lthough the number of car accidents in Missouri has not necessarily increased, the number of fatalities on the state’s roads has increased. In a recent year, car accident fatalities hit a 15-year high, surpassing 1,000.
You can suffer injuries any time you leave your home and get behind the wheel of a car in Missouri. This is true whether you are traveling across the state on I-70 or just heading down the street to the grocery store.
No matter how much care you may take personally, you can never control what someone else does. Other drivers act less responsibly, emphasizing what they want to do behind the wheel. They do not care about your safety, resulting in more severe car accidents.
Here is what you should know about where car accidents happen in Missouri, regarding general areas and specific locations. If you suffer injuries in a crash, you should immediately consult with an experienced Missouri car accident lawyer.
Most Drivers Are in Accidents Close to Home
In general, most car accidents will occur closer to home. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 77 percent of car accidents will occur within 15 miles of the driver’s home.
The reason for this is that most motorists may short drivers to do things like run errands and go to the store. They only venture further from their home on rarer occasions. It does not mean they are safer for long drives, especially on the highway. It just means that they are on the highway less often.
Even if more accidents happen closer to home, the ones that occur further from where you live tend to be more serious. Drivers need to become more familiar with their surroundings when far from home. However, it does not mean those far from home are automatically to blame for their accidents. Those familiar with the roads may take more chances and disregard safety because they are overconfident.
When you are not on the highway, an intersection is the most dangerous possible stretch of traffic. Roughly 50 percent of serious car accident injuries and fatalities occur at intersections. These crashes often happen at a higher speed because one driver does not anticipate the crash. After all, they do not expect the other driver to be in the intersection or turning in front of another vehicle.
Cars passing in different directions and making turns present unique dangers for all drivers.
Two primary types of crashes can happen at intersections:
- Rear-end crashes occur when a driver slows down or stops at a traffic light or stop sign. The driver behind them was either speeding, distracted, or following too closely, and they did not stop in time to avoid hitting the front car. Rear-end car accidents are dangerous because they can cause the front-car driver to develop whiplash. This condition happens when the driver’s body is still, but their head and neck snap forward. Whiplash can be a permanent injury with serious complications.
- T-bone crashes occur when one car fails to yield the right-of-way as required by law. When a driver runs a red light by trying to turn after the light has changed or fails to stop at a stop sign, there can be a crash with another car. In a t-bone car accident, the front of one car strikes the side of the other car. The impact can be almost as catastrophic for one driver as a head-on crash. The other driver can suffer an impact on the driver’s side of the car, where there is little to protect them from the collision.
The Legal Challenges of Intersection Accidents
While you tend to think of intersection crashes happening because someone ran a red light, a majority of intersections in Missouri are unsigned. Stop signs, control these intersections, and proper road safety requires that drivers stop when required by law.
The challenge is that many intersection crashes occur when others are not around to witness what happened and provide testimony. Objective third-party witnesses provide your most effective form of proof in a car accident claim. Without witnesses, your claim can be vulnerable to a “truth contest,” where each driver accuses the other of being the one who ran the stop sign.
You will need an attorney to develop additional evidence to help prove your claim. One way your attorney can help you meet your burden of proof is by working with an accident reconstruction expert, who will give an expert opinion about who caused the crash.
Even though there is seemingly more room on highways, crashes here tend to result in more severe injuries because they occur at higher speeds. The extra space to drive freely actually leads to more severe crashes.
Without traffic around them, drivers engage in more dangerous behavior that can include:
- Following too closely behind other cars
- Excessive speeding
- Distracted driving (in the time that a driver will take to read a text quickly, the car can travel the length of an entire football field or more
- Drowsy driving (especially on longer drives when the motorist is traveling late at night and far from their home)
With all the miles of highway in Missouri (there are over 33,000 miles of state highways, in addition to the interstate and US routes), Highway 63 is considered the most dangerous road in the state. An average of 18 people die each year on this highway. Part of the danger is that the road meanders and winds through rural areas. Drivers who are unfamiliar with the road may not be ready for the challenges of driving on Highway 63.
One stretch of a Missouri interstate ranks on the list of the country’s most dangerous stretches of highway. The stretch of I-64 in Missouri has a high fatality rate and is the 17th most dangerous highway in the country on certain lists. Complicating things for Missouri drivers is that the state’s position in the country’s center means that there will be heavy truck traffic.
