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June 1, 2023

What Happens When a Car Accident Exceeds Insurance Limits?

by Evan Breaux | Auto Insurance | 0 comments

In this article, we explain car accident insurance coverage limits, what to do if you’re in a car accident that ends up exceeding insurance limits, and how uninsured motorist coverage for car accidents works.

Being in a car accident is already a traumatic and often terrifying experience. But imagine how difficult things could be if you come to find out that the person who hit you has a low auto insurance policy limit—or is even uninsured! 

However, if this is the case, or you suspect it to be the case for the driver who caused the accident, don’t worry. You can still receive a full and fair compensation for your medical bills, loss of wages, emotional damages, property damages, and other costs incurred due to the accident.

It’s true that the cost of auto insurance is significantly higher in Louisiana than in the rest of the US. This is because Louisiana has a higher percentage of uninsured drivers, which keeps auto premium costs high and creates a costly cycle for residents of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other areas across Louisiana. 

Car Accident Insurance Coverage Limits in Louisiana

A common question we get here at Breaux Law Firm is about whether the person who caused an accident will end up paying out of pocket for car accidents if their coverage isn’t enough.

Say the driver who hit you is a friend or acquaintance, or appears to be someone who is in financial or emotional distress. Perhaps you don’t want to contribute to their financial difficulties. Or perhaps you’re worried that you will be on the hook for your own medical costs if they can’t sufficiently cover those costs.

By law, Louisiana requires every auto insurance policy to have 15/30/25 liability limits. This means a basic auto insurance policy is legally required to cover up to $15,000 in bodily injury of one person, $30,000 in bodily injury to more than one person in an accident, and $25,000 in damage to someone else’s vehicle or property.

These limits will change based on the policy the driver has purchased. This liability coverage is a requirement, but other types of insurance are optional, including medical payments coverage, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage is not required in the state of Louisiana but is highly recommended, especially in an urban area like New Orleans, which has a high percentage of uninsured motorists.

Hit By an Underinsured Motorist? Here’s What To Do:

If you’ve discovered that the driver who hit you is underinsured—meaning their insurance policy limits are very low and will not cover the full extent of your damages or costs—your own insurance policy will likely provide compensation, but only if you have purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your policy!

In this case, we highly recommend you work with a reputable personal injury attorney, like our team at Breaux Law Firm, who can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit.

Hit By an Uninsured Motorist? Take These Steps:

If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, no matter who was at fault for the accident, the first thing to do is to call the police. Having a police report will be a key component of a successful claim.

Next, you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver, which would probably be the moment that you learn the other driver does not have auto insurance. In this situation, the other driver may be panicking about costs or legal repercussions.

However, do not accept money, do not allow them to bribe you or intimidate you out of calling the police, and do not fall for a sob story! Be firm. Call the police, insist on having a police report, gather the details of the accident, and document the accident with photos and video. Know that if the other person was driving without auto insurance, they have already made a decision that is illegal. 

Next, you’ll contact your insurance company to report the accident. If you have uninsured motorist coverage in your auto insurance policy, your insurance provider will help cover the cost of injuries to you and your passengers, your medical expenses, loss of income, and related expenses.

These things are typically covered by the other driver’s liability insurance, but if they have limits that are too low to cover the full extent of your injuries or they do not have insurance at all, your policy will likely reimburse you for these costs.

In the event that your own auto insurance policy does not include uninsured motorist coverage, you could take the at-fault driver to court. To do so, you will want to work with the personal injury attorneys at Breaux Law Firm.

We’ll review your case and then help you receive full compensation for the damages you sustained when you were hit by an uninsured driver. You’ll pay no costs for the initial consultation or during the whole process. We are paid only if you win your case.


How do insurance limits work?

Here is how policy limits work in Louisiana: the state requires a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage, which covers medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and any related damages. The coverage limits are the maximum amount of money that an insurance provider is required to pay for various damages.
If the auto insurance’s liability limits aren’t enough to cover an injured party’s expenses, the victim can file a claim against their own underinsured motorist coverage for additional reimbursement, or they can pursue legal action against the at-fault driver or other involved parties (such as a truck driver’s employer, for example).

