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Q

A friend in Louisiana ran into a cow. My friend didn't have car insurance on his vehicle at the time. Does the person who owns the livestock have to pay for damages to my friend's vehicle? Or is he out of luck?


A

Due to Louisiana's unique laws, unless the cow's owner offers money to your friend for the accident, it will likely be a case decided in court.

The state of Louisiana has a "no pay/no play" law (Louisiana Revised Statutes 32:866), which means that normally if one is driving an uninsured vehicle and is in an accident, the driver/owner cannot collect for the first $25,000 of property damage and $15,000 of bodily injuries (the minimum auto insurance liability limits of the state).

However, the owner of the cow may not have insurance that would cover this type of incident, so it may be a private-party action. A judge, thus, may have to decide if Statute 32:866 extends to private parties in this type of situation.

We contacted the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) to see if they could offer any advice for your friend. This state office responded that while they don't determine fault or amount of damages in a loss, they could see how it is possible that the "no pay/no play" law may apply to your friend's situation.

They said to determine if the law applies to your friend hitting a cow they would need to find out information such as:

  • Was the cow just loose in the street?
  • Was there a police report taken of the incident?
  • Did your friend find out who owns the livestock (cow)?

The LDI suggested your friend file a formal consumer complaint with their office if he has the liability insurance information of the owner of the cow. The insurance regulator can then contact the insurance company to obtain provisions of the policy to review. Your friend would need to include a copy of the police report with his consumer complaint.

If your friend wants to seek damages against the cow owner personally, he may wish to seek the advice of an attorney to find out his options. A lawyer can scour case law and determine if your friend can make a claim (or place a lawsuit) against the cow's owner or if he is simply out of luck because he was driving without insurance.

When your friend repairs or replaces his car, tell him to get a car insurance policy. Besides the no play/no pay issues, in Louisiana you can receive a fine and the police can impound your vehicle and/or take away its license plates if you are caught driving without car insurance.


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