Louisiana motorists are required to maintain liability insurance on their vehicles with minimum policy limits of 15/30/25. These limits represent $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage for any person injured in an accident, $30,000 of aggregate bodily injury liability coverage for two or more people injured in an accident, and $25,000 of property damage liability coverage for all vehicles damaged in the accident.
While UM insurance is the most important elective coverage available under your car insurance policy, there are other noncompulsory coverages that are worth exploring.
Medical Payments coverage is not required under Louisiana law, but it is beneficial, especially if you do not have health insurance, or if you have a high deductible health insurance plan. Medical Payments coverage will pay any reasonable and necessary medical expenses that an insured person incurs as a result of a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault.
Louisiana recognizes the importance of Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist coverage (hereinafter “UM”), and by law, UM coverage is automatically included in all automobile liability insurance policies issued in Louisiana in the same amount as the liability coverage. Louisiana Revised Statute §22:1295(1)(a)(i). However, you are allowed to reject UM coverage, or select UM coverage in an amount lower than your liability coverage, by executing a written selection form provided by your insurance company. Louisiana Revised Statute §22:1295(1)(a)(i). Notwithstanding your right to reject or select reduced UM coverage, the Shofstahl Law Firm, L.L.C. strongly recommends that its clients purchase unrestricted UM insurance for all vehicles. The following is a brief summary of the benefits of UM coverage.
The “Uninsured Motorist” portion of UM coverage will insure you, up to the limits of your policy, for injuries and damages caused by an uninsured motorist. For example, if you are rear-ended by another motorist who flees the scene and is never identified, this coverage will provide insurance for your medical expenses and pain and suffering resulting from the accident. The policy will also provide coverage to other injured occupants of your vehicle. If you do not have UM coverage, then you will not be paid anything for your medical expenses or pain and suffering under this scenario, regardless of the severity of your injuries.
The “Underinsured Motorist” portion of UM coverage will insure you, up to the limits of your policy, for injuries and damages caused by a motorist who does not have enough liability insurance to pay your claim. For example, if another motorist causes you to sustain bodily injury damages in a car accident of $25,000.00, but the motorist only has state minimum liability insurance limits of $15,000.00, your UM coverage will pay the $10,000.00 difference between the amount of the available insurance and the value of your damages. However, if you do not have UM coverage, then you would only receive $15,000.00 for your injuries under this scenario.
Diluting your UM coverage can also be a costly mistake. For example, if you have a 100/300/100 liability policy, then you have $100,000 of available coverage for any person you injure in a car accident. But, if you have selected lower UM limits of only 25/50/25, then you would only have $25,000.00 to protect yourself from serious injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Why maintain more insurance coverage for third-parties than for yourself?
Finally, you should avoid “economic only” UM coverage entirely. These policies only pay for “special damages,” which are economic damages that can be calculated with a mathematical certainty, such as lost wages and medical expenses. However, these policies do not cover “general damages,” which are damages that cannot be calculated with mathematical exactitude, such as past, present and future pain and suffering. Since general damages are the largest component of most settlements and verdicts, the “economic only” UM coverage is a great deal for insurance companies. Specifically, the insurer collects a premium only slightly lower than the premium for full UM coverage, but the insurer greatly reduces its risk because it will never have to pay general damages under the policy.
UM coverage is a valuable part of your automobile liability insurance policy, and you are not “full covered” unless you have unrestricted UM coverage protecting you and your family.
The coverages offered by your insurance company include various options such as liability, medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist (i.e., UM). However, Louisiana ONLY requires that you purchase liability coverage, which insurance pays for the bodily injuries and property damages you cause to third parties through your negligence while operating a motor vehicle.
Louisiana Revised Statute §32:900(B)(2)(a-c) requires that liability insurance policies on personal vehicles have a minimum coverage of 15/30/25. This means that there is $15,000.00 of available insurance for bodily injuries caused to one person, with an aggregate total of $30,000.00 of available insurance for bodily injuries caused to two (2) or more people in the same accident. Further, the policy must provide a minimum of $25,000.00 for property damages caused during the accident.
