Do you need a Car Accident Lawyer in St. Louis?
Whether you are driving down Page Avenue or traveling the four-mile stretch of I-70 through the city, it is not unusual to see car accidents on St. Louis roadways. In fact, traffic congestion resulting from an accident on the highway is one of the most common driving complaints in the region. However, these accidents are not just an annoyance to other drivers. They could very well mark the end of someone’s life, or the end of their life as they knew it.
If you were injured in a traffic-related accident, a St. Louis car accident lawyer from The Bruning Law Firm can help you understand how to seek compensation for the financial and psychological costs of your injury. Our firm is devoted to helping the injured obtain the compensation they need after experiencing a serious accident.
We are pleased with the results we have obtained in car accident cases, including:
- A $2.5 million judgment for a client who became injured when a faulty airbag failed to deploy during an accident.
- A $750,000 settlement for the family members of an individual who died because of a rear-end collision involving a semi-truck.
While we guarantee no results, we work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for our clients. Contact The Bruning Law Firm today to see what we can do for you.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in St. Louis
St. Louis sees many serious weather events each year, including snow, ice, rain, fog, sleet, and wind. Each can create hazards for drivers that include difficulty controlling the vehicle, difficulty seeing other vehicles and objects due to visibility issues during a storm, and difficulty coming to a safe stop on wet or slippery road conditions. However, while it is easy to blame the weather for many of St. Louis’ car accidents, human error is as much of a cause of accidents here as it is in other parts of the country.
As noted by Missouri State Highway Patrol Public Information and Education Director, Cpt. John Hotz, “Nearly every crash that occurs is preventable.... Over 90 percent of these crashes were the result of someone simply making a poor decision, primarily: driving too fast, driving distracted or driving impaired.”
Hotz added that many of the fatalities on the roadways throughout Missouri stem from vehicle occupants not wearing their seat belts. Approximately 67 percent of the vehicle occupants killed in crashes on Missouri roadways do not buckle up at the time of the accident.
More than 300 people are killed on Missouri roadways each year because of speeding. Nationally, speeding is a factor in about one-quarter of all fatal car accidents and accounts for more than 9,000 deaths a year. Speeding refers not only to driving faster than the posted speed limit, but also driving too fast for the traffic or weather conditions of the road.
Speeding creates many hazards, including:
- Reducing the amount of time a driver has to perceive a danger on the roadway and respond to it by depressing the brakes.
- Increasing the amount of distance that the brakes need to pull the weight of the vehicle to a complete stop. Larger vehicles require more stopping distance, and all vehicles require more stopping distance on wet or slippery road surfaces.
- Reducing the effectiveness of the vehicle’s protective features, such as the steel frame, the seat belts, and the airbags.
- Increasing the severity of the crash, which translates to a higher likelihood of incapacitating injuries or death.
Distracted drivers cause more than 3,000 fatal accidents each year in the U.S.
A driving distraction is anything that:
- Causes the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel, which is known as a manual distraction.
- Causes the driver to stop watching the roadway, which is known as a visual distraction.
- Causes the driver to stop focusing on safe driving, which is known as a cognitive distraction.
Texting and other cell phone use are of particular concern with drivers because it provides all three types of distractions. In the time it takes a driver to read or reply to a text when traveling at highway speeds, his or her vehicle will have traveled the length of a football field. That is a long distance to go without both hands on the wheel while not watching the road or thinking about driving safely. Other types of driving distractions include eating or drinking, visiting with other passengers, adjusting the stereo or vehicle controls, or paying attention to external factors such as billboards, other vehicles or people, or even the scenes of previous accidents on the roadside.
Accidents caused by alcohol-impaired drivers are the cause of 28 deaths a day in the U.S., and many thousands more are injured because of drunk driving each year. Alcohol impairment diminished the skills that a driver needs to operate a motor vehicle safely, such as the ability to track a moving target, maintain lane position, brake effectively, control speed, and respond appropriately in emergencies.
Missouri, like most states, has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. If a driver’s breath or blood reveals a BAC of 0.08 or higher, police can charge a driver with a DUI. However, many drivers do not realize that alcohol impairment does not start when a driver’s BAC reaches the 0.08 limit. It actually starts with the first drink. By the time the driver reaches the legal impairment limit, he or she has already lost short-term memory, the ability to concentrate on the task of driving safely, the ability to control speed, perception, and the ability to process information, such as a changing traffic light.
