Missouri Comparative Fault Laws
Posted in Lawsuit on May 14, 2019
In accidents that are not black-and-white regarding who is at fault, what happens? In Missouri, comparative fault laws determine the percentage of damage that each party is responsible for. This is a result of Missouri’s negligence laws, which are used to determine liability in car accidents.
Missouri’s Negligence Laws
The state of Missouri defines negligence as acting in a manner that violates a duty that you have another person. In car accidents, this duty is to operate your vehicle in a manner that keeps others safe. When an individual becomes distracted, or drives under the influence, they are preventing themselves from driving safely. Under negligence law, the court hold’s each driver’s action to the “reasonable person” standard. This is a legal standard that compares the individual’s actions to the actions of a so-called reasonable person. This helps determine their level of comparative negligence.
Missouri’s Comparative Fault Laws
Missouri operates on a pure comparative fault system, which is used to determine how the damages incurred from the collision will be split amongst all parties, including the plaintiff. This system requires all parties to take responsibility for the damages that they each caused in the accident. An accident could seem open-and-shut, with the plaintiff receiving all compensation. But if evidence reveals that the plaintiff is not 100% faultless, the court will deduct their percentage of fault. For example, if the court finds the plaintiff to be 20% at fault, an award that is originally $80,000 would be reduced by 20%, and become $64,000. This applies to multi-vehicle collisions, too – the total percentage is simply split between each party based upon their individual involvement.
Personal Injury Cases
A claimant must pursue a personal injury case within a specific time period, according to the state’s statute of limitations. In Missouri, this time period is five years. When filing a claim against a government entity, this time period is shortened to 90 days. After this, the court will not hear your case.
If a plaintiff does file for personal injury against the defendant, they must provide evidence to prove the damage that the defendant caused.
- The defendant possessed a duty to act, or not act, in a certain way
- The defendant failed to complete this duty
- This defendant’s failure to complete their duty caused damage to the plaintiff
- Specific actions of the defendant proved to be a direct cause of the plaintiff’s damage
- The plaintiff experienced verifiable damage
Although these points seem interchangeable, the plaintiff should address each with evidence. For instance, it is not enough to show up to court with a broken arm, claiming that the accident caused it. You must prove that the driver was being negligent, how that negligence impacted the driver’s vehicular operation, and then prove how this impacted you. You must not think that having a broken arm implies how the accident impacted you. You must also provide evidence of the physical injury by providing dated medical records.
Comparative Fault in Personal Injury Cases
Comparative fault laws still apply in personal injury cases. Either party can pursue a personal injury claim in court. In this scenario, the defendant could theoretically reduce their own at-fault percentage by assigning a portion of the blame onto the plaintiff or a third party. No matter the specific details, all parties at fault will pay whichever percentage of the damages that the court deems appropriate. Some states place a cap on the amount of damages that an individual can claim, but this does not apply to the state of Missouri.
Even in collisions that you did not directly cause, the court could still require you to pay for a portion of the damages because of Missouri’s comparative fault laws. A Kansas City personal injury lawyer will help you file a personal injury claim against the defendant, and even negotiate for the lowest possible percentage of fault in the accident. Although comparative fault laws split accident-related blame, if you truly are not at fault, a lawyer will help you prove this.