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Category Archive: Uninsured Driver Claims

  1. Winter Conditions Require More Cautious Driving

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    According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, two people were killed in a crash on an icy Missouri highway when one driver lost control of his vehicle and slid into the path of the second victim’s vehicle.  The accident happened on the morning of December 29, 2015.  As drivers in Missouri and Illinois know, winter conditions require more cautious driving.  Personal injury lawyers in the St. Louis area see far too many accidents each year that could have been avoided with just a few small precautions.

    The Missouri Department of Transportation has several recommendations for people travelling in the area when the weather conditions are less than ideal.  For example, they recommend checking road conditions, either with MoDOT’s website or their toll-free number (888-275-6636), prior to going out.  They also have the following suggestions for staying safe on Missouri and Illinois roadways this winter:

    • Conduct a pre-trip inspection of your car, looking closely at the tires, brakes, wiper blades, and wiper fluid levels.
    • Equip your vehicle with items such as a first-aid kit; blankets; non-perishable food and bottled water; a shovel; and sand to use as traction under wheels.
    • Try to avoid travel until roads have been cleared, if at all possible.
    • Watch closely for other drivers who may be struggling with road conditions.  Be sure to give all other drivers extra space.
    • Keep mirrors, windows, and lights clean, and make sure your lights are on.

    Smart drivers will avoid using cruise control on any slick surface (ice, snow, sand).  According to the experts, when driving in snow, you should accelerate and decelerate slowly; applying gas gradually is the best way to regain traction and avoid skids.  Keep these tips in mind while travelling through the St. Louis area this winter may help you to avoid collisions that can result in serious injury or death.

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  2. Car Crash on Innerbelt Near Clayton, Missouri Causes Multiple Injuries

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    As a Missouri personal injury lawyer, I took note of a recent collision involving a wrong-way driver on a St. Louis highway. News Channel 5 in St. Louis reported that three vehicles were involved in a car accident with a wrong-way driver on I-170 (the Innerbelt) just north of Ladue Road two weeks ago. The news report stated that the accident happened at 4:00 a.m. when a car was traveling in the wrong direction on I-170. Investigators indicated that the crash was caused by a southbound car in the northbound lanes. Three vehicles were involved and it causes multiple injuries as is often the case with these incidents.

    When a Missouri car accident results in multiple persons injured, the injured parties may have to deal with a per occurrence insurance policy limit issue. Many Missouri automobile insurance policies have per person and per occurrence limits. If there are more than two persons injured in a car or truck accident, then a per occurrence limit might be an issue. For general information on Missouri’s requirements for motor vehicle insurance, click here.

    Any St. Louis personal injury lawyer will be familiar with situations where there are several persons with substantial injuries (excluding at fault drivers) arising out of a car accident. In these situations, most liability insurance companies insuring an at fault driver may not settle a Missouri personal injury claim without getting all injured persons to agree to a division of insurance proceeds. At times, the insurance company might file an interpleader lawsuit with a Missouri Circuit Court. The insurance company will deposit its policy limits with the court for distribution among claimants. In this situation, the Missouri injury lawyer may present his or her client’s damages to the court.

    In an automobile insurance policy limit situation, an attorney representing an injured Missouri party might also consider whether there is any underinsured motor vehicle coverage available to his or her client.

    Innerbelt Collision at Ladue Road Sends Trio to Hospital, KSDK.com, March 31, 2011

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  3. Three Teens Injured in St. Louis County, Missouri Car Accident

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    KMOV news in St. Louis reports that three teenagers were injured in a car accident in South St. Louis County last week. The car wreck occurred on Suson Hills Drive near the intersection of Wells Drive and Highway 21. The news report states that three people sustained critical injuries in the crash. At the time of the article, the St. Louis County police had not determined the cause of the wreck. The photos posted in the news article show one vehicle that appears to have significant front end damage as well as a broken windshield. The car may have struck a tree. What is not evident from the article is whether any other cars or motor vehicles played a role in the accident.

    This may have been a one vehicle accident in which case the conduct of the driver will be looked at for possible speeding, traveling too fast for conditions, inattention or some other negligent conduct in causing the car accident. This may give rise to a liability based auto accident claim. The St. Louis County police investigation may also look into whether any other motor vehicles played a role in the accident. As Missouri attorneys know, if an unidentified motor vehicle has any role in causing the wreck, there may be an uninsured motor vehicle claim involved.

    The KMOV report cites sources that state that none of the occupants of the automobile were wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident. As a Missouri personal injury attorney, it is unfortunate to hear about a situation involving serious injuries when an occupant was not wearing a seat belt. Missouri does not require seat belts in all situations. For a chart of seat belt requirements in various states, click here. For a link to Missouri’s seat belt statute, click here.

