Louisiana Car Accident Laws – A Complete Guide


Laura Schaefer

Louisiana is a beautiful state home to coastal marshes, the Mississippi river, and historic cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Another fact of life in Louisiana, however, is daily car accidents. If you’ve suffered a collision in the Bayou State, know Louisiana car accident laws to protect yourself.

Read on to learn about:

  • Comparative fault law
  • Louisiana hit and run laws
  • How to prove liability in a Louisiana traffic accident

You may qualify for compensation from your injuries if you consult with an auto accident attorney. A free consultation can offer legal guidance on how to cover your medical and repair bills after your accident. Find a Louisiana attorney through our free evaluation form below.

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How to Report a Car Accident in Louisiana

According to Louisiana car accident law La. Stat. tit. 32 § 398, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in:

  1. Injury to or death of any person, or
  2. Property damage in excess of $500 must:

Immediately give notice of the crash to the local police department if the crash occurs within an incorporated city or town. If the crash occurs outside of an incorporated city or town, notify the nearest sheriff’s office or state police station.

IMPORTANT: If the crash occurs in a geographical area under order of evacuation by a competent authority or is under a declared state of emergency, the driver must report the accident and give information to the other driver within 72 hours after the occurrence of the crash.

What to Do At the Scene of the Crash

First, attend to your safety and the safety of others involved in the accident. Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic if possible. Next, call the police to report the accident. They will create a police report for their records which you can use as evidence for your auto accident claim.

Take photographs and videos of the accident scene, including:

  • Vehicles involved
  • Injuries
  • Relevant details

Finally, get the contact and insurance information from all other drivers. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses. The law in Louisiana makes this exchange of information mandatory:

A driver must give [their] name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle … and if available, exhibit his license or permit to drive to any person injured in the crash…

La. Stat. tit. 32 § 398(2)(3)

Louisiana police will report the crash to the Department of Transportation and Development within 48 hours of the accident. You may request a copy of their report for a nominal fee, greatly helping with proving liability for your case.

Is Louisiana a No-Fault State?

No, Louisiana is an at-fault state for car accidents, meaning each driver is responsible for compensating the damages they’re liable for. Legal representation is key if your state follows a traditional fault-based system.

An attorney may prove that you share less liability compared to the other driver, potentially raising the settlement you’re owed. The more evidence your attorney can gather, the higher the likelihood your settlement can cover your damages.

Louisiana’s No Pay, No Play Laws

It’s important to carry auto insurance due to Louisiana’s No Pay, No Play laws (La. Stat. tit. 32 § 866). It is designed to prevent uninsured drivers from recovering the first $15,000 of damages for bodily injury or the first $25,000 in property damage.

There are a few exceptions to the law. These include claims brought by non-owner passengers involved in the accident, cars hit while parked legally, and out-of-state drivers whose state did not require liability insurance.

IMPORTANT: What about hit and run accidents? If the other driver was driving while intoxicated, fled the scene of the accident, or intentionally caused the accident, Louisiana No Pay, No Play laws might not apply. Ask an attorney who specializes in hit and run Louisiana cases.

Louisiana Comparative Negligence Laws

According to La. Civ. Code art. 2323, Louisiana uses a pure comparative negligence rule after a Louisiana traffic accident. In other words, each driver involved in a traffic accident is responsible for their percentage of fault in the collision.

So, if you were injured or your car was damaged following an accident in Louisiana – and you were partially at-fault for causing or contributing to the accident – you may still be able to recover damages. However, the amount of compensation you get will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Louisiana Car Insurance Laws

The required minimum amounts of car insurance coverage in Louisiana are similar to those of other states.

  1. $15,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
  2. $30,000 for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle, and
  3. $25,000 for property damage per accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.

Louisiana law mandates that all insurance policies include UM/UIM coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage covers policyholders who suffer injuries or property damage caused by a driver without insurance or whose policy limits are less than the total damages.

In most states, when you file a lawsuit for damages caused by a car accident, you file the suit against the other driver who caused the accident.

Under the Louisiana Direct Action Statute (La. Stat. tit. 22 § 1269), however, you can bring a direct action against the other driver’s insurance carrier.

Additional Insurance Options

Liability coverage doesn’t apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage. So, you may want additional insurance, such as collision coverage to pay for repairs or replacement of your damaged vehicle.

Similarly, comprehensive coverage provides for vehicle replacement after damages not caused by traffic accidents, like fires and theft.

Types of Damages Available in Louisiana

There are two types of damages you may qualify for in a Louisiana traffic accident:

  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages

Compensatory damages seek to “make whole” whatever losses you unjustly suffered after a vehicle collision. These include your economic damages, the tangible and calculable expenses you suffered from the crash. Non-economic damages, your intangible losses, count for the second-half of your compensatory damages.

Punitive damages seek to punish egregious behavior that causes excessive damage to individuals and their surroundings. Louisiana may only award punitive damages to cases of drunk driving and domestic abuse, but talk to your attorney if you believe punitive damages apply to you.

Economic Damages

These are measurable losses done to you and your vehicle which include:

  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Medical expenses such as ambulance bills
  • Hospital bills
  • Medication and medical devices
  • Physical therapy

This type of damages also covers lost wages and lost future income, if your injuries have affected your ability to work. They can also cover “replacement services,” such as childcare and cleaning, if you can’t do those things resulting from the crash.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are less measurable and include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of quality and enjoyment of life. These can also cover something called “loss of consortium,” which refers to loss of intimacy and harm to family relationships.

IMPORTANT: Louisiana law does not place a cap on a plaintiff’s damages amount in motor vehicle accident claims. However, damages are limited to $500,000 for claims against a government agency. (Louisiana Revised Statute §13:5106)

Louisiana Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

Under Louisiana law, the statute of limitations for filing a suit to recover a settlement payment from a car accident is one year from the date of the accident. Even though there may be time, make sure to file your claim with an attorney as soon as possible. Keep your evidence fresh to potentially raise your chances for compensation.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

The clock begins on the date of the accident. Louisiana Civil Code Article 3492 reads:

“Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. This prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.”

La. Civ. Code art. 3492

Failing to file your car accident on time may cause your claim to be denied by the court. Avoid this outcome by speaking with a Louisiana auto accident attorney.

Why You Need an Auto Accident Lawyer For Your Case

Louisiana car accident laws can be tricky. If you’ve been in a Louisiana traffic accident, then you might need expert legal assistance.

If you are facing medical bills, lost income, property damage, other costs caused by your car accident, you have rights under Louisiana law. An auto accident lawyer will handle the complex legal process for you. You can receive a much higher payout with representation than if you accept the insurance company’s offer.

LegalASAP can connect you with an experienced lawyer near you in New Orleans who is familiar with Louisiana auto accident laws to review your case for free. Click the button below to begin:

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.