Imagine you are driving after work in a heavy traffic on I-10. As soon as you think the roads are clearing up, the car behind you bumps into your vehicle. Although it doesn't seem like a major accident, your car is damaged and your back is in pain. What are you supposed to do? Are you required to report this accident? Even in a minor accident, Louisiana has certain requirements and limitations to protect people injured in a car accident. Read on to learn more about the Louisiana car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Louisiana?
Yes, in some cases. Subject to Louisiana Statutes Section 32:398, you are required to:
- Immediately give notice to the local police department if the accident resulted in: (1) injury, (2) death, or (3) property damage over $500
- File a report within 24 hours to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections if the accident resulted in: (1) injury, (2) death, or (3) property damage over $100
Louisiana Car Insurance Laws
In Louisiana, drivers are required to carry liability coverage on any vehicle they own. Liability insurance pays for personal injury and property damage up to the amount of coverage each individuals have. Drivers are required to purchase a policy that meets the following minimum amount of coverage:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people in a single accident
- $25,000 for damage to someone else's vehicle or other property
Drivers can choose to purchase higher coverage limits to get more protection. If a driver does not have a car insurance or does not meet the minimum requirements, he or she may be subject to fines and license suspension.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Louisiana?
"Settlement" refers to an agreement to drop a pending lawsuit and award damages that are made out of court. Most car accident cases are resolved through settlements, instead of going all the way to trial. Once you file a claim with an insurance company, the company will evaluate damages and make settlement offers. Keep in mind that you aren't obligated to accept any of its initial settlement offers. If you disagree to the decision made by the insurance company, you can file a complaint to the Louisiana Department of Insurance and pursue a lawsuit against the other driver at fault.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Louisiana?
Louisiana follows the at-fault insurance system, which means the person at fault for the accident is liable for any injuries or property damage. The most common types of damages are auto repair and replacement, medical expenses, rental cars, loss wages, and pain and suffering. Louisiana follows a "pure comparative negligence" standard in measuring damages. Therefore, even if you were found partially at fault for your own injuries, you can still recover damages in the amount reduced by the percentage of your fault.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, you have one year to file a claim for both personal injury and property damage. This one-year period starts from the day of your accident. If you fail to file your claim within one year, Louisiana courts will most likely deny your case no matter how strong your case may be. Thus, you won't be able to recover any damages.
Questions About the Car Accident Settlement Process in Louisiana? Ask a Lawyer
Louisiana has strict deadlines and requirements that can make a car accident case complicated. Depending on your case, you may find it easier and save time by having someone handle your case. Contact an experienced car accident attorney in Louisiana who can guide you through proper ways to calculate damages and analyze your legal options.