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Missouri Negligence Laws

Negligence is a legal theory used to determine liability in all states, including Missouri.

To be negligent is to act (or fail to act) in a way that violates a duty you owe to another person or party. For example, a motorist who runs a red light because they weren't paying attention and hits another car, which causes an injury, is negligent. As a result, they are liable for the injury. The motorist owed a duty to other drivers to follow the rules of the road. In this case, the driver breached that duty.

Negligence is the basis of most injury lawsuits, while "criminal negligence" refers to a defendant's carelessness or neglect in determinations of guilt for a crime. In tort law, negligence is determined by comparing the defendant's action (or inaction) to the "reasonable person" standard.

Missouri is a pure comparative negligence state, while it recognizes the legal doctrine of "comparative negligence." Under this doctrine, a plaintiff who is partially responsible for their own injuries may only collect damages in proportion to the defendant's degree of fault. Missouri courts do not recognize the related legal doctrine of "contributory negligence," in which a plaintiff may not recover at all if they are even slightly responsible for the incident.

What are the Elements of a Negligence Case?

Negligence is a fairly standard cause of action. So, the elements required to establish liability are quite uniform from one state to the next. Generally speaking, the elements of a negligence case are:

  • Defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act,
  • Defendant breached this duty,
  • This breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff,
  • The plaintiff's injuries were the natural and probable result of the defendant's actions or inactions, and
  • Plaintiff suffered actual damages, examples of which are lost wages and hospital bills.

Below are additional facts about Missouri's negligence law and links to relevant resources. Also, consider reviewing FindLaw's general page on negligence to learn more, as well.

Code Section

Chapter 537 - Torts and Actions for Damages

Comparative Negligence

In product liability cases, comparative fault is an affirmative defense. Additionally, fault decreases damages proportionately, but it does not bar recovery.

Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery


Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Yes; §537.060

Uniform Act


Note: State laws are constantly changing. Please consider talking to a Missouri attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

If you're interested in learning more, consider reviewing the following resources:

Missouri Negligence Laws: Related Resources

If you're still confused, consider reviewing the following resources:

Get a Case Review by a Missouri Attorney

If you've been injured in Missouri, you may be unsure whether you're entitled to compensation. Missouri has complex tort laws covering a wide range of injuries. Finding the right local attorney who understands Missouri's rules on contributory negligence can help ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve. For your Missouri injury matter, you should contact a Missouri injury attorney for a claim evaluation.

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