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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  • Is a Car Making a Left-Hand Turn Always at Fault for an Accident?

    It's a commonly held belief that a driver making a left-hand turn is always at fault when a car accident occurs. Although the driver is considered responsible in most cases, there are some important exceptions to the rule that you should be aware of if you've been involved in this type of accident. Left-hand turn accidents in Louisiana

    Dangers Associated with Left-Hand Turns

    Since left-hand turns can potentially disrupt the flow of traffic and require the turning driver to accurately judge the speed of the oncoming vehicles, they present a serious safety hazard. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. happen at intersections—with the majority of those involving a left-hand turn. On a similar note, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that 53 percent of crossing path crashes involved a driver trying to make a left-hand turn.

    Depending on speed, weight of vehicles, and whether or not the occupants were properly restrained, left-hand turn accidents can cause injuries such as whiplash, broken bones, concussions, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, or organ damage. Victims may also experience psychological injuries such as anxiety and PTSD.

    Possible Exceptions to Liability

    The law states that a driver who is making a left-hand turn must wait to turn until he can safely turn without affecting the flow of oncoming traffic. Therefore, if you made a turn and hit another vehicle traveling straight in the other direction, you would likely be found at fault for the accident. Drivers who cause a collision while making a left-hand turn are often cited with "failure to yield" or "violating the right of way."

    However, there are a few possible exceptions to the presumption of liability. If there is enough room for a driver making a left turn to safely turn and he proceeds after first yielding as required, the driver who is heading straight must yield to the driver turning left.

    Examples of situations in which fault may be shared for the accident if you were the driver making a left-hand turn include:

    • The other driver ran a red light.
    • The other driver had a yellow light and you reasonably believed he had enough time to stop before the light turned red.
    • The collision occurred at the same moment the traffic light turned red.
    • The other driver was speeding or going too fast for the weather conditions.
    • You began turning when it was safe, but something unexpected happened such as an animal or child ran into the road and you had to slow down or stop turning.

    Exceptions to the presumption of liability might be proven by witness testimony, traffic camera footage, and/or vehicle damage reports.

    Receiving Compensation as a Partially at-Fault Driver

    In some states, drivers who are partially at fault for an accident aren't allowed to collect any reimbursement from the other driver's insurance company. However, Louisiana has what is known as a comparative fault approach to processing personal injury claims from auto accidents. This approach allows you to collect compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the other driver, even if you were considered to be partially at fault for the accident.

    For example, consider a case in which the driver would be eligible for $50,000 if he played no role in contributing to the accident. If he was determined to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, he loses the ability to collect $10,000 or 20 percent of the amount he'd otherwise receive. Therefore, he receives a settlement for $40,000. As his percentage of fault increases, his eligibility to receive reimbursement for the damages he's suffered decreases.

    It's important to note that Louisiana does not use a set formula to determine percentage of fault. If you have a skilled car accident attorney representing your interests, you can often negotiate a lower fault percentage. This will increase your eligibility for accident-related compensation.

    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 can I do to help my attorney win my case?

    Your attorney's job is to advocate for your needs throughout the process of settling your personal injury claim, but he can't do this alone. To win your case, you and your attorney need to work together as a team. 

    Tell the Whole Story

    For your personal injury attorney to effectively represent you, he needs to understand how the accident occurred. Thus, it’s important that you write down everything you can remember about the accident, striving to tell a story that your attorney can use as the basis of the case. Make sure your narrative includes the following details:

    • The date and time of the accident
    • The road you were traveling on
    • The direction you were traveling in
    • The moment you first noticed the other driver
    • The actions the other driver took before the accident
    • The response, if any, that you made
    • The symptoms you experienced right after the accident
    • The witnesses to the accident

    Be Honest

    As you're communicating with your attorney, remember that honesty is key. If you suspect you may have done something to contribute to the accident, discuss this issue with your attorney right away. Louisiana law allows at-fault drivers to collect compensation for damages they've suffered, although their ability to collect will be reduced by their percentage of fault. There is no specific formula for assigning percentage of fault, so your attorney may be able to negotiate a lower fault percentage and increase your eligibility for compensation if you're honest from the beginning.

    Failing to wear your seatbelt doesn't make you an at-fault driver, so there's no need to lie about whether or not you were buckled up at the time of the collision. Additionally, it’s important not to exaggerate the severity of your symptoms or try to blame the other driver for symptoms related to a past injury. Medical records and expert testimony can sniff out these falsehoods, which means being untruthful is sure to backfire.

