Can I Sue If I Was Determined at Fault in a Car Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Missouri or Kansas, you’re likely aware of the concept of fault. In both states, it plays a crucial role in determining which driver’s car insurance company is responsible for covering property damage and medical bills resulting from the accident.
Typically, your insurer will negotiate a settlement without the need for a car accident lawsuit, but there are circumstances where what they are offering isn’t enough to cover lost income, medical bills, lost wages, or other expenses incurred by accident victims. Luckily, even if you’ve been declared to be at fault, you still have legal rights and may be able to sue for damages.
What Does It Mean That I Am Considered at Fault?
Simply put, it means that your actions caused or contributed to the car accident. For example, if the other driver committed a traffic violation like running a red light, they could be considered to be at fault. However, if you failed to signal while changing lanes, you may be considered partially at fault as well.
In Missouri and Kansas, the driver who caused the car accident is considered liable, which can affect their ability to seek compensation.
Comparative Negligence in Car Accidents
In many car accidents, fault may be shared between multiple parties. Each party’s percentage of fault is considered when determining legal liability, and damages are awarded accordingly.
Both Missouri and Kansas use forms of comparative negligence, also known as comparative fault, but the ways that they are implemented and what that means for your claim differs between the two states.
Comparative Fault in Missouri
Missouri employs what is known as “pure comparative fault.” This means that even if you were found to be partially at fault for a car accident, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries. However, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you were found to be 30% at fault and your financial damages were $10,000, you would only be able to recover $7,000. There is no lower limit to recover compensation. Even someone who was 99% responsible for a car accident could potentially recover damages for that 1%.
Comparative Fault in Kansas
Kansas, on the other hand, follows modified comparative fault. This still means that your compensation will be reduced by the percentage you are responsible, but if someone can prove negligence placing you more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will likely not be able to recover any damages at all.
What Legal Actions Can I Take if I Was Deemed at Fault?
In some cases, it is possible for the at-fault driver to sue the other driver or another party involved in the accident.
In Missouri and Kansas, however, suing for damages after being found all or partially responsible is difficult.
When Suing Is Not Possible
In Kansas, the laws regarding comparative fault limit your options. If you have been labeled the at-fault driver and were found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you may not be able to recover any damages.
Additionally Kansas, along with about a dozen other states, has no-fault insurance laws, which means that drivers typically cannot sue other drivers unless the accident results in serious injuries or property damage.
No-fault states use a type of insurance called personal injury protection, or PIP insurance, which is intended to help you pay for your own damages, no matter which driver caused the collision.
When It May Be Possible To Sue
Missouri, on the other hand, is considered an at-fault state. Unlike in a no fault state, in an at-fault state, the driver who caused the accident is typically held responsible for the resulting damages. Their insurance company is the one that pays for the damages.
Combine this with Missouri’s pure comparative fault doctrine, and as long as you did not bear 100% of the fault for the accident, there’s a reasonable chance that the injured party can recover compensation from the other driver.
Possible Legal Claims
Despite the legal barriers to suing after being found at fault, there are some claims that an at-fault driver may be able to use to pursue compensation.
This may include using your own car insurance company for coverage of damages or pursuing a car accident claim against a third party whose actions contributed to the accident, such as a manufacturer of faulty car parts.
Dealing With Your Own Insurance Company
Speaking to your insurance representative as soon as possible can help you understand your coverage and any potential legal action that may result from the car accident. Additionally, they may be able to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to reach a settlement that avoids the need for a lawsuit.
Types of Coverage
Most drivers have collision coverage as part of their auto insurance policy, which can help to pay for damages to their vehicle. However, if you were injured, your collision coverage will not pay for your medical bills or other damages. Instead, you may need to file a separate insurance claim or injury lawsuit to pursue monetary damages.
Drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover any damages or injuries they cause to others in an accident. In both Missouri and Kansas, each driver must carry at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage, as well as $25,000 in property damage liability coverage.
Results of Being at Fault
The insurance company will typically handle the claim made against you. However, if the damages exceed the coverage limits, you may bear personal liability for the remainder.
If an insurance adjuster decides during the insurance claims process that you are the at-fault party, you may find that your car insurance rates go up as well as lower compensation being offered for your damages.
When To Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in an accident and told you were at fault, it is important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney or a personal injury lawyer. It is also important to provide your lawyer with records of your medical treatment. This can help to strengthen your insurance claim or lawsuit by providing documentation of your injuries.
Personal injury lawyers can assist in proving fault, help you understand your legal options, provide representation in court if necessary, and help you receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries. The benefits of having legal representation can be invaluable to help ensure your rights remain protected.
Potential Legal Action After Being Determined At Fault
If you have been determined at fault in a car accident, you may be wondering if you have any claim available to you. The truth is that your legal options may be limited, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
If you or your lawyer are able to prove that the other party involved in the accident was also negligent and contributed to the car accident, you may still be able to sue.
If you decide to pursue legal action, it is important to remember that you have the legal right to do so. A car accident lawyer will often offer a free consultation, which can help you understand your legal options and determine whether or not pursuing legal action is the right choice for you.
By working with a car accident attorney or personal injury lawyer, you can improve your chances of a successful outcome and obtain the financial recovery you deserve. While car accident lawsuits can be complex and time-consuming, they may help ensure a fair settlement that covers the full extent of your damages. Contact Wendt Law today at 816-542-6734 to schedule your free consultation for help getting the justice you deserve.