If you’ve ever been injured in a car wreck, hurt on the job or otherwise injured through the fault of someone else, you’ve likely researched Louisiana personal injury law to learn more. Injuries from an accident can last for years and affect every single aspect of your life. There’s no amount of money that can make you whole, but the law does the best it can to attempt to put your life back the way it was before your injury.
Louisiana has devised a large body of law that covers personal injury law and it is too lengthy to fit into a book. There are numerous code articles, cases and statutes that make personal injury law in Louisiana quite complex.
This article will attempt to cover multiple aspect of personal injury law to at least give you a starting point during your research phase. You may want to contact a Louisiana personal injury attorney and schedule a free consultation.
What Happens After a Car Wreck?
If you’ve ever been in a car wreck, you know how confusing the first few moments can be. You’re disoriented, injured and may not be in a familiar place. Gather as much information from the other driver as you can. Police officers may not always come to the scene, especially if it’s a small fender bender. If they do, they will write a report and you will have to request the police report. The police report will have the other driver’s information and insurance agent listed. Check it for correctness as soon as you can.
If you’re not at fault – you can either contact their insurance agent to begin the claim process or you can hire an attorney. Keep in mind that if you file the claim yourself, you will have a long road ahead of you before the insurance company issues you a check.
You should seek medical treatment as soon as you can to begin the healing process. You may have to see multiple healthcare practitioners for months, or you may be lucky and just have to get checked out for minor injuries. Either way, you should see a Doctor to make sure you are healthy and to establish a paper trail for your injuries.
This would be a good time to make an accident binder to keep all of your accident related information for when you need it. You will either need to settle your personal injury claim with the insurance company or take your case to trial and it helps to stay organized.
Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
You’re not required to hire an attorney. You can settle your own claim with the insurance company or take it to trial on your own. However, keep in mind the insurance company does not have your best interests at heart, nor do they represent you in your personal injury claim. Their job is to get you to accept the lowest offer possible and they are extremely good at their job. There are a lot of moving parts to a personal injury claim in Louisiana and you may not be up to the challenge by yourself. It is wise to speak with an attorney about your personal injury claim.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim in Louisiana?
It depends on the severity of your injury and the insurance company you are dealing with. Most soft tissue injuries can be settled in 3 to 6 months, but can go for much longer if the insurance company is not offering you enough money. Severe injuries can require multiple surgeries and years of physical therapy and may take much longer to settle. An experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney can give you a clear estimate by taking a look at your claim.
What is the Average Payout for Personal Injury in Louisiana?
The amount you can receive for a personal injury claim depends on the severity of your injury and the amount of insurance available. The minimum liability limits for auto insurance in Louisiana is 15/30, which means there is only $15,000 available total for your personal injury claim. That figure doesn’t count the damage done to your vehicle – they are still responsible for that portion of the claim. The $15,000 is what you have available to fight for your injury. Medical expenses are taken off the top and you are paid with what’s left over. That amount can dwindle down fast and that’s assuming you get all of it. Remember, the insurance company’s job is to pay out as little as possible, but a good attorney has a better chance of getting the max amount available on the insurance policy.
Why Do Insurance Companies Lowball?
Insurance companies will offer you a low amount on the first offer in an attempt to save money. Remember, they are not on your side. They’re goal is to have you accept quickly and with less money.
How Do You Respond to a Low Settlement Offer?
There are a few things you should do before responding to a low settlement offer:
- Remain calm;
- Remember it isn’t personal;
- Analyze the offer before responding;
- Think of your counteroffer;
- Respond to the insurance company in writing so there is a record.
This is the time where you need to remain level-headed and think it through before responding hastily.
Should You Accept the First Settlement Offer for Your Claim?
The first offer is usually extremely low. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is the best offer, they have to begin somewhere. The insurance company hopes you will take the first low offer, but you always have the option to counteroffer. It’s rare that an insurance company will offer you the full amount of the insurance policy, especially if you are unrepresented by an attorney. Remember, it’s not personal and you need to remain calm and work the offer.
Do Insurance Companies Prefer to Settle Out of Court?
Insurance companies absolutely prefer to settle out of court. You will begin negotiations with a claims specialist and not an attorney in most situations. Settling outside of court saves the insurance company a great deal of money and there isn’t the uncertainty of court. They never know what the jury or judge will award, so it is safer for the insurance company to settle your case and not pay an insurance defense attorney. There’s also less stress for all parties if a settlement can be agreed upon instead of taking it to trial. Keep this in mind when negotiating.
What Happens if You Don’t Accept a Settlement?
If you don’t accept the settlement from the insurance company, you will have to take your case to court. Your options are to settle or litigate. There’s a chance you won’t be awarded as much as you think if you go to court. There’s also a chance that you will win nothing if the case is tried on the merits. You never know what will happen in court, especially if a jury is involved.
How Long Do I Have to File My Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury cases in Louisiana are subject to one-year prescription. That means you have one year in which to file your claim or it will prescribe and you will have no legal recourse. Prescription begins to run from the day injury or damage is sustained. You don’t want to wait until the last minute to file your claim because you risk missing the date. Miss it by one day and you will not be able to sue the insurance company and they are not obligated to pay you anything. Sound scary? It happens all the time. An attorney will make sure you don’t miss the deadline, but don’t wait until the last minute to try to hire an attorney. They need time to prepare the filings and may turn you down if you wait too close to the prescription date.
Can a Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney Get Me More Money?
Studies have shown that an attorney can get you more money on average than handling the case yourself. Attorneys that specialize in personal injury know the law, cases and have experience dealing with insurance companies and the court system. The rules are tricky and one mistake can cause you to lose your case and end up with nothing.
How Much Do Personal Injury Attorneys Charge?
Personal injury cases are mostly taken on a contingency basis, meaning you pay a percentage of your settlement to the attorney. You don’t normally pay up front or pay an hourly fee. This is a great payment setup because the attorney is motivated to get you as much money as possible so their fee will be higher. Most personal injury attorneys in Louisiana charge between 30% to 40% and sometimes higher if it goes to court and is a complex case. Your case may take a number of years to complete and an attorney will be with you every step of the way. It’s possible they may be able to settle your case faster due to the fact the insurance companies know an attorney isn’t scared to take the case to trial.
If you’ve recently experienced a car wreck and are looking to hire an attorney in Louisiana, here’s a handy guide that will help you choose the best personal injury attorney for your case.
Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be used as legal advice. Laws and practices change and this website is not to be relied upon for legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advice regarding your legal issue.