When to Get a Lawyer in a Car Accident in New Orleans
2021 was the deadliest year in more than a decade for New Orleans drivers, with 69 people dying in car crashes, the highest amount of fatalities since 2004. According to the New Orleans Health Department and the Department of Public Works, that is a 35 percent increase from 2020.
In addition to that, 338 people were severely injured in car accidents in 2021, which is the highest number reported by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission since 2013.
What are the Circumstances a Lawyer is Needed After a Car Accident?
New Orleans drivers who suffer injuries or significant car damages should immediately hire an experienced personal injury attorney after a car accident.
An attorney should also be called after a car accident in these circumstances:
- The other driver’s insurance company or claims adjustor is not treating the victim of the accident fairly, such as trying to shift liability.
- Victim has serious legal questions and needs guidance in dealing with the process.
- Obvious (or possible) another driver(s) caused the accident.
- The other driver’s insurance carrier has offered the victim an extremely low settlement for the car crash.
- The victim’s injuries are severe or permanent.
- A governmental agency caused the car accident.
- Death from injuries sustained in the car accident of a family member or friend.
Why New Orleans Car Accident Victims Should Not Seek Out Compensation on Their Own
Unlike untrained New Orleans residents, car accident injury attorneys have years of experience practicing in the legal field. They know all of the nuances within the best strategies to help car accident victims recover maximum compensation from at-fault parties and their insurance companies, as well as top-dollar awards from juries.
There are a plethora of laws and rules that can affect when, how, and whom you can take legal action against for damages after a car accident and the amount of money someone might have to pay. An auto accident attorney is professionally trained on how to navigate those laws.
What are some other advantages to hiring a lawyer over handling a car accident claim on their own?
They Can Properly Identify All Legally Liable Parties
Experienced car accident attorneys know exactly where to look and what to look for when it comes to identifying all parties involved that potentially have a legal liability for damages. The attorney may even be able to uncover more than one party to pay part of the claim, which will recover more money in the settlement.
They Can Define the Value of the Car Accident Claim
This can be a complicated process that requires a high-level skill set to determine all of the victim’s out-of-pocket costs from the car accident now and in the future. A skilled attorney will also be able to place a dollar value on the emotional harm the victim suffered, such as physical and emotional pain and suffering, as well as any damage to personal relationships.
They Can Gather Evidence to Prove the Car Accident Claim
Car accident attorneys are trained to gather the many intricate pieces of the puzzle that fit together as evidence of the car accident. They can then develop them into a robust, convincing argument as proof of the other party’s liability for damages.
They Can Negotiate with Insurance Carriers
Because most lawsuits from a car accident will settle out of court, with the insurance company for the legally liable party paying the injured party, it takes an experienced attorney to get the largest settlement possible for their client. It requires the savviness to stay ahead of the insurance adjusters’ next move and navigate through the insurance policies involved.
They Can File a Lawsuit and Fight for the Victim’s Rights
The victim of a car accident should never act as their own lawyer in a lawsuit taking place in or out of the courtroom. A trusted attorney, who is respected by the judicial system, should file the lawsuit and represent the victim on their behalf.
What are the Steps New Orleans Drivers Should Take After a Car Accident?
- Seek medical attention if needed for injuries.
- Gather the contact info of all parties involved in the car accident, including drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Take photos of the other party’s registration and insurance information.
- Take photos of the accident scene with a cell phone if able, including the intersection, all sides of the cars involved, and close-ups of the damages.
- Call the police and make a report to the police of what happened. Do not apologize after the accident.
- If injured, take an ambulance to the hospital.
- Do not give any statements to any insurance company.
- Contact an attorney.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Case in Louisiana?
All states place time limits on a car accident victim’s right to file a lawsuit for damages. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is one year from the date the accident occurred to claim compensation. This also applies to surviving family members of a deceased loved one filing a lawsuit after a fatal accident. After that, the right to file a claim expires.
Statutes of limitations exist so that one person cannot indefinitely sue someone else for injuries they may have caused. Drivers have a duty to seek compensation or file a lawsuit right away against the at-fault parties that caused their injuries after a car accident.
There are exceptions to the statute of limitations deadline, however, which include:
- If a minor under the age of 18 (no matter how old they are) is injured in a car accident, the one-year statute of limitations does not start until the date the minor turns 18.
- If multiple cars are involved in an accident, which may require a more extensive, time-consuming investigation.
- If a car accident occurred because of a defective auto part or mechanical failure, which may take more than a year to determine the actual cause of the accident under the discovery rule.