Following a car accident, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do next. Here we provide some of the most common questions we are asked by clients, along with answers that will help you understand the situation you are in.
Do I need to hire an attorney?
You are never required to hire an attorney if you don’t want to. But if you have been injured and you want to get the maximum compensation for your injuries, hiring a skilled attorney is the best way to accomplish your goal. Insurance companies will attempt to settle for as little as they can get away with, and fighting for more is best accomplished by a legal professional.
Should I take the money offered by the insurance company?
You never want to accept money immediately after the accident – nor sign any papers or agree to anything the insurance company says. The insurance company expects you to not know what you are doing, and will typically try to low-ball you. More importantly, though, is the fact that once you sign a release, you can never recover for damages that don’t get better or that only appear later. Because physicians treat patient’s conservatively at first, they may not diagnose the extent of your injury until you don’t get better over a period of time. For instance, you may not learn that you have a disc injury to your back for several months, when your doctor first runs an expensive test, and only runs it because you are not getting better. If you sign a release and take a small settlement right after the accident, you will not be able to recover for the later discovered injury, no matter how extensive it may be. THERE IS NEVER A NEED TO SETTLE A CASE BEFORE YOU KNOW THE EXTENT OF YOUR INJURY. Once you talk to your attorney and he or she agrees that the offer is a good one for your circumstances, you should consider accepting. But never do so without first talking to a lawyer.
What do I do if the other driver has no insurance?
Louisiana law requires
that all drivers carry insurance on a vehicle that they own. Unfortunately, nearly a quarter
of drivers in Louisiana fail to obey this law. If the other driver does not have insurance, you still may be able to get money from your own insurance company if you have uninsured motorists coverage. Of course, the driver may not be telling the truth about not having insurance, or the insurance company may not be telling you the truth about coverage, either. It is important that you talk to an attorney anyway. The attorney can examine your specific circumstances and advise you on what options are available to you to recover damages.
How much money can I get from a successful lawsuit?
How much money you are entitled to will vary depending on your injuries and what happened during the accident. Usually injury victims that were hurt due to the negligence of another driver are able to recover compensation for damage to property, medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Your lawyer will build a case to argue for the maximum compensation available to you.
Should I contact the police after the accident?
It is always a good idea to call the police after you are involved in an accident. The police are trained to examine an accident and document what happened, information that can prove useful when you are trying to pursue damages. The police will show up relatively quickly, and will take down statements from everyone, statements which your attorney can use to build a case. No matter what the other driver says, it is in your best interests to all the police and get them involved in the accident. It is also a good idea to take a photo of the location of the cars after impact, if possible.
The other driver's insurance company wants me to give a recorded statement. Should I?
While your own insurance company may require you to give a statement as part of your policy, you are in no way required to do so for the other insurance company. You should never give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company without talking to your attorney first. Ideally, you should talk to your attorney before giving a statement to your own insurance company as well.