Pay to Play – Understanding Missouri’s New Insurance Law
On October 11, 2013, the new motor vehicle law 303.390 became effective in Missouri. The new law prohibits uninsured drivers of motor vehicles from collecting noneconomic damages (often called general damages, which include pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of use, etc.). Section 303.390 requires an uninsured driver to waive the ability to have a cause of action or otherwise collect for noneconomic loss against an insured motorist alleged to be at fault for an accident. Essentially, if an uninsured driver is injured in an auto accident through no fault of his or her own, then he or she can only collect out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the auto accident (medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.). Section 303.390 does include several exceptions. First, the waiver does not apply if it can be proven that the accident was caused by a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol or who is convicted of involuntary manslaughter or second degree assault. Second, the provisions do not apply to an uninsured driver who has lost his or her insurance coverage for failure to pay unless the notification of termination or nonrenewal was provided by the insurer at least six months prior to the accident. Third, a passenger in the uninsured motor vehicle is not subject to the recovery limitation. Drivers should be aware of this new insurance law to avoid waiving their right to full compensation. In Missouri, drivers must now pay for insurance in order to play for noneconomic damages in court.
Waiver of cause of action by uninsured motorist
1. An uninsured motorist shall waive the ability to have a cause of action or otherwise collect for noneconomic loss against a person who is in compliance with the financial responsibility laws of this chapter due to a motor vehicle accident in which the insured driver is alleged to be at fault. For purposes of this section, the term “uninsured motorist” shall include:
(1) An uninsured driver who is the owner of the vehicle;
(2) An uninsured permissive driver of the vehicle; and
(3) Any uninsured nonpermissive driver.
Such waiver shall not apply if it can be proven that the accident was caused, in whole or in part, by a tort-feasor who operated a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who is convicted of involuntary manslaughter under subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of section 565.024, or assault in the second degree under subdivision (4) of subsection 1 of section 565.060. 2. The provisions of this section shall not apply to an uninsured motorist whose immediately previous insurance policy meeting the requirements of section 303.190 was terminated or nonrenewed for failure to pay the premium, unless notice of termination or nonrenewal for failure to pay such premium was provided by such insurer at least six months prior to the time of the accident. 3. In an action against a person who is in compliance with the financial responsibility laws prescribed by this chapter by a person deemed to have waived recovery under subsection 1 of this section:
(1) Any award in favor of such person shall be reduced by an amount equal to the portion of the award representing compensation for noneconomic losses;(2) The trier of fact shall not be informed, directly or indirectly, of such waiver or of its effect on the total amount of such person’s recovery.
4. Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude recovery against an alleged tort-feasor of benefits provided or economic loss coverage. 5. Passengers in the uninsured motor vehicle are not subject to such recovery limitation. Authored by Attorney Gregory Klote