Accidents are part of driving; sooner or later, unless one beats the law of averages, they will be involved in a vehicular mishap. Whether they are at fault or not will determine multiple decisions they and their car accident attorney in Kansas City make. Because of that, it is important to understand how fault works; here is a tutorial.
Missouri is an At-Fault State
What this means is that someone involved in an accident can file a claim with either their own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, provided there are no other violations in state requirements (more on that in a second.) Missouri has a pure comparative fault system, which means that each driver is assigned a degree of fault for an accident and that percentage is used by insurance companies to determine how to settle claims.
How It Works
Depending on the degree of fault a driver is assigned, provided they are not determined to be 100% at-fault, he or she can receive insurance compensation. This means compensation or damages would likely be less than if the driver were assigned no blame at all. This makes assigning a percentage of blame critical and the best car accident attorney will push for an assignment long before you begin negotiations with any insurance representatives.
No Pay, No Play
To drive a car in Missouri legally, you must have the minimum levels of required liability insurance. If you do not and are involved in an accident, you waive your right to collect compensation for “non-economic losses resulting from auto accidents.” This is in effect even if you are completely faultless.
The only two exceptions to the No Pay, No Play rule is
- If the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and,
- If your insurance company canceled your policy without giving you at least six months’ notice.
In both cases, an uninsured accident victim could pursue personal injury damages beyond economic loss.
Who Determines Fault
Three groups determine fault after an accident:
Involved Parties: This group has no standing except to provide eyewitness reports to law enforcement. Their accounts can be challenged by the other involved party, law enforcement and the other involved party’s insurance company.
Police: Their role is to determine fault via an investigation and include that in an official report. They are also trying to determine if any laws were broken.
Insurance Companies: Their determination of fault is based on police reports and their own investigation. Their goal is to reduce or mitigate company responsibility for any accidents.
Your car accident attorney in Kansas City can help you figure out the impact of the degree of fault you are assigned. They can also help you figure out legally the best approach going forward.