When you live in a busy state such as Louisiana, car accidents become an unfortunate inevitability of life. With more cars on the road and distractions such as smartphones, it’s easier for a driver to lose focus and take their attention off the road. So, before we delve into what to do after a car accident in Louisiana, let’s first look at some car accident facts so that you’re aware of how and when most accidents occur.
- More often than not, car accidents happen within a few miles of a driver’s home. While there are multiple reasons an accident can occur, when it’s close to home, it’s most likely due to the fact that those driving on routes familiar to them are more relaxed and may not pay as close attention as they should.
- Younger drivers, such as teenagers and young adults, are more likely to be killed or injured in car accidents. Accidents usually involve distractions such as texting, other smartphone use, or driving after abusing substances such as drugs and alcohol.
- Tens of thousands of car accidents occur when alcohol has been consumed by at least one driver involved in an accident. Alcohol use before or while driving is one of the deadliest factors in vehicular accidents and therefore it’s extremely important to not get behind the wheel of a car if you’re under the influence.
- Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not the most fatal cause of car accidents. Distractions such as texting or talking on the phone and hazardous road conditions cause more traffic accidents. Therefore, drivers must pay attention to the road to avoid any unnecessary injury or harm to themselves or others. Keeping phones silent and being cautious, especially when weather or road conditions are not ideal, can be the difference between life and death in certain situations.
- Speeding or disobeying traffic laws are major offenses that cause car accidents and are not only harmful to the driver of the vehicle but to other drivers and pedestrians, as well as property.
What Steps Should Take Immediately After a Collision
Millions of car accidents take place in the United States every year and about one out of three involves personal injury. So if you’ve been involved in a car accident, first ensure your own safety and well-being and that of any passengers, if present.
Being involved in an accident can be a traumatic experience, so try to stay calm. No matter the degree of the accident, it’s important to take these immediate steps to ensure you’re protected by the law if the fault is not yours:
- Stay Calm and Use Emergency Flasher: “Stay calm and use emergency flashers to alert oncoming cars,” says Robert Passmore, vice president of auto and claims policy at American Property Casualty Insurance Association. So, when you’ve been in an accident, you may be in shock. First, make sure you’re ok before you stop and assess the damage. Never drive away from an accident, no matter the fault or severity of the accident.
- Secure Kids, Pets, Seniors, and the Disabled: It’s easy after a car accident to get distracted and make mistakes you otherwise would not with loved ones and pets that might lead to additional injury. If children traveling with you during the crash are young enough to be in car seats, don’t remove them from the car seats after the accident. They may have injuries you can’t see, so let a first responder remove them from their car seats to assess them for injuries. Make sure other children stay in the car when it’s safe, so they don’t get injured. Do the same for non-ambulatory elders or otherwise incapacitated people traveling with you, even if they are frightened or agitated. Do the same for non-ambulatory elders or otherwise incapacitated people traveling with you, even if they are frightened or agitated.
- Calling an Ambulance or Law Enforcement: Dial 911 for immediate medical response for yourself or anyone who has been injured in the accident. When you call 911, get someone nearby to give you the location of the accident if you don’t know exactly where you are. Besides your name and other identifying information they request, prepare to provide the city, street name, and house number you’re closest to, mile markings and traffic signs or signals, travel direction and whatever else you think will help them find you quickly and easily. Don’t hang up before the dispatcher says you can.
- File a Police Report: File a police report so that you have a record of the incident. When it comes to personal injury claims, the report will involve statements from both drivers involved in the accident, any passengers, and eyewitnesses to the incident. This information will be sent to insurance companies, where liability can be determined.
- Help Police and Authority: Once the police arrive, make sure you can coherently and clearly state to the best of your ability how the accident happened. If you’re unsure of particular facts or circumstances, let the police officer know. You absolutely do not need to know all the details. Speculating or misinterpreting facts can actually hurt your claim later. Additionally, if you’re in shock and have not felt the extent of your injuries at the time, you may not be able to recall things clearly, so take your time and give yourself some space to understand everything that has happened.
- Collecting the Right Information: If safe to do so, take pictures of the cars involved and the position in which the cars are. Liability can be easily determined and hard to deny when there is photographic or video evidence of an accident. Photographing the license plate of the other vehicles involved in the accident is also important and any other damage to property can help piece together how the event happened.
