There are 4.3 million licensed drivers and 5.5 million registered vehicles in Missouri. What’s more, Missouri has 33,830 miles of state highway (7th most in the country).
Unfortunately, when you have lots of cars traveling lots of miles, you’re going to have lots of accidents.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at Missouri car accidents, including the rules of the road and the steps you can take after an accident to increase your chances of recovering the damages you deserve.
Missouri has averaged 154,627 car accidents annually over the last 5 years. The good news is that fatal car accidents and total accidents have generally trended downward over the last 20 years.
Preliminary reporting for 2020 indicates that Missouri traffic fatalities increased by 12% compared to the previous year. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 989 lives were lost in Missouri traffic crashes in 2020, up from 881 in 2019.
Across the country, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident. One explanation for this is the prevalence of texting while driving.
Although rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident in the United States, car crashes in Missouri come in all shapes and sizes.
|Missouri car crashes by type (2019)|
|Crash type||Fatal accidents||Total accidents|
|Motor vehicle in transport||312||103,386|
|Parked motor vehicle||7||10,485|
|Working motor vehicle||1||279|
|Fell from motor vehicle||9||96|
|Source: Missouri Department of Public Safety|
Missouri law requires all motor vehicle drivers to carry liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage.
Liability insurance covers the damages (up to the policy limits) sustained by the other vehicle and occupants in an accident that you cause.
The minimum level of liability coverage required by Missouri law is:
Uninsured motorist coverage helps cover injuries you or your passengers sustain in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist.
Missouri law requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident.
Failure to carry the required minimum coverage may result in penalties ranging from a fine to having your license suspended. What’s more, if you cause an accident and don’t have insurance, you’ll be personally liable for all of the damages that result.
The laws impacting Missouri drivers can be found in Title XIX of the Missouri Revised Statutes. These laws cover everything from vehicle registration to navigating the state’s roads. Although it’s not a bad idea to read through these laws, there are 3 laws that are most likely to come into play if you’re involved in a car accident in the Show-Me State:
Missouri law requires drivers to do 4 things following a car accident that results in property damage, injury, or death:
If you fail to complete these 4 steps, you may be convicted of a hit-and-run. The penalties for a hit-and-run conviction are as follows:
|Missouri penalties for a hit-and-run|
|Accident resulted in damages under $1,000||Class A misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000|
|Accident resulted in damages in excess of $1,000, physical injury, or you were previously convicted of a hit-and-run||Class E||Up to 4 years in state prison|
|Accident resulted in death||Class D||Up to 7 years in state prison|
Missouri is a fault-based insurance state, which means that the person responsible for causing a car crash is also responsible for paying the resulting damages.
If you’re involved in an accident that’s NOT your fault, you have 3 options for recovering damages:
If the driver who caused the accident is uninsured, you can file a claim under your mandatory uninsured motorist coverage. If your damages exceed the amount of your uninsured motorist coverage, you’ll need to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Keep in mind that, for all of these scenarios, you’ll need to prove fault. Proving fault in a car accident generally means proving that the other driver was negligent.
To establish that a motor vehicle driver was negligent in Missouri, you must show that:
Of course, not all car accidents are caused by other drivers. Other potentially liable parties include:
All states limit the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time limitation is called the “statute of limitations.”
Missouri has one of the most generous statutes of limitation in the country. For personal injury lawsuits, you have 5 years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit. If you fail to do so, your lawsuit will be forever barred.
However, there are a couple of narrow exceptions to the 5-year statute of limitations. In order to protect your legal rights and take advantage of all avenues of recovery, it’s a good idea to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a car accident.
Hiring a personal injury attorney after a car accident is not a requirement. However, an attorney may be able to protect your legal rights and help you recover the damages you deserve.
If you suffered minor injuries or minor property damage, you may be able to file an insurance claim and receive the compensation you deserve without involving a lawyer. However, if any of the following are true, we strongly recommend consulting with an experienced attorney near you:
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more