Car Accident FAQs

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Sometimes, accident victims need simple answers to common questions. Here, the lawyers at the NBA Law Firm share their thoughts on many relevant accident topics to help you understand and protect your rights in Louisiana. These informative answers can help you learn more about what to expect and how best to move forward after an accident. Don’t see your question here? Fill out our online contact form to hear back from a member of our team who can address your unique needs.

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  • After signing a release of claims, I now need more money. Can I get it?

    When you're injured in a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, you may be approached by the insurance company with a settlement offer a few weeks after the incident. Making the decision to sign this release of claims is not one that should be taken lightly. Once you've accepted the offer, you're not allowed to request more money if your accident-related expenses are higher than anticipated.

    About the Release of Claims

    A release of claims is a form that you must sign to formally accept a settlement offer compensating you for accident-related injuries. It releases the responsible party from any future liability for your injuries.

    It's never a good idea to sign a release of claims early in the process. Once you've signed away your right to future litigation, you'll be left with no options for future recourse if you realize you've made a mistake.

    The Severity of Car Accident Injuries Can Be Hard to Predict

    The primary reason you shouldn't sign a release of claims soon after an accident is that injuries that initially seems to be quite minor may very well turn out to be more serious than you expected.

    For example, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that occurs after a blow to the head. Most people with a concussion make a full recovery, but a small number end up with a complex disorder known as post-concussion syndrome that causes ongoing issues with headaches, dizziness, and cognitive difficulties. This can cause you to have extended absences from work or to have difficulty with daily tasks such as driving and caring for your children.

    Whiplash is another common car accident injury that can create unexpected complications. You may recover fully, or you may experience chronic pain for several months or even years. You may require physical therapy and ongoing prescription medications, in addition to added time away from work.

    Even if you feel fine and expect to soon return to your daily routine, it's not advisable to accept a settlement offer until your care providers are positive you've reached what's known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means you've either recovered fully or have reached the point where your condition is stable and doctors can reasonably predict the scope of any future treatment that will be required.

    Pain and Suffering Damages Are Often Undervalued

    After an auto accident, it's fairly easy to calculate your lost wages and medical bills. However, a personal injury claim also includes compensation for pain and suffering. This category of non-economic damages refers to both the physical pain of your injuries as well as the emotional trauma of being involved in the accident.

    Pain and suffering damages are generally calculated using a multiplier of your medical expenses, based on the severity of your injury. In many cases, this compensation can amount to thousands of dollars. If you're offered a settlement soon after the accident, it's a safe bet that the insurance company is trying to save money by offering less than what your injuries are truly worth. 

    Legal Representation Is More Affordable Than You Think

    Another common reason why people sign a release of claims soon after an accident is that they assume they can't afford a lawyer to negotiate a higher settlement. However, this simply isn't true.

    Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they receive a percentage of your settlement in exchange for their services. There is no upfront cost for legal representation, which means you won't be forced to pay hefty legal bills when you're already struggling to make ends meet while recovering from your injuries. 

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to helping Louisiana residents receive fair and timely personal injury settlements.

     

  • What is a MIST case?

    If you've heard your personal injury claim referred to as a MIST case, you may be wondering what this term means and how it affects your right to compensation. MIST is an acronym for Minor Impact Soft Tissue. This terminology was first adopted in the 1990s, when auto insurers began to claim that vehicle occupants can't sustain serious or permanent injuries from low speed collisions with minimal property damage. There is little scientific basis for this statement, but the expression still remains. Personal injury MIST cases

    About MIST Cases

    Any type of car accident involving soft tissue injuries instead of broken bones is a MIST case, although the majority of MIST cases are car accidents with less than $1,500 in property damage. The four soft tissue injuries commonly involved in a MIST accident are whiplash, sprains, strains, and contusions.

    • Whiplash. Also referred to as a cervical strain or sprain, whiplash is caused by the violent jerking of your neck back and forth due to the impact of the car accident—similar to how you would crack a whip. This condition can cause headaches, dizziness, sleep disturbances, memory or concentration issues, and chronic pain in the back and neck.
    • Sprain. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament in one of the body's joints such as the arm, wrist, knee, or ankle. Sprains can cause pain and swelling that make it difficult to complete daily activities. Treatment usually involves a brace or splint to immobilize the impacted area while it heals. Physical therapy or corrective surgery may be needed in more serious cases.
    • Strains. Strains occur when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. When someone is involved in an accident, the back is the most common location for a strain. Treatment is similar to a sprain.
    • Contusions. Contusions are injuries that occur when capillaries under the skin are ruptured. The area is discolored and painful. Most contusions heal over time, but it's possible for muscle fibers and connective tissue under the skin to be permanently damaged in more severe cases.

