Comparative Fault in Missouri for Car Accidents
Missouri is one of 13 states to use a system of pure comparative negligence. All parties must take accountability for the damages they caused in proportion to their percentage of fault for the accident. The percentages are used will determine who will pay for the damages of a collision and how those damages should be split. A plaintiff can recover from a Defendant in Missouri even if they are 99% to blame for their injuries. Insurance companies do not like pure comparative fault as they are on the hook for more damages than other states where the Plaintiff cannot be more than 50% at fault.
If the Defendant is found to be 100% liable, the Plaintiff will be able to recover 100% of their damages. If the accident is less clear, then the Plaintiff must reduce their recovery by the percentage of fault that they caused the collision. Let’s say a Plaintiff is found to have been 20% at fault for the collision and are awarded damages of $100,000. Comparative fault reduces the Plaintiff’s recovery from $100,000 to $80,000.
The percentage of fault for a collision is a question of fact to be decided by a judge or jury. Attorneys and insurance adjusters usually have a good sense from prior experience at the onset of a case whether a Plaintiff will be more liable than the Defendant for an accident. Even so, professionals rarely know for certain how a jury will view the facts of a given case. Each party must balance the risk of the case costing or benefiting their side at the high or low end. Accounting for this risk is why most cases typically end up resolved in pre-litigation or at a mediation instead of a jury trial.
Determining fault for a car accident is usually dependent upon the specific facts of each case. It is best to contact a personal injury attorney that can use their experience to help you decide whether your case is worth bringing. I have evaluated thousands of potential personal injury phone calls. While I can never be certain about a given case, I have made a successful recovery for my clients on every one that I have accepted. While past results do not guarantee future success, experience generally helps lawyers understand which cases may lead to favorable results for their clients and which ones should be avoided.
I get calls from frustrated general practitioners all the time with questions on cases they are working on. Many times, the major issues they run in to after months of working the case should have been accounted for on the initial phone call. If they focused on personal injury cases and knew what to look for, they would have saved themselves and their clients substantial time and money.