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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  • What if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when the car accident occurred?

    As a pure comparative negligence state, Louisiana allows drivers to collect compensation even if they are partially at fault for an accident. However, neglecting to buckle up before getting behind the wheel is not one of the factors considered when fault is assessed.

    How Seatbelt Laws Affect Your Ability to Recover Damages After an Accident

    not wearing a seatbelt during an accident

    Louisiana state law requires all drivers to wear a seatbelt unless they have been granted an exemption due to disability, the type of vehicle they're driving, or the type of work they're performing. The fine for failing to wear your seatbelt is $25 for the first offense and $50 for the second and any subsequent offenses. An additional $20 penalty is assessed for violations in the Orleans Parish.

    If you're involved in an accident and aren't wearing your seatbelt, you can expect to receive a ticket for violating the state's seatbelt law. However, Louisiana does not consider failure to wear a seatbelt to be comparative negligence. There is significant evidence suggesting drivers who don't wear seatbelts are more likely to be injured than those who are properly restrained, but your ability to receive compensation for your injuries will not be affected in any way. The only types of conduct that would potentially reduce your compensation are violations of traffic laws such as speeding, failure to yield, or running a red light.

    Protecting Your Right to Compensation

    After a serious car accident, hiring an attorney to negotiate a settlement on your behalf is the best way to protect your legal rights. The laws surrounding personal injury claims can be quite complex, and insurance agents have little motivation to settle until litigation has begun.

    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 talk to the other driver’s insurance company after my accident?

    After a car accident, you'll likely receive a call from the other driver's insurance company. Although it might seem like there's no harm in answering a few questions when asked, this is a bad idea.

    Understanding Your Obligations Following a Car Accident

    Legally speaking, you have an obligation to help your own car insurance company process the claim. You are required to answer questions about the accident, let an agent inspect your vehicle, and provide any requested documentation needed to obtain a settlement. However, you are not required to provide anything beyond the basic facts and should avoid speculating as to the severity of your injuries or any concerns you have regarding your own liability for the collision. 

    When it comes to speaking to the other driver's insurance company, you have no legal obligation to cooperate. In fact, it's almost always against your best interests to do so. The other driver's insurance company will likely try to prove you contributed to the accident, so the amount of damages they'll be required to pay is reduced. Anything you say, even if it sounds harmless to you, could be interpreted as an admission of fault. Under no circumstances should you provide a written or recorded statement without first consulting an attorney.

    Letting Your Attorney Advocate for Your Rights

    Regarding post-accident communication, it's best to refer all requests from the other driver's insurance company to your attorney. The laws surrounding liability for accident damages can be complex, but an attorney who has extensive experience in these types of cases can sort through the red tape on your behalf. Let your attorney worry about negotiating a fair settlement, and direct your attention to fully 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.

     

  • Should I give a recorded statement after a car accident?

    Shortly after filing your car accident claim, you’ll likely be contacted by the other driver's insurance adjuster with a request for a recorded statement. However, agreeing to provide such a statement is not in your best interests.

    Why the Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement

    Damaging Statements To Insurance AdjusterThe other driver's insurance company may pressure you to provide a recorded statement by claiming that you deserve an opportunity to tell your side of the story. If this happens, don't forget that the insurance company is simply looking for a way to minimize its own expense in processing the claim. The insurance company will likely take advantage of your nervousness and try to get you to admit to partial fault or minimize the seriousness of your injuries. Unless you have an attorney present, you'll have no safeguard against the adjuster asking inappropriate or irrelevant questions.

    Once you provide a recorded statement, it becomes part of the case record. Since providing a recorded statement is unlikely to help further your claim for compensation, it's best to refuse to comply with any request you receive from the other driver's insurance company.

    What Should I Do Instead?

    A better alternative to providing a recorded statement is to submit a written statement that has been reviewed by your attorney. This provides the insurance adjuster with the necessary details to process the claim without damaging your own case.