    Compensation Available in a MIST Case

    Although MIST cases don't involve broken bones, they can still be serious. A personal injury claim in a MIST case can seek compensation for:

    • Medical expenses, including emergency room care, follow-up care, and any prescription pain medication
    • Loss of wages for time taken off work during the recovery period
    • Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and the emotional trauma of the car accident

    You can still seek compensation if you were partially at fault for the accident, but your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.

    Proving Your Case

    Since soft tissue injuries result in less obvious symptoms than broken bones, patients are often accused of faking or exaggerating their injuries. To prove a MIST case, you need copies of your medical records and testimony from your healthcare provider to verify the extent of your injuries. Photos of the accident scene and a journal detailing your symptoms throughout the recovery process may also be helpful in building a strong case.

    With a MIST case, it's very important that you follow your healthcare provider's treatment recommendations precisely. Skipping appointments or returning to work earlier than your doctor recommends can be interpreted as an indication that your injuries aren't as serious as you claim.

    Seeking Legal Representation

    Although MIST cases are considered smaller personal injury claims, that doesn't mean you should forgo legal representation. In a MIST case, the insurance company is often eager to save money by claiming the victim is exaggerating the seriousness of the injury. Without an attorney to represent your interests, you risk having your claim denied or being offered a settlement that's less than what you deserve.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • What happens if I’m injured while using a car sharing or ride sharing service?

    Car sharing and ride sharing services offer many advantages for those who don't have a valid license, don't enjoy driving, or simply wish to avoid the expense of car ownership. However, these services can sometimes create liability questions when an accident occurs.

    Types of AccidentsRide sharing accidents

    There are four main types of car sharing or ride sharing service accidents:

    • You're injured while riding as a passenger in a car being driven by a ride sharing or car sharing contractor.
    • You’re hit by a driver carrying passengers for a ride sharing or car sharing service.
    • You're hit by a driver who isn't currently carrying passengers but is on his way to pick up a fare for a car sharing or ride sharing service.
    • You're injured as a driver for a ride sharing or car sharing service while carrying passengers, picking up passengers, or dropping off passengers.  

    In each scenario, the driver for the car sharing or ride sharing service might not be at fault, could solely be at fault, or could be partially at fault. Determining fault is the first step in assigning liability for injuries.

    Company Liability

    Car sharing and ride sharing services use drivers who are considered independent contractors. This means they set their own work hours and don't have access to traditional employee benefits.

    Normally, independent contractors aren't covered by a company insurance policy. However, the major car sharing and ride sharing services have opted to voluntarily carry insurance policies that cover their contractors.

    Uber carries a widely publicized $1 million liability policy for drivers who have accepted a trip. They also have a $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist policy and contingent collision and comprehensive coverage.

    Lyft drivers are also covered by a four-part insurance policy if they're actively using the app. Coverage includes contingent liability coverage while a driver is waiting for a ride request, primary automotive liability, contingent collision and comprehensive coverage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Specifics vary according to the driver’s location, but general limits are similar to what Uber carries.

    Driver Liability

    It’s important to keep in mind that car sharing and ride sharing companies only offer coverage when a driver is actively using their app. If that driver is not logged in and shown as being available for a ride or currently transporting a passenger, the only coverage available is his own personal insurance. 

    Types of Compensation

    There are several different types of compensation that can be obtained from a personal injury claim, including:

    • Past medical expenses, emergency care, surgical care, follow-up care, rehabilitation, and prescription medications
    • Future medical expenses, if you've been injured to the extent you'll require ongoing treatment
    • Loss of wages, if you were unable to work during the recovery period
    • Loss of earning potential, if you're considered permanently disabled and unable to work or working in a lower paying occupation
    • Pain and suffering, including physical pain as well as the emotional trauma of the accident

    In a fatal accident, the deceased person's family members can file a wrongful death claim. This is a type of personal injury suit that includes compensation for funeral and burial costs, as well as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    Potential Complications

    Most personal auto insurance policies only cover passengers when the driver is operating his vehicle for personal use. Picking up fares to earn money is specifically prohibited. Therefore, you may have difficulty getting your expenses reimbursed if you're injured while the driver isn't correctly logged into the car sharing or ride sharing app.

