A car accident can impact your life in many ways. Injuries sustained during a car accident may prevent you from working, which can significantly affect your family’s finances. Missouri employment laws follow an at-will doctrine, which means that your employer may terminate your contract for no specific reason. If you lose your job due to a car accident, your first step should be to hire an employment lawyer to review your case.
Ask an Employment Lawyer: What Happens If I Lose My Employment Due to a Car Accident?
Missouri employment laws follow an at-will doctrine, which means that your employer may fire you without a significant reason. If you are fired from your job after a car accident, you have two options: the first one is to file a claim with the insurance company of the party at fault for the accident or a lawsuit against the other driver.
Depending on the circumstances in which you were terminated, you can also file a discrimination claim with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission) and eventually sue your former employer.
Filing a Claim With an Insurance Company
After you file a claim, insurance adjusters will begin an investigation to determine a percentage of liability. Missouri follows a “comparative negligence” system, in which both parties can be liable for a car accident at different rates. After the adjuster’s investigation, you can collect compensation according to the percentage of fault attributed to the other party.
Compensation for a car accident damages includes economic losses (property damage, loss of income) and non-economic losses (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.). If you can demonstrate that you lost your job as a direct result of your injuries, the liable party will have to pay you for lost wages until you find another job.
What Happens During the Insurer’s Investigation?
Insurance adjusters will collect evidence, including:
- Police reports
- Surveillance camera footage
- Witness statements
- Experts’ statements (healthcare professionals, mechanics, etc.)
During the investigation, adjusters may contact you asking for a statement. It’s important to remember that they represent the insurance company and will try to protect their interests. If an adjuster contacts you, you only need to provide your lawyer’s contact information. Avoid talking to them without your lawyer present.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurance company denies your claim, the other driver was uninsured, or the settlement offer from the insurer is not enough to cover your damages, you will need to file a lawsuit, and your case will follow a trial. During the trial, a jury or judge will review the evidence and establish a compensation amount.
It’s important to note that during the trial, the jury or judge may demand further information about your employment and the reasons for your dismissal and may require you to file a claim with the Missouri Department of Labor.
Filing a Discrimination Claim
You may have grounds for a discrimination claim if you are fired after an accident. After you file, the Department of Labor will begin an investigation and try to determine if you were illegally fired. If this is the case, you may also ask for a “Notice of Right to Sue” and proceed in court against your former employer. Depending on the verdict from the Department of Labor, and the court’s decision after a trial, you may:
- Demand to be reinstalled in your position and collect back pay for the months that you were unemployed
- Receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages resulting from discriminatory actions
How to Prove Discrimination
Because of Missouri’s at-will doctrine, you’ll need to prove that you were illegally fired. There are three possible scenarios in which terminating an employee after an accident are considered illegal under Missouri law:
- You were terminated while on FMLA-approved leave
- You were disabled, and your employer didn’t provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to come back to work
- Your dismissal was a form of retaliation after complaining about disability-related discrimination
The first scenario is easy to demonstrate, but the second and third may be more challenging (the law also states that “reasonable accommodations” must not pose a significant burden to the company). Employment Lawyers in Kansas City, MO will help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim and speak on your behalf during settlement negotiations or in court. They will also ensure that all paperwork is filed on time and according to court rules.
If you are fired due to a car accident, getting professional legal representation is imperative. An employment attorney can guide you through all the steps required to build your case and improve your chances of a positive outcome. Hire an attorney with a proven track record of success in similar cases who can demonstrate knowledge of Missouri labor laws.