Attorney Frank Tomeny, the founder of Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers, is a former insurance defense lawyer. He has extensive knowledge about how insurance companies fight against the claims of injured victims.
Tomeny uses his experience to help Louisiana residents who have been injured in car accidents. Tomeny finds and recovers the financial compensation injury victims need to heal from a traumatic car accident. The car accident lawyers from Tomeny | Best Injury Lawyers strive to provide each client with the personal attention they deserve. We understand the client’s concerns and needs, and we aggressively pursue a favorable outcome.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Louisiana
Despite the advances in vehicle safety systems, car accidents continue to occur. Car accidents often happen because of driver error. Common mistakes include:
- Careless or reckless driving
- Failure to signal lane changes or turns
- Distractions from electronic devices (cellphones, car infotainment systems, GPS) behind the wheel
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Inexperience behind the wheel
Other common causes of car accidents that are unrelated to driver error include:
- Poor road conditions (such as broken pavement or potholes)
- Poor weather conditions (fog, heavy precipitation)
- Low lighting conditions
- Obstructions, especially animals darting across the road
- Poor or improper vehicle maintenance
- Design or manufacturing defects in a vehicle or vehicle parts
Serious Injuries from Car Accidents in Baton Rouge
A car accident can result in various injuries to those involved in the accident. Some injuries may be minor, causing little or no pain. Those injuries heal on their own in a matter of days. However, car accidents can also cause serious and life-altering harm.
Serious injuries that our Baton Rouge car accident lawyers encounter include:
- Lacerations, although minor cuts and scrapes are not that serious, deeper lacerations can be severe and life-threatening, especially when they lead to massive bleeding and the risk of infection
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries, including concussion, intracranial bleeding, and coma
- Bone fractures
- Internal organ injuries and internal bleeding
- Back and spinal injuries, including disc injury and spinal cord injury
- Soft tissue injuries, including whiplash injuries and sprains
- Strains and tears to muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Burns, which can be caused by fires or by “road rash”
- Amputations, which can result from the force of the impact, or which may be required if extremities are severely damaged
In addition to physical injuries, car accident victims can be left with mental and emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, phobias, and anxiety.
Louisiana Laws on Car Crashes and Auto Insurance Requirements
In Louisiana, drivers are required to have car insurance of minimum amounts. The insurance provides coverage for bodily injury liability and property damage. Drivers are also allowed (but not required) to purchase additional coverage, including comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, towing and labor coverage, rental car coverage, and medical payments coverage.
The state requires drivers to have bodily injury liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and property damage coverage of at least $25,000 per accident.
Unfortunately, a significant number of drivers on Louisiana roads lack the car insurance coverage that is required by state law. As a result, Louisiana has some of the highest car insurance rates in the U.S. Insurance companies need to cover claims from their own drivers who are hit by uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Louisiana car accident laws are “no pay, no play.” Under the law, a driver must provide proof of adequate car insurance coverage to a law enforcement officer upon request. If that coverage cannot be shown, the officer is authorized to take several measures:
- Remove the license plate and replace it with a temporary use authorization until the driver obtains the required insurance.
- Impound the vehicle.
- Suspend the vehicle registration.
- Require the driver to pay for certification that guarantees the required insurance coverage.
Types of Compensation You Could Recover on a Car Crash Claim
When you have been injured in a car crash caused by another driver, you may be entitled to compensation, including:
- Medical expenses – These expenses include hospital bills, surgeries, doctor’s office visits, therapy and rehabilitation, prescription medication, medical equipment, mobility equipment, prosthetics, or even home modifications to accommodate physical disabilities caused by your injuries.
- Lost wages – If you have to stay home during your recovery from injuries, you may be compensated for the pay that you miss.
- Lost earning capacity – When your injuries prevent you from returning to your job or the kind of work that you used to do, you may be compensated for your lost earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering – The physical and emotional distress caused by your injuries.
