In the state of Louisiana, drivers are required to carry liability insurance in case they cause a motor vehicle collision. The law allows victims of an accident caused by another driver to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation. Unfortunately, some drivers may not have enough insurance to cover your losses and others drive illegally with no insurance at all.
If you are in an accident with an underinsured driver, you can pursue an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance carrier. The experienced team at the New Orleans car accident law firm of Bloom Legal can help you understand these types of claims and develop your case. Call Bloom Legal today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can represent you: (504) 599-9997.
Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
When you purchase the required liability insurance in Louisiana, you automatically purchase uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage is equal to the amount of liability protection you can buy unless you request a lower limit. If you do not wish to purchase uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, you must opt out in writing. Opting out is a bad idea because it increases the possibility that you will be uncompensated for losses after an accident if you are injured by a driver who cannot provide adequate compensation.
Since your insurance company provides uninsured or underinsured coverage, you should make a point to report every accident you are involved in, even if the other driver is to blame or the accident is minor. Often, the driver at fault will promise to reimburse you and request that the insurance company not be made aware of the accident. We do not recommend this approach, as it jeopardizes your coverage. You should always report an accident.
If the driver responsible for your injuries does not have adequate insurance to cover all of your losses, you can make a claim based on your underinsured motorist coverage. If the driver who hit you had no insurance at all or if you were injured in a hit-and-run, you will make your claim based on your uninsured motorist coverage.
In both uninsured and underinsured motorist claims, your insurer stands in for the driver who should have paid the bills and will compensate you for the losses that you sustained.
Filing an Insurance Claim Properly
The first step after an auto accident is to file an insurance claim. It is only after an insurance company’s failure to adequately compensate you for an accident that it may become necessary to file a lawsuit.
Steps for providing the other driver’s insurance company with the proper information:
- Make sure that the driver at fault has all of the relevant information that he or she will need to turn over to the insurance company. This will include your name, address, contact information, and vehicle make and model.
- After initially providing the other driver with this information, be sure to follow up with their insurance agent to inform them of details and make them aware of the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you may have sustained.
- Be sure to cooperate with any requests to have your vehicle inspected by a claims representative or to obtain damage estimates from local mechanics.
- If anything else in your vehicle was damaged as a result of the accident be sure to make the insurance company aware of this immediately.
Filing a claim with your own insurance:
- Secure a police report of the accident.
- Be sure to have a copy of your insurance policy on file.
- Make a claim for any injuries under medical pay coverage even if the other person is responsible.
- Secure at least two car repair estimates (or appraisals if your car was totaled).
- Present the estimates and allow your car to be photographed if requested.
- Be sure to save and present any bills for towing and storage costs.
- Notify your agent of any damage which may present itself in the course of the repair process.
If after this process you are unsatisfied with the result of the claims process, you may have the option of asking your attorney to file a suit for damages against the other driver and their insurance company. If you have been injured in an auto or car accident, it is important to make sure that you are receiving the compensation you are due from an insurance company.
The Process Behind an Insurance Claim Lawsuit
If you are involved in an auto accident in which another driver is at fault and are injured in the process, it is important to immediately file an insurance claim with that driver’s insurance company. Depending upon the severity of your injury, you may be entitled to compensation for items including property damage, pain and suffering, personal injury, lost wages and a number of other things.
In some cases you will receive the compensation you deserve from the insurance company but in others, the offer they present will not be satisfactory and it will be necessary to sue them for damages.
- If the insurance company will not offer terms which you are willing to accept, contact and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney with regard to your claim.
- If you are undergoing medical treatment for your injuries, continue to receive this treatment until your physician declares that you have reached “maximum medical improvement”. This will indicate that in your doctor’s professional opinion, you have recovered as well as you can be expected to from your injuries.
- Save and compile all information related to your accident, communication with the insurance company, and records of your medical treatment as well as statements from any physicians you consult indicating their diagnosis of your injuries. Provide your attorney with all of this information.
- Your attorney will make contact with the insurance company by issuing a settlement demand which will identify you as the attorney’s client as well as indicating the amount desired in order to settle the matter and release the insurer and their client from liability.
- In some cases the above actions will be enough to cause the insurance company to settle. In others, however, a series of offers and counteroffers will be issued between your attorney and the insurer with the objective of agreeing upon a settlement amount.
- If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may advise initiating a formal lawsuit against the insurance company. In order to do this, your attorney will need to file a “petition for damages” with the local court that has jurisdiction over the case and will name the at-fault driver and their insurance company as defendants. It is important to point out that the State of Louisiana has set prescription (better-known as the statute of limitations) on auto accident personal injury lawsuits at one year from the day of the injury or two years from the day of the accident in cases involving uninsured motorists.
- After the initial petition for damages is filed, a period of “discovery” will proceed in which your attorney and the insurance company submit documents, written testimonies and other items related to the building of their respective cases and continue to negotiate.
- If your case still cannot be settled then you will proceed to trial.
- When your case goes to trial, arguments for both sides will be heard before a jury who will decide whether or not to award damages and will also determine the amount of those damages.
- If, for some reason you are not satisfied with the jury’s verdict, you do have the right to file an appeal with a higher court.
How a New Orleans Auto Accident Attorney From Bloom Legal Can Help
Although your uninsured or underinsured claim is filed with your own insurer, you cannot assume that your insurance company is on your side. Sometimes insurance companies focus on profits over paying out claims and ensuring you are fully compensated.
Your insurer may deny a legitimate claim, or may attempt to convince you to accept less money than you actually need based on your injuries and losses. A New Orleans auto accident attorney can advise you on what your case is worth, negotiate with your insurer and take legal action for bad faith if your insurance company fails to pay the money to which you are entitled under your policy.
At Bloom Legal, we have extensive experience representing clients in uninsured and underinsured motorist cases. We are not afraid to take on the big insurance companies and are happy to work to ensure they pay what you deserve.
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Working with Bloom Legal has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Seth and his team are professional, fast, and dedicated. Seth is a lot more than a lawyer; he is a fighter! Seth took on my case and treated me like a person instead of a client. He made a difficult situation very easy. I am very thankful for Seth and his team!
Posted by: Tyler Ales