On October 11, 2013, a new law went into effect in Missouri which further degrades the rights of uninsured motorists. Missouri House Bill 339, codified as 303.390 RSMo., essentially says as follows: Under most circumstances, if another driver crashes into you and injures you, even if the accident is in no way your fault, you are no longer allowed to receive reimbursement for you pain and suffering if you did not have your own auto insurance at the time of the crash. It should be pointed out that in a senario such as this, your own insurance will not pay one cent for your damages, as your entire case is against the at fault party. The new bill limits the recovery of an uninsured driver to only their economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
House Bill 339 was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon who pointed out the numerous inconsistencies with the law. In Governor Nixon’s Veto Letter, he pointed out that House Bill No. 339 is riddled with ambiguity which will cause excessive litigation over its proper application. Governor Nixon also pointed out that the bill does not properly define the term ‘uninsured motorist’, which the entire bill revolves around. However, the bill was overridden and forced upon Missouri citizens.
It is worth making the following point again: When someone else crashes into you in Missouri and you have done nothing wrong, you have the right to seek reimbursement for your harms and losses from the other driver and his insurance company. If the other driver has insurance, your auto insurance is not responsible for your injuries and will rarely pay anything, or if they do, they will be repaid by the other insurance company. So this new bills begs the question: If my insurance company would not have paid anything anyway, why would my recovery be limited if I did not carry the insurance that would not have paid anything anyway?
Why Was Missouri HB 339 Passed?
The short answer is that large insurance companies have used their tremendous influence to lobby hard enough to require the change. This change puts additional revenue in the pockets of large insurance corporations, and limits what they have to pay out when someone is injured. This is another example of money corrupting the political process and benefiting large corporate interests at the expense of the common folks.
Equal Protection Violation
Essentially the new law is an effort to further limit an injury victims access to the courts. This bill further invades the constitutional guarantee that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws that is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. Missouri House Bill No. 339 clearly divides Missouri drivers into two separate classes: those with insurance and those without insurance. The law then provides a different set of protections to those two classes of citizens. The law is expected to be overturned in the near future. Until then, we all must suffer through.
NOTE: I am certainly not advocating that individuals should not carry automobile insurance. Everyone should carry automobile insurance. However, I cannot imagine why someone whose insurance lapsed or who was temporarily unable to afford insurance would not be entitled to recover for their losses from an accident that was 100% the fault of another driver. These types of laws are extremely dangerous. The United States has seen the moral degradation which occurs when we separate our citizens into two classes of people and treat them differently.