573-458-5200 573-458-5200

Auto Accidents FAQ

In the most general terms, filing a claim after an injury accident involves notice to the appropriate insurance companies of the accident, medical treatment to determine the extent of the injuries and whether they are permanent, determination of whether the injuries will effect vocational or other pursuits, and presentation of all the materials to the applicable insurance carrier or defendant (such as a corporation).
Different cases will have unique liability or damage facts that may alter the claim process significantly. Injured parties are encouraged to talk with an attorney before taking any action, because execution of various documents during the claim process, if not fully understood, can adversely impact resolution of the claim.
If the claim is not resolved, the only remaining option is to file suit within the statute of limitations, and present the claim to a jury at trial.
Missouri has very few no-fault insurance provisions applicable to auto accidents. As a general rule, auto insurance policies provisions, for the most part, require another driver to be found to be legally liable to pay damages before liability, uninsured motorist, or underinsured motorist coverage will apply. However, there are a few exceptions.
One common exception is Medical Payments Coverage, which will often make payment for medical bills arising from the ownership, use or maintenance of an automobile without regard to fault or liability. Another common exception is health insurance, which should pay for any treatment you receive, regardless of cause.
While all drivers are required by Missouri law to carry liability insurance, unfortunately not everyone complies.
In essence, uninsured motorist coverage amounts to purchasing a policy for the other drivers -- just in case they fail to buy their own liability insurance policy.
If the negligent driver who caused your injuries can be proven to have no insurance (there is a statutory procedure that must be followed), then your own uninsured motorist coverage will pay any damages the uninsured driver is found legally responsible to pay.
All automobile policies of insurance are required to have at least a minimum uninsured motorist component as part of the policy, and in Missouri this coverage cannot be waived.
The Missouri Workers Compensation Law sets out the process of filing a claim for work-place injury by giving notice to the employer, and then to the Central Reporting Office of the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Division of Workers Compensation.
However, if an injury occurs on the job because of the actions of a third-party, such as the manufacturer of a defective tool or a negligent driver, it may be possible that a separate independent claim against the third party may exist – separate and apart from a Workers Compensation claim.
Workers who are injured are encouraged to consult with an attorney to determine if any third party claim should be filed and, if so, how the claims can be co-managed simultaneously so that a third party liability claim does not adversely affect the Worker's Compensation claim, or vice-versa.
There is no particular time period in which to file a claim with an opposing driver's insurance company after an injury accident. The most important period is that any law suit must be on file within the applicable statute of limitations or it will be time-barred and cannot thereafter be brought. That said, prompt reporting of the accident may help lay the groundwork for a formal claim to be filed later after all medical treatment is completed.
Any claims made as the result of an injury accident that are made to your health insurance carrier, your employer (if you were on the job at the time) or your own auto carrier for medical payments coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or underinsured motorist coverage need to be made promptly to avoid the potential loss of coverage.
Injured motorists are encouraged to consult with an attorney about communication with various insurance carriers to make sure communications are accurate and timely.
While this is a common question, there is no good answer. Every case is different.
First, no reasonable effort to resolve a case for legitimate value can be made until the injured person has reached maximum medical improvement, and all their damages (including permanent injuries) can be evaluated and understood.
Second, production of a complete demand, evaluation by the carrier, and the pre-litigation negotiation process take time.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, there is no requirement that the insurance carrier for the negligent driver settle with anyone in Missouri. Payment by a third-party insurance carrier is not mandatory until its insured driver has been found legally liable to make payment after trial.
While many cases will settle by agreement, the insurance carrier (or the negligent driver in some instances) can demand a trial before payment is mandatory.
The entire process can be complex, and injured motorists are encouraged to consult with an attorney about the process -- and consider hiring counsel to prosecute the claim instead of doing it themselves. If a pre-litigation claim is not managed with future litigation as a consideration, mistakes by individuals in the claim process can adversely affect an attorney's effectiveness in any later litigation.
Each case is different. In the most general of terms, filing a claim after an injury accident involves giving notice of the claim to the other driver and the appropriate insurance companies. Before any meaningful action on the claim can take place, medical treatment must be completed, the extent of the injuries (and whether they are permanent) determined, and evaluation completed about whether the injuries will affect vocational or other pursuits.
Only after all the information is gathered can the claim can be evaluated and a complete demand package (containing the relevant materials) given to the applicable insurance carriers or to the defendant (such as a corporation), or both.
Different cases will have unique liability or damage facts that may alter the claim process significantly.
Injured parties are encouraged to talk with an attorney before taking any action, because execution of various documents during the claim process, if not fully understood, can adversely impact resolution of the claim. Further, injured motorists are encouraged to consider hiring counsel to prosecute the claim, instead of doing it themselves. If a pre-litigation claim is not managed with future litigation as a consideration, mistakes by individuals in the claim process can adversely affect the attorney's effectiveness in any later litigation.
If the claim is not resolved, the only remaining option is to file suit within the statute of limitations and present the case to a jury at trial.
The process is really no different than a case requiring non-surgical medical treatment. The first goal is to heal completely and, if that is not possible, then to undergo whatever medical treatment will allow you to reach maximum medical improvement.