    There are many variances in seat belt laws around the country. Many St. Louis injury lawyers would probably welcome changes to Missouri’s seat belt laws. Changes are proposed from time to time many of which mirror the provisions of seat belt laws in other states.

    Three Teens Critically Injured in South County Crash, kmov.com, February 17, 2011

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  4. Town & Country Police to Ticket “Waive On” Drivers to Reduce Car Accidents

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    Fox 2 News in St. Louis reports that to reduce car accidents, the Town and Country Missouri police have begun issuing tickets in St. Louis County to motor vehicle drivers who signal or waive to other drivers that the road is clear to make a turn. Town and Country police saw a large number of car wrecks on Clayton Road near the Lamp and Lantern Shopping Center. In reviewing the Missouri car crash reports, the police noticed that a large number of these St. Louis County car accidents involved car and truck drivers waiving to other drivers indicating that the road was clear to make left turns into the shopping center. The car drivers waiving believed the roadway was clear, when in fact it was not, leading to a car accident.

    The “waive on” accident situation presents Missouri injury lawyers with certain liability considerations. As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, I am familiar with this fact pattern. The car or truck driver who signals the “all clear” to the motorist making a turn or proceeding across a roadway may be found to be liable, in whole or in part, for causing an accident.

    At times, the driver who waived on another vehicle driver resulting in an auto accident may no longer be at the accident site. The waiving driver’s identity may be unknown. In this circumstance, the car accident attorney in Missouri may make an uninsured motor vehicle claim. The unidentified waiving driver will usually be treated as a phantom motorist. A phantom motorist is a driver who left the scene of a car or truck accident and cannot be identified. In Missouri, a phantom motorist is usually treated as an uninsured motorist under most automobile insurance policies. Most policies do have specific reporting requirements when phantom vehicles are involved in a Missouri car crash.

    The waive on situation should be analyzed carefully by the Missouri auto accident attorney. Depending on the facts, it may provide the attorney with other avenues of recovery for his or her injured client.

    Cracking Down on Nice Drivers, Fox 2 Now, December 7, 2010

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  5. St. Louis Car Accident Involving Pedestrian Seriously Injures Teen

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    KTVI news in St. Louis reports that a 17 year old was seriously injured in an auto accident at an intersection in North St. Louis on December 6, 2010. The news report indicates that the teen was struck by a hit & run vehicle.

    The St. Louis Police are searching for two different vehicles. Witnesses on a Bi-State bus nearby described one of the vehicles as a black truck with Illinois license plates. The other vehicle the police are looking for is a passenger car. The young woman was reported in critical condition. Police were using an accident reconstructionist to determine what took place.

    Personal injury lawyers in St. Louis will frequently use private accident reconstruction experts in investigating the facts of a car accident. The expert will investigate the facts and try to formulate an opinion as to the mechanics of the accident. In this pedestrian situation, an expert may be called upon to try to identify the location of the pedestrian at the intersection, the location of the vehicles, etc. The investigation may result in determining the identity of the cars or trucks involved in this St. Louis pedestrian accident. The pedestrian accident attorney can use this information to determine the extent of any civil liability for the injuries to the victim of the hit and run accident.

    Of course, it is possible that the identity of the driver or drivers of this accident will never be determined. In that case, the pedestrian would be able to pursue an uninsured motorist claim. An unknown, unidentified or “phantom driver” is considered the operator of an uninsured motor vehicle in Missouri. This is separate from an underinsured motor vehicle claim. An underinsured claim applies when the identity of the driver is known and the driver had liability insurance, but the liability insurance is not sufficient to compensate the injured accident victim.

    Teen Critically Injured in Hit & Run, KTVI, December 6, 2010

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  6. St. Charles, Missouri Pedestrian Killed by Hit and Run Driver

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    KMOV in St. Louis reports that a man was struck and killed by an automobile in St. Charles, Missouri on November 13, 2010. The driver of the car who struck the pedestrian fled the scene of the car accident. The St. Charles Police Department found evidence of the car involved in the hit and run accident, including a mirror and other vehicle parts at the scene of the accident. The police are still looking for the driver of the auto.

    The family of the deceased pedestrian has a wrongful death claim against the car driver who caused the accident. A wrongful death claim against the driver is a form of liability claim. However, if the identity of the driver is never determined, then the family would have an uninsured motor vehicle claim.

    Uninsured motor vehicle claims are contract based claims against an insurance carrier for damages suffered by an insured or their family due to the actions of an uninsured motor vehicle driver. A driver whose identity cannot be determined is sometimes referred to as a “phantom driver”. As most attorneys know, in Missouri a phantom driver who causes a car accident is treated as the driver of an uninsured vehicle.

    When investigating an uninsured motor vehicle claim, the Missouri lawyer needs to look at all potential policies, including the policies of relatives residing in the same household as the injured party as well as insurance that applies to the vehicle the injured party was in. If there is more than one policy available, they frequently can be combined, or stacked, to add additional coverage.