Failure to Yield
All drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to other lanes of traffic or roadway users in certain circumstances such as:
- At red lights or stop signs, or when traveling through a traffic circle.
- At marked crosswalks.
- When a school bus has stopped and extended its stop sign.
- When making a left turn at an intersection that does not have a green arrow for the turn lane.
- When making a U-turn or turning onto a roadway from a parking lot or private drive.
- When backing out of a parking space or a private drive.
Failure to yield is the most common cause of intersection accidents, including the often-deadly broadside (T-bone) accident that occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle.
Tailgating, or following too closely, is the most common cause of rear-end accidents, which occur when the front of one car collides with the rear of another. Rear-end accidents are among the most common types of accidents to occur in the U.S. involving more than one vehicle. While often regarded as “whiplash crashes” or minor accidents, rear-end accidents account for about 29 percent of accidents involving serious injury.
Following another vehicle too closely creates yet another reduction in the time you have to perceive a hazard. If the driver in front of you slows down or stops, you may not have enough distance to pull the weight of your vehicle to a stop before it collides with the lead car. Tailgating is frequently considered a form of aggressive driving, which is a series of traffic offenses that a driver commits generally in an attempt to get through congested areas. Other types of aggressive driving include speeding, running red lights, and making improper lane changes.
Any driver can be responsible for driving while exhausted, and most drivers have done this. However, fatigue often creates deficits to the skills needed for safe driving that mimic the deficits created by alcohol impairment, such as the inability to stay in one travel lane and difficulty braking, controlling one’s speed, or responding to emergency driving situations. Driver fatigue is of particular concern for night shift or swing-shift workers, as well as long-haul truck drivers, who often drive during the late-night hours when the body instinctually wants sleep.
Not all car accidents are the result of another driver. Defective auto parts can also cause an accident, particularly if the defects involve the vehicle’s tires, braking, or steering mechanisms—as these parts are responsible for how well you control the car and avoid striking other vehicles or objects. The manufacturers and distributors of cars and car parts are responsible for ensuring that these parts do not pose an unreasonable danger when used as instructed. Failing to uphold this responsibility can result in a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor.
Seeking Compensation for Your St. Louis Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents can produce some of the most serious injuries a person can experience, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, which both frequently result in permanent disabilities that can diminish an individual’s ability to complete personal tasks independently or to earn an income. Other types of car accident injuries include broken bones, burns, abrasions, soft tissue injuries, damage to the spinal vertebrae and discs, and internal injuries.
If you were injured in a car accident in St. Louis, you could seek compensation for the expenses and quality-of-life impacts of your injury through a lawsuit. In Missouri, you must file your car accident claim in court within five years after the date on which the accident occurred.
The Type of Compensation You Can Claim
In Missouri, car accident claimants can use the civil court system to seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Damage refers to the compensation one receives for harm done. Economic damages refer to compensation for the expenses you incurred because of the accident. Non-economic damages refer to compensation for the psychological impacts of your injury.
Some commonly claimed damages in St. Louis car accident cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage you incurred in the accident, such as damage to your car
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
To prove liability, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is what a reasonable person would take in similar circumstances to protect the safety and property of others from the consequences of their actions. The duty of care that a driver in St. Louis owes to other drivers on the roadway is to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care. A breach in the driver’s duty of care involves any unsafe or illegal action, such as speeding, impaired driving, or failure to yield.
- The breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injury and led you to experience impacts on your quality of life and financial expenses.
St. Louis Car Accident FAQs
There are so many questions after a car accident. You have likely suffered the loss or damage to your personal property and injuries and impacts on your health. You may not know exactly the best path to take after an accident and how to navigate the aftermath while still protecting your rights. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions by victims of car accidents; use this guide to help you take the next steps after a motor vehicle accident.
Should You Talk to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance After a Car Accident?
You may be surprised at how quickly your phone will ring with a representative of the opposing insurer on the line hoping to get your statement and ask you questions. As an accident victim, you may believe initially that these individuals have your interests in mind. Many victims are often surprised by their quick response and involvement in an accident case.
Make no mistake, these parties are likely acting solely in their own interest, and their motivation to speak with you sooner rather than later will try to resolve your case as quickly as possible and prevent you from taking additional steps to protect your rights.
