Missouri Car Accident Attorney
Each year in Missouri, car accidents on the 277,504 miles of roadway within the state result in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. According to Missouri State Highway Patrol Public Information and Education Director, Captain John Hotz, more than 90 percent of Missouri car accidents are caused by human error, with that error most often involving driving too fast, distracted driving, and driving while impaired.
If a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s error injured you, an experienced Missouri car accident lawyer from The Bruning Firm can help you obtain compensation. We have spent decades helping auto accident victims across the state to exercise their right to seek compensation, garnering millions of dollars in accident settlements and awards. To find out how we can help you in your car accident case, call us today for a free case consultation.
Most Common Causes of Missouri Car Accidents
The most common causes of car accidents in Missouri include alcohol impairment, distracted driving, and speeding.
- Alcohol impairment: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 people a day—or more than 10,000 a year—are killed in drunk driving accidents. Alcohol impairs the skills needed to operate a motor vehicle safely, including the ability to track moving targets or detect a turn signal, maintain one’s own lane of travel, brake effectively, and make good decisions. When people choose to drive drunk, the chances of an accident are extremely high.
- Distracted driving: Driving distractions cause the driver to take their hands from the steering wheel while driving, their eyes from watching the roadway, or their mind off the task of safe driving. Texting and other cell phone use are particularly risky behaviors when driving, as these activities involve all three types of distraction. In fact, in the time it takes for a driver to read or reply to a text message while traveling at highway speeds, they would travel the length of a football field without attending to the roadway.
- Speeding: According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), the number of fatal accidents involving unbuckled or speeding drivers in Missouri increased 25 percent from 2019 to 2020, despite the slow-down in traffic from the pandemic. Captain Holtz noted that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic slowing traffic down, people can still end up in accidents by engaging in risky driving behaviors. In fact, with emptier streets, some might be incentivized to drive faster, thinking their conduct is safer due to the slow-down of traffic. Speeding reduces the time for the driver to perceive danger and respond to it by pressing the brakes; requires more distance for the brakes to pull the weight of the vehicle to a complete stop; makes the vehicle’s protective equipment (steel frame, airbags, seat belts) less effective in a crash; increases the severity of the crash; and makes it more difficult for other road users to determine to adjust to the movement of the speeder to keep a safe distance.
- Fatigued driving: Fatigued driving occurs when mental or physical exhaustion impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. While most drivers have driven while tired before, fatigued driving is different, and tends to occur more with those who are working or traveling during the nighttime hours, when the body wants to sleep. This includes night shift and swing shift workers, as well as long-haul truck drivers. Fatigued driving presents many of the same impairments to driving ability as alcohol impairment does, including difficulty controlling one’s speed or lane position, paying attention to the task of driving, and exercising good judgment.
- Failure to yield: All roadway users are required to yield the right-of-way to other users at certain times, such as at a red light, a stop sign, a railroad crossing, a marked crosswalk, or when driving behind a school bus that is stopped with its stop sign arm extended. Failure to yield accidents most commonly occur in intersections, where failing to yield can cause a particularly deadly type of accident known as a broadside, or T-bone, collision.
- Tailgating: Tailgating refers to the act of following another car too closely. The danger of following too closely is that you can’t stop if the driver in the lead car slows or stops, resulting in a rear-end accident.
- Defective vehicle parts: Not all car accidents in Missouri are the result of risky driving behavior. Certain auto parts, if not working as designed or labeled, can result in serious accidents. For example, a tire blowout from a defective tire may result in a loss of vehicle control. Or a vehicle’s brakes may go out because of a defect, likely resulting in an accident because the driver cannot stop the vehicle. Manufacturers and distributors of the parts used in vehicles must ensure that the parts work as anticipated when used properly.
Common Types of Missouri Car Accidents
There are countless ways car accidents may occur. However, most collisions fall into the categories listed below:
- Rear-end accidents: This type of accident occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with the rear of another. Rear-end accidents are one of the most common types of car accidents to experience. While often regarded as minor collisions, one study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that rear-end collisions account for 29 percent of the serious injuries suffered in traffic-related accidents.
- Head-on collisions: A head-on collision occurs when the front of one vehicle makes contact with the front of another vehicle. The forces of the two vehicles coming together render these accidents more potentially damaging
- Broadside (T-bone) collisions: Also referred to as side-angle crashes, a broadside accident occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. Like head-on collisions, broadside accidents are more likely to result in fatalities than other accident types. This is especially true if there is a large size discrepancy between the two vehicles that collide. Injuries and fatalities most often occur to occupants sitting on the side of the struck vehicle, as this area of the vehicle generally affords less protection than the rear or front of the vehicle.
