What Missouri Laws Apply to Motorcycles?
Missouri law enforces several requirements governing the operation of motorcycles including:
- Operating a motorcycle requires a valid Class M motorcycle license or driver’s license with a Class M designation.
- Lane sharing is discouraged but not prohibited by state law. This includes lane splitting, which is operating a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, and motorcycles traveling two abreast in the same lane.
- Operators and passengers age 25 and under are required to wear headgear meeting the U.S. Department of Transportation’s requirements. Those aged 26 and older may ride without a helmet so long as they can provide proof of health insurance or other insurance that will provide medical coverage in the event of an accident.
- Insurance coverage requirements are the same as for regular vehicles in Missouri, which includes minimum bodily injury liability limits of $25,000 per person per accident and $25,000 in property damage coverage.
How is Fault Determined
In a Motorcycle Accident?
Missouri is an at-fault state for insurance, which means the person responsible for causing the crash is also responsible for paying property, bodily injury, and wrongful death damages to those injured or killed.
Missouri is also a pure comparative fault state. This means any amount agreed to in settlement of your claim or awarded by a jury at trial is reduced by any percentage of fault assigned to you.
For example, the negligent driver’s bodily injury liability limits are $100,000. Your damages — such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income — exceeds $100,000, so a jury awards the policy limits to you at trial. You would receive the full award if the other driver is 100% at fault, however, if you were assigned 20% fault for the crash, your award would be reduced by that percentage of fault. In this case, that would be a $20,000 reduction.
What to do If Your Loved One
Was in a Motorcycle Accident
If your loved one was incapacitated as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident and is unable to assert a personal injury claim on their own, a claim can be asserted on their behalf. Anyone with the injured person’s durable power of attorney or springing power of attorney which allows the attorney-in-fact to make decisions in the event of incapacitation would be able to pursue a claim on their behalf.
If there is no power of attorney, a spouse or other close relative could petition the court to establish a conservatorship estate. If granted, the conservator would become the plaintiff in the personal injury lawsuit.
In Missouri, certain people may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased loved one. The law establishes “classes” to determine priority in filing. Classes include the surviving spouse, children and grandchildren of the decedent, parents, siblings, and their children. If there are no relatives, the personal representative of the estate may file a claim, or the court may appoint one. Any settlement would become part of the decedent’s estate.
Missouri law also states that only one wrongful death action can be filed. It is therefore important to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney to make sure all negligent parties are named in the lawsuit.
Establishing the negligence of the other party and minimizing findings of negligence on the part of your loved one is critical to your ability to recover damages on their behalf. The cost of taking care of an incapacitated loved one, or in the wake of their death, can be devastating.