    To protect your interests and streamline the process of obtaining a personal injury settlement, hiring a skilled attorney is a must. Since personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, there is no upfront cost associated with securing quality legal representation. This leaves you free to focus on your recovery while your attorney advocates for your needs.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • When is someone other than the driver liable for accident injuries?

    Determining financial responsibility for injuries resulting from an auto accident is normally a fairly straightforward process. Typically, one driver or both can be considered at fault. However, it may be possible for someone other than the driver to be responsible for accident-related expenses.  Liability for a car accident

    Employer Liability

    If you're hit by a pizza delivery driver, a taxi cab, or a salesperson using a company car to meet clients, his employer may be liable for your injuries. Under the premise of “vicarious liability” or “imputed negligence,” employers can be held responsible for the negligent conduct of their employees during work hours.

    When an accident is caused by someone driving his own vehicle on business for his employer, the driver's auto insurance provides the primary coverage. If the damages exceed the policy limits, the employer's business auto policy can provide additional coverage if it has been endorsed to include “employees as additional insured.”

    Liability for Accidents Caused by Teen Drivers

    Teen drivers cause a disproportionately high number of accidents due to their general inexperience behind the wheel. If a driver is under age 18 and still living at home, his parents can be held liable for the damages that result. If a vehicle owner allowed someone under age 17—such as a student with a learner's permit—to drive a vehicle on a public road or highway, he can be held jointly liable for damages resulting from the minor's negligence.

    Liability for Accidents Caused by Student Drivers

    Accidents involving someone who is in a driver's education program can present unique liability issues. If the instructor is negligent, he can be held liable for the student's actions. The driving school itself can also be held responsible if it allowed the student to drive a poorly maintained vehicle or hired an unqualified instructor.

    Private driving schools generally carry insurance policies covering their vehicles, instructors, and any students. Insurance coverage for driver's education programs run by public schools is more complicated, since government agencies have special liability protections.

    Negligent Entrustment

    If the at-fault driver borrowed the vehicle he was driving at the time of the accident, the vehicle's owner can be held liable under negligent entrustment. This means, the owner knew or should have known that the driver wasn't fit to drive and is, therefore, responsible for the resulting damages. Examples of negligent entrustment include:

    • Allowing an intoxicated or otherwise impaired driver to get behind the wheel
    • Letting an unlicensed driver operate the vehicle
    • Lending a car to someone who is not supposed to drive due to a medical condition
    • Allowing an elderly person suffering from dementia to drive
    • Letting a driver use your vehicle despite his history of reckless driving

    Liability for Accidents Caused by Vehicle Defects

    If an accident is caused by a defective vehicle component such as faulty brakes or a power steering malfunction, the vehicle manufacturer may be liable for your injuries. Mechanics can be held liable in cases where the vehicle defect is the result of negligent repairs.

    Expenses Covered Under a Personal Injury Claim

    Louisiana law allows drivers to seek reimbursement for the following types of damages in a personal injury claim:

    • Previous accident-related medical care such as emergency room visits, surgery, rehabilitation, and prescription medications
    • Future medical care, if the accident has left you permanently disabled
    • Loss of wages while you were recovering and unable to work
    • Loss of future earning potential, if you're no longer able to work or employed in a lower paying profession due to your injuries
    • Pain and suffering

    If you're considered partially at fault for the accident, you can still collect compensation for your injuries. However, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • How do subrogation rights affect my personal injury claim?

    When you're pursuing a personal injury claim following a car accident, you're likely to encounter several unfamiliar terms. One of these is subrogation. When dealing with an auto accident, this legal process allows an insurance company to make a claim against a third party, so that it can recover benefits it paid to the insured party. The intent is to obligate the company or the person who was responsible for the accident to reimburse the insurance company that paid out benefits to the party who had a valid personal injury claim after the wreck.  Subrogation

    Defining Subrogation

    Subrogation is defined as the substitution of one person or group by another in reference to an insurance claim or debt. Essentially, it means one person or party stands in the place of another while accompanied by the transfer of any associated rights and duties. In a personal injury case, subrogation can apply to both car insurance and health insurance benefits.

    If you've been involved in a car accident, subrogation issues can arise if you use your own insurance to pay for the care you need while fault for the accident is still being determined. Although your insurer will approve the initial claim, the company will want to be reimbursed for the expense when you collect damages from the insurance company of the at-fault driver.

