Ask any experienced Baton Rouge car accident lawyer about traffic and car accidents and they will likely all give you the same answer – HECTIC!
Many auto accidents take place throughout the state but Baton Rouge has more than its fair share. In 2016 alone, 757 people lost their lives in 704 fatal auto accidents in Louisiana. Many more incurred injuries and property damage. At that point, they turned to a local Baton Rouge accident lawyer to help them seek compensation for their losses.
A 2016 study by Nerd Wallet analyzing traffic and crime data in more than 200 cities across the country ranked Baton Rouge as the second most dangerous city for drivers. Most of the accidents in the city occur on Nicholson Drive, O’Neal Lane, I-12, Staring Lane, Highland Road, and Burbank Drive. Although car accidents can have several causes, some are more common than others.
Common Accident Causes
Here is a list of the most common reasons why people in Baton Rouge end up needing the services of a car accident attorney.
Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Many drivers get behind the wheel after consuming drugs or alcohol. They fail to realize that those substances negatively affect their attention span and reaction time. They often end up seriously injuring others through their irresponsible actions. Because of this, DUI & DWI accidents are all too common.
Drivers are often in a hurry, trying to save time and reach their destination faster. With today’s cars built for speed and comfort, many of them end up accelerating their cars to high speeds, often more so than the driver intends to. Unfortunately, high speed diminishes reaction times and can cause drivers to lose control of the vehicle. In the case of a car accident, high speeds cause the impact force to be larger, leading to serious injuries and damages.
Although Louisiana laws prohibit texting while driving, many drivers give in to temptation and take their eyes off the road. They check their social media accounts, read and send texts, or perform some other distracting activities. Then, they fail to notice dangers and react on time. This causes them to get into car accidents and become defendants in the case of a Baton Rouge car accident attorney in the process.
Aggressive or Reckless Driving
Some drivers feel strong and powerful behind the wheel. They make dangerous maneuvers in traffic and tailgate other cars, relying on the other drivers to move away from their path, let them pass, or slow down to avoid accidents. Unfortunately, that does not always happen.
Defective Car Parts
All drivers are under the obligation to maintain their cars in optimal mechanical condition. Unfortunately, many of them neglect important maintenance aspects, like oil changes, brake pad replacements, and more. As a consequence, their cars often fail to respond to commands in traffic. This can result in it being impossible to avoid a car accident.
If you incurred property damage or injuries in a car accident in Baton Rouge as the result of any of the above causes, contact a lawyer as you have the right to receive compensation for your losses. The easiest way to obtain that compensation in Baton Rouge is to work with the experienced car accident lawyers at A.L.L. Law Firm.
We have obtained compensation worth millions of dollars for car accident victims in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. As we explain to our clients, the process of claiming compensation after a car accident begins with a thorough understanding of the applicable laws and with a sound, coherent legal strategy.
Why do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
The three legal aspects anyone involved in an auto accident in Louisiana should be familiar with are:
1. The Insurance Claims’ Fault System
Under this system, in order to claim and recover any damages incurred in an accident, victims have to show that another party was at fault for the incident. Their chances of actually obtaining the compensation they deserve depend on the consistency and relevance of the evidence they provide to support their claim.
While gathering, organizing, and filing such evidence can be difficult for a car accident victim who is under treatment or is still coming to terms with what has happened, it is part of everyday routine for an experienced car accident attorney.
2. The Compulsory Coverage Rule
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32:866, owners or operators of motor vehicles who do not have liability coverage cannot recover expenses related to personal injury of up to $15,000 and/or expenses related to property damage of up to $25,000.
If the losses they incurred exceed these amounts, they can seek compensation for the difference. Also, the compulsory coverage rule does not apply if the driver at fault falls into one of the situations described below:
- They have been cited for violating R.S. 14:98 after the accident and are convicted of or plead nolo contendere to the cited offense
- They caused the accident intentionally
- They fled the car accident scene
- Was in furtherance of committing a felony when the accident occurred
However, this rule does not apply to passengers, pedestrians, bikers, and other categories of potential car accident victims. The best way for a car accident victim to assess their right to claim compensation and estimate the value of the compensation they are entitled to is to discuss the case with an experienced Baton Rouge car accident lawyer.
No upfront fees. No Out of Pocket Costs.
Knowing how confusing some law stipulations can be, we offer 100% risk-free case evaluations. Louisiana car accident victims have the opportunity to receive answers to their questions and legal advice free of charge. At A.L.L. Law Firm, we are confident in our ability to win car accident cases. We accept cases on contingency based agreements, meaning we only get paid if we win, from the compensation we obtain for our clients.
3. The Pure Comparative Fault Rule
Under the pure comparative fault rule (also known as comparative negligence), even those who are partially at fault for their car accident can recover damages. Louisiana laws see car accident fault and damages on a 100% scale. As a result, the percentage of fault and percentage of damages owed are directly correlated.
For example, someone found to be 50% at fault for an accident that resulted in total damages of $100,000 will be responsible for 50% of the damages, $50,000. How much money victims can recover depends on how fault is distributed among the parties involved.
The best solution for someone involved in a car accident in Louisiana is to consult a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer. They will help you figure out how much the potential claim is worth and what type of damages they can recover. They will explain the types of damages a compensation claim can cover and estimate the value. Contacting an experienced accident attorney will be the best step you can take towards compensation after a car accident.
What Type of Damages Can a Car Accident Claim Cover?
Car accident damages fall into two main categories:
- Economic damages: These include all expenses a car accident victim incurs and can prove with the help of invoices, bills, and financial statements. Common examples include the cost of car repairs, hospital bills, treatment costs, and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages: These usually cover the emotional and personal losses that car accident victims incur. Due to the nature of these losses, they are much more difficult to assign values to. Some things that fall in this category are disfigurement, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and more.
