Even if a driver is not at fault, Louisiana law may limit the amount of compensation he or she can receive from the at-fault party, depending on the situation. For this reason, anyone involved in a car crash should immediately consult an experienced car wreck lawyer – like the attorneys at the Patrick Yancey Law Firm.
Damages from Automobile Accidents
When people think about the damage an automobile accident can cause, most just focus on a few things – damage to the vehicle and injuries. The full list, however, is longer and more significant, and can include:
- Cost of repairing or replacing a vehicle
- Cost of a rental vehicle
- Diminished vehicle value
- Towing fees
- Pain and suffering, both immediate and long-term
- Medical expenses, both immediate and long-term
- Loss of, or limitations on, employment
- Loss of consortium
Not every car wreck will result in all of these damages, but costs can quickly mount for even the most minor fender-bender. In addition, drivers and passengers may not always be able to predict, on their own, the kinds of expenses they will face after a car crash. This is where consulting an attorney with experience navigating Louisiana automobile accident law can be of significant help.
What Insurance Will – and Won’t – Cover
There are many factors that affect how much compensation an automobile accident victim in Louisiana will receive from insurance – either theirs or the at-fault driver’s.
For one thing, Louisiana is a “fault” state. That means an injured driver or passenger must prove the other driver was at fault in order to receive compensation for vehicle damage and injuries.
Louisiana state law also requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage. This is called the compulsory coverage or no-pay/no-play rule. What it means in practice is that if a driver or owner of a car is uninsured at the time of an accident, he or she forfeits the first $15,000 of bodily injury damages and the first $25,000 of property damages. Even so, it may still be possible to collect damages from the other driver’s insurance carrier if they are at fault; this can occur when you have significant injuries that exceed the $15,000 of forfeited bodily injury damages and there is sufficient coverage by the defendant.
In every case, the attorney needs to assess whether you have uninsured/underinsured coverage; this is coverage for your claims if the defendant is either uninsured or underinsured (your claims exceed the value of his/her coverage).
Because of Louisiana’s automobile insurance laws, then, it is important to 1) always carry at least the minimum amount of insurance, and 2) take steps to collect evidence (i.e. photos/pictures) at the scene of an accident to prove the other driver was at fault. The second step will also be invaluable if you have to go to trial in order to seek full compensation.
What to Do at the Scene of an Accident to Help Your Case
Most people involved in an automobile accident are not thinking clearly immediately afterward. Following just a few simple steps, however, can greatly improve the chance of receiving compensation for the accident from insurance or if the case goes to court. These include:
- Taking photographs or videos at the accident scene to document vehicle damage, injuries and physical conditions, including crash debris, at the scene of the crash.
- Calling the police and filing a police report
- Remaining at the scene of the accident until allowed to leave by law enforcement
- Exchanging insurance information with the other driver
- Gathering contact information and initial statements from any witnesses
- Seeking immediate medical attention for any injuries
- Do not apologize or make statements of fault to anyone, especially the other driver, their passengers, or witnesses; an objective assessment of the facts need to be made as it pertains to fault.
It is also important to have vehicle damage assessed as soon as possible by a mechanic and/or body shop. Make sure it is someone you choose and not a repair shop chosen by the other party, their insurance company or lawyer.
A Tight Time Limit to File a Lawsuit
If you can’t recover all of your expenses and damages from insurance, you may need to file a lawsuit. In Louisiana, you have a very short time in which to do this – just one year from the date of the accident. This may seem like a long time, but it is not.
Because of this short statute of limitations, you should call the Patrick Yancey Law Firm immediately so it can provide an assessment of the crash and advise you. Please call for your free consultation and advice now.
Louisiana Automobile Accident Attorney
To best protect your legal rights after a car crash has caused you serious personal injury, it is prudent to consult an experienced attorney. Our law office is experienced and is ready to help you with your claims.
We are dedicated to helping you fight the insurance company.
If you or your loved one is the injured party of an automobile accident, the Patrick Yancey Law Firm will devote every resource necessary to bring you the compensation you deserve. Please call us today for a free case evaluation.