Were You In a Car Accident? Steps to Find a Lawyer and Start a Claim

If you were involved in a car accident, there are a few steps that you should take to help you seek medical attention, take pictures from the accident scene, and seek out experienced legal counsel to help you file a legal claim.

When You’re in a Car Accident – Take These Steps

Car Accident Statistics

Every year, car accidents can injure and even kill unsuspecting drivers. Here are a few car accident facts in the United States:

  • Every year, 6 million car accidents take place, 3 million people are injured, and 2 million people sustain permanent injuries from their accidents.
  • Every day, about 90 people will die in a car accident.
  • Over 1,060 drivers are hit by distracted drivers each year.
  • 40 percent of car accidents are due to inebriated drivers, 30 percent are the result of speeding, and 33 percent are due to reckless drivers.
  • 1 in 3 people texts while they are behind the wheel while 4.6 seconds is the average amount of time a driver spends not looking at the road when they respond to text messages.
  • In Louisiana in 2016, there were 298 drivers killed with known blood alcohol concentration BAC and 124 drivers with BAC equal to or greater than 0.08.
  • In Louisiana, in 2016, there were 412 single-vehicle accidents and 345 multiple-vehicle accidents.

man with hand bandage calls Car accident lawyer

When You’re in a Car Accident

A car accident can be a sudden shock especially if you were hit from behind or didn’t see the other driver. People are usually jolted when they are in an accident and may not know what to do first.

Depending on the severity of your injuries, the first few things you do are important:

Assess Your Injuries

One of the first things you want to do is assess your injuries. If your injuries are minor, you may still need to seek medical attention from your doctor. If your injuries are severe, you may need to call an ambulance or someone may call for one for you.

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Car accident Injury

Call 911 and Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Depending on the location of the accident, if it’s a residential or urban area, neighbors will usually call 911 when they hear an accident. The other driver may also call 911. Call to ensure 911 is on the way. The police will get information that your insurance adjuster will need.

This includes:

  • The police report from the accident.
  • Any pictures from the scene of the accident showing the damage to all vehicles involved.
  • Testimony from you and the other driver.
  • The exact location where the accident occurred.
  • Any witnesses and their statements about how the accident transpired.

If your injuries are minor, you can get the insurance information from the other driver and give them your insurance information. If your injuries are too severe, don’t worry. The police officers will get the other driver’s information in the police report.

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Photograph and Record the Accident Scene and Look for Witnesses

If you can use your smartphone, take a few pictures of the accident scene, the car that hit you, the location of the accident, a stoplight or stop sign nearby, and other identifying data. A few pictures can help if the other driver leaves the scene and you need a description.

You may see witnesses nearby or they may approach to say they witnessed the accident. Get their names, contact phone numbers, and email.

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What to Do If the Other Driver Leaves

On rare occasions, a driver that doesn’t have insurance will flee the scene. That’s why getting a photo or picture of them and their vehicle (inconspicuously) is important. Look to see if there are nearby security cameras. In some urban and residential areas, building cameras may be recording nearby and might help substantiate your claim.

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Seek Medical Attention and Contact Your Employer

If you leave by ambulance, ask a police officer to remove your valuables from your vehicle and keep them on your person. If you drive to the E.R. or a doctor’s office, contact your employer to let them know you were in an accident. If the accident was severe, your employer can find coverage for you.

At the E.R. or doctor’s office, a physician can treat your injuries and let you know if the injuries sustained will require surgery, physical therapy, or if you will need to take time off from work.

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Contact Your Insurance Company and an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Whether you caused the accident or the other driver did, you will need to contact your insurance company and you may want to contact a lawyer. You will likely go through the other person’s insurance company to settle any claims you have for damages.

Maybe you did a search online for “car accident lawyer near me” or Louisiana car accident attorney near me”. When you contact an experienced law firm, they can take the details of the accident and start your claim. If you were able to get photographs and video of the scene, give them to your attorney.

