Car Accidents

Every insurance policy is a bit different, but there are certain expectations every insurer must meet after an accident. In the state of Louisiana, every insurance policy must meet the minimum coverage requirements, which includes $15,000 in liability for one person, and $30,000 for multiple people, as well as $25,000 in property damage.

When a driver invests in this minimum coverage plan or additional coverage, he or she trusts that, when needed, their policy will cover the necessary costs. Unfortunately, not all insurance companies honor their legal requirement to act in good faith. Learn more about what you may legally expect from your insurance company in order to determine whether or not you are the victim of insurance bad faith.

All insurers are required to act in good faith, me aning they must make a reasonable effort to settle all claims and to do so in a timely manner. In some cases, companies may act in bad faith by attempting to prolong the claims process, looking for an out, which puts more stress and financial strain on the person filing the claim. By law, bad faith is acting in a way that is “arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause,” which some insurance companies may do to avoid paying for damages.

A company may act in bad faith by:

  • Misrepresenting the facts related to the coverage specified in a person’s policy
  • Failing to honor settlement deadlines within 30 days after an agreement was made
  • Denying coverage for a reason the insurer knowingly altered without notice, consent, or knowledge of the insured party
  • Misleading a claimant as to when the legal actions may begin
  • Failure to properly compensate anyone insured by the contract within 60 days of receiving proof of loss from the claimant
  • Denying claims when the denial is illogical or unreasonable

It is not illegal for the insurance company to refuse a claim, so long as that refusal is justified and does not go against the policy. However, if a company commits any of the acts lawfully defined as “bad faith,” the company did not fulfill their obligation to act honestly and fairly. Fortunately, there are legal repercussions for insurers who fail to handle claims justly.

If your insurer unfairly holds you responsible for your accident or provides you with inadequate settlement fees, you may be able to take legal action. At Scott Vicknair, LLC our attorneys can review your current situation to determine how your insurer acted in bad faith, and we will guide you through the best legal options. Contact Scott Vicknair, LLC for legal representation after your car accident.

We hear it time and time again. Someone was involved in a car accident, did not get an experienced personal injury attorney, and they settled for less than their case was truly worth. At Scott Vicknair, LLC, we want to max imize the value of your damages in any potential settlement and/or jury verdict. Car accidents can cause a wide array of problems for you in your life and change the course of your life forever. Both minor and serious injuries should be treated and cared for by the at fault driver’s insurance.

Although each case will be different, there are key factors that consistently play into maximizing the value of your settlement and/or potential jury verdict after a car accident injury.

  • Consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who is not afraid to fight. Talk to an attorney before you talk to your insurance company. Moreover, choose an attorney who has relevant courtroom experience, because insurance companies and adjusters know which lawyers are more likely to settle and which are more likely to fight in court. Our initial consultations are complimentary. Our personal injury lawyers can review and help move your case forward. An experienced personal injury attorney may be able to recover a fair settlement for you and ensure that you are not settling for less than you deserve.
  • Put your documents all in one place before you give them to your attorney. Documents you will want to put in one file for your attorney include: your medical records, your bills, work time that was lost, police report, pictures, any notes from the doctors and other helpful evidence. Maintain these records all in one file folder and keep a copy for yourself. Save your bills, receipts, and any paperwork related to the car accident.
  • File a lawsuit as soon as practicable. Time is of the essence because you only have a limited amount of time after the car accident to file a lawsuit. The prescriptive period, commonly known as the statute of limitations, is typically one to two years after the date of your car accident depending on the claims and insurance companies involved. Hiring an attorney puts the pressure on the insurance company and they will take you seriously if they see that you have an attorney. The likelihood of the insurance company taking advantage of your inexperience in the value and damages you can claim in your case decreases greatly if you have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. If you suspect that the other party may have been under the influence, you may be entitled to punitive damages.
  • Go to the doctor. Go to the doctor to ensure you document your injuries and that you get on a treatment plan which can help get you as close as possible to medical maximum recovery. In addition to physical injuries, emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, and potentially lost wages count as damages caused by the car accident, so seek out counseling or a psychiatrist to help treat your emotional health if you believe that is necessary. Some car accident victims can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of a car accident. Stay consistent with your treatment and follow the doctors’ orders.
  • Review your insurance policy, so you know what they are supposed to cover. Policy coverage varies in a car accident based upon whether you are making claims for injuries in a car accident against another driver’s liability policy or your own uninsured motorist policy. Additionally, property damage coverage varies based upon the insurance policy which is applicable to the car accident. An experienced attorney can help navigate the various insurance policies and coverage related to your car accident injuries.
  • Know your injuries. Some symptoms may not arise until weeks after the car accident. Therefore, it is important to stay tuned to what is happening with your body. Even if it does not hurt, that does not mean it is not injured. Make sure to be thoroughly checked by a doctor immediately after the accident.
  • Know your damages. Damages are the types of compensation you may be able to receive in a settlement from your car accident injury. Here is a non-exhaustive list of compensation you may be entitled to based on expenses incurred: cost of hiring a car service, cost of renting a car, cost of fixing your car, cost of hiring an in-home worker (housekeeper, nurse, etc.), loss of income, loss of consortium, loss of business, cost for counseling, pain and suffering for your injuries, and cost of medical treatment.
  • Take pictures of your car, of the scene, and of any visible injuries. Make sure you get pictures from various angles, as well as taking both up close and big picture photos. Be sure to include all the cars that were involved in the accident.
  • Keep a journal of your injuries and emotional damage. Maintain a daily log of your emotions, appetite, physical pain, activities that you were not able to do, etc. This will be helpful when you go visit the doctor. Also, if you do end up going to court, a daily log can help you recount the details of your injuries to a jury. If you had any sort of physical or emotional symptoms that you would not have had otherwise, record it in a diary so that you can support your claim for damages in court.
  • Allow an experienced attorney to talk to your adjuster on your behalf. Although insurance companies promise loyalty and sell you on the idea that they are looking out for your best interest, they make profit off not giving people what they truly deserve by underpaying claims. You should make sure the adjuster knows how serious your injuries are. Do not let the adjuster pressure you into settling. The adjuster might try to get you to admit fault and agree to making a statement that could later be used against you. The best way to ensure that you are not taken advantage of by an insurance company is to have an experienced attorney in your corner.

If you have been hurt in a car accident, call or message our New Orleans personal injury attorneys at (504) 500-1111 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

As more New Orleans and Louisiana residents use Uber and Lyft for transportation, Louisiana residents should consider who is liable and what insurance protections are in place for an Uber or Lyft ride. This blog focuses on what insurance is available if you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft to cover your injuries and property damages. Whether the driver of the other vehicle in the crash or the driver of the Uber or Lyft is at fault, Louisiana law has mandatory insurance coverage provisions which apply to Uber and Lyft vehicles.

Louisana Law SB 172

The Louisiana Legislature passed SB 172 in 2015. SB 172 was enacted to require mandatory insurance coverage limits on all Uber and Lyft vehicles. The insurance coverages vary depending upon the stage of the ride. Obviously, as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft, the only coverages which would concern you would be those while you are actually riding in the Uber or Lyft. This period is called the “trip acceptance period.”

If the driver of the other vehicle is at fault, their insurance on their vehicle would be primarily responsible to compensate you for personal injuries and property damage. However, you have secondary protections during the trip acceptance period which are found in the required uninsured/underinsured insurance coverages Uber and Lyft must provide under Louisiana law.

Million-Dollar Insurance Requirement

During the trip acceptance period, Uber and Lyft are further required to provide $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This means that irrespective of the liability coverage of the other “at fault” vehicle, you would have an additional $1 million in insurance protecting you in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from the Uber or Lyft’s insurance.

