What Happens After a Car Accident with An Uninsured Driver?
Uninsured Motorists in Missouri
In 2015, the national average of uninsured motorists was 13%. That means that one in every eight drivers is uninsured in the United States. Missouri has 14% of drivers who are uninsured. This ranks Missouri in the top 20, at number 17, of state uninsured motorist rates.
How do you recover after an accident with an uninsured driver?
Missouri is a fault-based car accident state. This means that after an accident, the at-fault party is the one liable for the damages. After an accident, you would file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance and recover under his liability coverage.
But what if the other driver does not carry insurance? In this case, you would turn to your own policy and use your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which is mandatory in the state of Missouri. This coverage will pay for your medical bills, past and future lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and other emotional damages.
You can recover up to your policy’s UM limit. If you carry the minimum UM coverage, you can recover up to $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. If you are unsure of what your limits are, your agent or attorney can help you review and discern your policy documents.
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How do I know which option is best for me?
There are a lot of factors that can come into play after an accident with an uninsured driver. An established attorney will be able to determine which legal avenues will benefit you the most. Determining liability, proving fault, knowing which insurer to file with, and maximizing damages are crucial elements you will want to review with an accident attorney prior to making any decisions or signing any settlement offers.
Krause & Kinsman offers free consultations, so it is a good idea to at least run your case by a lawyer at our firm before filing a claim or taking any legal action. This way, you can be confident that you are making smart decisions and that you have help should you run into problems with your claim.
What if I was at fault for the accident?
If you were at fault for the accident, whether or not the other driver was insured is irrelevant. You might need to turn to your own insurance company for compensation. In order to recover damages under your policy, though, you will need to have medical payments and collision coverages, which are optional in Missouri. Some drivers opt to carry them while many do not. Review your policy carefully to see what is and what is not covered.
If you were at fault but you do not have medical payments or collision coverage, you will need to seek alternative forms of restitution. You might need to resort to your own private health insurance, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance to help you pay for your losses.
Note: you may still be able to recover under your UM coverage even if you were partly at fault for the accident. This is because Missouri operates under the Pure Comparative Fault Rule, which means that you can still recover after an accident even if you were up to 99 percent at fault. The only catch is that your settlement will be reduced by your degree of fault.