    Be Organized

    Personal injury lawsuits require a great deal of evidence and documentation. It’s important that you provide as much of the following as possible:

    • Photos of the accident scene
    • Hospital admitting charts
    • Doctor notes
    • Medical exam and test results
    • Medications you had to take because of the accident
    • Your own diary detailing your injury symptoms
    • Pay stubs to document your lost wages
    • Letters from your employer documenting your absence from work and/or ability to return to your current position
    • Copies of correspondence with your own insurance company and the other driver's insurance company

    If you assist your attorney in locating the necessary information and evidence, it will greatly speed up the process of settling your claim. Many people recommend purchasing an expanding file folder to keep track of necessary documents and a calendar where you can jot down the date, time, and name of anyone you've spoken to about your personal injury case.

    Respond Promptly

    If your lawyer contacts you requesting additional information, always respond as soon as possible. Louisiana personal injury claims must often proceed under tight deadlines. A delayed response could have serious consequences regarding your ability to obtain a fair settlement.

    If you're having trouble locating the information your attorney has requested or are unable to respond right away, reach out to see if there is an alternative to make sure your case proceeds as scheduled.

    Maintain Confidentiality

    While your case is pending, do not speak about your accident with friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. If you're not careful, even seemingly harmless speculation could be used as evidence against you.

    It's best to stay silent until your personal injury settlement is resolved. If you're contacted by an insurance adjuster, refer him to your attorney.

    Ask Questions

    There's no need to be intimidated by your attorney or the legal process involved in settling your claim. If you have questions about the way your case is being handled or want clarification on a specific issue, don't be afraid to speak up. Any skilled attorney will be happy to hear your input.

    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 if I have no insurance when I’m involved in an accident that wasn’t my fault?

    All licensed drivers are required to have a valid auto insurance policy to provide liability coverage for any injuries or property damage they may cause. If you're caught driving without insurance in Louisiana, you'll face stiff penalties—including the loss of your eligibility to collect compensation for accident-related injuries.  Car insurance in Louisiana

    Louisiana State Insurance Requirements

    Louisiana state law requires 15/30/25 liability limits. This means a driver must have at least $15,000 in coverage for bodily injury to one person, $30,000 in coverage for bodily injury to more than one person, and $25,000 in coverage for damage to someone else's vehicle or other property.

    Louisiana is the second most expensive state for auto insurance policies in the nation, with younger drivers, men, and people with past blemishes on their record paying the highest premiums.

    Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

    Driving without insurance carries a fine of up to $100 on top of any other traffic violations. You may also find that your registration and license have been suspended and that your vehicle has been impounded.

    If you're involved in an accident, Louisiana's "No Pay, No Play" law will prevent you from being reimbursed for the first $25,000 in property damage and the first $15,000 of personal injuries—even if the other driver is 100 percent at fault for the accident. This "No Pay, No Play" law is similar to legislation in 10 other states.

    As an uninsured driver, any damages you cause to another person will be paid from your own pocket. This means you risk losing assets you've worked years to accumulate as the result of one poor decision.

    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 long will it take to resolve my case?

    Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. It's perfectly understandable to want to know how long it will take for your case to be resolved. However, this question doesn't have an easy answer.  How long to resolve case

    Variables Affecting Your Case Resolution

    The majority of personal injury claims are resolved within a year, but some cases can go on for several years. Variables that will affect how long it takes to settle your case include:

    • The severity of your injuries
    • How long it takes to complete your medical treatment
    • If it's possible there’s another cause for your injuries
    • If there is reason to suspect you're exaggerating your injuries
    • If fault is being contested
    • The size of the proposed settlement
    • Technical difficulties gathering some of the necessary information to prepare the case
    • Your own willingness to accept a lesser settlement to avoid a trial

    Should You Wait or Settle?

    If you're facing extensive medical bills and are currently unable to work because of your injuries, it's tempting to want to settle your case as soon as possible. However, it's generally best to wait until you've reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Once a doctor has certified that you've recovered as much as possible, it will be easier to attach a dollar value to the damages you've suffered. This will often result in a larger verdict.

    Seeking Help from a Personal Injury Attorney

    Many people attempt to settle their car accident claim without the assistance of an attorney, but enlisting a professional to advocate for your needs is the best way to speed up the settlement process. A skilled attorney familiar with personal injury law will help you obtain the necessary documentation and negotiate for the maximum possible compensation.

    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 is the difference between a claim and lawsuit?

