St. Louis Uninsured Driver Accident Lawyers
Offering Support & Counsel After an Accident
Car accidents are challenging, but when one driver is uninsured, and the other has coverage, it can be even more difficult to determine how to proceed with a claim. According to the Insurance Information Institute, this isn’t an uncommon situation that drivers find themselves in; in 2015, 14% of Missouri drivers were uninsured.
If you have been the victim of an uninsured driving accident and need help determining your right to compensation, our uninsured driver accident attorneys in St. Louis can offer protection during this confusing and vulnerable time. We strive to provide insight into the process of obtaining a settlement from a negligent uninsured motorist in Missouri.
Learn more about your options by calling us at (314) 208-2808 today. We can advise you during your free case review.
Missouri Driving Laws
In most states in the United States, it’s illegal to drive without insurance, but the rules and regulations for motorists vary from state to state. In Missouri, motorists must carry at the very least, minimum liability insurance coverage that meets Missouri’s policy limits of “25/50/25”. Missouri’s at-fault rule of negligence ensures that if an accident occurs, damages from the crash are partially taken care of by the other driver’s insurance company. However, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, but the other driver does, Missouri car insurance policies, fortunately, contain “uninsured motorist coverage.”
Under Missouri law, if an at-fault driver in an accident doesn’t have insurance, but the other driver does, the non-responsible driver can file an uninsured motorist claim against their own insurance policy to cover the costs of repairing their vehicle. The at-fault driver is still liable for the victim’s damages, but, instead of the victim having to wait for compensation, they can obtain partial compensation for general damages caused in the accident.
New Uninsured Motorist House Bill 339
On October 11, 2013, a new law went into effect in Missouri which further degrades the rights of uninsured motorists. Missouri House Bill 339, codified as 303.390 RSMo., essentially says as follows: Under most circumstances, if another driver crashes into you and injures you, even if the accident is in no way your fault, you are no longer allowed to receive reimbursement for your pain and suffering if you did not have your own auto insurance at the time of the crash. It should be pointed out that in a scenario such as this, your own insurance will not pay one cent for your damages, as your entire case is against the at-fault party. The new bill limits the recovery of an uninsured driver to only their economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
House Bill 339 was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon who pointed out the numerous inconsistencies with the law. In Governor Nixon’s Veto Letter, he pointed out that House Bill No. 339 is riddled with ambiguity which will cause excessive litigation over its proper application. Governor Nixon also pointed out that the bill does not properly define the term ‘uninsured motorist’, which the entire bill revolves around. However, the bill was overridden and forced upon Missouri citizens.
It is worth making the following point again: When someone else crashes into you in Missouri and you have done nothing wrong, you have the right to seek reimbursement for your harms and losses from the other driver and his insurance company. If the other driver has insurance, your auto insurance is not responsible for your injuries and will rarely pay anything, or if they do, they will be repaid by the other insurance company. So this new bill begs the question: If my insurance company would not have paid anything anyway, why would my recovery be limited if I did not carry the insurance that would not have paid anything anyway?
If you are interested in discussing your claim with The Dixon Injury Firm, contact us today.
Why Was Missouri HB 339 Passed?
The short answer is that large insurance companies have used their tremendous influence to lobby hard enough to require the change. This change puts additional revenue in the pockets of large insurance corporations and limits what they have to pay out when someone is injured. This is another example of money corrupting the political process and benefiting large corporate interests at the expense of the common folks.
When Does My Uninsured Motorist Coverage Apply?
Due to the fact that the State of Missouri mandates large insurance corporations to provide uninsured motorist coverage, they certainly do not like to voluntarily inform their policyholders of this benefit. For this reason, policyholders must be aware of exactly when and what their uninsured motorist insurance provides. A St. Louis uninsured accident lawyer can be of a great deal of assistance in these situations.