Liability insurance is intended to protect third parties from your negligence, but it does not compensate you for damages caused by their negligence. Unfortanately, many clients believe they have “full coverage,” when, in fact, they only have a liability policy. There are many other coverages available to protect you and your family from the fault of other drivers, which will be explored in my next blog.
At Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC, we frequently are asked many of the same questions by clients, and we want to address any queries you have. Many times, having an accident is stressful enough. You shouldn't have to also worry about legal aspects that may be difficult to understand. Accordingly, we have listed a number of frequently asked questions below for you to get many of the answers you need.
When should I consult with a lawyer regarding my personal injury claim?
If you have been injured through the fault of another person or company, the Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC recommends that you consult with an experienced Louisiana attorney immediately to protect your interests. Insurance companies, which are professional defenders of lawsuits, have teams of adjusters working on the defense of your claim, and in some cases, these adjusters even arrive at the accident scene to begin preserving evidence. Who do you think is protecting your interests? Your attorney or your insurance company?
Can I represent a loved one who was killed in an accident?
The Louisiana Legislature has vested the surviving spouse and surviving children of a deceased person with the right to assert a wrongful death claim. However, the law permits other surviving relatives to assert wrongful death claims, if the deceased did not leave a surviving spouse or child. The Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC recommends that you contact an experienced Louisiana attorney to explore your rights in the event that you have lost a loved one due to the fault of another. In personal injury cases, experience truly matters to get the settlements you deserve.
How much does it cost to consult with a lawyer regarding my personal injury claim?
Your initial consultation with the Shofstahl Law Firm, L.L.C. is free. With Christian Shofstahl fighting your battle, there is no fee unless you get paid!
How much does it cost to consult with a lawyer regarding my personal injury claim?
Your initial consultation with the Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC is free.
What items should I bring to my initial consultation?
You should bring all evidence in your possession regarding the accident or your injuries. The following is an illustrative list:
Who will handle my case?
If this is not the first question that you ask your prospective personal injury lawyer, it should be! Some law firms solicit your business, then delegate your case to a young attorney or a paralegal for handling. Your accident case is important and should be treated as so.
At the Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC, Christian A. Shofstahl, Esq., will be personally involved in your case. We frequently are asked many of the same questions by clients, and we want to address any queries you have. Many times, having an accident is stressful enough. You shouldn't have to also worry about legal aspects that may be difficult to understand. Accordingly, we have listed a number of frequently asked questions below for you to get many of the answers you need.
What fee will the Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC charge for my representation?
The Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC handles local personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means that the firm receives a percentage of all settlements and awards obtained on your behalf. If you do not receive any money for your claim, the Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC does not receive a fee. Everything we do is in your best interest.
Who is responsible for the costs incurred to prosecute my claim?
The Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC will advance customary litigation costs during the prosecution of your claim; however, these costs will be reimbursed from any settlement or award obtained on your claim. In other words, you will incur no out of pocket costs until you are awarded your settlement!
The Shofstahl Law Firm, LLC will waive its right to a cost reimbursement if the client does not receive a settlement or an award on his or her claim, except in cases where the client misrepresents material facts regarding his claim. (Examples: failing to disclose that you were intoxicated at the time of an accident, failing to disclose prior or subsequent accidents, failing to disclose criminal records, etc.).
What is my personal injury claim worth?
The value of your claim will be determined by the nature and extent of your injuries, the duration of your medical treatment, the amount of your economic losses, and many other factors. It is impossible to accurately determine the value of your claim, until you have completed your medical treatment, or until you have reached “maximum medical improvement”. Be wary of anyone or attorney who offers to settle your personal injury claim shortly after an accident or before your injuries have resolved.
The Shofstahl Law Firm, L.L.C. strongly recommends that you have your case examined by an experienced Louisiana lawyer to determine whether your damages exceed the thresholds of recovery and/or to determine whether any of the statutory exceptions apply to your case.
We will provide a complimentary legal review of your case and recommend best next steps to proceed. You can contact us directly by calling (985)778-2888 or by filling out our online form.
Christian Shofstahl esq.
Personal Injury Attorney dedicated to maximizing recoveries for clients. Information contained herein does not constitute legal advice.