Missouri requires accident reporting if all of the following apply: the accident happened within state boundaries, it happened within the last 12 months and someone in the accident did not have insurance. Otherwise accident reporting is not necessary in Missouri. However, if the accident caused injury or property damage over $500 you may want to report it to the local police in order to have a police report for possible negotiation or court actions.
Missouri is Pure Comparative Fault
The legal system in Missouri is an at fault system, traditional tort law system that is also a pure comparative fault state. In a traditional tort law legal system, drivers have the right to legally recover damages from accidents through the courts. Pure comparative fault allows any party less than 100% at fault to recover a portion of their expenses in an accident. If you are found 99% at fault, you could still recover technically 1% of your accident expenses.
In this type of system, drivers, pedestrians and property owners involved or injured in an auto accident have four possible ways to recover damages from an accident.
The first and rarest is when a driver takes full 100% responsibility for the cause of the accident and agrees to pay all your expenses related to property damage or injury. However, because in this system, victims can recover damages for ‘pain and suffering’ as well as lost wages, if the accident causes significant damage or injury, this first option is almost always not available. This is especially true in a pure comparative fault state.
The second option is to make a claim against your insurance coverage. This option is also only used for those mostly at fault. As a claim against your insurance can often raise your insurance premiums, if you are not the majority at fault, it would not make sense for you to raise your own insurance premiums with a claim.
Thirdly, you can make a claim directly to the person at fault’s insurance company. This provides an option outside of court and generally will cost less and may offer a quicker and better solution. This however is often contingent on how well you are represented and if the two parties can agree on a formula for finding fault. The most at fault party will always try to lessen their own fault and increase others in this system. Negotiations often break down around the assigning of fault.
The last option is a direct lawsuit in civil court to establish a clear ruling on fault in order to establish expense breakdowns. Lawsuits establish fault but also can award larger pain and suffering awards than what is typically awarded in negotiation and mediation with an insurance company. If you are severely injured and have a good case for a very low fault percentage, hiring an accident attorney and following this route often provides the most effective route for expense recovery.
Suspension for Demerits
Missouri uses a demerit point system for traffic violations and if you accumulate too many in a certain amount of time it can result in a license suspension. A mere 8 points or more in an 18 month period will result in the following suspensions, first offense 30 days, second offense 60 days, third and subsequent will get a 90 day suspension. Your license can also be fully revoked for a year if you accumulate the following points, 12 in 12 months, 18 in 24 months or 24 or more in 36 months. Tickets stay on your record for 3 years and a suspension stays for 5 years.
Driving under the influence in Missouri can result in harsh penalties very quickly. Although first offences are mostly in line with most states, a second offense within 5 years of the first offense is one of the harshest 2nd offence penalties of any state.
DUI offences consist of both court and administrative penalties. Court awarded penalties for a first offense can include up to 6 months in jail, a maximum $500 fine and court mandated alcohol or drug treatment programs. Administrative penalties include a 90 day license suspension and possible ignition interlock device requirements.
A second offence within 5 years of a first offence results in an automatic 5 year license revocation on top of the court awarded penalties. A second offence after 5 years still results in a 1 year suspension. A third offence results in a 10 year license cancellation.