In Louisiana, drivers who do not have car insurance cannot recover under someone else’s insurance policy – even if that person is at-fault for the accident. This so-called “no pay, no play” law incentivizes all drivers to purchase car insurance by punishing those who do not. As with any law, however, there are exceptions.
First, the law only applies to drivers who do not meet the state’s minimum requirements for car insurance coverage. All Louisiana drivers are required to carry:
- $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
- $25,000 minimum coverage for property damage
Under the no pay, no play law (RS 32:866), drivers who do not carry minimum coverage cannot recover for the first $15,000 of bodily injury nor the first $25,000 of property loss. Nevertheless, if injuries and property damage exceed these amounts, the uninsured driver may recover partial damages. For example, consider an uninsured motorist who injures his leg in a car accident, and his damages are about $2,500. The uninsured motorist would not be able to recover that amount from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. If the uninsured motorist suffered a more serious injury and needed a $16,500 medical procedure, however, he would be able to recover $1,500 from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
This way, the at-fault driver still has to accept some liability for serious accidents, but the law continues to hold people who fail to carry insurance accountable for smaller losses.
Parked Cars and Passengers
Louisiana’s no pay, no play law does not apply to out-of-state drivers with different insurance policies, nor does it apply to passengers. If you carry less insurance coverage because you are visiting from out of town, or your passenger gets hurt (and is not a co-owner of your car), the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover the damages.
Similarly, the at-fault driver will be responsible for any damages that occur while your car is legally parked. Say you parked your car on the street for a few days while you took care of your insurance bill. Anyone who hits your car during this time will be liable for property damage (and injuries if any passengers are seated inside) – even though you do not have insurance.
If someone hits your car while engaging in criminal activity, they will be responsible for the damages even if you do not carry car insurance. If the other driver is convicted of driving while intoxicated, for example, you will be able to recover damages under their insurance policy.
The same thinking applies to hit-and-run accidents, drivers who intentionally cause wrecks, and drivers who are committing felonies at the time of the accident. Although driving without insurance is illegal in Louisiana, you should not be penalized if the at-fault driver was committing a more serious crime when the accident occurred.
What If Neither Driver Is Insured?
Louisiana is one of the most expensive states for car insurance, and uninsured drivers are common. If neither driver is insured at the time of the accident, the at-fault driver will be personally liable, and you may have to handle the matter in civil court.
Critics of Louisiana’s no pay, no play law argue that the law only penalizes drivers who cannot afford insurance coverage, in the first place, creating an upsetting cycle of financial difficulty.
Still, supporters of the law admire its fairness and ask why uninsured drivers should be rewarded by a system they failed to pay into.
At Anderson Traylor Edwards, we understand that every situation is different, and we seek to help our clients benefit under the law – whether they are insured or uninsured.
If you got into an accident without insurance and believe one of the no pay no play exceptions applies to you, please don’t hesitate to call us at (985) 244-3070 or contact us online for a free consultation – we are available 24/7 to take your call.