Thousands of car accidents occur in the state of Louisiana every year. In fact, according to the Louisiana State Police, the state averaged over a recent three-year period:
- 449 fatal crashes
- 11,348 injury crashes
- 23,121 property crashes.
Many of those harmed in these car accidents are passengers who may have many questions about their legal rights, including the right to seek just compensation.
WHO PAYS FOR MY INJURIES AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
If you were a passenger involved in a crash, then the driver of the vehicle you were traveling in should have insurance that will pay for your injuries if that driver was responsible for the crash. If the driver of the other vehicle was at fault, then that driver’s insurance policy should cover your losses.
These payments will be sought under the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage. (As a note, bodily injury coverage is designed to pay for the medical expenses and funeral costs of those who are injured in an accident but does not cover the policyholder). If the at-fault driver does not carry insurance, you may be covered under the insurance policy of your driver’s uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
According to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, if the owner of the car that you were in at the time of collision has medical payments coverage, then this coverage type is designed to cover your injuries as a passenger – regardless of who was at fault.
However, medical payments coverage is optional in Louisiana. For this reason, the driver of the vehicle in which you were traveling at the time of accident may not carry this insurance type.
WHAT IF I WAS A PASSENGER IN A CAR I OWNED?
If you were a passenger involved in a wreck in a car you owned, recovering compensation under your own insurance policy can be complex.
If the driver of the other car was at fault for the accident, then you can file a claim under his or her bodily injury policy. In the event that this driver does not carry insurance, you are allowed to seek recovery under your own uninsured or underinsured insurance motorist (UIM) policy – assuming that you have these policy types.
However, if the driver of your car was to blame for the accident, then you will have to double check your policy to determine whether your insurance company will allow you to seek damages under your own bodily injury coverage. Again, if you have medical payments coverage, this coverage type will pay for your injuries regardless of fault.
To summarize, policies that you may seek damages from in the event that you are in a car accident as a passenger include the insurance policy of the:
- At-fault driver
- Owner of the car driven by the at-fault party
- Driver of the car that you were in at the time of the collision
- Owner of the car that were in at the time of the collision.
Keep in mind that the driver of a vehicle and the owner of a vehicle may not be the same. In many cases, you can seek damages from the policies of both parties.
WHAT TYPES OF COMPENSATION ARE CAR ACCIDENT PASSENGERS ABLE TO RECOVER?
The compensation that you are able to recover will depend on the insurance coverage types available and the extent of damages that you have suffered. In most cases, though, you should be able to recover compensation for:
- The full extent of your medical bills and future medical costs
- Any property damage losses
- Losses related to the accident such as lost wages.
In some cases, you can also seek damages for pain and suffering. This is especially true in the event that you file a lawsuit.
In Louisiana, there is no cap on the amount of non-economic damages that you can recover in a car accident passenger lawsuit.
FILING A CAR ACCIDENT PASSENGER LAWSUIT
Louisiana is an at-fault car accident state, or tort liability state. So, if you are injured in a car accident as a passenger, you have the right to file a lawsuit in order to recover damages. You are allowed to file a car accident passenger lawsuit directly against the at-fault party.
Sometimes, a car accident claim will also go to litigation in the event that you cannot reach a fair settlement amount with the insurance company.
When an insurance company makes you an offer, you do not have to accept it.Often, a settlement offer is lower than what you truly deserve.
If negotiations for a more appropriate settlement fail, then you may bring the case to court. During the litigation, it will be essential that you prove the negligence of the party who caused the accident and prove the extent of the damages that you suffered.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE MY CLAIM?
After a car accident, it will be important that you act quickly. If you do not, you may forfeit your right to recover damages at all. Under Louisiana Laws section 3492, you have only one year to file your claim. If you wait longer than the one-year time frame, then you may be permanently barred from recovering damages.
HOW A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY CAN HELP YOU
After a car accident in which you were a passenger, you may feel helpless about where to turn next. Rather than facing these challenges on your own, let an experienced Louisiana car accident attorney help you.
At Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, our team will work hard to make sure that all recovery options are exhausted. While your exact settlement amount is dependent upon many different factors, we can promise to work hard on your behalf. Contact our team today online or call us now at 318.541.8188 to schedule a consultation.