Missouri limits legal options for uninsured motorists

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, September 13, 2013

Missouri lawmakers voted on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to override the veto of a bill to restrict lawsuits by uninsured motorists.

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill this spring that called for taking away the ability for drivers without insurance to collect noneconomic damages from insured drivers. An exception applies if insured drivers involved in wrecks were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Passengers in vehicles driven by uninsured drivers are not affected by the restriction.

Nixon said in a veto message that the bill “is riddled with ambiguity that will generate excessive litigation over how and to who its provisions would apply.”

He went on to say that HB339 “does not adequately define the term ‘uninsured motorist,’ which is the very crux of the bill.”

Meeting this week during a special veto override session, House lawmakers voted 109-51 to overrule the governor and give uninsured motorists fewer legal options following accidents. The Senate followed suit on a 26-8 vote. Override votes require two-thirds majority to pass.

Supporters say the new rule prevents people without vehicle insurance from driving up costs for the system. Critics say that rules are already in place to punish people for driving without insurance.

One bill that did not come up for consideration during the override session covered fees to renew motorists’ drivers’ licenses or register vehicles. Fees were slated to double or increase gradually.

The governor said he vetoed the bill because it raised costs for drivers by $22 million a year without providing improved service.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.

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