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April 13, 2023

Guideline and Best Practices for Reporting a Car Accident to an Insurance Company in Louisiana

by Evan Breaux | Car Accident Settlements | 0 comments

We’ve compiled a comprehensive yet concise outline of the process of reporting a car accident to the police at the scene and to insurance companies, along with our top 3 tips for dealing with car insurance companies after an accident.

After an accident, dealing with the New Orleans car accident claim process is probably the last thing anyone wants to do. Tensions are high in the direct aftermath of an accident, and you may be experiencing so much increased adrenaline that you don’t even realize you are injured. The first thing you want to do is check in with yourself and your body: are you in need of an ambulance? Don’t hesitate to go to the hospital after an accident. Your physical health is a top priority.

If, on the other hand, you are well enough to make a few phone calls and to speak to the police, you’ll want to do that immediately after the dust settles.

First, call the police. They will come to the scene of the accident and file a police report.

Second, call your insurance company to report your accident.

What to Do and Not Do When Reporting a Car Accident in Louisiana to the Police and Insurance

DO:

  1. Call the police and file a police report. This is a step you don’t want to skip! It’s important to have an official police record of the incident. You will give a statement to the police about what happened, and so will the other drivers. This information will be sent to insurance companies, so that liability can be determined.
  2. Be helpful, calm, and respectful toward the police. State to the best of your ability how the accident happened. If you’re unsure of something, let the police officer know. You do not need to know all the details or over-explain. You might be in shock and struggling to remember things correctly.
  3. Remain neutral and respectful when speaking to the other driver. Exchange contact info and wait for the police to arrive. 
  4. Be sure to take pictures of the other driver’s insurance information as well as his or her identification and license plate. Also, pictures of the property damage to the vehicles are helpful for the investigation that will eventually happen after a car accident in New Orleans. 
  5. Call Breaux Law Firm for a free assessment of your case. We treat our clients like family. If you just need someone to listen to the details of your car crash and tell you what steps to take next, we’re here for you. 

DO NOT:

  1. Be scared to call the police, even if it’s not clear who is at fault. Failure to obtain a police report can have terrible consequences for you in the long run, especially if the other driver is dishonest about how the accident happened when questioned later.
  2. Accept blame or speculate as to what happened to cause the accident when speaking to the police. Doing so can actually hurt your claim later down the road.
  3. Make any agreement about payments with the other driver. If you speak to the other driver before the police arrive, do not agree to receive or provide cash for the accident instead of filing an insurance claim. The other driver may offer you a significant sum or claim to not have auto insurance, but you should remain neutral, professional, and respectful. Continue to insist that you will file a report with both the police and your insurance.
  4. Avoid telling your insurance company. Not all car accidents will cause your insurance rates to increase. Overall, your insurance policy is meant to protect you. If you feel they aren’t doing that, reach out to Breaux Law Firm for help.
  5. Wait too long to contact a personal injury attorney. You have one year from the date of the accident to file your claim—don’t let the deadline come and go!

Our Top 3 Tips for Dealing with Car Insurance After an Accident

  1. Do not call the at-fault insurance company yourself—let us do it for you.

Calling the insurance company yourself lets your insurance company know that you are not represented by legal counsel. The insurance company will send a “non-repped” insurance adjuster to handle your claim, and this person’s sole job is to offer the victim of a car accident as little money as possible to settle the claim, resolve liability, and stop the victim from ever receiving additional compensation. When you hire a personal attorney after a car accident, your attorney will send a letter to the auto insurance company on your behalf. Now, a different, “attorney-repped” adjuster will review your claim, and the insurance company will take your claim more seriously. Statistically speaking, it is very likely that you will receive more compensation for your damages when your attorney contacts the insurance company rather than yourself. At Breaux Law Firm, we take a strong approach when dealing with insurance companies, and this results in big wins for our clients.

