Auto insurance in Louisiana is used to help owners of motor vehicles protect themselves, whether they cause an accident or are the victim of an accident.
After an auto accident and when it is safe to do so, the owners or drivers of each vehicle must share their auto insurance information. Always contact the police so they can come out to the scene and conduct a police report. Do this even if the other driver ask you not to contact the police. The report is an important piece of evidence that your attorney can use on your behalf against the insurance company.
If you are injured in an auto accident, you should always speak to an attorney before accepting any settlement from the insurance company. An insurance company's ultimate goal is to protect its profits. Remember, the insurance company does not represent you even if the other person's insurance company is the same one you use.
At The Law Office of David Rutledge, our auto accident attorney in Lafayette or Acadiana will help you better understand your situation and legal options. Call us today at 337-225-5788 (337-CALLRUT) to schedule a Free Consultation.
How Car Insurance Works in Louisiana
At a fundamental level, car insurance is an agreement between a for-profit insurance company and the policyholder(s). Policyholders may be an individual, a group of individuals of a particular class (e.g., a family), occupants of a vehicle, or a company.
When an insurance policy is taken out, the policyholder (the insured person) makes regular payments, known as premiums, to the insurer. In return, the insurance company agrees to cover the costs of damages associated with an accident, but only agrees to pay in accordance with the limits established by the insurance policy.
What is Uninsured Motorist Bodily Insurance Coverage (UM)? It's the most important coverage aside from your own.
- UM (Uninsured or Under-Insured) Bodily Motorist Coverage is coverage that protects you and those injured in your vehicle when the person who hit you does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage.
- Most people think UM only means when the other person has no insurance but that's not true. It also provides you with damages (money) when the other person has insurance but your claim is worth more than their limits. By law when you get liability insurance, you also get UM coverage unless you waive it. Insurance companies try to get you to waive it because it is extremely beneficial to you. If the insurance company is trying to convince you not to have a certain coverage then it's probably a good idea that you have it.
How does UM work?
- Example 1: If you are hit by someone else and injured and they don't have insurance but you have UM then you can recover damages (money) for your injuries from your own UM coverage.
- Example 2: If you have the minimum coverage limits of $15,000 and you are hit by someone else and injured and they too only have the minimum coverage of $15,000 but your claim is worth $30,000, then if you have UM Bodily Injury Motorist Coverage then you can recover the other person's full limits of $15,000 and then obtain the other $15,000 from your own UM coverage to complete the full amount of $30,000 that your claim is worth.
- Note: You can increase your UM Bodily Injury Motorist Coverage to the amount you wish. If you have $100,000 in UM Bodily Injury coverage and your claim is worth $115,000, then like in example number 2 above, you could obtain the other person's $15,000 limits and then obtain the remaining $100,000 from your UM Bodily Injury coverage to complete your total claim that is worth $115,000.
- As you can see, if your claim is worth $115,000 but you did not have UM Bodily Injury coverage and the other driver only has $15,000 in coverage than you could lose out on $100,000 in damages you are entitled to because there isn't enough insurance coverage.
So always obtain UM Bodily Injury Motorist Coverage.
BE AWARE! UM Economic coverage IS NOT THE SAME AS UM BODILY INJURY coverage. UM economic insurance coverage only covers medical expenses and sometimes wages. It does NOT cover pain and suffering. So remember to make sure you have UM "BODILY INJURY" coverage if you wish to have it cover your pain and suffering like in the examples above.
Insurance Adjusters and the Personal Injury Claims Process
What many drivers do not understand about the claims process is that the insurance company is a for-profit entity with a vested interest in keeping its costs low. This means the insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible for your personal injury claim such as pain and suffering. By underpaying or avoiding claims, insurance companies increase their profits. This is why you always need a lawyer who protects your interests not the insurance company's profits.
Even if the person who hit you has the same insurance company as the one you use, the insurance company's main priority is to pay you as little as possible.
Many insurance companies also employ and train claims adjusters and attorneys to be aggressive. It is not uncommon for them to use manipulation or intimidation to reduce or avoid a settlement.
Always Speak to a Lawyer Before Accepting an Insurance Company's Settlement Offer in Louisiana Personal Injury Claims
Drivers who have filed a claim with their insurance provider will likely get a settlement offer by the insurance company. This settlement offer may be far less than what the injured party needs to recover in order to be made whole or the closest thing to it. The terms of the offer, however, are designed to make it seem like the driver is actually getting a good deal.
Many injured parties take the settlement offer because they are desperate and need the money immediately. Many of them only realize months later how little they received in light of the true extent and nature of their injuries.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, you do not have to accept the settlement offer. You can hire a lawyer who will fight to make sure you get every penny you deserve.
Call Rut for your Auto Accident Attorney in Lafayette or Acadiana Today
At The Law Office of David Rutledge, I know you are dealing with a lot right now. Auto accidents, even when the property damage and bodily injury are not severe, take a toll on a person. It's a hassle to deal with insurance companies, especially when the auto insurance adjusters are intimidating. Rut will do all the work for you, so you can worry about your recovery and not worry about if you are going to get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today at 337-225-5788 (337-CALLRUT) to schedule a Free Consultation and learn more about how we can help you.