Uninsured Driver Accidents
Baton Rouge Uninsured Motorist Lawyer
Traffic laws exist for a reason: to keep you from getting into a crash. We follow the rules as best we can–we try not to speed, we come to a complete stop at stop signs, we avoid running through red lights–and we hope that everyone else does the same.
Similarly, there are traffic laws that govern what happens after we get into an accident. In the state of Louisiana, we need to have insurance in case of a crash. And, also similarly, we can only follow the rules and hope that everyone else does the same.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are a fair number of people out on the road with no insurance at all, and if one of them crashes into you, recovering your damages becomes infinitely more difficult. That’s where an uninsured motorist lawyer comes in.
At The Law Offices of Ossie Brown, we fight to help our clients get the compensation they deserve. Just because someone else doesn’t follow the rules of the road, it doesn’t mean you should be the one who pays for it. Find out how a Baton Rouge uninsured motorist lawyer may be able to help you overcome the financial challenges that stem from being hit by an uninsured driver. Call the The Law Offices of Ossie Brown at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
How Many U.S. Drivers Are Uninsured?
Since you can’t even drive off a car lot in a used car without some kind of insurance, it may seem like almost no one would be able to drive around uninsured.
Well, you’d be correct–most people do have car insurance, but a huge number of people do not. 1 in every 8 motorists will be uninsured on average in the US. That totals out to roughly 28 million people driving around the United States with no car insurance coverage. Specifically, about 11-12% of drivers in Louisiana are uninsured.
So your chances of being hit by an uninsured driver are unfortunately a bit higher than you might imagine.
In addition to uninsured motorists, there is also such a thing as underinsured motorists. This would be a driver who has car insurance, but their liability coverage limit is so low that it does not fully cover the damages they caused. So if you were to pursue damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and car damage from the at fault driver, their underinsured motorist coverage likely wouldn’t help you much.
Do All Louisiana Drivers Have to Have Car Insurance?
Louisiana requires every driver to have minimum liability coverage on any car they own. What that means is that everyone in Louisiana, in an ideal world, would have coverage for:
- An accident they cause
- Both property damage and personal injuries
- The damages of the victim, up to policy limits
Uninsured motorists face some relatively hefty fines and potential car impoundment for knowingly driving without liability coverage.
In addition to the minimum liability coverage required by the state, auto lenders often require comprehensive coverage and collision coverage in addition to this minimum liability required by the state. So if someone is still paying off their car, they’re required to have a bit more coverage than the average Louisiana driver.
Is Louisiana an At-Fault State?
Louisiana is an at-fault state, also known as a “tort” state.
This means that, when you get into a crash caused by a negligent driver, you don’t rely on your own insurance to pay your damages. Rather, you’re relying on the at fault driver’s policy. This is why getting your damages recovered is such a hassle if you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Meanwhile, if you were to get in a car crash in a no fault state, you would have to seek compensation from your own insurance policy.
Proving Fault in a Tort State
In a tort state like Louisiana, you need to prove the other person was at fault for the accident. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it isn’t. If the person rear-ended you, no matter the circumstances, that’s typically a clear case for the other party being at fault. If the other party was issued a citation at the scene of the accident, proving fault is also pretty easy.
But there are cases where it’s less clear. In cases like these, it’s always good to work with an experienced personal injury attorney at our Baton Rouge law firm who can help shift through the chaos after a car accident.
One aspect that tends to complicate matters is Louisiana’s comparative fault laws.
Pure Comparative Fault Rule in Louisiana
Louisiana’s comparative fault laws–which can sometimes be known as comparative negligence laws, or the pure comparative fault rule–means that the degree to which someone was at fault for the accident must be determined by the court. Additionally, you can be partially at fault for your own accident.
Let’s give an example–let’s say you were texting and driving. Because you were texting and driving, you ran through a stop sign. Someone who was speeding and not paying attention hits you alongside. Yes, the other driver was speeding, and they hit you–but had you not been texting and driving, the accident would not have occurred. You are both at fault for the accident in some way. The court must now determine what percentage you were at fault, and what percentage the other party was at fault. If you are 40% at fault, and the other party 60%, they would be responsible for 60% of your damages.
