NO PAY NO PLAY FOUND UNCONSTITUTIONAL IN MISSOURI FOLLOWING INJURY ACCIDENT
By Donovan B. Dodrill on May 21, 2019
RSMo § 303.390 prohibits “(a)n uninsured motorist” from recovering “noneconomic loss” following a car crash, truck accident or motorcycle accident against the person who caused the crash if that person has insurance.
What this means is that, in the context of a motor vehicle collision, where a party clearly at fault is insured, and the injured party is not insured, regardless of the severity of injury (short of death) the injured party is barred from any monetary compensation for noneconomic damages (meaning that the party injured as the result of someone else’s negligence cannot recover pain and suffering is they are not insured as required by law).
Statutes of this nature are commonly referred to as “no pay no play” statutes. Attorneys who represent injured parties find that phrase to be insulting because the suggestion is that the injured party was “playing” some kind of game at the time of their injury. The truth is that the injured party is often merely going about their normal day’s routine, picking their children up from school, or going to or from work, when the at fault party disregards a traffic control device or traffic law and causes an innocent actor serious injury.The insurance lobby has successfully gotten so called “no pay no play” statutes passed in conservative jurisdictions such as Missouri and Kansas by making a specious, time worn, argument that relates higher insurance rates to personal injury claims. The obvious cruelty of the application of these statutes is often ignored.
Recently, Constitutional arguments have been used successfully against the application of RSMo § 303.390. Article I, Section 22(a) of the Missouri State Constitution guarantees the “right of trial by jury.” Missouri courts have ruled consistently that RSMo § 303.390 violates the “inviolate… right of trial by jury” on the issue of noneconomic damages. Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, 376 SW3d 633, 637 (Mo.banc 2012).