Do not entertain conversation or solicitation for information from the representative of the at-fault party’s insurance company. These claims representatives may want to speak with you with the sole purpose of finding out information that they can hold against you and your claim.
An insurer or other involved party can use anything you say against you. Statements about the accident or information regarding your injuries and care can delegitimize your claim or reduce the amount of compensation they offer you in a settlement.
You are not required to speak with the representatives of the opposing insurance company. Take great care not to partake in any conversations with an insurer in the aftermath of an accident. You may have an obligation to notify your insurer of an accident, but you must not agree to any statements or provide any further information. Even what you say to your insurer can influence the outcome of your case and the compensation available to you.
Contact The Bruning Law Firm today to discuss your legal options after a car accident and to have us communicate with insurance companies—including your own.
Is a Lawsuit Necessary After a St. Louis Car Accident?
Many people are hesitant to contact an attorney after a car accident because they are unsure if they want to proceed with a lawsuit against the parties responsible. A common misconception is that all car accident cases must resolve through a lawsuit. The reality is quite the opposite. The majority of car accident claims resolve in settlement negotiations with an insurance company. If you cannot settle in negotiations, you may then proceed to a lawsuit in court.
A dispute over fault for an accident may require a lawsuit to resolve. In some situations, an insurer may deny your claim based on their own fault determination. In these cases, you may need to pursue recovery through legal action. Another case that may require a lawsuit is when you can't agree to the damages sustained in a car accident. In severe injuries, the insurer may not offer reasonable compensation for your losses.
When a case proceeds to a lawsuit in court, a trial will go on and the court will determine fault and compensation. This leaves the decision for liability and damages in the court's hands.
The Bruning Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.
When Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Crash in St. Louis?
Often, people believe the only time they need a lawyer in a car accident is when it causes severe injuries. This, however, is not true. A lawyer can benefit most accident victims regardless of the severity of their injuries. The fact of the matter is that an attorney understands the intricacies of a car accident claim or lawsuit and can guide you to make the best decision for you and your interests. Many times, accident victims who are represented by legal counsel will recover more compensation during a settlement than an individual who goes forward unrepresented.
Insurance companies and at-fault parties are out to protect their own interests and bank accounts. They do not want to pay all of your damages. They may try to settle your case for as little money as possible and with as little effort as possible. In fact, if they can deny your claim on any grounds, they will. Seek representation by a lawyer as early as possible. The sooner you have an advocate that speaks on your behalf to protect your rights, the higher your chance at a successful outcome in your case.
You may not yet have a grasp of the impact the injuries you have suffered will have on your life. While the injuries may appear minor to you at first, they can have unexpected consequences on your life and your ability to work that you may not anticipate. A lawyer will take their time to calculate the damages you deserve and consider all of the impacts of the injuries on your health, your ability to work, and your daily life. Do not risk being shortchanged by the insurance companies and taken advantage of.
If the negligence of another individual
injured you, you may recover both economic and non-economic losses, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Future costs of medical care
- Future impacts to income and earning potential
- Damage to personal property
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of a loved one
Speak with a St. Louis car accident attorney, like those at The Bruning Law Firm, to discuss what damages you could pursue.
Is there a Limit on the Time You Have to File a Claim or Lawsuit?
The time that you have to file a claim with an insurer or a lawsuit in court for a car accident is not unlimited. Each state sets different deadlines to initiate action for compensation.
Nevada’s statute of limitations specifies that a plaintiff has two years from the date of an accident in which a party was injured or lost their life to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible. If you only sustained property damage, the law gives you three years after the accident to file a legal action against the at-fault party.
Failure of a party to file within the allowable time will bar recovery of your losses. Even if you can prove an at-fault party negligent, if you do not file within the legal deadline, you can't recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
Can You Seek Recovery For Losses If You Were in a Hit and Run?
Hit and run accidents can leave victims feeling angry and confused. As a victim of a car accident that another negligent party caused, you may not know how to seek compensation for your losses.
If you identify the driver or vehicle or police later apprehend the at-fault party, you may file a claim through their insurer. However, if the driver flees before identification or an uninsured motorist hits you, recovery against the at-fault party can be extremely difficult or nearly impossible.