    A written statement should provide key details without speculating, complaining, or offering up irrelevant personal information. Your statement should include:

    • The date and time of the accident
    • The name of the road where the accident took place
    • The direction you were traveling
    • What actions the other driver took before the collision and how you responded
    • Any immediate injury symptoms you noticed
    • Names and contact information for any witnesses

    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 talk to my insurance company about the accident?

    In the days following your auto accident, you can expect to have a great deal of contact with your insurance talk to your insurance agent after an accidentagent. However, to ensure that you receive a fair settlement, it's crucial that you understand your rights throughout the process of filing a claim.

    When Should You Contact Your Insurance Agent?

    After an accident, your first priority should be attending to any injured people and speaking to any law enforcement on the scene. Once this has been done, you can contact your car insurance agent. It's perfectly acceptable to contact your agent after you return home from the accident scene. If needed, you can even wait until the following day.

    It's vital that you contact your insurance agent even if you're convinced the other driver is 100 percent at fault for the accident. There are several reasons for this:

    • Your policy terms most likely require you to report all accidents to your agent.
    • You could be mistaken about the facts and have partially contributed to the accident.
    • The driver could have insufficient insurance to cover your injuries and require you to seek reimbursement through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
    • You might need your insurance company to help you obtain a rental car while yours is being repaired.

    What Happens After You Contact Your Agent

    Under the terms of most auto insurance policies, the insurance company has certain rights when you report an accident. These include:

    • To expect reasonable cooperation. You are obligated to cooperate with your insurance company, but there are limits to what you're expected to do. You must provide names of witnesses and any medical providers you are seeing, as well as a general statement about how the accident happened. However, don’t allow them to interrogate you, and you don’t have to provide a recorded statement speculating as to who caused the accident.
    • Access to your medical and work records. You will most likely need to sign a form called Authorization for Release of Records or something similar, so your insurance company can verify your losses following the accident.
    • To inspect your vehicle. You must allow the insurance company's representatives to inspect your vehicle before any repairs are made under your own policy. Even if you've already provided pictures of the damage, your insurance company still has the right to an in-person inspection.
    • Right of subrogation. This is the technical way of saying that your insurance company has the right to collect damages from the responsible driver if they've already paid out on your behalf. For example, if you opted to have your vehicle repaired immediately using your own collision coverage, the insurance company could legally seek reimbursement for its expense from the responsible driver's insurance company.

    Should You Contact an Attorney?

    Although it's understandable to hope that you'll quickly resolve your claim without professional legal representation, contacting an attorney is often the best way to make sure your rights are protected.

    For example, when requesting access to your medical and work records, some insurance companies will want permission to go decades back and request every type of record imaginable—including your credit history. Your attorney can review any release you sign to make sure you're not giving permission for this type of action. In addition to being irrelevant to your case, an overreach in requesting records is an invasion of your privacy.

    If the investigation into the accident reveals that you're partially at fault, your attorney will provide invaluable assistance in negotiating a fair settlement. There is no standard formula for assessing fault, so a skilled attorney can often maximize your ability to collect damages by reducing your assigned fault percentage.

    Even if you're not at fault, most insurance companies will provide a low-ball offer for their initial settlement. It's best to have an attorney review any offer you receive to make sure it fully compensates you for your injuries and any applicable property damage.

    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 do I have to file a car accident lawsuit in Louisiana?

    Statute of limitations laws are intended to ensure that litigation proceeds in a timely fashion. If you've been statute of limitations on car accidentsrecently involved in a serious car accident, it's vital that you understand how the state's statute laws affect your right to compensation.

    The Statute of Limitations for Louisiana Car Accident Lawsuits

    After a serious accident, you may be faced with the following two main types of damages:

    • Personal injury. This includes payment of your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
    • Property damage. In general, this refers to damage to your vehicle, although it could refer to other types of damage if you were transporting valuable items at the time of the accident. For example, it would be quite possible for a musician who was on the way to an event when he was hit by a negligent driver to have $10,000 or more in musical instruments in his van.

