In our last blog post about car accidents, we looked at two important legal issues raised when a car hit an equipment buggy while trying to pass it. Something that we did not cover in that post was just as important, though: What happens when you crash into a vehicle that is not street legal?
What Does it Mean to Be “Street Legal”?
A motor vehicle is “street legal” if it:
- Has all of the legally required equipment and features, and
- Has no modifications to the vehicle that are forbidden by law.
An example of the first aspect of street legality is Missouri Statute 307.170, which requires that all cars have a horn and mirrors to be street legal. An example of the second aspect is Missouri Statute 307.171, which forbids vehicles from having studded tires between April 1 and November 1.
Many Motor Vehicles Toe These Lines
While the vast majority of drivers use vehicles that are clearly street legal, the street legality of some other vehicles is a bit more ambiguous. To make matters even more complex, different states have different laws on the subject.
One example of this issue in action is an equipment buggy, also known as a side-by-side, like the one that was involved in a car crash recently. That vehicle was a 2020 Honda Pioneer.
With a width of 63 inches, a curb weight of 1,595 pounds, and four wheels designed for off-road use, these vehicles can fall under Missouri’s definition of a “recreational off-highway vehicle,” or ROV (Missouri Statute 301.010(50)), or a “utility vehicle,” or UTV (301.010(71)).
Generally, both ROVs (Missouri Statute 304.033) and UTVs (Missouri Statute 304.032) are forbidden from highway travel in Missouri. However, there are several exceptions to both prohibitions. For example, they can both be driven on secondary roads by handicapped people for short distances, though UTVs can only be driven during the daytime under this exception.
Insurance Only Covers Street Legal Vehicles
If none of these exceptions were in play, then the accident would have involved a non-street-legal vehicle. Crashes that involve a vehicle that is not legal to drive on the road have one important complication to them: Car insurance does not cover vehicles that are not street legal.
If the non-street-legal vehicle caused the crash, this has huge repercussions for both the at-fault driver and for the victim.
For the victim, it means that the at-fault driver’s liability insurance is no longer in play. Instead, whatever compensation they receive will have to come from their own uninsured motorist coverage, if they have any, and from the at-fault driver. This drastically increases the odds that they will not receive what they need to cover their losses.
For the driver of the street illegal vehicle, it means they can be held personally liable for any injuries they cause. If they get sued, any settlement or verdict would get paid out of their own pocket. If the injuries they caused were any worse than very minor, that can easily run into the six figures.
Personal Injury Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Victims in St. Joseph
If you have been hurt in a crash that was caused by a vehicle that was not street legal, you need legal assistance. Call the personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online for help in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or the rest of western Missouri.