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Missouri Sunset

What to Know About Missouri Car Accident Laws

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Posted on April 15, 2024

There are at least 1,916,497 private vehicles registered in Missouri, an average of over 150,000 car accidents each year, and 1,040 car accident fatalities in 2022. No one starts their day expecting an accident, but accidents occur every day in Missouri. If an accident happens to you, it’s important to know the laws so you know what to do after you’ve taken care of any medical emergencies from the accident. Missouri has very specific laws that apply to car accidents and an accident victim’s rights and obligations.

What Obligations Do Missouri Car Accident Victims Have Under the Law?

Drivers in Missouri must carry at least the minimum required car accident insurance to provide coverage for property damage and bodily injury damages like medical expenses and lost wages. The required coverage is the standard 25/50/25 split coverage, or $25,000 per injury victim, $50,000 total bodily injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage.

Vehicle owners must show proof of insurance to register or re-register a vehicle and must also provide proof of insurance during a traffic stop.

After an accident, Missouri drivers must remain at the scene until cleared by police to leave. Leaving the scene of the accident is a hit-and-run crime with serious penalties, especially if the accident caused injuries or death.

After a car accident with at least $1,000 in property damage or after any car accidents with injuries, Missouri drivers must report the accident to the police. If there are injuries from the accident, call 911 to request emergency services and police. If there are no injuries, call the non-emergency number for local law enforcement to report the accident.

What Is the “Steer It and Clear It” Car Accident Law In Missouri?

Missouri car accident laws require drivers to move their damaged vehicles to the shoulder of the road whenever possible. This means if they are uninjured and the car is drivable and steerable, accident victims must move their vehicles out of the flow of traffic. However, it’s wise to use a cell phone camera to snap photos of the accident scene before moving the vehicles since this helps prove causation in a personal injury claim later.

car accident compensation missouri

Missouri’s Car Accident Compensation Laws

Missouri’s car accident laws include a pure comparison negligence system for recovering compensation. Missouri Statute 537.765 states the following:

“A Defendant may plead and prove the fault of the plaintiff as an affirmative defense.  Any fault chargeable to the plaintiff shall diminish proportionately the amount awarded as compensatory damages but shall not bar recovery.”

Under this law, even a driver partly at fault for a car accident in Missouri can still recover compensation for damages, but their damages will be minus their percentage of fault. In other words, if the insurance adjuster investigating the case finds the injury victim 25% at fault for an accident they can reduce the payout on a $100,000 claim to $75,000.

Missouri Statute of Limitations Law for Car Accident Claims

Car accident victims in Missouri have up to five years after an accident to file a lawsuit. Most injury victims file claims against the insurance company of the at-fault party much sooner than five years, but if the case isn’t settled out of court and goes to trial, the accident victim filing the lawsuit must do so within five years of the date of the accident according to Missouri Statute 516.120. This is a generous time limit. Most states allow only two years to file lawsuits after an accident or injury.