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What you need to know about comparative fault in Missouri

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

In the aftermath of a car accident, the thought of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit may bring you some sort of comfort. After all, if you’re successful on one of these claims, you might be able to recover the compensation that you need to offset your medical expenses, your lost wages and any other accident-related losses.

But these losses aren’t going to just be given to you. Instead, you’ll have to be prepared to advocate for them. While this means analyzing the facts surrounding your accident and gathering evidence to show that the other driver was responsible for your crash and thus your injuries, you might also have to be prepared to play some defense when pursuing your case.

How comparative fault can affect your case

Under Missouri law, the amount of compensation that’s awarded to you in a successful personal injury case can be reduced if you’re found to have contributed to the accident. This comparative fault model reduces your award by the percentage of fault that’s allocated to you. For example, if you win your case and prove that your damages total $100,000 but you were found to be 25% at fault for the wreck, you’ll actually be awarded $75,000.

In other words, the money that you lose due to comparative fault can be significant, making it even more difficult for you to recover in the way that you see fit. That’s why it’s imperative that you know how to anticipate and counter comparative fault arguments.

What can you do to protect yourself from comparative fault arguments?

Although you’re not going to be able to prevent the other side from raising these arguments, there are things that you can do to potentially reduce their impact on your claim. Let’s look at what you might be able to do in your case:

  • Be honest with yourself: If you want to effectively push back against a comparative fault argument, you need to be able to anticipate those arguments. You can only do that if you’re honest with yourself about your driving behaviors leading up to the accident. So, before you move toward negotiations or litigation, carefully think through your case from the defense’s perspective so that you can identify weak points in your case and work to strengthen them.
  • Secure experts: If you know that the defense is going to raise a comparative fault argument, you might be able to rebuff it by presenting expert testimony. This might come from an accident reconstruction specialist who can identify the cause of the accident by applying the laws of physics to the facts of your case.
  • Focus on the comparative nature of comparative fault: Even if you think that there’s an argument to be made that you contributed to the accident in question, you need to think through how you can keep it in perspective. If you can make the other driver’s action seem even more egregious, you can minimize the perceived impact that your own actions had on the crash. This is where aggressively presenting facts against the defendant can prove helpful.

Protecting your claim from all angles

There’s a lot that goes into a personal injury case. And you need to effectively navigate every aspect of your case if you want to increase your chances of winning your case and recovering the compensation that you need.

If you think that you could use some help in that regard, you might want to think about reaching out to a legal professional who can help you build your case.