Is Missouri a No-Fault State?

Every state requires most of its drivers to purchase automobile insurance in case of a car accident, alternate legal systems are available depending on the state you live in. Some states apply a no-fault system for auto insurance. Most states, however, apply an at-fault auto insurance system. Missouri, it just so happens, is an at-fault state. There are pros and cons to both systems.

No-Fault vs. At-Fault Auto Insurance Systems

In a no-fault state, you are expected to look to your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy to pay for your medical expenses and lost earnings arising from a car accident. 

As the name implies, it doesn’t matter whose fault the accident was. In most cases, you cannot sue the at-fault driver, and you cannot demand non-economic damages. 

If your injuries are serious enough to cross a certain legal threshold, however, you can exit the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver.

Missouri is different. In Missouri, you can sue the at-fault driver without crossing any legal threshold for injury. You probably don’t want to do that, however. Instead, you should file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. You would then negotiate a settlement with the liability insurance company. If they refuse to cooperate, you could file a lawsuit seeking both economic damages and non-economic damages.

Missouri Auto Insurance Requirements

Missouri requires everyone with an automobile registered in Missouri to purchase the following mandatory minimum liability insurance.

  • $25,000 per person for physical injuries;
  • $50,000 per accident for physical injuries (no matter how many accident victims); and
  • $25,000 for property damage.

If total personal injury liability for the accident exceeds $50,000, injured parties will receive less than $25,000 each. Remember that despite this law, more than 15% of Missouri drivers are uninsured. Even that statistic doesn’t count out-of-state drivers whose home states impose different mandatory insurance requirements.

Third-Party Insurance Claims

Missouri mandatory auto accident liability insurance does not cover the purchaser’s own losses from an accident. Instead, it covers losses to other people if the accident was the fault of the insured party. 

You file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company in a third-party insurance claim. This will enable you to receive compensation since the insurance company promised the at-fault driver that they would pay any claim that arises from their negligence or culpable conduct.

Non-Economic Damages

Unlike no-fault states, Missouri allows injured parties to claim non-economic damages immediately, to the extent that the accident was not their fault. Non-economic damages include components such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and disfigurement. 

Non-economic damages often exceed the amount awarded for economic damages. Remember that drivers in no-fault states cannot seek non-economic damages unless their injuries are serious enough to cross a certain legal threshold.

Comparative Negligence

In real life, an accident is rarely Driver A’s fault or Driver B’s fault. In most cases, there is enough blame to go around. One driver might be primarily responsible for the accident, but the other driver might also bear a certain amount of blame. 

Missouri handles this situation by distributing liability among the parties in direct proportion to their percentage of fault. In a trial, the court decides each party’s percentage of fault. During settlement negotiations, the parties agree on the percentage of fault to be borne by each party. This agreement will reflect the percentage of fault that the parties believe a trial court would assign.

Contact a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer

If you have suffered a car accident that caused you a personal injury, you might consider contacting a St. Louis personal injury lawyer to help you resolve your claim. In some cases, contacting a lawyer is not necessary. If your losses are significant, however, you could lose a lot by failing to hire a lawyer. 

Most personal injury lawyers will not charge you legal fees unless they win your case. If they win or settle your claim, their fees will amount to a percentage of the compensation they secure for you.

For more information, please contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.

St. Louis Office
1430 Washington Ave Suite #226 St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 400-0000

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1509 NE Parvin Rd, Suite A., Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 408-3448

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