    When seeking reimbursement for your damages after a car accident, it's important to understand the difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit. Additionally, it’s helpful to know the benefits associated with having an attorney to represent your interests throughout the process. Insurance claims and lawsuits

    Filing an Insurance Claim

    In most cases following an accident, you'll first attempt to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company. Your claim is simply a formal notice that you wish to be reimbursed for your injuries and/or property damage relating to the negligent driver's actions. However, if you've been injured by a hit-and-run driver or a driver with no insurance, you'll be filing a claim against your own insurance company to utilize the benefits of your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

    If you've retained the services of an attorney, he will send a letter to the insurance company that states all communication relating to the claim should go to his office. This means you'll be able to let your attorney handle the negotiation process and focus your energy on recovering from your injuries.

    Filing a Lawsuit

    If the at-fault driver's insurance company misses the deadline to respond to your settlement offer and the one-year statute of limitations for Louisiana personal injury lawsuits is approaching, your attorney will likely recommend litigation as the next step.

    The lawsuit process will involve filing a petition with the court and having your lawsuit served on the defendant. Once this has been completed, you'll make depositions, request records, and secure expert testimony as part of the discovery process.

    Most personal injury lawsuits involving car accident claims don't make it to trial. The attorneys for both sides are often able to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement before the case is scheduled to appear in front of a judge.

    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 does a car accident case work?

    After being injured in a car accident, you're probably eager to get compensated for your injuries and move on with your life. However, it's often difficult to predict how long it will take to resolve your personal injury claim.  How a car accident case works

    Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

    If you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, here's a brief outline of what you can expect if your case makes it all the way to civil court:

    1. Immediately after the accident, you seek medical treatment and obtain all recommended follow-up care.
    2. You hire a personal injury attorney, who will most likely work on a contingency fee basis.
    3. Your attorney investigates your claim and reviews your medical records. He will review accident reports, interview witnesses, and possibly conduct his own investigation.
    4. Your attorney, with your approval, will make a demand for settlement to the other driver's insurance company or his attorney. Your attorney will then attempt to negotiate a settlement that meets your specifications.
    5. If a settlement is not reached, your attorney files a lawsuit—keeping in mind your state's statute of limitations. In Louisiana, you have one year to file a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident.
    6. Each side investigates the case during the discovery process, and all parties have a chance to review legal claims and defenses. This includes testimony regarding the severity of your injuries as well as whether it's possible you are partially at fault for the accident.
    7. Mediation and negotiation begins as the attorneys for both sides try to settle the case without involving the judge.
    8. If the attorneys for the two sides are unable to reach a settlement, the case is scheduled for trial. Depending upon the judge's schedule, the case could be delayed one or more times before the trial actually begins.

    The vast majority of personal injury cases do not make it to trial. Most are settled at some point between Step 4 and Step 7 of the timeline listed above.

    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 was involved in a hit-and-run accident?

    Car accidents involving hit-and-run drivers present their own unique challenges when it comes to obtaining reimbursement for damages. In many cases, hiring an attorney to advocate for your rights is the best way to ensure a fair settlement after this type of accident. If you're involved in a hit-and-run

    First Steps

    After a hit-and-run accident, you'll be asked to provide as much information as you can to help law enforcement attempt to locate the driver. Providing a license number or a detailed description of the car or driver is ideal, but even a partial plate number and a few identifying characteristics can be helpful.

    Witnesses often prove valuable in helping to locate the driver, so try to get names and contact information for as many witnesses as possible. Even those who think they didn't see anything of significance might be able to provide information that proves important.

    Seeking immediate medical attention is crucial after a collision with a hit-and-run driver. Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you want to create a written record associated with the accident. Remember, many car accident injuries start off as minor discomfort and become more obvious as time passes.

    Paying for Damages

    If the police are successful in locating the other driver, you can collect from his insurance or other applicable assets. However, if the other driver can’t be located or he doesn't have insurance or assets, you'll need to seek reimbursement under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy.

    Louisiana law requires all companies offering auto insurance to provide drivers with UM/UIM coverage unless it has been specifically rejected in writing. This means that the majority of drivers within the state will have coverage for their losses.

    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.

     

  • Should I see a doctor after a car accident?

