For most of us, cars and automobiles are an average part of everyday life, and we tend to take every uneventful trip for granted. When an accident happens, the consequences can be life-changing, and they may result in serious injury or even death.
If you are involved in an auto accident, it is important that you are able to access the support you require and deserve. Here at Grafe & Batchelor, P.C., we are personal injury attorneys who have the skills and experience you need to take your case all the way to the top.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved In An Auto Accident?
Missouri law states that it is a legal requirement to report an auto accident in almost all situations. There are two examples where reporting is a must, and these are:
- Any accident which results in an injury, fatality, or property damage in excess of $500
- Any accident with an uninsured driver, whether this occurs in a street, highway, or a parking lot. In the event that the uninsured driver is found to be at fault, they will be found liable for two offences: negligence, causing injuries to the other party, and also driving without insurance
- Any accident involving a parked car – the owner is required to report if the accident results in injury, fatality, or property damage over $500
An accident will need to be reported to the Missouri Department of Revenue within 30 days of the incident – this allows for the driver to be injured or unavailable at the time of the accident. In the event that a police officer is not present at the scene, the driver reporting the incident should visit the nearest police station. A skilled car accident lawyer can help you determine the correct steps.
Can I File A Lawsuit If I Am Involved In An Auto Accident?
In many cases, you will find most of your costs and expenses covered by your insurance, and in a best case scenario, you will not need to pursue legal action. In some cases, however, the insurance company may refuse to pay out, or the sum offered may be inadequate to meet your medical and ongoing financial requirements. Here is where a lawsuit can come in handy.
If you are involved in an auto accident and the other driver can be proven to be at fault, you will be able to claim damages and compensation. In order to qualify, it must be proven that the actions of the other driver were negligent, and that this negligence directly caused your injuries.
What Are The Statute Of Limitations For Auto Accidents?
For auto accidents in Missouri, you have five years from the date of the incident to file your case. In the event that you are pursuing a wrongful death claim against the driver deemed to be at fault, there is a three-year deadline which starts from the date of the accident.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Missouri operates under the principle of comparative negligence. If you are found to have played some part in your accident, the amount of damages you will receive after an auto accident will be reduced by the same percentage that you are considered to be at fault. This factor is important when it comes to determining settlements.
As an example, a judge may rule that your injuries entitle you to $100,000 compensation. At the same time, however, you are judged to have been 10% responsible for the accident through your own actions. If this is the case, your total amount of damages will be reduced by 10%.
Comparative fault applies even if you bear a higher level of responsibility than the other driver involved in the accident.
What Is Considered A Total Loss?
In order for your vehicle to be deemed a total loss, one clear concept must be met: the cost to fix any damages must exceed the value of the car itself – the ‘Actual Cash Value’ or ACV. Insurers will use a simple formula – the Total Loss Threshold. This consists of the Total Loss Ratio (the cost of any repairs/actual cash value) plus the Salvage Value. If both of these figures combined exceed the actual cash value of the vehicle, and the loss ratio exceeds the established state percentage = 80% for Missouri – it is considered to be a total loss.
How Is A Fair Settlement Decided In A Total Loss Car Accident?
One of the most common issues faced by motorists is insurance companies undervaluing their car. This can reduce the payout which is offered and can leave vehicle owners in a difficult situation, where their car is written off, but the amount offered is insufficient for repairs.
This is where qualified, experienced legal advice can be very useful. Determining whether your car qualifies as a ‘total loss’ according to the legal definition can have a significant impact on the cash you receive, so it is crucial that you are able to access a fair, accurate valuation and settlement.
How Can Grafe & Batchelor, P.C., Help?
Here at Grafe & Batchelor, P.C., we want to help make sure that you receive a settlement which is fair, just, and accurate. Relying on your insurance company is unwise; you will need the legal touch to really succeed. Our team of attorneys have extensive experience in helping victims across Missouri to file their personal injury and auto accident claims, and receive the justice they deserve – and the settlement they are truly owed. We have the skills and experience to help you succeed, so get in touch today to see how we could help you take action.