The steps you take after a crash can protect your health and your legal rights.
It doesn't matter how good your driving record is. Sometimes there is no getting out of the way of a speeding, distracted, drunk, or otherwise negligent driver. Unfortunately, many people wrongly assume that the claim process should be easy if a car accident isn't their fault.
However, the deck is stacked against you after a serious crash. To recover the compensation you're entitled to under Louisiana law, you may have to fight the insurance company and push back against attempts to pay you less than what you deserve. That's when having experienced legal representation from a New Orleans car accident lawyer can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case.
What to do when another driver hits you
New Orleans is a busy city with a lot of traffic, and car accidents are common. If you're involved in a serious collision with another driver, you may be able to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company to recover compensation for your losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
To make the process easier, you can take steps after an accident to prove the other driver's negligence and support your claim for compensation. However, one of the best ways to put yourself in a position to recover maximum compensation is by hiring a car accident lawyer to handle the claims process and advocate for your best interests.
Be safe. Call 911.
Safety is the priority after a car accident. If you can, get to a safe location. Then, wait at the crash site and call 911. Let the dispatcher know if anyone has been injured so they can send an ambulance. Wait at the accident until law enforcement arrives - usually the New Orleolice Department (NOPD) or Louisiana State Police (LSP). The responding officer will investigate your accident and later generate an accident report. In the days that follow the crash, you should request a copy of your accident report and review it with your attorney to ensure it paints an accurate picture of what happened. If not, your lawyer can take steps to set the record straight.
Exchange information & collect evidence.
Get the other driver(s) name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance information. You can provide these details as well. However, do not discuss the accident with anyone at the crash scene, and never argue about who was at fault. Anything you say at the accident scene, such as "I'm sorry," could be misconstrued as an admission of fault for the accident. Afterward, start collecting evidence. Take pictures of the entire crash scene from different angles, along with all property damage, tire marks, street signs, traffic control signals, and any visible injuries. If anyone witnessed your crash, get their names and contact information. Eyewitness testimony can be a powerful piece of evidence in support of your claim. Finally, at some point soon after the crash, write down or record everything you can remember about the accident while it's still fresh in your mind.
Seek immediate medical attention.
Even if you feel okay after a crash, see a doctor for a thorough examination as soon as possible to diagnose and document any potential injuries. A doctor should be able to detect injuries you may not yet be aware of, such as whiplash, a concussion, bone fracture, or internal bleeding. This medical visit creates an official record of any possible injuries you may have sustained. Seeking prompt medical attention also helps prevent the insurance company from questioning the severity of your injuries or arguing that they are pre-existing. Afterward, follow the doctor's orders. Attend appointments with recommended specialists and medical therapists, and take medications as prescribed. Finally, save all bills, receipts, and crash injury-related communication.
Inform your insurance provider.
Most car insurance policies require you to inform the company about a car accident soon after it happens. This can be a difficult conversation for crash victims. The role of an insurance adjuster is to protect the company's bottom line by rejecting and reducing claims. When talking to the insurance company, stick to the facts. Do not discuss fault or your injuries. It is enough at this time to say that you are being medically treated and leave it at that. Do not agree to make an informal or formal statement about the crash. Do not grant access to medical or other private records. The adjuster might pressure you into talking or providing a recorded statement. Before talking to an insurance company on the record, you should always speak to your attorney first.
Get the legal help you need.
It's always in your best interests to know your legal rights and options after a crash that wasn't your fault. As such, you should contact a car accident attorney in your area as soon as possible to review the details of your case. The insurance company may suggest that you don't need to get a lawyer involved, but that's only because they know an attorney will tell you what your claim is really worth.
In a car accident in New Orleans? Attorney John S. Williams can help.
Attorney John S. Williams protects New Orleans crash victims' rights and fights for maximum injury compensation. If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident in the New Orleans area, learn more about how our law firm can help you by contacting us today for a free case consultation.