Uninsured Motorist Coverage – A Legal Guide

Were you struck or injured by an uninsured motorist in Louisiana?

Louisiana has specific laws pertaining to uninsured motorists. This guide includes details about “No Pay, No Play” rules, and penalties for driving without insurance. If you were hit by an uninsured motorist, an experienced lawyer can help you file a claim.

You can pay for any medical or hospital-related costs from the accident. There are specific rules outlined to protect you if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in Louisiana. As always the key is having the right kind of insurance before you are hit.

Brain Injury Caused by Car AccidentsWhen you need legal representation, it is best to hire car accident attorneys who know how to handle your claim in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. Smiley law firm has a team of experienced, personal injury attorneys. Let us fight for you.

Use this helpful legal guide that outlines Louisiana insurance laws.

This guide includes:

 

“No Pay No Play” Laws in Louisiana

How To Avoid Lack Of Coverage Issues

Every year, 6 million car accidents occur and 2 million people will sustain permanent injuries.

Hence, in Louisiana, all drivers must carry minimum liability coverage as part of their insurance plan. This is to help ensure that the driver has coverage in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

While a person might want to elect to get a cheaper policy, this can cost them. A cheaper policy can lower premiums, but the driver might owe more if there’s an accident and they are at fault.

If a person is uninsured and it is a hit and run accident, you may have uninsured motorist coverage in your policy. This uninsured coverage is for you and your property. However, if you were the uninsured driver, you may be subject to fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 for being uninsured. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have uninsured motorist coverage. 

No Pay, No Play – Bad News

Whether you were in an accident in Shreveport or an accident in Baton Rouge, it can cost you.

Louisiana also has what’s called a “No Pay, No Play” law. This is based on Rev. Stat. 32:866. This prohibits you from collecting the first $25,000 for any property damages. You also can’t collect the first $15,000 for any personal injuries regardless of who is at fault. States that have established “No Pay, No Play” laws have seen a drop in uninsured drivers.

If you did not have insurance and you are at-fault most attorneys cannot help you. You need to hire a defense attorney and that can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. GET INSURANCE and buy uninsured motorist coverage. 

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Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Rules

What Does Minimum Coverage Get Me?

If you drive in the state of Louisiana, you need to carry bodily injury liability insurance. A typical policy will have a minimum coverage amount of $15,000 for your injuries in an accident. It also covers a minimum coverage amount of $30,000 for other people in your vehicle. Your property damage will cover $25,000.

Attorneys refer to minimum coverage policies as 15/30. It allows for coverage of up to $15,000 for each victim with a maximum payout of $30,000 total. No victim can get more than $15,000 and if there are 5 people injured making claims then the max payout is $30,000 for example.

Minimum coverage is a rip-off. Go ask your agent for some real coverage anything $25,000 all the way up to $500,000 is available to most consumers.

Difference Between Underinsured and Uninsured

These are the minimums set for Louisiana and they’re the same amounts listed in the state’s “No Pay, No Play” law. These types of policies will give you full coverage, but won’t cover all medical expenses. Because these amounts are low, you might be considered underinsured. But, that’s not the same as being uninsured.

Being uninsured is when you are driving with no insurance coverage. In 2015, about 13 percent of drivers in Louisiana were uninsured. Being uninsured is dangerous. Not only are you not able to cover expenses without insurance, but you can be sued and charged huge fines for driving without insurance.

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How Uninsured Motorists Insurance Claim Works

How Uninsured Motorist Insurance Works

If you’re in an accident and you carry basic coverage, it might not be adequate coverage. While you have $15,000 for your injuries and a minimum of $30,000 for expenses, this might not be enough. Your injuries might lead to medical expenses that are higher than the coverage you have.

If you do have coverage for uninsured motorists this can help cover added expenses for you and your passengers. In addition to medical expenses, you might have lost money from being out of work. You might need to have physical therapy or extensive rehabilitation. There might be damage to your vehicle. And, you might suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a severe accident.

All of these are things tied to pain and suffering. It’s one of the reasons that people will hire an attorney to help them cover their expenses and sue for damages after an accident.

Were you involved in a hit-and-run? Need help establishing fault because the other driver left the scene? At Smiley Injury Law, our experienced team of lawyers can help with your claim. Call us at (504) 434-7700. Let us offer help and legal advice when you need it most. You need to have this extra uninsured motorist coverage, otherwise, you will not be able to collect. 

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Uninsured Motorist Coverage Laws

In 2015 in Louisiana, 11.9 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents involved a bus or truck. One accident can leave you severely injured or cause permanent damage. And, some accidents can be fatal. Hence, the need for tougher insurance laws to protect all drivers and their passengers.

Louisiana has specific laws that outline uninsured motorists coverage. These include La. R.S. 22:1973 and La. R.S. 22:1295. These outline penalties for insurance companies in the event a claim isn’t processed in a reasonable amount of time. There are “bad faith” penalties for insurers that misappropriate or mishandle claims.

