When new laws are made, they often go into effect on the first day of the upcoming year. 2020 is no exception. In Missouri, there are two important laws that will influence how car accidents are resolved in the state. One can have a significant impact on the compensation that car crash victims can recover in a personal injury lawsuit that is based on products liability.
Here are summaries of the two laws set to go into effect today, January 1, 2020.
License Suspension for Causing a Crash in a Work Zone
The first is Senate Bill 89, which is an assortment of transportation laws. Among these new laws is Missouri Statute § 304.585(6). This particular subsection requires that a driver’s license be revoked whenever they negligently hit a construction worker in a work zone or an emergency responder in an active emergency zone.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt Can Be Used to Show Comparative Negligence in Products Liability Cases
The second is Senate Bill 30, which is far more complicated and requires some explanation.
Whenever there is an accident and someone gets hurt, the law in Missouri compares how negligent each party was in the crash. This is the rule of comparative negligence. If the person who is suing after a car accident was less than half at fault, they can recover compensation. That compensation, though, gets diminished by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim.
So if someone gets hurt in a car crash that someone else caused and they deserve $100,000 in compensation, but they were 10% at fault, they will receive $90,000 under Missouri’s comparative negligence rules.
There is an exception to this rule, though: Under Missouri Statute § 307.178, if the victim gets hurt in a crash but was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, the lack of a seat belt can only reduce the compensation the victim receives by 1%.
Senate Bill 30, though, goes into effect today and changes that exception, but only for products liability cases. Companies who are being sued because they made a defective car or car part can use the lack of a seat belt as evidence of comparative negligence. They can use that evidence to reduce the compensation the victim recovers by far more than 1%.
The scope of this new law is very narrow. It will only impact car accidents that happen because of a vehicle defect and that hurt someone who was unrestrained. However, big car companies who are sued in Missouri will use it to undermine products liability cases that are filed against them whenever they can.
Car Accident Lawyers in St. Joseph at the Smith Law Office
The car accident attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph, Missouri, strive to help people who have been hurt in a car crash in western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.