You’re leaving your office in New Orleans, Louisiana and heading home. The amount of traffic is high yet bearable. You think you can be there in thirty minutes. While waiting for the light to change, another vehicle unexpectedly crashes into you.
The other motorist was obviously distracted. Maybe he didn’t give himself enough time to halt before he got to the light. Maybe he was sending a text message while behind the wheel. He may have been tinkering with the radio. Whatever it is, nothing can change the unfortunate fact that an automobile accident has occurred in Louisiana. So, how do you proceed?
In the aftermath of an accident, taking care of yourself is always the top concern.
To have an emergency medical service come and pick up anyone who has been hurt, dial 911. It’s possible for even “minor” injuries sustained at the scene to develop into something more serious over time. When an injury occurs, medical personnel should rush to the scene immediately. Do not attempt to move a person who is unconscious or who is having severe neck or back pain; doing so might cause irreparable harm.
If the damage to the automobile is minimal and it is still drivable, you should drive it to a safe location away from traffic. Everyone in the area, including incoming vehicles, will be safer if you do this. Stay where you are and activate your hazard lights.
To avoid endangering yourself or others, you shouldn’t drive the car if doing so would be dangerous. If that’s the case, get far away from the wreckage. It’s unsafe to be near cars in poor working order.
If possible for you (or a passenger), try to get as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. You should trade information with the other drivers involved in the accident. To name a few examples:
Do not confess blame when acquiring this material; doing so might lead to liability issues in the future. Furthermore, it’s possible that you have no idea who or what caused the problem. You could have swerved into oncoming traffic because your brakes failed or slid.
In addition, interview potential witnesses and collect their contact details. Possessing this information gives you the upper hand, as it will allow your lawyer to sift through the evidence and determine which pieces will be most helpful. Over-collect evidence for the time being.
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It is crucial to understand how applicable Louisiana laws might affect you if you have just been involved in a motor vehicle accident and are beginning to negotiate how you will receive compensation for your injuries, medical costs, lost earnings, and property damages.
1. If your car is still functional, you must take it off the road immediately. To ensure the safety of other motorists and those engaged in the accident, Louisiana law mandates that drivers pull their vehicles to the side of the road and onto the next soft shoulder if they are involved in a car crash.
2. In accordance with Louisiana law, you have to report the incident to the police. Louisiana law mandates that drivers notify the police anytime there are injuries, fatalities, or property losses in excess of $500 after a car collision.
In addition, most insurance contracts stipulate that you must notify the authorities following a car crash. Not only is it necessary, but it is also helpful to your case. The responding police officer will inspect the site, interview witnesses, and collect insurance and personal information from all parties involved.
3. Document the incident using photographs and notes. You must record as many specifics as you can regarding the automobile accident, the other driver(s), and the scene. If you have a smartphone, as many people do, use it to take pictures of the accident scene, including your car, the other car, any paint from other cars that may be on your car, the street, the surrounding area, the traffic signs and lights, any injuries you or your passengers may have sustained, and anything else that may be important.
Look for anybody who may have seen what happened and try to get in touch with them. Inquire of them what they observed and if they would be prepared to share their details. Your case will benefit greatly from the testimony of an eyewitness, especially if you were struck from behind or otherwise prevented from seeing the circumstances leading up to the collision.
In addition to documenting the other driver’s actions before, during, and after the accident, your own reactions, and any acute symptoms or injuries you sustained, it is crucial to record your own recollections of the incident as well.
You should get checked out by a doctor if you’ve been hurt, and you should keep track of any symptoms you’re experiencing or any new ones that crop up after the accident. See a doctor so your injuries may be properly identified, treated, and documented.
4. The “pure comparative negligence” system is used in Louisiana. In the state of Louisiana, a “pure comparative negligence” test is used to establish who is at blame in a car crash and who is liable for damages. What this implies is that every motorist at fault in an accident must pay for their share of the damages.
If you were partially responsible for an accident that left you wounded or with property damage in Louisiana, you can still file a claim for damages, but the amount you receive in compensation will be reduced in proportion to the degree to which you contributed to or caused the event.
If you were 30% at blame for an accident that caused $100,000 in damages, and the court rules that the defendant was 70% accountable, the defendant will be responsible for paying you $70,000 in damages.
