A head-on car accident in northwestern Missouri left one of the drivers seriously injured.
The incident raises some interesting aspects of personal injury law because of one crucial detail: The injured drivers were from out of state.
Head-On Car Crash Leaves Iowa Driver Seriously Hurt
The crash happened 5 miles north of Eagleville, about an hour and a half northeast of St. Joseph. According to initial reports, a small passenger vehicle crossed the median on I-35 and hit a pickup truck head-on.
The driver and the passenger in the pickup truck were from Oklahoma. They suffered only minor injuries, even though it rolled over from the collision and came to a rest upside-down.
The driver of the passenger vehicle was from Iowa. He suffered serious injuries and was brought by ambulance to Decatur County Hospital.
Choice of Law Complications for Out-of-State Accident Victims
Different states have slightly different rules when it comes to personal injury law. In most cases, these differences are small and nuanced, and will not alter the outcome. However, in some cases, it will make a huge difference which state’s law is applied.
Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than when an out-of-state victim of a car accident ends up dying of their injuries.
In these situations, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one. However, each state has its own statute that governs wrongful death cases. Some of them include strict damage caps which prohibit the victim’s family from recovering more than a set amount in compensation.
For example, Missouri’s wrongful death statute is 537.080. This law does not put a limit on the damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. However, there are other states that limit the amount of compensation available in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits for non-economic damages suffered by the victim or his or her family – damages for things like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Some states have caps that are disturbingly low, like Ohio’s wrongful death damage cap, which limits compensation for non-economic damages to a mere $350,000.
There are, however, arguments to be made over which state’s wrongful death statute should apply. On the one hand, it makes sense to apply the law of the state in which the accident happened. On the other hand, residents of one state are at least partially responsible for the laws in their home state, and should count on its continued protection when they cross state lines.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
Getting the personal injury laws that promote your interests can make or break a case. Even if the case never goes to trial, whether there is a statutory damage cap or not can drive settlement negotiations.