A car accident is a significant disruption for many reasons, starting with the complications that car accident injuries bring to a victim’s life. These injuries cause considerable pain and suffering, emotional stress and can keep a victim from earning a livable wage — all while their medical expenses continue to climb. At the same time, your life is on hold as you wait to get an estimate back from a mechanic about whether or not your car is repairable, the cost of repairs, or declaring it “totaled.” Even if they do declare it totaled, you will still need to work through an insurance claim to get the funds to replace your vehicle, along with compensation for additional property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and many other damages that insurance companies prefer to “overlook” in accident claims. In short, the days, weeks, or even months following a significant car wreck can turn a victim’s life upside-down.
During this complicated process, a victim will also be expected to handle their insurance claim in one of two ways: go along with the insurance adjuster’s initial offer and accept far less financial compensation than they actually deserve; or, complete an in-depth investigation of the Baton Rouge car accident and all resulting damages before negotiating aggressively to reach a fair settlement agreement. Calculating these damages is complicated as it is, but when a victim is trying to recover from their accident injuries at the same time, it can often feel impossible. Unfortunately, this is what insurance companies want — stressed, overwhelmed, and inexperienced car accident victims often accept much less compensation than they deserve for their personal injury cases. Fortunately, there is help.
Contact Us Now For a Free Consultation With a Baton Rouge Car Accident Attorney
Our law firm offers a free consultation for Baton Rouge car accident victims to speak with a personal injury attorney about their situation. We understand that it can be confusing and intimidating to think about the future as you are dealing with economic uncertainty, treating painful injuries, and suffering emotional distress from this terrifying experience. Louisiana personal injury law is complex and often inaccessible to anyone who is not a trained and experienced car accident lawyer, which is why it is so vital for accident victims to partner with a proven professional.
During your consultation, we can go through the many details of your Baton Rouge car accident, including the nature of your injuries, the many impacts you are likely navigating in the aftermath, and explain how our law firm can support you through this process.
You Pay Nothing If We Don’t Win
Many people rule out the possibility of hiring a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer because of the perceived costs, but since we work on a contingency fee, you will not pay a dollar if we don’t win. A contingency fee is a predetermined percentage of your award that your attorney will take as payment, as opposed to hourly fees or other upfront costs.
Working with accident attorneys to take on the insurance companies is within your reach, and it can make the difference between a settlement that covers your damages or taking on the financial burden of someone else’s dangerous behavior. Read more about how our Baton Rouge, Louisiana law firm can help you get the compensation you deserve and contact us today for your free case evaluation.
Understanding The Basics of an Insurance Claim
The following sections will give you a better sense of how an insurance claim works. Since no two Baton Rouge car accidents are alike, there will likely be many differences between these overview explanations and your actual situation. Contact our law firm as soon as possible to partner with a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer today so you can focus on your recovery without taking on the stress of this process.
Fault and Liability
Before you file a claim with another driver’s insurance company in Baton Rouge, the first step is to determine who caused the accident, how they caused it, and, therefore, who is liable for the resulting damages. In some instances, such as a car wreck where the other driver is arrested for drunk driving, it can be very straightforward. Others may be more difficult to determine what exactly went wrong. Your Baton Rouge car accident attorney may be able to reach a concrete and final answer about this step immediately, or they may need to go back and forth with the insurance company throughout the rest of the claims process to reach a decision.
Understanding Comparative Fault
Like most other US jurisdictions, Louisiana uses a law known as “comparative fault” for personal injury claims and lawsuits. This means that a Baton Rouge victim can seek compensation for their damages, and the final award will be reduced by the percentage (if any) that they were at fault. For example: if you were struck by a drunk driver, but you were driving 10 mph over the speed limit, driving under the influence as well, or engaging in some sort of distracted driving at the time of the collision, it may be determined that you are 10%-50% at fault for the auto accident. In this case, your final award would be reduced by 10%-50%.