    Your own insurance company is often referred to as the collateral source when discussing subrogation rights.

    How It Works

    Whenever your doctor lists the medical care you've received resulting from an accident, your insurance company will send you a form asking for additional information. This form is used to determine if it's possible someone else may be financially responsible for your care.

    After processing the form, your insurer is legally required to notify you if it intends to pursue a subrogation interest. Most insurance policies require you to fully cooperate with any subrogation attempts. This means you're forbidden from signing waivers or agreements absolving the other driver of financial responsibility for your injuries if he is found to be at fault for the accident.

    Keep in mind that these efforts will include recovering the cost of any applicable deductible you paid. If subrogation is successful, you'll receive either a full or partial refund.

    Double Recovery

    Subrogation is based on the concept that injured people should not be allowed to profit from their injuries. They are allowed to recover their actual damages, but a double recovery is prohibited.

    For example, if you use your own health insurance to pay for $15,000 in accident-related medical care, you're not allowed to collect another $15,000 from the at-fault driver's insurance company and spend that money on whatever you wish. The payment goes to your own health insurance provider to reimburse them for the claim that has already been paid.

    Preventing double recovery carries the collective benefit of lowering insurance rates for everyone by allowing insurers to be reimbursed for payments that were the legal responsibility of another party.

    Subrogation and State Assistance Benefits

    If your health insurance is provided through a government-sponsored program such as Medicare or Medicaid, the concept of subrogation still applies. Government programs will pursue their subrogation rights and prevent you from a double recovery of accident-related expenses.

    Understanding How Subrogation Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

    Keeping careful track of your accident-related expenses and the source of any payments made on your behalf can offer some insight into possible subrogation interests in your case. However, understanding subrogation interests can be complicated. To avoid costly mistakes, it's best to seek assistance from an attorney with experience in personal injury law and the complications that subrogation issues can present when negotiating a fair settlement for your injuries.

    If you're offered a settlement from the at-fault driver's insurance company, some insurers may try to add a waiver of subrogation clause that prohibits your own insurance company from seeking reimbursement for previously paid claims. This might result in your own insurance company refusing to pay your claim, creating an unfair burden for you. To protect yourself, it's best to have your attorney review any document before you sign it.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Who pays for damages when the driver doesn’t own the car?

    It’s common for a person to allow a friend or family member to use his car, so many people drive a vehicle they don’t own. If a driver who doesn’t own the car is involved in an accident, it can be confusing to determine whose insurance company is responsible for covering the damages. If you're in an accident caused by someone driving a borrowed vehicle, it’s important to understand how to file a claim for liability.

    Filing a Claim Through the Driver's Policy

    If the driver has his own insurance policy, this is often the best course of action for seeking reimbursement for your accident-related expenses. Liability coverage generally follows the driver regardless of what vehicle he or she is operating. However, this coverage only extends to occasional use of another person's vehicle. For example, if you're hit by a driver who was borrowing a friend's car for the day because his was in the shop, you should be able to file a claim with the driver's policy.

    Filing a Claim Through the Vehicle Owner's Policy

    If the driver doesn't own his own vehicle, you'll need to file through the owner's policy. A car insurance policy typically covers the driver, his or her spouse, and any teen children old enough to drive. However, policyholders have the option of listing other insured drivers on the policy if they choose to do so. For example, someone might choose to list a babysitter as an insured driver if she would regularly be using the car to pick up the child from school. Additionally, roommates often list each other as insured drivers.

    If the driver is listed on the policy, the claim should be processed smoothly. Unfortunately, complications can result if the driver isn't listed on the policy. Many insurance companies offer coverage for accidents caused by a driver who is not listed on the policy, as long as he is fully licensed and has permission to be using the vehicle. However, some policies restrict the benefits available in this case.

    Filing a Claim Through Your Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage

    Underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is not required under Louisiana law, but many drivers do opt to include this coverage in their policy. If you discover that the driver of the vehicle has no insurance and is excluded from coverage under the owner's policy, filing a claim under your own UM coverage would be an option to consider. This coverage can also be utilized if the available insurance benefits won't cover your damages.

    Special Rules for Accidents Involving Rental Cars

    When an auto accident involves someone driving a rental car, the rules are a little different. You can seek reimbursement for damages through the driver's liability coverage and/or any additional rental car insurance. However, you can't file a claim against the rental car company directly. Federal law expressly protects rental car services from financial liability relating to accidents caused by customers.