In a hit-and-run scenario where police can't find an at-fault driver, you may still seek recovery of your losses through your own insurer. You can do this through collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, if available. In these cases, seek the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney. Even your insurer will want to pay out as little on a claim as possible. You need an advocate at your side that will fight for the compensation you deserve for your losses.
What Should You Do If You Are in a St. Louis Car Accident?
In the moments after impact in a car crash, the steps you take and the decisions you make can have an impact on your case. Take a moment to consider the best steps to take after a car accident in St. Louis to protect your legal rights.
Call the Police - This should never be up for debate after a car accident. Always call the police and if there are injuries involved, you are required to do so by law. The police will be able to secure the scene and collect vital information of the parties involved. When the at-fault party violated a traffic law, an officer may issue a citation along with their accident report.
Get Help for Your Injuries - Do not put off medical care for injuries from a car accident. Even if you believe your injuries are minor and the symptoms may subside, you must seek medical evaluation and care immediately after an accident occurs. Failure to request medical assistance or follow through with medical treatment for an injury can put your claim for injuries and losses at risk as well as your health and wellbeing.
Do not hesitate to seek medical care and treatment after an accident. If you have visible injuries and are in pain at the crash scene, emergency medical services may need to take you to the nearest emergency room. However, if you don't know the extent of your injuries and feel that you are not in immediate danger, you can ask a friend or family member to take you to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center for an evaluation.
Gather Vital Information if You Can - The police will provide you with an accident report at the scene or in the days shortly after. However, accident reports do not always include the best evidence for your claim or case. If you can do so, take a few moments to collect evidence at the scene of the accident. This can include video and photographs of the scene, vehicles involved, damage, and injuries. This is also a good time to note any witnesses to the accident, take down their names and contact information if it becomes necessary to contact them in the future.
Hire Our St. Louis Car Accident Attorneys - Once the dust has settled after the scene of the accident, you should take the time to prioritize your legal rights and contact a car accident lawyer. A lawyer will work with you to resolve your case with your best interests in mind. When an attorney represents you after a car accident, insurance companies and other interested parties must then proceed to address any concerns or issues through your lawyers. This will relieve you of the burden of communicating with these adverse parties and potentially affect your case inadvertently.
Our lawyers can evaluate your case, gather evidence of fault and damages related to your injuries and other losses, negotiate a settlement, and move forward with a lawsuit if necessary on your behalf. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident or suffers significant property damage, contact our car accident lawyers to discuss your case.
A car accident attorney at the Bruning Law Firm with experience in car accident cases can provide you with a free evaluation and review of your legal options to seek compensation for your losses. Contact us at the Bruning Law Firm today for more information.
The Bruning Law Firm Can Help
Let a St. Louis personal injury attorney from The Bruning Law Firm help you understand your options for obtaining compensation for the injuries you received because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions. We are here to help, whether you live in the city, the Metro East, or the western suburbs. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (779) 223-9149.
We Can Visit You In A STL Hospital To Discuss Your Auto Claim
Making sure you keep your medical records is only as important as finding the right hospital to help you get back to healthy. Your top priority should be your health. That’s why our compassionate attorneys are available to visit injured clients wherever is most convenient. Often times that includes meeting with patients in hospitals such as:
Our experienced STL car accident attorneys also work with hospitals and doctor’s offices to secure your medical records and build detailed documentation of your injuries.
St. Louis Legal Information
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your personal injury case, you may need to eventually visit one of the local courthouses. When that time comes, we will discuss what you can expect in detail so you are comfortable with the process.
The circuit court locations you may need to visit are:
- 22nd Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri
St. Louis City Circuit Court
10 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis MO 63101
- 21st Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri
St. Louis County Circuit Court
105 S. Central Ave.
Clayton MO 63105
If you are involved in a federal case, such as a multidistrict litigation case, you may need to visit:
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse
111 S. 10th St.
St. Louis MO 63102
Contact A St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured in an auto accident, CONTACT The Bruning Law Firm today. Our St. Louis car accident lawyers provide the comprehensive, professional legal representation you deserve at a time when you need it most.
Client Testimonial"Aj and Beth were great to work with! After having injuries from my car accident, I contacted them right away. They informed me the whole way and they always kept in touch. I was pleasantly surprised that my settlement took less than half of the time predicted! I felt very confident with them the whole way through my healing process and settlement!" - Alex M.
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