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Should I Have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Following a motor vehicle accident involving an injury, one of the first things New Orleans personal injury attorneys explore is the availability of insurance coverage to compensate the injured party.  Under Louisiana law, all drivers must carry a minimum level of Bodily Injury Liability coverage of $15,000 per injured person and $30,000 per accident.  If the motor vehicle whose driver caused the injury is not insured, or does not carry enough insurance to fully compensate for the injuries, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may provide additional coverage.  This coverage may be purchased by a vehicle owner to help protect himself and the occupants of his vehicle.

Louisiana law has a unique approach to uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Drivers are not absolutely required to purchase it, but if they do not specifically reject it when purchasing auto insurance, they are presumed to have purchased it.  There is a form that the person purchasing the auto insurance must sign stating that he rejects the coverage.  If this form has not been signed and an injured person seeks compensation under this coverage, a court may presume that the policyholder never rejected the coverage.

Louisiana also has different types of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) basically covers repairs to a vehicle damaged in a collision.  More relevant to a personal injury claim is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM), which provides additional coverage for injuries suffered by occupants of a vehicle if the responsible driver was uninsured or did not carry an adequate amount of bodily injury insurance.  It is also possible to purchase Uninsured Motorist Economic-only coverage. This coverage is limited to providing compensation for the fixed costs of injuries to the occupants of the insured vehicle, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Pain and suffering are not included under this coverage, which may impact the amount that can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have any questions, we would be happy to help you.  Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.