Car Accident Lawyer in West Plains
Uninsured Motorist Claims
According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, Missourians were involved
in more than 6,000
accidents involving uninsured motorists from July 2010 until July 2011. Many of
these accidents resulted in catastrophic personal injury and death by
irresponsible motorists who could not be held financially accountable
to the victims and the families of the victims they had injured or killed.
According to reports of the
Missouri Highway Patrol, it issued more than 22,000 citations to drivers in 2010 who could not
provide proof of automobile insurance which is required by law. Some believe
that as many as one in every four drivers may either be uninsured or not
adequately insured. Unfortunately, uninsured motorists often times are
not only the least responsible but also the least careful drivers on our highways.
If you were in an accident with an uninsured driver, then let a West Plains
personal injury attorney from our firm to help you get your rightful recovery.
Free consultation - 888-505-5606!
Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
For those victims and the families of those victims who have been involved
in an accident with an uninsured motorist, fortunately they may find
compensation through the insurance they may have available through their own automobile
insurance policies or the policies of the motorist with whom they may
have been a passenger. Every automobile insurance policy issued in Missouri
is required to contain uninsured motorist with limits of at least $25,000
per person. While some states allow policy holders to reject that coverage,
this is not so in Missouri. Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory and
if you have an automobile insurance policy, you have uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is always available to the policy holder or
the person whose name appears on the automobile policy. However, the coverage
does not end there. Usually, and in most instances, the uninsured motorist
coverage extends to family members of the named policyholder as well as
to passengers of an automobile which is insured. You do not have to be
a policyholder, family member of a policyholder or passenger to be eligible
for uninsured motorist benefits. You may also be entitled to uninsured
motorist coverage if you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcycle rider
or passenger, or even a bystander so long as the negligent motorist who
caused your injuries was operating an uninsured motor vehicle at the time
of your accident.
The uninsured motorist coverage required by Missouri law is for bodily
injuries. Bodily injuries include compensation for the obvious losses
of past and future medical bills you may incur as a result of the accident,
past and future lost earnings as well as your pain and suffering. Most
policies do not cover property damage such as the damage to your vehicle,
although some uninsured motorist coverage will cover property damage if
an added premium is paid for that coverage.
Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage & Attorney Fees
In Missouri, because uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory and must
be included on every policy forcing every policyholder to purchase that
coverage, uninsured motorist coverage in Missouri can be stacked. Lynn
has had a special interest in uninsured motorist cases having had the
privilege of conducting the research and helping draft the briefs while
working his way through law school for a case which went to the Supreme
Court of Missouri and stands as a landmark decision allowing for the stacking
of uninsured motorist coverage in this state. Under the concept of stacking,
if you have more than one vehicle insured, you are entitled to benefits
under each of those policies. For example, if you or a member of your
household is seriously injured or killed and you have $100,000 in uninsured
motorist coverage on 3 vehicles, you would be entitled to submit a claim
to your insurance carrier in the amount of $300,000.
Yes, if you offer to settle your uninsured motorist claim, leave the offer
to settle open for at least 30 days, and the insurance company fails and
refuses to pay the claim without just cause or excuse, the court or jury
may award you
damages not only for your injuries but for attorney's fees, penalties and
interest as well. In regard to an uninsured motorist claim, it is important
that you secure the services of an attorney with experience handling these
claims so that he or she can properly submit your claim with supportive
documents such as medical records, medical bills, photographs, tax returns,
wage loss verification from your employer, life expectancy tables, etc.,
so that if your claim is denied you will have a basis to request the court
to award attorney fees and penalties against the insurance company for
not paying your claim. Again, Lynn has extensive experience with the processing
of these claims and authored a Trial Tip published in the Missouri Trial
Attorney Magazine twenty years ago entitled, "Vexatious Penalties
and Attorney Fees and Uninsured Motorist Cases."
Statute of Limitations
There is a statute of limitations or a time period in which to bring any
civil action which must be met or your suit will be barred. The statute
of limitations is different for a personal injury action than it is for
a wrongful death case. Missouri law allows ten years to bring suit for
bodily injuries against the insurance company on an uninsured motorist
claim. Therefore, if you or a family member has been injured in an automobile
collision involving an insured motorist and that accident took place less
than ten years ago, you may still bring suit but may need to contact an
attorney right away.
If your claim involves a loss of life or the death of a family member,
the Missouri law allows you only three years to file to that wrongful
death case. In other words, you do not have the ten years you would have
to bring a personal injury suit, but only three years which runs from
the date of death. If you have lost a family member within the last three
years please note that if you intend to file suit against the insurance
company for uninsured motorist benefits for your loss, the suit must be
filed within 3 years from the date of death or be forever barred.
Contact a West Plains car accident lawyer from our office to learn more during a free evaluation. Put 60+ years
of collective experience to work for you!