With unemployment rates at high levels since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of this year, many individuals have struggled to pay rent, car payments, and other bills. Missouri law requires all drivers to carry at least the minimum level of insurance coverage ($25,000/person for bodily injury; $50,000/accident for bodily injury; $10,000/accident for property), and if people are struggling to make ends meet, they may decide to forgo paying certain bills, such as their cell phone bill or car insurance premiums.
What does this mean if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver? Below, we will discuss uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, how to file a claim, and why you should contact The Law Offices of Patrick S. O’Brien if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist during COVID-19.
What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you in the event that you are injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run accident. In addition to covering the costs of injuries you incurred during an accident, UM coverage covers the costs of damage to your vehicle. While not required in some states, in Missouri, coverage minimums are set at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
Unlike UM coverage, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is not legally required in Missouri. In the event that the at-fault driver in an accident has some insurance coverage, but their policy does not cover all damages incurred by the victim, UIM allows the victim to file a UIM claim with their insurance company to recover the rest of the funds needed to cover damages.
Filing an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim
With so many individuals financially impacted by the pandemic, there has likely been a drastic increase in the number of people without car insurance coverage. According to a 2017 report by the Insurance Research Council, in 2015, roughly 14% of motorists in Missouri were uninsured. With the Court’s slowing down and adapting to virtual hearing methods (Zoom, teleconferencing), it’s important to consult an experienced car accident attorney about your situation before filing an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim.
Uninsured motorist claims are filed directly with your insurance company under your personal policy. However, even your own insurance company could make it difficult to collect compensation. An experienced attorney will take the time to understand your unique situation, gather critical evidence, and fight for your right to recover just compensation.
Underinsured motorist claims, on the other hand, require a few more steps than UM claims. With UIM claims, you first recover the maximum amount from the at-fault party, then you can seek the remaining funds by filing a UIM claim against your own motor vehicle policy.
Contact Our St. Louis Car Accident Attorneys Today
Filing a car accident claim during COVID-19 is already challenging enough, much less filing a claim involving an uninsured or underinsured driver. If you were involved in a collision caused by an UM or UIM, The Law Offices of Patrick S. O’Brien will take the time to understand your situation, develop a personalized strategy for your claim, and maximize your chances of recovering a fair settlement. Patrick S. O’Brien, a trusted St. Louis car accident lawyer, has protected victims’ rights for over 30 years and can help you get the justice you deserve.
Contact The Law Offices of Patrick S. O’Brien to schedule a free consultation.