No Pay No Play Found Unconstitutional in Missouri Following Injury Accident
RSMo § 303.390 prohibits “(a)n uninsured motorist” from recovering “noneconomic loss” against a “person who is in compliance with the financial responsibility laws of this chapter due to a motor vehicle accident.” What this means is that, in the context of a motor vehicle collision, where a party clearly at fault is insured, and the party not at fault is not insured, regardless of the severity of injury (short of death) the injured party is barred from recovery of any consideration (monetary compensation) for noneconomic damages.
This section does not apply if it can be proven that the collision was caused by someone operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who is convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
The provisions of this section also do not apply to an uninsured motorist whose insurance policy was terminated or nonrenewed for failure to pay the premium, unless termination or nonrenewal of insurance occurred six months or more prior to the time of the accident. Passengers are not affected by this section.
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 non-economic damages. Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, 376 SW3d 633, 637 (Mo.banc 2012).