    Man Dead After Hit and Run Accident in St. Charles, kmov.com, November 13, 2010.

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  7. St. Louis Women Injured in Car Crash With Florissant Driver While Waiting at Bus Stop

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    Fox 2 News St. Louis reports that two women were injured in a car crash while waiting at a bus stop in North St. Louis County on September 17, 2010. The women were waiting at a bus stop when a car, driven by a Florissant man, went out of control and crashed into them. The women sustained serious injuries from this automobile accident and were air lifted to St. Louis area hospitals. One woman was taken to St. Louis University Hospital. The automobile accident reportedly severed one woman’s leg. Witnesses to the car accident reported that the driver of the automobile appeared to have overdosed on drugs. Later reports stated that the driver of the car involved in this automobile accident had a needle hanging from his arm and was passed out in the driver’s seat. The Missouri Highway Patrol has taken over the accident investigation.

    As a Missouri car accident attorney, the above fact pattern evokes outrage and disgust. We can only hope that the criminal charges brought against this individual will put him in a position where he can no longer harm society with such outrageous conduct. It is this type of outrageous, dangerous conduct that punitive damages in a Missouri civil claim were meant to address. An injury lawyer in St. Louis will most likely file a civil lawsuit in a Missouri court against the individual who caused this car accident. The lawsuit will seek civil monetary damages for the injuries suffered by these women. However, this type of conduct would also warrant the Missouri personal injury lawyer filing a punitive damage count against the driver in this auto accident. Punitive damages in Missouri are meant to punish a defendant and to deter the defendant and others from similar conduct. Punitive damages can be used in a case where the driver in an auto wreck was using drugs or was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

    It has been my experience as a St. Louis injury attorney that many drivers fitting this description would not have automobile insurance. In fact, it is surprising how many drivers are driving with a suspended or revoked Missouri drivers license and uninsured at the time of a car accident. If the Florissant driver in this auto accident is in fact uninsured, the women injured in this car accident will probably want to look to uninsured motor vehicle insurance coverage to compensate them for their damages and personal injuries.

    As I have posted in previous entries, liability insurance carriers in Missouri are required to provide a certain amount of uninsured motor vehicle insurance coverage on their Missouri issued automobile insurance policies. Due to the nature of uninsured motor vehicle coverage, this coverage will apply even though the injured women in this case were not in a car. The coverage includes a pedestrian injured by the driver of an uninsured motor vehicle. The Missouri accident attorney will want to review the automobile insurance policies issued to the injured pedestrian as well as any automobile insurance policies issued to any relative living with the injured victim at the time of the car accident.

    Heroin Overdose May Have Caused Crash Into Bus Stop, FOX 2 now St. Louis, September 17, 2010

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  8. Sikeston Missouri Driver Charged with Intentionally Running Over Someone With Truck

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    A Sikeston Missouri teen was recently charged with running over another Sikeston teen with her truck. This is a fact pattern that many St. Louis personal injury attorneys will be familiar with. News reports from Benton, Missouri report that the teen was at an underage drinking party when she got into a fight with another girl over a boy. The teen jumped into her truck and drove at the other girl in an attempt to scare her. She apparently struck the girl who later died. According to news reports, the teen has been charged with second degree murder, among other things.

    As an accident lawyer, I see cases at times that involve the driver of a car or truck intentionally trying to run over a pedestrian or crash into someone’s car. Frequently, this involves a dispute or argument that has gotten out of hand. Many times, it also involves the consumption of alcohol. As in the Sikeston case, the offending driver may face criminal charges for their conduct in running someone over with their car or running them off of the road causing an automobile accident. However, this type of automobile accident frequently leads to automobile liability insurance coverage issues when a Missouri civil claim is made for personal injuries or under the Missouri wrongful death statute.

    Most automobile liability insurance companies in Missouri take the position that there is no insurance coverage for someone’s intentional act. That is, if the driver of a car runs someone off of the road on purpose, thereby causing an auto accident, there may be no liability insurance coverage applicable to that driver’s conduct. Effectively, this means that the injured occupants of the other car may not be able to recover for their injuries from the insurance company providing insurance to the driver who caused the accident. The same applies when the driver of an automobile intentionally tries to run over a pedestrian on the road or in a parking lot causing bodily injury or even death to the pedestrian.

    The typical Missouri insurance exclusion in an automobile insurance policy excludes from liability coverage any bodily injury or property damage caused by an intentional act. When a coverage issue like this arises, the Missouri injury attorney will need to do a factual investigation to determine what actually took place. Did the driver of the car that caused the accident really intend to cause bodily injury? Did the driver merely intend to scare someone without literally striking them or their vehicle? Depending on the specific facts, the injury lawyer in Missouri may be able to overcome the exclusion depending on how the automobile insurance policy is written. Frequently, these issues are resolved through judicial decision using Missouri’s Declaratory Judgment Act. In that circumstance, the court is asked to decide whether the liability insurance policy provides coverage to the driver who caused the car accident and subsequent injury or death.

