Teaching Your Teen Not to Leave the Scene of an Accident

Auto accident involving two carsAny parent of a teenager knows that teens don’t always make the best decisions. That’s why when you hand your car keys over to your teenager, you must understand how their decisions can ultimately affect you.

If your teenager is driving your car and they are at fault for an accident, it will typically be your insurance coverage that is responsible for paying for any damages and injuries. There is a stipulation, however, and if you aren’t aware of it it can really hurt. If you don’t add your teenager to your policy and they are not specifically named as a driver, the insurance company may deny them coverage.

The rule of “vicarious liability” means that if you loan someone your car and they are at-fault in an accident, your insurance company is responsible for paying. However, vicarious liability generally only works if the person who borrows your car doesn’t share the same address. If your teen lives with you and you haven’t specifically listed them on your auto insurance policy, then your insurance company may deny the claim and all financial responsibility could end up falling on your shoulders since they are a minor.

The Importance of Teaching Your Teen to NEVER Leave an Accident Scene

If your teen is involved in a fender bender or they back into a parked car, they might be tempted to leave the scene. They may be afraid of what Mom and Dad will potentially do. That is a huge mistake. If you hit a parked car and leave the scene of the accident, you can be charged with a hit-and-run. Not only will that leave you and your insurance on the hook for paying for damages if they are found out, but it could also open your teen up to criminal prosecution.

So before you hand your keys over to your teenager, first make sure that they are specifically listed on your auto insurance coverage policy. Second, be sure that you go over the rules of the road, especially what to do if they ever hit another car and the driver is not around. If they fail to take action by informing the other driver and exchanging information, they can face some pretty harsh penalties and criminal charges.

Make sure your teen understand their responsiblities and the rules of the road. One small mistake could land them in a whole lot of trouble if they don’t understand what the law expects of them.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a St. Louis car accident due to the negligence of another driver, call The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. 24/7 at (314) 361-4242 for a FREE case evaluation.


Self-Driving Cars: Preventing Accidents or Causing Them? – St. Louis Attorney


Self-driving cars are the wave of the future. However, many consumers who are looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the ride probably aren’t thinking of the possible legal repercussions. The entire idea behind self-driving cars is to eliminate the potential for human error, but that does not mean that all chance of error is gone. Automated cars can’t think independently, nor can they always anticipate conditions the way that the human brain is conditioned to.

Read more: Americans Not Excited About Autonomous Cars

Many cars now come equipped with different safety features and self-driving technology that is supposed to prevent costly errors that can lead to an accident. Not all of the technology out there is fully tested or foolproof, though. So, if you are in a car accident and the computer on your car was the one calling the shots, who is to blame: you or your car?

As things currently stand, if you are in a car that has self-automated features, but you are still behind the wheel, then you – the driver – are liable for any damage or injuries if you are found to be at fault for any resulting accident. That does not mean that there aren’t times when the manufacturer of the car, or the technology installed in it, can fail and cause the accident. But that does mean that if you are found at fault – even if the car malfunctioning is to blame – then you will need to initiate a product liability claim against the car manufacturer to recover for both parties’ damages and injuries.

Liability is not negated by the fact you are behind the wheel of a self-driving car. Since Missouri is a comparative law state, you will only be responsible for whatever portion of the accident you were found to have caused. That doesn’t matter whether it was driver error or self-driving technology error. You would be liable for your portion of the accident with the other party, and then it would be your responsibility to prove that the accident happened due to a product defect in order to recover in a product liability suit for your percentage.

Although the theory behind self-driving technology is that it is supposed to limit human error, the statistics indicate that self-driving cars are as much as four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than conventional cars. If you are in a crash in Missouri and have a self-driving car, and you are found at fault, then you may be able to sue the car manufacturer for your portion of the liability.

If you have been involved in a St. Louis car accident call our 24 hour call center at (314) 361-4242 to speak with a St. Louis car accident attorney.


7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
Phone: (314) 361-4242

What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver – St. Louis Car Accident Attorney


If you have been involved in any sort of automobile accident, the first thing to do is to immediately seek medical care, if it’s necessary. Next, it would be a good idea to speak with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer ASAP to make sure your legal rights are protected. Missouri is a comparative fault state, which means that both parties in an accident can be found at fault, and therefore liable for injuries and damages.

If you are hit by a drunk driver, then they are typically going to be found at fault. This means it is really just a matter of ensuring that you are okay and then either dealing with the insurance company to have your injuries and damages compensated, or escalating the case to go in front of a judge and jury if a settlement cannot be reached.

Most insurance companies want to settle drunk-driving cases quickly and without having to go to court. The problem is that compensating you for your injuries is not their number-one priority. Their job is to minimize their losses, so they will almost always offer you less money if you are not represented by an attorney. If they assume that you don’t know what you are eligible for, they will often minimize what is fair and what you deserve to be compensated for.