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Establishing Proof of Loss

To help you understand when to file a claim, speak to an attorney directly after an accident. Some claims have to be paid by insurance companies within 30-days. Others have to be paid by insurers within 60-days. However, the claims process does take a long time. First, you need to treat with your doctor before you can make a claim for bodily injury.

Once you and your attorney establish “proof of loss”, which is done in a demand letter to the insurance company. The demand can only be sent after a victim finishes treatment with the medical provider.

Once the demand is sent, then strict deadlines are in place for the insurance to respond.  The insurer must pay based on the UM policy. There are heightened duties for an uninsured motorist policy to the insured. You might be eligible for damages if your insurer refuses payment of an uninsured motorist claim.

Having an attorney is important.

If you waive your rights and settle before pursuing an uninsured motorist claim, you might not be able to sue for damages or pain and suffering. The uninsured motorist company may then state that you waived your rights. This process is very complicated and you need an attorney to help explain your rights.

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UM Insurer Obligations

When you show proof of loss in your demand letter, the uninsured (“UM”) insurer has to pay the damages. They are not supposed to dispute this charge.

When you start a lawsuit it’s important to discuss your medical expenses and bills with your attorney. Many attorneys can help you get your medical bills paid for or have the provider wait until after the matter is settled to collect. Medical bills are a strategic element to any personal injury claim, please discuss this with your attorney to understand why.

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Unconditional Tenders

An unconditional tender is a term used by your uninsured motorist insurance company. This is a payment or “tender” by the insurance company after it has done an investigation of your claim and sees that there are damages owed. Unconditional means you can deposit the funds without fear that it will constitute a full and final settlement of all claims. This tender is helpful if you need to pay medical bills or cover the time missed by your employer.

Your claim against the other party will include an estimate of accrued interest. At your settlement, this should be included based on principal and interest. Please note that the UM insurer is not required to pay interest until a judgment has been given. Interest is usually nominal but it is an extra element for damages.

When/if your case settles, your uninsured motorist carrier will have to pay the total interest due. This dates back to the judicial demand date. Hence, the importance of hiring an attorney to best represent you.

This is based on Boudreaux v. State Farm, 825 So.2d 558 (La. App. 4 Cir. 8/14/02), Ridenour v. Wausau Insurance Company.

Rights to File a UM Claim

Additionally, there are other important uninsured policy rules that you should know about.

Time Limits

Drivers in the state of Louisiana have 2-years to file their uninsured motorist claim. If you were driving someone else’s vehicle while you were in Louisiana, you can make a claim on their uninsured motorist policy, as well as your own. However, the underlying negligence claim only has 1 year from the date of the accident to file a claim. This is an important distinction.

Out Of State Drivers

If you live out of state but were injured in Louisiana, you have rights, too.

But, be careful. You are allowed to waive your rights to the uninsured motorist policy. This occurs if you settle out of court with the liable party. Some people do this not realizing they are waiving their rights to sue for full damages and pain and suffering. That’s why it’s important to speak with an attorney first.

While you might think it’s in your best interest to settle so you can get the money you need, consult a lawyer.

The insurers want you to settle so they can pay less for each accident claim. If you have an attorney, your attorney might be able to help you obtain a larger settlement. An unconditional tender can cover your medical expenses while you pursue your case. Talk to an attorney before you waive your rights.

Were you in a bad accident with an uninsured motorist? Do you need money for your medical bills and other expenses? At Smiley Injury Law, we might be able to help you obtain an unconditional tender on a UM cliam. This can help take the stress off you while you recuperate. Contact us today to discuss your case.

hit and run accidents

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How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Helps in a Hit and Run

If you’re in a hit and run accident, that means a driver flees the scene.

Drivers will leave sometimes if they don’t have insurance coverage. They may also leave if they are drunk, on drugs, or driving in a stolen vehicle.

When another driver does flee an accident, it’s called a hit and run because you only have your insurance to cover your expenses. Evidence from the scene of the accident can help.

Maybe a nearby business has surveillance cameras that recorded the accident. There might be a witness or more than one witness that saw the accident.

Hit and run accidents are only covered under an uninsured policy. Because you have this insurance in a hit and run, your attorney can help you with this type of accident claim. If you don’t have uninsured coverage then you will not be able to collect anything for a hit and run. It is that simple. Go talk to your insurance agent today.

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What Uninsured Motorist Coverage Includes

In Louisiana, there is no requirement for drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured coverage. There is only a requirement for liability coverage. When you have uninsured motorist coverage, it becomes part of your vehicle insurance policy. It covers any damages that might be caused by other drivers that are at fault.

Your vehicle is covered if there’s property damage. Your medical expenses or injuries to other passengers are also covered as part of this insurance.