    When coverage is excluded, or even when the claim has been denied by the liability insurer, the injury victims may be able to make an uninsured motor vehicle claim. When a person is injured or killed by a driver who has no applicable liability insurance, then the injured person or their family may be able to make a Missouri uninsured motor vehicle claim. The same may apply in the event of a wrongful death claim arising out of the intentional act of a car or truck driver.

    Sikeston Teen Appears in Court After Car Accident, KAIT 8, Jonesboro, AR

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  9. Driver of Stolen Missouri Truck Injures Six in Missouri Highway Accident

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    The Kansas City Star recently reported that a man in a stolen truck was going the wrong way on a Missouri highway when he caused a collision seriously injuring several people. As a Missouri accident lawyer, I see situations involving accidents with stolen cars and trucks from time to time.

    Generally if someone has permission to drive another person’s car or truck, Missouri law requires that the vehicle owner’s liability insurer cover the permissive user. However, sometimes questions arise as to whether the owner gave permission to the driver to use the car or truck involved in the accident. Under Missouri law, a driver may have the implied consent of the vehicle owner to drive the car, even if the owner denies giving express consent to the driver for the period of time in question. Sometimes, a Missouri attorney might have to prove implied consent even when the vehicle owner denies giving express consent to a particular driver.

    Several years ago, I represented an individual injured in Jefferson County, Missouri who was riding a motorcycle when he was involved in a car wreck with a man driving a friend’s car. The friend claimed that the driver took the car from his home without his knowledge or permission while the friend was away at work. The insurance company denied coverage and refused to pay damages to the injured motorcycle rider. After obtaining the Missouri driving record of the automobile driver, I discovered that he had received several traffic tickets in St. Louis County, Missouri and Jefferson County, Missouri. I obtained the tickets from the court files and discovered that on some of the citations, the driver was driving the same car he was using at the time of the accident. With that evidence, the court in Hillsboro, Missouri ruled that the driver had the owner’s implied permission to drive the car and that the owner’s insurance company was liable to pay damages to the motorcycle rider.

    In situations where a reported stolen truck or car is involved in an accident in Missouri, there is probably not going to be a finding that the driver was a permissive user. In that case, there may not be any liability insurance applicable to the at-fault driver’s negligent conduct in causing a car wreck. In Missouri, if an insurance company denies coverage to a driver claiming that the driver was not a permissive user of the vehicle causing the accident, the injured parties may have an uninsured motor vehicle claim. The claim may be against the insurance carrier insuring the car, truck or motorcycle the injured person was riding in at the time of the car crash. The injured driver or occupant will also need to check their personal automobile insurance policies as well as the policies of family members residing with them to see if they are afforded coverage under those policies for their auto accident.

    Six Injured in Wrong-way Accident, The Kansas City Star, July 6, 2010

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  10. Bonne Terre Man Dies From Head Injuries in St. Louis Automobile Accident

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    A Bonne Terre, Missouri man dies from head injuries suffered in an automobile accident on Highway 55 in St. Louis, Missouri in March, 2010. The man struck a concrete median with his pickup truck on southbound Interstate 55 in St. Louis. The accident victim lost consciousness the next day and later died of head trauma. As a St. Louis car accident attorney, I was interested in the investigation into the cause of this accident.

    Since the accident, the victim’s family has been trying to determine what other vehicles may have been involved in the collision. The St. Louis police found pieces of blue plastic around the accident site they believe may belong to another vehicle involved in the crash. In addition, a woman who had stopped to assist the victim told the police that an unidentified witness at the accident scene stated that a van ran the victim’s car off of the road. The victim’s family has done considerable work trying to determine the identity of other vehicle involved in the accident. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that, after four months, the police investigation has reached an impasse.

    Many accidents involve hit and run vehicles or vehicles negligently operated by unknown persons. Sometimes these cases are referred to as “phantom driver” situations since the vehicle and driver whose actions contributed to cause the accident are unidentified. Missouri law allows for the victims of an accident with a phantom driver to make claims for bodily injury or wrongful death against uninsured motorist coverage. Automobile insurance policies generally define an uninsured motor vehicle operator to include phantom driver situations.

    When an injury or death case becomes an uninsured motor vehicle case, it is necessary for the personal injury lawyer representing the injured party or their family to investigate all insurance policies that might apply to the accident. Many times, uninsured motorist coverage on an insurance policy can be combined or stacked with uninsured motorist coverage on other insurance policies to expand the available pool of insurance benefits.

    Children Seek Witness to Crash that Killed Their Father, stltoday.com, July 16, 2010

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