Columbia Car Accident Lawyer
We Represent Crash Victims Throughout Boone County and Central Missouri
Each year over 1,000 people die in car accidents throughout Missouri. Tens of thousands more suffer serious and often life-altering injuries from the car crash. Most of these accidents were the result of negligence, i.e., a driver’s failure to obey the rules of the road and operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner.
If this sounds like the type of accident you or someone that you love has been involved in, Missouri law entitles you to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and other damages through a personal injury claim. The Missouri car accident lawyers at Call & Gentry Law Group, LLC, located in Jefferson City, can advise you of your rights and represent you in taking legal action. Call us today at (573) 644-6090 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
Proving Negligence Through the Personal Injury Claims for a Missouri Car Accident
In some states, an auto accident victim must first seek compensation from their own auto insurance carrier before they can pursue legal action against a negligent driver. Missouri is not one of those states. We are what is known as a “fault-based” state. Put simply, if a negligent driver hits you, then they can be held financially responsible for any losses that you suffer.
And sadly, there are a number of ways in which driver negligence can cause a serious accident. Some of the more common examples of negligence that our experienced car accident attorneys deal with at include:
- Drunk Driving: We all know–or at least should know–the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Yet we continue to see drivers ignore the risks and get behind the wheel when they know they are impaired.
- Distracted Driving: Although drunk driving accidents tend to get the most public attention, it is actually distracted driving that plays a role in more car accidents in Central Missouri. A driver who diverts their attention from the road for any reason–fiddling with their car’s settings, talking on the phone, et cetera–is far more likely to get into an otherwise preventable crash.
- Speeding: The faster a car goes, the less time the driver has to react to sudden changes in road conditions, such as avoiding another vehicle.
- Tailgating: Rear-end accidents are almost always the result of the rear driver following the vehicle in front of them too closely, i.e., without leaving a sufficient stopping distance.
- Ignoring Traffic Signs: Running a red light or stop sign without stopping is one of the most common ways of causing a potentially deadly collision in an intersection.
- Ignoring Weather Conditions: Far too many drivers fail to adjust to operating their vehicles under less-than-ideal conditions, such as driving in low-light or bad weather.
- Aggressive Driving: In general, if a driver is committing unprovoked attacks on other drivers–failing to yield the right of way, not signaling their turns, erratically changing lanes–that aggressive driving can add up to negligence in the event of a car accident.
Negligence in car crashes other than the driver:
In addition to looking at driver negligence, there are many central Missouri car accidents that result from negligence on the part of a third party, such as a vehicle manufacturer or a government agency responsible for maintaining the roads. For example, if you are injured in an accident due to a manufacturing or design defect in your vehicle, you can sue the manufacturer under Missouri product liability laws. Similarly, if your accident was the result of a pothole or a defective road surface, you may be entitled to compensation from a local government or the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Regardless of the defendant, however, the accident victim always has the legal burden of proving negligence. Under Missouri law, negligence requires proof of all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, such as a duty to obey the traffic laws;
- The defendant breached the duty of care;
- The breach of duty injured the plaintiff;
- The plaintiff’s injuries were the natural and probable result of the defendant’s breach; and
- The plaintiff sustained actual damages.
It is important to understand, however, that negligence can work both ways in a car accident settlement of lawsuit. That is, the other driver can argue that you were partly or completely at-fault for the accident. Like most states, Missouri follows a “comparative fault” rule in personal injury cases. This means that a judge or jury will assess the relative fault of all parties involved in a car wreck. Your award of damages will then be reduced in proportion to your comparative fault. Since Missouri is a “pure” comparative fault state, however, you may still recover some compensation even if you were found mostly at-fault.
What Damages Can I Seek in a Missouri Car Accident Lawsuit?
In Missouri personal injury law, we use the term “damages” to describe an accident victim’s losses arising from a defendant’s negligence. When it comes to a car accident, you can seek both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are meant to compensate you for out-of-pocket losses that are relatively easy to quantify in terms of dollars. Some common example of economic damages include:
- Medical Bills: Your economic damages include all of the costs of receiving medical care for your accident-related serious injury or injuries, such as doctor’s bills, ambulance fees, prescription drugs, therapy and rehabilitation, medical equipment, and psychiatric care.
- Future Medical Expenses: In serious car accident cases, you may require long-term care, perhaps for the rest of your life. For this reason, your claim for economic damages can include a reasonable estimate of your future medical expenses.
Lost Wages: If you were forced to miss time from your job while recovering from a car accident, your economic damages include any loss of income. As with medical expenses, you can also seek compensation for estimated future earnings if the accident has left you with a partial or total disability that will affect your long-term career prospects.
- Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Essentially, any expense you incur as a result of a car accident is part of your economic damages. For example, if you need to hire a housekeeper while you recuperate from your accident-related injuries, you can seek compensation for that expense. Or if you need to take an Uber or Lyft to get to your medical appointments, that would also qualify as an out-of-pocket expense.
In contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages is a general term used to describe losses that we all know exist yet do not come with a convenient bill. Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering: This is what most people associate non-economic damages with. It is, in simple terms, the pain and anguish that you suffered–and continue to suffer–as a result of your physical injuries arising from the car accident.
- Mental Anguish: Also known as “emotional distress,” these damages are tied to mental suffering arising from a car accident. Many car accident victims exhibit symptoms of mental anguish, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even feelings of shame or guilt.
- Inconvenience: Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident often creates a lot of inconvenience for you as the victim. In addition to spending time in a hospital you may need to attend a number of follow-up appointments for medical care and rehabilitation. Then there is the time spent dealing with the insurance companies and the legal issues arising from the accident. All of this inconvenience can form part of your claim for non-economic damages.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If your car accident injuries prevent you from enjoying your usual activities, hobbies, or social events, you can seek non-economic damages under the general heading of “loss of enjoyment of life.”
- Loss of Consortium: If you are married, your spouse can seek non-economic damages as compensation for the loss of your companionship, intimacy, and sexual relations.
What Steps Should I Take Following a Missouri Car Accident?
By its very nature, a car accident is sudden and without much advance warning. Even if it does not appear at first that you sustained any serious injuries, the impact of the collision itself will probably still leave you shaken and unsure of what to do next. But if you do find yourself in this situation, here are a few things our car accident lawyers say you should keep in mind:
- Do Not Leave the Scene: Under Missouri law, you must stop and remain at the scene of an accident where there appears to be personal injury or property damage. Leaving the scene is actually a criminal offense. Of course, if you are able to move your vehicle off of the roadway and out of traffic, you should do so. If the accident occurs at night or in poor weather conditions, use any flares, reflectors, or flashlights you have to warn other traffic.
- Contact the Police: You should always call 911 and wait for the police after an accident where there has been injury or property damage. An officer will come to the scene of the accident, speak with the parties involved, and prepare an official accident report. This report is an important document that you will need when filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. The officer will also let you know when it is okay to leave the scene of the accident.
- Exchange Information: Assuming you are both physically able to do so, you need to exchange basic information with the other driver. You must provide your name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle identification, license plate number, and the name of your insurance company along with the police number. You should not discuss the accident itself or make any statement–like an apology–that could be construed as an admission of liability.
- Seek Medical Attention: Obviously, if you require emergency medical care, go immediately to the hospital. But even if you are able to get up and walk around after a crash, do not assume that everything is okay. Seek medical treatment from your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic as soon as possible following the accident. Many serious injuries, such as brain damage or internal bleeding, will not produce any immediately visible symptoms. In addition, even if your injuries are relatively minor, it is important to start a paper trail documenting them as soon as possible.
- Report the Accident to the State: Missouri law requires you report an accident to the Driver License Bureau if it involved an uninsured motorist and there was personal injury, death, or at least $500 in property damage. Even if there was no injury or property damage, you can still report the accident if the other driver lacked insurance.
Contact a Columbia Car Accident Attorney: You should never talk about an accident with any third party–especially the other driver’s insurance company–until you are represented by counsel. Remember, the insurance company’s main interest is limiting its own liability, not making sure you are fully and fairly compensated for your damages. If you want someone who will unquestionably assert and defend your interests, you need a personal injury attorney.
Contact Call & Gentry Law Group, LLC, Today
Recovering from the physical and mental trauma of a car accident is difficult enough. It is understandable that you also do not want to take on the legal and administrative burden of dealing with the driver who caused your accident and their insurance company. This is where we come in. At Call & Gentry Law Group, LLC, we can advise and represent you in seeking compensation for your damages. Our services include:
- providing a free consultation so we can evaluate your accident;
- investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident;
- gathering and organizing all of the necessary records;
- negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf; and
- taking your case to court if we cannot achieve a settlement that meets your needs.
Our founding members, Jason Call and Chip Gentry, are experienced Columbia car accident attorneys who have a proven track record in personal injury cases. So if you, or someone that you love, has been recently hurt in an accident, call us today at (573) 644-6090 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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Jason was great! Sheila, your communication was awesome!
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