When Should You Sue After a Car Accident?
If you suffered a serious injury after a car accident, it is natural to want to take time to heal before seeking legal advice. Although focusing on recuperation is critical, you do not have the luxury of waiting too long before filing a personal injury lawsuit. That is due both to Louisiana law and the fact that an accident investigation should begin as soon as possible.
To protect your rights, obtain legal counsel promptly. A Bart Bernard Lafayette Personal Injury lawyer will fight for your rights while holding those responsible for your injuries accountable.
Louisiana Statute of Limitations
Unfortunately, Louisiana’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident is one of the shortest in the country. If it is not filed within one year of the accident date, the court will not allow it to go forward.
If other vehicles involved in the accident belonged to a municipal, parish, state, or federal agency, the statute of limitations is even more limited. While Louisiana does not put a cap on damages for standard car accidents, when a government agency is involved, the limit on compensation is $500,000.
A successful personal injury lawsuit depends on evidence. In the aftermath of a car accident, evidence can disappear quickly. The sooner you engage an attorney, the faster the process of collecting evidence and building a case can begin.
Evidence in personal injury lawsuits resulting from car accidents may include:
- Photos or videos of the scene
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Eyewitness accounts
Totaling your expenses relating to the car accident is also imperative. In addition to medical bills, include time lost from work, property damage to your vehicle, the need to hire caregivers or household help after your injury, the cost of transportation to and from healthcare provider appointments, rental vehicle fees, and the like. These are known as economic damages.
Non-economic damages also play a role in compensation. Such damages take into consideration:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship or affection
Figuring out the value of non-economic damages is more complicated, and a lawyer can best determine the amount for the individual client. Once you add up these costs, you will have a better idea of whether it makes sense to file a personal injury lawsuit, or whether you should file a claim with the insurance company.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Perhaps you think that just letting the insurance companies handle the particulars of the accident is a good way to proceed. Unfortunately, that often means a lowball settlement offer. Insurance companies are in the business of paying a little as possible for claims.
To the layperson, what sounds like a reasonable settlement offer proves inadequate. At the least, a lawyer will negotiate aggressively with the insurance company to ensure the client’s compensation pays for present and future accident-related needs.
There is another crucial reason to let a lawyer handle insurance negotiation. The injured person could inadvertently make a statement to the insurance company that the insurer will then use against them to deny or significantly reduce the claim. When an insurance company knows that an accident victim has retained an attorney, they are more willing to negotiate.
Maximum Medical Improvement
While the short statute of limitations in Louisiana governs part of the decision-making process when filing a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party and the lawyer should know whether the person had reached “maximum medical improvement” before filing the lawsuit. That means the person has improved as much as can be expected based on their injuries. If maximum medical improvement leaves the person with permanent or long-term impairment, their ongoing financial needs become clearer.
Contact a Lafayette Personal Injury Lawyer
After suffering injuries in a car accident because of another driver’s reckless or negligent actions, you need the expertise of a personal injury attorney. We will review your case and advise you of your options going forward.
A Lafayette car accident lawyer at Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers can help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. Call us 24/7 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Most cases are settled, but we will go to trial if the insurance company does not agree to a fair settlement amount.