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If uninsured driver gets hit, can he file a claim?


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Question: My son T-boned a car that pulled out in front of him. The other driver was found at fault, but my son’s insurance lapsed last month.  We are now being told that due to the no-pay, no-play law, the other insurance company doesn’t have to pay for my son’s car damages or his injuries.  Does my son get nothing?

Answer:  Yes, depending upon state law, it’s possible that your son won’t be able to file a car insurance claim for his injuries or damages to his car and will receive nothing for his losses since he was uninsured.

No-pay, no-play laws restrict an uninsured motorist from collecting for certain damages after an accident that was the fault of an insured driver. 

The basic idea behind these laws is that owners/drivers who don’t maintain at least the state-required insurance coverages shouldn’t be compensated for some losses, because they wouldn’t be able to provide these same benefits to others if they had been the at-fault driver.

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There are several states now with varying degrees of no-pay, no-play laws, currently this includes (according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America):

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Iowa
  • Kansas (enacted law 2011)
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma (enacted law 2011)
  • Oregon

Many of these states don’t allow recovery for non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering) if the driver is uninsured at the time of the accident, but do allow for claims for economic losses.  Economic losses normally include medical expenses and damage to your car.

For your son to be unable to receive any compensation at all, you must be in Louisiana, which has the harshest no-pay, no-play auto insurance laws.

The Louisiana no-play, no-play law (Louisiana Revised Statutes 32:866) bars an owner or operator of an uninsured vehicle from recovery of damages for the first $15,000 of bodily injury and the first $25,000 of property damage (the minimum auto insurance liability limits in Louisiana).

There are a few exclusions from this limitation of recovery.  You can still recover, if the operator of the other vehicle:

  • Was found to be driving while intoxicated;
  • Was found to have intentionally caused the accident;
  • Was in the commission of a felony offense at the time of the accident; or
  • Fled from the scene of the accident.

It doesn’t appear that any of these situations apply to your son’s accident, so the only way we see that he can be compensated for his losses is if his damages exceed the stated limits, he could then make a claim for that excess amount.

While it might seem like a steep penalty for your son, the Louisiana Department of Insurance believes the no-pay, no-play law helps keep Louisiana’s rate of uninsured motorists down.  The latest study out by the Insurance Research Council had the national rate of uninsured motorists at 13.8%, while Louisiana’s rate was 12.9%.

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