Once maximum medical improvement is reached, the long-term effect of permanent injuries can be assessed, a determination made as to whether the injuries will affect vocational or other pursuits, and a demand package prepared to present to the appropriate responsible parties and insurance carriers.
It is not uncommon for people requiring current surgical correction of an injury to face additional surgical revisions or other treatments in the future.
As a general rule, if you are in an injury accident that is not your fault, the collision is not considered "chargeable" to you and it most likely will not affect your automobile insurance rates.
On the other hand, if you are in an auto accident that is partially or completely your fault, it may affect your automobile insurance rates because it affects the way the underwriters evaluate you as a future risk.
In the worst case, if the underwriters determine that your future risk is unacceptably high, the carrier could refuse to insure you in the future – but that is not a common occurrence following a single accident.
Most insurance companies will sell Underinsured Motorist coverage. These provide coverage, under your own policy, to supplement the coverage for an at-fault driver who did not purchase enough liability coverage to pay your damages.
Generally, the other driver's insurance company does not have to pay your medical bills until the other driver is found legally liable to you -- meaning after a trial. That said, occasionally the other driver's insurance company will pay your medical bills, but it is a fairly uncommon occurrence.
Instead, you can have all your medical bills paid by your health insurance or, if the collision occurs at work, your employer’s Workers Compensation coverage may pay for your medical treatment.
Generally, Missouri does not allow insurance companies to have a right of reimbursement (or subrogation) in personal injury cases. However, there are a number of exceptions, including Medicare, Medicaid, military health benefits, and some (not all) group health insurance plans qualified under the federal E.R.I.S.A. statutes. Each case will be different.
While a common question, the answer simply is that each case is different and there is no way to evaluate any claim without complete information.
Liability of the parties, and comparative fault issues, must be considered. The extent of medical treatment and whether the injuries are permanent must be evaluated. Whether the injuries will affect future work capacity, or require future medical treatments. must also be considered. Even the trends of jury verdicts in different jurisdictions must be considered.
Only when all the information is gathered can the case be evaluated for a pre-litigation settlement attempt.
In the end, if the claim cannot be settled and litigation is required, the jury determines what the case is worth based on the evidence presented at trial.
If you are in a motor vehicle accident, do not leave the scene. Leaving the scene may be a crime. Even if the collision is minor, call the police to document what happened and the extent of any damage.
If anyone appears injured, immediately call for an ambulance. Do not move injured people if it can be avoided, since moving them may worsen their injuries. Let medical professionals decide how and when to move injured people
Unless the collision is very minor, traffic safety is a concern, and you are in a jurisdiction that asks vehicles to be moved, do not move vehicles if it can be avoided. Otherwise, let the police decide when and how vehicles are to be moved. If there are questions about how a collision occurred, measurements taken by the police can be used to reconstruct the accident later.
If you have a camera and can safely take pictures of the vehicles and the scene, it might be a good idea.
Make a note of the license number of any vehicles and, if there are any witnesses, ask for their names and contact information.
While law enforcement and medical cooperation is important, talking to insurance adjusters or other non-law enforcement/non-medical personnel while you are still at an accident scene is not a good idea. Take time to collect your thoughts, and consider consulting with an attorney.
Go to the doctor and get checked out, even if you think you were not injured. Injuries are not always noticed at an accident scene.
You will likely need to report the collision to your insurance carrier, and they may want to take a statement from you.
Consider consulting with an attorney promptly after an accident. Even if the accident was not your fault, attorneys can help you navigate through complex insurance policies, health insurance claims, and other details that often overwhelm accident victims. You should consider putting off giving a statement to any insurance carriers until you can consult with an attorney.
If your actions in any way contributed to the accident, an attorney can help you protect yourself as well.
If you are in an accident with a truck, you need to take all the same steps that you would take in any other motor vehicle collision. In addition, given the complexities of United States and Missouri Department of Transportation licensing and insurance issues surrounding trucking companies, consulting with an attorney before taking any action is important.You should certainly consider giving immediate notice to your carrier, even if the other driver is at fault. Your insurance policy almost certainly has a provision requiring you to give prompt notice of a collision to your insurance company. Failure to give your insurance company prompt notice could prejudice your carrier's ability to process any claim, and might cause you to lose some of your insurance coverage.
For example, if the other driver's insurance carrier won’t pay all your property damage claims, or the other driver has insufficient liability coverage to pay your damages in the long run but you have underinsured motorist coverage, or you have medical bills and carry medical payments coverage --- your own coverage could be lost if you do not give prompt notice to your insurance carrier.
If you are in a collision, it is a good idea to immediately have an attorney review your insurance policy provisions and advise you about the actions you are required to take.
Yes. Go to the doctor promptly, just to get checked out if nothing else. When a collision occurs the people involved often have a huge adrenalin boost and they will feel fine --- only to have symptoms come on later when the adrenalin levels return to normal. Being checked by a doctor is a good idea.
Also, it is not uncommon for there to be a short delay in the on-set of symptoms. Symptoms can arise days after a collision.
Finally, it is not uncommon for people to be very stiff and sore for 7-10 days after a collision. If symptoms remain after two weeks, those may be signs of something more serious which should be treated.
The critical feature about going to the doctor is to record your symptoms and treatment. It will be impossible to remember the details later, and timely medical treatment is the best way to record the details.

