What Is the Difference Between No-Fault and At-Fault Insurance States?

There are a few key differences between no-fault and at-fault insurance states, but the primary difference is whether the victim has a right to sue the at-fault party. The other significant differences relate to the type of damages the victim can receive and the necessity of proving fault to receive compensation.

Most states are at-fault states, including Louisiana. Only about two dozen states have no-fault insurance laws for car accident claims.

How Does No-Fault Insurance Work After a Car Accident?

How Does No-Fault Insurance Work After a Car Accident?

If a state has no-fault insurance requirements, drivers must purchase a minimum amount of no-fault insurance coverage. If the person is involved in a car accident, they file a claim with their insurance provider, regardless of who caused the car accident.

No-fault insurance does not require a driver to prove fault to receive benefits. They can receive benefits by meeting the requirements for a claim under their no-fault insurance policy. 

However, many no-fault insurance policies limit benefits. For example, in some states, no-fault car insurance only pays a portion of the insured medical bills and lost wages. Additionally, the person may have to sustain an injury that requires emergency medical treatment to receive full benefits. 

The only source of compensation for a car accident victim in a no-fault state may be their no-fault insurance benefits. However, most no-fault states have an exception for severe injuries. If the victim sustains injuries that meet the serious injury threshold set by statute, they can pursue a claim against the at-fault party.

Louisiana Is an At-Fault State for Car Accident Claims 

Louisiana requires drivers to purchase minimum amounts of liability insurance. Drivers must have a minimum of:

  • $15,000 in liability insurance for bodily injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 in liability insurance for bodily injury or death to two or more people per accident
  • $25,000 in liability insurance for property damage

Liability insurance compensates a car accident victim for injuries and damages. Damages can include economic and non-economic damages. However, before the victim can recover compensation for damages, they must prove fault for the car accident. 

Proving Fault for a Lafayette Car Accident Claim

Holding a driver or other party liable for damages for a car accident requires you to prove negligence. The legal elements of negligence in a car accident case are:

  • The driver or party who caused the car crash owed the victim a duty of care;
  • The driver or party who caused the car crash breached the duty of care;
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the car crash; and,
  • The victim sustained injuries and damages because of the at-fault party’s actions or inaction.

Generally, all drivers have a duty of care to follow traffic laws and take reasonable steps to avoid accidents by operating their motor vehicles safely. Therefore, breaking traffic laws and driving recklessly could be a breach of duty.

One of the most challenging requirements to prove is causation. You must link the party’s conduct directly to the cause of the car accident. Otherwise, you cannot hold the driver liable for your damages.

You must also prove that you sustained injuries and damages as a result of the other driver’s conduct. A driver could be negligent and caused the accident, but you would not receive a settlement if you did not sustain damages.

How Does Louisiana Contributory Fault Laws Impact At-Fault Insurance Claims?

Contributory fault is the theory that a person’s responsibility for causing their injuries can reduce the amount of money they receive for damages. In some states, having any fault for causing the car accident can bar a recovery for damages. Other states set a rate of 50 or 51% to bar recovery of damages.

Louisiana has a pure comparative fault law. It does not bar you from recovering compensation for damages if you are partially to blame for causing the accident. You can be 99% to blame for causing the crash and receive 1% of your damages.

For example, suppose a jury finds the other driver caused your head-on crash. However, the jurors decided you were 25% to blame for the crash. Instead of receiving the full amount of the award for damages, you would only receive 75% of the amount.

What Is the Deadline for Filing an At-Fault Insurance Claim in Louisiana?

Louisiana has a short statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Most car accident claims must be filed within one year of the car accident date. The court can dismiss your case if you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline. 

There are exceptions; contact a qualified attorney as soon as you can to protect your rights.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Lafayette Personal Injury Lawyer

Car accident claims can be challenging to prove, and insurance companies can make the claims process more difficult. Call Kenny Habetz Injury Law at (337) 399-9000 or contact us online for help with a car accident case. Your initial consultation with our Lafayette personal injury attorney is free of charge.