If you've been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, the method of compensation may vary depending on the circumstances of your case.
At-Fault Driver's Automobile Insurance
The at-fault driver should carry liability insurance to compensate you for your accident-related expenses. However, many Louisiana residents only carry the minimum coverage required by the state. This includes:
- $15,000 in insurance coverage for the injury or death of a single person
- $25,000 in insurance coverage for property damage, including damage to vehicles
- $30,000 in insurance coverage for the injury or death of multiple people in a single auto accident
As you might expect, serious car accident injuries can easily exceed these policy limits. If you've suffered burns, internal bleeding, or organ damage, your related expenses can be substantial.
At-Fault Driver's Personal Assets
If a driver has insufficient insurance coverage, you can attempt to collect damages by suing the driver personally. This option is most feasible when the at-fault driver has property, investments, or other assets that you can use as a source of funds for the settlement. However, unless the driver is extremely wealthy, you may end up waiting several years for your funds. Payments in these types of cases are most often made in installments.
Your Own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Your own insurance can be used to help bridge the gap between the driver's coverage and your actual damages. Louisiana law requires all drivers to have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage unless they’ve specifically waived this option in writing, so the vast majority of drivers within the state are covered.
UM or UIM policies are typically issued at the state's bodily injury liability limits of $15,000. However, different limits can be requested.
UM or UIM coverage applies to all vehicle occupants. This means, if you're injured as a passenger in someone else's vehicle, the driver's UM or UIM coverage can be used to pay for your injuries.
Your Own MedPay Coverage
MedPay, also known as medical payments coverage, personal injury protection, or PIP, is a type of auto insurance that can be used to pay for accident-related medical expenses regardless of fault. This includes emergency care, surgery, follow-up visits, medication, physical therapy, and other related costs. It alleviates the burden of being asked to pay for expenses out of pocket while a personal injury claim is still pending, since many people have health insurance plans with high deductibles or those that specifically exclude car accidents from coverage.
If it's later determined that someone else is responsible for your expenses, your insurer will try to collect reimbursement for the benefits they've paid. The legal term for this is subrogation.
Car accidents that occur while you're working are compensated under workers' compensation, regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident. However, accidents occurring during your commute or on your lunch break are generally not covered.
If an accident was caused by vehicle failure such as faulty brakes, airbags, or power steering, the manufacturer may be held liable for accident-related expenses. These types of cases rely heavily on experts to establish the true cause of the accident.
Governmental liability for auto accidents is rare but can be a factor if an accident is caused by poorly maintained roads. This would include potholes, missing signage, broken guardrails, uneven shoulders, or visual obstructions due to improper trimming of nearby trees or bushes. In these cases, the agency responsible for the roads may be liable for your expenses.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Whenever you're having difficulty finding sources of compensation for accident-related expenses, retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney is highly recommended. Your attorney can gather documentation of your expenses, line up relevant expert testimony, and advise on the most feasible sources of funding for your settlement.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is dedicated to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered serious car accident injuries receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.