Find a Car Accident Attorney in New Orleans
If you have recently been involved in a car accident or lost a loved one to a negligent driver, speak to a New Orleans car accident attorney as soon as possible. A successful legal claim can make all the difference in getting the compensation you need to cover high medical bills, property damage, and other expenses.
The attorneys of Charbonnet Law Firm are New Orleans natives and well-versed with Louisiana car accident law. We will fight to get you the funds you need to cover accident-related expenses and can also help enforce the terms of your policy if your insurance company is refusing to honor your claims. Reach out now for a free consultation and case evaluation.
New Orleans Car Accident Statistics
According to the Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation Safety (CARTS) at Louisiana State University, in 2019, there were more than 72,000 injuries and 722 deaths on Louisiana roadways, with 2020 seeing similar numbers despite stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
A University of Michigan study comparing states by traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents found that Louisiana came near the bottom at 42nd for traffic safety. The driving factors behind these motor vehicle accidents included vehicle occupants failing to wear seatbelts, driver speed, distraction, and impairment.
While Louisiana as a whole can be dangerous for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike, New Orleans faces particularly high rates of motor vehicle accidents. According to that same LSU data, nearly one in three of Louisiana’s traffic injuries occurred in the New Orleans metropolitan region. Even more alarming: New Orleans and the surrounding parishes accounted for 22 percent of traffic fatalities in the entire state. Impaired drivers, traffic congestion, and roads in need of repair have all contributed to New Orleans residents experience more than their fair share of vehicle crashes.
I Got Into a Car Accident—What Do I Do?
The clock starts ticking immediately once the accident occurs. Wait too long and you may miss important timeframes or steps, which could make it impossible for you to pursue a car accident claim. Although swift action is necessary, it’s important to go about it the right way. Follow the steps below to give yourself the best chance at successfully pursuing a car accident claim.
1. Remain at the scene
Leaving the scene before you have been cleared by police is one of the worst mistakes you can make after a car accident in Louisiana. Not only is it a crime (one that can be punished with jail time if someone is injured), but it may make you ineligible for any injury claims or even coverage by your insurance policy.
2. Call 911 for injuries & get everyone involved to safety
Start by calling emergency services, and explain the situation and any injuries. Use simple and clear language when possible: who, what, where.
If you can, attempt to make the scene as safe as possible for others. Verify that other drivers aren’t experiencing medical emergencies. Then, attempt to move damaged vehicles out of the way where they won’t be struck by people passing the scene.
Provide immediate medical assistance if necessary and possible. If vehicles or persons with neck injuries can’t be moved, set up flares.
If there are no injuries, you will still need to report the accident to authorities if property damage occurred. You may not be able to pursue property damage claims from accidents if police reports do not properly back them up.
3. Gather information and take photos of the incident
Get insurance information from all drivers involved in the accident. Having this information will make it far easier for you to process any claims. If you fail to gather this information at the accident, you may not be able to contact the other parties at a later time.
If you cannot collect information from the other drivers (for example, because you’re injured), ask a witness at the scene if they can collect the information for you. Consider calling a friend to collect the insurance information if you need to be transported to a hospital.
You should also take as many photos of the accident and damage as you can. Take photos of the damaged areas of all vehicles involved and the directions from which these vehicles arrived at the scene of the accident. These photos may be used as evidence to prove your claims at a later date.
4. Seek medical treatment immediately if injured
Many insurance companies consider the fact that you sought emergency treatment the day of the accident when determining the severity of your injuries.
If you fail to seek treatment, the full extent of your injuries may not be properly documented. You should not assume that you don’t have serious injuries just because you don’t feel unwell. The pain of many injuries may be dulled by adrenaline at the time of the accident.
Seeking treatment immediately can help you provide evidence that the injuries occurred as a result of the accident and not at a later time.
Even if you just get checked out at urgent care, this is important for your case. Be sure to use your health insurance if you have it. Keep track of any payments you make, as you may be able to get compensation at a later date.
