Frequently Asked Questions About Motor Vehicle Accidents
If you have been in a car accident, you may have many questions about how to handle the situation, especially if you were injured. You are not alone. At The Townsley Law Firm, we receive questions about auto accidents every day. Here are some of the more common questions clients ask:
WHAT DO I DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
When you are in a car accident, you may be shaken up, or even injured, and find yourself not quite sure what to do next. If you have serious injuries, the most important thing you should do first is seek medical attention. If your injuries are not life-threatening, you should take a few important steps at the accident scene:
- Make sure no one else needs emergency medical attention
- Report the accident to the police and stay at the scene
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver, but do not speak to them any further regarding the accident
- Obtain the names and phone numbers of all drivers, passengers and witnesses
- Take photographs, if possible
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Visit a doctor as soon as possible for a thorough exam
IS THERE A TIME LIMIT ON FILING A CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Yes. Nearly all types of civil lawsuits have a time limit on filing your claim, called a statute of limitations. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations on a car accident is one year for personal injury, property damage or wrongful death. Each insurance company may also have time limitations for filing claims with them, so you should always pursue claims right away.
CAN A PASSENGER SUE A DRIVER FOR CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES?
Yes, they can. Louisiana law allows a passenger to sue a driver if the driver’s negligence caused an accident that injured the passenger. Keep in mind, however, that the driver’s insurance company pays the damages, not the driver personally.
WHAT IS UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE COVERAGE AND WHY SHOULD I CARRY IT?
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist insurance coverage is coverage you can purchase to protect you if you or members of your household are injured in an accident by a negligent driver with no insurance coverage or limited insurance coverage that would not cover your injuries. The majority of people carry a $15,000.00 liability limit which in a serious accident, would not even cover your medical bills.
IF I FILE UNDER MY UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE COVERAGE, WILL IT AFFECT MY PREMIUMS?
WHAT HAPPENS IF I ACCEPT A SETTLEMENT AND THE MONEY RUNS OUT?
Deciding to settle your auto accident case is a big decision. Many factors go into a settlement offer and acceptance, which your attorney should thoroughly review with you so you have a clear understanding of what your settlement will and will not cover. Unfortunately, a settlement nearly always requires you to agree you will not pursue the other party for further damages. You may wish to discuss a structured settlement with your lawyer, where you would receive periodic payments over time rather than a lump sum. Having a trusted lawyer review a settlement offer before you accept it can make a big difference.