The fallout from car accidents can be significant. Depending on the circumstances around the crash, the victim might be faced with:

  • Physical injuries
  • Psychological trauma
  • Property damage

Not only can these challenges result in significant and sometimes lifelong mental and physical pain, but they can also present an overwhelming financial burden. Car repairs can be costly, and medical bills are even more expensive. Managing both of these can result in time away from work, resulting in lost wages and an inability to pay those bills. If that isn’t enough, these burdens can be even more significant if you suffered a catastrophic injury, requiring you to adjust your home and work environment for lifestyle changes.

All of this is why it’s so important to seek financial compensation when you are involved in a car accident. It is the responsibility of your insurance company — and the other driver’s insurance company — to make you financially whole while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

Of course, it’s not in their best interest to do that. Insurance companies make their fortunes by taking in more money than they pay out, so it’s not uncommon to hear of car accident victims being shortchanged or being outright denied when filing car accident claims. They know that this is a source of stress in your life, and they are counting on the chance that you will be comfortable with accepting less money than you are owed in order to close out this chapter.

When this happens, it might be time to file a car accident lawsuit. In this short guide, the St. Louis car accident lawyers at Niemeyer, Grebel and Kruse will detail how a car accident case usually proceeds and when it makes sense to stop the settlement process and file a personal injury lawsuit. As always, every case is different and can be unique. If you or someone you love has a car accident claim that you need specific help with, the lawyers at NGK Law are available for a free case review. Contact us at 314-241-1919.

When is the right time to file a car accident lawsuit?

Car accident lawsuits can be time consuming and stressful. The best time to file a car accident lawsuit is when you have exhausted all other possible avenues to receive fair compensation. Below, we’ll break down what typically happens after a car crash and when it a personal injury lawsuit might come into play.

The day of the crash

Immediately following a crash, your safety and health should be your top priority. If able, gather evidence at the scene including photographs and contact details of witnesses.

Call the police to report the accident and seek immediate medical attention, even if you don’t believe your injuries are severe. These initial steps are important as they document the evidence behind any potential claim you might make later.

File a car accident claim

Notify your insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurance company about the accident. Be careful about what you say and avoid accepting any fault for the accident at this stage.

Who is at fault?

After reporting the car crash to your insurance company, they will soon make a judgement about which driver they believe was at fault.

Missouri is an “at-fault” state, which means the person who caused the accident is generally responsible for any damages. If you were at fault, your insurance company will likely be responsible for damages. If the other driver was at fault, you may have the option to file a lawsuit against them to recover damages.

If both parties share fault, Missouri applies a rule of “pure comparative negligence.” This means if you’re partially at fault, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you’re found to be 20% at fault, any damages awarded to you would be reduced by 20%.

Motor vehicle accidents can be complicated, so if you have any questions about the insurance company’s judgement of fault or if you disagree with them, it’s best to speak with a St. Louis car accident lawyer about your situation.

After the car accident claims have been submitted, the insurance companies involved will process them and make a settlement offer.

When to settle and when to sue

It’s often preferable to settle your claim outside of court, as car accident settlements can be quicker and less stressful. However, if the insurance company’s settlement offer is unsatisfactory, or if they deny your claim, you may consider filing a lawsuit.

If your injuries are severe, or if there’s a dispute about who was at fault, it might be more advantageous to sue. A successful lawsuit could result in compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Before deciding to sue, it’s crucial to consult with an attorney. With expertise in car accident cases, they can advise you on the strength of your case, the potential for recovery, and the costs and stress associated with a lawsuit.

How a St. Louis car accident attorney can help

While it might seem tempting to manage your car crash and personal injury claim by yourself, it’s often better to work directly with a personal injury attorney after a Missouri car accident. Your attorney can handle the day-to-day heavy lifting of your insurance claim, as well as communication with all of the involved parties in the car wreck. This can help free up more of your time and ease some stress while the claim works its way through the process.

An experienced attorney can also help with:

Interpretation of laws and regulations

Car accident laws in Missouri can be complex and challenging for a layperson to understand. An attorney can explain these laws and how they apply to your case, ensuring that you’re well-informed about your rights and obligations.

