Personal Injury Laws in Missouri

Personal injury is a “legal dispute that arises when one person suffers harm from an accident or injury, and someone else might be legally responsible for that harm” (findlaw.com). If you or a loved one is injured due to negligence, you have the right to a personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits can be either formal or informal.

In a formal lawsuit, a private individual (the plaintiff) files a civil complaint against the defendant, claiming the defendant caused some sort of physical harm and/or damage to the plaintiff. Informal settlements are much more common than formal ones. Informal settlements include the parties involved with the injury, the parties’ insurers, and attorneys representing both sides. The settlement usually takes the form of negotiation, followed by a written statement agreeing both parties will not take further actions (like going to court), and resolve the issue by payment upon an agreeable amount of money.

Personal injury laws vary from state to state, from statute of limitations to fault rules. In Missouri, the statute of limitations is five years (Title 35, Ch. 516, Sec. 516.120). This means the injured party has five years from the time they become aware or should have become aware of their injuries to bring the personal injury claim to court.

Missouri practices the pure comparative fault rule, “which reduces the compensation an injured person can receive by an amount that is equal to that person’s percentage of fault — no matter how large or small the percentage is” (537.765.1). To explain, imagine you are driving through a 4-way stop sign intersection and it’s raining. It’s your turn to go, and as you do, another car decides to go and hits you. During this accident, you did not have your headlights on. Once this case is brought to court, it is ruled the accident was 80% the other driver’s fault and 20% your fault. Missouri law states headlights need to be on while windshield wipers are required. During the accident, it was raining and your headlights were not on, therefore, the accident was 20% your fault. This means if the settlement is $100,000, you get 80% of it, $80,000.

Missouri’s Dog Bite Law Ouch!

Missouri residents who own a dog need to be aware of Missouri’s strict liability rule for dog bites. The strict liability states that the dog’s owner is responsible for injuries caused by the dog. Some states use the “one bite” rule, which protects dog owners from injury liability the first time their dog bites someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. The Missouri statute for dog bites reads: “The owner or possessor of any dog that bites, without provocation, any person while such person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner or possessor of the dog, is strictly liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s or possessor’s knowledge of such viciousness.” (273.036 of the Missouri Revised Statutes)

If you have a personal injury case but don’t know where to start, The Hester Group is here for you. Our firm will manage every aspect of your case, including the personal, medical, and financial aspects. Personal Injury is one of our specialties, and we want to bring you the justice you deserve.

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