Louisiana Auto Accidents: Do's & Don'ts
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- Seek medical treatment. Even though the insurance aspect of an injury is important, Young encourages clients to seek immediate medical treatment first and foremost.
- Speak with an attorney. Young says that a definite 'do' is to speak with an attorney right away even if it's just to better understand your rights or the insurance process in general. According to Young, "It's important for auto accident victims to understand that there's no commitment or requirement that they hire an attorney right away. Our office is happy to speak with anyone about their accident and educate them about their rights. We do this on a regularly basis."
When asked if there was a charge for this, Young was quick to respond, "No, there's no charge for us speaking with someone involved in an accident. There's no charge for us to tell them what we think their rights are or to make recommendations at a very early stage on how we believe they should handle their claim. Once the contract is signed with our office, that's when the fees begin. We charge on a contingency fee basis which means if there is no recovery, the client doesn't have to pay an attorney fee. But once the contract is signed, that's when the client is responsible for the contingency fee."
- Document, document, document. Young said one of the things that people should do right away is document the nature of their injury. He explained, "The most important thing an accident victim must do is see a medical doctor if they're having medical issues. One of the strongest defenses that an insurer can put forth is a delay in treatment. That is what the insurance company will typically focus on if there's any type of long delay in the person receiving medical treatment."
"We encourage clients to take photographs of everything right away, ranging from their automobiles to the other person's automobile if it's of a nature that can be photographed. There's a saying in litigation that the other side is not going to believe it unless it's written on paper. So, it's very important to document any type of medical treatment and to follow-up with any type of testing that could help to prove your case."
- Don't give statements. Young typically advises clients not to give recorded statements to the other driver's insurance company. He continued, "There's absolutely no requirement that they give that type of a statement and the other driver's insurance company has no obligation whatsoever to deal with the injured party fairly. The other driver's insurance company is simply going to try to hurt the potential claim or defend the claim from their standpoint. There's never, ever a requirement that they cooperate or discuss the accident with the other driver's insurance company and it almost always hurts the case when they do so."
- Don't assume a police report is required. Young says that many auto accident victims don't understand that police reports are not required to bring an action. He told us, "[Victims] should try to have police reports completed if they're involved in an accident because the police report will typically assist in handling the case. However, they are not required to have police reports if they're able to prove their accident through other evidence, such as eye witnesses, damage to their car or to the other person's car that struck them."
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of law. Click here, to contact a qualified Louisiana Car Accident attorney for a free, no-obligation consultation.