After you have been in a car accident, you do not have to accept the settlement amount that is offered to you by the insurance company. In fact, it is important to first consult with an experienced Louisiana car accident attorney before you ever accept a settlement. In some cases, you may need to take your case to court.
The lawyers of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help you to determine whether filing a car accident lawsuit makes sense for you. As you consider making this decision, it will be important to consider the following factors.
WHAT IS THE AVAILABLE INSURANCE COVERAGE?
In Louisiana, all drivers are required to carry liability auto insurance or show proof of financial responsibility. Car insurance minimums that drivers are required to carry, according to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, are:
- $15,000 in bodily injury coverage per person
- $30,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 in property damage coverage.
These insurance types are meant to pay for damages that a driver causes. So, when you are in a crash that another driver has caused, this will be the first insurance policy that you turn to when seeking a recovery.
The amount of insurance that the at-fault driver has will, in this sense, determine whether you should accept a settlement offer or go to court. If the offer represents the liability policy limits, it may weigh towards accepting the settlement.
You may be covered under other types of insurance in Louisiana. For example, uninsured motorist (UIM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is designed to pay you compensation when the other driver is not insured or lacks insurance to pay for all of your losses. Medical payments coverage is also designed to pay for your injuries in an accident – regardless of who was at fault.
HAS FAULT BEEN ADMITTED OR DENIED?
A dispute concerning who was at fault for your car accident may make it necessary to file a lawsuit. In some cases, fault is clear. But in other cases, fault is hotly contested.
It is possible that an insurance company will refuse to make a settlement offer because it denies its insured driver caused an accident. Another situation may arise when an insurance company puts blame on you and, as a result, makes a settlement offer that is unreasonably low.
So, if an insurance company continues to assign fault to you for the accident, filing a lawsuit may help to resolve the issue.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU RECOVER IN DAMAGES?
A car accident lawsuit takes time, energy and money. For this reason, suing over a small amount of money – a few hundred dollars, for instance – may not be worth it. However, when your claim totals thousands of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, filing a lawsuit may be more appropriate.
If you are not sure how much your claim is worth, an attorney can help you to determine an estimate. Things to consider when deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit include:
- Lost wages related to your accident
- Property damage costs
- Medical bills and expenses
- Loss of earning ability
- Disfigurement or disability
- Extent of your pain and suffering.
If you have suffered a serious injury where, as a result, your life has changed dramatically, filing a lawsuit may be in your best interest.
HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT TO FILE A LAWSUIT?
In Louisiana, the state imposes a short statute of limitations, or time limit, for filing a car accident lawsuit. Under Louisiana Civil Code Section 3492, you have only one year after an accident to file a civil action. This is also true for filing a lawsuit for property damage.
If you do not act within the one-year time frame, you will be barred from filing a claim and recovering damages.
For this reason, acting very quickly after a car accident occurs is important. The longer you wait, the closer you get to approaching the deadline and risking the inability to recover compensation.
ALWAYS CONSULT WITH AN EXPERIENCED CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
When you are trying to determine whether you should pursue a car accident lawsuit, you should always consult with an experienced car accident attorney first. In some cases, a lawsuit might not be necessary, but the help of a car accident attorney is still vital.
For example, your car accident attorney can help to gather evidence, demonstrate the negligence of the other driver and prove damages. A car accident attorney can also help you to negotiate a fair settlement amount out of court. In the event that a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney can help you to pursue litigation.
If you have been in a car accident in Louisiana, do not leave your financial recovery to chance. Rather than waiting around to figure out what the insurance company will do and how much money it will offer you, take action to begin the process of seeking your maximum amount of damages.
To schedule your free consultation with the experienced Louisiana car accident attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, contact us online now. You can also call our offices to speak with someone immediately.