Uninsured Motorist

Uninsured 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.

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.

What Is the Missouri Uninsured Motorist Statute? 

The Missouri Uninsured Motorist Statute requires all drivers to maintain uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum liability coverage is $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury. The statute also mandates that drivers carry $10,000 of uninsured motorist coverage for property damage. Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory; you have uninsured motorist coverage if you have an automobile insurance policy. (MO Rev Stat ยง 379.203)

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
  • 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
  • bystander

So long as the negligent motorist who caused your injuries was operating an uninsured motor vehicle at the time of your accident, you may be entitled to uninsured motorist coverage.

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
  • 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.

What Is Stacked Insurance?  

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.

What Are Vexatious Penalties in Car Accident Lawsuits?

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 lawyerfrom our office to learn more during a free evaluation. Put 80+ years of collective experience to work for you! Call (800) 526-1949!

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