A car accident involving a tractor-trailer north of St. Joseph raises an important practical question: What happens when the person who causes the crash has no insurance?
The answer is one of the harsh realities of personal injury law.
Car Goes Wrong Way: Collides With Semi
The crash happened in the evening of March 12, 2019 near Maryville, about 40 miles north of St. Joseph. The driver of a 1999 Plymouth Voyager got on Highway 71’s northbound lane, but then drove south, into oncoming traffic.
The driver of the car got seriously hurt, and was rushed to the hospital. The driver of the semi truck only suffered minor injuries.
According to the crash report, both vehicles were totaled in the crash. Additionally, the driver of the car was not insured.
The Cause and Costs of the Crash
Based on the crash report and the news story, it would appear that the driver of the car was at fault for the truck accident: Driving the wrong way on a divided highway violates Missouri Traffic Code 304.015(3) and can amount to negligence per se.
If true, this would mean that the driver of the car would be held liable for the costs of the crash. These costs include the medical expenses incurred, the property damage from the accident, the professional repercussions of the crash like lost wages, and the pain and suffering, as well as other damages.
Importantly, the driver is liable for both her own losses as well as the trucker’s, even though she was far more severely hurt.
The costs of the trucker’s property damage sustained in the crash, alone, amount to nearly $70,000 – the cost of replacing his 2016 Peterbilt truck.
Without insurance to cover the costs, the driver of the car would have to pay them out of her own pocket. Unfortunately, it is almost guaranteed that the driver does not have $70,000 lying around, or the means to obtain it relatively quickly. Therefore, filing a personal injury lawsuit against her would be merely symbolic – even if the lawsuit won, the driver would be unable to satisfy the judgment.
Drivers like these are known as judgment-proof.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
It is largely because of judgment-proof drivers that many insurance companies provide uninsured motorist coverage in their policies. This coverage applies to car accidents caused by uninsured motorists who would otherwise be judgment-proof. Instead of seeking compensation for the crash from the at-fault and uninsured driver, your insurance company steps in and pays, instead.
However, not all car insurance policies include this type of coverage. Many others only include uninsured motorist coverage as an add-on that bumps up the costs of the monthly premium. Many drivers who want to save money on their premium elect to go without uninsured motorist coverage, putting them at risk if they get hit by a judgment-proof driver.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
Insurance coverage is a huge part of the process of recovering the compensation you deserve after getting hurt in a crash that you did not cause. The car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph can help. Contact them online or call them at (816) 875-9373.