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Mo.'s Uninsured Driver Law Takes Effect Oct. 11

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

A new law limiting an uninsured driver's right to sue in Missouri takes effect October 11, after Missouri's legislature voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of House Bill 339.

In Gov. Nixon's veto message, he expressed concern that the bill was "riddled with ambiguity that will generate excessive litigation over how and to whom its provisions would apply." But Missouri lawmakers apparently did not agree.

What is HB 339, exactly? Here's a general overview:

No Rights for Uninsured Motorists to Sue

Missouri's HB 339 essentially states that uninsured motorists are prohibited from suing insured motorists for non-economic losses arising from motor vehicle crashes or accidents.

This won't, however, apply to any injuries caused by an insured driver who was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, passengers in the uninsured driver's motor vehicle are not affected by this law.

The law, once in effect, hopes to serve the purpose of encouraging those without insurance to become insured.

Driving Without Insurance Generally

Every state, including Missouri, already has a law, or a variation of a law, that makes it illegal for drivers to drive without valid or sufficient insurance. In Missouri, the penalties will likely involve points on one's driving record or even a license suspension until proof of insurance can be shown.

These laws generally are often referred to as "financial responsibility" laws, because it may not be auto insurance, but just proof of financal responsibility, that is required.

There may therefore be some questions about inequality raised about Missouri's law. Because, despite the law's ultimate purpose to promote security by purchasing car insurance, the law could be seen as targeting those who are already at a financial disadvantage, since auto insurance is often a hefty purchase.

Since it is already illegal to drive without insurance in Missouri, this could mean an even more difficult recovery process for those who are uninsured and involved in car accidents.

Still, Missouri is not alone in adopting a law to limit the ability of uninsured drivers to sue after an accident. According to the American Insurance Association, similar laws are already in place in 10 other states.

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