Louisiana motorists are generally required to maintain liability insurance on their vehicles. The main purpose of liability insurance is to pay damages on behalf of the insured party in the event that someone is injured by the negligent operation of a vehicle. Under state law, each vehicle must carry liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person injured or killed, and at least $30,000 per accident if two or more people are injured or killed.
Unfortunately, far too many people ignore these laws and drive without the necessary insurance to keep themselves and other motorists protected while driving. (See our blog: Is it Illegal to Not Have Car Insurance?) To address this problem, Louisiana law requires that every auto insurance policy issued in the state include uninsured motorist coverage, unless the customer specifically rejects the coverage in writing.
What is Uninsured Motorist Protection?
The uninsured coverage must be in amounts at least equal to the policy’s liability coverage, unless the customer opts in writing for lower coverage or chooses coverage for economic loss only, without coverage for pain and suffering.
The law defines an uninsured motorist to include a hit-and-run driver who cannot be identified. Under this circumstance, there must be physical contact between the vehicles unless the injured person can prove, through an independent witness, that the unidentified driver caused the accident. An uninsured motorist is also defined to include someone who is underinsured; that is, they have insurance, but not enough to cover all of the victim’s injuries.
In a claim for a serious injury from a car accident, uninsured coverage can play a key role in providing adequate compensation for the victim. It is a good idea for every driver in the state of Louisiana to make sure that they have uninsured coverage in their insurance policy, and if not, to get coverage as soon as possible.
Who Needs Uninsured Motorist Protection?
Louisiana has a mandatory uninsured motorist statute. By means of this, a person in Louisiana buying automobile insurance is also presumed to have bought uninsured or underinsured coverage. Louisiana law specifically requires that the individual purchasing the insurance policy reject such coverage if the mandatory uninsured motorist coverage is not going to be included. In fact, Louisiana has a form that the individual purchasing the policy will have to sign in order for the underinsured coverage to be officially rejected.
This can be important to note because there are occasional cases where we are able to show a judge or jury that the individual purchasing the policy never rejected such coverage before being involved in an auto accident. Courts will hold that they are entitled to underinsured coverage unless they have specifically signed off on the rejection form.
Why Is Uninsured Motorist Protection So Important?
It is estimated that the rate of uninsured motorists on Louisiana roads is approximately 13%. This number is slightly under the national average of 13.8% but still presents a major threat to uninsured and insured drivers alike. If a driver’s expenses are not covered by a form of insurance, they must be provided for by the driver, typically out-of-pocket. Lower monthly premiums through rejection or underinsurance also come with a severe, more costly risk.
When a person is injured by a negligent driver and the driver turns out to be uninsured, the injured person can make a claim against the uninsured coverage of their own policy. The uninsured coverage essentially takes the place of the liability coverage that the negligent driver failed to carry.
The experienced Shreveport car accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon understand the troublesome and confusing world of insurance navigation. If you or a loved one are suffering as a result of an auto accident or other personal injury in Shreveport or the surrounding areas, please contact us today at 318-716-HELP for a free and confidential consultation to protect your rights and limit potential liabilities.