When accidents happen, it’s not always easy to determine who is entirely at fault. In many personal injury cases, there is shared responsibility among the parties involved. Missouri follows a legal principle known as “comparative negligence” to address these situations. Understanding how comparative negligence works is essential, especially if you’re considering pursuing a personal injury claim in St. Louis. In this guide, we’ll explore comparative negligence in Missouri and the role of a St. Louis personal injury lawyer in these cases.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a legal concept used in personal injury cases to allocate fault and determine compensation when more than one party is responsible for an accident. The key idea is that each party involved in the incident can be assigned a percentage of the blame based on their actions or negligence.
Missouri follows a pure comparative negligence system, which means that even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you can still seek compensation for your injuries. Your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.
How Does Comparative Negligence Work in Missouri?
To better understand how comparative negligence works in Missouri, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario:
Imagine you’re in a car accident in St. Louis. While you were obeying all traffic rules and driving at the speed limit, the other driver ran a red light and crashed into your vehicle. However, during the investigation, it’s determined that you were talking on your cell phone at the time of the accident, which contributed to your inability to avoid the collision.
In this case, the court or insurance adjusters may assign a percentage of fault to each party involved. For example, they might find that the other driver is 70% at fault for running the red light, while you are 30% at fault for using your cell phone while driving.
Now, let’s say your total damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, amount to $100,000. Due to your 30% comparative negligence, your recovery will be reduced by that percentage. Therefore, you can still seek compensation, but you will receive $70,000 (70% of $100,000) rather than the full amount.
The Role of a St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer in Comparative Negligence Cases
In personal injury cases involving comparative negligence, the expertise of a St. Louis personal injury lawyer is invaluable. Here’s how an attorney can assist you:
- Evidence Collection: Your attorney will gather and present evidence to support your claim and establish the fault of the other party. This may include accident reports, witness statements, and expert testimony to demonstrate the other party’s negligence.
- Negotiations: Personal injury lawyers negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies. They will advocate for a fair settlement that considers the other party’s fault and maximizes your compensation.
- Assessment of Damages: An experienced attorney will assess the full extent of your damages, ensuring that all losses, both economic and non-economic, are included in your claim.
- Evidence of Your Conduct: Your lawyer will work to minimize the percentage of fault attributed to you by presenting evidence that you acted reasonably and did not significantly contribute to the accident.
- Litigation Support: If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will represent you in court. They will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve.
Common Scenarios for Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence can apply to various personal injury cases, including:
- Car accidents, where both drivers may share blame for a collision.
- Slip and fall accidents, where the injured party might have been partially responsible for the accident.
- Medical malpractice cases, where the patient’s actions or non-compliance may have contributed to the injury.
- Product liability cases, where improper use of a product might be a factor in the injury.
Challenges with Comparative Negligence
While comparative negligence allows you to seek compensation even if you share some fault for an accident, it can also present challenges:
- Determining Fault: Establishing the exact percentage of fault for each party involved can be a contentious process.
- Reduced Compensation: Your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you, which can significantly impact the amount you receive.
- Insurance Adjuster Tactics: Insurance companies may use comparative negligence to minimize their payout by assigning a higher percentage of fault to you.
Understanding comparative negligence in Missouri is essential if you’re involved in a personal injury case. It’s a legal principle that allows you to seek compensation even if you share some responsibility for an accident. With the assistance of a St. Louis personal injury lawyer, you can navigate the complexities of comparative negligence, present a strong case, and maximize your compensation while ensuring your rights are protected. If you’ve been injured in St. Louis and have questions about comparative negligence, don’t hesitate to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you seek the compensation you deserve.