Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist
Being involved in a car accident can be traumatic, stressful, and expensive. It can be even worse when you realize that the at fault driver is either uninsured or underinsured, meaning that there may not be the funds available to compensate you in the way that you rightfully deserve. Unfortunately, the percentage of uninsured motorists in Missouri is much higher than the national average. Approximately 16.4 percent of Missouri drivers are uninsured—this means that one in every six cars you share the road with can lead you into a financially burdensome car accident.
However, just because the at-fault driver made an irresponsible and dangerous decision to operate a vehicle without the proper auto insurance, this does not mean that you, a law-abiding citizen, need to be penalized. In order to protect residents against reckless drivers, the state of Missouri has uninsured motorists laws which require you to have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your base motorist liability coverage. These laws allow injured drivers to seek compensation for their damages after an accident with an uninsured driver.
When you find yourself in an accident where the responsible driver lacks insurance or sufficient coverage as required by the law, there are two options available to you:
- You can sue the uninsured or underinsured driver, or
- You can file a claim with your own insurance company.
Our law firm recommends exercising caution if you are considering filing a lawsuit against the uninsured or underinsured motorist. It is highly likely that if the driver cannot afford the minimum liability coverage, they might not have any assets or stable income to be able to pay you. In addition, following the ruling of the lawsuit, an at-fault driver can also file bankruptcy, thereby freeing themselves legally from paying the claim. Most likely, the better option for you is to file a claim against your own insurance company to cover the cost of the damages incurred in the car accident.
Your policy will have certain limits, but when you are working with a personal injury and car accident attorney, you will have the legal support that you need in order to work through your claim and get the amount of money that you deserve. Read more below to get an idea of how the process could go when you are seeking compensation after an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist in St. Louis or the surrounding areas. Contact our law firm as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation where you will be able to learn more about how we can help you through this situation specifically, as well as to have an opportunity where you can ask questions and seek advice on how to best move forward effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
Accidents with uninsured and underinsured motorists are different based on whether their liability coverage will help victims recover. Read more to learn about the differences between these two policies:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage:
If the at-fault driver is uninsured, this means that they do not have any auto insurance. Missouri law requires all drivers to have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. The minimum coverage is $50,000 per accident and $25,000 per person. This means your insurance should pay for all or most of your motor vehicle expenses and injuries. Keep in mind that Missouri does not require motorists to have uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) insurance, which covers $25,000.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage:
If the driver is underinsured, this means that the driver has insurance coverage, however their policy will not cover the full cost of the injuries and damages from the accident. Unlike UM coverage, underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage is not mandatory in Missouri. UIM coverage needs to be specifically requested when purchasing your policy. If you do not have UIM coverage, you will only be able to claim the amount covered by the at-fault driver’s insurance.
- Can I still pursue compensation if the driver responsible for the accident does not have insurance?
Even if the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you can still seek compensation for medical expenses and outstanding debts incurred from the accident. You can either file a lawsuit against the other driver or you can file a claim against your insurance company. Contact our St. Louis personal injury lawyers to learn more about your options.
- What do I do if I am in a car accident with an uninsured driver in St. Louis?
Remember to Stay Calm
After an accident, you will need to exchange information with the other driver. Make sure to write down:
- Their contact information
- Their vehicle registration information, and
- Their car insurance policy information.
If you find out that they do not have insurance, it is very important that you remain calm knowing that there is plenty of help available. Emotions are heightened after an accident, and the situation can become very tense and possibly even dangerous when you or the other driver escalates. Take a deep breath and remember your options.
Make sure that you contact 911 after the accident. When the authorities arrive at the scene, they will be able to issue the relevant citations and take the appropriate legal steps necessary for an uninsured driver. This will give you the opportunity to have your injuries attended to by the EMTs, and all of the information that goes into the police and accident reports will be very helpful when you begin to work with an attorney and determine the next steps for your situation.
Get Medical Attention
Seek your primary care physician for any medical care you require for your recovery. Every piece of information that you are able to gather through official channels, including medical records, will strengthen your case when working with your car accident lawyer in St. Louis.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Once you have taken care of your immediate injuries and you are able to start thinking about your long-term plan, the most important thing to do is to contact a personal injury attorney in St. Louis who is experienced with uninsured or underinsured motorist accidents. An experienced car accident lawyer can help guide you through the rest of this process with clarity and confidence and take all the necessary steps to get you the outcome that you deserve.
- What should I do if I am involved in a hit-and-run accident?
If you are involved in an accident and the at-fault driver is fleeing the scene, here are things you should do to handle the situation:
- Take down as much information about the other driver as you can, such as:
- License plate number
- Make, model, and color
- Description of the driver
- The direction of the vehicle
- Location, date, time, and cause of the accident
- Call 911 to report the accident and receive medical attention, if necessary. If you can, ask witnesses to supply additional information about the accident.
- Make sure you do NOT follow the other driver. This can be both dangerous and compromising to your case because authorities could question who’s really at fault.
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Unless the authorities are able to track down the at-fault party and verify their insurance, hit-and-run accidents are considered uninsured motorist accidents which are covered by UM insurance. In Missouri, you have 30 days to file a claim with your insurance company. Your attorney will advise you on the proper course of action to take.
- How can an attorney help me with an uninsured motorist claim?
Studies show that insurance companies pay substantially more when a personal injury attorney is involved. Hiring an experienced attorney who gives you personalized legal advice will maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve. It’s important to remember that there are some complicated legal issues that are involved particularly in underinsured motorist coverage. A skilled attorney will navigate you through the pitfalls of uninsured motorist claims, offering you advice for things like why you should not sign a general release. Signing papers without first talking to an attorney gives insurance companies the upper hand, allowing them to get away with offering insufficient compensation or refusing to pay your claim altogether. A personal injury lawyer will help organize proof of your medical bills and incurred expenses to negotiate a fair settlement, and take it to trial if necessary. While your attorney negotiates with the insurance company, you can avoid the stress of haggling over the details of the case and focus instead on your recovery.
Why You Should Choose Hipskind & McAninch, LLC
Our car accident attorneys offer unmatched expertise and skill for drivers involved in uninsured motorist accidents. We build the strongest cases for our clients and work relentlessly to get them the maximum compensation. Since actions speak louder than words, our track record speaks for itself:
- Over $10,000,000 recovered for our clients
- Hundreds of 5-Star Google Reviews
- Named Best Car Accident Lawyers in St. Louis 2020 by Expertise.com
- Awarded by The National Premier Top Ten Personal Injury Attorneys
- Named one of The National Trial lawyers Top 40 under 40
To see more awards and learn about accomplished attorneys behind them, visit our St. Louis personal injury lawyer bios. Choosing a skilled attorney is an important decision—choosing our law firm is an easy one. We can help you navigate the complex legal process and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses.