Missouri Underinsured Motorist Accident Attorneys
It is illegal to drive in Missouri without auto liability insurance coverage. However, the sad reality is that many drivers on the road today drive without car insurance. Because of this, Missouri law requires all liability insurance policies to also include uninsured motorist coverage for death or bodily injury up to the minimum required coverage amount, which is $25,000 in Missouri. Therefore, if you have an auto liability policy issued in Missouri you should also have uninsured motorist coverage.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured Motorist coverage compensates you or your passengers for injuries you suffer in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver. Uninsured motorist coverage also kicks in when you are involved in a car accident with a vehicle that cannot be identified, commonly referred to as a "phantom vehicle." Hit-and-run accidents are the most common examples of this. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run car accident you should report the accident immediately. Due to the concern for fraud in hit-and-run accidents, many insurance companies require an insured to report a hit-and-run car accident within 24 hours.
Whether you have been the victim of a hit-and-run car accident or involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver you should contact a qualified Columbia, Missouri Uninsured Motorist coverage attorney as soon as possible after the accident to discuss your rights under the law.
Proving Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
There are several unique aspects of an uninsured motorist claim that make it different from proving a car accident claim against another driver's insurance. One key difference is that you are filing a claim against your own insurance company. This has the potential to place you in an adversarial relationship to your insurance company. Your insurance company knows that it is your burden to prove that not only were you involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, but also to prove the nature and extent of your injuries. Ultimately it may require filing a lawsuit against your insurance company. Because your insurance policy is a contract you may have to file a breach of contract suit. In some cases, you may also be able to recover attorney's fees and interest against your insurance company if you can prove it unreasonably withheld paying your claim within a certain amount of time after making a demand.
Remember, your insurance policy is a contract and it is important to carefully read and understand it. However, it is not always enough to merely read the language of the policy. Insurance companies are regulated in Missouri as they are in other states. There are several laws in Missouri that govern what insurance companies can and cannot do. Unfortunately many insurance companies still have policies with terms that are prohibited by Missouri law. Sometimes an insurance policy may contain terms that require interpretation in light of Missouri's insurance law. Many times an insurance company will attempt to interpret policy language in a way that is contrary to Missouri law. There are several Missouri court decisions that have invalidated language in policies that have been ruled contrary to Missouri law. Because of the insurance company's interest in denying coverage and the often complex legal issues involved in uninsured motorist claims it is important that you speak with a qualified Missouri uninsured motorist coverage attorney before settling with your insurance company or accepting their denial of your claim.
What is Stacking?
Let's say your insurance is prepared to pay you for a car accident claim. A unique aspect of uninsured motorist coverage is that you may be able to "stack" your uninsured motorist coverage for all the vehicles you own which are covered by uninsured motorist coverage if your damages justify it. Insurance coverage issues concerning stacking can be complicated. Before accepting an insurance company's settlement or accepting its position that you cannot stack your uninsured motorist policies you should consult a qualified uninsured motorist coverage lawyer. Contact one of our Columbia, Missouri uninsured motorist coverage attorneys for a free consultation.
Columbia, Missouri Underinsured Motorist Attorneys
Underinsured motorist coverage is policy coverage provided by your own auto liability policy. Unlike uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is not required by Missouri law. Underinsured motorist coverage is insurance that provides coverage when the negligent driver has car insurance coverage but not enough to adequately compensate the injured party for his or her injuries.
One important aspect of an underinsured motorist claim is that the negligent party's insurance company has to have paid up to its policy limits to the injured party before the injured party can collect from his or her own insurance company. Because of this fact many underinsured motorist policies require the notice and consent of the underinsured motorist carrier before settling with the negligent driver.
Another common point of consideration in underinsured motorist claims is that an injured party's underinsured motorist carrier may be entitled to a "set-off" under the policy. A set-off is a credit that an underinsured motorist carrier gets against any recovery you may have received from the negligent party's insurance. However, the amount of set-off your underinsured carrier may be entitled to is not always straightforward. Before accepting the insurance company's interpretation of the policy you should speak with a qualified underinsured motorist coverage attorney. Contact one of our Columbia, Missouri underinsured motorist coverage attorneys for a free consultation.