Not long ago, we had a client who had several policies of insurance with his company. He had multiple vehicles, boats, trailers, and his home all insured with the same company for a long time. He was a loyal customer who regularly paid his premiums for that unexpected rainy day. When that day occurred and an uninsured motorist left him severely injured, his insurance company turned him away stating that he did not carry insurance on the vehicle he was driving when the crash occurred. He decided to seek the assistance of one more personal injury lawyer before giving up altogether.
Once our firm investigated the claim, we quickly discovered that there was ample insurance for his injury. (On a side note, it is extremely important in these unique situations that you hire a Missouri accident lawyer who spends all of his time practicing only Missouri personal injury law and is familiar with these complex aspects of our system). In the State of Missouri, uninsured motorist coverage is governed by public policy and this policy leans towards providing coverage.
In the example referenced above, our client was able to apply and stack his uninsured motorist coverage from his other vehicles in order to provide reimbursement for his loss. This was a large payment for an extremely severe injury despite an initial denial from the company he thought he hired to protect him. It was a payment that his insurance company would rather not have paid. In fact, they went to great lengths to try to get out paying anything. They never once advised him that it was even possible to apply and stack these benefits from his other policies. Instead, they sat back and took satisfaction when his previous lawyers turned down his case, thinking they were off the hook. His previous lawyers turned down the case because they were unfamiliar with Missouri Law in this area
In addition to the complex scenario above, there are numerous other situations in which your uninsured motorist coverage may apply after an accident with an uninsured driver. For instance, if you do not have insurance but are living with a family member who does and you are injured by an uninsured driver, your family member’s uninsured motorist coverage may be available to help you pay for your medical bills and other damages. It is best to contact a Missouri personal injury attorney to determine whether or not you are able to bring a claim under an uninsured motorist policy.
Schedule Your Free Case Review Today
If you or someone you love has been in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you need our aggressive St. Louis uninsured driver car accident attorneys to represent your claim. The Dixon Injury Firm is passionate about fighting for the rights of victims and making sure that they recover the most compensation for damages caused by an uninsured motorist’s carelessness. Our attorneys’ job is to make the process of filing an uninsured driver accident claim as seamless as possible for victims and their families and recover the most compensation for damages.
Christopher Dixon’s efforts have earned recognition from the National Trial Lawyers Association as a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer,” and highlighted multiple times in the “Best Lawyers in St. Louis” edition of St. Louis Magazine.
Equal Protection Violation
Essentially, the new law is an effort to further limit an injury victim’s access to the courts. This bill further invades the constitutional guarantee that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws that is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. Missouri House Bill No. 339 clearly divides Missouri drivers into two separate classes: those with insurance and those without insurance. The law then provides a different set of protections to those two classes of citizens. The law is expected to be overturned in the near future. Until then, we all must suffer through.
NOTE: We are certainly not advocating that individuals should not carry automobile insurance. Everyone should carry automobile insurance. However, we cannot imagine why someone whose insurance lapsed or who was temporarily unable to afford insurance would not be entitled to recover for their losses from an accident that was 100% the fault of another driver. These types of laws are extremely dangerous. The United States has seen the moral degradation which occurs when we separate our citizens into two classes of people and treat them differently.
Filing a Claim Against an Uninsured Driver in Missouri
While the process of recovering damages from an uninsured driver in Missouri is linear for the not-at-fault party, it does require a few elements to be in place. For example, the victim must file a police report of the accident. A police report confirms the accident, provides substantial evidence from the accident, protects the victim’s rights, and includes information on where and when the accident happened, and who the police believe caused the accident.
In addition to a police report, it’s essential for all parties involved to seek immediate medical treatment for any injuries caused in the crash. Failure to document injuries from an accident in an official medical report could allow the other party to deny that they caused specific injuries, which could delay settling.
After filing a police report and getting medical treatment, it’s crucial to talk to an attorney about the situation. Car accidents are often traumatic and can leave victims vulnerable to the other party’s defenses. Even if the other driver is uninsured, they’ll likely hire an attorney to reduce the amount of the settlement that they are liable for.