Knowing what to do in the event of an accident when you are not at fault can help make the process of recovering expenses and damages much easier.
Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gathers data from each state and compiles an annual report. In 2018, Louisiana saw the following statistics from traffic accidents:
• Total fatalities: 768
• Fatalities while impaired by alcohol: 216
• Speeding-related fatalities: 136
• Motorcyclist fatalities: 79
These figures represent 16.5 fatalities per 100,000 people in the state. While this is not the highest figure in the U.S., it is still uncomfortably high.
The 4 primary contributing factors for fatalities include alcohol, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and not wearing a seat belt. Aggressive driving includes road rage, careless operation, exceeding the speed limit, and tailgating. For people who have been injured in a vehicular accident as a direct result of any factors, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries or pain and suffering.
If you have been injured in a car accident where no liability lies with you, there are a few things you need to know regarding state laws.
Louisiana is a fault state. If it can be proven that the other driver was at fault, or if they admit fault, they are liable to pay for any injuries received or any damage to property.
Louisiana requires all drivers to carry liability coverage as part of their car insurance policy. The minimum amounts of coverage are as follows:
• $15,000 for bodily injury to one victim
• $30,000 for injuries to two or more victims in the same accident
• $25,000 for any property damage
• The statute of limitations (the time in which you must file a claim with the courts) in Louisiana is one year from the date of the accident
Fault vs. Comparative Fault
While Louisiana is primarily a fault state, it also allows the court to make decisions on comparative fault. What this means is that the court may decide – after hearing all the evidence – that you are partially responsible for the accident.
This is decided at the end of any court hearing once damages have been awarded. Whatever percentage of blame the court believes you have may lead to a reduction in the amount of damages you receive.
An example of this is if the other driver is found to be at fault, as he was driving at 20 mph over the posted speed limit. To cover your medical expenses and loss of wages due to time off work, the court awards you $40,000 in damages.
However, traffic cam footage of the accident shows that you failed to stop at a junction. The court makes a judgment that you were 25% to blame for the accident happening, and they reduce the actual damages you receive by the same amount, so you only receive $30,000.
What to Do After an Accident
If you have been involved in an accident and received injuries and you hold no liability for what happened, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you deal with your insurance claim. Insurance companies are notorious for offering low settlements that do not cover all expenses or trying to find ways of not paying at all.
If the case is more complicated and you wish to pursue non-economic damages for pain and suffering, filing a claim with the courts and being represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer gives you the highest chances of success. Do not try to navigate the legal system on your own; hire an experienced accident attorney.
We all know how dangerous our roads can be. Yet, we also expect that the systems put in place ensure we are not out of pocket and facing mounting medical bills and a loss of wages, especially when we are not the at-fault driver.