Understanding Damages

In an accident, you are generally eligible for two types of damages: noneconomic and economic. Economic damages are damages that are concrete and can be calculated, like a doctor or hospital bill and lost wages from work, so they are often pretty easy to figure out. However, noneconomic damages are those damages that aren’t always easy to calculate because they aren’t concrete. Noneconomic damages include things like emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Since no two people experience pain and emotional distress in the same manner, it can be difficult to put a price on how much your suffering is financially worth. A St. Louis car accident attorney can help you calculate how much you should reasonably get, based either on the multiplier method or the per diem method. These are formulas that insurance companies and lawyers often use to figure out how much someone’s pain and suffering should be compensated with monetarily. It’s not a precise number, so without an experienced party on your side, it is difficult to understand if you are being offered a fair settlement or not.

When you are hit by a drunk driver, determining who is at fault is usually easy. What you are eligible for financially, however, is not always easy to calculate and fight for. The best way to ensure that you get all that you legally deserve both in noneconomic and economic damages is to speak with an experienced attorney ASAP.

7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
Phone: (314) 361-4242

What is Vicarious Liability? – St. Louis Car Crash Attorney

handing over car keys

In automobile law, there is something called “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability is the idea that if someone has your permission to drive your vehicle, should they be at fault in a car accident, then you – as the vehicle owner – should be held liable for any resulting damages or injuries. Vicarious liability does however, have some limitations. Knowing what those limitations are and what they mean to you is very important before you hand your keys over to another driver.

Vicarious liability and employees

If you lend your car to an employee and give them permission to use your car under the scope of their employment duties, and they are in an at-fault accident, then you (the employer) would likely be held liable for any damages and injuries. For vicarious liability to apply, however, the employee must be acting within the scope of their employment. Just because they were driving your car does not automatically make you liable.

For instance, if they were driving your car to make a delivery and were in an at-fault accident, then you would be generally be held liable for those damages and injuries. If, however, they completed their delivery and stopped off to run a personal errand, then you may not be liable for any damages or injuries. So if your employee is in an accident, before you assume that you are liable through vicarious liability, it is important to speak  with a qualified St. Louis auto accident attorney to ensure that they were performing under the scope of their employment.

If you lend your car to your child

If you lend your car to your minor child and they are in an at-fault accident, then you would likely be liable to cover the costs of any damage or injuries sustained. If they had your permission to use the vehicle, those costs generally become your responsibility.

Rental car exceptions

An exception to the law of vicarious liability is when you are driving in a rental car. When you drive a rental car in Missouri, then the Graves Amendment takes precedence over the state’s vicarious liability laws. The Graves Amendment is a federal law that says that rental car companies cannot be held liable if those who rent their vehicles are in an at-fault accident. If the renter is liable for the accident, then they are responsible for any damages and injuries to the other driver, as well as to the rental car. That is why, if you are going to rent a car, it is imperative that you check your auto insurance policy to ensure that you have coverage when you rent a car. Don’t just assume that you will be covered.

Vicarious liability or respondeat superior is a law that states that if someone is driving your vehicle with your express consent, then you are (in most cases) liable to pay for any damages or injuries if they are at-fault while in an accident. Although there are exceptions to the rule, it is important to understand how lending your car keys to someone else can affect you. If someone has been in an accident in your car, it is imperative that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney to protect your legal interests.

7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
Phone: (314) 361-4242


Third Parties That Can Claim a Share in a Auto Crash Settlement – St. Louis Attorneys


A person who is injured in a car accident may succeed in getting a settlement after a lot of negotiation. But they may be surprised to learn that a major part of it has been paid to third parties and not much has come to him directly. This is due to the numerous liens on a settlement. All the liens should be taken into account when the settlement is being negotiated so that the settlement amount exceeds the person’s debts. Our St. Louis auto accident attorney will discuss this in detail.

Liens on a Car Accident Claim

A lien is the right of a person to possess the property of another person until he repays a debt. A lien holder can claim a share in the person’s car accident settlement. However, he has to get the approval of the court to do so.

Some of the parties which generally file claims for a car accident settlement are doctors’ offices, hospitals, health insurance and auto insurance companies.

Healthcare Providers

Doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers are often some of the lien holders in a car accident settlement. Some of them may place a lien on the settlement while others may agree to a partial payment.

Hospitals and doctors bills may have to be paid from the settlement. Often, a doctors’ office or a hospital refuses to submit their billing through the person’s health insurance carrier. They prefer to issue a ‘claimed lien’ against the car accident settlement and wait for the full payment from the settlement when it is received. However, there are certain limits for the amounts that healthcare providers can claim from such settlements.

Health Insurance

The health insurance company takes up the responsibility for taking care of the person’s medical treatment and pays the medical bills for him. So it can request that the repayment is made from the car accident settlement. This depends on the kind of coverage. For instance, if the health insurance is via employment the person may have an ERISA protected plan. In such a situation, an ERISA lien could be placed on the car accident settlement.

Auto Insurance

If the person has medical pay in his auto insurance plan, some of his medical bills are paid by his auto insurance carrier. Therefore an auto insurance company can ask for a share in the settlement proceeds. But in many places, auto insurance carriers are not allowed to claim a share in a car accident settlement.

