Baton Rouge, La Personal Injury Attorney Ed Kramer

How Insurers Pay a Louisiana Auto Claim

Usually significantly less than full value

Every individual automobile insurance company has a specific procedure to pay money to the policyholder following the approval of a Louisiana auto claim. Getting the approval is where it gets tricky in the managing of an auto claim.  The goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible. The injured victim, of course, wants at least full value if not more.

“Quick checks” are often for far less than full value, that is why they are quick.  Would you sell a $50,000 car for $10,000 so that you can get the money sooner?  Of course not. However, some “Settlement Mills” make this a daily practice in settling their client’s auto claims – often for less.

The auto insurance policy documentation provides very specific information concerning when the insurer has the right to deny an accident claim. However, payment is not required in a specific time frame. But, you, the victim, have a limited time in which to bring your claim, which cannot be extended even if the insurance company agrees to extend the time.

A ‘Quick Check’ is often not Forthcoming in a Louisiana Auto Claim

Once the accident claim is filed, the insurance company will verify the facts, may take a statement, interview witnesses, obtain a doctor’s report, and obtain a copy of the police report. None of this is done with the intention of paying you more money – it is done to justify paying as little as possible.

The auto insurance policy must also be in force or paid current, for the insurer to approve, and pay, claims.

Depending on the type of insurance policy under which you are claiming recovery – third party, uninsured/underinsured, umbrella – the insurer owes different obligations to you.  Also, there are two bad faith insurance laws in Louisiana: (1) Louisiana Revised Statute 22:1892 and (b) Louisiana Revised Statute 22:1973.

Louisiana Insurance Bad Faith Statutes

The main difference between the two insurance bad faith statutes is the damages that you can recover. Under La. R.S. 22:1892, assuming you can prove the elements required, the insurer shall be subject to:

“[A] penalty, in addition to the amount of the loss, of fifty percent damages on the amount found to be due from the insurer to the insured, or one thousand dollars, whichever is greater, payable to the insured, or to any of said employees, or in the event a partial payment or tender has been made, fifty percent of the difference between the amount paid or tendered and the amount found to be due as well as reasonable attorney fees and costs.”

22:1973 provides for an even greater damage award:

“In addition to any general or special damages to which a claimant is entitled to breach of the imposed duty, the claimant may be awarded penalties assessed against the insurer in an amount not to exceed two times the damages sustained or five thousand dollars, whichever is greater.”

Penalty statutes are designed to provide strong incentives for insurers to treat people fairly. But this does not always happen.

Before making a bad faith claim, the person seeking damages must meet the requirements. Both of the Louisiana bad faith insurance statutes require you to prove the same elements to make your case:

  • You provided the insurer with satisfactory proof of loss that put them on notice of your claim and your damages;
  • They failed to pay you within the time periods outlined in the statute (30 days for 22:1892 and 60 days for 22:1973); and
  • Their failure to pay was arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.
  • Often, each element of this is contested by the insurer. If you ‘didn’t see the doctor long enough to prove injury,’ ‘your damages are not that high,’ and other reasons are often given by the insurer for not paying a claim.

Many “settlement mills” don’t bother with much of this legal maze.  The goal is merely to settle your case as quickly as possible and move on to the next client. “Settlement mills differ from conventional personal injury law firms in many obvious respects: They have higher claim volumes, advertise more aggressively, tout a different fee structure, settle claims more quickly and with less effort, file fewer lawsuits, and delegate more duties to para-professionals.” Source

Everyone who has been involved in a car crash and has an auto claim in Louisiana should be aware of the “No-Pay, No-Play” statute which bars recovery for the personal injury victim in certain circumstances.

Should You ‘Go It Alone’ for an Auto Claim?

You certainly could.  You could also hire a settlement mill, get a quick check and pay an attorney fee out of that money. Law Firm offers an alternative. We are incentivized to get you THE MOST for your claim because the more you get, the more we make. We have a low volume of cases, associate expert trial attorneys (for no added cost) and do what is necessary to get full compensation for you auto claim.

We offer free consultations and would be happy to discuss your case with you.

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