Determining Fault in a Kansas City Car Accident
After some car accidents, both drivers get out of their respective cars and hurl accusations at each other about what the other driver did to cause the accident, or obvious signs of danger that they ignored or failed to notice. But Kansas City is part of the famously mild-mannered Midwest so you are just as likely to encounter a situation where both the drivers get out of their cars and calmly exchange insurance information after a car wreck. However, in that situation, each driver is secretly counting the ways that the accident is the other’s fault and hoping the other side admits they were liable for the wreck.
At the scene of the accident, it is much less important to determine fault than making sure that anyone who needs medical attention receives it. After you first check to see if anyone is injured, the process begins of each party telling his or her version of events, first to the police and then to the insurance companies, in order to assign fault. Sometimes, such as in hazardous weather conditions, it might seem like the accident was unavoidable and is therefore no one’s fault. Even when that is the case, you should still contact the Kansas City, Missouri car wreck attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC if you were injured in a car accident.
The Role of Fault in Missouri Car Accident Cases
Missouri law acknowledges comparative fault in car accidents. This means that the insurance companies do not simply decide that the car accident was or was not your fault. Instead, the insurance company divides the fault for the accident among two or more parties. For example, they might decide that the accident was 10% your fault and 90% the other driver’s fault. In another accident, they might decide that the accident was 10% your fault, 70% the other driver’s fault, and 20% the fault of the landlord who owns the poorly designed parking lot where the collision occurred.
Comparative fault, also called comparative negligence, is important in the context of Missouri car accident lawsuits. If the insurance company assigned part of the fault to you, or if a jury assigns part of the fault to you during the trial, you can still win your case and recover damages. The court will first calculate the damages you would have received if you bore no fault for the accident, which may or may not equal the amount you requested in your lawsuit. Then, if you are partially at fault for the accident, the court will reduce your damages award by your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, if the court originally calculated your award at $100,000, but the accident was 10% your fault, you would receive $90,000.
For this reason, you should be careful when talking to insurance companies about the moments leading up to the accident. The insurance adjuster is trying to get you to admit to mistakes you made, and if the statement is recorded, the insurance company will listen to it over and over to find any inconsistencies in your narrative. In other words, the insurance company is trying to assign the biggest possible share of fault to you in order to give you less money.
Could the Other Driver Have Avoided Hitting You, Even in Adverse Weather Conditions?
Adverse weather conditions, such as snow, ice, strong winds, or heavy rain, can increase the risk of car accidents. Just because the weather conditions were a contributing factor to the accident, it does not automatically mean that the insurance companies or the court will not assign fault to any of the drivers involved. In fact, if you get into a car accident in winter weather, there is probably something the other driver could have done to avoid the accident. Here are some possible scenarios:
The other driver could have driven more slowly. It is wise to drive below the speed limit when snow or heavy rain is falling and visibility is low. Even if they were driving below the speed limit does not necessarily mean they were not negligent and responsible for the wreck. A party can still be negligent in they were driving too fast for the current weather conditions.
The other driver could have waited until the worst weather passed. Even when local authorities do not issue alerts advising motorists to stay off the road in a snow emergency, it is best to delay travel until after a big storm.
If the other driver was either texting or on their phone, then they should have been paying more attention to the road. The chances are high that they could have avoided the crash if they had noticed you sooner.
The other driver slammed on the brakes on a wet or icy road. If the other driver had pumped the brakes instead of slamming on them, they probably could have kept better control of the vehicle. If they could not have avoided the crash entirely, they could have at least collided with you at a lower speed, which most likely would have lessened the injuries resulting from the crash.
A Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer can Help When No One Takes Responsibility for the Accident
If the accident really was no one’s fault, then why do you need a lawyer? A personal injury lawyer can help you in more ways after an accident than you might imagine. Even if another driver claims they were not at fault for the accident, you should still discuss your case with a car accident attorney to determine who is truly liable for your injuries. Remember, the insurance adjuster will try to get you to say anything that will give them an excuse to pay you less money. If an insurance adjuster calls to talk to you about a car accident and your resulting injuries, the only thing you should say is, “[t]alk to my lawyer.”