Many times an accident is caused by more than one person, and to varying degrees. There are many factors that could be argued to have “caused” an accident to occur. Especially in personal injury litigation, these “factors” will be thoroughly evaluated in an effort to determine what party will be determined to be liable for someone’s damages.
Most states have developed their own independent means of calculating this fault determination. In other words in State A, a plaintiff may be awarded a certain amount in damages from a jury, whereas in State B the same plaintiff injured in the same accident may be awarded no damages whatsoever, depending upon the fault determination framework that is employed by State B. The outcome is entirely dependent on the fault determination framework that the state has adopted and how it reflects upon the facts of the accident.
Fault Framework in Missouri
Missouri has adopted a “pure comparative fault” framework for allocating fault and determining the resulting damages. The pure comparative fault framework provides for a 100% split fault determination by the jury and a corresponding damages allocation. A jury my find that the plaintiff was 20% at fault in the accident and thereby will reduce the total amount of damages due to plaintiff by 20%.
The following are some examples that demonstrate the practical impact that Missouri’s fault allocation framework has on personal injury cases:
- Driver A and Driver B are in a car accident. Driver A files suit against Driver B. Driver A’s damages are determined to be $100,000. At trial, the jury determines Driver B to be 100% at fault. Damages due to Driver A: $100,000.
- Driver A and Driver B are in a car accident. Driver A files suit against Driver B. Driver A’s damages are determined to be $100,000. At trial the jury determines Driver A to be %20 at fault and Driver B to be 80% at fault. Damages due to Driver A: $80,000.
What happens when a jury finds the plaintiff to be more at fault than the defendant?
- Driver A and Driver B are in a car accident. Driver A files suit against Driver B. Driver A’s damages are determined to be $100,000. At trial, the jury determines Driver A to be 75% at fault and Driver B to be 25% at fault. Damages due to Driver A: $25,000.
The fault allocation framework in Missouri affords great deference to the injury sustained by plaintiff. Regardless of how minimal, any fault that is allocated to the defendant may permit the plaintiff to collect for the damages arising from the fault respective to the ratio.
Note: This article is intended to provide a general summation on a legal topic and should not be construed as legal advice in any manner. Readers should consider speaking with an attorney prior to acting upon the information contained in this publication. Nothing in this article or database may be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship.