St. Louis Car Accident Law Firm
First Thing to Do After a Car Accident
After you have been involved in an auto accident, the most important thing to do is to seek medical attention immediately. Your health and safety is the most important concern. Often times, victims of car accidents feel as if they are not in any pain after an accident only to realize later that something isn’t right. The biggest factor in determining the value of your case is the amount of medical care you receive. As such, in order to ensure both your health and the strength of your case, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately and follow all of the doctor’s instructions. Even if several days have passed since your accident, you still need to seek medical attention for your injuries.
Who is at Fault – and Why?
Most car accidents involve a driver who was at fault and a driver who was not at fault. The at-fault driver is referred to as the negligent driver. There are hundreds of reasons that a driver can be deemed as negligent. Some of these reasons and types of accidents that involve negligent drivers are:
- Cell Phone Use
- Distracted Driving
- Drunk Driving
- Failing to Obey Traffic Signals
- Head-On Collisions
- Improper Hauling
- Improper Lane Changing
- Inexperienced Driving
- Rear-End Collisions
- Side-End Collisions
- Unlicensed Driving
- Underinsured Motorists
- Uninsured Motorists
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Missouri law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance. It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle without auto insurance. Further, Missouri law requires all drivers to have coverage for bodily injury of at least $25,000 per person involved in an accident and $50,000 total per each accident. The law also requires every driver to carry at least $10,000 for property damage. The rules and regulations governing Missouri drivers and insurance is called the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law and can be found here: http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/ChaptersIndex/chaptIndex303.html
Given these regulations, when you are injured in an accident, insurance companies will be involved. The injured party will file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. There will be a claim for (1) property damage and (2) bodily injury. The injured party will receive separate payments for each claim. The compensation available for the bodily injury claim takes many things into account, however the three biggest factors are medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Insurance Company Tactics
When dealing with a negligent driver’s insurance company, it is important to note the following:
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE
When insurance companies find out about a potential personal injury claim, they will contact you immediately. They will ask you to obtain at least one, sometimes two estimates on your car’s damage. They will ask you to provide a statement of what happened and they will ask you to provide them with all of your medical records and bills related to the accident. At first, these insurance companies will appear to be on your side and may come across as someone who is trying to help you get through your injury. Despite this, after complying with all of their demands, the insurance company will offer you a settlement which is substantial inadequate. Most of the time, the offer doesn’t even cover your medical bills, let alone your pain and suffering.
Insurance companies will employ many different tactics to try to convince you that your claim isn’t what you think it is. One of these tactics is to tell the injured party that they contributed to the accident. This is called comparative fault.
Comparative fault is a doctrine recognized by Missouri law which essentially allows fault or blame to be placed upon the injured party. Specifically, juries are told that if they see fit, they may assign a percentage of fault to an injured party based upon the facts of the case. For example, a jury may find that an injured party’s actions, although not the main reason, still contributed to the accident occurring and as such will assign fault to the injured party. This assignment of fault will reduce your award in proportion to the percentage assigned.
Insurance companies are well aware of this doctrine and will often times abuse this doctrine in an attempt to make the injured party believe they played a role in the accident. Insurance companies will make a determination for themselves as to what percentage of blame is to be placed upon the injured driver. For example, insurance companies will always assign a significant percentage of blame to an injured driver who was injured in an accident due to being cut off by another driver. Despite following all applicable rules and regulations, insurance companies simply think being cut off by another driver is the injured party’s fault. Of course, this doesn’t follow simple logic, but that is how insurance companies think.
Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer
When an attorney gets involved on a car accident claim, insurance companies take notice. They begin to realize that they can no longer take advantage of an injured person who is in a bad situation. Insurance companies know that an attorney has the ability and resources to properly investigate an accident. Likewise, an attorney understands all the facets of a personal injury claim giving you a distinct advantage against the insurance company. All in all, when an attorney gets involved, the insurance company knows that the injured party means business.
What We Can Do For You
The Law Office of Steve Slough routinely handles car accident cases. The firm prides itself on standing up to insurance companies and fighting for car accident victims. We have experience in dealing with insurance companies and know how to quickly discredit the theories they use to deny your claim.
If you have been injured by someone else, please feel free to call our office for a free consultation.