Louisiana Auto Accident Laws and Resources
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If you live, work or visit Louisiana, you can explore extensive roads from Shreveport to Lafayette to New Orleans. The state has thousands of miles of roads used by 3 million drivers that drive an average of 10,000 miles per year. In all this traveling, drivers in this state are involved in a variety of car accidents. As you drive the Bayou State, it is wise to become familiar with local laws and regulations if you are in a car accident.
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Statistics and Notable Lawsuits
According to the US Census, there were 4.6 million people living in Louisiana in 2012, which makes it the 25th most populated state in the US. The largest cities are New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states there were 912 fatal car accidents in the state in 2008. More than 60% of the accidents were single vehicle accidents. There were 6804 car accident deaths in the state between 2005 and 2012. In 2005, there were 966 and 722 in 2012. Over this time, it seems that the number of driving deaths has declined. This could be because of the increased focus on public awareness of drunk driving and texting and driving.
However, there was an increase in traffic deaths of 8% between 2014 and 2015. Some experts think the lower unemployment rate and a better economy have led to more people driving. This theory is backed up by the 3% rise in number of miles driven in the US in 2015.
Other statistics researched in the state have found that one of the most common reasons for traffic deaths is still drinking and driving. When you get behind the wheel after drinking even a beer or two, your judgement and reflexes decline. Another major cause of traffic deaths in this state is failure to obey the speed limit. In 2012, 245 fatal accidents were caused by drunk driving. And 165 accidents with fatalities were due to speeding.
Louisiana drivers between 15 and 20 were involved in 75 of these fatal accidents. Louisiana also ranks #4 in the country for fatalities due to reckless driving.
A major car accident case that received major press in 2017 was where a college fraternity pledge fell asleep behind the wheel and killed another University of Louisiana at Lafayette student. The young man who was killed was 24 and was just one month from earning his bachelor’s in engineering. The man who killed him, Michael Gallagher, contended he was forced to stay awake for 72 hours during intense hazing at Kappa Sigma fraternity so he could be a designated driver for homecoming weekend. Now he and his parents have filed a lawsuit against the university and the fraternity.
Documentation of the fraternity’s activities that were found by the university included fighting, forced servitude, burns on bodies and forced alcohol consumption.
The mother of the deceased has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity and some of its members. She charges in the lawsuit that the man who caused the accident had been extreme sleep deprived. The suit added that the school knew or should have known of the hazing practices at the fraternity.
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Louisiana Accident Settlement Taxes
When you receive a personal injury settlement in Louisiana, it is common to wonder if you will need to pay state and/or federal taxes on the amount.
Generally, the IRS states that you do not need to pay taxes on a personal injury settlement. But your compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering need to be connected to a physical injury or illness. If you receive compensation for pain and suffering that is related only to emotional suffering, this will be taxable as income.
Also, money that you receive for lost wages will generally be taxed as income, but this is something that you should run by your tax professional. It is a complicated part of the law, and it is always best to be safe than sorry.
But if you receive money for punitive damages that are intended to punish the defendant, this is always taxable as income at the federal and state levels. This is compensation that is not related to any injury you suffered; it is only to punish the defendant for bad behavior.
Further, if you have compensation for any property damages, this is usually not taxable because it is intended to replace or repair property that was damaged during the accident.
Always remember to talk to a tax professional if you have any questions at all about the taxability of your personal injury settlement.
Louisiana Negligence Laws
If you are in a car accident in this state, you should know that it practices a policy of comparative negligence. This means liability for the crash is spread out to all who contributed to the crash in equal percentage of their fault. If you caused 25% of the accident, your potential damages would be reduced by 25%. That is what will happen in a civil lawsuit, but it also is similar to what will happen if the case settles with the insurance company.
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Car Insurance Requirements in Louisiana
You are required in Louisiana to carry a minimum level of auto insurance. If you do not do so, you can be fined or put in jail. You also can be held liable in this state for actual damages, economic damages and pain and suffering if you cause a car accident. The minimum levels of insurance are:
- $15,000 for bodily injury for each person for each accident
- $30,000 for bodily injury for all parties in an accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability
- $1,000 medical payment coverage
- $15,000 and $30,000 underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage
If you do not have insurance and are in an accident with a driver who is insured, the No Pay No Play law in this state will prevent you from collecting the initial $25,000 in property damage and the first $15,000 in personal injury, even if the other driver caused the accident.
Other Louisiana Driving Laws
There is a ban on texting for all drivers. The state also bans the use of cell phones for drivers below the age of 18. Also, the Move-Over Law in Louisiana states that if you see an emergency vehicle or car with emergency lights flashing, you must move to the farthest lane and slow down to a safe speed. If it is impossible to change lanes, you must pass at a safe speed.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Louisiana
Louisiana is unusual in that any lawsuit for personal injury or property damages must be commenced within one year of the date of the accident. Also, if the accident results in a death, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within one year of the victim’s death.
Louisiana Accident Resources
If you have had a car accident in Louisiana, you will probably experience plenty of anxiety. Please use these following resources to help you through the accident and claims process:
- You are required to file an accident report with the police station in the area if there is an injury, death or property damage for more than $500.
- You also must file a written accident report with the Louisiana DPSC within one day of an accident if there was death, injury or property damage above $100.
- If you are in any accident, the law requires you to stop immediately and not leave the scene, even if it is a minor accident.
- Get a copy of the police report as soon as possible if one was created by the responding officer.
- If you are in an accident on a highway in Louisiana, be sure to contact the state police.
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