Insurance rates for your automobile are tied to various factors including the dangerousness of the roads in your state. Whenever a claim is filed against your policy, your insurance rates increase. Louisiana’s requirements for minimum coverage include liability coverage which includes bodily injury and property damage. The minimums are often described as 15/30/25 – this means a driver must carry a minimum of $15,000 for bodily injury or death to one person per accident, $30,000 minimum liability coverage for bodily injury or death per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.
According to Insure.com, Louisiana already has the second highest premium for auto insurance in the United States with an annual premium of slightly under $2,400 for the year. What drives these rates is a combination of factors including the number of uninsured drivers, rate of accidents, and lawsuits. What concerns most drivers is that with rates already high, what happens when they are involved in an accident where they are at fault. Everyone understands their insurance rate is going to increase after an at-fault accident. However, what most drivers want to know is how much it will increase and how long the increase will last.
Staggering Car Insurance Rate Increases Plague At-Fault Drivers
At-fault drivers wreak havoc on not only their victims, but also on their own insurance rates. Keep in mind, your insurance rates vary depending on a number of factors including which insurance company you are doing business with, the type and age of your vehicle, your age, and your overall driving record.
On average, an at-fault driver in Louisiana may be forced to pay as much as a 50 percent increase in their auto insurance after an accident claim is filed according to Carinsurance.com. This increase will usually remain in place for up to three years following the accident. The good news is, Louisiana is one of several states which prohibit insurers from penalizing the person who is not at fault with an insurance increase. This does not mean victims of at-fault drivers are free from the potential impact of insurance increases. Three ways victims may deal with the repercussions of higher premiums include:
- Avoiding responsibility – an at-fault driver knows they are going to face an increase in insurance. This means they will be attempting to deflect all or part of the blame so they do not face these staggering increases. For the victim, this means they will face bigger challenges when they are trying to collect from the insurance company for medical bills and other out-of-pocket costs.
- Potential fleeing the scene – when a driver has a history of poor driving habits including DUI or speeding, they may already be paying higher premiums for their insurance. This could mean the driver flees the scene of the accident making it more difficult for victims to file a claim.
- More likely to be uninsured – a driver with a poor driving record, or a previous increase in their insurance may be uninsured which could complicate matters for victims of the at-fault driver.
Protecting Yourself Following a Louisiana Car Accident
Your best defense against facing the potential of being blamed for an accident when you believe you are the victim of a reckless driver is to make sure you understand what steps you can take following an accident. Some of the steps you should take include:
- Immediately notify law enforcement – even if the other driver has fled the scene, report the accident immediately. When police arrive, do not admit to any fault, do not issue any apologies to the other driver, do not give any indication you may be entirely or partially at fault.
- Document the scene – a picture paints a thousand words. Use your cell phone to capture photos of the scene including damage to your vehicle, skid marks if they exist, road signage, traffic lights, and anything else which appears to be useful. Photos of any vehicles involved showing the damage will also be helpful.
- Obtain witness information – gather the names and telephone numbers for any witness to the accident.
- Provide and request information – any drivers involved in an accident should exchange names, contact numbers, insurance information, and license plate numbers.
- Seek medical attention – regardless of how minor your injuries may appear to be, seek medical attention immediately. Oftentimes following an accident victims are unaware of the extent of their injuries and having a medical exam could uncover hidden issues.
- Notify your insurance company – contact your insurance company and advise them of the date, location, and time of the accident. Provide them with the law enforcement agency who was notified so they can seek a copy of the accident report. Do not accept any responsibility for the accident, simply provide the insurance company with the facts surrounding the accident.
- Contact an accident attorney – the best way to protect yourself following an auto accident is to ask for help from an experienced auto accident attorney. An attorney can tell you what rights you have, what you can expect to happen over the next several days and weeks, and help you determine whether you have the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Immediately is Important
As a car accident victim, you will be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Generally, an insurance adjuster will ask you various questions about the accident. You will be asked what took place immediately before and following the accident, what actions you took after leaving the scene, and information about your visit to the doctor. Keep something in mind, these adjusters are not there to help you. What they are attempting to do is make sure the insurance company pays out as little as possible, and if possible, to shift part, or all of the blame for the accident to you.
You are facing a long road to recovery which can be costly in terms of medical bills and losing time from work. To make sure you are not a victim of an insurer’s zealous efforts to transfer the blame from their at-fault customer, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help. The sooner you get an attorney who will advocate for your rights and help protect your interests, the better. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free consultation and learn about your options and see what they can do to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.