Baton Rouge Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are a possibility that you have to contend with every time you get into a car, either as the driver or the passenger. While this may sound dire and should be taken seriously, it shouldn’t keep you completely off the road. Your lifetime odds of dying in a car accident are only 1 to 101, despite the probability of experiencing a car accident being much higher. There is a disparity in these numbers because of a few factors. First, you have to consider how many car accidents are fatal. Fender benders and sideswipes can also be classified as “car accidents,” which is why your probability of experiencing a car accident is high, but the overall mortality rate is lower. Second, not all car crashes are reported, which influences car accident statistics.
Still, even if someone survives a car wreck, they could be dealing with a major personal injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or even paralysis. These injuries are catastrophic and can result in a debilitating combination of lost wages and medical bills, both of which can put victims in debt for years. The good news is that an insurance company can cover some of these damages, but not all. Sometimes, motor vehicle accidents are so catastrophic that the victim must seek financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
It’s important to understand your recourse if you happen to find yourself in an auto accident, especially if you are not at fault. Even non-fatal car accidents can be traumatic and costly, and in some cases, insurance agents can’t handle everything. This is where hiring a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer can come in handy. The Law Offices of Ossie Brown can walk you through the entire car accident claims process, advocate for your legal rights, and help you recover compensation for both physical and emotional damages. Call our personal injury law firm at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Car Accidents
Car accidents are very common in the U.S., with more than five million crashes occurring per year. As we established earlier with our car accident statistics, there are many different types of events that could fall under the umbrella of “car accident.” These different types of accidents often describe how the accident occurred, which can be helpful for both insurance adjusters and car accident lawyers. Some of the different types of accidents include:
- Rear-End Collisions: This is when a car collides front-end to back-end with another car.
- Head-On Collisions: This is when a car collides front-end to -front-end with another car.
- Sideswipe Accidents: This is when two cars collide side by side. Side swipes can also be hit and run accidents.
- Single Vehicle Accidents: Single vehicle crashes occur when only one car is involved. This means only one motor vehicle has taken damage, not that there weren’t other drivers involved.
- Multiple Vehicle Accidents: Multi-vehicle crashes happen when more than two drivers involved have taken damage in a single incident. According to 2021 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 13,000 fatalities occurred in multi-vehicle accidents involving passenger cars, and these types of accidents make up 40% of all car accidents.
- Rollover Accidents: Rollover accidents occur when at least one driver is rolled in their vehicle. These can be serious accidents because of the momentum needed to cause them and can lead drivers to be fatally injured.
Different kinds of crashes will be covered differently by insurance, and will likely produce different kinds of injuries and damages. How many car accidents in these categories end up as fatal accidents is also a question of the specific circumstance, such as if everyone was wearing their seat belt.
Common Car Accident Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 2.1 million emergency room visits that were a result of car accidents in 2020. Interestingly, male drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents, and to be fatally injured compared to female drivers. Injuries from a car accident can range from minor to potentially life-threatening. The most common car accident injuries include:
- Soft tissue injuries;
- Traumatic brain injury such as a concussion;
- Skull and facial fractures;
- Eye damage and/or vision loss;
- Hearing loss;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Internal damage;
- Cuts and bruises;
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Wrongful death.
There is some speculation as to why men experience more deaths annually due to road traffic accidents, including that men drive more on the whole, and they are more likely to engage in risky driving practices like drowsy driving or distracted driving, such as cell phone use.
If you or someone you love has suffered a major personal injury or wrongful death due to a negligent driver, you have grounds to contact Baton Rouge auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown. We will take on your car accident case and help you obtain a fair settlement via your insurance company or via the at-fault driver.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident
Fault is important in any personal injury case, but determining fault is especially important in a motor vehicle accident. Fault in car crashes determines who is responsible for paying damages to the injured party or parties. Both insurance assessors and law enforcement rely on fault in car accidents to accurately assign payouts and punishments.
What is an At-Fault State?
Simply, an at-fault state means that the driver found guilty of causing the accident is responsible for any punitive damages. This could include:
- Medical bills;
- Car repairs;
- Damages to the other driver(s);
- Lost wages;
- Emotional damage.
On the other side of at-fault states, also called tort states, are no-fault states. While fault still legally exists, no-fault states simply hold the driver liable for property or equipment damages, not bodily harm. Auto insurance in both at-fault and no-fault states will reflect these accordingly in your coverage. If you don’t have auto insurance, you will still be responsible for paying damages you caused in a traffic accident according to the fault laws in your state.
Is Louisiana an At-Fault State?
Louisiana is an at-fault state, meaning if you cause a car accident, you are liable for any damages for the result of that accident. It’s important to note that Louisiana specifically adopted a Pure Comparative Negligence Doctrine, which factors into fault regarding motor vehicle crashes. This doctrine means that both parties may be seen as “at fault” in different percentages. According to this doctrine, the settlement amount will be reduced by the driver’s percentage of fault.
For example, failing to signal a turn that causes a merging car to a sideswipe may be subject to comparative negligence. While you failed to signal, you still have the right of way as oncoming traffic. In a case like this, you may assume 10% fault, while the other driver is responsible for 90% of the resulting damages. The only exception to this rule is if you were to intentionally cause a traffic collision, in which you would be responsible for 100% of damages, and possible additional charges if the crash resulted in serious injury or traffic fatalities.
When Can I Sue a Driver for Hitting Me?