    Protecting Your Rights

    After the accident, your first priority should be attending to your injuries. Once you've received the necessary medical care, you should ask for the following information to help process your claim:

    • The driver's name and contact information
    • The driver's insurance information, if he has car insurance
    • The name and contact information for the vehicle's owner
    • The owner's insurance information

    Since accidents involving vehicles driven by someone other than the registered owner can involve complex liability issues, retaining the services of an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to protect your rights. Your attorney can gather the necessary information to determine liability and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. This leaves you free to focus on recovering from your injuries and moving forward with your life.

    If you believe you were partially at fault for the accident, your attorney can help negotiate a lower percentage of fault. Louisiana law allows partially at-fault drivers to receive compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, their settlement is reduced by their percentage of fault. Since there is no set formula for determining fault, having someone to advocate for your interests can often result in thousands of dollars in additional compensation.

    Louisiana has a one year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. If you don't file your claim within this time, you lose your right to compensation regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accident.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • What are pain and suffering damages?

    When you receive a personal injury settlement for your auto accident injuries, there are three main areas of reimbursement: medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While medical bills and lost wages are fairly easy to calculate, pain and suffering damages are a bit more complicated. Pain and suffering damages

    What Does Pain and Suffering Involve?

    Pain and suffering compensation is intended to provide financial reimbursement for the impact an accident has on your life. This includes:

    • The physical pain associated with your injuries
    • Accident-related anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
    • The inconvenience of being injured and unable to engage in your daily activities
    • The strain your recovery places on relationships with loved ones such as your spouse and children

    How Are Pain and Suffering Damages Calculated?

    Obviously, pain and suffering is a subjective concept. To attempt to fairly compensate injured victims, cases will generally use either a multiplier method or a daily rate method.

    When evaluating pain and suffering under the multiplier method, begin by looking at your medical bills. The total cost of your treatment, including surgery, follow-up care, medications, and any necessary physical therapy, can be multiplied by a number between one and five. Permanent and severe injuries such as the loss of a limb or the loss of your eyesight receive the highest multipliers. Temporary injuries that are expected to heal fully such as a broken leg receive lower multipliers.

    When evaluating pain and suffering under the daily rate method, you receive a set amount for each day that you're injured. The daily rate is usually based on what you'd earn if you were able to work a full day. For example, if you normally earned $200 per day at your job and were unable to work for four months (120 days), you might argue in favor of $24,000 in pain and suffering compensation.

    If you're not sure which method is best to use for your case, you can estimate your pain and suffering award using both the multiplier and daily rate approach and compare the results. Your attorney can also help you determine what is reasonable based on cases with injuries that were similar to yours.

    Does Louisiana Have Caps on Pain and Suffering Awards?

    Pain and suffering awards are classified as non-economic damages. As such, many states have strict limits on how much a plaintiff can receive. However, Louisiana does not cap pain and suffering damages in personal injury cases involving car accidents. There is only a cap for medical malpractice cases, which is currently set at $500,000.

    What Happens If You're Partially at Fault for the Accident?

    In many cases, both drivers in an accident are found partially liable. Louisiana law allows drivers who are partially at fault for an accident to still collect reimbursement for their damages. Their settlements are simply reduced by the assigned percentage of fault.

    For example, consider an accident in which one driver was speeding and the other ran a red light. The speeding driver might be found 60 percent at fault, and the driver who ran a red light might be found 40 percent at fault. If the driver who ran a red light has $20,000 in damages, he's only eligible to collect 60 percent of that amount or $12,000—the original $20,000 minus his 40 percent of assigned fault.

    How Can an Attorney Help?

    Pain and suffering awards are open to negotiation, which is why it's crucial to have a skilled personal injury attorney working on your behalf. The insurance company will want to settle the case for the lowest possible amount, so you'll receive less than you deserve unless you have an advocate in your corner.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Who is liable for driver’s ed accidents?

    Accidents involving student drivers are relatively rare but can create special liability issues when you're seeking reimbursement for damages. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to name three different parties in a car accident.