This is a difficult question for which there is no good answer. The police will want to know what happened so they can write an accident report, and will talk to all parties and witnesses. Refusing to talk to the police may raise a "red flag" in their investigation and cause them to wonder why you are refusing to tell your side of the story.
Talking to the police is an important opportunity to describe what happened and tell your side of the collision -- but it will be recorded and will be used against you if you are cited for a traffic violation. If you decide to talk to the police, it is critical they accurately record your version of events, and so you may want to ask to put your description in writing to ensure everything is accurately recorded.
That said, if your conduct involved significant criminal behavior (in which case you need to talk to a criminal attorney first), telling the police your side of the story may prove to be a mistake because you will be criminally prosecuted with your own statements. For example, even a traffic violation, if it results in a death, can result in very serious criminal charges being filed against you.
If you have been injured in a collision, you may want to consider asking the police to give your statement later after medical treatment is completed and you are no longer distracted by pain.
If at any time you are not comfortable talking with the police, or have any questions, simply tell them you don't understand all the ramifications of talking to them, and ask for time to consult an attorney about whether you should give a statement or not.
In the eyes of the law, “fault” can arise when someone was "negligent" by failing to follow the appropriate standard of care. In automobile cases, by statute every driver is required to use the “highest degree of care” while on public roads (private property cases are different).
The “highest degree of care” requires, among other considerations, that each driver follow the rules of the road set out by Missouri traffic statutes.
Missouri is a "comparative fault" state. The person at "fault" in any collision could be any of the drivers involved whose actions either caused the collision, or contributed to cause the collision. It is not necessary that one driver be the sole cause of a collision. Many times more than one factor, and more than one act of negligence by more than one driver, all contributed to cause a collision.
The jury will evaluate whose actions contributed to cause a collision, and will assign a percentage of “fault” to all parties.
All drivers are required by Missouri law to carry liability insurance, but not everyone complies with the law. If the other driver who caused your injuries can be proven to have no insurance (there is a statutory procedure that must be followed), then your "uninsured motorist coverage” in your own insurance policy will pay any damages the uninsured driver is found to be legally responsible to pay.
In essence, “uninsured motorist coverage” amounts to you purchasing a policy for the other drivers -- just in case they fail to buy their own policy.

All automobile policies of insurance are required to have at least a minimum uninsured motorist component as part of the policy, and in Missouri this coverage cannot be waived.
If the other driver who caused the accident was truly non-negligent, and had no way to know of the existence of a defective part in their car (called a latent defect), and the defective part suddenly failed without warning, obtaining a judgment against the other driver may be a challenge under Missouri law.
However, many parts give some sort of warning before failing and, if the other driver should have known something was wrong (perhaps the steering or brakes were behaving oddly or making a strange noise), and continued driving the car anyway, their negligence in driving a potentially defective car may be the cause of the collision.
As a general rule, since you did not purchase the part for the other driver, you are not considered to be "in contractual privity" with the seller and bringing a claim against the provider of the defective part may be challenging as well.

FAQs are presented by Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, PC as a public information service only.  None of the information contained herein is intended to be taken as legal advice.  Each matter depends on unique facts which attorneys must consider in forming an opinion, and may depend on laws unique to a particular jurisdiction.  No two cases are the same.  If you want to know more about this subject, contact Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, PC, or the attorney of your choice, and seek a formal opinion about your particular case.

  
/*Disable Link */