PROCEDURES TO TAKE FOLLOWING AN AUTO ACCIDENT

Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Chad Dudley

Show # 64

Attorney’s Locke Meredith and Chad Dudley discuss what to do when you get injured in a car wreck, the legal process and so forth.

First the police need to be called, and a report filled out by them.  Next, if you are injured, seek medical treatment.  The sooner you see a doctor after the accident, the better the chance of you being covered by your insurance company.  Preserving evidence of the accident and your injuries is also an important step in this process. Photographs of your black eye, broken teeth, or broken arm are important pieces of evidence.  When your insurance adjustor calls to get a statement, Dudley recommends not giving them any recorded statement.  He says they are only trying to find a reason why the insurance company should not pay.

There are two parts to an insurance claim: personal injury, and property damage.  The damage to your vehicle is part of the property damage claim, and can be taken care of by you, on your own, by bringing your car to a repair facility.  Getting multiple damage estimates is recommended, three being ideal.  Going through your own insurance company, instead of the company of the person who hit you, is a speedier process, and you will be reimbursed for the deductible you have to pay.

If your vehicle is totaled, [Locke] Meredith suggests submitting a claim to both the liability insurer and your own insurer to see who will give you the largest amount.  If the vehicle is unable to be driven for two weeks due to repair, the person is entitled to a rental car or the value of a rental car until they get their car back.  You are entitled to a rental car during repair or during the time you spend looking for a replacement vehicle.

Other components of the property damage claim include lost wages due to no vehicle, and the loss in value to the vehicle due to being damaged, even after repair.  Attorneys help people explore all avenues of potential recovery.

Meredith and Dudley now turn to discuss the personal injury side of car wrecks.  Once you have seen a doctor for your injuries, it is still not a good idea to settle your claim with the insurance company.  You don’t know the extent of your injuries long term, and a settlement means no more payment.  Be sure and know what you are signing after an accident, because sometimes settlement documents seeming to be only for property damage also include personal injury settlement.

Attorneys’ hired in these cases need to know the date of the accident.  You have one year from the date of the accident, in Louisiana, to bring forth a claim.   After one year, no lawsuit is possible.  Questions lawyers ask their potential clients include: name, age, and working status. In Louisiana, you must be eighteen to have legal capacity to sue.  If you are working when injured, you may have a claim for lost wages.  Attorney’s will want to know details about your job, including all benefits, so you can be fully compensated for all things forfeited by your injury.   Attorneys also need to know if you are married and have children.  These questions are asked for what is called a loss of consortium claim.  This refers to a loss of love and affection when someone is not what they used to be.  Injured people suffer from the lack of love, affection and companionship experienced from home.  They also may suffer from the ability to do the things they used to at home with their loved ones: things like going to their kids baseball games and even sexual relations.

Another factor attorneys need to know is the number of passengers.  This is important because some insurance policies will only allocate a limited amount of money for liability.  An example would be a 10/20 policy, which pays a maximum of twenty thousand dollars to compensate all injured persons, with a maximum of ten thousand per claimant.  Health insurance and liability insurance on the vehicle are also relevant factors.  If you do not have the minimum liability coverage for the State of Louisiana, than you cannot collect anything from the party who hits you.

Meredith and Dudley highly recommend Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UM), which will cover you in the case that the person who hits you has no insurance.  In Louisiana, you get UM with your policy unless you sign a waiver stating you do not want it.  Without UM, being hit by someone uninsured means your car and medical bills come out of your own pocket.  One last relevant factor they discuss is whether or not the person who hit you was under the scope of employment, which could provide you with more coverage.

 

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