acted negligently or not.
When should you talk to a Missouri car accident attorney?
You may think about handling your car accident claim on your own, but this can often be a mistake. While it is not legally required to have a car accident lawyer on your side, it will be the best course of action to obtain compensation.
There is no way to know whether your claim will need to go to litigation or not.
However, some circumstances may require a car accident attorney, including:
- The other driver was uninsured
- Your injuries are substantial or life-altering
- It was a multi-vehicle accident
- There was a defective product or part that may have caused the accident
- Your insurance company denied your claim
- You are offered a lowball settlement for your injuries and damages
Determining how much your case is worth will be contingent on several factors, and your compensation will heavily rely on the damages you sustained due to the accident. Insurance companies will typically only offer to pay half of any car accident damages or fees, so you need a lawyer fighting for full compensation.
How a Missouri car accident attorney can help?
Car accident attorneys wear many hats after a car accident. While you may think their goal is to file a lawsuit, it often is not. A lawyer will work with accident victims and their families to get the justice and compensation they deserve after an accident. Law firms should use all of their resources to build a strong case.
The first step will be to file an insurance claim and negotiate with insurance companies. If this does not result in a reasonable settlement offer, your attorney can take your case into litigation.
While they might file a lawsuit, it does not mean your case will go to trial. They can still resolve your car accident claim during the litigation phase. It is not uncommon for car accidents to settle in mediation before reaching a judge’s desk or courtroom.
Contacting a Missouri car accident lawyer is your next step
While there is no deadline to contact a Dixon Injury Firm’s accident lawyer, it is best to contact us as soon as possible.
The sooner you start your case, the better your outcome. You must file the claim before the statute of limitations expires, so set up your free case evaluation right away.