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Consider all options after a crash with a drunk driver

You follow the law and make every effort to drive safely. Unfortunately, the bad decisions of other people can still put you and the people you love at risk. While certain factors increase the risk of a collision with a drunk driver, including the time of day and day of the week, it is not your responsibility to avoid driving after midnight just because someone could be drunk on the road. In fact, depending on the schedule of the person who decided to get behind the wheel intoxicated, you could experience a collision with a drunk driver in the early morning on your way to work. It's impossible to predict.

Car accidents can take a serious toll on the people involved. First, there's the physical trauma of the accident. It's relatively common for people to experience severe bruising, broken bones, head injuries and even spinal injuries in car crashes. The more serious the crash, the more likely it is that you'll be missing work afterward while you recuperate. You'll also have to handle the expenses involved with repairing or replacing your vehicle. This can cause severe financial hardship particularly if the drunk driver was either uninsured or only carried state minimum insurance.

What does state minimum insurance cover?

In order for a resident of Louisiana to legally drive on public roads, that person must purchase a motor vehicle liability insurance policy. Sadly, the minimum coverage amounts may be much less than your expenses and losses after an accident. Louisiana only requires that driver policies offer $15,000 of personal injury coverage if one person got hurt or $30,000 of coverage for accidents where more than one person gets hurt. Property damage coverage only has to be $25,000. Replacing a vehicle could easily cost more than that, depending on the vehicle you drive.

Medical expenses could also quickly exceed the $15,000 limit for minimum policies. A surgery or several weeks of physical therapy could eat up all of that coverage, leaving you to pay out of pocket for injuries caused by someone else.

Louisiana limits liability to those who serve alcohol

Under a special law, Louisiana protects restaurants, bars and even social hosts from incurring personal liability for serving alcohol. That means that you, as the victim of a drunk driving crash, can not hold a business responsible for over-serving someone who later caused an accident with you.

The one exception to this rule is if the person who caused the collision is still a minor. The anti-dram shop liability law specifically states that businesses and social hosts are only protected from liability if the person they served alcohol was age 21 or older.

That means that if a drunk minor caused your crash, you may be able to hold the person or business who served them alcohol liable for your injuries and losses. In most other cases, the best option for recourse if insurance doesn't cover all of your losses is to seek compensation from the driver. Typically, this involves filing a civil lawsuit. You shouldn't settle with an insurance carrier or make any other major decision after a crash until you've considered all your legal options.

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