Many states now impose serious penalties on drivers who do not have car insurance, particularly when those people are involved in a car accident. Some states, though, have taken further steps by passing so-called “no pay, no play” laws which prohibit uninsured motorists from receiving any compensation for non-economic damages, even if they were not at fault. Missouri is one of those states and our Joplin car accident attorney will explain the latest update on that law.
What is the theory behind these “no pay, no play” laws?
These “no pay, no play” laws are based on the premise that uninsured motorists would not be able to compensate other drivers if they caused an accident, so their own recovery should be limited as well. There are currently 11 states that have enacted some version of this law. Missouri has one but Arkansas does not. This year, however, there has been a Missouri state court decision that may lead to the law being held unconstitutional.
The Missouri state court case of Gilmore v. Page
Under Missouri statute § 303.390, uninsured motorists waive their right to recover for noneconomic loss against an insured motorist following a car accident, even when the insured driver may be at fault. That means they forfeit any recovery for money in addition to medical bills and lost wages. Essentially, this law takes away a citizen’s constitutional right to a jury trial where a jury can determine the amount of damages you may have suffered.
In the case of Gilmore v. Page, the trial court found that a defendant’s use of this law as an affirmative defense to personal injury claims brought by another driver was improper and the state itself was unconstitutional. The basis for this decision is that the Missouri constitution, signed in 1820, allowed for recovery of noneconomic damages without limitation. So, by denying this right, the law was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to trial by jury. Now, this decision will likely be appealed, so it will be up to the Missouri Court of appeals and Missouri Supreme Court to uphold the decision.
What happens if the at-fault driver has no insurance in Missouri?
When you are involved in an auto accident, you would typically expect the other driver to be insured just as you are. The average Missouri resident is not prepared for the unexpected costs of vehicle repairs following an accident, especially if their car is totaled. Not to mention medical bills incurred as a result of physical injuries. But what can you do if the other driver has no insurance? What if they have liability insurance, but the coverage is insufficient to cover your injuries. Missouri, like most states, has laws that require uninsured motorist coverage in each liability policy.
What is uninsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) provides a minimum level of recovery for individuals injured by an uninsured motorist. Uninsured motorist coverage is different from liability insurance, in that it is more like bodily injury insurance coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is similar to uninsured motorist coverage. Its purpose is to provide additional coverage in the event the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage. The law requires that consumers in Missouri be given the option of purchasing underinsured motorist coverage. However, it is not required.
Missouri is an “at fault” state
When a state is considered an “at-fault” state, with regard to auto insurance, it means the driver who is responsible for the accident is the person financially responsible for the injuries and property damage that result. Because Missouri is an “at fault” state, all drivers in Missouri are required to carry auto insurance.
How to file a claim
If you are injured in an auto accident in Missouri, you basically have three options. You can file a claim with your own auto insurance carrier. Your carrier will then seek reimbursement from the at fault driver’s insurance carrier. If you are a passenger in someone else’s car, you can still file a claim with your own auto insurance carrier. The second option is to file a claim with the at fault driver’s insurance carrier. The last option is to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Minimum coverage requirements in Missouri
In Missouri, every driver is required to obtain auto insurance before they can legally drive their vehicle or even register the vehicle with the state. Out-of-state drivers must also carry at least the minimum coverage amounts in order to legally drive in Missouri. The minimum coverage amounts are as follows:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injuries suffered in an accident
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries, when more than one person is hurt, and
- $10,000 per accident for property damage
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.