Regardless of whether you live in a no-fault or at-fault state, car accident victims can still sue another driver for damages immediately following the wreck. Oftentimes, people will sue the at-fault party for negligence. Legally, negligence is when a lack of attention, care, or awareness causes injury or damage to property. There are 4 Ds of negligence that can help you determine if you have a strong car accident lawsuit. They include:
- Duty of Care: This refers to the reasonable expectation that others won’t take direct action to cause harm. For example, if you drive drunk, not only could you get hit with a DUI, but you could also be sued for negligence under duty of care, as this is taking a conscious action that could end in crash fatalities, injuries, and damages.
- Dereliction of Duty: This refers to the active abandonment of duties or choosing to be neglectful. For example, a driver is breaching their duty of care by deciding to get behind the wheel while drunk. They are actively endangering the lives of others.
- Direct Causation: This is when your actions directly caused concrete harm. For example, someone suffers catastrophic injuries due to a driver’s drunkenness behind the wheel.
- Damages: The final D of negligence refers to the damages that victims suffer from car crashes. Crash deaths and injuries lead to a wide variety of economic and non-economic damages that victims should receive fair compensation for.
A car accident attorney in Baton Rouge, LA can help you prove these elements of negligence in your case.
Negligence is not the only case you can bring against an at-fault driver. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is another sueable offense. This can mean several things, depending on your state. Of course, driving with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit is grounds for a DUI, but so is driving under the influence of drugs. In Louisiana, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that you can drive under is 0.8%. This is grounds for a DUI.
A Baton Rouge car accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Ossie Brown has what it takes to litigate both civil and criminal car accident cases. If you suffered serious injuries in a car accident, we can defend your rights and help you obtain justice from the at-fault driver through a civil lawsuit. If you caused a car accident due to drunk driving, and you’re now facing criminal DUI charges, a car accident attorney at our law firm can defend you as well.
When Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You can file a wrongful death lawsuit when an individual, company, or legally recognized entity has caused death due to negligence. Families of car accident victims are the most common filers of this type of lawsuit, typically citing negligence. Medical professionals and nursing homes are also more commonly sued for wrongful deaths than an employer, for example.
Negotiating a settlement on a wrongful death suit can be a challenge, as you’re essentially having to put a financial value on someone’s life. Often, family members and loved ones will sue for funeral costs, along with any other damages that they and their legal team come to. Louisiana, as a state, has specific rules for who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. In Louisiana, only the surviving spouse and children may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Parents and long-term partners are excluded from this ruling unless otherwise specified by a Louisiana court.
Louisiana Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
The statute of limitations for auto accidents in Louisiana is one year from the date the accident occurs. The statute of limitations refers to the maximum amount of time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. This can include insurance filings, punitive cases, and wrongful death suits. After this time is up, you cannot press charges for the same incident. It’s important to note that even if the at-fault party no longer lives in Louisiana, they can still be charged by the state if the accident occurred within state lines, during the state’s statute of limitations.
How Do I Recover Damages if the At Fault Driver is Uninsured?
In car accidents where the at-fault party has no auto insurance whatsoever, victims typically have to turn to their own insurance company for damages, unless they decide to sue. This is why having uninsured motorist and bodily injury liability coverage on your insurance can be so valuable.
If you decide to sue an uninsured driver citing negligence — as being an uninsured driver can be seen as a breach of duty of care — the courts will decide on what, if any, settlement can be reached. This decision will largely depend on your legal team, the state in which you’re suing, and the opposing counsel. However, it’s important to note that if you do sue, you will be responsible for all of the legal fees, which can add even more financial stress to how much car accidents cost.
Do All Louisiana Drivers Have to Have Car Insurance?
Louisiana law requires all drivers to have minimum liability coverage on any automobile they own. If they don’t have auto insurance, Louisianans could face hefty penalties for even minor traffic accidents, such as impoundment. This is likely because they are in an at-fault state. What this minimum liability coverage looks like will depend on both the offerings of local insurance companies, as well as outside factors such as what an auto loan lender may require.
Types of Damage Payments in Car Accident Cases
We’ve mentioned damages several times when it comes to both car accidents and car insurance. But what does that mean, exactly? Legally, when car accidents happen, “damages” are filed in certain ways for car insurance companies to evaluate and provide payouts. The most common damage payments in car accident cases include:
- Lost Wages: This is very common damage you may file or sue for if you have to take time off work because of a car crash. With this damage, you will receive a cash settlement for the amount of work you had to miss, equivalent to the amount of wages you would’ve generated during that time.
- Medical Expenses: Car accident injuries are some of the easiest damages to receive payouts for, as they’re typically confirmed by a doctor or physically visible. Medical expenses, including treatment, physical therapy, and assistive devices such as a walker or cane, are all things that can be covered by damage payouts to the not-at-fault party.
- Emotional Distress Damages: On the other hand, emotional damages are a little harder to get a payout for. While a car crash can be incredibly traumatic, assigning a dollar amount to someone’s trauma gets tricky, and insurance companies try to avoid it. While it’s not impossible to receive payment for emotional damage — especially if a car crash results in the death of a pet or a permanent disability — it’s not as common as medical expenses.
A Baton Rouge car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown can help you seek compensation for all accident-related expenses, including property damage, medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, wrongful death damages, and so much more.
Call a Baton Rouge Car Accident Lawyer at The Law Offices of Ossie Brown TodayIf you’ve suffered damages from a car accident in the greater Baton Rouge area, you need a Baton Rouge car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown. Our legal team has what it takes to successfully litigate both civil and criminal cases related to car wrecks. So if you’re facing a criminal DUI conviction from drinking alcohol (or getting high) and then causing a car accident, we can help. If you have suffered catastrophic injuries from a car accident that wasn’t your fault, we can help you too. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation with a car wreck lawyer today.
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