Missouri’s Negligence Laws
Posted in Personal Injury on November 9, 2020
Negligence is an important legal theory that provides the foundation for many legal decisions. To be negligent, a person or entity acts or fails to act in a way that upholds certain duties of care, depending on the situation. All states, including Missouri, use negligence to determine liability in many cases, such as product liability, personal injuries, and medical malpractice. If you are filing a legal claim in Missouri, understanding the basics of negligence can help you determine how to prove your right to compensation.
The Four Elements of Negligence
Simply sustaining an injury is not enough to establish that the at-fault party in your claim is negligent. To prove negligence, you will need to gather evidence to establish four key elements.
- Duty: The at-fault party must owe you a duty of care at the time of the accident, either to commit an act or refrain from committing an act.
- Breach of duty: The at-fault party must breach his or her duty of care.
- Direct causation: The breach of duty of care must directly cause your injuries.
- Damages: You must suffer damages, such as medical expenses or lost wages, as a result of the actions of the at-fault party.
For example, say that you are in a car accident with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and drifted into your lane. You can establish duty of care since all drivers have a responsibility to follow traffic rules, which include drinking and driving laws. The at-fault driver breached that duty of care by using alcohol, which you can establish with surveillance footage, accident reports, and toxicology reports.
These pieces of evidence, combined with witness testimony and your medical records, establish the causation element. Finally, your attorney can help you gather evidence to prove your need for damages, which may include medical bills, pay stubs, impact statements, and repair invoices.
Pure Comparative Negligence in Missouri
In some cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant share liability. Missouri applies a pure comparative negligence rule to situations where both parties are responsible for an accident. Under pure comparative negligence, the court will assign a percentage of the liability to each party based on the provided evidence. The court will then deduct the liability percentage from the plaintiff’s settlement.
For example, say that you are in a car accident with a driver who was on his phone at the time of the crash and you ask for $50,000 for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, the court discovers you were speeding and the defendant’s attorney argues that you could have avoided injury if you adhered to the speed limit. The court assigns you 40% of the liability, and you will only receive $30,000 of your original $50,000 settlement.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Missouri Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Proving negligence in a Missouri lawsuit can be difficult without an attorney on your side. A Kansas City personal injury lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to establish negligence and craft a compelling argument in your favor, advocating for your best interests during each stage of your case. Your lawyer can also defend you against liability allegations to protect your optimal settlement from the comparative negligence rule. If you have not spoken to a Missouri injury attorney already, contact your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your potential claim.