Louisiana Car Accident Laws

If you’re in a crash on I-49 or on your neighborhood streets, you’ll need to know Louisiana’s car accident laws to file a report or claim damages.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Edited by Amy Bobinger
If you’re in a car accident in
, you are required by state law to report an accident to law enforcement any time there is an injury, a death, or more than $500 worth of estimated property damages—though most car insurance policies require you to call the police after any and all motor accidents. 
  • Louisiana is a pure comparative negligence state, so anyone can claim damages as long as they were not 100% responsible for the accident.
  • After a Louisiana car accident, you may need to file a report with the police, the DMV, and your insurance company.
  • You may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit for additional damages after a car accident.

Louisiana car accident reporting laws may require reports to the police, DMV, and your insurance company

Immediately following an accident
, you need to take two safety steps first:
  • Move your vehicle, if possible, to a safe area off the main road
  • Check yourself and your passengers for injuries, and call 911 if someone is hurt
Then, it’s important to collect information about the incident:
  • Document the crash at the time of the accident by taking photographs
  • Exchange auto insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident
If you’re in an accident in Louisiana, you may also need to report an auto accident to the police, the DMV, and your insurance company.
So, let’s explore the sections of Louisiana car accident law that outline the requirements for filing accident reports. 

Police: You must report an accident to the police with property damage over $500, injury, or death

You are required by Louisiana law to report a motor vehicle accident to local authorities under these circumstances:
  • Any time an accident results in an injury
  • A passenger or pedestrian dies
  • There is more than $500 worth of estimated property damage
Even minor dents and scratches can easily reach $500 in repair costs, so if you’re in an accident where either vehicle was damaged at all—or if anyone suffered even minor injuries—call the police.
Section 32-398
of the Louisiana Revised Statutes states that:
  • If the accident occurred in an incorporated city or town, report it to the local police department
  • If the accident took place outside of an incorporated city or town, report it to the nearest sheriff’s office or Louisiana state law enforcement station
Need to know: If police were called to the scene, chances are that you won’t have to file an accident report as the officer(s) will take care of it—but you may want to ask an officer just to be sure.

DMV: You must report an accident to the DMV with any injury, death, or property damage over $100

In addition to filing a police report, Section 398 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes requires that drivers involved in an accident forward a copy of a written accident report to the Louisiana DPSC within 24 hours if the accident resulted in: 
  • Injury to any of the parties involved
  • A fatality
  • Property damage over $100
Again, it doesn’t take much to reach $100 in property damage, so you’ll need to notify the DPSC if there is any damage to either vehicle at all.
To report the accident, you’ll need to fill out the Louisiana State Driver Safety Program
accident report form
and send it to the Louisiana
Office of Risk Management
at 1201 North 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA, 70802.
You’ll need to provide: 
  • Your driver’s license number 
  • Your vehicle’s make, model, and VIN
  • Names, addresses, and insurance information for all involved parties
The form will also require you to provide details on the time and date of the accident, descriptions of any and all injuries and/or damages to passengers or vehicles, and supporting documentation.

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums under Louisiana’s insurance laws

Like most states, Louisiana requires its drivers to prove financial responsibility before taking to the streets, primarily through the purchase of car insurance. 
Louisiana’s car insurance requirements
mandate drivers to carry coverage with at least
15/30/25 liability insurance
limits. That means: 
However, not every driver in Louisiana carries liability coverage. A 2019 study by the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
showed that around 11.7% of Louisiana drivers are uninsured drivers. 
If you have coverage but you get into an accident with another driver who does not, you may not have enough protection to recoup costs. To avoid some of these issues you can (and should) invest in
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Louisiana drivers should also consider
full coverage
, which includes
  • Comprehensive: Covers non-collision damage to your vehicle, such as storm damage, theft, and vandalism
  • Collision: Covers collision-related damage to your vehicle, such as a car accident or a mailbox swipe

Driving without coverage could trigger fines and impoundment 

You may be wondering: what happens if you’re in an accident when you don’t have insurance? 
If you fail to purchase basic liability insurance coverage, or are unable to provide proof of insurance when stopped by law enforcement, you could face:
  • Fines between $500 and $1,000 
  • Driving privileges revoked for up to 18 months
  • Having your vehicle impounded
  • Having your registration revoked and/or your license plates canceled
If you’re at fault in an accident and you’re uninsured, you could be financially responsible for all of the medical bills and repair costs for both the other party and yourself.
And because Louisiana is a “no pay, no play” state, even if the other driver was at fault, if you get into an accident and you don’t have car insurance, the other driver’s insurance can not be used to pay for the first $15,000 of your medical bills or $25,000 of your property damage.
What’s the point of “no pay, no play”? In “no pay, no play” states like Louisiana, the state legislature has enacted laws that limit how much you can collect after an accident in an attempt to encourage residents to purchase car insurance. 

You can file a personal injury suit in Louisiana for additional damages

If you’re not satisfied with the outcome of your insurance claim, you may wish to open a personal injury lawsuit. Under
Article 2315
of Louisiana’s Civil Code, you have the legal right to claim damages associated with a car accident. 
Eligible damages for a car accident case include: 
  • Economic damages: Medical bills, lost wages or employment, loss of use of property, burial expenses
  • Non-economic damages: Pain and suffering, mental suffering, inconvenience, humiliation
That being said, there is a time limit on how long you have to file a car accident claim for personal injury in the state of Louisiana according to Louisiana Civil Code
Article 3492
  • One year: Any lawsuit for injury or property damage must be filed within one year of the accident in question. 
Consult with a car accident lawyer or law firm to determine the amount of damage to include in your claim. 

Exceptions to Louisiana’s personal injury laws statute of limitations

You may have more time to file a personal injury lawsuit under the Louisiana statute of limitations if one of these exceptions applies to your situation:
  • The driver was under 18 years old
  • There were multiple at-fault parties
  • The ​​accident was caused by an unknown component of a defective product

Under Louisiana’s pure comparative negligence law, almost anyone can be compensated for damages

Louisiana is a pure comparative negligence state, which means both parties are usually able to collect damages. Louisiana is just one of 12 states that follow a pure comparative negligence rule, also known as pure comparative fault. 
Who can claim: Anyone involved in a car accident can get compensation in proportion to their level of fault—unless it’s determined that they were the 100% at-fault driver. For instance, if both you and the other driver were violating traffic laws, fault does not lie 100% in either of your hands.
Who decides fault: Insurance companies determines a percentage of the fault to be attributed to each driver in a pure comparative negligence state like Louisiana.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you are determined to be 35% the negligent party and the other party is 65% at fault. In this case, you would be responsible for paying 35% of the other driver’s damage claims (medical bills and vehicle repairs) while the other driver would be on the hook for 65% of your damages. This would more than likely work out to the other driver paying 30% of your damages and you paying nothing, as long as you carried at least minimum liability coverage.
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