What to Do if You are Involved in an Auto Accident
- Stop! Do not leave the scene of the accident.
- Call the police immediately.
- People are more likely to be truthful to the police officer at the scene than later in a courtroom or deposition.
- Get insurance information from the other drivers but do not admit fault.
- Even if you think you may have some fault, there may be circumstances which would excuse your conduct.
- Get photographs of damage to both vehicles and the scene.
- Juries perceive that the more damage there is to the vehicles, the more likely you were injured.
- Not true, but that is the jury’s typical perception.
- If you don’t get photographs of the other vehicle at the scene, you may never get them.
- Photographs of skid marks and damage to other objects at the scene can be invaluable.
- Get names and telephone numbers of any witnesses who stop at the accident.
- Although the police will also do this, some eyewitnesses may not have time to wait for the police to arrive and begin their report.
- Go to the Emergency Room if you are hurt.
- It is a hassle, but the insurance company will take the position if you were hurt, you would have gone to the Emergency Room.
- Do Not give a recorded statement to the Insurance Company without representation.
- Rest assured, anything you say that can be used against you, will be.
- You may not understand the question.
- You may be under the influence of medication.
- If immediately after the crash, you may not think you are hurt and then next day, or days later, can’t get out of bed.
What to Do in the Days after the Accident
- If you are hurt, see a healthcare provider.
Insurance companies take the position that if you are hurt, you would be seeing a healthcare provider; if you are not seeing a healthcare provider, then you must not be hurt.
The worst thing you can do is just suffer in pain quietly.
It is often true that the sooner you seek medical attention, the sooner you get better.
Do not miss healthcare appointments.
Missing appointments angers healthcare providers. Since healthcare providers may be asked to testify on your behalf, you don’t want them angry with you.
Missing appointments slows down your recovery.
Missing appointments gives insurance companies an argument that you have “failed to mitigate” your damages by not doing everything you could to get better.
How to Protect Yourself Before an Accident
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Can save your life.
- If failure to wear your seatbelt enhances your damages, your recovery can be reduced by 1% under Mo. Rev. Stat. Sec. 307.178.4(2) and maybe by a lot more informally in the jury room.
- If you don’t have a camera on your cell phone, keep a camera in your glove compartment.
- Photos are essential to your case and cell phone batteries can run low. (Even a cheap, disposable camera will work).
- Make sure you have your insurance card in the glove compartment.
- A ticket will be issued to you at the accident scene if you do not have your insurance card with you. You can probably get the ticket dismissed but you will still have to appear in court to do so.
What Type of Auto Insurance Do I Need?
“Liability” Coverage covers the person or property you injure or damage by your negligence.
Under Missouri and Kansas Law, you are required to have $25,000 per person, $50,000 per occurrence in bodily injury benefits and $10,000 per occurrence in property damage liability benefits.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage protects you from expenses for bodily injuries, damages, lost income and medical expenses caused by the negligence of:
- An uninsured motorist.
- A phantom driver (someone that causes an accident through their negligence and he or she’s identity is unknown either because they left the accident scene or their negligence pre-dated the accident).
- By state law you must carry at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence in Uninsured Motorist coverage.
- Under Missouri law, you can “stack” Uninsured Motorist Coverage for the named insured, insured’s spouse and minor children which reside in the home. If hurt bad enough, you can stack all Uninsured Motorist coverages.
For example: If you have 3 vehicles, each with $100,000 per person coverage, if hurt badly enough, you would have $300,000 in Uninsured Motorist coverage, even if those other vehicles were not involved in the accident.
Under Kansas law, you cannot “stack” Uninsured Motorist coverage and would be limited to the policy limits of the vehicle you are in at the time of the accident.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage protects you from expenses for bodily injuries, damages, lost income and medical expenses caused by the negligence of:
- A driver that does not have enough insurance coverage to pay for your injuries and medical damages.
- In Kansas, you must have at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence in coverage.
- In Missouri, you not required to have Underinsured coverage.
- You cannot stack Underinsured Insurance coverage in Kansas.
- Normally, cannot stack Underinsured Insurance coverage in Missouri unless you have a badly written policy.
Coverage to Pay Your Own Medical Bills
Medical Payment Benefits Coverage (Missouri)
- Medical Payment Benefit Coverage (sometimes called “Med Pay” coverage) pays your own ‘fair and reasonable’ healthcare expenses up to the limit of your coverage.
- This is not required in Missouri; you must purchase as an “extra” on your automobile insurance policy.
- Coverage is usually in increments of $1,000, $2,000, $10,000, and $25,000.
- No subrogation. This means if you receive payment from the other party’s insurance, you do not have to pay back to your carrier the amount you received through your own Medical Payments Coverage.
- Everyone in the car is covered by Medical Payment Benefits Coverage up to its limits.
Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage (Kansas)
- Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage (sometimes called “PIP” coverage) pays your own ‘fair and reasonable’ healthcare expenses up to the limit of your coverage.
- A minimum of $4,500 in Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage is required by law in Kansas. You can purchase more.
- Kansas Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage is subject to subrogation. This means if you receive payment from the other party’s insurance, the amount you receive from the other party’s insurance is reduced by the amount you received through your own Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage less a reduction for attorney’s fees.
- Everyone in the car is covered by Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage up to the limits of the policy; however, the coverage is secondary to their own Personal Injury Protection Benefits Coverage.