Investigating the accident

A law firm can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident. This includes reviewing the police report from the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, consulting with experts, and collecting medical records and other pertinent evidence. They’ll aim to build the strongest case possible, to prove the other party’s fault and the extent of your damages.

Handling insurance companies

Dealing with insurance companies can be overwhelming. They often have experienced teams dedicated to reducing their liability and payout. A skilled attorney can manage these interactions on your behalf, reducing stress and ensuring that your rights are protected.

Assessing and proving damages

Your attorney can help calculate the full extent of your damages, including current and future medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. They’ll work to substantiate these damages with concrete evidence and argue for maximum compensation.

Negotiating settlements

Armed with a thorough understanding of your case, an attorney can negotiate assertively with insurance companies to reach a fair settlement. If the insurance company’s offer is inadequate, your attorney can push back, leveraging their knowledge of Missouri law and the details of your case.

Filing a lawsuit

If a fair settlement isn’t achievable, an attorney can advise you on whether it’s prudent to file a lawsuit. They can handle all aspects of the litigation process, from drafting and filing court documents to representing you in court. They’ll argue your case, working to convince the judge or jury of your entitlement to compensation.

How to file a car accident lawsuit in Missouri

If you have exhausted all avenues available to you to obtain compensation for your property damage and car accident injuries, it likely is time to sue.

While the statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit in Missouri is five years from the date of the accident, it’s best to start the process as soon as possible to allow adequate time for investigation and negotiation.

First, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. They can evaluate your case, explain your options, and guide you on the best course of action.

Your attorney will then identify all potential damages stemming from the accident. These can include medical bills, repair costs, lost wages and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Next, many car accident claims are settled out of court. If the situation warrants it, your attorney can help negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.

If a settlement isn’t reached, your attorney can help you file a lawsuit. This involves drafting a legal document called a ‘complaint’ outlining your case and formally serving it to the defendant (the party you are suing).

If you or someone you love has a specific question or needs help with your car accident case, the experienced personal injury attorneys at NGK Law are here to help. Give us a call at 314-241-1919 for a free case review.

The car accident lawsuit process

The process begins with an investigation. This involves reviewing police reports, interviewing witnesses, gathering medical records, obtaining evidence at the location where the accident occurred and possibly reconstructing the accident to establish fault and document the extent of your injuries and damages.

Pre-lawsuit negotiations

Your attorney will typically begin by attempting to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If a satisfactory settlement can’t be reached, your attorney will proceed with filing a lawsuit.

Filing the lawsuit

As we mentioned above, your attorney will draft a document called a ‘complaint’ or ‘petition,’ which officially starts the lawsuit. It outlines your claims against the defendant (the party you’re suing), the facts supporting your claims, and the damages you’re seeking. The complaint is filed with the court and served to the defendant.

Defendant’s answer

After being served, the defendant has a specified time to respond to your complaint, usually by filing an ‘answer’. This document will typically deny most, if not all, of your claims and may outline any defenses they plan to use.


During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence. This process can involve written questions (interrogatories), depositions (oral testimony under oath), and document requests. Discovery helps each side understand the other’s case and prepare for trial.

Pre-trial motions

Both parties can file pre-trial motions to resolve certain issues before trial. For example, a motion for summary judgment argues that there are no factual disputes and that one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


If the case isn’t settled and no pre-trial motion has ended the case, it proceeds to trial. Each side presents their arguments and evidence to the judge or jury, who will then decide the outcome.

Verdict and judgment

Once the judge or jury reaches a decision, the court will issue a judgment. This document formalizes the verdict, stating who won, any damages awarded, and the terms of payment.

Get the compensation you deserve after your motor vehicle accident

Managing insurance claims, medical expenses, car repairs and more can be overwhelming, especially while trying to recover from the physical and emotional impact of a motor vehicle accident. That’s where seeking professional legal help can make a significant difference.

It’s no time to do it by yourself. Contact the experienced St. Louis car accident attorneys at Niemeyer, Grebel and Kruse today for a free case review. With two of the 2022 list of Best Lawyers as well as a Top 50 and Top 100 lawyer in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury by Super Lawyers Magazine, our team gets results. Call 314-241-1919.

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