5. Contact a local car accident attorney in New Orleans
You should contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. They will be guide you through the process and help with everything from medical evaluations to negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. Hiring a lawyer right away can help you avoid serious mistakes by:
- Protecting you from making statements that are dangerous to your case
- Help you collect evidence that may not be available at a later time
- Observe the proper deadlines for filing
Charbonnet Law Firm has won cases for clients in the New Orleans area for decades. Let our skilled, caring legal team take care of all the confusing details and protect your interests while you focus on recovering.
Louisiana Car Accident Laws & FAQs
In Louisiana, car accident case law is generally governed by the same statutes governing personal injury, though this is not always the case. Depending on your case and injuries, there may be different legal requirements, caps to awards for damages, and other complicating factors.
A skilled attorney with experience in Louisiana car accidents and personal injury law can help you understand your rights and options when navigating this process.
If you’ve never been in a car accident before or have lived in another state, familiarizing yourself with Louisiana car accident laws will help you determine what to do immediately after getting into a car accident and what your options are.
Below are some of the state laws that govern motor vehicle accidents in New Orleans and Louisiana which could determine your rights in making an accident injury claim. An experienced attorney can help you better understand how these laws shape your rights and responsibilities and how they can affect the outcome of a case if you are injured in a car accident in Louisiana.
- Requirement To Report Vehicle Accidents
- Statute Of Limitations (Prescription)
- Comparative Negligence
- At-Fault Driver’s Personal Car Insurance
- No Requirement to Carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- No Pay No Play
When should I report a car accident?
By law, drivers in Louisiana must immediately report any vehicle accident if that accident results in injury, the death of any person, or property damage in excess of $500. To comply with this law, you’ll need to call 911 right after the accident occurs.
If a non-life-threatening emergency occurs, the operator may instruct you to call 311 or another service to report the accident. It is important that you follow through with the reporting even if the accident isn’t an emergency.
The accident will then be investigated by a law enforcement officer directed to the scene by emergency services. The officer will take down the details of the crash and may have some questions to ask you.
When the investigation is complete, a crash report will be publicly available. Our office can secure it for you once the law enforcement officer completes and releases it.
When is the deadline to file a claim for a car accident in Louisiana?
Louisiana has different motor vehicle laws than the rest of the country. The Pelican State also uses different terms for standard legal concepts. For example, in Louisiana, we say “prescription” instead of “Statute of Limitations.”
The prescription for filing a car accident claim is one year. What does that mean?
Louisiana drivers have one year from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. This is one of the shortest limits in the country. It is a limit that can pass very quickly while you’re recovering from car accident injuries or waiting to receive reports from any investigations.
This limit applies to any claim for injury or vehicle damage by a driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist. Missing it almost certainly means losing your ability to negotiate for fair compensation. To avoid this, speak to an experienced as soon as possible after the car accident. This will give you and your legal team plenty of time to build the strongest case possible before the one-year deadline.
I was partially at fault, am I still eligible for compensation?
Louisiana car accident judgments are subject to comparative negligence law. This means that a court can find you, the victim, partially at fault for your car accident. You can still recover damages for your case if you are found to be partially at fault. However, the court will reduce your award by the percentage that it decides you were at fault.
Let’s explore this with an example. Imagine that you successfully make a claim for an injury in the amount of $100,000. If you received a $100,000 award and were found to be 20% at fault for the car accident, your award would be reduced by 20% to $80,000. An insurance claims adjuster will use the same logic in determining what it will offer as a settlement.
Obviously, there is no empirical measure of fault. Any assignment of liability is really a judgment call that is subject to your ability to negotiate with insurers or persuade a judge or jury. Evidence that you or your lawyer collect from the accident scene can be crucial to this process. So can the witnesses that you collect and what is said to your insurance company.
An experienced car accident attorney with knowledge of past awards and how “fault” is determined can be invaluable in helping you through this process.
How much compensation will I get from the insurance company?
If you are in an accident involving a driver who is at fault for the accident, chances are the driver has personal car insurance. Like most states, Louisiana requires drivers to carry this insurance. Failing to carry this insurance can lead directly to fines and loss of license. That existing personal liability insurance will extend to rental cars and cover injuries as well as damages suffered by others.
