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Legal Thoughts/Considerations on Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance

Victor Strauss Law LLC Feb. 28, 2019

Most states require liability insurance, and in the State of Missouri motor vehicle liability insurance is mandated at a minimum of $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per occurrence. Motor vehicle liability insurance applies to protect the policy holder or driver from claims that may arise out of the operation or use of an automobile.

Also required by Missouri law is uninsured motorist coverage which must be provided by the insurance carrier, as part of any motor vehicle liability policy written in Missouri.

Most states require uninsured motorist coverage, and the minimum varies according to the state where the policy is sold. In Missouri, the minimum uninsured motorist coverage is $25,000 per person, and $50,000 per occurrence.

Uninsured motorist comes into play when an insured/covered person sustains bodily injury as a result of the negligence/conduct of the uninsured driver. This can arise in different situations – the most common of which would be when the driver is struck by a negligent uninsured motorist, such as a rear-end collision.

Another situation could be where an insured person (under a policy) is crossing the street as a pedestrian, and are struck by a (negligent) uninsured motorist.

Hit-and-run situations also come into play where the other vehicle leaves the scene, or perhaps there is a cut-off in traffic causing a chain reaction which injures a person covered by uninsured motorist coverage. In order to trigger this coverage, the making the claim is required to prove the uninsured motorist was negligent and caused the bodily injuries claimed.

The requirement of coverage under an auto policy can come about through different sources. Obviously the policyholder operating an automobile is covered, however, the policyholder may be riding as a passenger in another person’s vehicle, and if injured due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist, can make the claim under their own policy. This person, as an insured passenger under his own policy, could also make a claim under the driver’s policy providing uninsured motorist coverage.

The policy providing coverage for the car you are riding in is one source, and if you (as a passenger) are covered under another policy (different from the vehicle you are riding in), that policy would also provide coverage. It could come through a policy of insurance written on a car you drive, or possible a family policy that provides coverage to you as a resident of the household.

There are many possibilities, and injury lawyers for claimants often-times litigate coverage disputes with a particular insurance company providing uninsured motorist coverage.

Under Missouri law, an insured person making a claim for uninsured motorist benefits is allowed to stack coverage based on the number of vehicles insured, or policies providing coverage. Stacking policies applies in these situations where there is more than one vehicle insured under the policy, or where there are multiple policies.

By way of explanation, Family A has three vehicles insured through Friendly Insurance, with each vehicle covered at $100,000 per person for uninsured motorist coverage. A family member is severely injured due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist. The family member may have available $300,000 in insurance coverage for compensation for bodily injuries. Successfully collecting on such a claim may very well involve proving the nature and extent of the injury, the degree to which the person has been harmed, the degree of any residual harm that is permanent, and whether or not the injured person faces increased future susceptibility to injury. These factors must be properly addressed before an adequate recovery is obtained for the injured person.

Injuries sometimes have life-time consequences, and selecting the appropriate person for representation is an important step in seeking recovery and adequate compensation.