An accident can cause mental and physical trauma. But the actions you take after suffering an injury can determine your long-term prognosis. Delaying or skipping medical treatment may worsen your injuries and delay your recovery.
Equally importantly, you might need to take steps to preserve your legal rights. If you were injured due to someone else’s actions, you may have a personal injury claim to recover compensation for the losses you suffered because of your injuries. But legal missteps can jeopardize your ability to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Steps You Should Take After an Accident in Louisiana
While it might seem unfair, the law expects you to take certain steps when you get injured.
Despite the pain and confusion after an accident, you should try to take as many of these steps as possible:
Seek Medical Attention
If you require medical help and need an ambulance, call 911 or ask someone else to call for you. For example, if you slip and fall in a business and suffer a head injury, you can ask the company’s employees to call for an ambulance.
Under Louisiana law, you must call the police to report all car accidents that cause death, injury, or property damage of more than $500. If you were injured due to an automobile collision, you can ask for an ambulance when you call to report the accident to the police.
Even if you do not need urgent care, you should still seek medical attention for any medical problems that require more than first aid.
Contacting a doctor has many benefits to your health and legal position, including the following:
- Diagnosing any hidden injuries
- Getting a treatment plan
- Documenting your injuries and how you got them
Your personal injury claim will become much more difficult to win without medical records to support it.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
When your doctor gives you a treatment plan, you should try to follow it. Following your doctor’s advice will help you recover from your injuries. If you do not have the money needed for the prescribed treatment, you may need to pursue an injury claim so you can pay for your medical care.
In addition, Louisiana follows a doctrine called pure comparative fault. Under this doctrine, you can lose a share of your damages if you were responsible for your accident or if your actions worsened your injuries.
For example, suppose that you suffered a road rash on your arm in a motorcycle crash and did not take the antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. As a result, your arm became infected. In this instance, the at-fault driver might escape liability for the medical bills that arose due to your failure to follow the doctor’s advice.
Document the Accident Scene
If you are able to gather information at the accident scene, you should try to do so. A few cell phone photos or videos can provide valuable evidence in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Some of the information that might help you includes:
- Names and contact information of any witnesses
- Images of where the accident happened
- Images of your injuries or any property damage that might explain how the accident happened
If you were injured in a car accident, you should cooperate with the investigating police officers. When they produce their accident report, you want it to include your version of events.
Consult a Crowley Personal Injury Lawyer
Consider talking to a personal injury lawyer as early as possible in the process. Most injury lawyers offer free consultations to new clients. You can use that time to discuss your accident with an experienced attorney and learn about your right to pursue compensation. The lawyer will also explain how they can help you.
File an Insurance Claim
Most injury cases begin with an insurance claim.
Some examples of insurance that covers accidental injuries include:
- Auto insurance, which can cover injuries in a traffic accident
- Homeowner’s insurance, which can cover dog bite and premises liability claims
- General business liability insurance, which can cover slip and fall accidents
An insurance claim describes how an accident happened and the injuries you suffered. It also includes supporting documents like medical records, doctor bills, and wage records.
The insurer then assigns an adjuster to the case to investigate — and ultimately either accept or deny — your claim. If the adjuster denies your claim, you should consider consulting a lawyer to respond to the denial.
Negotiate a Settlement
If the insurer accepts your claim, it will make a settlement offer, which will almost always be insultingly low. You or your injury lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster to obtain a fair insurance settlement.
Your settlement should cover both economic losses, or the financial costs of your injuries, and non-economic losses. The latter refers to the human costs of your injuries, such as your pain and suffering.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Before you file, though, you should consult a lawyer to assess your case and make sure you stand on solid legal ground with your claim.
The lawyer can also:
- Prepare the filings for your lawsuit
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- Present your case to a jury
Your injury attorney will also continue to negotiate with the at-fault party and their insurer to settle your claim. Only a small percentage of personal injury lawsuits reach trial; most are settled during litigation.
When to Hire a Crowley Personal Injury Attorney
Many accident victims hire an injury attorney at the beginning of the claim process. Having an attorney early on will help you avoid making mistakes that could put your claim at risk. Since most injury lawyers work for a contingency fee, you only pay your legal fees after the lawyer wins or settles your case.
But other accident victims wait to hire a lawyer. If you file your insurance claim without assistance, you should consider hiring a lawyer if you receive a claim denial. A lawyer can help you overcome the denial or file a lawsuit to keep your claim alive.
To discuss how a Crowley personal injury lawyer can help you pursue a claim against the person or business that injured you, contact Kenny Habetz Injury Law for a free consultation.