All insurance policies only pay up to the policy limits. The amount that your insurance or the insurance of other drivers covers will vary based on the cost and the quality of the policy. Your insurance may only cover a small portion of the damages that you suffer in an accident.
In Louisiana, drivers of personal use vehicles are required to maintain at least the following levels of liability insurance coverage:
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
The car insurance policies that you can buy on the open market will not carry less than this amount. However, you have the option of buying car insurance that covers significantly more. Many policies also include comprehensive and collision coverage. Some rental car companies require renters to provide proof of insurance coverage from a personal car insurance policy in order to waive their liability or collision coverage. The level of coverage will depend on the state requirements in which the policy was issued.
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?
PIP is a type of insurance that is available in no-fault states. It covers the policyholder’s medical bills regardless of who was found to be at fault for the accident. Unlike many states, Louisiana does not require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP).
Personal injury protection is not available in Louisiana. However, while this coverage is unavailable from any car insurance policy, you may be able to find a policy that provides similar protection in the form of a provision called “MedPay.”
If your policy includes MedPay, you can get coverage for your injuries even if you are found to be at 100% fault for the accident. MedPay typically covers less than the PIP protection that you can get from policies in other states. This makes it all the more important that you make a successful claim if you need coverage for medical bills.
What is the “No Pay No Play” law and what does it mean?
Louisiana is one of a few states that has passed a “No Pay No Play” law. This law bars uninsured and under-insured drivers from collecting the first $15,000 dollars of any claim of bodily injury and the first $25,000 of any claim of property damage.
What means that if you drive without insurance, you cannot make claims before a certain limit—even if another driver is found to be completely at fault for the accident. Neither they nor their insurance will be responsible for your damages unless those damages exceed the limits listed above.
While the “No Pay No Play’ applies to most car accidents, there are some important exceptions. Even if you drive without insurance, you may still be able to make full claims against the other driver if that driver:
- Was intoxicated
- Caused the accident intentionally (for example, by ramming your car)
- Was engaged in committing a felony crime
- Was fleeing from the scene of a crime
- Struck you while you were parked
This law doesn’t apply if you are an out-of-state driver or have out-of-state insurance, even if that insurance doesn’t cover enough to meet Louisiana standards.
Why Choose Charbonnet Law Firm
The Charbonnet Law Firm team is made up of a group of attorneys who were all born and raised in the New Orleans area and are extremely knowledgeable on local car accident laws. Our lawyers and staff are well connected and respected within the community which allows us to achieve better results for our clients.
Our team has more than 50 years of combined legal experience serving families in the New Orleans area and surrounding Louisiana communities. We take pride in providing every client with personalized legal services that are tailored to their personal circumstances.
With a focus on complex injury cases, we take a collective team approach when handling cases that require thorough research and medical experts.
The lawyers at our law firm work together on serious injury cases. By combining the experience of multiple attorneys, we can do more to be prepared for trial should a case need to be litigated. In addition to injury cases, our team represents families that need other legal services. We are also available to help you with probate services such as drafting wills and handling successions and estate planning.
Our Car Accident Case Results
We are proud of the fact that we have been able to produce some amazing outcomes for our clients. In the past, we have secured:
- $2.75 million for a client after a drunk driver caused the client to have cervical and lumbar surgeries
- $2.4 million for a client who suffered injuries after an 18 Wheeler crash and required multiple surgeries
- $1.5 million for a client who suffered severe injuries after an 18 Wheeler crash
- $575k for a client who required extensive neck surgery after being involved in an 18 Wheeler crash
The firm has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for clients over the years. With three generations representing injured people in New Orleans, our team would be happy to fight for you.
Contact Experienced Car Accident & Personal Injury Attorneys
Have you been involved in a car accident, truck accident, or other personal injury matter? Contact the team at Charbonnet Law Firm today for a free consultation. Our dedicated legal team will give you a clear picture of your claim and what to expect and work tirelessly to build the best possible case for you so that you can focus on healing. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing their legal interests are being protected by trusted New Orleans car accident attorneys.