Missouri Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

About 800 fatal crashes occur every year on Missouri roads and thousands more are seriously injured, making the state one of the more dangerous places in the U.S. to drive. Missouri’s personal injury and wrongful death legal regimes allow injured victims and grieving relatives to secure compensation for their losses in the form of money damages. Following are some of the primary features of Missouri car accident law.

What is the Missouri Statute of Limitations? Missouri grants plaintiffs a generous five years after the accident to file a claim for personal injury or property damage. Wrongful death plaintiffs have three years from the date of the victim’s death to file a lawsuit.

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: Missouri has adopted a “pure comparative fault” rule for situations when the victim is partly at fault for the accident – the jury determines the victim’s percentage of fault and then the court deducts the same percentage from the victim’s damages. The victim can win partial damages even if he was mostly at fault for the accident.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Missouri is not a no-fault state – if you feel that the other driver was at fault, you are entitled to negotiate with his insurance company or file a lawsuit against him.

What is the Minimum Car Insurance Coverage in Missouri? Missouri drivers must purchase liability insurance with maximum coverage limits of no less than $25,000 per victim, $50,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage.

Is Uninsured or Underinsured Insurance Coverage Required in Missouri? Missouri requires its drivers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage with maximum coverage limits of no less than $25,000 per victim and $50,000 per accident. Underinsured motorist coverage is not required.

What Types of Damages are Available in a Missouri Personal Injury Case? Full compensatory damages are available. Punitive damages are limited to the greater of 500 percent of compensatory damages or $500,000; however, this limitation is removed if the defendant’s conduct was felonious or if the state of Missouri is the defendant. 50 percent of any punitive damages award goes to the Missouri state government.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders are required to wear motorcycle helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: Children aged 8 and older who weigh at least 80 pounds must wear seat belts. The maximum fine for a first offense is $50. Occupants 16 or older must wear seat belts while sitting in a front seat. For occupants 16 and older, failure to wear a seat belt is a secondary offense – the officer cannot cite you for it unless he pulled you over for some other offense such as speeding. The maximum fine for a first offense is $10.

Dram Shop Law: A licensed alcohol vendors can be sued by an injured third party if he serves alcohol to a minor under 21 who then proceeds to injure the third party while intoxicated. Vendors also face limited third-party liability for serving intoxicated adults. Social hosts face no third-party liability.

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): You can go to jail for up to 6 months for a first offense DWI in Missouri. You can also be fined up to $500, and the state can suspend your driver’s license for 30 days.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving is forbidden for drivers under 22.