Property Damage Guide


1. What should I send my insurance company after a wreck?

Send your insurance company a package containing the following:

• Recent pictures of your vehicle before the crash.
• Detailed pictures of the damage to your vehicle from all directions.
• A picture of the odometer clearly showing the mileage on your vehicle.
• A list of any extras installed on your vehicle with the age and the retail cost.
• A used car value from NADA.com (free online resource).
• The name, address, and phone number of the body shop you prefer to use.
• A statement that you want original manufacturer parts, not aftermarket parts.
• A request to replace your seatbelts if you sustained anything more than a minor collision.
• A copy of the police report or a signed letter from you describing the accident.
• A request that the insurance company let you know immediately if they need more information to evaluate your loss.

2. Can I choose the body shop that I want to use?

You have the right to choose the body shop you want – insurance companies will often try to steer you to a certain body shop. You may be required by your insurance contract to allow a certain body shop or adjuster to inspect your vehicle, but you are not required to use the insurance company’s choice of body shop. Use a body shop that you know and trust based on reputation or experience.

3. What should you tell the body shop who is fixing your car?

You should insist on using original manufacturer parts and fixing the full extent of the damage – Sometimes insurance companies will instruct a body shop to use cheap aftermarket parts that are often lower in quality. You have the right to have your vehicle restored in pre-accident condition, which should include original manufacturer parts.

4. What about replacing my seatbelts?

You should replace your seatbelts after any serious crash. A seatbelt that has already been involved in a major collision may not provide the same benefit during the next collision.

5. Am I entitled to a rental car?

If you are making a claim through your own insurance company, your policy will control whether you are entitled to a rental vehicle and for how long. If the policy does not specify what type of vehicle you can rent or the maximum cost per day, you should insist on a vehicle that is similar to your own.

If a third person caused damage to your vehicle and you are making a claim through their insurance company, you have the right to a rental vehicle that is comparable to your personal vehicle. This is especially true if you have a large family or need a certain type of vehicle, like a truck, for work. Insurance adjusters will often try to put you in the smallest, cheapest vehicle possible.

6. Is there a time limit on your rental vehicle?

If someone else caused damage to your vehicle and you are making a rental claim through their insurance company, there is no set time limit for how long you can keep a rental vehicle. Here are some general guidelines:

– If your vehicle is damaged, but not disabled, you are entitled to a rental vehicle the entire time your vehicle is at the body shop.

– If your vehicle is disabled, but will be fixed, then you are entitled to a rental vehicle from the time of wreck until repairs are made.

– If your vehicle is totaled, you are entitled to a rental vehicle from the date of the crash until a reasonable time period after you have been informed that your vehicle is a total loss, usually around 30 days.

The number of days can change based on the circumstances. If you cannot afford a replacement vehicle until you are paid for your vehicle, you may be entitled to keep your rental vehicle until you have been paid for your vehicle and have time to shop for a new one.

Any time you think your vehicle may be a total loss, it is a good idea to start looking around for a replacement vehicle right away.

7. How do you know if your vehicle is a total loss?

Every insurance company has their own policy about what constitutes a total loss, but there is also a Louisiana law which states that total loss is any damage exceeding 75% of the vehicle’s value. Louisiana Revised Statute 32:702.

8. What to do if your vehicle is declared a total loss?

Insurance companies will often hire third party companies to short change the value of your vehicle. Insist that the insurance company pay the value listed on NADA.com. In most cases, you are entitled to the clean retail value as listed by the NADA in addition to the costs of tax, title, and license.

9. Does the insurance company have to pay for the drop in resale value?

With CarFax, everyone who buys a used car will know if there has been prior damage. So if you get in a wreck 5 days after driving your brand new car off the lot, does the insurance company have to pay for the loss of resale value? This is called a diminution in value claim.

If you are making a claim through your own insurance company, this claim is controlled by the policy. Most do not provide for it.

If a third party caused damage to your vehicle, their insurance company is responsible for a loss of your car’s resale value, but they hate to pay it. You will need a letter from an experienced used car salesman estimating the amount of the loss. You can also find similar vehicles that have recently sold online and compare one with and without accident history.

10. Am I responsible for storage fees?

If a third party caused damage to your vehicle, their insurance company is responsible for all towing and storage fees. If you are making a claim through your own insurance company, your policy will control whether towing and storage fees are covered. Reasonable expenses are usually covered.

11. How long does my insurance company have to pay?

If a third party caused damage to your vehicle, their insurance company has thirty (30) days after “satisfactory proof of loss” to make a written offer to settle your claim. If the insurance company violates this statute, they owe you a 50% penalty, plus attorney fees (if applicable), in addition to the original claim. You can provide “satisfactory proof of loss” by sending the package described above. Louisiana Revised Statute 22:1892.

If you are making a claim through your own insurance company, they are also required to make a written offer within thirty (30) days of receiving satisfactory proof of loss. Additionally, they must pay your claim within sixty (60) days to avoid a penalty. Louisiana Revised Statute 22:1973.

What is the difference between the minimum auto liability insurance required in Louisiana and Texas?


Out of the 50 states, 48 require some kind of minimum liability auto insurance coverage as a condition of driving an automobile on the state’s highways. Minimum coverage requirements among the various states vary greatly.

In Louisiana, minimum liability limits are $15,000 for each injured person, up to $30,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is called 15/30/25 coverage.

In Texas, the minimum liability limits are currently $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. Short hand notation for this coverage is 30/60/25.

There is another important distinction between Louisiana and Texas automobile insurance requirements. In Louisiana, uninsured/under insured motorist coverage is automatically required with each auto liability policy unless it is specifically waived by the insured. Absent a properly executed waiver, UM/UIM coverage in Louisiana is automatically provided. This is true, even if no insurance premium was ever paid for this coverage.

