In a recent court case, which was decided partially in favor of a driver who was injured by an uninsured motorist, we learned the predicament of many victims of accidents involving uninsured and underinsured drivers.
This victim faced mounting and ongoing medical bills, and lost income. However, his insurer failed to advise him of the potential costs associated with having insufficient uninsured motorist coverage. His case should also show us how important working with a personal injury attorney after a car accident is to every victim.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
While many types of auto insurance coverage is required before legally operating a vehicle on Louisiana roadways, uninsured motorist coverage is optional. This is a type of insurance which provides protection in the event of an accident in which the driver who was at fault failed to obtain insurance or allowed their policy to lapse. This coverage may also be used in the event a victim was unable to identify the driver at fault because the accident was classified as a hit-and-run.
In general, uninsured motorist coverage will provide coverage for lost wages and medical expenses. A separate portion of the policy may also provide coverage for property damage. It is important to note that this type of coverage will not provide compensation for pain and suffering or other non-economic losses.
One of the reasons drivers should consider this coverage is the number of uninsured drivers on Louisiana roadways. According to the most recent data available from Insurance Information Institute (III), nearly 12 percent of all Louisiana drivers operate on our roadways without coverage.
Your Rights After An Accident With An Uninsured Driver
Even when an at-fault driver is not insured, the victim of their negligent behavior still has certain rights. Some of these include:
- Right to medical care — regardless of whether the driver who caused an accident has insurance, victims have the right, and should, seek medical attention. Victims may need to use their personal health insurance and pay deductibles which may be recoverable from their own uninsured driver’s coverage.
- Right to legal advice — before filing an insurance claim, an accident victim should seek legal advice. This is important because an auto accident lawyer can help a victim fully understand their rights, and provide them information regarding their legal options.
- Right to file a claim with their insurer — accident victims have the right to file a claim under their uninsured motorist policy. Before taking this step, it is a good idea to seek guidance from a personal injury lawyer.
Car accident victims have only one year under Louisiana’s personal injury statute of limitations as defined in CC Art. 3492. This began running on the day of the accident which resulted in an injury. This is important because failure to file in a timely manner may prevent a victim from getting compensation.
While drivers who have no insurance coverage may lack coverage because it is unaffordable, this is not always the case. In some instances, it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit against an uninsured motorist. The best way to make sure a victim understands all their rights is to seek immediate legal counsel from an experienced car accident lawyer.
Filing A Claim Against An Uninsured Motorist
Initially, a victim who suffers an injury because of an uninsured motorist will file their claim with their own insurance company under their uninsured motorist coverage. In some cases, their insurer may opt to subrogate the claim and sue the other driver. However, if their insurer chooses not to do this, the uninsured driver may file a personal injury lawsuit. Keep in mind, if an accident victim does not have uninsured motorist coverage, they may also file a lawsuit. A car accident lawyer can help a victim with this process.
An accident injury lawyer may also help a victim who has uninsured motorist coverage if their policy does not cover all of their losses. Some of the outcomes of filing a suit against an uninsured driver include:
Placing a lien against property — when someone has caused an accident and has assets an attorney can help the victim obtain a lien against their property. Liens mean that if the property sells, the victim has a right to receive compensation from the sale of the property.
Filing for a payment plan — when a person who causes an accident does not have sufficient assets or cash to pay a claim, the victim may seek a payment plan to hold the driver accountable. This is an option which should be discussed with the victim’s accident injury attorney.
How To Gather Evidence & File Paperwork
Initially, medical records, police reports, and witness statements can be provided to an accident injury lawyer to determine what other evidence may be required to file an insurance claim. Much of this evidence can also be used to file a personal injury claim in court. A victim’s car accident lawyer can help a victim determine what may be required in addition to these documents.
Negotiating A Settlement With An Insurance Company
Even when an accident is not the fault of a victim, they should be working with an accident injury lawyer. This is especially true when dealing with an uninsured motorist claim. These claims are complicated for a number of reasons.
Insurers are under no obligation to pay a claim when it is initially filed without asking for additional documentation. In most cases, the insurance adjuster who is assigned to a claim will be working hard to minimize the amount the insurance company must pay the victim.
Insurers may also make unrealistic requests such as providing a recorded statement, asking for access to a victim’s full medical history, and in some cases, may deny a claim outright. The best option for any accident victim is to have their attorney negotiate directly with an insurer.
Having an attorney negotiating the terms of a final settlement is beneficial for numerous reasons. Lawyers understand the statutes of limitations, they know what steps an insurer will take to avoid paying the full amount of a victim’s losses, and they will be advocating on behalf of their client. Additionally, a car accident lawyer who is familiar with uninsured motorist claims will be prepared to take the victim’s case to court before the deadlines for filing suit are imminent. Calling an accident injury lawyer makes sense regardless of the type of accident someone is involved in. Working with an attorney as soon after an accident as possible may help a victim get the maximum compensation available for their injuries and losses. Call the firm today at 504-526-2222 or contact us online so that you can set up a consultation.