- Lost quality of life – This arises from physical trauma, such as disabilities or disfigurement, caused by your injuries; it may also arise from the inability to do daily tasks or participate in activities you previously enjoyed.
- Loss of consortium or companionship – This compensation is for your spouse or your immediate family over the loss of your love, care, guidance, and services.
You may also be entitled to recover compensation for property damage to your vehicle or personal belongings. A car accident lawyer in Baton Rouge can guide you in determining what damages you need and deserve.
Determining Who Was Responsible for the Crash
If one or more parties make a claim for compensation against other drivers involved, the insurance companies – or the court, if the claim goes to trial – must determine who was responsible.
Insurers or trial judges evaluate different forms of evidence to determine who was at fault for causing the accident:
- The drivers’ statements to law enforcement or to insurance adjusters can be the starting point for determining what happened. Details that only one driver remembers may end up as a part of the narrative of how the accident occurred.
- Impartial eyewitnesses can be crucial to establishing what happened in an accident. They can corroborate one driver’s version of the accident. Eyewitnesses can also add additional details from an unbiased perspective.
- Accident scene photographs and videos can provide solid evidence about the accident scene. That often assists accident reconstruction experts as they determine how an accident occurred.
- The police officers who investigate an accident scene usually take statements from the drivers and witnesses. They may also gather physical evidence from the scene that helps them determine what happened. In some instances, the police report may even assign fault for the accident. That report can be highly persuasive in a later legal claim. The report will also note if drivers received traffic citations or were arrested for criminal violations in connection with the accident.
Determining who was responsible for a car crash is important because more than one driver in an accident may share fault. Louisiana is a comparative fault state. That means an injured party found to be partially at fault will have any financial recovery they receive reduced by the percentage of fault.
For example, suppose a court rules that a driver who suffered $100,000 in damages was 20 percent at fault for an accident. That driver’s award can be reduced by $20,000, for a total recovery of $80,000.
Why You Can’t Afford NOT to Have a Lawyer After a Car Accident
Following a car accident, you may wonder whether you need to hire an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim. When an insurance company offers you a quick settlement, you may think it is better to take the cash and move on with your life.
However, be aware that a hasty settlement rarely provides you with full compensation for your losses. This is especially true if you have been severely injured. Car accidents victims with legal representation from a skilled automobile accident lawyer usually receive significantly more compensation than those who pursue their claims on their own. When you have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side, you have someone fighting to get you a full range of compensation.
A Baton Rouge car accident attorney you hire will understand the magnitude of your injuries. Your car accident lawyer will make sure that any settlement offer is fair and reasonable. If a full settlement cannot be reached, your car wreck lawyer will pursue your claim in court. Your lawyer will vigorously advocate on your behalf for substantial compensation.
How the Car Accident Claims Process Works in Louisiana
The car accident claims process in Louisiana typically begins with a claim that is submitted to the other driver’s insurance company. You should notify your own insurance company of the accident if the other driver asserts a claim. You should also notify your insurer if you make a claim against your own policy for medical benefits or for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Your own policy may require prompt notification of any accident, so double-check the provisions.
Once the other driver’s insurance company has received your claim, it will investigate and make a determination of who was at fault. If the insurer determines its driver was responsible, it may agree to pay compensation for damages that you can document. However, this may not represent full compensation for all the damages you have suffered.
If you are represented by legal counsel, your car crash lawyer typically negotiates with the insurance company to obtain a settlement figure that is above and beyond what you could get on your own.
If a settlement is not possible or the other insurance company denies liability, it is the job of an auto accident lawyer to file a lawsuit in court. Once the other driver (usually represented by insurance company attorneys) responds to the lawsuit in a court filing, the parties engage in what is known as discovery. This involves depositions and an exchange of evidence that may be used if the case goes to trial.
If the pending lawsuit does not result in a settlement, the case will head to trial. A trial judge will decide which driver is liable and at what amounts. However, the vast majority of personal injury cases settle, either before or during court proceedings.