Traffic Lawyer in Columbia, Missouri
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Traffic Lawyer in Columbia, Missouri
When a negligent driver causes a traffic accident and gets penalized or detained by authorities, they always have the option to hire a traffic lawyer to help them beat these penalties or charges. The same applies to victims of such accidents; there's always the option to hire an attorney, but for a completely different role. If you or a loved one need an experienced traffic lawyer in Columbia, Missouri who specializes in fighting for the rights of the injured, our legal team may be able to help. Fill out our free case evaluation form today to get started.
Why You Should Hire a Traffic Accident Lawyer If You're a Victim
As a victim of such an accident in Columbia, Missouri, a traffic accident lawyer can fight for your rights by making good use of their expertise and knowledge of the law to ensure that you receive every benefit to which you may be entitled.. This applies even in situations where you may bear some responsibility for the incident.
Take, for example, a scenario where you are involved in a traffic accident and the police report merely states that you failed to yield the right of way. After conducting further investigation, your attorney discovered that the other driver was distracted by texting while driving, which significantly contributed to the accident. You may still be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries even if you were partly at fault.
A skilled traffic accident lawyer will also ensure that you have strong evidence to establish the other party's negligence. To do this, they may need to gather relevant documents, interview witnesses, and reconstruct the scene if necessary.
In addition, calculating the financial impact of a traffic accident isn't always easy. If you leave anything out, you won't be able to reopen the claim once it's settled. That further explains the importance of hiring someone familiar with such injuries and losses to help put a dollar value on them. An experienced attorney will assess the full extent of your damages and assign an accurate value to your claim, ensuring that you pursue fair and just compensation.
Dealing with insurance companies, especially while nursing the pain and agony that comes with a traffic accident, should be the last thing you want to do. That's because these companies and their adjusters like to take advantage of the victim's situation, hoping to manipulate them into accepting a low settlement offer.
However, with a traffic accident lawyer by your side, you can rely on their negotiation skills and pure intentions to pursue a favorable settlement on your behalf. Besides, the right attorney understands the tactics insurance companies and their representatives, including adjusters and defense lawyers, use to jeopardize such claims. As a result, your lawyer will advocate for your best interests, aiming to secure the maximum compensation possible.
An experienced traffic accident lawyer can also guide you through the legal process of filing a claim or lawsuit, handling all the necessary paperwork to ensure your case is filed correctly, and representing your best interests in or out of court. The attorney will also stick with you every step of the way, providing emotional and legal support and guidance, because they understand your pain and only care about getting the best possible outcome for you or your loved one who is a victim of the accident.
Important Things To Know About Traffic Accident Laws in Columbia, Missouri
Before you even file a claim or lawsuit against the other party in Columbia, let's take a look at some of the key things you should know about traffic laws in this part of the state.
The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Claims
The 'statute of limitations' is just a fancy term used to describe the time limit for taking legal action after an injury caused by someone else's negligence.
Anyone injured in a traffic accident in Missouri must file a civil lawsuit within five years from the date of the accident, per Revised Statutes section 516.120. This rule applies not only to personal injuries, but also to accidents that cause damage to your vehicle or other property involved.
If the accident resulted in someone's death and you, as a family member or representative, want to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver, Missouri Revised Statutes section 537.100 requires you to file the wrongful death claim within three years from the date of the person's death.
The date of death might not be the same as the date of the actual accident, so it's important to keep that factor in mind when calculating these key deadlines. To add to that, understanding these deadlines is crucial because if you fail to file your lawsuit within the specified time limit, you may lose your right to seek compensation for the damages you or a loved one suffered.
The Issue of Comparative Negligence
You've probably heard about the term 'negligence' in a car accident case, but you probably don't know exactly how it applies in car accident cases. The concept of negligence falls under two key categories: comparative negligence and contributory negligence.
Under comparative negligence, you'll find the following categories:
- Pure comparative negligence (also known as pure comparative fault), where each party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage of fault based on their contribution to the incident.
- Modified comparative negligence with the 50% rule, where you can only recover damages if your degree of fault is 49% or less.
- Modified comparative negligence with the 51% rule, where you can only recover damages if you were 50% or less at fault for the accident.
Columbia and the entire state of Missouri follow the pure comparative negligence law when determining liability for a traffic accident.
The At-Fault System
In this state, the at-fault system comes into play in traffic accidents. As the name implies, when a car accident occurs, the party found to be at fault, or their insurance company, may be required to compensate the injured party for their injuries and losses.
Traffic Accident Reporting Requirements in Columbia, Missouri
The Missouri Revised Statutes section 303.040 specifies three situations in which reporting an accident is mandatory.
The first scenario is if you are the operator or owner of a motor vehicle involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist on any public street, highway, parking lot, or parking facility accessible to the public. State laws require that you report such an accident. The same rule applies if the accident leads to injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500 for any individual.
The second scenario is if you are the owner or operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident and you do not have automobile insurance. Missourri's traffic laws require you to report the accident if it involves injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500 for any individual.
Lastly, let's say you own a car that's involved in an accident while parked. If the accident results in injury, death, or property damage worth $500 or more, you must report it to the Missouri Department of Revenue through their website, where you'll find the Motor Vehicle Accident Report form.
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements In Missouri
Missouri traffic laws require drivers to have specific insurance coverage, including liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage, to protect all parties involved in an accident. Here are the minimum requirements for each:
Under liability insurance, drivers must have at least $25,000 coverage per person for bodily injury, $50,000 coverage for bodily injuries to multiple parties in a single accident, and $10,000 coverage for property liability per accident.
Liability coverage mostly covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Under Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, drivers in Columbia and throughout Missouri must have $50,000 coverage for bodily injury per accident and $25,000 coverage for bodily injury per person. This coverage protects you and your passengers if you are involved in an accident caused by an at-fault driver who does not have insurance. It will cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related damages.
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When Should I Consider Hiring a Traffic Accident Injury Lawyer?
While this decision hugely depends on the specific circumstances of your case, you should consult with a lawyer if:
- You have sustained serious injuries in the traffic accident.
- The accident resulted in the death of a loved one.
- The insurance company denies or undervalues your claim, meaning they're acting out of bad faith.
- The at-fault party disputes liability.
- You are unsure about your legal rights and options after the accident.
- You are unsure whether you have a valid case in the first place.
What Types of Cases Do Traffic Accident Injury Lawyers Handle?
These lawyers can handle different traffic-related cases, including but not limited to the following:
- Bicycle accidents
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- DUI/DWI accidents
- Wrongful death
What Should I Look for When Choosing a Traffic Accident Injury Lawyer?
Many different factors will come into play when selecting a traffic accident injury lawyer to handle your case. Given that traffic accident cases in Columbia have increased over the past few years, per recent data, you will have many options to choose from when looking for legal representation. But not every traffic accident injury lawyer near you has what it takes to handle the complexities of your case.
That said, you need a lawyer with the following qualities:
- Significant experience in handling traffic accident injury cases in Columbia, MO.
- A positive reputation in the legal community (read independent reviews online to establish this element)
- Proven history of success in achieving favorable outcomes for clients.
- Powerful legal resources to build a strong case on your behalf and take on even the biggest bullies in the room.
- Prepared to fight in court if the other party refuses to settle.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Traffic Accident Injury Lawyer In Columbia, Missouri?
Most injury lawyers in Columbia, Missouri, only get paid if they successfully recover compensation for their client. That means you won't have to worry about paying upfront costs or investing huge sums of money into the case to obtain a favorable outcome. If the attorney wins, they'll deduct a small percentage of the settlement to cover their fees and other legal expenses related to the case.
Do I Need a Traffic Accident Injury Lawyer If I Have Insurance?
Having insurance coverage is important, but that does not necessarily mean that you will have a smooth claims process or fair compensation for your injuries or losses. Also, that has nothing to do with you; it's just how insurance companies work to protect their selfish interests. Even if you are up to date with your payments, they will try to minimize their payouts, leaving you with insufficient coverage for your damages. That's where a traffic accident injury lawyer comes in to help ensure your rights are protected by negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf and pursuing additional compensation if needed.
Will I Have To Go to Court if I Hire a Traffic Accident Injury Lawyer?
Most traffic accident injury lawyers prefer solving such cases outside of the courtroom. But if a settlement is not an option, the right lawyer will be prepared to take your case to court.
What Steps Should I Take After a Traffic Accident Before Contacting a Lawyer?
After a traffic accident, the most critical step is to call 911 and seek medical attention, even if you believe you did not sustain serious injuries. Then, and only if possible, gather evidence from the accident scene, such as photos, videos, witness statements, and any other relevant information that could provide more insight into the case. Finally, contact an experienced traffic accident injury attorney for a case evaluation.
Morgan and Morgan Traffic Accident Injury Lawyers Can Help
It should not be your responsibility to pay medical bills and other expenses related to a traffic accident caused by someone else's negligence. You need a traffic accident lawyer in Columbia, MO, to fight for your rights to compensation. Contact Morgan and Morgan, America's largest and most powerful injury firm, for a free case evaluation.