The plaintiff files a claim for a settlement in order to compensate for his losses. But, the lien holders have to be paid before he gets the settlement proceeds. If a major part of the settlement is used for paying the lien holders the claimant may not get enough reimbursement for his damages. In order to get a favorable outcome for him, it is essential to ensure that the claims made by the third parties are legitimate and have been taken into account during the negotiations for the settlement. An experienced St. Louis car crash lawyer can help get the compensation that you deserve.


7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
FREE consultation: (314) 361-4242

What to Do After a Car Crash – St. Louis Lawyer


Car accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. Those who have been in an automobile accident – minor or major – know that everything, right from dealing with injuries to insurance companies and the law is neither pleasant, nor easy.

While notifying the authorities is the first thing that most accident victims should do, it is not necessarily the first thing that comes to their minds. At that very moment, not everyone might have the ability or the presence of mind to always do the right things first. However, it is definitely important for everyone – accident victim or not – to understand what they should do in the event of an accident.


Get medical attention

Often, accident victims who do not have significant injuries do not seek immediate medical attention. Certain injuries, especially internal injuries can at times take more than 24 to 48 hours to show their effects. Injuries such as internal bleeding, internal damage to organs, closed head injuries like whiplash, etc. can cause severe damage and even cause permanent disabilities if left unchecked.

Not seeking medical attention immediately after an accident can also have repercussions on a civil suit. Most car accident lawyers recommend an examination to their clients, inquire if medical treatment was sought after the accident, and ask for a report even if the medical examination shows nothing.

Contact the police

However minor the accident may be, it is imperative to notify the police. Once contacted the police officer on duty will survey the scene of accident, interview those involved in the accident, issue a ticket if necessary and write an accident report.

The police report is an important document that is required in cases that result in a suit. Moreover, any experienced lawyer will ask to see the police report filed.

Contact an accident attorney

It is essential to make sure that accident victims contact a professional, experienced and qualified St. Louis car accident lawyer, before contacting their insurance company.

One can never ascertain how an accident case can unravel. Notifying a lawyer, right from the beginning can help in easing out the entire process, right from dealing with legal authorities and insurance agents to generating correct reports that help in identifying fault.

Call the insurance company

Many accident victims fear the negative if they call their vehicle insurance companies, and often prefer to sort out the issue with a handshake. One can never know the extent of damage that has taken place, and neither can they be sure that a verbal promise of payment for damages will be kept. In such cases, not reporting the accident to the insurance company might wipe out any chances of claim recovery later on.

It is thus wiser to follow protocol and file a claim for damages with the car insurance company.

Consult with your attorney before accepting any settlements

Insurance companies will obviously try to settle for as little as they can. A qualified St. Louis auto accident attorney should always be consulted before entering into any agreements, to ensure that a fair settlement is made.

Once in a car accident, there are a number of laws and legal procedures that need to be followed and that are often time bound. A car accident lawyer can assist with these and ensure that victims get what they are entitled for.

Call (314) 361-4242 for a FREE and private case evaluation.


Lost Wages After a Auto Accident – St. Louis Attorney


There are times when injuries are so severe in a car accident that a person is unable to perform in the same capacity as they did prior to being hit. If you are unable to return to your former position at work for an extended period of time due to your injuries related to the car accident and the need for medical treatment, and your employer lets you go, you might have recourse for your lost wages. If an employer can’t go the extended time without your services and needs to hire someone to take your place, then it might be possible for you to get compensation.

If you lose your job because of the injuries you sustained from an accident, then you may be able to pursue a claim against the other driver. If you should lose your position at work, you can claim special damages. Special damages typically include things like loss of wages, income, benefits, business opportunities and profits. You will probably be awarded the amount that you would have received if you didn’t have to take time from work. A loss in special case claims is calculated from the date your medical condition is stable, and you can return to gainful employment, to the date of your injury.

See: Reimbursement for Lost Income: Unable to Work Due to Car Accident

It is also possible for you to claim general damages. They are things like future loss of earnings and whatever capacity to earn money you had prior to the accident. To recover for these types of future losses, you have to show that you would have had the potential to make the earnings you are claiming. A more subjective amount, the court will decide how much earning potential you had before you were injured in the accident. They will likely compare how much you will earn after your disability versus your capacity if you weren’t injured.

If you want to sue for your lost job, you will need to provide proof that your medical condition was the result of your not being able to return to work and the subsequent loss of your job. That will entail a physician’s note, a disability slip, and any other medical proof that you have related to your condition and injuries. The letter should generally state specifically that your loss of job was directly related to your injuries.

There is something called a damages cap, however. It is the maximum amount that you can collect on any lawsuit that you initiate. In Missouri, there is a cap related to non-economic damages which is what job loss would typically fall under. So, before you sue, make sure that you weigh what it will cost to go through a potentially long court case versus the maximum you can be awarded due to your non-economic damages if you win.

If you lose your job due to an St. Louis auto accident injury, you might be able to recoup for your loss earnings and wages both during your recovery time, and if you are disabled, into the future. To ensure that you are compensated fairly, it is imperative to have the help of a St. Louis car accident attorney to help you through the complexities of a court case. Call (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation.