Can I Recover Damages From An Uninsured Driver?
No one ever wants to be involved in a car crash, but if you are struck by a driver you believe was negligent, you have the right to file suit against them and try to establish that their negligence led directly to your injuries. However, data from the Insurance Research Council estimates that up to 12 percent of Louisiana drivers had no insurance when surveyed.
If you are in a wreck involving an uninsured driver, it may seem impossible to have a chance to recover money damages. An experienced Shreveport uninsured driver accident lawyer can help you understand all your possible options. Uninsured motorist coverage may be one of them – particularly since in Louisiana, it is not uncommon for individuals to carry such coverage without being aware.
Insurance Is Required, UMC Is Not
In Louisiana, drivers are required by law to carry a certain amount of auto insurance coverage, often referred to as “15/30” coverage. Simplified, what this means is that a Louisiana driver must carry $15,000 for bodily injury per person, or up to $30,000 for bodily injury to more than one person in a single crash. While this sounds like a lot, in reality, it can be used up quickly if your injuries are severe – and, of course, some people persist in driving without any insurance at all.
Because of the tendency of some Louisiana drivers to not carry auto insurance, many people choose to add uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) to their auto insurance. UMC ensures that if you are involved in a wreck with someone who lacks insurance, your medical bills will not go unpaid. It is not uncommon for someone to not want to use this insurance out of fear that their premiums will go up, but in Louisiana, it is illegal for an insurer to do this. If the person who caused your injuries has no insurance, UMC may be the difference between winding up in debt or your bills being paid.
In Louisiana, uninsured motorist coverage is not required, but it is granted to drivers unless they specifically decline the coverage in writing. This can sometimes result in your having UMC even though you have not done anything to commence coverage or take advantage of it.
What Are My Options?
If you do not have UMC, or if your policy carries an insufficient amount to cover your medical bills, you do have other options to try and recover for what you have been through. Most individuals would likely attempt to file suit against the negligent driver – but if someone does not have money to pay their insurance premiums, they will very likely not have the money to cover a jury award. Another option would be to use your personal health insurance – which can sometimes work out, but very often there will still be a balance due. An experienced attorney can help you figure out which option is best for you.
Being involved in a car wreck is a frightening event in anyone’s life, and if your injuries are severe, it can feel like you have no recourse in terms of covering the bills (particularly if you or the other driver lack the requisite insurance coverage). If you have been in a vehicle collision with a negligent driver, call our office today at 318-222-2772 for a free consultation.