Litigating Multi-Vehicle Accidents in Missouri
Generally, victims of car accidents can claim compensation for personal injury and property damage from their insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance company by filing a direct third-party insurance claim.
These options work best in simple accident cases where it is easy to identify who is at fault. Where multiple drivers are involved, the victim may need to forego these options and file a personal injury lawsuit against all those involved. In their wisdom, the courts would assess the case and determine liability from among those involved.
Multiple vehicle accidents are severe and often lead to death. But by Missouri law, the right to file an action in court does not die with the victim. In such cases, the victim’s family/personal representative may begin and participate in the litigation process in their place.
How Fault Is Determined During the Litigation Process
Missouri is an “at-fault” state. This means that for accident and other negligence-related cases, the party determined to be at fault is responsible for compensating the victim.
The judge or jury determines fault in car accident cases after evaluating the available evidence submitted by the parties (such as police reports). They assign a percentage of fault (usually a fraction of 100 percent) to each party.
As we shall see shortly, the assessment of fault is important in determining the amount of compensation you can get. Hence, you must furnish the court with documents and call witnesses that establish your claim and show that you were not responsible for the accident to help them decide in your favor.
If you’re unsure about the kind of evidence you need here, seek legal counsel from an auto accident lawyer in Joplin, MO, or a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer who understands the kind of evidence that the courts usually rely on.
The Assessment of Damages
In motor vehicle accident lawsuits, plaintiffs typically ask the court to award them money that covers their economic and non-economic losses. This amount is also known as damages. Most of the time, they would need to provide evidence that they are entitled to the amount claimed.
Economic damages are easy to establish since they cover verifiable financial losses such as the cost of your medical treatment, lost wages, or vehicle repair. You must provide the court with proof of your expenses, such as payment receipts, to substantiate your claim.
Establishing a claim for non-economic damages to cover pain, suffering, and emotional distress is trickier. This is because it is difficult to measure human pain and emotions. Such issues are determined based on the court’s discretion. All you can do is provide sufficient evidence and arguments to help the court decide in your favor.
Personal injury attorneys understand the kinds of evidence and legal arguments that could convince the judge to decide in your favor. Consider getting a skilled personal injury lawyer to represent you and argue your case in court.
Missouri’s Pure Comparative Negligence Principle: How It Affects Damages Awarded by the Court
By Missouri comparative negligence laws, the compensation you’re awarded at the end of your lawsuit depends on the percentage of fault assessed against the defendant(s) and the amount of damage you’re assessed to have suffered.
If you were allocated 20% of the fault, you would only be entitled to 80% of the value of your assessed damages.
Since your case involves multiple vehicles, you’ll likely have multiple defendants. In such cases, any defendant assigned at least 51% of fault is liable to pay the entire judgment sum alone or with the other defendants. If they fail to pay you, you can take steps to execute the judgment against them or their property.
But a defendant with less than 51% blame is only liable for that percentage of the total amount awarded.
What if Some of the Parties Involved in the Multiple Vehicle Accident Are Not Residents of Missouri?
If some or all those involved in the accident in which you were injured do not live in Missouri, do not worry. By using Missouri’s highways, they have agreed to be subject to the jurisdiction of Missouri courts. You can still file your lawsuit against them here in Missouri.
But try to get their contact information at the accident scene or from the police if necessary, so they can be notified once you’ve filed your claim.
Got Further Questions About Litigating Multi-Vehicle Accidents? Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at the Law Firm of Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien
At Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, we have many years of experience litigating vehicle accident lawsuits and helping our clients succeed with their claims.
With our extensive skills and knowledge of the relevant laws, we can help you file and prove your claim in court and offer sound legal arguments to help you get the maximum compensation possible.
Feel free to reach out to us and schedule a free consultation to discuss any concerns you might have about the personal injury litigation process. We are here to help you find answers and begin recovering your losses.