    Types of Accidents Involving Student Drivers

    Accidents with driver's ed students

    Accidents involving student drivers can involve three different types of injured parties:

    • Injuries to other drivers or passengers in their vehicles. Since the vehicles used in driver's education classes are clearly marked, most drivers will be extra cautious when encountering a student driver on the road. However, accidents can still occur if a student driver makes an error such as pulling out in front of another vehicle, braking unexpectedly, swerving, or turning the wrong way down a one-way road.
    • Injuries to pedestrians or cyclists. There have been multiple cases of student drivers causing injuries to pedestrians or cyclists, since driver’s education classes often begin training students on residential streets.
    • Injuries to people in the student driver's vehicle. Many driving schools will allow several students to ride as passengers in the same vehicle, so they can take turns driving and observing how their peers handle different situations on the road. Driver's education instructors are also at risk of injury in an accident.

    Student Driver Liability

    Although student drivers aren't licensed, they're still supposed to follow the basic rules of the road. A driver who is speeding or running a stop sign can be held responsible for injuries that result, even if he only has a learner's permit.

    Evidence of student driver liability is most easily gathered immediately after the accident. Witness testimony, photographs of the accident scene, and reports from law enforcement can all be helpful in establishing fault and financial responsibility for your injuries.

    Instructor Liability

    Driver's ed instructors have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent accidents. The purpose of a driver's ed program is to allow students to develop their skills alongside an experienced driver who can provide instruction regarding safe driving practices. An instructor who fails to intervene when a student makes a mistake can be held responsible for resulting injuries.

    For example, an instructor might be held liable if he was texting, reading, or otherwise distracted and missed the opportunity to use the extra set of brakes in the car to prevent the accident.

    Driving School Liability

    Driving schools can be held liable for accidents under certain circumstances. The school might be liable if it knowingly hired an unqualified instructor or allowed an instructor to continue working despite evidence of improper conduct. Allowing students to drive a car with bald tires, faulty brakes, or malfunctioning headlights could also cause the school to be held liable for injuries in the resulting accident.

    Many private driving schools carry an insurance policy that covers all students, instructors, and the vehicles involved in lessons. In this case, the school might provide compensation for injuries and property damage even if the accident is determined to be solely the student's fault.

    If your accident involved a student taking a public school driver's ed course, the case becomes more complex. Government agencies such as public schools have added protection from liability under the law. You can still seek compensation, but there will be special rules involved regarding the statute of limitations and additional notice requirements.

    Protecting Your Legal Rights

    When you're involved in an accident caused by another party's negligence, you're entitled to compensation for the damages you've suffered. This includes:

    • Accident-related medical expenses such as doctor's visits, surgery, medication, and physical therapy
    • Anticipated future medical care, if your injuries have left you permanently disabled
    • Lost wages during your recovery
    • Loss of future earning capacity, if your injuries are expected to limit your ability to earn an income in the future
    • Pain and suffering

    Since accidents involving student drivers can involve complex liability issues, enlisting the services of a skilled personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure you receive the compensation you need to move forward with your life. Your attorney will gather evidence, handle any necessary paperwork, and negotiate for the highest possible settlement—leaving you free to focus on your recovery.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Can I switch lawyers while my personal injury case is pending?

    If you're unhappy with your lawyer's efforts to settle your personal injury claim, you're within your rights to seek other representation. However, this is a decision that requires careful consideration. When to change lawyers

    Reasons to Switch Lawyers

    Lawyers aren't fortune tellers or miracle workers, so simply experiencing a delay in obtaining a settlement or receiving an initial offer that’s lower than what you were hoping for isn't necessarily a valid reason for seeking new representation. Typically, it's recommended that you use the same lawyer throughout your case unless you have serious doubts about his competence and willingness to advocate on your behalf.

    Possible reasons to switch lawyers include:

    • You feel your lawyer doesn't consider your case a priority. Lawyers are allowed to work on multiple cases simultaneously, but efforts should be made to resolve each one in a timely fashion. If your case isn't making any progress and your lawyer can't explain why, it may be time to seek other representation.  
    • Your lawyer refuses to answer your questions and listen to your requests. Personal injury law is collaborative in nature. Even though you didn’t attend law school, your input is vital to the process.
    • You're being completely ignored. If your phone calls and emails aren't being returned or your appointments are being canceled with no explanation, you may have cause for concern. No matter how busy your lawyer is, a paralegal or an assistant should be available to provide you with a quick update.
    • You've decided your lawyer doesn't have the experience necessary to handle your case. One common mistake people make is using a lawyer they have a previous relationship with who doesn't normally practice personal injury law. Even if your lawyer did a wonderful job handling your divorce, this doesn't mean he's qualified to work on your personal injury case. Every area of law requires different knowledge and skills.
    • You've caught your lawyer engaging in unethical behavior. Any lawyer who advocates lying about your injuries or falsifying evidence can't be trusted to handle your case.

