We often talk about drivers who cause accidents and drivers who suffer injuries in car accidents. Yet, many vehicles have occupants when a traffic collision occurs. Although passengers aren’t behind the wheel, they still have rights when they suffer injuries. Some injured passengers cringe at the idea of filing a claim against a friend or family member driving the vehicle. Yet, injured passengers should not have to shoulder the financial burden that comes with their injuries when someone else caused them harm.
Passengers have a right to seek compensation after a car accident in Louisiana, but the way they go about it varies based on insurance policies and individual situations. Below we provide more information about filing an accident injury claim in Louisiana for passengers who suffer car accident injuries, a discussion about liability, what to do when drivers do not have insurance, and how to file a claim in Louisiana.
Liability is not always clear in a car accident. In some cases, you might not be able to distinguish whether the driver you were riding with or another driver caused the accident. This makes it difficult to know exactly where you need to submit an insurance claim. Louisiana is a tort liability state, which means they do not have a no-fault insurance system. Instead, at-fault drivers hold financial responsibility for damages related to traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Your car accident attorney can guide you on the steps you need to seek compensation, but liability will typically play out in one of the following ways:
The Driver Next to You Is at Fault
The driver who you were riding with will definitely be at fault if it was a one-vehicle accident. Maybe they hit a fence, went off the road and rolled the vehicle, or struck some other object that led to an accident and your injuries. The driver next to you is also liable if they cause an accident with another vehicle(s) as a result of negligent behavior such as drinking and driving, distracted driving, and drowsy driving. In these cases, you will need to file an insurance claim with the driver’s insurance carrier. If your claim is approved, you can get compensation for your injuries up to the driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage limits. Louisiana requires drivers to carry a minimum of $15,000 in BIL coverage for one person and $30,000 in BIL coverage per accident. Yet, many drivers increase their coverage limits.
Another Driver Is at Fault
If you suffer injuries as a result of another driver’s negligence, your first steps include filing an insurance claim with their auto insurance carrier. If the other driver is in a business vehicle or a commercial truck, you likely need to file a claim with the business’s or employer’s auto insurance carrier. In this case, you also have the right to receive compensation for your injuries up to the coverage limits of the policy.
Drivers Share Fault
In some car accidents, liability simply is not clear. Lawyers, their investigators, and in some cases, courts, need to thoroughly investigate an accident to determine fault. It’s always best to consult with an attorney, but as a passenger, you almost always need a lawyer if you have suffered injuries. Your attorney will file the necessary claims. Insurance companies will play the blame game, which often leads to litigation. The court will assign a percentage fault to each driver, which typically means you will receive compensation from both parties. When more than two vehicles are involved, the entire process becomes even muddier.
When Louisiana drivers do not carry required insurance or do not carry enough insurance to cover damages, you risk having to rely on your own health insurance to cover medical bills. Other losses are far more difficult to recover as a passenger. Your attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your situation. In some cases, the other driver’s insurance might apply, but you also might have to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Collecting damages could be difficult. If the driver had plenty of money, he or she would likely have the required car insurance. An experienced car accident attorney can investigate the other options you have to recover damages after a car accident in Louisiana.
Insurance companies handle passenger injury claims the same as they handle any other injury claims. As mentioned above, you can file a claim against one or more drivers, depending on who caused the accident. Whether you obtain the information from a police report or ask immediately after a car accident, you need to get the following information to protect your rights as a passenger in a car accident:
When you file an insurance claim, the company will likely ask you to record a statement. Do not comply without consulting with an attorney. The carrier could use your statement to devalue your claim. Instead, let a skilled car accident attorney negotiate the best possible financial outcome for your case and protect you from the tricky tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying out claims.
The experienced legal team at the Law Offices of John W. Redmann, LLC have extensive experience advocating for injured car accident victims, including those who suffered injuries as a victim. Severe injuries result in massive medical bills, lost wages, and other losses that sometimes have lifelong consequences. If you’ve been harmed as a passenger in a car accident contact us today online or at 504-500-5000 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your claim.