If a member of your family has suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI), quadriplegia, or another catastrophic injury in a serious car accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you cannot afford to accept less than maximum compensation for your loss. In order to ensure that you are being treated fairly, have a one of our Lake Charles car accident lawyers review your case.
We enlist the help of top accident re-constructionists and scientific experts to identify all responsible parties.
- It may be that a design problem or defective automotive part contributed to your injuries.
- Negligent property maintenance at a railroad crossing could have contributed to your accident.
- We work with medical and life care experts to demonstrate the extent of losses of those injured in collisions or rollover accidents.
- We enlist the help of accountants and economists to calculate losses in wrongful death cases.
- We subpoena cell phone records to determine if the other driver was texting or talking on a cell phone during the accident. Louisiana prohibits all drivers from texting while driving. Louisiana also forbids minors and newly licensed drivers from using any type of mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
We give each auto accident case we handle the thorough attention necessary to get the best results. Even if you were injured by a drunk driver or in a hit-and-run accident, we may be able to recover the compensation you need to take care of yourself and your family.
Common Causes of Car Accidents and Injuries
Speeding is the most common cause of car accidents and the economic cost of speeding accidents is significant. Laws setting top speeds vary from state to state, but each state expects drivers to travel at prudent speeds based on the situation. Such things as road conditions, weather, and amount of traffic are more important in determining the safest speed as opposed to the posted speed limit. Traveling at an unsafe speed reduces the time available for slowing or stopping and makes it harder to control the vehicle, especially in turns and curves. Additionally, speeding drivers are less likely to be using seat belts, thus adding to the potential for severe injury during a vehicular accident. If you are injured by a speeding vehicle, whether as a driver, passenger or a pedestrian, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries.
“Driving under the influence”, or “Driving while intoxicated”, is the term for alcohol-related driving behavior. Drunk driving is responsible for nearly 1/3 of all car accident deaths in this country. Many of these impaired drivers are repeat offenders and all can cause a heavy burden of death and/or injury to themselves and to innocent drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Anyone who causes an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance is considered negligent. Unfortunately, this is of little comfort to someone who has sustained injuries or lost a loved one in an alcohol-related accident. The driver convicted of DWI has the liability to pay for all damages. While some states impose liability on bars, clubs, restaurants or hotels which supply liquor improperly, Louisiana does not. In Louisiana, providers of alcohol are provided immunity from lawsuits. One possible exception would be if the drunk driver was below the legal age – 21 years – for alcohol service. If the intoxicated driver was under age, the person or business that provided the alcohol may also be held responsible for any damages caused by an intoxicated, under age driver. Another possible exception would be if some other law applied, such as maritime law.
In an accident caused by a drunk driver, in addition to compensatory damages, punitive damages may also be recoverable. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and to make an example out of the wrongdoer so that others would be discouraged from similar conduct.
Any passenger in a vehicular accident is considered free of liability for the accident, unless they committed an overt act that distracted the driver, or in any other way contributed to the accident. Additionally, if you get into a vehicle knowing that the driver is intoxicated, you may have “assumed the risk” of being in an accident. If you are a passenger and you are injured in a vehicular accident, you may receive compensation for your injuries. Be sure that you see a doctor immediately. As a passenger, you may have a claim against all negligent parties, which can include the driver of the car you were riding in when the accident occurred, as well as the drivers of other vehicles involved. It is vitally important that you get as much information about the circumstances as possible – who was driving each car, what happened, the weather or road conditions, any witnesses, etc. Your independent information may be the key to receiving compensation for your injuries.
Seat Belt Issues
Seat belt laws are in place in most states, and many times the failure to wear a seat belt is cited as the cause or contributing factor towards injury in a vehicular accident. But this is not always the case. Many injuries would have occurred whether the seat belt was in place or not, and it is important that you get expert help to prove this. Insurance companies and defense lawyers will attempt to show that your injuries were the result of not wearing your seat belt, when in fact the injuries would have been as bad or even worse if you had been belted.
Your Rights After a Car Accident Claim
Every driver is required to purchase liability insurance coverage. This covers pays for costs and losses of crash victims when the policyholder causes an auto accident. Victims should be fully compensated or “made whole” for all economic and non-financial losses resulting from the collision.