With contacting the insurance company, keep in mind:

  • The insurance company while providing coverage is protecting their interests.
  • They make money by paying out less than the claim amount you are requesting.
  • They need to first establish fault and then determine if the information and evidence provided in the case will result in full payment, hence, the need for an experienced attorney who can fight for you.

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human X-ray result chart for a Car injury lawyer

When You Have Sustained Injuries and Need Time Off From Work

If you’re in an accident and you experienced injuries that require surgery, rehabilitation, or physical therapy, it may require that you take time off from work to improve your recovery. From a medical standpoint, a physician may set up a course of action and determine how much physical therapy you might need to increase mobility, range of motion, or improve flexibility depending on the severity of your injuries.

For some injuries, you might have residual pain that’s long-term, or you might have symptoms that don’t show up for several weeks, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the accident. Todd Buckley, Ph.D. describes this as emotional distress.

You might experience mental health difficulties such as depression or anxiety with getting behind the wheel. In one study, about 9 percent of people suffered PTSD after a major car accident. In another study, about 15 percent of people developed a fear of driving again. Talk to your attorney and doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

How the Car Accident Claim Process Works

After a car wreck, if the other driver is responsible, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you seek monetary compensation for your damages. This is the start of your personal injury claim and it’s a pre-lawsuit settlement.

An experienced legal professional will help you seek damages based on:

  • The damage to your vehicle.
  • The injuries you and any other passengers sustained in the accident.
  • The medical bills and hospital bills you’ve accumulated.
  • Wages that you missed from being out of work.
  • Claim compensation for your pain and suffering.

When you start a claim with an attorney, it can be a lengthy process. You will need to finish all therapy and medical care and send a medical release from your doctor with all your bills to the insurance company before a settlement is discussed. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to determine a settlement amount. If a settlement amount can’t be reached, then a lawsuit may ensue in court.

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What if You’re At Fault or Uninsured?

In the event that you are at fault, the other driver will seek compensation for their damages from your insurance company. If you were driving without insurance, then you should seek legal counsel right away.

The No Pay No Play Policy in Louisiana

While state to state car insurance laws can vary, Louisiana has a “No Pay No Play” policy that frowns heavily on uninsured motorists. Because auto insurance is higher in Louisiana (as it was determined that 10 percent of drivers were uninsured), the policy was established. Even if you weren’t at fault in the accident, you can be severely penalized for driving without automobile insurance.

For example, if you were injured and driving uninsured, you cannot receive the first $15,000 from bodily injury damages. This applies to any driver in Louisiana that is uninsured or underinsured. Additionally, you cannot receive the first $25,000 for any property damage.

Contact a Reputable Car Accident Attorney Who Can Help You

A car accident can be devastating. It can take you away from your daily living activities and it can leave you traumatized or with permanent injuries. Because you might have to take time off to recover from your injuries, don’t go it alone.

Smiley Injury Law – An Experienced Legal Team

The personal injury field has several legal hurdles. That’s why it’s important to hire experienced legal counsel that can represent you and help you with every stage of your claim.

We’ll Fight For You – Our Top Priority

Smiley Injury Law has experienced legal professionals that care and will make you a priority. With offices in Louisiana, California, and Texas, we focus on attention to detail, we work with compassion for our clients, and we don’t want you having to fight the insurance company by yourself.

If you need a personal injury attorney or a car accident attorney, don’t trust your case with a random firm you found online. Hire the best legal team with a proven track record.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Fill out the online form to set up a free consultation and schedule a case evaluation. We are available 24-hours a day at (504) 434-7700 to help with answering your questions and processing your claim. Here at the Smiley Law Firm, we want to make sure you get the best representation possible. You’re our top priority.

Learn More From Smiley Law Firm’s Injury Blog

Here at Smiley Law Firm, we write about the topic of car accidents extensively. This may be the most popular topics for our clients and the public. As personal injury attorneys, we believe in educating our clients and the public with the most up to date information available. We have a number of blogs and articles covering the following topics. Please read them and leave comments if you find the information helpful.