In Louisiana, as in every state, car insurance is sure to play a big part in any claim brought after a traffic accident. Louisiana, like most states, requires vehicle owners to maintain liability insurance in line with minimums set by law. Read on for the details of Louisiana's auto insurance rules and how coverage is likely to affect a car accident case.
Louisiana follows a traditional "fault"-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a car accident: injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on. This means that the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm (from a practical standpoint, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will absorb these losses, up to policy limits).
In Louisiana, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways:
Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options. After a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to the personal injury protection coverage of your own car insurance policy for payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the crash. Only if your injuries reach a certain threshold can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. But Louisiana drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after an in-state accident.
The required minimum amounts of liability car insurance coverage in Louisiana are:
This basic coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Remember, once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.
Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.
Remember that the liability coverage we discussed here doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a Louisiana car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, collision coverage (optional in Louisiana) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident.
Note that collision or comprehensive might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement. And while not required in Louisiana, uninsured motorist coverage can really save the day if you're in a car accident with a motorist who is driving without insurance, or if you're involved in a hit and run accident. Learn more about different types of car insurance coverage.
According to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, driving without insurance -- or being involved in a crash without insurance -- can result in the imposition of a fine of $500 to $1,000, plus the suspension of driving privileges, impoundment of a vehicle, revocation of registration, or cancellation of license plates.
What's more, if you drive without insurance in Louisiana, the state's "No Pay, No Play" law may also prohibit you from collecting certain amounts after a car accident, even if the other driver is at fault; specifically:
Of course, these penalties will likely pale in comparison to the financial hit you could take if you're in a car accident and you don't have car insurance.