Imagine a foggy day in St. Louis, Missouri, where you are traveling down the I-44 on your way home from work. It is so stormy that you can hardly see the Gateway Arch on your journey. You begin slowing down to get off the highway when a car crashes into you from behind. Your first thought may well be how to resolve a claim for your car accident in St. Louis, Missouri and seek financial compensation for your injuries.
Firstly, You Need to Report the Accident
In certain instances, you need to report the crash. If any of the below situations are relevant to your incident, you will need to file an accident report:
- One of the drivers involved in the accident is uninsured
- It has been less than 12 months since the accident took place
- The accident resulted in the injury or death of another person or damage to property in excess of $500.
Having a Car Accident in St. Louis, M.O. and the Car Insurance Laws
In the state of Missouri, all drivers are required to carry the basic liability insurance with certain minimum coverage amounts, such as:
- $10,000 for property damage per car accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury per incident
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
What’s more, you are obliged to keep your proof of your insurance in your vehicle at all times. A law enforcement official could issue a ticket if you are not able to provide proof of insurance.
How Does a Settlement Work in St. Louis, M.O.?
If you are involved in a crash, an experienced Missouri car accident lawyer can help you with your settlement. As in most states, Missouri applies a fault system for determining who was responsible for the crash and the financial responsibilities for damages and injuries that stem from the incident. If you are the one that has been injured, your options are:
- File a claim with your insurance provider
- File a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance provider
- File a lawsuit against the other driver
A settlement refers to the action of dropping the lawsuit and awarding damages. A settlement is made out of court and is typically negotiated between the insurance providers and the Missouri car accident lawyers. Many a car accident in St. Louis, Missouri, is resolved through a settlement before having to face a court hearing.
Should you wish to file a compensation claim with an insurance provider, the company will go about investigating your case and offer a settlement or deny the claim. If you and your car accident attorney feel that the insurance company is not compensating you fairly for your injuries and any other damage, you can appeal to the claims supervisor. If that fails to work, you can open a civil case in a court of law.
Is There an Average Settlement for an Accident?
Calculating the amount of damages and determining fault is a complicated process and there is no set rule for an average settlement. The most common damages that are awarded, though, include:
- Car replacement or repair costs
- Medical expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of income
If you are found to be at fault for the accident, the state applies the “pure comparative negligence” a standard that allows people a way to recover damages even if they were the cause of their own injuries. Something that is worth mentioning is that the amount of damages will be reduced in proportion to the amount of your negligence.
St. Louis, M.O. Car Accident Claims and Statute of Limitations
If you and your car accident attorneys wish to file a lawsuit for the accident, you have certain time period from the date of the crash to file a claim for both property damage and personal injury. Once the that time period is up, you will not be allowed to bring a lawsuit. There are different time limits for different kinds of cases in Missouri, though, so you must ensure that you do have enough time to prepare the case just in case a dispute arises during the settlement proceedings.
What Are the Steps Involved in a Car Accident Claim Lawsuit?
It must be noted that there is a difference between a lawsuit and filing a claim when seeking compensation for a St. Louis car accident. A claim involves asking for financial compensation for property damages and medical damages from the driver who caused the accident. During a claim process, your car accident lawyer will determine how much insurance coverage is available and will negotiate a fair settlement for you.
However, many car accident lawyers will not simply settle for a payment that does not fairly represent the damages that you suffered. If your attorney cannot reach a compromise that you and they feel to be in your best possible interest, you may want to file a lawsuit. Contrary to a claim, a lawsuit tends to involve evidence being brought before a third party that is to make the final decision as to who is at fault for the car accident, and the amount of compensation you should be awarded.
Either party is allowed to file a motion to have the claim heard before a civil court. A court date will be set, and you and the other side can decide if you want just a judge or a jury trial.
The Discovery Process
During the discovery process, both parties will have to ensure that they are sharing all the necessary evidence with one another. Typically, your car accident attorney will deal with the discovery phase. If any documentation is not presented in a reasonable amount of time before the trial begins, it may not be presented as evidence at the trial. This helps to protect both parties and gives enough time to investigate all the evidence that will be presented.
