Our client was riding his motorcycle on highway I-44 just west St. Louis in Franklin County, Missouri. An unidentified vehicle was swerving in and out of traffic and at one point slammed on their brakes causing several other vehicles to stop suddenly or swerve to avoid a crash. In that chaos one of the vehicles struck our client while he was on his motorcycle. The vehicle that caused the crash fled the scene of the accident and was never found or identified.
When the at fault driver runs from the scene of a car accident and they are never identified what insurance can injured people make a claim against? In this situation the claim would be against the injured person’s own auto insurance through coverage called uninsured motorist coverage or “UM coverage”. This type of insurance is legally required on all auto insurance policies issued in Missouri and is required to be at least $25,000 in coverage. Often times if multiple vehicles are insured we can force insurance companies to apply multiple uninsured motorist coverage from multiple policies to increase the amount of insurance available to our clients. This is called stacking. In this case we were able to stack three separate $100,000 UM coverage on three different vehicles to afford $300,000 in total UM insurance coverage for our client.
My client was insured on his motorcycle through Progressive Insurance that had a $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage limit. My client also owned two cars in his family that had $100,000 in UM coverage each as well. therefore, we demanded that all three $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage must be stacked or combined allowing up to $300,000 in insurance coverage. The auto insurance company fought the staking but lost , as the anti-stacking clauses in the car insurance policies were vague, thus in Missouri the policies are “stacked”. See Nabil v State Farm Mut Auto, 877 S.W.2d 177 (Mo Ct App 1994) stating: “This principal has been applied, absent ambiguity under the terms of an insurance contract, to find uninsured motorist coverage and to stack uninsured motorist coverage for the direct benefit of policy holders and their minor children based upon the public policy of Missouri, requiring uninsured motorist coverage, as expressed in section 379.203, RSMo 1986”
Ultimately our client covered from his injuries after the motorcycle crash and is actually back to riding his motorcycle which he loves so much. Luckily for him, through legal investigation we were able to find the $300,000 in insurance coverage and settle his case for $300,000 in insurance coverage. In many instances people injured in car or motorcycle accidents by drivers without insurance don’t know where to turn and feel they have no options for recovery. Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to track down every penny of insurance that is available to make up for the harms and losses suffered in car crashes by people that flee the scene or don’t have insurance.
MOTORCYCLE SAFETY TIP – Please see common causes of motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them:
- “THE LEFT HOOK” – Car makes a left turn in front of you because they either don’t see you or misjudge your speed.
- HOW TO AVOID: Always assume a driver does not see you. Have your hands on the break levers and be ready to stop and take evasive action if necessary. When approaching a situation where it looks like a driver might make a left turn slow down.
- “THE LAND MINE” – You unexpectedly hit gravel, leaves, or some other debris on the roadway. This can quickly cause you to lose control
- HOW TO AVOID: Avoid it in the first place by driving within your skill level and comfort zone. There are other advanced techniques taught such as trail breaking and using the full width of the road to maximize vision.
- “THE SIDE SWIPE” – A car in the lane next to you unexpectedly changes lanes into your lane where you are traveling.
- HOW TO AVOID: Again, always assume a driver does not see you. Do not ride in a car’s blind spot for next to them. Always ride assuming that a vehicle in the lane next you may suddenly change lanes into your lane. So make sure you allow for plenty of space at all times.
- “THE REAR ENDER” – You stop a car behind you doesn’t realize it and crashes into your back. Rear end accidents are the most common type of car accident in the United States and for motorcyclists it is not just a fender bender but a cause of severe injury and often death.
- HOW TO AVOID: For starters, be aware of approaching vehicles behind you when you’re stopped. Do not stop in the middle of the lane if possible. Stop to the side or even between lanes if possible. Pump your brakes so that your brake light flashes. Also coming to a stop behind another vehicle pulled to the side of that vehicle or even up in front of that vehicle with a kind wave and a smile. That way you just made that car very own crumple zone in case a vehicle comes up from behind not paying attention and causes a car accident.