Whether you’ve been in an accident or you simply want to educate yourself about what to do after an accident, there are many Louisiana rules you must know.
Additionally, in these days of complex and confusing insurance claims, you need a personal injuries lawyer to help you understand your rights and guide you through each stage of the process. Read on to learn more about what you must know about a vehicle accident in Louisiana. The more you know, the easier it will be to navigate the complicated process of a personal injury claim.
1.If Your Car Is Operable, Remove it from the Roadway
Due to the risks of pileup accidents and blocking the roadway, try to move your car out of traffic as soon as possible. If you cannot move the car, get out of the vehicle and alert oncoming traffic about the hazard. This also decreases your risk of being hit again by another driver.
2.If an Injury or Death Has Occurred, Immediately Call 911
If anyone is injured or has passed away due to the accident, you need to inform law enforcement and emergency medical personnel right away. Always let law enforcement officials know that an accident has occurred when there are injuries or property damage. If you are not sure, err on the safe side and get the police on the scene for an accident report and paramedics to check everyone for injuries.
3.Document Details. Take Photos, Take Photos, & Take More Photos
Details of an accident often turn into a blur. However, one thing will remain clear: You will need every bit of evidence to defeat a combative insurance company and its army of lawyers. Virtually nothing you say after the accident will be accepted as truthful by the other driver’s insurance company.
Fortunately, everyone has an excellent way to fight back and document an accident — your cell phone camera! Cell phones have terrific cameras. Take lots (I mean lots) of photos. Take photos of all vehicles involved, the accident scene, vehicle damage, the position of vehicles, and other drivers. Consider taking a walk-around video of the entire scene.
Make sure that you collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers and witnesses. As soon as possible after the accident, write down a paragraph or two about how the accident happened. Documenting your accident with photos and witness information will dramatically increase your success against a huge insurance company determined to defeat your claim.
4.Understand Louisiana’s “Pure Comparative Negligence System”
In Louisiana, a jury will give a percentage of fault to every driver in an accident. For example, in a three-car crash, Driver #1 is found 65% at fault, Driver #2 is 35% at fault, and Driver #3 is 0% at fault.
You had better believe that the other driver’s insurance company will work very hard to place as much fault as possible on you. This is true even when the facts clearly show that you did nothing wrong. Why? Because if you are found partly responsible for the accident, the money you receive for your damages is reduced by your percentage of fault. In other words, if the insurance company can pin 60% of fault on you and you have $50,000 of damages, then your $50,000 of damages is reduced by 60% ($30,000), i.e., your $50,000 of damages is reduced to $20,000. And, the insurance company just saved itself a lot of money.
This is why you need a personal injury lawyer to fight for you right away.
5.Your Insurance Company Might Deny Your Claim
You assume your insurance company will stand up and fight for you. However, this is rarely the case. Your insurance company is not any happier to write a check for your losses than the other driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, many people must turn to a personal injury lawyer to protect them from their own insurance company.
6.Protect Yourself. Buy Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage
Nearly 1 in 5 drivers on Louisiana roads have zero auto insurance. According to Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, 40 percent of Louisiana drivers with insurance buy bare-bones, minimum insurance policies with only $15,000 of coverage. Why are low-end $15,000 policies bad? Because if another driver seriously injures you, you’re only going to get $15,000 from his insurance company. Suppose you have $40,000 of medical bills. The other driver’s insurance company only has to pay you the policy limits of $15,000. That’s it! They are done! You are now responsible for the remaining $25,000 of your medical bills. And, those bills do not go away. This is why it is so important to insure yourself with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. Your UM insurance can pay any bills still owed after the other driver’s policy is used up or if he has no auto insurance. UM is a great way to protect your savings when someone with no insurance or a minimum policy injures you. I always recommend that you buy as much UM coverage as you can afford.
7.Louisiana’s “No Pay No Play” Law Penalizes Uninsured Motorists
To discourage motorists from driving without insurance, Louisiana passed a law that prohibits uninsured drivers in an accident from recovering the first $15,000 of their bodily injury damages and $25,000 of their property damages. It is often called the “No Pay, No Play” law. Therefore, know that when you do not have auto insurance and are injured in an accident, you forfeit the first $15,000 of your bodily injury claim and the first $25,000 of your property damage claim. This is true even if the other driver is 100% at fault for the accident.
8.Health Insurance Reimbursements Can Devour Your Settlement
Most people do not know that money from your personal injury settlement will be used to reimburse your own health insurance company for your medical treatment costs. It is common for the other driver’s auto insurance company to refuse to pay for your medical treatment following an accident. This is true even when the facts clearly show the other driver is at fault. You have no choice but to rely on your health insurance to pay for your medical treatment. However, when your case settles, you must use money from your settlement to reimburse your health insurance company for all of the medical bills it paid. With so many Louisiana drivers having auto insurance policies with a max of $15,000 of coverage, it is easy for your medical treatment reimbursements to devour the majority, if not all, of your settlement. For this reason, a skilled personal injury lawyer in Louisiana will prudently oversee your medical treatment to balance your medical treatment costs against the amount of insurance coverage.
9.You Must File a Personal Injury and/or Property Damage Claim Within a Year from the Date of the Accident
This is a strict rule with harsh consequences. If you fail to file a lawsuit for bodily injuries and property damage within 1 year from the date of your accident, you will be permanently prohibited from filing suit. There are very, very few exceptions. This is why it is so important to contact a lawyer in Louisiana whose practice is 100% dedicated to personal injury and knows personal injury law. Hiring a lawyer who practices a “little of this and a little of that” may jeopardize your ability to be fully compensated. Instead, hire a lawyer dedicated solely to personal injury law. It can mean a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
10.In General, Louisiana Does Not Cap Potential Damages
When you are hurt in an accident, you may have a broad range of injuries and damages. Medical bills quickly stack up and leave you wondering whether you’ll get the compensation you need to move on with your life. Fortunately, Louisiana does not cap your damages and the monetary compensation you can receive. But, it takes a skilled lawyer with a practice dedicated solely to personal injury to ensure that you are fully compensated for your losses. Don’t hire a lawyer who practices a hodge-podge of law. Retain a lawyer dedicated to personal injury law. Because when you’re hurt, there is nothing more crucial than being fully compensated for your medical treatment, lost income, pain, suffering, and your future medical treatment.
Contact Herrin Kervin Injury Attorneys
You have too much at stake when you’re hurt in an accident. You need a personal injury lawyer who will protect you and ensure that you are fully compensated for your losses. We have extensive experience working with accident victims trying to piece their life back together. When another driver caused your injuries, and you’re coping with your post-crash life, you deserve to have someone in your corner fighting for you.
I am Louisiana personal injury attorney Gordon T. Herrin. I will meet with you to discuss your case at absolutely no cost to you. If you cannot travel to my office because of your injuries, I will travel to your home or set up a Zoom video meeting. Contact me at Herrin Kervin Injury Attorneys at 985-807-1792 to schedule your consultation.
As a personal injury firm, Herrin Kervin Injury Attorneys works on a contingency fee basis. This means you will never pay attorney fees unless we get you compensation for your injuries. Ever! Please know, there are time limits for how long after an accident you can file a claim. Do not wait to get help from a lawyer.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Gordon T. Herrin