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Missouri “Pay to Play” personal injury law explained

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In Missouri you might be unable to recover certain damages if you’re hurt in a car crash and don’t have insurance!
Missouri law requires all drivers to maintain minimum financial responsibility (liability insurance).  Aside from getting ticketed for not having insurance (a 4-point moving violation), if you are hurt in a car crash that is caused by a negligent driver, you might be unable to collect all the damages that you would otherwise be entitled to collect.
RSMo § 303.390, enacted in October 2013, precludes “uninsured motorists” from collecting “noneconomic damages”.  In order to dissect what this means, I’ll address what is meant by “uninsured motorist” and “noneconomic damages”
First, what exactly is an “uninsured motorist” and are there any exceptions?
An uninsured motorist is any driver who isn’t carrying liability insurance on the vehicle in the crash (if they own the vehicle), or someone who doesn’t have liability insurance for any vehicle if they were driving a borrowed vehicle, whether or not they had permission to do so.
Exceptions:
  • If the injuries are caused by a drunk driver, this statute specifically does not apply, and all recovery is available.
  • If the uninsured driver’s insurance was terminated or non renewed for failing to pay the premium within 6 months of the crash.
  • If the vehicle has been owned for less than 30 days at the time of the crash, the driver may be able to obtain insurance after the crash, but before 30 days from the date of the purchase and be deemed to have been an insured driver.
  • ***Passengers are never precluded so Pay to Play doesn’t apply if you were not driving!***
Second, what are “noneconomic damages” and will that hurt my case?
When someone is hurt in a car crash, the law is set up to allow that person to “be made whole again” which is accomplished by awarding money for their “damages.”  Damages include everything negative that happened to someone as a result of the crash.  This includes the obvious things like hospital bills, costs for prescriptions, and lost wages, among others.
Less obvious, perhaps, but often times even greater, are the costs to a person for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship from a marital partner, and other “non-economic” losses.  As a rule of thumb, if a damage is something you could obtain a receipt for, it would be economic, and if it is something that you can’t say an exact amount for, it is non-economic.
RSMo § 303.390 can be devastating to an injury claimant who has been injured by another driver’s negligence.  Often times the pain and suffering damages will be the largest component of an injury case.
What to do if you were hurt in a crash and didn’t have insurance?
Due to the complexities in the pay to play law, it is especially important to contact an attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover.  Working with an experienced personal injury attorney is the absolute best way to ensure that your rights are protected, that you receive the best medical treatment possible, and that you get a fair settlement that maximizes what damages you are entitled to recover under the law.

 

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