Louisiana Court Finds for Employee Injured by Drunk Driver in Car Accident, Untangling Complex Dispute Over His Employer’s Alleged Rejection of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Published by The Pellegrin Firm April 25, 2020

In a ruling dated April 1, 2020, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal found for a man seeking to recover damages in a car accident sustained in the course and scope of his employment. The plaintiff was driving a company car at the time and had to undergo multiple surgeries, sustained fractures, and suffered 87% loss of vision in one eye. The plaintiff sustained the serious injuries in a collision with a drunk driver, who passed away in the accident and was found to be completely at fault. The drunk driver’s liability insurer paid its minimum limits policy of $15,000 right away.

The court of appeal was left to determine whether the employer’s insurance policy  provided additional coverage for the plaintiff’s damages. The court of appeal found the employer had validly rejected UM insurance in the automobile coverage portion of its policy because the waiver of UM coverage of that section complied with Louisiana law. However, the court found the company had not validly waived UM coverage under the excess/liability portion of its policy, because the UM waiver found at the end of that section of the policy did not comply with the strict requirements of Louisiana law. So often, people seriously injured in car accidents cannot recover full compensation for their damages because the at-fault driver did not have sufficient coverage or they lack sufficient UM coverage (often, as in this case, based on the cost-saving  choices of an employer). Thankfully, technical errors by the insurer and employer resulted in a ruling that likely will make a big difference for the seriously injured plaintiff. The case is Barras v. Cardinal Services, LLC, Et. Al., docket number 19-530 in the court of appeal.