    Louisiana law allows you one year following the date of the accident to file a lawsuit to collect both types of damages. However, there are different rules to follow if your accident involves the government—such as if you were involved in a collision with a city bus. In this case, you'd need to contact an attorney immediately to learn how to proceed. Additionally, the statute of limitations does not affect any pending insurance claims. It applies to lawsuits only.

    Plaintiffs can sometimes be granted an exception to the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits if they were first unaware of the injury or did not know that the defendant's actions caused the injury. However, these circumstances would be unlikely to apply to a car accident case. Any injury you sustained would likely be apparent within a short timeframe.

    How Should I Proceed With My Case?

    It takes time to gather the necessary documents for filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit. To avoid the risk of your case being dismissed because of the state's statute of limitations, you'll want to hire an attorney immediately. A skilled attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and may be able to secure a settlement without going to court.

    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 contact an attorney immediately following a car accident?

    After a car accident, it's tempting to wait to deal with recovering damages until you've healed from your injuries. However, there are a number of reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney immediately. hiring a lawyer after a car accident

    Why Time Matters When Hiring an Attorney

    Louisiana law states that you have one year from the date of your car accident to attempt to collect compensation for your injuries. If you try to file a lawsuit after the deadline, your case will almost certainly be dismissed. Aside from the statute of limitations, other reasons to consider being proactive and obtaining legal representation immediately include:

    • Documentation of your injuries gets harder to obtain if you delay seeking legal representation, since medical records can't be created retroactively. When you have an attorney working on your case right away, he can explain what documentation you'll need from your care providers as you recover from your injuries.
    • Witness testimony is more difficult to obtain if you wait, since memories fade as time passes, and people may move out of the area and become impossible to reach. Without witness testimony, your case may come down to your word against that of the defendant.
    • Insurance companies don’t have a duty to settle until you've decided to pursue your own recovery. This means hiring an attorney is the easiest way to speed up the process of getting your compensation.

    Can I Afford an Attorney?

    After a serious auto accident, you may be struggling to make ends meet if you're unable to work while recovering or your spouse has had to take time off to serve as your caregiver. However, this doesn't mean you're unable to receive quality legal representation. Since personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, you don't owe any money upfront. Your attorney's fee is paid from the settlement you receive. If your attorney is unable to negotiate a settlement on your behalf, you won't owe anything.

    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 will a car accident lawyer do to resolve my case?

    After an accident, your first instinct might be to rely on your insurance company to handle your claim. While why hire a lawyerthis approach works in some circumstances, hiring a car accident lawyer is often the better choice for ensuring your right to compensation after a serious accident.

    What Will A Car Accident Lawyer Do For Me?

    If you've been in a car accident your lawyer will act as your advocate throughout the settlement process. Insurance claims adjusters are responsible for protecting the interests of their employer, and this doesn’t necessarily align with what's best for your needs. Your lawyer will work to get you the maximum amount of compensation you're legally entitled to receive while freeing up your time to focus on fully recovering from your injuries.

    Some specific tasks your lawyer will perform include:

    • Answer any questions you might have regarding your legal rights
    • Evaluate the strength of your case against the other driver
    • Handle communication with the other driver's insurance company on your behalf
    • Organize your medical records and copies of accident-related bills to document your need for compensation
    • Obtain missing records from your healthcare providers, and work with your medical team to document your injuries
    • Line up experts to testify on your behalf as to the severity of your injuries and/or whether you’re partially at fault for the accident
    • Defend against claims that you were responsible for the accident if you were not
    • Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or defense lawyer for the other driver
    • Inform you if a settlement offer you've already received is fair

    How You Can Help Your Car Accident Case

    Your lawyer's job is to protect your legal rights, but there are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself while the details surrounding your claim are still being sorted out:

    • Don't rely on others to provide the necessary paperwork. Don’t assume that others will handle all car accident related paperwork. Insist on obtaining copies of all medical records and repair bills for damage to your vehicle or other property. If you were unable to work while recovering from your injuries, you should keep records of your lost income. It's also a good idea to note the day, time, and name of any person you spoke to regarding the accident.
    • Don't agree to sign documents you don't understand. The only documents you should be signing after a car wreck are for the police and for your insurance agent. If you have questions about what you're being asked to sign, request clarification. If you're still uncertain, contact a lawyer.
    • Don't admit guilt. It's natural to want to be polite, but be very cautious about statements that could be interpreted as admitting fault in the accident. Even if you think you may have caused the accident, you might be mistaken. The last thing you want is for your statement to be used against you in court.
    • Don't discuss the accident with other parties. The only people you should discuss the accident with are the police, your insurance agent, and your lawyer. Stick to the facts, and avoid speculating about who is at fault.

    Can I Afford a Lawyer?

    When you're recovering from your injuries and unable to work, it's understandable to want to cut back on unnecessary expenses. However, car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don't owe any money unless you receive a settlement. Then, your lawyer will require a percentage of the settlement as his fee.

    When your case is resolved, it's considered standard practice for the settlement check to be sent to your lawyer first. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that your lawyer is paid for the work he performs. After your lawyer's fees and the costs related to preparing your case are deducted, you'll be issued a second check.

    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 still collect damages if I was partially at fault for the accident?

    If you were partly responsible for your car accident, you may wonder if you’re still eligible to collect damages. Laws regarding fault vary from state to state, but Louisiana does allow partially at-fault drivers to negligence and car accidentscollect compensation for injuries and property damage.

    How States Determine Eligibility for Damages

    Every state follows one of two models for determining your eligibility for damages following a car accident: contributory negligence or comparative negligence. Here is a brief look at each:

    • Contributory negligence. The basis of the contributory negligence concept is that you have a duty to avoid creating a risk of harm to yourself. When you fail to uphold this duty, you limit your right to receive compensation. For example, in a state following contributory negligence rules, you might not be able to receive compensation following an accident if you contributed to your injuries by failing to carefully look both ways before crossing the street.
    • Comparative negligence. The majority of states use a comparative negligence approach when assessing compensation eligibility following a car accident. Under this approach, your percentage of responsibility for the accident affects your ability to recover damages. There are two methods of assessing comparative negligence: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. Under the pure comparative negligence system, your damages are totaled, and the money you receive is reduced to reflect your responsibility for the accident. So, if you were determined to be 25 percent at fault and would have normally received $100,000, you'll be eligible for $75,000 in compensation. A modified comparative negligence system bars you from collecting damages if you are determined to be more than 50 percent at fault. If you are less than 50 percent at fault, you can still receive full compensation despite whatever you did to contribute to the accident.

    What System Does Louisiana Use?

    Louisiana uses a pure comparative negligence approach, which is also known as comparative fault. This means you can still collect compensation following a traffic accident even if your actions significantly contributed to the collision. Some examples of behavior that might indicate you contributed to the accident include:

    • Speeding
    • Following too closely
    • Running a red light
    • Failing to use your turn signals
    • Failure to yield

    Essentially, Louisiana’s pure comparative negligence system is built to realize that even the best driver is capable of making an honest mistake. Fault is assigned based on the severity of your conduct, recognizing that errors such as driving while intoxicated are much more significant than tailgating or failing to use your turn signal.

    How Is Fault Determined?

    There is no "magic formula" used to determine percentage of fault. The insurance claims adjuster will evaluate records from the accident and assign fault percentages, which means that fault assessments are somewhat subjective. Often, an experienced attorney can negotiate a lower percentage of fault on your behalf—which will increase your eligibility for compensation.