- Sideswipe: This type of accident occurs when the side of one vehicle collides or brushes up with the side of another vehicle. Sideswipe accidents often occur because of improper passing procedures, including failing to look before entering a travel lane or attempting to re-enter the travel lane before completely overtaking a vehicle. A distracted, fatigued, or impaired driver who strays from his or her travel lane in an adjacent one may also cause a sideswipe.
- Single car accidents: Single car accident is often a misleading term. A single-car accident can refer to an event in which a driver fails to negotiate a curve in the road or strikes an object such as a fence. However, traffic accidents in which a car strikes a pedestrian or a bicyclist are also called single-car accidents. According to the MODOT report previously reference, 126 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2020.
Seeking Compensation for the Impacts and Expenses of Your Injuries
If you are injured in a car accident in Missouri that someone else’s careless or reckless actions caused, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury through a lawsuit. Generally, you must file within five years after the date on which the accident occurred to preserve your claim.
What You Can Receive Compensation For?
Missouri law allows car accident claimants to seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages, referred to collectively as compensatory damages, meaning they compensate a victim for the expenses or harms they have experienced in an accident. Economic damages pertain to tangible expenses you incurred because of your injury, such as medical bills. Non-economic damages refer to compensation for the impacts your injury had on your quality of life. They are not as readily quantifiable.
Some of the expenses and impacts that are commonly including in Missouri car accident damage claims include:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment, ambulance transport, diagnostic testing, the services of your physician or surgeon, hospitalization, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of assistive devices such as crutches, a wheelchair, or even prosthetic limbs
- Lost wages, if you are too injured to work or must miss work to attend an injury-related medical appointment
- Loss of future earning capacity, if your injury results in permanent disabilities and you can’t earn as much income as you did before the accident
- Property damage you incurred in the accident, such as the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Physical pain and suffering resulting from your injuries, the treatment of them, or complications arising from them
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium, for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that often results from serious car accident injuries
How to Prove Liability in a Missouri Car Accident Case
In car accident cases, you must show that a defendant is legally liable—or responsible—for your injuries. This is even the case if you start by filing a claim with the defendant’s insurer, rather than immediately filing a lawsuit in court. Many start by filing a third-party claim with a defendant’s insurer, as insurance pays nearly all settlements and awards. Before they pay out a claim, however, the insurance company will determine whether you can prove their insured is liable. This requires showing that the insured’s negligence or wrongdoing otherwise caused the accident and the impacts and expenses for which you claim compensation.
To show negligence, you must establish:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is a standard of conduct, measured by determining what a reasonable person similarly situated to a defendant would have taken under the circumstances to protect the safety and property of others. A driver owes a duty to other roadway users to drive his or her vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. One “breaches” their duty of care by taking any action contrary to the duty of care they owed. Alcohol impairment, speeding, and distracted driving are all examples of a breach in the duty of care, as none of these behaviors is safe or legal,
- The breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injuries and the subsequent expenses and impacts you sustained.
The Bruning Law Firm Can Help You
Being seriously injured in a car accident can be the most expensive and traumatizing event one experiences in their lifetime. Many car accident victims find themselves overwhelmed with managing the ensuing medical bills, income loss, property damage, and other impacts of the accident. Handling a legal claim on top of it all is more than many can bear. But Missouri car accident victims don’t have to go it alone, the experienced legal team at The Bruning Law Firm can ensure your right to pursue the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
We can help with:
- Guidance as to your general legal options, provided at no cost to you during a free case evaluation
- A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can provide compensation
- Establishing a value to your case based on the expenses and impacts you have experienced, and those you will likely incur
- Negotiations with the at-fault party and their insurance company
- Guidance on the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting an offered settlement
- Timely and accurate filing of your lawsuit
- Gathering and organization of the evidence needed to prove your case in court
- Assistance collecting your award or settlement
Our Practice Areas
With more than 35 years of experience successfully representing St. Louis residents in personal injury cases, our attorneys have handled a variety of claims, including:
- Car Accidents
- Tractor-Trailer Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle or Pedestrian Accidents
- School Bus Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Swimming Pool Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Product Liability