Being involved in a car accident can be overwhelming, especially if you have suffered significant injuries. While dealing with injuries and mounting medical bills, you are also probably navigating an insurance claim.
On top of that, there is also a clock ticking limiting your ability to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. It is a balancing act with important timelines that must be considered if you want to be successful in an injury claim.
Louisiana’s Fault-Based Insurance System
In Louisiana, our car insurance system is a fault-based one. This means that after a car accident, in order to get compensated for your injuries, you must file an insurance claim that will consider who was at fault for the accident.
This presents some possible problems. Who determines who was at fault? What happens if the insurance company doesn’t agree and won’t compensate you fairly? What if your costs exceed the policy limits?
Unfortunately, many accident victims find themselves in these situations after a car accident. And while these issues are being decided, you also have a legal statute of limitations you need to consider giving you only one year from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, if necessary.
While a year may sound like a long time, it goes very quickly when you are busy navigating doctor visits, mounting medical costs, getting your vehicle repaired, and back and forth insurance claim negotiations. Having the benefit of a New Orleans car accident lawyer can be critical at times like this.
How Injury Claims Work After A Car Accident
All registered drivers in Louisiana are required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. This includes:
- Bodily injury or death of one individual in the amount of $15,000
- Total bodily injury or death per accident of $30,000
- Property damage of $25,000 per accident
Accident victims must file a claim either with their own insurance company or the insurance company of the at-fault driver in order to receive compensation for their medical costs, personal property costs, lost wages, and other damages and costs.
When Insurance Denies Valid Claims
Insurance companies are for-profit entities that answer to corporate shareholders, and they always must consider ways to be more profitable. The most obvious way to do this is to mitigate their responsibility after an accident and keep settlements to a minimum.
Common ways insurance companies attempt to keep their settlements low are by claiming that their insured did not cause the accident, that your injuries are not as extensive as you claim or they were caused by pre-existing conditions, or by finding other ways to lessen their responsibility for a fair injury settlement.
The first claim settlements offered by insurance companies are rarely adequate to cover all a victim’s costs. But many injured victims don’t realize that they don’t have to accept an unfair settlement. It usually takes a great deal of negotiation with an insurance company to get a settlement that the injured party truly deserves. Having a personal injury attorney advocating on your behalf is the best way to get the most out of a settlement.
If a fair settlement is not possible through negotiation, the injured party may be left to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In some cases, a lawsuit may be filed against the insurance carrier alone under Louisiana’s Direct Action Statute.
When A Personal Injury Lawsuit May Be Required
When an insurance company denies a claim, policy limits are exhausted, or the at-fault driver is not insured or underinsured, accident victims must find other ways to get compensated for their injuries and damages. One of these ways is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
But the time limit for filing that lawsuit is one year from the date of the accident. If an accident victim attempts to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has lapsed, they may find the court will not recognize their case.
Many months can get eaten up filing insurance claims and negotiating settlements, so it is critical for victims of car accidents to leave plenty of time in the event that they may need to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations deadline. An experienced personal injury attorney is your best chance at getting the most compensation possible.
Getting Experienced Legal Assistance
If you have been injured in a car accident in Louisiana, having the skilled guidance of a New Orleans car accident attorney can mean the difference between getting compensated fairly for your injuries or being left to personally pay for them out of pocket. Don’t take that chance.