Accidents involving a parked car and a moving vehicle can result in severe injuries for the occupants of the parked car. The motion of the moving vehicle transfers to the parked car on impact, creating a force that is very powerful. Even if the driver is traveling at a low rate of speed, whiplash, concussions, broken bones, internal bleeding, and cuts or lacerations can occur.
Individuals who are injured in this type of accident have a legal right to compensation under Louisiana personal injury law. Typically, injured persons have one year to file their claim under the state's statute of limitations.
What to Do After an Accident
If you've been hit while sitting in a parked vehicle, the steps you should take are the same as if you were in any other type of accident:
- Handle immediate medical needs.
- Move to a safe location if your vehicle is obstructing traffic or otherwise creating a safety hazard.
- Contact law enforcement.
- Get contact and insurance information from the driver.
- Get contact information for any witnesses.
- Take pictures of the accident scene from as many angles as possible.
- Jot down a timeline of how the accident happened while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Call your insurance company and follow the instructions given by the agent.
Even if you think you have suffered only minor injuries, it's important to be evaluated by a medical professional. Many types of accident injuries do not have immediately visible symptoms, and the adrenaline rush from being involved in an accident might be minimizing any discomfort you feel. If you end up being more seriously injured than you thought, you will have a hard time linking your injuries to the accident without documentation.
How Your Location Affects Your Settlement
It might seem unlikely that you’d be found at fault for being hit while parked, but you can be found partially at fault for the accident if you were parked illegally. For example, you could be found partially at fault if you were parked:
- In an area with "No Parking" signs posted
- In a fire zone
- Blocking a fire hydrant
- In a crosswalk
- On a sidewalk
- In front of a driveway
- Beneath an underpass or on a bridge
- In an intersection
- On the highway (unless signs indicate parking is allowed)
You can still receive compensation for an accident as a partially at-fault driver. However, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. This is done to reflect your own financial responsibility for your injuries.
How Traffic Offenses and Criminal Charges Affect Your Case
A personal injury claim is a type of civil action seeking monetary damages. It is separate from any traffic or criminal charges related to the accident. However, if the driver who hit your car is charged with speeding, driving under the influence, or some other related offense, this can be used as evidence to support your claim of negligence.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Personal injury settlements can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Future expenses, including anticipated future medical costs and the anticipated loss of future earning potential, can also be included if you've been left with a permanent disability as the result of the accident.
Damages must be thoroughly documented to be eligible for compensation. You will need to provide medical records, invoices, and pay stubs or tax returns to prove the financial impact of the accident. Testimony from recognized expert witnesses is used to estimate costs related to permanently disabling injuries.
Although an attorney is not legally required in a personal injury claim, having someone to advocate for your interests is the best way to protect your right to compensation. Personal injury law is quite complex, and insurance companies are generally in no hurry to resolve a claim.
The legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to protecting the rights of Louisiana residents who've been injured in auto accidents caused by another driver's negligence. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.