  1. Keep a well-organized file for your case

Designate an actual file folder where you will keep track of all physical paper copies of accident-related materials, such as the police report, your insurance policy, the other driver’s contact information, medical bills, requests for time off work. On your computer, you will also want to designate a file folder for digital documentation. Save a copy of all email correspondence as a PDF. 

  1. Track your symptoms in a journal.

In the days, weeks, and even months after a car accident, your injuries may slowly begin to reveal themselves. Keeping a journal will help your personal injury attorney understand your injuries, whether they are physical or mental. Things like PTSD are common after accidents, and your claim can include treatment for this type of past or future suffering. 

How to Write a Car Accident Report

In general, you will not have to write your own accident report, and we do not suggest that you try to write your own accident report. The police will create a report. If you are asked to submit a report on your own, which is highly unlikely, we recommend working with a personal injury attorney in order to ensure that your legal rights are being respected and to help you take the most effective steps. A personal injury attorney is an expert in reporting a car accident.

A car accident report submitted to an insurance company or to your local DMV would include the following:

  • Date and time of the accident
  • Identification and contact information of the other driver, including their name, address, email address, phone number, birth date, and gender
  • Insurance policy number, expiration date, and insurance company for the other driver
  • The other driver’s license number, the state that issued their license, and its expiration date
  • Vehicle make, model, year, color, license plate number and issuing state for all vehicles involved
  • Contact information and statements from any bystanders, witnesses, or passengers
  • Photos and videos
  • Written report of vehicle damage
  • Your name, address, email, phone number, driver’s license and expiration date, the state that issued your driver’s license and license plates, license plate number, and insurance information and expiration date
  • Paramedic or ambulance vehicle numbers and the names and badge numbers of all first-responders, including EMT and police
  • Conditions surrounding the accident, including the weather, lighting, and road conditions
  • A precise account of where the accident occurred, including mile markers on a highway or street names
  • A chronological narrative of what happened before, during, and after the accident
  • A detailed account of injuries, and medical bills accrued thus far
  • A detailed account of property damage, along with repair bills or an estimate
  • List of fatalities
  • Diagram of the car accident, including location of witnesses

Working with a Claims Adjuster for an Auto Accident

A claims adjuster is tasked with determining car accident liability in Louisiana and deciding how much the insurance company will offer a victim. We do not recommend working with a claims adjuster on your own. If you are represented by a personal injury attorney, your claim will be taken more seriously by the insurance company. If you are dealing with them on your own, you risk being taken advantage of.

For example, do not sign a medical release when working with the claims adjuster! This can give the insurance company access to your older medical files, which they may use to claim your injuries after the accident were already in existence.

Also, know that you do not have to use the auto body shop that the insurance adjuster tells you to use. According to Louisiana law, you have the right to select your body shop.

A claims adjuster is not going to tell you these things—but a personal injury attorney will! We will represent you, fight for you, and negotiate for you in order to make sure that you receive fair compensation for all of your past and future pain and suffering.

When Should I Hire an Attorney to Assist with my Injury in a Car Accident?

Immediately. If you were injured in a car accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney, like the team at Breaux Law Firm, as soon as possible. But in fact, you aren’t really “hiring” us, because you won’t pay us at all. Your attorney’s payment will be a small percentage of whatever amount you win from your case. 

Most good personal injury attorneys will first listen to the details of your accident and then determine if you have a strong case. They won’t take on a case they aren’t likely to win, because that means they will not be paid for their time and effort.

So working with a personal injury attorney to assist you with your car accident claim means you will have an ally in your corner, someone who understands Louisiana law and Louisiana insurance policies. Your lawyer will communicate on your behalf with the police, insurance agents, insurance adjusters, and even the other driver involved in the crash. With those things taken off your plate, you’ll be able to focus on recovering.

The Best Personal Injury Attorneys in New Orleans.

Breaux Law Firm, hands down. We’re here for you. We believe in personalized attention for personal injuries. And as a family-owned business, we’re ready to fight for you like you’re one of our own family members.
Reach out to us today for a free consultation.