Filing a car accident claim here in Louisiana is sometimes complicated, something that requires legal help if never filing before. How much you might receive in a settlement is another aspect to think about. The value of the claim may get just as complex when an insurance company determines the money you receive.
How does Louisiana deal with accident claim values? Diminished value is calculated in two specific ways here. However, the basic value of your claim hinges on numerous situations that occurred at the scene of your accident.
Take a look at how this works and how an experienced car accident legal team helps you gain a settlement.
The Most Basic Question: Who Was Really to Blame?
Based on Louisiana state law, you have to file a report on your accident within 24 hours to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Once that occurs, you can file a car accident claim, and you only have one year to do so.
When dealing with injuries, this could become a problem and delay your filing. This is why hiring a car accident attorney immediately is vital to get the claim filed as soon as possible. Before you file the claim, though, your attorney assesses your case to ensure you can really receive money.
Determination of value on your claim goes first by who is to blame in the accident. The crash must relate to fault of someone else before you can even file a claim. Your only way to know this is through evidence gathered from the accident scene by you, or help from your legal team.
Call an attorney at the scene of the accident to gather as much evidence as possible if you are not able to due to the circumstances.
Do You Have Damage to Your Vehicle?
If your car has damage and backed up by evidence, your claim may gain further value. In a scenario where the car becomes totaled in an accident, the chances of a higher settlement are always possible, if not guaranteed.
All of this goes by either photographic or video evidence of the damage. Juries are also more swayed in a trial when they see considerable damage evidence.
Always take immediate photographic evidence of the car damage at the scene, if you can. In a scenario where you sustain injuries, it may mean you having to hire an attorney to arrive at the scene to take photos or video.
You Had Injuries From the Accident
Your most significant car accident claim value is how many injuries you sustained from the incident. How severe are those injuries, and do they impair your ability to work any time soon? Will you have to live with a disability for the rest of your life?
Evidence like this comes from medical examination reports, not including physical appearances if appearing in a trial. Remember, if you did not incur any injuries, your claim only centers on the damage to your car. To get a bigger value to your claim, you must have injuries of some sort.
Some of those injuries might be:
- Injuries to your back or neck.
- Any lacerations from flying debris.
- Mental anguish from the injuries.
To make the value of your claim bigger, you also need to prove you sought medical help immediately after the accident took place. Any deviations from this in the medical records could hurt your case. The same goes if you avoid following proper medical protocol doctors and other medical professionals told you to do.
You Had Liability Insurance
Since Louisiana has a “No Pay, No Play” law, you need car insurance. Without insurance, your claim value is virtually worthless. Owning liability insurance is a must and helps the value of your claim exponentially.
In the chance you did not have insurance, Louisiana bars you from collecting the first $15,000 in bodily injury, plus the first $25,000 in car damages. In other words, you would get little if anything if your injuries or damage are extensive without being insured.
Our state is not the only in the nation to do this. The law here maintains the above totals, even if determined you are not at fault for the accident occurring. As a safety net, you should always have Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist insurance in the chance the at-fault driver is also not insured. Those scenarios could mean your claim value becomes worthless because the other driver never had an insurance policy.
Having UI/UM insurance can sometimes be expensive. Yet, paying your premiums pay off to make your future car accident claim value worth what you deserve.
Pure Comparative Negligence
This process goes by another Louisiana law that allows a more comparative way to value your claim. What this means is, you might be partially to blame for the accident, but still have enough injuries where the pure comparative negligence law allows a settlement offer.
Negligence law is known for being complex, which is all the more reason for you to hire a car accident attorney to work this out for you. Doing so requires further examination of the accident evidence to determine percentage of those at fault.
Perhaps you acknowledge being partly responsible for the injuries you suffered from. If so, then a certain percentage of your claim value may reduce based on attributable negligence.
Sometimes this can still lead to a substantial amount on your claim if the injuries you experienced and your car damage are serious enough.
Other Types of Negligence to Consider
Your legal team will look at other types of negligence with the at-fault person involved your car accident. Various types of negligence exist here in Louisiana that you might need to prove in court.
- Breach of Duty
- Cause in Fact
- Proximate Cause
All of the above relate to the at-fault person causing your physical injuries. Your legal team takes on these negligence variations as a way to further your claim value. That value could increase if the incident falls under some or all of the above categories.
Inherent Diminished Value and Repair Related Diminished Value
Two particular Louisiana laws to consider in your claim value relate directly to the car damage you incurred. Inherent Diminished Value involves your car being diminished in value due to the prior damages. Even if repaired, a prospective buyer may balk on buying your car because of the accident track record.
For Repair Related Diminished Value, you prove your car went through the process of repair, albeit not repaired correctly. You can use these state laws to help you gain more value on your claim by proving the fair market value of your car is reduced due to these circumstances.
Your biggest challenge is how you deal with insurance companies and their adjusters using “multipliers” to calculate your car damages. They may come to you with a lowball settlement offer, something you should turn down.
You need an experienced legal team to communicate with insurance companies so you can recover from your injuries.