A car accident can change your life forever in an instance. From an active person, going about their business, you are suddenly in physical pain, requiring medical care, and unsure how soon you will heal, or if you will make a full recovery. While some accident victims escape with minor car accident injuries, others suffer catastrophic injuries and need to spend a long time in hospital. Whenever such a terrible accident happens, you need to know that an experienced Louisiana car wreck attorney at Wright & Gray law firm is available to analyze your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve from the responsible party.
However, your chances of maximizing the final settlement amount depend on two factors: what you do and say after the accident and how soon you retain legal representation. We will cover both these aspects in this article, together with explanations of what determines the final compensation amount auto accidents victims receive.
What Are the Consequences of a Car Accident?
Looking at the latest data for 2021 published by the LSU Data Reports, nearly one-third (33,025) of the 115,089 motor vehicle crashes that took place across the state of Louisiana resulted in at least one injury victim. This is, sadly, a continuing trend, that puts our state on the list of the most dangerous US states for drivers.
When a car crash happens, victims suffer two types of damages:
- bodily injury
- property damage
The most common types of injuries in motor vehicle accidents range from common to severe injuries, such as:
- broken bones (fractured ankle, leg, hip)
- loss of limb
- spinal cord injuries
- neck injuries
- head injuries
- traumatic brain injuries
In some instances, fatal accidents happen on the roads of New Orleans, and accident attorneys are hired to help bereaved families file a wrongful death claim.
Property loss refers to the victim’s personal items that were damaged in automobile accidents, such as:
- mobile phone
- other electronic and smart devices
- valuables (watches, jewelry, etc.)
Elements Included in Car Accident Settlements
An experienced accident attorney will always seek the maximum compensation available depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Each case is unique and has its challenges and particular aspects. This is why no law firm can publish an average settlement amount for car accident injuries.
Instead, an experienced car accident injury lawyer can explain what type of damages you may recover. In the state of Louisiana, a personal injury claim can contain two categories of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover all the monetary expenses and losses you suffered as a result of the car accident, such as:
- hospital bills
- costs with ambulance rides
- out of pocket expenses
- loss of income
- loss of earning capacity (if you are left with a permanent disability)
- ongoing medical care and physical therapy sessions
Non-economic damages represent a form of compensation for:
- pain and suffering
- loss of enjoyment of life
- loss of consortium
- reduced quality of life
- mental anguish
- emotional distress
Finally, if you file a personal injury lawsuit and the jury finds that the liable parties acted with gross negligence in causing your accident, you may also be entitled to receive punitive damages. An example of gross negligence is a drunk driver who is driving aggressively (speeding, tailgating, etc.).
Factors that Influence the Value of the Final Settlement
When you file an accident insurance claim, you need to detail all your damages and provide evidence for them. Injury accident lawyers can usually negotiate a reasonable settlement after investigating your case. However, the outcome depends in great measure on what you do or fail to do immediately after the accident.
Here are some factors that usually influence accident settlement amounts:
Your Proportion of Fault
The state of Louisiana applies a comparative fault principle in personal injury law. This means that you are not barred from seeking compensation if you were partly at fault for the car crash. However, the actual amount you will receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were 20% at fault and your claim amount is $100,000, you will actually receive $80,000.
Calling 9-1-1 after the Accident
You need to call 9-1-1 and ask for the police and an ambulance at the accident scene. First of all, you may be seriously injured, even if you do not feel pain right then and there. Secondly, the initial medical report prepared by the emergency response team will establish that your injuries were directly caused by the accident.
Moreover, any car accident resulting in bodily injury or death has to be reported to the police. The police report prepared at the accident scene is also a valuable piece of evidence that your auto accident attorney will rely on at a later date.
Collecting Evidence at the Accident Scene
You should not rely only on the accident report prepared by the police. You should also collect as much evidence as you can. Some of the most important things you can do while you are waiting for the ambulance are:
- get the responsible party’s contact and insurance details
- in case of a hit-and-run accident, write down as many details as you remember about the other car
- photos and videos of your injuries and of your damaged vehicle
- eyewitnesses’ contact details
Trying to Settle the Claim on Your Own
One thing you need to remember is that a quick settlement is never a good settlement. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, you will most likely be approached by an insurance adjuster, who will appear helpful and willing to settle your claim.
Do not sign their offer and do not even discuss your accident with the adjuster. The amount they will offer you is only a small percentage of your actual damages. Also, anything you say may be recorded and will definitely be used to disprove your claims.
Moreover, do not start negotiating an accident claim on your own. During the stressful time you are going through, you cannot think clearly and add up all your damages. Also, since you do not know all the intricacies of personal injury law, the insurance adjuster can easily trick you into believing that you do not have a case.
Failure to Act in a Timely Manner
Personal injury law stipulates a time limit for legal actions taken by accident victims. Unfortunately, the state of Louisiana has one of the shortest statute of limitations in the US: one year from the date of the accident.
This means that you have only one year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this deadline by just one day, your case will be dismissed.
Reasons to Hire an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you may need weeks, even months until you are discharged from the hospital. This means that you are in no position to file any auto accident claims or accident lawsuits, complete various required legal procedures, and (if necessary) attempt to identify the fault driver after a hit-and-run accident.
A personal injury attorney knows how to plan every required action so that they have plenty of time to:
- investigate your case: look over evidence, hire crash reconstruction specialists, if necessary
- evaluate your degree of fault as per the comparative negligence principle
- collect evidence: medical records, police report, photos, and videos
- calculate your accident-related damages: medical expenses, lost wages, costs to fix or replace your car and other personal belongings damaged in the accident
- prepare and file your accident injury claim and property damage claim
- negotiate with the insurance company to reach an acceptable settlement
If it is impossible to reach a fair settlement during out-of-court negotiations, the personal injury lawyer will prepare your legal strategy for a lawsuit filed against the negligent party.
Hire a Personal Injury Law Firm for Your Car Accident Injuries
At Wright & Gray, we believe that each crash victim deserves fair compensation from the fault parties. Everyone has a duty of care when they drive on public roads. When someone fails in this duty, we step in to help all victims involved in a bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, or truck accident.
We know how to negotiate with the representative of the auto insurance company and how to defend your rights in court before a judge and jury. Our aim is to make sure that your future care is assured, and your family will not go into debt after paying all your medical bills.
We urge you to contact us as soon as possible after you were hurt in a car accident. You only have one year available to take legal action and the procedures we need to fulfill, starting with the demand letter, take time.
Please note that you do not have to worry about paying any upfront fees when you hire an accident lawyer at Wright & Gray law firm. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we only get paid after we win your case, out of the settlement amount.
You have the right to fair compensation if you were injured by someone else’s negligence, so call us: 888-912-4944!