Where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico lies Louisiana. Perhaps most well-known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, every year the streets fill with beads, colorful parades, and masked performers. If you find yourself in a fender bender on your way to one of Louisiana's famous festivals, you will be thankful you are in a state where insured drivers are likely to be able to recover damages. But if you are uninsured or your accident results in serious damages, you will want to be familiar with Louisiana car accident compensation laws.
Below, you’ll find a chart laying out important aspects of Louisiana’s car accident compensation laws along with detailed explanations of some of the key elements.
Louisiana's 'Fault', 'Compulsory Coverage', and 'Pure Comparative Fault' Rules
Louisiana employs the 'fault' system for insurance claims. The fault system requires you to prove that another driver was at fault before you can recover damages for any injuries you suffered in an accident.
Most importantly, Louisiana has a 'compulsory coverage' rule (also referred to as 'pay to play'). The compulsory coverage rule prevents an injured party from recovering for the first $15,000 of bodily injury and for the first $25,000 of property damage if the injured party is uninsured.
While the compulsory coverage rule may seem harsh to injured parties, the 'pure comparative fault' system Louisiana uses is quite generous. Under the 'pure comparative fault' rule, as long as a driver is less than 100% at fault, that driver may recover a portion of that driver's damages. For example, if a driver is found to be 99% at fault and suffers $10,000 in damages, that driver may still recover $100 in damages. This is a stark contrast to certain other states where a driver who is more than 50% at fault would recover nothing.
Types of Damages
Car accident damages tend to be categorized as one of two types: economic damages or non-economic damages. Money damages are known as economic damages, and include repair or replacement of the damaged cars, past and future medical expenses, lost income, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Other, harder to calculate damages, such as pain, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement are known as non-economic damages.
Examples of common car accident damages include:
- Auto repair or vehicle replacement
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Rental cars
- Lost wages
- Loss of affection or companionship
Limits on Damages
In most cases, Louisiana has no cap on damages in personal injury or car accident cases. While there are no car accident damage caps in most cases in Louisiana, if the car accident involves a government agency, there is a state-imposed limit of $500,000 on the total amount of damages you can receive.
Additionally, the state of Louisiana does impose a relatively short time limit on how long a driver may wait before filing a lawsuit (the statute of limitations). In Louisiana, the limit is a mere one year.
Finally, for serious personal injuries that lead to hospital stays, Louisiana's state-imposed cap on medical malpractice could prevent you from recovering your full damages. If a medical professional exacerbates your car accident injury, an individual medical professional may only be held liable up to $100,000, and your total recovery is limited to $500,000 (the Patient's Compensation Fund pays up to $400,000).
Involved in a Car Accident? Talk to a Louisiana MVA Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident in Louisiana, you will be thankful that you can still recover even if you are partially at fault. But the short statute of limitations, the medical malpractice cap, and the compulsory coverage rule can make it hard to recover all of your damages. Contact a Louisiana motor vehicle accident attorney today and learn more about your legal options.