Getting involved in an accident is a distressing situation. An accident can be a life-changing event that you never anticipated and can have many serious, negative impacts on your well-being. A successful compensation claim, however, can make life easier. If you have recently been involved in a car accident or lost a loved one to a negligent driver, an experienced car wreck attorney in New Orleans might be able to help you.
A successful accident injury claim can make a huge difference in getting the compensation you need to cover medical bills, vehicle repairs, property damage, and other expenses.
A New Orleans car accident attorney will establish liability by identifying the liable party or parties and guide you throughout the litigation process.
What Should I Do When an Accident Occurs?
When an accident happens, there are things you need to do immediately but also do in the right way so that you may file a successful car accident claim. Let’s look at them in steps.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident
Remain at the scene of the accident until the paramedics or police arrive. It is a huge mistake to leave before being cleared by the police. It is a punishable crime, especially if someone is injured. You may also become ineligible for injury claims or insurance cover when you leave the scene before the police clear you.
- Check for injuries and call 911
Check whether anyone is injured; if there is, do not move them; instead, call emergency services immediately. Explain the situation in clear and simple language, indicating the accident’s place, time, and nature.
You still need to see a doctor even if you are not injured. However, if no one is injured, you may find a way to make the scene safe for everyone by moving your car out of the way.
You must call the police to make a report of the car accident. The police will collect information, investigate who was at fault, and assess the damage before writing their report. The police report will help you file a claim either in court or with the insurance company.
- Gather information about the incident
Collect as much information as you can about injuries and the scene of the accident. You may need to gather information such as the other driver’s personal information, the license number and insurance details of the cars involved in the accident, and contacts of witnesses.
If you cannot collect the information, get a witness to do it for you or call a friend to come over and help.
You may also take photos of the accident scene, injuries, and damages. The information you collect will act as evidence when making claims. Also, you may be unable to get the other driver’s details later, so this could be the only chance for you to gather the information.
Be careful not to admit guilt or assign responsibility for the accident.
- Seek medical attention immediately
It is crucial to immediately seek medical treatment even if you do not think you got injured. Sometimes, injuries arising from the accident may show up later. Also, many insurance companies will want to know the seriousness of the injuries by considering how quickly you sought medical help.
Failure to seek medical attention may lead to inaccurate documentation of the extent of the injuries. However, when you seek medical help immediately after the accident, it can provide evidence that the injuries happened due to the accident and not at a later time.
Medical records will act as evidence of your medical bills for purposes of your health insurance so ensure you have a record of all the payments or medical expenses you incur to enable you to get compensation at a later date.
- Contact car wreck attorney in New Orleans
Contact a New Orleans car accident attorney as soon as you are able to after the accident occurs. The attorney will guide you through the claim process by evaluating medical expenses and negotiating on your behalf with insurance companies. In some cases, insurance companies may refuse to compensate the full value of injury claims. An experienced lawyer will ensure you get a fair compensation by:
- Ensuring you don’t miss out on deadlines during filing
- Helping in investigations and collection of crucial evidence
- Ensuring you make appropriate statements that do not harm your case
When Should I Report A Car Accident in Louisiana?
You are required by the law to immediately report a car accident if it results in death, injury of any person, or property damage that exceeds the value of $500. To report, you may call 911.
It is crucial to report even if there is no injury or emergency, in which case you may be advised to call 311. When you call, the police will visit the scene of the accident and investigate, collect information about the accident, and make a report.
When Should I Make Car Accident Claims in Louisiana?
There is a time limit within which you should file a property damage lawsuit or a personal injury lawsuit in Louisiana. The Louisiana statute of limitations guides the timeframe. The Louisiana statute of limitations is known as the Liberative Prescriptions. As per the statute, you must file a personal injury or property damage lawsuit within the lapse of one year following a car accident. Typically, the one-year countdown begins on the day of the accident.
Filing for claims after the lapse of one year will most likely be unsuccessful, so if you want to get compensation, ensure you abide by the timelines.
However, there are a few exceptions to the statute of limitation, which an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney may help you understand. They are:
- If the at-fault driver is unknown.
- The deadline may be pushed to the time you learn of the incurred injury arising instead of the day of the accident.
- If someone dies as a result of a motor vehicle accident, but not on the day of the accident, and the family of the deceased files a wrongful death case, the one-year countdown starts on the day the accident victim died, not the date of the accident.
- A two-year limitation may come into force when a violent criminal causes property damage or personal injury.
It will help to stick by the statute of limitations because Louisiana rarely grants extensions to the deadline, and also, proving a case for an extension is a complicated process.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Claim?
You must prove that negligence was involved when an accident occurs for a property damage or personal injury claim to be successful. You must prove that the at-fault driver or the responsible party failed to exercise reasonable care that a prudent person would exercise in such circumstances.
Some situations you would need to prove are that:
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care
- The at-fault driver breached their duty
- You suffered an injury as a result of the at-fault driver’s breach
- You suffered a loss such as financial, emotional, etc., due to your injury
You should be cautious enough not to injure another person when on the road. A breach of duty may occur when you drive while sleepy, intoxicated, using a cell phone, or fail to follow a traffic signal. Also, failure to indicate to other road users an eventuality such as a car breakdown may amount to a breach of duty of care.
