When should I report a car accident?
By law, drivers in Louisiana must immediately report any vehicle accident if that accident results in injury, the death of any person, or property damage in excess of $500. To comply with this law, you’ll need to call 911 right after the accident occurs.
If a non-life-threatening emergency occurs, the operator may instruct you to call 311 or another service to report the accident. It is important that you follow through with the reporting even if the accident isn’t an emergency.
The accident will then be investigated by a law enforcement officer directed to the scene by emergency services. The officer will take down the details of the crash and may have some questions to ask you.
When the investigation is complete, a crash report will be publicly available. Our office can secure it for you once the law enforcement officer completes and releases it.
When is the deadline to file a claim for a car accident in Louisiana?
Louisiana has different motor vehicle laws than the rest of the country. The Pelican State also uses different terms for standard legal concepts. For example, in Louisiana, we say “prescription” instead of “Statute of Limitations.”
The prescription for filing a car accident claim is one year. What does that mean?
Louisiana drivers have one year from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. This is one of the shortest limits in the country. It is a limit that can pass very quickly while you’re recovering from car accident injuries or waiting to receive reports from any investigations.
This limit applies to any claim for injury or vehicle damage by a driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist. Missing it almost certainly means losing your ability to negotiate for fair compensation. To avoid this, speak to an experienced as soon as possible after the car accident. This will give you and your legal team plenty of time to build the strongest case possible before the one-year deadline.
I was partially at fault, am I still eligible for compensation?
Louisiana car accident judgments are subject to comparative negligence law. This means that a court can find you, the victim, partially at fault for your car accident. You can still recover damages for your case if you are found to be partially at fault. However, the court will reduce your award by the percentage that it decides you were at fault.
Let’s explore this with an example. Imagine that you successfully make a claim for an injury in the amount of $100,000. If you received a $100,000 award and were found to be 20% at fault for the car accident, your award would be reduced by 20% to $80,000. An insurance claims adjuster will use the same logic in determining what it will offer as a settlement.
Obviously, there is no empirical measure of fault. Any assignment of liability is really a judgment call that is subject to your ability to negotiate with insurers or persuade a judge or jury. Evidence that you or your lawyer collect from the accident scene can be crucial to this process. So can the witnesses that you collect and what is said to your insurance company.
An experienced car accident attorney with knowledge of past awards and how “fault” is determined can be invaluable in helping you through this process.
How Much Compensation Will I Get From The Insurance Company?
If you are in an accident involving a driver who is at fault for the accident, chances are the driver has personal car insurance. Like most states, Louisiana requires drivers to carry this insurance. Failing to carry this insurance can lead directly to fines and loss of license. That existing personal liability insurance will extend to rental cars and cover injuries as well as damages suffered by others.
All insurance policies only pay up to the policy limits. The amount that your insurance or the insurance of other drivers covers will vary based on the cost and the quality of the policy. Your insurance may only cover a small portion of the damages that you suffer in an accident.
In Louisiana, drivers of personal use vehicles are required to maintain at least the following levels of liability insurance coverage:
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
The car insurance policies that you can buy on the open market will not carry less than this amount. However, you have the option of buying car insurance that covers significantly more. Many policies also include comprehensive and collision coverage. Some rental car companies require renters to provide proof of insurance coverage from a personal car insurance policy in order to waive their liability or collision coverage. The level of coverage will depend on the state requirements in which the policy was issued.
What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?
PIP is a type of insurance that is available in no-fault states. It covers the policyholder’s medical bills regardless of who was found to be at fault for the accident. Unlike many states, Louisiana does not require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP).
Personal injury protection is not available in Louisiana. However, while this coverage is unavailable from any car insurance policy, you may be able to find a policy that provides similar protection in the form of a provision called “MedPay.”
If your policy includes MedPay, you can get coverage for your injuries even if you are found to be at 100% fault for the accident. MedPay typically covers less than the PIP protection that you can get from policies in other states. This makes it all the more important that you make a successful claim if you need coverage for medical bills.
What Is The “No Pay No Play” Law And What Does It Mean?
Louisiana is one of a few states that has passed a “No Pay No Play” law. This law bars uninsured and under-insured drivers from collecting the first $15,000 dollars of any claim of bodily injury and the first $25,000 of any claim of property damage.
that means that if you drive without insurance, you cannot make claims before a certain limit—even if another driver is found to be completely at fault for the accident. Neither they nor their insurance will be responsible for your damages unless those damages exceed the limits listed above.
While the “No Pay No Play’ applies to most car accidents, there are some important exceptions. Even if you drive without insurance, you may still be able to make full claims against the other driver if that driver:
- Was intoxicated
- Caused the accident intentionally (for example, by ramming your car)
- Was engaged in committing a felony crime
- Was fleeing from the scene of a crime
- Struck you while you were parked
This law doesn’t apply if you are an out-of-state driver or have out-of-state insurance, even if that insurance doesn’t cover enough to meet Louisiana standards.