What To Do If You’re In a Car Accident Without Insurance But Not At Fault In Louisiana

Driving without insurance is a serious offense in Louisiana—and if you’re in an accident while uninsured, you could lose your license.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Shannon Martin
, you could face serious repercussions for causing an accident while driving without
car insurance
. While you can file a claim with the other driver's insurance company if you weren't at fault, you won't get paid until your damages exceed a certain threshold, and you'll also be subject to the state’s severe penalties. 
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What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Louisiana and not at fault

In Louisiana, driving without auto insurance is a crime that can lead to a hefty fine and additional legal trouble in the event of an accident. If you’re in a car accident in Louisiana and do not have insurance, follow these steps.
Before anything else, do not leave the scene of the accident. If you don't have insurance, you might be tempted to leave the area. However, doing so will get you into a lot more trouble! Even if you have insurance and are not at fault, leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime in Louisiana.
If you leave, you could receive the following: 
  • A $500 fine and up to six months in jail if the accident caused property damage
  • A $10,000 fine and up to three years in jail if the accident caused minor injuries
  • A felony
    hit-and-run charge in Louisiana
    and up to 10 years in jail if the collision results in death or serious injury
If you are involved in an accident and don't have insurance, keep calm and remain at the scene. When it's safe to do so, pull over and inspect yourself, any passengers, and everyone else involved in the accident for injuries. Dial 911 if you need to and swap information with the other driver, including your license number. Gather as much evidence as possible, like photos and witness statements—down the line, this information may help you if you have to go to court.
However, Louisiana's "No Pay, No Play" law means you will face financial consequences even if you are not at fault. Because of this law, you are not permitted to use the other driver's auto insurance for the first $15,000 in personal injuries and the first $25,000 in property damage. Instead, you must pay these costs out of pocket before the other driver's insurance will cover them.

Who decides fault in a car accident in Louisiana?

If law enforcement is called to the scene of an accident, their report will be helpful to insurance companies in determining fault. But the insurance company will ultimately decide who is at fault for an accident, regardless of who gets a ticket or what the police report says.
In the event of an accident where you were not at fault while uninsured, you will need to file a claim with their insurance company and prove that the other party was at fault. This is when those pictures and eye-witness statements and contact information will be useful. Photographs can help prove that you weren't at fault and are not financially responsible for the other driver's expenses.

Do you need to report a car accident in Louisiana? 

Only in some cases. If there were no injuries or fatalities and the property damage was less than $500, you are not required to report the accident to the police; leaving the scene is still considered a criminal offense.
However, you are required to notify the authorities within 24 hours of any collision that results in injuries or death, or property damage totaling $500 or more; if the damages to any one person's property exceed $100, you must additionally submit a report with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

What if you’re at fault?

There can be serious repercussions if you cause an accident without insurance and are found to be at fault. Since Louisiana is a comparative negligence state, if you cause an accident and another driver sustains damages, you will be held liable for your portion of those damages, and the other driver may sue you to recover the costs.
If you are caught driving without insurance after an accident, you will face harsh legal consequences, including fines between $500-$1,000 and a mandatory 180-day license suspension. In addition, your vehicle may be impounded and your license plates canceled.

What if you’re hit by an uninsured driver in Louisiana?

What if you have insurance but the other driver does not? If the at-fault driver is uninsured, you'll have to go after them directly for compensation, but hopefully you won’t have to. 
There are a few different kinds of supplementary car insurance coverages that could pay for those costs.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UMC/UIM)
must be offered to all Louisiana drivers when purchasing insurance and you can only decline this coverage in writing. If you elected to keep these options and are injured by an uninsured motorist or someone whose
bodily injury liability
coverage is inadequate, these policies will help pay for your medical bills.
Medical payments (MedPay)
coverage is another optional insurance. If you opted for this coverage, MedPay will pay for your medical expenses up to the policy maximum first, and then your UMC/UIM coverage will kick in for any overages. If you don't have UMC/UIM, your health insurance will usually provide coverage after any payments from your car insurance is exhausted. 
And if your insurance plan also includes
collision coverage
, you can make a claim to help repair your car.
The Insurance Information Institute (III)
estimates that in 2019, 11.7% of drivers in Louisiana were uninsured. This means that you have a roughly 1 in 10 chance of getting into an accident with someone who does not have liability insurance. In light of such figures, purchasing UIM and collision coverage is almost a no-brainer.
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Penalties for driving without insurance in Louisiana

While you may be able to claim damages if you were not at fault in a car accident without insurance coverage, the consequences of driving without insurance in Louisiana are strict.
The fine for
driving without insurance
in Louisiana is between $500 to $1,000, regardless of whether it’s your first, second, or third offense.
If you are caught driving without insurance for the first time, the officer will confiscate your license plates, suspend your registration, and have your car impounded. You'll also get a sticker that says "
Temporary Vehicle Use Authorization
." This lets you drive your car for three days, which is just long enough for you to get your insurance papers together and bring them to the Office of Motor Vehicles.
If you get caught driving without insurance a second time, it will cost you even more. However, you will still have 3 days to get your proof of insurance ready, whether it's your policy, a
digital ID card
, or an SR-22 filing from your insurance company. 
And if you don't, you'll have to pay a fine, a $160 reinstatement fee, and vehicle storage and wreckage fees before you can get your license plates, registration, and car back.
SR-22 certificates are a form of proof of financial responsibility required after significant driving infractions. You can get your license back after a year if you maintain your SR-22 file and carry the proper insurance. Just keep in mind if you have a
Louisiana SR-22 requirement
, your insurance rates will be very high, which will add to the cost of the fines.
There is no way to avoid paying these fees; you can't get insurance after the fact and have it apply retrospectively, and you can't contest the charges in court. The single exception is if you had insurance coverage at the time of the accident but did not have
proof of insurance
on hand. You’ll have to prove that you were insured within three days of the accident to avoid paying these hefty fines.

Minimum required car insurance in Louisiana

How much insurance coverage do you need to stay out of hot water in Louisiana? According to
Louisiana's car insurance laws
, all drivers must get car insurance that includes at least:
Even if an individual has the legally required amount of liability insurance in the state of Louisiana, that amount is likely to be insufficient in the event of any but the most minor of accidents.
In terms of bodily injury liability, most experts suggest purchasing limits of at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, and for property damage liability, at least $100,000. These limits are relatively affordable, and they will serve to protect your finances in almost any circumstance.
You'll also notice that Louisiana does not require you to have collision or
comprehensive insurance
to protect your vehicle. Even if you have an older vehicle, comprehensive coverage can protect you from losses such as glass damage, windstorms, vandalism, and more. 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

Another reason to make sure you have at least the state-mandated minimum liability coverage is the higher premiums you'll pay
after you're caught driving without it
. For as long as the infractions and accidents remain on your record, your insurance premiums are likely to increase significantly.
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