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Louisiana's law limits responsibility in drunk driving cases

Louisiana is somewhat unique among the states when it comes to its attitude toward social hosts who allow guests or patrons to become visibly intoxicated.

In essence, the law says that it's the act of consuming the alcohol -- not the act of serving or selling it -- that causes someone to get drunk. If that drunken person gets behind the wheel of a car and causes an injury or death, all of the responsibility for the accident falls on the shoulders of the person who did the drinking.

In other words, victims can't try to extend their reach to get compensation for a drunk driving accident from a homeowner who served a guest too much beer at a barbecue or a bar owner who was liberal with the whiskey even after the patron was clearly over his limit.

That's very different than many other states that have specific social host liability laws designed to hold those who negligently allow others to drink to the point of being drunk with the full knowledge that the drunken individual could get behind the wheel of a car before sobering up and injure or kill someone.

In practical terms, that means that no matter how severe your injuries are from a drunk driving accident, what you can recover from that driver financially is limited to whatever his or her insurance policy will allow (unless he or she has other significant assets).

That means it is important to be aware of the possibility that you may need to file a claim against your own insurance company. This is known as an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. It's a part of your auto insurance designed to help cover your medical bills when they exceed the other driver's coverage.

If you think that there is any possibility that your medical bills may exceed what the other driver's insurance will cover, contact your insurance agency and company immediately -- many have short time limits on how long you have to file.

Trying to get fair compensation after an auto accident -- or even just get the medical bills paid -- can be a difficult and confusing task for anyone. For help, consider turning to a personal injury attorney instead.

Source: FIndLaw, "Louisiana Revised Statutes Tit.9 2800.1. Limitation of liability for loss connected with sale, serving, or furnishing of alcoholic beverages," accessed Oct. 13, 2017

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