- Talking to the Other Driver: Exchange contact and insurance information with any other party involved in the car accident which an officer will usually do when he or she arrives at the scene. It’s important to get the name, driver’s license, vehicle information, insurance company, and insurance policy number of the other driver to ensure he or she does not flee the scene before police arrive to file a report.
- Don’t Make Deals About Damage Payments: Don’t make any side deals with other drivers to accept or pay cash for the accident instead of filing an insurance claim, even if the other driver offers a significant sum or claims they have no auto insurance.
- Report to Your Insurance Company: It’s important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. Report the accident to your insurance company as per your insurance policy. Your claim may include property damage and medical coverage, so it’s important to find out what benefits you have. If you do go to the hospital for injuries, you may be required to submit your medical bills to your insurance company. If you’re afraid your premium may increase, there should be no reason for rates to go up for medical coverage.
- Keep a Physical and Digital File: By this time, you may have a lot of information that you need to keep for your case, so it’s best to keep a physical and digital file of all accident-related material, including the police report, insurance policy, and the other driver’s contact information, etc. Once you’ve filed your claim and things are ready to move forward, you’ll want to store that information in a file as well to stay organized and on top of your case.
- Contact Personal Injury Lawyers: Contact a lawyer to help you navigate through car accident claims. They will make sure to protect your rights during this time. Personal injury lawyers can provide necessary legal advice which can help the process of filing a claim and fighting for that claim. Having someone who can fully understand your case and your rights will only ensure you’re compensated for any damages you’re entitled to.
Take the time you need to recover, mentally and physically. When you hire a law firm, such as Breaux Law Firm, to fight for you, you can rest easy knowing we will do everything to ensure your rights are protected and that you’re compensated for any medical bills or property damage.
What Can a Lawyer Do for You?
When you hire a lawyer to help you navigate a car accident claim, things may feel overwhelming, but you can rest assured that you now have an ally in your corner who has experience dealing with personal injury claims in the state of Louisiana. When you have a lawyer on your side, he or she can help protect you legally by handling all correspondence with authorities, insurance agents and adjusters, and the other driver involved in the crash. Lawyers will:
- Gather all information and evidence from the car accident to create a comprehensive understanding of how events took place and how to proceed with the insurance company.
- Assist in collecting evidence, such as taking pictures or videos of the cars and drivers involved in an incident and of property that may have been damaged during the event.
- Get information from witnesses or attempt to obtain video footage from CCTV or others to help determine liability.
- Help you file and pursue your claim, fight for your legal rights and deal with all correspondence on your behalf. They will ensure you’re entitled to the compensation you deserve.
“If you have questions at any time, contact your insurance professional or your state insurance department,”
Why Breaux Law Firm?
Being in an accident is already scary enough, and getting back on your feet should be hassle-free. That is what we strive for at Breaux Law Firm. We’ve been in business for decades and are experienced in personal injury law. We believe our clients are like family and will fight for you as if we were fighting for one of our own. If you’re hesitant about your claim, give us a call so we can determine what kind of case to develop on your behalf. We will help you file a civil case or petition the courts if need be. Whatever option we choose, it will be to your advantage.
By hiring a firm that believes in open communication and responsiveness, you can rest easy knowing that we will fight to get you what you’re entitled to after an event like a car accident. We are happy to spend the time it takes for you to understand your case and what comes next. Our reputation speaks for itself; we are ready to fight for you.
What to Do After A Car Accident FAQ
If it was a minor accident, should I still document the damage?
Even if you were in what appears to be a minor accident, like another car tapped your bumper, it’s worth taking pictures of the damage and exchanging information. You may want documentation in case you discover more damage later or the other party tries to make a claim against your liability auto insurance.
If I was in a car accident, will my insurance rates go up?
Not all car accidents make your rates increase. But if you caused the accident or the police gave you a traffic citation, it’s likely your insurance rates will go up.
Can I get car insurance after an accident?
Yes, you can still get car insurance following an accident, but it won’t help you with a previous crash. If you get into an accident without car insurance in place, you will be responsible for paying for the damage and injuries without any help from an insurance company.