Can I Be Compensated if I Was Partially At Fault?
Yes. Louisiana applies comparative negligence law in car accident judgments. In this case, a court can determine that you and the other car driver were both at fault. However, if you partially contributed to the accident, you may still recover some damages. The court will award you a certain percentage based on comparative fault.
Assignment of liability is mostly based on the jury or the judge so how much you benefit depends on how you argue your case. To this end, the evidence you gather for the case will determine how much you get.
Having an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney can be helpful as they will know how to determine fault and may have handled similar cases in the past and won.
When Does the “No Pay No Play” Law Apply??
The “No Play No Pay” law prohibits any uninsured motorist or under-insured driver from obtaining the first $25,000 of any property damage and $15,000 of bodily injury claims.
Under the law, you cannot make claims before a certain limit even if another driver is found to be completely at fault for the automobile accident while you are driving without insurance. You can only receive the damages if the claims exceed the above limits.
However, “No Pay No Play’ does not apply in the following situations, even if you drive without insurance:
- The at-fault driver struck you while parked
- The at-fault driver was fleeing from a scene of a crime
- The at-fault driver was committing a felony
- The at-fault driver intentionally committed the accident
- The at-fault driver was intoxicated
The law also applies when making accident insurance claims.
The “No Play No Pay” is inapplicable if you have out-of-state insurance and for out-of-state drivers.
What Documents Do I Need to Support My Claims After a Car Accident?
Having evidence when making a car accident claim is crucial in helping you recover compensation. Without some documents, it will be hard to prove a case. Let’s look at some of the documents to help you make a legal claim.
- The accident report – The accident report is prepared by the police at the accident scene. You may request it online approximately 20 days after the accident date.
- Correspondence between you and your insurance company.
- Prescription bills you pay for out of pocket.
- Medical expenses.
- Pay stubs from before the accident.
- Medical statement regarding your health.
- Receipts for expenses arising from being injured, such as renting a car to seek medical care.
- Bank statements showing loss of income or inability to pay loans and mortgages.
Your car wreck attorney in New Orleans will advise you on the necessary documentation you need to add weight to your claim.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Personal injury and property damage claims are complicated processes that require the expertise and knowledge of an experienced lawyer to win maximum compensation. A successful claim depends on how much you demonstrate that the liability lies with the at-fault driver.
A car wreck attorney in New Orleans has the legal knowledge of what types of damages you can recover compensation for. Thus, you are more likely to recover a higher settlement when you work with an attorney, as opposed to trying to take care of it on your own.
A lawyer also understands the legal claims procedure and will ensure you don’t lose your case on technicalities. In addition, hiring a New Orleans car accident attorney will relieve you from having to deal with the complicated paperwork, because your lawyer will handle that responsibility.
How Can a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney Help Me if I’m Involved in a Wreck?
Damages arising from car accidents vary in nature and extent; some may lead to total wreckage meaning the car is beyond repair, others may lead to minimal damage to the car, and others may lead to injuries. In addition, you could have unseen injuries, even if you feel fine immediately after the accident. The most crucial thing to understand is that you can sue for damages other than the visible ones –like bodily injury or car damage.
A car accident attorney may help you sue for the following damages:
- Suffering mentally and physically
- Mental and physical pain
- Medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment, like sports or other hobbies
- Property loss, such as the loss of a piece of jewelry you had in the car at the accident
- Burial expenses
- Towing charges
- Car repair expenses
- Loss of income or earning capacity
- Home care by healthcare providers
- Punitive Damages
To successfully sue for the above claims and damages, it will help if you consult an experienced lawyer who can demonstrate the damages in court or before a jury. Additionally, providing appropriate evidence will help prove a breach of duty where evidence cannot be documented, such as medical bills.
A New Orleans car accident attorney will advise you on what damages are applicable in your specific case.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim in New Orleans?
The length of settling a car accident claim in New Orleans depends on several factors, including:
- Where you choose to settle your claim, that is, in court or out of court -Settling out of court may be much quicker than in court due to legal procedures.
- How willing an insurance company is to negotiate a settlement and in good faith – Often, the companies are unwilling, especially when you do not have an attorney.
- The number of parties involved – Typically, the more the parties, the longer it will take because the claims will vary in nature and extent.
- The extent of your injuries –If the injuries take longer to treat, settlement may delay.
- The willingness of the insurance company to make an offer –If a company makes a reasonable offer, then the settlement will also be quick.
In most cases, nothing is definite in car accident claims; only an experienced car accident attorney may advise you how much you are likely to get for a settlement. A New Orleans car accident attorney will advise you on the best course of action for your situation.
Reach Out To An Experienced New Orleans Car Accident Attorney at Wright & Gray
Talk to our experienced attorneys at Wright & Gray to learn about your rights and how we can help you throughout the legal process. Our legal team is well respected within New Orleans because we’ve been able to achieve excellent results for our clients.