Each year from 2011 to 2016, over 675 people died and over 70,000 were injured in Louisiana traffic crashes, according to Louisiana State University. Most of these accidents were the result of carelessness and negligence. Victims of car accidents (or their family members in fatal cases) have the right to seek compensation for their accident-related losses. With adequate evidence, a thorough claim, and a Lafayette car accident lawyer with strong negotiation skills, you can obtain a substantial settlement that helps cover your current and future expenses.
Securing a settlement will not undo your harm, of course, but being able to provide for your needs while you are healing from your injury will allow you to focus on getting life back on track. For legal help after a car accident in Lafayette, call Cueria Law Firm at 800-899-7102 and schedule a free case evaluation.
Do I have a valid car accident liability claim?
Louisiana is a fault car insurance state, which means each party is financially liable for the damage it causes. If you cause a wreck, you (technically, your insurance company) will need to pay for your and other’s damages. Conversely, if the other party was at fault, you can file a car accident claim with his insurer and request compensation for losses.
Your car accident claim is only valid if you can prove the other party was liable for the accident, that is, negligent. In other words, he must have done something that breached the standard duty of care, i.e., all road users must act responsibly on the road. Numerous things can be negligent behavior in a car accident. Below are just a few examples:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Falling asleep at the wheel or daydreaming
- Being distracted by passengers
- Eating, drinking, grooming, fumbling with the radio
- Speeding or driving recklessly
- Not looking carefully before maneuvering
- Texting, surfing the Internet, or talking on the phone while driving
- Not adhering to the rules of the road
How do I prove the other driver was at fault?
Knowing the other driver was at fault is one thing, but you actually have to be able to prove it in order to win your case. Be forewarned that the other driver/insurance company might try to pin all, or some, of the blame on you. This is especially true when your damages are substantial. Insurers tend to try to refute high value claims and reduce payouts to victims as much as possible.
So how do you prove the other driver was behaving negligently at the time of the accident? The more evidence you can collect the better.
The police report will be helpful, as will photos of the crash scene and damage to the cars. If any witnesses saw your accident, their statements can also support your case. In complicated cases with disputed fault, your attorney can enlist the help of an accident expert to reconstruct the moment of impact and determine which party was responsible.
Other pieces of evidence that might be helpful, depending on the situation, include cell phone records, breathalyzer/blood test results, and traffic cam footage.
Try not to get overwhelmed figuring out which evidence you need or how to collect it. We have some excellent researchers and investigators at Cueria Law Firm. With our quick footwork, thorough investigation, and use of subpoenas, we can collect the evidence you need during the discovery process and work to construct a solid claim that clearly proves liability.
What can I expect during the claims process?
The car accident claim process is fairly straightforward, but not always cut-and-dry, and certainly not always hiccup-free. Generally, after addressing your medical needs, you will begin the process by filing a claim with the appropriate insurer. Then, you and your attorney will set to work on compiling evidence to support your claim and send it, along with a demand letter detailing your damages, to the insurance company.
Upon reviewing the facts and accepting your claim, the insurance company will offer you a settlement. Note, the first offer is typically a lowball one, so do not rush to sign it right away. Your attorney can review the offer to determine if it is adequate and then negotiate directly with the insurance adjuster to obtain a higher amount.
If you reach a fair agreement, you can accept it and await your check from the insurer. If, however, you cannot reach a fair agreement or the insurer denies your claim altogether, you will need to file a personal injury suit in Lafayette civil court.
The car accident attorneys at Cueria Law Firm can assist you with this. We prepare each case from the get-go as if we were headed for litigation. This way, we are prepared for whatever course of action may be necessary to win you the funds you deserve. If the case goes to court, the judge will hear both sides of the case, make a decision, and award you with any appropriate damages.
What kinds of damages can I recover if I win my case?
When you file a car accident claim, you can recover damages up to that party’s (the defendant’s) policy limit. You can recover damages for things such as:
- Medical bills and rehabilitation
- Transportation for medical appointments
- Loss of income
- The cost of hiring help for household tasks your injury prohibits you from doing
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of services
- Pain and suffering, such as lingering pain or emotional distress
If your damages exceed the defendant’s policy limit, you have the option of filing a suit directly against her. Because drivers in Louisiana are only required to keep a minimum of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance, any major injury you sustain in a car accident can easily surpass that limit.
The upside is that if your case goes to court, you can obtain fuller damages than you can from an insurance claim. With a lawsuit, you would not need to stay within policy limits, and, in addition to recovering your compensatory damages, you might also qualify for punitive damages if the defendant’s negligence was especially extreme or wanton, such as in case the case of a DUI accident. Your lawyer can explain the best course of action to take and help estimate the overall value of your case.
What if I cannot afford an attorney?
We believe that all injured victims deserve access to legal counsel. Our attorneys at Cueria Law Firm work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not charge you until and unless we obtain a settlement for you. In other words, you do not have to worry about upfront payment and there is never any risk when you use our services.
Our lawyer can help you with the entire car accident claims process, from initial filing to negotiating a higher settlement. We are also skilled litigators and are fully equipped to handle all types of injury cases in state court. Get in touch with one our team members in Lafayette today by calling 800-899-7102, and see how we may be of service to you.