One of the most common misconceptions about filing a personal injury claim after a car accident is that you will need to go to court to receive compensation for your injuries. In the vast majority of cases, a settlement is negotiated without the need for a trial.
Types of Compensation
A personal injury settlement can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses related to immediate needs after the accident
- Applicable future medical costs, if your injuries caused a disability
- Lost wages while you were unable to work due to your injuries
- Applicable loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle and property damage expenses
All incurred damages need to be documented with invoices, bills, receipts, or pay stubs. Anticipated future damages are documented with relevant expert testimony. Pain and suffering damages are calculated by multiplying your economic damages by a number based on the severity of your injuries.
Once your attorney has totaled your damages, he can draft a demand letter to the at-fault driver's insurance company. This letter states your claim, details your damages, and informs the company of your requested compensation. The insurance company will either accept the settlement or begin the negotiation process.
Partially at-Fault Drivers
Although some car accidents are clearly the fault of one party, it's common for both drivers to contribute to the accident. If you are determined to be partially liable for the accident that caused your injuries, Louisiana law still allows you to seek compensation via a personal injury claim.
As a partially at-fault driver, your settlement will be proportionately reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you had $100,000 in accident-related expenses and were 35% at fault for the accident, you'd receive 65% of the total damages—or $65,000. The other $35,000 would be considered your financial responsibility due to your role in causing the accident.
Maximum Medical Improvement
Regardless of the extent of your injuries, it is vital that you do not accept a car accident settlement until you've reached maximum medical improvement. This is the point at which you've either fully healed from your injuries, or your condition has stabilized enough that expert witnesses can accurately determine what future costs you will incur as the result of the accident.
If you accept a settlement and your injuries turn out to be more serious than you believed, you are not able to request additional compensation.
Building Your Case
Many different types of evidence can be used to build a personal injury case, including:
- Law enforcement reports
- Photos of the accident scene
- Your own testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
- Traffic camera footage
- Surveillance video
- Relevant expert testimony
Benefits of Settling Out of Court
Although you should never accept a car accident settlement without consulting your attorney, there are a number of benefits to settling out of court. For example:
- You'll save time.
- Your legal fees will be reduced.
- Settling is less stressful than going to court.
- You aren't risking the possibility of losing at trial.
- Settlements are private, but trials are not.
Statute of Limitations
Louisiana law typically allows injured drivers or passengers one year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, you forfeit your right to compensation.
Although you have one year to file your claim, it's best to retain the services of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. As time passes, it becomes more difficult to locate the evidence that is necessary to fully establish liability for your injuries.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's dedicated legal team has extensive experience providing aggressive representation for individuals who've suffered serious injuries in Louisiana auto accidents.
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.