This law is extremely helpful since the alternative would bar a victim from seeking any compensation for an accident that they were even 1% at fault for. However, insurance adjusters will use this law to their advantage in their pursuit of the lowest possible settlement in order to save their employer as much money as possible. Every percentage point that an insurance company is able to pin on you saves money, and across hundreds and thousands of claims each year, these savings add up. Your car accident attorney will need to be diligent and aggressive to ensure that you do not take on any of the financial burden that the other driver is responsible for. You will be able to learn more about this important detail during your first consultation with our Baton Rouge law firm about your accident.
When you file a claim with the insurance company after an accident, their goal isn’t to pay you what you deserve. An insurance company stays profitable by settling claims for as little as possible, regardless of how clear it may be that their policyholder is responsible for the car accident. This will be clear from the start as the adjuster works to pin as much fault on you as possible, and it becomes more apparent when you move into the next step: calculating the compensation you are owed. Your attorney will calculate the damages they believe you are owed, and you will be shocked at the difference between their calculations and the initial offer from the insurance company.
Our Baton Rouge car accident lawyers have years of experience helping clients recover compensation for their injuries after many types of accidents and use close attention to detail to ensure that all damages are accounted for during this process. Things like medical bills and lost wages are obvious, and the adjuster will likely be willing to pay these damages without a fight. Many other damages are often overlooked or difficult to calculate, and these are the damages that an experienced lawyer will fight to recover.
Economic damages are the basis of your claim and include the cost of medical care, any impacts to your earnings, and anything else that comes with a measurable, tangible dollar value associated with it. If you pay for any services for tasks that you would generally handle on your own, such as driving, cleaning, grocery shopping, or cooking, these would also be considered financial impacts of your accident, and you are entitled to compensation for them. These are just a few of the many economic damages that experienced attorneys will be able to track down and measure for their clients following serious car accidents.
Non-economic damages are those damages that do not have dollar values, which makes them more complicated to calculate, and can be very difficult to defend during negotiations for people who are not injury lawyers. These damages include things like the emotional distress you likely endured during the auto accident, the pain and suffering of your injuries, and the many other “intangible” impacts that a victim is left to confront in the aftermath of a serious accident. In-car accidents that result in wrongful death, the surviving family members will be able to seek non-economic damages for things like the loss of companionship and the trauma of enduring this tragic and avoidable death.
When Baton Rouge attorneys start gathering damages after car accidents, they have a range of tools at their disposal to calculate these nebulous and abstract impacts. Your attorney will identify which tool is most effective for seeking the maximum damages for car accidents allowable under Louisiana personal injury law.
Negotiating a Settlement After a Baton Rouge, LA Car Accident
Once your attorney has calculated all damages for your car accident, the next step will be to make a counter-offer following the initial settlement offer from the insurer. The gap between these figures is often shocking and will be a clear indication of the difference in priorities between insurers and your car accident attorney. A majority of personal injury cases after accidents are settled before a victim needs to file a lawsuit, which may or may not be true with your own situation, but you can rest assured that your attorney will often be focusing on reaching an out-of-court settlement. There are, of course, particular Baton Rouge accidents where an attorney may determine that the best approach is to go straight to the Louisiana courts.
Louisiana Statute of Limitations
One important factor to be aware of is the statute limiting the amount of time a victim has to take legal action for accidents. Article 3492 of the Louisiana Civil Code allows for victims of car accidents to file a lawsuit within one year of the accident or one year from when they first noticed their injuries. Keep in mind that the burden of proof will fall on you to prove that you did not recognize your injuries immediately after the Baton Rouge accident, so it is best to contact our law firm immediately after your accident to begin the process with ample time. During this year, we will work to settle your claim before taking your case to the courts, if possible. A settlement helps to avoid possible trips to a New Orleans courthouse and time-consuming and involved court cases that take the negotiations out of our control and leave them with a judge or jury.
Contact Our Firm For a Free Consultation Now
Our free evaluation will help you understand the many confusing and specific details that must be addressed following car accidents. Our law firm has handled many different types of accidents, ranging from head-on collisions to single-vehicle accidents, and has seen many surprising and unique details that can add to an already-complicated case. The sooner you contact our Baton Rouge law firm, the sooner we will be able to get working on your case.