Every year, hundreds of Missouri citizens are injured in car accidents involving uninsured drivers. Thousands more are injured in accidents involving drivers who carry only the minimum amount of liability coverage for bodily injury, which in Missouri and Kansas, is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
If you were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver in the Kansas City area, call 816-361-5555 to discuss your case with an attorney at Monsees & Mayer, P.C.
We offer a free initial consultation to explain your options.
Missouri requires drivers to carry uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage equal to at least the minimum amount of liability coverage required by state law.
If you carry more than the minimum amount of liability coverage, you have the option of buying UM or UIM coverage up to the amount of liability insurance you carry. Uninsured coverage is usually required, but underinsured coverage is not always required.
UM and UIM coverage protect you and your passengers; not only from uninsured drivers, but also from hit-and-run drivers, phantom vehicles, and drivers who do not have enough insurance to pay for your damages.
Uninsured Motor Vehicle Claims
Imagine that you are in a serious automobile collision in which you suffer personal injuries, but upon contacting the negligent driver, you find he has no insurance. What do you do? In both Missouri and Kansas, automobile insurance policies have “uninsured motor vehicle” (UM) coverage that will stand in the shoes of the negligent driver and pay your claim up to the limits of coverage. You cannot carry any greater limits for UM coverage than you carry for liability. You have to prove that the negligent driver was uninsured. Once you do so, you prove your case against the insurance company just as you would if you were suing the negligent driver.
In some cases, the driver is a “phantom” and flees the scene. While this can be a more difficult case to prove, if you have sufficient proof, usually through contact, that the driver is a phantom or unidentified driver, you can also invoke your UM coverage. Because UM claims are essentially claims against an insurance contract, your attorney needs knowledge beyond that needed for a motor vehicle claim.
Under-insured Motor Vehicle Claims
What if, in the example above, the driver who hits you has only the minimum insurance limits ($25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence)? If you, by contrast, carry $100,000/$300,000 limits, you probably meet the policy definition of an “under-insured motor vehicle” (UIM). There are specific legal procedures that have to be meticulously followed to make a proper under-insured motor vehicle claim. First, you must collect 100% of the insurance limits for the negligent, under-insured driver. If that is $25,000, there is probably another $75,000 in coverage on your UIM policy. Some states, such as Kansas, have a statutory procedure that has to be followed.
Definitions of UIM drivers and how the limits are calculated vary from policy to policy and from state to state. Hence, it is very important to employ an attorney with experience, not just in motor vehicle accidents, but who understands insurance policies.
Filing UM and UIM insurance claims can be very complex, especially if you were injured by an underinsured driver. If you make a mistake, your insurance company could deny your claim. For this reason, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced attorney who can protect your interests.