In this article, we cover Louisiana’s one-year statute of limitations and its exceptions; the injuries that can arise days, weeks, months, or even years after a car accident; and why working with expert personal injury attorneys ensures you’re compensated for future pain and suffering.
Being in a car crash is a traumatic experience, and as is often the case when it comes to trauma, your body may be running on adrenaline in the immediate aftermath. This adrenaline can mask injuries in the hours, days, and even weeks after an accident.
This is why, after a car accident, it’s important to talk to a personal injury lawyer. One of the things an attorney will encourage you to do is to seek medical help if you haven’t already. This can be one good way of discovering any injuries that you haven’t noticed yet.
But what happens if your injuries appear months later? Or even years later?
In general, Louisiana residents have up to one year from the date of the accident to file a claim and receive compensation for the injuries they sustained in a car crash. This is called the “Statute of Limitations” for personal injury claims and it is based on La. Civ. Code Art. 3492. You can think of it as a deadline. The reason for this law is:
In other words, the Louisiana law wants to help wrap up the case quickly and efficiently, within one year of the accident. This statute of limitations applies to most civil cases in Louisiana, but does not apply to cases involving crimes like rape and murder.
The one-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims is very strict. However, there are a few exceptions:
In some situations, an additional exception is made for injuries that are discovered long after the car accident. The “discovery rule” can be applied by an experienced personal injury lawyer in an attempt to file an extension and pursue a claim. Some injuries may appear weeks, months, or years after an accident, like Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, and mental disorders. In these cases, if there was no way the injured party could have known about the full extent of their injury until the date of the statute of limitations passed, working with a personal injury attorney is crucial.
Please note that this is truly an exception. In most cases, trying to file a personal injury claim more than one year after the date of the accident will result in your claim being dismissed.
If you and your lawyer are working on your claim and it is still within the one-year period after the date of the accident, then discovering additional injuries will help your lawyer make a stronger case for more compensation. Your newly discovered injuries will likely require doctor’s appointments or physical therapy. Keep track of those costs, because you deserve to be reimbursed for them.
If you discover new injuries after the claim has been settled, it is unlikely that you will be able to receive additional compensation. Settling a claim usually involves a written contract (called a Release of Liability Form) stating that the at-fault party is not responsible for any additional claims related to the accident. Your lawyer may tell you that there’s nothing they can do for you. It is rare that a settled case is reopened. There are some exceptions to this, such as:
When you work with an experienced, expert personal injury lawyer like the team at Breaux Law Firm, part of your lawyer’s job is to understand not only the extent of your injuries, but the possible future costs of your injuries. “Future pain and suffering” is one of the elements of damage that can be claimed after an accident. A good personal injury attorney is able to see into the future and account for these unexpected additional damages and costs. And a fair settlement compensates you enough to cover any medical or mental complications that might arise in the future.
At Breaux Law Firm, we understand what to do long after a car accident and what happens after a car accident and how you might be feeling. We’re certainly not psychics, but we’ve been New Orleans personal injury attorneys for so long that we’re skilled at knowing what long-term or hidden injuries might show up after you’ve been in a car accident. We put this skill to good use, ensuring that our clients receive the medical care, personalized attention, and full compensation that they deserve.