When insurance companies accept responsibility, victims routinely settle accident claims outside of court. Your attorney can send a demand letter to the insurer requesting appropriate compensation for losses. The insurer and your attorney will negotiate a fair settlement that you have the option to agree to. Once you settle, you may not change your mind. Do not agree to settle your case or accept any money from the insurer until after speaking with an attorney. Insurance companies frequently try to pressure victims of crashes to settle quickly for less than they deserve. An attorney will protect your rights and fight for full coverage of all losses.
If you do not reach a settlement with the insurer, you must litigate your case. The car accident attorneys at Broussard & Hart are experienced at presenting evidence in trial. We will subpoena relevant documents, interview witnesses, conduct investigations and find experts to testify on the cause of your crash.
Car Accident Injury Compensation
You deserve to be fully compensated for car accident losses through a court verdict or negotiated settlement. Compensation should include:
- Payment of medical bills
- Loss of wages and future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Damages for wrongful death
To obtain compensation, you must prove your case. You must show the defendant driver broke driving safety rules or was unreasonably careless. Texting and driving; drunk driving and distracted driving are examples of careless behaviors that can lead to crashes. Phone records, police report and eyewitness testimony can be used to show the defendant engaged in these and other dangerous acts.
In some cases, crashes are caused by factors other than careless driving. Victims harmed by malfunctioning vehicles or dangerous roads may pursue claims against car manufacturers or those responsible for road maintenance.
Uninsured and under-insured drivers
What is Uninsured Motorists (UM) Coverage?
If you were hit by an uninsured motorist or under-insured motorist, you may be eligible for benefits under your own policy or the policy that covered the vehicle you were in. Louisiana law requires vehicle owners to carry uninsured motorist coverage unless they waive the coverage in writing. In many cases, you will be able to collect for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages in the same way as if the driver that hit you did have insurance.
Many insurance companies have special provisions if you choose to access the uninsured motorist provision of your policy. We ask that you provide us with a complete copy of the insurance policy you had at the time of the accident.
What are the steps in an auto accident lawsuit?
An auto accident can cause a victim to suffer physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial devastation. Although we commonly use the term “auto accident” the reality is that in most cases the collision was not a true accident but was caused by the negligent conduct of a driver of an involved vehicle. When that is the case, a victim may be entitled to compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damage caused by the driver’s negligence through a personal injury lawsuit. If you are the victim of a collision and have never been through a personal injury lawsuit before you likely have a number of questions and concerns.
Given the unique nature of a car collisions, no two lawsuits will follow the exact same path to resolution; however, there are some common steps that are included in most auto accident lawsuits, including:
- Retaining an AttorneyA victim should consult with an experienced auto accident attorney as soon after the accident as possible. Under no circumstances should you speak to the defendant or an insurance adjuster before consulting an attorney! Once an attorney has been retained he/she will make initial contact with the insurance adjuster for the defendant’s liability insurance provider and let them know that you are represented by counsel. From that point on all communication regarding the accident will go through the attorney.
- Maximum Medical ImprovementYou will continue to treat with medical providers for your injuries until you reach “maximum medical improvement”, or MMI. MMI does not always mean you are completely healed. Instead it means you have reached a point at which further treatment is unlikely to result in significant improvement.
- Demand for SettlementOnce you have reached MMI your attorney will prepare a demand for settlement package. In essence, this is a letter that outlines your legal position, including why the defendant is responsible for damages, and includes a monetary figure which you are willing to accept to settle the lawsuit.
- Negotiation and SettlementYour attorney will then enter into negotiations with the insurance adjuster in an attempt to settle the lawsuit out of court. If those negotiations are successful you will sign a release of all claims in exchange for the compensation agreed to during negotiations. The lawsuit is then dismissed and the case is concluded.
- TrialIf settlement negotiations are not successful your case will proceed to a trial at which a judge or jury will decide all contested issues. If you are successful at trial the judge or jury will decide how much compensation to award you.
- If you would like to discuss a car accident injury claim with one of our Lake Charles car accident attorneys, call (337) 439-2450 or e-mail us to arrange a free and confidential consultation. We will respond quickly to your inquiry.
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Our attorneys will review your case and represent you throughout your car crash claim. Contact Broussard & Hart L.L.C. today for help pursuing a car accident settlement. Your first consultation is free and we won’t charge fees unless money is recovered.
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