Reaching a Resolution
Once all the evidence regarding your car accident in St. Louis, Missouri, has been presented and witness testimonies have been heard, the jury or judge will decide whose fault the accident was. If the court agrees that it was the other driver’s fault, they will determine how much the other person’s insurance provider ought to pay you.
In the state of Missouri, comparative negligence is allowed. This is when the judge or jury can see where both you and the other driver were responsible for the accident. In such an instance, a percentage of fault is assigned to you, and a percentage is applied to the compensation.
A jury trial can be daunting to navigate and is something both parties may to try and avoid. While comparative negligence may sound scary, the term, and possibility of, punitive damages is scary to the defense. Punitive damages are usually applied by a jury when they decide that the other driver was grossly reckless and these kinds of awards may cost the other driver and his or her insurance company up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Should You Hire Car Accident Attorneys?
It is important to seek expert assistance from a lawyer if you have been involved in a car accident in St. Louis, Missouri. You should do this before you even speak with another insurance company that may try to obtain your recorded statement and use it against you. Insurance claims adjusters are trained to force you to give a statement that could prove detrimental to your claim.
While you may be diligent in paying your monthly insurance premium, the insurance company does not represent you. Instead, they represent the company’s shareholders, and it is their job to make a profit by collecting your premiums and paying out as minimal an amount as possible to you or other drivers. It is for this reason that insurance providers employ claims adjusters and a team of lawyers and investigators. The role of each person is to ensure the company does not have to pay any more than is absolutely necessary, and even less if they can.
Studies have reported that people who have been injured in a car accident who hire a knowledgeable car accident lawyer to handle their claim tend to walk away with more compensation than those injury victims who try to reach a settlement with the insurance companies on their own.
What Can You Expect from Your Car Accident Lawyers in St. Louis, Missouri?
Even if you have never needed the help of an attorney before your accident, you may well need one now. But, you need to know what to expect from your lawyer. For example, you may want to know if the lawyer will return your calls, whether or not they will arrive on time for appointments or regularly cancel appointments, whether or not your information remains confidential, and how he or she researches the law and how much experience he or she has with car accident claims.
These are essential traits to you and your case, and you want to ensure that the lawyer you choose will get you and your family fair and just compensation for your accident.
There are a number of things an attorney can do for you if you have been involved in a car accident, too, such as:
- Your own insurance company may try to settle the case for you, but for the lowest amount possible. A knowledgeable car accident attorney in Missouri will understand the true value of your claim and will be able to advise you on whether or not to settle or fight for the compensation you deserve.
- Insurance companies have their own teams of lawyers who work towards limiting an injury victim’s financial recovery and even search for loopholes in an attempt to not pay you anything whatsoever. Your lawyer acts are your legal advocate and is dedicated to protecting your financial interests. Having a seasoned legal rep on your side helps to level out the playing field, and he or she will represent you to seek fair financial compensation.
- The insurance companies tend to try and settle a car accident case as soon as possible, before all your expenses may even be known. An expert personal injury attorney who has experience with car accident claims understands that your serious injuries may well have consequences long after the accident occurs and will advise you not to settle too early on.
Overall, an experienced attorney will deal with your car accident in St. Louis, M.O. by honoring commitments, arriving on time for appointments, treating you with respect, and taking and returning calls.
If you or someone from your family has been injured in a car crash, you need to be confident that your legal team will do everything they can to win the case and get you the proper financial compensation you deserve. You will want an experienced and confident lawyer who use a mixture of personal service, client services, and case management technology for each client.
Contact Car Accident Attorneys in St. Louis, Missouri Today
The law is complex, and legal provisions continue to change. To remain on top of any changes, and to help you through the legal process, the team at Walton Telken has a focused practice and is dedicated to handling your car crash claims. We can provide you with legal information pertinent to your case and necessary guidance when it comes to the value of your claim and the limitations and strengths of your case.
While our attorneys strive for resolution of such claims through settlement negotiations, we will pursue your case in court if we need to, to ensure you get a fair financial award. We know how upsetting a car accident can be and how anxious you are to put it all behind you, which is why we will fight to get you the money you need to pay off your medical bills and move on with your life. Call one of our attorneys today to get your car accident claim started and, ultimately, resolved.