Go get uninsured coverage. I have clients all the time tell me they have “full coverage”, thinking they have uninsured coverage. This is false most of the time.

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Insurance Coverage Louisiana Plans Offer

Maybe you’ve heard about uninsured motorist coverage. It’s important to understand there are different coverage types. You can use this coverage if the other driver doesn’t have insurance or if they don’t carry adequate insurance.

This is important if their insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages. Uninsured motorist coverage can also be used if you were a pedestrian that was hit. These coverage plans are abbreviated. Uninsured motorist coverage is UM or UIM.

Having uninsured motorist coverage can help in an accident where a driver leaves the scene. But, what is included in this type of coverage?

With uninsured motorist coverage, there are different types of coverage:

  • Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Property Damage (UMPD)
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Bodily Injury
  • Uninsured Motorist Economic Only

With these types of coverage, they vary in the amount you have to pay each month in payments (premiums). Examine your current policy to help you understand this type of coverage. That way you can understand what your particular policy includes.

If you do not understand your policy call your agent and the agent will explain the policy. If you are still confused, call my office and we will help you understand your policy coverages. 504-434-7700.

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uninsured motorists property damage insurance coverage

Understanding UMPD

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage or UMPD covers vehicle damage and property repairs. This coverage is for property damage only. Property damage is for your car, other cars and other property such as houses, fences, or telephone poles.

When you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM), it covers injuries that you might have sustained in the accident. It will cover the injuries of the people in your vehicle. Economic only policies will cover basic costs, but not your quality of life or pain and suffering.

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Your Insurer Can’t Raise Your Rates if You File a UM Claim

The Insurance Research Council estimates that about 14 percent of drivers aren’t insured. in Louisiana, 13 percent of drivers aren’t insured. That’s why it’s important that you carry vehicle insurance at all times. That’s based on Insurance Research Council data. But, some people worry that their insurance will go up if they file a claim.

Louisiana has specific laws that make it illegal for insurers to raise rates after a UM claim. Uninsured motorist claims are considered “no-fault”. La. R.S. 22:1284 states that the insurers can’t raise rates, add additional charges, or drop policies. This is specifically in the event of a “no-fault” accident.

“No-fault” is defined as any driver involved in an accident that wasn’t found at fault. Louisiana laws were established for these types of accidents to protect drivers. If you file a claim and have a problem with your insurance company, you might be able to sue them for damages.

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How Insufficient Insurance Coverage Hurts You

In Louisiana, every driver is required to carry adequate levels of vehicle insurance. These can cover sustained damages in an accident and provide adequate coverage for other parties.

When you don’t carry sufficient coverage, being underinsured can cost you. You may have higher out-of-pocket expenses than what your insurance will cover.

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What Drives Your Expenses Up

If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your out-of-pocket expenses may be higher.

Imagine if you are hit by an uninsured driver but you suffer severe damage:

  • You might need to have surgery or require months of rehabilitation.
  • You might lose your job or have to leave due to your injuries. That’s not including the stress of not having an income at the time.
  • You’re also not factoring in the expenses and added pressure on you and your family.

I have seen people have to file bankruptcy due to no insurance coverage and being sued.

When You Waive Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

All Louisiana insurance policies include coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists. The law is set up where you get this coverage by default. However, cut-rate insurance companies make you sign a waiver so that you can get your premiums down.  At the time you think you are saving money but when something bad happens you would have wish you paid the small extra premium amount.

You can waive this coverage. People do this if they want to lower their monthly premiums. But, this is not recommended.

If there’s an accident, your expenses will be significantly higher. You also make it harder for an attorney to help you pursue the compensation you may need for any pain and suffering or long-term care.

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Where to Turn for Help or If You Have Questions

At Smiley Injury Law, understanding uninsured motorist coverage is something we specialize in. You might feel overwhelmed with medical expenses or time away from your job. That’s why our team of experienced, legal professionals can help. If you or a loved one were involved in an auto accident, contact us.

Whether you were insured or underinsured, we might be able to help you prepare a case. If you were at fault, not at fault, or if the driver fled the scene, let us know. We can give you a free confidential consultation. Speak to one of our attorneys about your accident. We can explain your rights and discuss what you can expect if you file a claim. You’re not in this alone. Let Smiley Injury Law represent you.

Please note that if you were fully 100% at-fault there is nothing we can do to help you collect on your claim.

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Learn More From Smiley Law Firm’s Injury Blog

Here at Smiley Law Firm, we write about the topic of insurance issues all the time. In every personal injury case, there is an insurance element that is crucial. If people are educated on insurance, in the beginning, it makes the case flow more smoothly.
As personal injury attorneys, we believe in educating our clients and the public with the most up to date information available. We have a number of blogs and articles covering the following topics. Please read them and leave comments if you find the information helpful.
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