Although liability insurance is legally required in Louisiana, there is still a significant minority of drivers who don't have any insurance at all. Those who do follow the law and purchase the minimum liability insurance may have picked the cheapest option. That means the other driver's policy is unlikely to fully cover your medical bills or vehicle replacement costs after a crash. Unfortunately, underinsured drivers are a bigger problem than you may expect, especially if you end up in a serious wreck and face devastating medical bills or can't return to work.
What You Need to Know About Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you are in a collision and the at-fault driver carries no insurance, or they have a barebones policy, but the maximum payouts are below your actual out-of-pocket costs, you will end up on the hook for the bills even though the crash wasn't your fault. That's where the optional "uninsured and underinsured" portions of insurance policies step in and are meant to cover you in cases of:
- Being struck by a driver with no insurance plan at all who remains at the scene
- Hit and run accidents where the uninsured or underinsured driver flees the scene after the collision to avoid legal consequences
- Wrecks with bodily injury when the at-fault driver has some level of coverage, but the policy cap is well beneath the final price tag of your hospital stay
Laws covering the specifics of insurance policies and how they are sold vary drastically between states. In Louisiana, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not legally required in any basic vehicle liability insurance plans. With most vehicle insurance plans offered in the state, you have to specifically add on this type of coverage at an extra cost.
Because uninsured coverage is often not included with any base plan, your insurance provider will typically ask you to either add on the extra coverage, or sign a document agreeing to completely opt-out. Where uninsured and underinsured coverage is offered, it may also be broken into these two types, which can add to your overall premiums:
- Coverage for medical costs stemming from bodily harm in a wreck, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering
- Coverage specifically for property damage to your vehicle that occurs in the collision
You Need to Talk to an Attorney After any Crash Involving an Uninsured Driver
While having insurance is important to protect yourself legally and financially in the event of an emergency, every car crash survivor needs to understand that insurance companies exist to generate a profit. An insurer makes less money if it regularly pays out maximum policy amounts to accident victims, particularly in cases with extensive physical injuries that interfere with your quality of life.
An insurance adjuster may outright deny a claim in bad faith, or simply offer a settlement amount that is far lower than your actual costs, which is why you should contact a lawyer after suffering an injury in any car crash. An attorney with experience in Louisiana car crash and insurance cases can thoroughly investigate the crash to determine fault, identify the best source of potential compensation, and handle negotiations with insurers.
In cases where insurance doesn't cover your costs, you may need to file a lawsuit to pursue the fair and full amount you deserve. In these cases, your lawyer can argue your case in court by presenting all the evidence showing the at-fault party is responsible for your injury or that the insurer denied your claim in bad faith.
Don't Wait to Contact a Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer
Between the piling medical bills after a car wreck and the state's statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits, it is crucial to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible after your crash. If you or someone you love was hurt by an uninsured motorist, contact Scott Vicknair, LLC today to schedule a consultation and tell us about your case.