In Texas, UM/UIM coverage is considered an additional, optional coverage. In Texas, this coverage carries an automatic $250.00 deductible.

Because minimum liability coverage in Louisiana is so low, Broussard & Hart highly recommends carrying UM/UIM coverage. This coverage is not expensive in comparison to liability coverage rates. This coverage is for your protection in the event you are not at fault in causing an automobile crash and the at-fault party is either uninsured or under insured.

In Louisiana, the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists is 13.9% -well above the national average. Louisiana is ranked 16th in the nation for the percentage of uninsured drivers. Oklahoma is number one, with 25.9% (over 1 in 4) of its drivers uninsured.

What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Louisiana?

According to Louisiana State Law Article 2315.2 any actions must be made within

 “one year from the death of the deceased.”

This article means that lawsuits must be filed within a year, although it could take years to actually complete litigation and receive compensation. A wrongful death action is permissible in the state of Louisiana “if a person dies due to the fault of another”. The law also provides limits on who can file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. The one year limitation applies to malpractice, product liability, premise liability and personal injury.

If you suspect your loved one is the victim of wrongful death it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Once the statute of limitations has passed you will not be able to sue an individual or company for compensation. As many victims’ families learn it can be very expensive to take care of a loved one who has been injured. An attorney will be able to determine if your case is viable and how long you have to file your suit.

What types of compensation does the law allow?

A wrongful death claim can include medical expenses, loss of income, loss of opportunity, pain and suffering, emotional damage and loss of companionship. Learn more about compensatory damages. The law also allows a wrongful death victim’s estate to pursue punitive damages that may go above and beyond compensation.

Get More Information

Visit our information center for more advice on wrongful death claims.  We’re available 24/7 to help you. Give us a call or fill out our contact form to get help.

How Social Media Can Affect Your Case

Posting photos of your daughter’s birthday party or sharing a status about your latest trip to the beach may seem innocent, but this can all be used against you in a personal injury trial. While there are laws to prevent opposing lawyers from prying into your private life, plaintiffs often underestimate how online information can be used against them. If you are seeking compensation in a personal injury trial follow these 6 steps to ensure the best possible outcome of your case:

  1. Do not immediately delete your accounts or posts. If the opposing attorney proves there was incriminating information in your profile, a judge will frown upon your spoliation of the evidence. Always consult a lawyer before doing anything with your account.
  2. Download all account information for your files. Facebook, email accounts and other platforms allow you to download and print all historical activity for your records. If the defendant presents or threatens to have evidence that would harm your case it is helpful if you have hard copies of the evidence.
  3. Know your privacy settings. Information broadcasted on social media is not considered private by the judicial system. If you limit access to your profile the defendant will have the difficult task of proving there is enough relevant evidence in your account to be granted a subpoena. Ensure all privacy settings on your profile are enabled to inhibit information being used against you.
  4. Do not post about your whereabouts. You probably understand why you shouldn’t post a photo of your latest 5k after a car accident; however, you may think it’s ok to post about your location. Any information about your activity and location can be used to damage your claim.
  5. Do not accept friend requests. During a case be careful who you let see your profile. Do not accept friend requests from anyone you do not know. And do not send requests to anyone involved in your case.
  6. Do not post about your case. You may innocently want to update your family about your case via Facebook. Do not post any information about your trial or settlement online. Posting opinions or facts about your case can be extremely harmful to your situation.

The best way to avoid your online activities being used against you is to refrain from posts, photos and web communication during litigation. Take some time to sift through your online information, even Google yourself, to identify what information about you is discoverable online. Any profile; LinkedIn, MySpace, blog and even your Pinterest board can end up in court. Opposing attorneys will often use the information to negotiate a lower settlement during mediation. Take extreme caution and talk to an attorney when dealing with social media.

Questions?

At Broussard & Hart we leave no stone unturned in your case. We want you to get the settlement you deserve. If you have questions about social media please call us. Our office is available 24/7 to answer your questions.

 

My Surgery Had a Poor Outcome. Is that Malpractice?

Surgery Had a Poor OutcomeWhether it is for a minor problem or a major condition, surgery always comes with a certain amount of risk. If you recently had surgery and the outcome was not what you were hoping for you are likely dealing with a number of emotions that may include frustration, depression, and even anger. You may also be wondering whether the fact that your surgery had a poor outcome means you are the victim of medical malpractice. The only way to know with any certainty whether your circumstances amount to the base for a medical malpractice lawsuit is to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney; however, it may also be beneficial, in the meantime, to gain a better understanding of what is typically required to prove malpractice.

What Do You Need to Claim Malpractice?

A poor outcome, alone, is not enough to claim medical malpractice. Although we do hold physicians, and others in the healthcare professions, to a high standard of care, they are not expected to be perfect. Moreover, all surgeries come with inherent risks and no certain outcome. For all of these reasons, a poor outcome alone is not sufficient to claim malpractice. It may, however, amount to medical malpractice depending on the underlying reason for the poor outcome.

Healthcare professionals are held to a standard of care that is different from the typical standard of care used in other personal injury scenarios. The “medical standard of care” is typically defined as the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractice. In other words, did the surgeon do, or not do, what another surgeon with similar education and experience have done under the same circumstances? If so, malpractice is unlikely. If the surgeon deviated from the standard of care you may have the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Another issue to consider is “informed consent.” Because of the inherent risks anytime surgery is performed the surgeon has a duty to inform you of those risks and the possible outcomes of the surgery ahead of time. If you were not informed of the possibility that the outcome could be poor, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit based on lack of informed consent.

If you have additional questions or concerns, contact the Louisiana medical malpractice attorneys at Broussard & Hart, LLC by calling 337-439-2450 to schedule a consultation today.