Most crashes in Missouri tend to happen in urban centers like St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jefferson City. While these locales have their share of car accident deaths, the fatality rate in these crashes is lower than in accidents outside the cities. Still, there is nothing minor about a car accident, no matter where it occurs.
Rural areas in Missouri see some of the most severe car accidents. Drivers tend to use less caution and travel at higher speeds. Even though only 19 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas, roughly half the nation’s car accident fatalities occur there. People who live outside rural areas must pass through on their way to other destinations, so 31 percent of the nation’s miles are driven on rural roads.
Even when a driver survives a car crash in a rural area, they may suffer serious injuries. More one-car accidents occur in rural areas because drivers misjudge the road and lose control of their cars. Although it is not impossible to receive compensation for a single-car crash, the injured driver must overcome a heavy presumption that they were to blame for their own accident.
Parking Lot Accidents
Surprisingly, parking lots also see a high number of car accidents. Parking lots tend to be more crowded, and cars constantly pull in and leave a tight area. People tend to be more distracted in parking lots, as they may check their phones after returning to their cars. They may also focus more on their task of either shopping or returning home than watching their surroundings.
Thankfully, most parking lot crashes occur at lower speeds, resulting in fewer injuries. However, there may be more dangerous rear-end and intersection crashes in a parking lot. Drivers can be hurt when they pull out of their space into the path of another vehicle because there is a difference in the vehicle’s speed. It is often difficult to establish who was at fault for a parking lot car accident, so you will need testimony from people who saw it.
How to Win a Car Accident Case in Missouri?
Regardless of where the accident occurs in Missouri, you will need to prove the same thing in every case to receive financial compensation. You must show that another driver involved in the crash was negligent.
In a personal injury case, a claimant proves negligence through the same four-part test:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care
- The driver breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- You suffered an injury
- You would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the actions or omissions of the other party
s the claimant or plaintiff, you will have the burden of proof to show each of these four elements. You have to come up with evidence that backs your side of the story. If you do not have evidence, you may be unable to receive financial compensation for your injuries.
You Must Work Hard to Get the Money that You Are Due
In addition, you will also need to negotiate extensively to receive a settlement that fairly compensates you for your injuries. The insurance company will not initially give you all the money you deserve without you pushing hard for it. You need to know how much your case is worth and be bold enough to reject a monetary offer that does not pay you enough, knowing that you can and should get more. It takes steel nerves to negotiate with an insurance company because they are seasoned professionals.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Helps Your Case?
Therefore, your case will be stronger when you hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you. The lawyer knows the insurance company’s playbook because they have seen it many times. For every move the insurance company makes, your lawyer has an answer.
Your attorney will help you at every stage of the case, including:
- Investigating your accident and compiling the necessary evidence to prove your case
- Estimating the value of your damages so you know how much money to seek in a lawsuit or settlement
- Helping you figure out the most effective way to seek financial compensation
- Preparing the claim to file with the insurance company or the lawsuit to file in court
- Communicating and negotiating with the insurance company as you seek an adequate settlement
- Taking your case to court if you cannot negotiate a settlement
The insurance company will not fear you when you are trying to deal with them on your own. They will view you as a target of opportunity that they can take advantage of as they wish. The result is that you can get less money than you deserve - if you even receive any money.
You need an attorney to stand up for your legal right to full and fair compensation when someone else was to blame for your accident. Otherwise, the insurance company has the ability to do to you as it wishes. Trying to save money by handling your claim will cost you far more than you will have paid an attorney to handle your case.
You Do Not Need to Pay Your Lawyer Upfront
The good news is that you do not need to worry about how you will afford a lawyer on your limited budget. You do not need to come with the money to pay a lawyer upfront because they will not ask for it. Instead, you will sign a representation agreement that states the lawyer will receive fees if and when you win your case.
Your attorney will receive a percentage of the proceeds of your case if you receive a settlement check or an award from the jury. If you do not win your case, you do not need to pay your attorney for their time.
There is a lot at stake in car accident claims, but you also have nothing to lose by hiring a skilled Missouri personal injury attorney. Reach out today for a legal evaluation.