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Do You Know What to Do After a Car Accident?

Whether you live in Lafayette Parish or are just visiting the Gulf Coast region, there’s always the chance you could be involved in a car accident.

A sobering statistic is that 27% of car crashes in Lafayette Parish result in injury or death. While this doesn’t mean you’re destined to be involved in a fatal vehicle accident, you do have the risk of being in a minor or major car collision.

So, if this unfortunately happens to you, do you know what steps to take after a car accident?

Louisiana Law and Car Accidents

Like all other states, Louisiana has strict laws regarding what steps drivers must follow after being involved in a vehicle accident. These rules are set down in the Louisiana RS §32:398 code. However, the rules may be different if a fatality occurs or if property damage amounts don’t exceed $500.

The three main steps you must take are:

  1. Notify the local police/sheriff department or state highway patrol. Which agency you contact depends on the location of the accident. For example, if the wreck is on a highway like I-10, you’ll contact the highway patrol. Some areas in the parish are unincorporated. In this case, you’ll also contact highway patrol.
  2. Exchange contact and insurance information with all involved parties. This can be especially important if more than two vehicles are involved in an accident. The authorities will want to talk to each driver, the insurance providers, and your attorney.
  3. Provide all requested information to the responding police officer. This information typically includes your valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance card. You may be issued a traffic ticket and court date if you can’t provide the requested documents. You’ll need to supply this information at least by your court date. If you provide the information before your court date, your appearance may be canceled, along with the traffic citation.

If the accident results in vehicle damage over $1,000, you may also need to give a detailed statement to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. In most instances, you only have 24 hours to submit your report.

What happens if you fail to meet any of these legal requirements? There’s a chance you’ll be ineligible to file a claim for damages. You may also face a fine of up to $100 and 60 days in jail. Neither is appealing and can be easily avoided by following the state requirements after a car accident.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

There are a few steps you should take if you’re involved in an automobile accident. Some are legal requirements, like not leaving the scene of an accident, and others can help strengthen your personal injury case.

Yes, it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident in most cases, but there are exceptions. For example, if there’s little to no vehicle damage, no injuries, and all involved parties amicably agree to go their separate ways. However, it’s still a good idea to report the accident to the police. You may need the accident report at a later date. In any case, it’s always better to be prepared in case the other driver decides to file a claim.

So, what are the other steps you should take after being involved in an accident?

  • Assess yourself and your passengers for any injuries. You’ll do the same for the other involved vehicles.
  • Contact the police if necessary. If there are injuries, let the 911 operator know. This way, they can also send medical personnel.
  • Take photos of the accident scene, including any damage to all vehicles. If possible, also document any sustained injuries. If road conditions or obstacles contributed to the accident, try to also document these factors.
  • Exchange information with the other driver/s. You’ll want to do the same if there are any witnesses. Your attorney and insurance adjuster will want to talk to the witnesses to prove or disprove your claim.
  • Get in touch with an accident attorney. Don’t call your insurance provider until you speak with an attorney.
  • After contacting legal representation, go ahead and file a claim with your insurance agent.

As you’re taking pictures of the accident scene, don’t forget to include a shot of the vehicle’s final resting place, which can be invaluable when you’re assessing fault.

Remember, Louisiana is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that you may be assessed some of the accident blame, and this can affect compensation amounts. The more proof you have that the accident isn’t your fault, the better your chances of receiving a fair settlement.

Commonly Asked Questions about Car Accidents in Lafayette Parish

Do you still have remaining questions about your legal rights after a car accident in Lafayette Parish? Don’t worry; you’re not alone; the law can be confusing. To help guide you, here are the answers to some of the most common questions.

Can I file a personal injury suit against a ride-share driver?

Yes, you can file a personal injury suit against a ride-share driver as  the same laws apply regardless of whether the driver is working for a company or on their own. The only time there may be complications is if the driver is employed by the government. Compensation caps may apply.

Who is the at-fault driver in a head-on collision?

A lot goes into determining who’s at fault in a head-on collision. Some factors include if a driver was distracted behind the wheel. In this instance, the distracted driver is assigned full blame.

Who is at fault in a rear-end collision?

In the majority of cases, the at-fault driver is the individual who rear-ends the other vehicle. There can be exceptions. For example, the lead vehicle applies its brakes for no reason on a clear street. Every case is different, so it’s best to talk to an attorney about your situation.

Contact an Attorney If You’re Involved in a Car Accident

Regardless of who’s at fault in a car accident, it’s always best to consult with an experienced accident attorney to explore your options.

With their in-depth knowledge of Louisiana law, your attorney will be dedicated to ensuring that you receive fair compensation for any injuries and property damage sustained.