It is important to note that Louisiana laws limit some of the amounts one can claim and recover as damages. For example, under State Legislature Revised Statutes Section 13:5106, the total damages recoverable after a car accident involving a government agency are subject to a limit of $500,000.
Car accident victims should contact a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer as soon as possible, for two reasons:
- Under the Louisiana Civil Code, Title XXIV, art. 3492, the deadline for taking civil action in case of personal injury or property damage is one year.
- Claimants who do not benefit from the advice of a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer often make mistakes. As a result, they fail to follow the necessary steps to secure their right to compensation.
Steps to Follow after a Car Accident
The first minutes after the car accident are very important. This is when most people make costly mistakes. Mistakes that cost them their compensation or diminish their chances of obtaining it. This is a list of steps victims involved in an auto accident should follow no matter the circumstances in which the accident took place.
1. Stop at the Scene of the Accident
All drivers involved in car accidents that involved property damages in Louisiana, no matter how small or insignificant, should stop at the scene of the accident, or as close as possible. According to the state’s Revised Statutes Section 14:100, vehicle operators involved in accidents have the obligation to stop at the scene and provide reasonable aid to anyone injured in the accident.
Those who fail to do so risk paying considerable fines and even spending time in jail. For those who leave the scene of car accidents resulting only in property damages and/or mild injuries, the penalty is a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. The penalties increase dramatically for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious injuries or even death. By doing this you risk fines of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both. For those with previous convictions for driving under the influence or while intoxicated, vehicular homicide, vehicular negligent injuring, or first-degree vehicular injuring, the penalties can go as high as twenty years of imprisonment.
2. Take the Vehicle Out of the Roadway Area
Unless the vehicles involved in the accident are too damaged to be moved, their drivers have the obligation to move them outside the roadway area, to the nearest shoulder or parking space available, to avoid impeding traffic and causing further accidents.
3. Call for Medical Assistance
If anyone involved in the accident incurred injuries, the other parties present should call for an ambulance. It is important not to move people who incurred spine or head injuries. Also, those whose limbs are trapped by vehicle parts, as the shock may aggravate their injuries. This is also important if you do end up contacting a car accident lawyer. It will give an accurate representation of any injuries resulting from the accident. Your medical records will be a key piece for your Baton Rouge car accident lawyer.
4. Report the Accident to the Baton Rouge Authorities
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32: 398, all car accidents that result in personal injury, death, or property damage of more than $500 should be reported to the police. For car accidents resulting in injuries, death, or property damage of more than $100, a copy of the report should be filed with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections as well, within 24 hours from the accident. Failure to file the report is punishable by fines of up to $100 and up to 60 days in prison.
Beauce of these laws, it is in the best interest of the parties involved to report the accident. Law enforcement officers come to the scene of the accident to investigate what happened and file a detailed report. The report will help those trying to obtain compensation for their losses. Your Baton Rouge car accident lawyer will need this report. In addition, police officers attempt to prove how the accident occurred and who was at fault for it. They will also interview any possible witnesses, verify valid licenses and insurance, take pictures of the incident and document road and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
While the police report is crucial, if able to do so, victims should also be proactive. First, take photographs of the vehicles, obtain the other driver’s contact and insurance information and sketch the position of the vehicles. Next, check for any surveillance cameras in the area that may have caught the accident on film. Finally, write down any details they can remember regarding the moments before, during, and after the accident occurred.
5. Obtain Contact and Insurance Information from the Parties Involved in the Accident
A car accident that seems minor at first could have costly consequences later. When that happens, it helps to know who was at fault for it or at least involved. Thus, after stopping at the scene of the accident, requesting and receiving medical assistance, and reporting the accident to the police, the parties involved should exchange contact, insurance, driving license, and car registration information.
This way, later on, when it comes to recovering their losses, they will know whom to appoint as liable for their accident and whom to ask to testify in their favor. As a general rule, all drivers should carry liability insurance of at least $15,000 for personal injury and $25,000 for property damage. Those who are uninsured or who discover that the party at fault for their accident is uninsured should immediately contact an auto accident attorney, as their case will be a complicated one.
6. Consult a Car Accident Attorney
After things have calmed down, car accident victims should call a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer. The sooner they do so, the more time their attorney will have to gather further evidence. We will build a strong case, and begin the compensation claim process immediately.
In Louisiana, the compensation claim process begins by filing a complaint with the insurance company. The company will assess the damages and the available evidence. Then, in most cases, they will offer the claimant a settlement. If the claimant is denied or finds the settlement offer unsatisfactory, they can refuse it. The claimant can file a complaint with the Louisiana Department of Insurance. In addition, start a lawsuit against the driver at fault.
All these procedures take time, paperwork, knowledge, and skill only seasoned Baton Rouge car accident lawyer possesses. It determines not only the compensation the claimant receives but also the premium they pay to their own insurer moving forward.
Given Louisiana’s pure comparative fault laws, the parties involved in the accident will do everything they can to blame the other party. Or, at the very least, attempt to attribute as much of the fault as possible to them. Those found to have contributed to the accident they were involved in may end up paying higher monthly premiums.
If victims work with an experienced Baton Rouge car accident lawyer, their attorney will not allow this to happen. The attorneys will conduct their own investigations. They will subpoena expert witnesses, cite case precedents and use every strategy available. All this to prove their client’s innocence and defend their interests while making sure the insurance company pays as much as possible.
If you were involved in a car accident it is critical to contact a car accident lawyer. An auto accident attorney will defend your interests and get you the compensation you deserve. For the best results, contact A.L.L. Law Firm today for your 100% risk-free case review. Our knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated Baton Rouge car accident lawyers are committed to results and will not rest until they win your case. Contact Us now to schedule your free case review with one of our skilled lawyers