    How to Protect Your Legal Rights

    After a car accident, the most important step you can take to protect your legal rights is to avoid speculating as to who is responsible for the accident. Do not talk about the accident with anyone other than your insurance agent, local law enforcement, or your attorney. Stick to the basic facts only, avoiding any statement that could be interpreted as admission of responsibility for the accident.

    Even if you believe you were at fault, you could be mistaken. It only takes a few seconds for a collision to occur, and the stress of being involved in an accident can affect your perception of the event. It's best to focus on your recovery and let the claims adjuster and your attorney work out any applicable fault percentage.

    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 type of compensation can I recover after a car accident?

    Car accidents can create a serious financial burden, especially if you’re required to take time off work to heal from your compensation for car accidentinjuries. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another driver, you’re eligible for several types of compensation that can help provide you with the resources you need to recover.

    What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?

    In general, a car accident claim involves compensation for four different types of damages:

    • Medical expenses. Reimbursement for your medical expenses includes all payments you make related to the accident such as hospital stays, pain medication, and physical therapy. If your personal injuries create the need for ongoing medical care, you can request compensation to assist with your future medical bills as well as for any modifications that are necessary to your home or vehicle after the accident.
    • Lost income. This type of compensation includes payment for time you were unable to work while recuperating, as well as any future loss of wages. For example, a surgeon who suffers accident-related nerve damage in his hands would likely be unable to continue operating. If he was forced to find other lower paying work, he'd be able to sue for the loss of his future income.  
    • Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a general term that refers to the physical and emotional trauma an injured person experiences during the accident and the recovery process.
    • Punitive damages. Punitive damages are relatively rare in cases involving auto accidents. These damages are awarded when the driver's conduct was particularly irresponsible. For example, someone who was driving drunk might be asked to pay punitive damages to deter further bad behavior.

    Who Pays for My Claim?

    When you are in an accident and the other driver is at fault, you'll likely recover damages from his liability insurance. If you are hit by a driver with no insurance or someone with insufficient insurance and no assets, your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage will pay your expenses.  

    Do I Need a Lawyer?

    In a simple accident where there are minimal injuries or property damages and fault is not disputed, the claim can likely be settled without professional legal representation. However, cases where fault is being contested or where you've sustained serious injuries can get complicated very quickly.

    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 much does it cost to hire a car accident attorney?

    After a serious car accident, you may need to enlist the services of an attorney to help you get the compensation you need to assist in your recovery. Many people worry they can't afford quality legal representation, but the personal injury attorneys who assist car accident victims typically work on a contingency fee basis that requires no upfront Hiring A Car Accident Lawyerpayment.

    What Is a Contingency Fee?

    There are generally three types of arrangements attorneys use to bill their clients: an hourly fee, a standard flat rate, and a contingency fee. In cases involving car accident claims, contingency fees are the most common.

    Contingency fees are sometimes referred to as a "no win, no fee" arrangement. If your attorney doesn't obtain a settlement, you don’t have to pay for his services. This is often seen as a mutually beneficial arrangement for both attorneys and their clients. Clients don't have to worry about paying upfront for legal representation when they are likely struggling to recover from their personal injuries. Attorneys have an incentive to maximize the recovered amount, resolve the matter quickly, and keep related expenses as low as possible.

    Costs Associated With Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit

    In addition to your attorney’s fee, you may also be responsible for certain expenses required to prepare your case. This includes the cost to obtain medical records and police reports, as well as postage and court filing fees. If your case requires an investigator and expert witnesses, additional fees will be added for these expenses.

    Often, fees related to the preparation of your case will be tallied and paid for out of the final settlement. However, some attorneys require that you pay these fees as your case proceeds even though you're not paying for their legal representation until you receive a settlement. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, ask how these types of costs will be handled before you select an attorney.

    We Work on a Contingency Basis

    The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault help injured Louisiana residents get the compensation they deserve for auto-related accident claims while accepting cases on a contingency fee basis.

    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.