It happens when you least expect it—you’re taking your usual route to work like you do every day when a car hits you out of nowhere. Suddenly, you are left with serious injuries and medical bills with your name on them. How do you handle this situation and get compensated for your losses?
Getting into an accident is never something that you anticipate, but knowing what to do after the fact and understanding how the claims process works can help you protect your rights to compensation. Remember, it’s better to be prepared and not need this information than to be involved in a car collision and be left unsure of what to do.
Here are seven things that you should know.
1. You May Be Required to Report the Accident to Police.
When a serious auto accident occurs, police officers and medical personnel will typically be dispatched to the scene immediately. But not all accidents are serious, and many drivers are unsure of how to handle minor car crashes.
According to Louisiana Revised Statutes §398, car accidents must be reported to the local police department immediately if the crash results in one of the following:
- More than $500 in property damage
Additionally, Louisiana law stipulates that you must also report the crash Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) within a 24-hour period. While it may be inconvenient, these reports can become invaluable pieces of evidence for your claim later on.
2. You Should Always Get Medical Treatment, Even If You Feel Uninjured.
If medical responders arrive on the scene, always allow them to treat your injuries and take you to the hospital for further evaluation and diagnosis. If the car accident is minor and medical personnel do not show up, drive yourself or have someone else drive you to the nearest hospital.
Even if you feel uninjured after the fact, remember that some injuries do not show symptoms immediately. If you wait an extended period of time to get checked out by a doctor, the insurance company may deny your claim by stating there is insufficient evidence linking your injuries to the accident.
3. Louisiana Is a “Pure Comparative Negligence” State.
If you believe that you were partially liable for a car collision, you may still be able to recover compensation due to Louisiana’s pure comparative negligence insurance system. Under this rule, a person who was partially responsible for an accident will be assigned a percentage of fault and have their award amount reduced by that percentage.
For instance, if you were hit by a driver who ran a red light but you were found to have been speeding, you may be assigned 5% of the fault. If your total award amount is $100,000, then it will be reduced by $5,000 and you will actually receive $95,000.
4. Insurance Companies Are Looking Out for Themselves.
This may be hard to accept, but it’s important to know: insurance companies are only looking out for themselves. When you file a claim, the insurance company is legally obligated to act in good faith—in other words, they are required to pay you a fair settlement.
However, these for-profit companies make money by either unfairly denying or devaluing claims, oftentimes at the expense of injury victims. With this in mind, you should not speak with an insurance adjuster without first speaking with a car accident attorney who can ensure you don’t say anything that could be used against you later on.
5. Uninsured Drivers Are Bound by Louisiana’s “No Pay, No Play” Law.
In Louisiana, drivers are required to have minimum liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Liability coverage can be utilized to cover the costs if you cause an accident and another person sustains damages.
Under Louisiana’s No Pay, No Play law, which was passed back in 2011, victims of another driver’s negligence are prevented from collecting the first $15,000 of bodily injury damages and $25,000 in property damage if they are uninsured at the time at the accident. This is to encourage drivers to always have the required liability coverage.
6. The Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims Is One Year.
Taking immediate action is crucial after a car accident because you only have a certain period of time to file a claim. All states, including Louisiana, have a “statute of limitations”—or time limit—that dictates how long injury victims have to file a claim.
Those in Louisiana have one year from the date of the accident to take such action. A car accident attorney can help ensure that you meet all required deadlines and that evidence is collected in a timely manner to maximize your chances of obtaining a successful outcome.
7. Most Car Accident Attorneys Require No Upfront Fees.
Dealing with medical expenses after an accident can become even more burdensome when you’re put out of work. In these situations, many car accident victims are unaware that they can still, in fact, hire a qualified attorney to represent them.
This is because most personal injury attorneys, including the ones at Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, work on contingency fee plans. With this type of agreement, we don’t require any upfront fees and only collect fees if and when we help our clients win compensation. No matter what your financial situation, you can always count on us to advocate for your legal rights.
We Are Here to Put You First
When you’re injured in a car crash, the last thing you want to do is worry about the claims process and negotiate with an insurance company that is only worried about protecting profits. Please remember that you don’t have to go through it alone.
At Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, our team is here to take the burden off of your shoulders so you can focus on recovering the right way. We have built our reputation on providing the best service possible for our clients and getting results. While no law firm can guarantee outcomes, you have our word that we will do everything in our power to help you obtain maximum compensation.