Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Claims in Columbia, MO
Is everyone required to purchase liability insurance?
In the state of Missouri, all drivers are legally required to carry liability insurance. The minimum coverage that is mandated by law is $25,000, but many choose to purchase a more comprehensive policy. This is because the minimum amount of liability insurance may not be enough to cover medical expenses, lost wages and the various other damages that may arise after a serious car accident. Although it is the law, it is important to understand that not all drivers have chosen to comply. In fact, it was estimated by a national insurance journal that nearly 12% of all Missouri drivers are uninsured. On a national scale, approximately one out of every seven drivers is uninsured.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that everyone carry an adequate level of uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage. In doing so, the victim would have the opportunity to seek compensation from their own insurance company, rather than the uninsured or underinsured motorist. Fortunately, Missouri law requires all auto insurers to provide at least $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage to their customers. Although this is a good start, it may not be enough to cover all necessary expenses. As such, you should ensure that you are protected after an accident with an uninsured motorist by purchasing an adequate level of coverage. Typically, it is not that expensive to secure a more comprehensive policy.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim with Your Insurance Company
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by an uninsured motorist, you may be wondering what steps you should take to recover compensation. Although it is illegal to operate a vehicle without liability insurance coverage, this does not solve the problem at hand. Fortunately, you should be able to file a claim as long as you, yourself are insured. Since Missouri law mandates that all insurance companies provide a minimal amount of uninsured motorist coverage, you would need to file a claim with your own insurance provider to obtain compensation for the damages that you have suffered—which may include the cost of your medical treatment and forfeited wages.
This may seem simple enough, but we have found that insurance companies are notorious for offering low settlements or even initially denying claims. For this reason, it may take a more of an effort to recover the level of compensation that you actually deserve. By enlisting the help of a Columbia personal injury lawyer from the Sumner Law Group, LLC before you file a claim, or even after your claim was denied, you can ensure that your rights will be upheld. Since some insurance companies must be compelled to pay what is due under the written terms of the contract, it is highly recommended that you do not undergo this process alone.
What if the at-fault driver was not uninsured, but underinsured?
Although the state requires all drivers to carry the minimum liability insurance coverage of $25,000, this may not be enough to cover the numerous expenses that have been incurred. In some cases, a serious accident could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses alone—not to mention the income that would inevitably be lost during the time of the victim's recovery. For this reason, you may be interested in recovering a greater amount of compensation than what has been allotted through the at-fault driver's insurance. In order to determine what form of compensation you may be entitled to, it is recommended that you let a Columbia personal injury attorney review your insurance policy.
Exploring Alternative Options for Compensation in Columbia, MO
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to recover compensation from a third party—rather than relying on an insurance claim to cover the cost of the accident. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, for example, you may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the bar or restaurant that over-served the intoxicated driver. According to Missouri's "dram shop liability" law, a drinking establishment could be held accountable if they had either served alcohol to a minor or an individual who was visibly intoxicated, as they would be negligently responsible for contributing to the cause of the accident. These cases can be particularly difficult to pursue, however—since the victim must have "clear and convincing evidence" to support their claim—so you should not hesitate to
discuss the accident with an attorney from the Sumner Law Group, LLC.