The Missouri House of Representatives has overridden Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 339, and it went into effect on October 11, 2013. The bill states that uninsured drivers in Missouri, when injured through no fault of their own while operating a motor vehicle, are no longer entitled to non-economic damages.
What are Non-economic and Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages cover intangible losses known as “pain and suffering,” and include the following examples:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of a loved one
- Worsening of previous injuries
The new law limits the recovery of uninsured drivers to economic damages. Economic damages are out-of-pocket expenses, including lost wages and medical bills.
What are the Details of the Bill?
The new law, section 303.390, restricts an uninsured driver from collecting for non-economic damages in a civil action lawsuit against the insured motorist alleged to be at fault for the accident. The law applies to the following drivers:
- An uninsured driver who owns the vehicle;
- An uninsured permissive driver of the vehicle; and
- An uninsured non-permissive driver.
The law does not apply in the following circumstances:
- If the uninsured driver received a notification of termination or non-renewal of insurance coverage for failure to pay any sooner than six months prior to the accident;
- If the insured driver at fault is determined to have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is convicted of involuntary manslaughter, or is convicted of second-degree assault;
- If there were passengers in the uninsured driver’s vehicle, the law does not limit their non-economic benefits.
Until the constitutionality of the new law is challenged in the courts, it will drastically limit recovery for injuries to certain uninsured motorists. Drivers should be aware that there are serious repercussions to driving without insurance, including the effects of the new law.