This becomes even more complicated, as you might imagine, when that hypothetical other party is uninsured. In that case, you would need an experienced uninsured motorist lawyer from the Law Offices of Ossie Brown. We can help you recover damages from an uninsured motorist claim.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) is an add-on to your own personal insurance coverage. If you have it, you can possibly use it to cover your losses if you are hit by an uninsured at-fault driver.
Insurance companies are required to offer uninsured motorist coverage, but it is only required for drivers to have in a handful of states. In Louisiana, your auto policy is required to contain UIM, unless you decline it in writing.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works
Here’s the way UIM generally works:
Usually, when you are in a car accident in Louisiana that was caused by someone else, that other person’s auto insurance will cover your damages. When the other person has no liability insurance, you typically have to turn to your own insurance company. In that case, UIM is your best bet.
Typically, your UIM coverage amounts to no more than your liability coverage. So if you have $15,000 in liability coverage, you can carry up to $15,000 in UIM. If you sustain $5,000 worth of damages in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, you’re good.
It should also be noted that standard UIM coverage usually only covers bodily injuries. You may have to purchase a separate policy to have coverage against property damage caused by uninsured motorists.
Can I Sue an Uninsured Motorist for Hitting Me?
So, let’s go back to that hypothetical scenario, where you get in an uninsured motorist accident. They’ve been proven at-fault, but they have no insurance policy to pay up. What do you do?
Well, the first thing you do is call a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown. No insurance doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t recover your damages.
A personal injury or property damage lawsuit in civil court is always an option in cases like these. If you decide on a lawsuit, however, there is a possibility that it will be difficult to collect your damages. If you’re suing underinsured or uninsured drivers, there’s a chance they won’t have much in the way of assets. Your attorney can run a credit or asset check on the other party to make sure, but if they have nothing to give you, suing underinsured motorists might be something of a hollow victory.
If, however, your uninsured motorist lawyer discovers that the other party does have assets, they can file a lien on these discovered assets, then help you file a lawsuit.
That’s why it’s so important to work with an uninsured motorist attorney at our law firm. They can help you recover compensation from the at fault party.
How To Obtain Car Accident Damages When an Uninsured Motorist Hits You
If you decide not to sue, and the person at-fault has no insurance, what do you do? How do you get back the damages you incurred in the accident?
Well, more than likely, you’ll need to turn to your own uninsured motorist insurance. If you do this, you’ll need an experienced car accident lawyer, possibly even more than you would if you chose to sue the uninsured driver. Insurance companies will fight you every step of the way in order not to pay up; that’s where our competent attorneys come in. We can help you get the compensation you deserve, even when the insurance companies are unwilling.
Car Accident Damages
After a car accident in Louisiana, you can recover two different types of damages: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are exactly what they sound like: damages with a clear dollar amount attached. They include things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced ability to earn
- Property damage repair
By contrast, non-economic damages don’t necessarily have a dollar value. These damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some unfortunate cases, car accidents result in wrongful death. In these cases, damages could include funeral expenses and reduced future income, as well as pain and suffering.
Louisiana Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
In Louisiana, filing a lawsuit to recover damages after a car accident is a time-sensitive endeavor. You have one year from the date of the accident to file a liability claim against the at-fault party. However, Louisiana gives victims 2 years from the date of the accident to file uninsured motorist claims. If you do not file a claim within the statute of limitations, the other party can file a motion with the court asking them to dismiss the claim.
For that reason, it’s important to get your game plan together with an uninsured motorist lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
Call a Baton Rouge Uninsured Motorist Lawyer at The Law Offices of Ossie Brown TodayIf you’ve been hit by an uninsured motorist and you need to recover damages, the uninsured motorist lawyers at The Law Offices of Ossie Brown can help. We can help you determine the uninsured motorist’s potential degree of fault, as well as the best legal options that will help you obtain justice and compensation. If you need an uninsured motorist attorney, give our Baton Rouge office a call at 225-343-1111. You can also schedule a free consultation on our website.
Let us review your case at no cost to you. We want to take the time to get to know you and understand your legal goals and objectives.
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