The defendant might provide the pure comparative negligence standard as a defense argument, which is used to determine the amount of compensation to be paid for injuries and other losses. This is especially significant in cases when there are several at-fault parties or cars involved.
5. Your claim may first be rejected. Insurance companies sometimes make lowball settlement offers or outright refuse claims in the beginning. Insurance providers often try to avoid paying out claims by arguing that their policyholder wasn’t at fault for the accident, that you weren’t hurt in the accident, that your injuries aren’t as severe as you say they are, that they’re the result of a preexisting condition, that they happened after the accident, or that you caused them.
The plaintiff in a lawsuit for injuries or property damage caused by a car crash has the burden of proving that the defendant was negligent or reckless in their driving, that this failure to drive reasonably under the circumstances was the actual and proximate cause of the crash, and that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
The amount of money you’re awarded for damages may be nullified or reduced based on how much fault you share for the accident.
6. Insurance against drivers who have no or minimal financial resources to pay for damages is mandatory in Louisiana. If you or a loved one are injured or have property damaged by a driver whose insurance does not cover the full amount of your losses, you may be able to collect compensation via your uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) policy.
Legally, every driver in Louisiana must carry vehicle insurance, and that policy must contain uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist protection. Uninsured motorist coverage limits should be the same as liability coverage limits, but policyholders can choose to have either lower bodily injury coverage (with a minimum of $15,000) or economic only protection (which covers only financial losses like car repairs, lost wages, and medical bills) instead. An insured in Louisiana must fill out a state-issued document that complies with stringent regulations in order to choose a smaller sum or opt for solely economic damages.
7. In Louisiana, “No Pay, No Play” means drivers without insurance cannot claim for damages. Louisiana’s “No Pay, No Play” rule prohibits uninsured motorists from recouping certain damages when they are the victim of another motorist’s carelessness as a matter of public policy to discourage persons from driving without vehicle insurance. The first $15,000 in physical injury damages and the first $25,000 in property damage are not recoverable against an uninsured driver in Louisiana.
Claims brought by non-owner passengers involved in the accident, vehicles struck while lawfully parked, out-of-state drivers whose state did not require liability insurance at the time of the accident, and situations in which the other driver was driving under the influence, fled the scene of the accident, was facilitating the commission of a felony at the time of the accident, or intentionally caused the accident are all excluded from the “No Pay, No Play” law.
8. Louisiana is a “direct action” state. In the majority of jurisdictions, the at-fault driver or defendant in a car accident case will be sued directly, rather than via their liability insurer, if the plaintiff seeks compensation for injuries or property damage. If the policy was issued or delivered in Louisiana, or if the accident or damage happened in Louisiana, and if the policy covers the risk, then the plaintiff can file a direct action against the insurance company of the defendant.
If the culpable party cannot be located, service of process cannot be accomplished, or if the accident involved minors, their parents, or spouses, the legislation authorizes the plaintiff to file a claim directly against the insurance.
9. In Louisiana, you only have a year from the date of your injury or damage to bring a claim for compensation. After a car crash, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim for damages. To file a lawsuit in Louisiana to seek compensation for damages following an accident, you have one year from the date of the accident, as per the state’s statute of limitations. After the deadline for filing a claim has passed, the defendant might ask the court to throw out your case.
10. In the event of an automobile accident in Louisiana, your possible compensation for damages is not limited in any way. Louisiana law does not, in general, restrict a plaintiff’s recovery as it relates to motor vehicle accidents, unlike the laws of many other states. Claims filed in small claims court, however, are an exception and are limited to a maximum of $3,000.
The negligent party’s insurance company will typically foot the bill up to the policy’s maximum. Beyond that point, the injured party’s insurance, assuming the situation meets the policy’s standards, may cover an extra amount under an underinsured motorist clause. Recovering any residual losses may require a lawsuit being filed against the negligent party. It’s important to remember that the plaintiff’s share of the blame for the accident’s severity will lower the amount of money she gets back from the defendant.
If you’ve been hurt in a car crash in Louisiana, it’s in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney. To protect their bottom lines, insurance firms would naturally try to pay you as little as possible in the event of an accident. A seasoned personal injury attorney in Louisiana will be aware of insurance company defense strategies and the relevant laws from having handled innumerable cases involving motor vehicle accidents.
Contact our law office immediately for a free evaluation of your case if you or a loved one has been hurt or their property has been damaged as a result of another driver’s carelessness.
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