You’ve been in an auto accident, and the other driver was clearly at-fault for the wreck – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be 100% responsible for your losses.
When assigning legal and financial responsibility for an accident and subsequent losses, Missouri uses a pure comparative negligence system. If you have a potential claim after a car wreck in this state, it’s important to understand what that means.
How does pure comparative negligence work?
Essentially, the law has to consider all of the circumstances surrounding an accident and decide how the liability for any damages should be split between the parties involved. In a pure comparative negligence system, each party has to cover their fair share of the losses – including the defendant.
In practical terms, that means that if you are entirely blameless for the wreck and your subsequent injuries, then you could receive 100% of any damages you’re awarded. However, imagine that the court determines that your injuries wouldn’t have been so severe if you hadn’t been driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. You’re assigned 30% of the fault for the accident and the other party is responsible for 70%. If your losses were $100,000, you’d only receive $70,000 in compensation.
Insurance companies are hoping you’ll say something they can use against you
The insurance industry is always looking for a way to shift some of the liability for a victim’s injuries back onto that victim’s shoulders – no matter how clearly their client is to blame for a crash. That’s why it’s generally wise not to speak to an insurance company adjuster after a car wreck until you fully understand your legal rights. You don’t want an innocent comment turned against you.