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When Is A Driver Responsible For An Uninsured Motorist Accident in New Orleans?

Posted in Car Accidents on January 14, 2023

In New Orleans, a driver is responsible for an accident with an uninsured motorist if they are found to be at fault for the collision. In certain circumstances, including when another party is responsible for your injuries, it can be tempting to think one won’t be held liable for your injuries and damages if no one else was at fault. However, Louisiana law does not allow this “no one at fault” defense for uninsured motorist accidents. Moreover, what happens if you are involved in an accident and the responsible driver is uninsured?

According to recent reports from the Insurance Research Council, a significant portion of drivers in Louisiana, around 11.7%%, were uninsured as of 2019. This means in the event of an accident with one of these drivers, it can be more difficult to obtain the compensation you deserve. In many cases, when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you will be limited to the coverage provided by your insurance policy, which may not fully cover the damages or losses incurred. Interestingly, many drivers do not comply with this law, which can make it harder for accident victims to be fully compensated for their losses.

Overview of Negligence Law in Louisiana

Anyone who causes damage to another person is obligated to repair it if it was their fault. This is the basis for personal injury cases in the state. Louisiana courts determine if a driver is held negligent for an accident between motor vehicles.

Louisiana has some of the highest automobile insurance rates in the nation. The average annual premium for insurance in Louisiana has increased by 19% from 2020, reaching an average of $2,389. This is significantly higher than the national average, partly due to the high number of uninsured and underinsured drivers in the state. 

A court may determine a party is guilty of negligence without the need to put the issue before a jury, referred to as negligence per se. According to Louisiana’s Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist’s Statute, all registered vehicles are required to have a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in liability coverage to pay for damages caused to others. However, some drivers may not have liability coverage or enough coverage, so additional coverage called UM coverage can be purchased to protect oneself against these uninsured or underinsured motorists on the road. This coverage is optional in Louisiana and the limits can be rejected or selected with lower limits by the Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance on a form.

What Constitutes Negligence?

In Louisiana, negligence is defined as the failure to exercise the degree of care a reasonably careful person would use under similar circumstances. To prove negligence, the following elements must be present:

  1. Duty: The defendant had a legal duty to act in a certain way or to take certain precautions to prevent harm.
  2. Breach of duty: The defendant failed to fulfill their duty by acting or failing to act in a way that a reasonably careful person would not have.
  3. Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s actions.

In Louisiana, different degrees of negligence can be considered when determining fault in an accident or injury case. Gross negligence is a higher degree of negligence that involves a conscious or reckless disregard for the safety of others. Comparative negligence is a system that allows for apportionment of fault among all parties involved in an accident. In Louisiana, comparative negligence is modified, meaning if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, they are barred from recovering any damages. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or less at fault, their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Other Considerations When Involved In An Uninsured Motorist Accident 

Car Accident Law

There are several other considerations that you should be aware of if you are involved in an uninsured motorist accident in Louisiana.

Louisiana has a no-fault insurance system, which means that your own insurance company will cover your damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver if your damages exceed the limits of your insurance coverage.

Ensure to report the accident to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible. This will help ensure that you can receive the coverage you are entitled to under the law and in time. Also, keep in mind that of all the insured drivers in Louisiana, 40% of the drivers have minimum coverage insurance levels. 

You should also be aware that you may be able to recover damages for any injuries or damages that you sustained in the accident, even if you were partially at fault, as long as you were 50% or less at fault for the accident.

Steps to Protect Yourself from Liability or Your Insurance Being Denied

  1. Understand and comply with all relevant laws and regulations: It is important to have a thorough understanding of all laws and regulations that pertain to your business or profession in Louisiana, as well as any industry-specific standards.
  2. Purchase appropriate insurance coverage: Liability insurance is essential for protecting yourself and your business from financial loss. Ensure you purchase enough coverage to protect you from potential claims.
  3. Maintain accurate and detailed records: Keep accurate and detailed records of all transactions, communications, and other relevant information. This can help to protect you in case of a dispute.
  4. Document all agreements: Document all agreements in writing, including any terms and conditions of service or sale.
  5. Seek legal advice when needed: If you are unsure about any legal issues or have any concerns about your potential liability, it is important to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney.

Ultimately, one can seek compensation for damages and injuries through their insurance policy, if they have uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is an optional type of insurance that can be added to your policy, and it can provide coverage for damages and injuries that you may incur in an accident with an uninsured motorist. 

If you are have been in a car accident, contact the firm today at (504) 500-5000 or at our website to schedule an appointment.