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What are my first steps when I have been involved in an auto accident?
The Louisiana drivers guide advises the following steps:
Do not leave the scene of the accident
Turn off your car
Notify oncoming traffic
Call the police
Call an ambulance
Record the names, addresses, and license numbers of all parties involved, including any witnesses
Record the date and time of the accident, your location, the position of the vehicles involved, and weather conditions
Request a crash report form from the Louisiana state trooper who investigates the accident
How do I know if I may have a case?
In general, auto accident lawsuits focus on whether the driver operated his or her vehicle with a duty of care and used care. That means he or she must:
Operate the vehicle at a reasonable speed
Exercise proper control of the vehicle
Drive defensively and look out for all situations that could result in an accident
Therefore, a lawsuit focuses on whether the driver’s actions created an unreasonable risk.
If I was merely crossing the street and was struck by a car, do I have a case?
You must be able to prove that you were not at fault and the driver’s actions caused your injury. One of the duties of a driver is to anticipate risk of causing harm to others. However, if you demonstrated any reckless behavior or if an intervening force caused the car to hit you, for instance, another vehicle, then that driver may not be held liable for your injuries.
Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer’s help?
It is in your best interests to provide only your contact information to an insurance company until you consult with a lawyer. The more significant your injuries, the more important it is to seek legal counsel before providing any statement.
Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?
No. While the insurance company might try to draw a direct correlation between damage done to your car and the severity of your personal injury, it is possible that the body sustains damage even if the car did not. The reverse may also be true—a car might experience major impact but the people might only suffer minor cuts and bruises.
Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
About 95 percent of personal injury cases filed settle prior to trial.
What is considered “pain and suffering?”
Pain and suffering includes harm caused by physical injury and mental anguish experienced through avoiding activities you engaged in prior to your auto accident and the potential of surgery.
What determines the amount I might recover?
Every case addresses three issues:
Liability—establishing the negligence of the other person
Damages—the amount that will fairly and adequately compensate you for your injuries caused by the auto accident
Source of collection—insurance or other assets from which damages can be recovered
How long do I have to file a suit?
The statute of limitations is one year for personal injury claims in the state of Louisiana.