    How to Handle the Switch

    There are several different steps involved in changing representation while your case is in progress.

    1. Determine the cost of switching. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they're paid from the settlement you receive. If you fire your lawyer, he will have a lien on any settlement you collect. He won't get the full percentage you originally agreed on, but he'll be compensated for his efforts. However, depending upon the terms of your original contract, you might need to provide upfront payment before he'll release your case files.
    2. Find a replacement lawyer. It's a bad idea to dismiss your lawyer without first lining up alternative representation. Doing so can create unnecessary delays in getting the settlement you need to pay your medical expenses and being reimbursed for lost wages. However, when you're investigating your options, be honest about the fact that you're looking for someone to replace your current lawyer. Many firms will be cautious about taking cases another lawyer has been working on.
    3. Send your lawyer written notice of your decision to seek other representation. In your letter, clearly and objectively describe the reasons for the dismissal and provide instructions for where to send your case file. It's best to send the letter via certified mail, so you have documentation that it was delivered.
    4. Provide notice to the court. If your personal injury case is currently pending before a court, provide notice of withdrawal or substitution of counsel. Your new lawyer can help you with this process.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • How do I know if I have a good settlement offer?

    About 95 percent of all personal injury cases are settled without going to trial. However, you shouldn't necessarily jump to accept the first offer you receive. In some cases, waiting and having your attorney negotiate on your behalf will result in a substantially larger settlement. How to know if your settlement is good

    Factors to Consider in Evaluating a Settlement Offer

    A good settlement offer isn't necessarily one that makes you happy. In fact, many attorneys often tell clients a good settlement is one where both parties walk away unhappy. When this is the case, you know a compromise has been made. The negligent driver paid more than he wanted to, but the injured person received less than he was hoping for.

    When determining if the settlement offer you receive is fair, you'll want to consider a number of different variables:

    • Past medical expenses, including emergency room care, specialist visits, surgeries, prescriptions, and rehabilitation
    • Any applicable future medical expenses
    • Loss of wages during your recovery
    • The impact your accident will have on your future earning potential
    • Property loss
    • Emotional distress, including psychological injuries such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD following the accident
    • Loss of enjoyment, if your injuries keep you from engaging in sports or other recreational activities you once enjoyed
    • Loss of consortium, if your injuries have negatively affected your relationship with your spouse and child

    Punitive damages aren't a part of most car accident personal injury cases, but it may be appropriate to ask for this type of compensation if the defendant's conduct is particularly egregious. You might be able to receive punitive damages if the driver had a history of driving while intoxicated, for example.

    Liability Questions and Personal Injury Settlements

    Louisiana has what's known as a comparative fault rule for assessing personal injury claims. A partially at-fault driver can still collect damages, but his damages will be reduced by his percentage of fault. This means a driver who is considered 25 percent responsible for the accident would only receive 75 percent of the amount he'd originally be entitled to receive.

    Since there is no set formula for determining who is at fault in an accident, liability issues should be considered when determining if a settlement offer is fair. If you're a partially at-fault driver, you must consider how your actions would look to a jury if your case went to trial. If the circumstances surrounding the accident are open to interpretation, it may be in your best interests to take the settlement offer and avoid the risk of having a jury come back with a lower than anticipated verdict.

    Your attorney can provide some guidance as to how cases with similar circumstances have played out at trial. However, no two cases are alike. Your attorney can make an educated guess as to the results of the trial, but there's still no way to be certain of the outcome.

    Considering Your Current Financial Need

    Defendants often assume that personal injury plaintiffs can't afford to wait for a verdict. It's common to receive a lower settlement offer early on because the defendant will assume that you're not willing to wait for the case to go to trial.

    If you're able to work and your immediate medical needs have been taken care off, declining a settlement and forcing the case to go to trial may result in a higher recovery. However, if you're struggling financially and worried about resolving your debts, you may decide settling for a lesser amount is worth the trade-off. This is an issue to discuss with your attorney as well as your family.

    Don't Automatically Accept the First Offer

    In many cases, the first offer you receive is a lowball settlement used as a negotiating tactic. How you handle the case from this point is often crucial in your ability to increase your compensation, which is why you want to have a skilled personal injury attorney advocating for your needs.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.