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Category Archive: Insurance Law

  1. 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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  2. Troy, Missouri Woman Injured in 6 Car Accident in Lincoln County

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    Fox News reports that a woman from Troy, Missouri, was injured in a car accident on Highway 47 in Lincoln County, Missouri. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports that six cars were stopped in traffic when a driver failed to stop and crashed into the rear of the car in front of him. This caused the motor vehicle struck in the rear to strike the car in front of him ending in a chain-reaction collision involving seven cars. Fortunately, there was only one injury reported.

    Chain collisions can pose several issues for the Missouri personal injury attorney. Situations arise in chain-reaction collisions where the driver of the last car will allege that the car in front of him had already struck the rear of another vehicle. Investigation by an accident attorney may yield evidence one way or the other as to the mechanics of the chain-reaction rear end collision.

    A Missouri automobile accident involving several cars may also give rise to insurance law issues. The driver who caused the chain reaction may have insufficient liability insurance to compensate all injured persons. If several people sustained injuries in the accident, there may be multiple claimants. If a lot of people are injured, there may be a per occurrence limit issue for the injured persons and their auto accident lawyers. In some situations when an insurance carrier believes that the value of all injury claims exceed their per occurrence policy limit, the insurance carrier may interplead the money with the court and let the court determine how to apportion the money based on the various injury claims.

    In situations where there is not sufficient liability insurance to compensate all injured parties in a car accident, Missouri attorneys will frequently look to see whether their client had underinsured motor vehicle coverage. In general, underinsured motor vehicle coverage can compensate an injury victim if the insured’s damages exceed the available liability insurance. The terms of underinsured coverage vary from policy to policy. Missouri does not have a statute requiring the purchase of underinsured coverage.

    Liability policy limit issues, underinsured claims and interpleader actions are all best handled by personal injury lawyers. Claimants faced with these issues would be best served utilizing the services of a Missouri accident attorney.

    One Injured in 7 Vehicle Pile-Up Near Troy, CBS St. Louis, March 2, 2011

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  3. St. Louis Police Seek Suspect in Pedestrian Hit and Run Auto Accident

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    St. Louis Police are seeking the assistance of the public in locating a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run automobile accident with a pedestrian in December. This pedestrian hit and run occurred as the pedestrian was walking in the southbound lanes of S. Jefferson in St. Louis, Missouri when she was struck and killed by an SUV. St. Louis Police believe the truck involved in the accident was a Chevrolet Suburban. The police also believe there may be witnesses to this pedestrian accident. A reward has been offered to anyone coming forward with information.

    This is a tragic situation for the family of the deceased. It is all the more difficult knowing that the person involved in this accident left the scene. If the victim’s family determines to pursue a wrongful death claim, the injury lawyers handling that matter would also want to try to identify the driver of the truck. If the driver’s identity cannot be determined, then the personal injury attorneys may pursue uninsured motor vehicle claims. When the driver of a car or truck leaves the scene of a collision and cannot be identified, the driver is often referred to as a “phantom motorist”. A phantom motorist is usually treated as an uninsured motorist. The fact that the pedestrian was not in a motor vehicle is not relevant. If the injury or death was caused, in whole or part, by an uninsured motor vehicle, then the claim can be made.

    In Missouri, uninsured motor vehicle insurance is considered partly contractual in nature. As such, the insurance generally follows the insured and is not limited to a particular vehicle or car. That is why a pedestrian involved in an accident with an uninsured driver can make an uninsured motor vehicle claim even though the pedestrian was not occupying a motor vehicle at the time of the accident.

    The Missouri personal injury attorney investigating an uninsured motor vehicle claim will want to know about all automobile insurance policies of anyone living in the same household as the injured client (the pedestrian in this case). Many automobile insurance policies provide coverage to relatives residing in the household of the named insured. At times, this will provide the lawyer with more avenues of recovery for an injured client or the family of a deceased client.

    Police Seeking Public Help in Locating Hit and Run Suspect, KMOV.com, January 19, 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. 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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  6. 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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