How often do auto accident settlements exceed policy limits?

It is common for the value of someone’s auto accident case to exceed applicable insurance policy limits. This is because many drivers in Louisiana have car insurance policies with only the minimal required 15/30/25 liability limits
An auto insurance policy that affords more protection might have a liability coverage limit of 100/300/100, which means $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident in bodily injury liability and $100,000 per accident for property damage liability. It’s ideal for drivers to have full protection in their auto insurance policies, but this is not often the case. Premium protection auto insurance generally includes coverage limits of 250/500, meaning the driver is covered for bodily injury liability up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. If a car accident settlement exceeds the policy limits—whether those limits are quite high or unfortunately low—you should already be working with a personal injury attorney to decide on what steps to take to pursue full compensation for your damages.

What should I do if the at-fault driver has low insurance limits?

If the at-fault driver is uninsured or does not have enough coverage to pay for all your losses, you will file a claim with your insurance company. If you have purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, that coverage will step in to reimburse you for your damage and losses in this situation. This is why it’s so important to have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy!

How do I know if my policy limits are enough to cover an accident?

According to a 2019 report by the Insurance Information Institute (III), roughly 12% of drivers in Louisiana are uninsured. That means over 1 in 10 drivers with whom you’re sharing the road are uninsured. For this reason alone, we highly recommend you purchase uninsured motorist coverage with your policy. The question of what policy limits are enough is one that is best answered by discussing your options with insurance agents at different insurance companies.
You’ll want to shop around to select the best option for your budget and lifestyle. An insurance policy with limits on the low end might be all you can afford, but if you can afford a premium policy with high limits, you should take that route to protect your assets. Our advice? We recommend purchasing the highest levels of liability coverage that you can afford, along with collision, comprehensive, and uninsured motorist coverage.

How much can someone sue for a car accident?

There really is no specific answer for this question. People have successfully sued for car accident injuries and losses that range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $1,000,000.00. The amount of reimbursement you seek as an injured party in an auto accident depends on the extent of damages, which should take into account medical bills, loss of wages, and all past and future pain and suffering.
A personal injury attorney’s is to help car accident victims understand the full extent of their injuries or losses and file a claim or lawsuit that seeks appropriate reimbursement. It’s very important to work with a reputable lawyer who will guide you through the process using their expertise, knowledge, and insight.

Can I sue for more than the insurance limits?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries if their policy limits and your own uninsured motorist coverage cannot fully reimburse you for the cost of your damages. You would want to pursue a lawsuit only after consulting with a personal injury attorney and first attempting to be reimbursed through a claim.
A lawyer will then help you file the lawsuit, which can be complicated and stressful. No one really wants the hassle of going to court. A good lawyer will help settle the case before it must go to the court system.
At Breaux Law Firm, for example, we will listen to the details of your accident, explore your claim, investigate the accident and who was at fault, meticulously document all past and future pain and suffering, speak to witnesses, gather evidence, prepare and file a claim and/or lawsuit to compensate you for your damages, and do all of the above within the required one-year time frame for Louisiana’s statute of limitations.

What is the impact of car accidents on car insurance rates?

For the at-fault driver, auto insurance rates will likely go up. But for the victim, it is unlikely that your car insurance rates will increase.
Auto insurance policies can be tricky to navigate, much less filing a claim, understanding the other party’s policy limits (and your own policy limits), or filing a lawsuit.
We don’t recommend doing any of the above while also recovering from a car accident! You’ll want to get your life back to normal and fully heal from your injuries. Leave the difficult auto insurance stuff to the experts. 

Reach out to Breaux Law Firm for a free consultation today, at (504) 882-0551 or Here at breauxlaw, We don’t take on anyone as a client unless we feel confident that you can win your case.