Car Accidents In New Orleans And Louisiana
Car Accidents In New Orleans And Louisiana
Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, can be dangerous for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.
In 2019, there were more than 72,000 injuries and 722 deaths on Louisiana roadways (according to the Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation Safety (CARTS) at Louisiana State University).
According to that same LSU data, in 2019, nearly one in three of Louisiana’s traffic injuries occurred in the New Orleans metropolitan region. And New Orleans and surrounding parishes accounted for 22 percent of traffic fatalities in the state.
Whether it is impaired drivers, traffic congestion, or roads in need of repair—drivers in New Orleans in particular experience more than their fair share of vehicle crashes.
A recent 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 usual factors tend to play a role in this troubling statistic: including vehicle occupants wearing seatbelts, often coupled with driver speed, distraction, and impairment.
Unfortunately, it seems that the number of deadly traffic accidents is holding steady into 2020 despite the long stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have been involved in a car accident or have lost a loved one to a negligent driver, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Getting the compensation you need to cover high medical bills, property damage, and other expenses may depend on a successful legal claim.
Our lawyers can help you fight for the funds you need to cover accident-related expenses. We can also help you 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.
Steps To Take If You Are In A Car Accident In Louisiana
You must take the correct actions after a car accident. If you don’t have a source of legal advice, it’s possible that you may make mistakes that can make it impossible to pursue a claim in the future.
After a car accident, follow the steps below to give yourself the best chance at pursuing a claim successfully.
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. If you are injured, seek medical treatment immediately
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 trusted attorney with experience in Louisiana car accident cases right away.
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after you have been in an accident. Hiring a lawyer right away can help you avoid serious mistakes. Your lawyer can protect you from making statements that are dangerous to your case, help you collect evidence that may not be available at a later time, and 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 Law Governing Car Accidents
The laws governing car accidents in Louisiana may be different from what you expect if you have lived in other states or never been involved in a car accident.
Below are some of the state laws that govern motor vehicle accidents in New Orleans and 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
Each of these special Louisiana laws is covered in greater detail below. You should browse them so that you understand more about the kind of challenges you’ll face if you want to make 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 Car Accidents
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.
Statute Of Limitations (Prescription)
You may have heard that Louisiana has different laws than the rest of the country. In addition to different laws, this state also likes to use different terms for standard legal concepts. For example, in Louisiana, we say “prescription” instead of “Statute of Limitations.”
The prescription for filing a claim is one year. What does that mean?
It means you 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 stuck waiting to recover from your injuries or 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.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Speak with an attorney experienced in Louisiana car accident claims and personal injury law right away.
By leaving yourself plenty of time before the one-year deadline, you and your legal team can build the strongest case possible for the compensation you deserve.
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.
If you are found to be partially at fault, you can still recover damages for your case. However, the court will also 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 whether you say anything wrong to your insurance company.
A skilled, experienced attorney with knowledge of past awards and how “fault” is determined can be invaluable in helping you through this process.
At-Fault Driver’s Personal Car Insurance
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 insurance. 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.
No Requirement to Carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Unlike many states, Louisiana does not require drivers to carry 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.
PIP is not available in Louisiana. While you can’t get this coverage from any car insurance policies, 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.
No Pay No Play
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 this law means is 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.
Personal Injury Law
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.
Why You Should Choose Charbonnet Law Firm
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.
Our reputation and track record of success has allowed our firm to grow exponentially over the past several decades. We work to protect this reputation by providing compassionate and expert service to each client who comes to us for help.
Do you need help right now? Please call if you have been injured in a New Orleans car accident. Our attorneys have the insight to deliver the best outcomes for your case. We will work to deliver a settlement that allows you to continue with your life after one of these catastrophic events.
How We Help Clients
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.
The Charbonnet Law Firm team is made up of a group of attorneys who were all born and raised in the New Orleans area. Our lawyers and staff are well connected and respected within the community. We use this reputation as a resource for our clients.
Case Results for Car Accident Cases
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.
Have you been involved in a car accident, truck accident, or other personal injury matter? Do you need an estate planning matter handled? Contact the team at Charbonnet Law Firm today, and you will be able to speak to an attorney regarding your matter shortly.
Let our dedicated legal team give you a clear picture of your claim and what to expect. Our team will work tirelessly to build the best possible case for you.
At Charbonnet Law Firm, our clients enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing their legal interests are being protected. Call today so that you can focus on healing and getting back to your life. Call us today for a free consultation.