    If you're involved in car accident, it's crucial that you see a doctor right away. With the adrenaline rush that comes from the stress of a collision, you can't trust your own assessment of your health. A "wait and see" approach can be dangerous to your well-being, in addition to limiting your ability to collect reimbursement for your medical expenses. See a doctor after an accident

    Even Minor Symptoms Can Indicate a Problem

    Immediately after an accident, you may have symptoms that might not seem serious at first; however, they could indicate problems. Here is a brief look at some of those symptoms:

    • Stiffness in the neck and upper back
    • Difficulty maintaining normal range of motion
    • Pain or discomfort in any part of your body, particularly in the lower extremities
    • Numbness
    • Abdominal pain or swelling
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Mental confusion
    • Trouble with vision or hearing

    A doctor can evaluate your symptoms, perform a physical examination, and take x-rays or order additional diagnostic tests. If you fail to seek treatment immediately and your minor symptoms turn into a more serious issue, you've put your health at risk. Additionally, waiting to seek medical treatment will likely cause the at-fault driver's insurance company to argue that you're exaggerating your injuries to increase your compensation or something besides the accident caused your injuries.

    Choosing a Care Provider

    In an emergency situation, you'll be taken to the nearest ER. However, most people who are injured simply make an appointment with their regular family doctor. As long as you seek treatment within 72 hours of the accident, it's fine to see your regular care provider.

    If you don't have a regular care provider or you can't get an appointment within 72 hours, look for an Urgent Care facility in your area. You can explain the situation as you're being evaluated.

    If the doctor you see recommends follow-up testing or refers you to a specialist, it's critical that you comply with this treatment recommendation. If you end up pursuing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, failure to obtain the recommended treatment can seriously damage your case.

    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.

     

  • Do I need an accident attorney?

    Not all car accident claims require an attorney to obtain a fair settlement, but there are many circumstances in which hiring an attorney is the smart choice. When you’re faced with the decision of whether or not to seek legal assistance in your accident case, there are some important questions to ask yourself when determining what to do. Do I need an accident attorney?

    Is Legal Representation Necessary?

    If you’re unsure if it’s worth your time and money to hire an attorney, here are some questions to ask yourself that might hold the answers you need:

    • Is fault being contested? If the other driver is claiming you're partially at fault for the accident, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf. Being assigned a lower fault percentage can greatly increase your ability to collect damages.
    • Can you easily pay your out-of-pocket expenses? If you have minimal medical costs that your insurance doesn’t cover, you might be comfortable absorbing this expense on your own. However, being faced with a bill that creates financial hardship makes hiring an attorney in your best interests.
    • What future expenses will you have? If you'll continue to need medication, physical therapy, or household help because of your injuries, an attorney can maximize your compensation and help secure your financial future.
    • Do you have the time to learn about car accident and personal injury law? Even a fairly routine claim will require you to invest several hours in researching relevant laws and presenting your case. If your case is complex, you could easily spend the equivalent of several full work weeks negotiating a settlement. Hiring an attorney to handle this task lets you focus on recovering and moving forward with your life.

    Can You Afford to Hire an Attorney?

    Personal injury attorneys typically accept cases on a contingency fee basis, so hiring one requires no up-front expense. When your case is settled, your attorney will accept a percentage of the settlement as payment for his services.

    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 factors will influence the outcome of my car accident case?

    If you've been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it's natural to want to know how much compensation you're entitled to under the law. However, this is a question without an easy answer. There are a number of factors that are used to determine the level of damages awarded in a car accident suit. Factors in a car accident

    Factors Affecting Car Accident Compensation

    Some of the most significant factors that affect car accident compensation include:

    • Evidence of the defendant’s negligence. For a strong case, you need witnesses to the accident, traffic camera footage, or a clear finding by law enforcement that the defendant’s behavior caused the accident.
    • Percentage of fault. If your own actions contributed to the accident, your ability to collect damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
    • Severity of your injuries. Injuries leading to lifelong disabilities will be eligible for the highest compensation. However, you should also consider that broken bones and nerve damage are considered "hard injuries" with higher compensation than sprains, strains, and other soft-tissue injuries.
    • Type of medical treatment obtained. Following a car accident, you want to seek immediate treatment from a medical doctor, clinic, or ­hospital. You can choose to see a chiropractor or an alternative care provider at a later date, but exclusive treatment by non-MD providers will cast doubt on the severity of your injuries.
    • Whether your current lifestyle is consistent with your injury claims. The defense will be looking for any indication that you've exaggerated the severity of your injuries. In many cases, the defense will hire an investigator to follow around the plaintiff to ensure that the description of his injuries is valid. If you claim to have back pain, for example, you shouldn't be out lifting heavy bags of soil while landscaping your front yard.

    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.