If the driver of the Uber or Lyft is at fault, you would have the same insurance protections against the liability coverage of the Uber or Lyft as found in the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uber and Lyft are required to provide the same $1 million insurance liability coverage during the trip acceptance period as well. This $1 million in liability coverage on the Uber or Lyft would be primary to your personal uninsured/underinsured insurance policy to protect you for personal injuries and property damage.

This requirement does not have to be borne by the driver themselves. The driver’s vehicle insurance coverage may exclude periods when that driver is working for Uber and Lyft. It must be covered by Uber and Lyft, irrespective of the coverage or insurance that the individual driver has in place.

We all regularly use Uber or Lyft to provide safe and reliable transportation in our daily lives. The following post focuses on the steps you should take if you are in a vehicle crash with an Uber or Lyft as a passenger, or if an Uber or Lyft crashes into your vehicle.

Call the Police to Make a Report

Police reports are one of the most useful documents in a motor vehicle accident case. They contain statements from parties and possible witness information, all the information for both drivers, and a diagram of the accident. Police reports are also seen as objective sources. Often when the other driver doesn’t cooperate with their insurance or tells their insurance the accident happened in a different way, this police report is the only way to confirm how the accident happened. While police response times differ from city to city, it is always worth the time to wait for them to come make a report. It doesn’t matter if the Uber or Lyft driver is in a hurry, needs to go to the next ride/passenger, or requests you just exchange information, insist on the Uber or Lyft driver obtaining a police report related to the collision.

Get the Other Driver’s Information

If you are a passenger in the Uber or Lyft, make sure you get the other driver’s information, such as a picture of their driver’s license and proof of insurance. If they don’t have a license or proof of insurance, or will not show them to you, take a picture of their license plate. Even if the other driver refuses to show you their license or proof of insurance, their license plate can be used to search for insurance information.

Take Pictures of Both Vehicles

While you are taking photographs of the other driver’s license plate, take pictures of the physical damage to their car as well. Pictures of physical damage can be used to help reconstruct an accident later on and are always useful to illustrate the severity of the collision. Property damage claims can often be handled relatively quickly, and you may not get another chance to take pictures of their vehicle or your own before the damage is repaired.

Consider Obtaining Legal Counsel Before Talking to Their Insurance Company

If you’ve done all of the above, you should have all the information you need to call the insurance company covering the Uber or Lyft vehicle and/or the other driver, and then start your claim. However, before you speak to an insurance adjuster, consider calling a legal professional. For starters, whether the insurance company is covering the Uber or Lyft vehicle or another driver, they are going to record your call. It can be used against you later in the claims process and/or in litigation. Insurance companies don’t make a profit by paying out the full value on injury claims. Their adjuster is going to try and do whatever they can to settle your claim for as little money as possible. They may try to ask you leading questions that can be used against you later on, which will be recorded.

Besides simply being the right thing to do, motorists in Louisiana involved in an accident are legally required to provide their name and license plate number and offer a reasonable amount of aid. Sadly, at-fault drivers may shirk that responsibility and flee the scene to avoid law enforcement. Here’s what you need to do if you are hit by a driver who speeds off without stopping.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Hit and Run Collision

In order to protect your legal rights and ensure you can recover the compensation needed to get back on your feet, it’s important to take the appropriate actions when the shock of the collision wears off. If you aren’t immediately taken by ambulance to the emergency room, here are the critical steps to take:

  • Note vehicle details – Write down as much about the other vehicle as you can remember, such as the make, model, and license plate.
  • Contact the authorities – Call the police to investigate the accident just as you would if the other driver had followed the law and remained at the scene.
  • Acquire contact information – You want to have other people who can testify to what occurred if the case needs to go to court. Talk to any pedestrians, other drivers, or even nearby businesses with video cameras who witnessed the incident and get their contact info.
  • Take photos – Just like with any other type of accident, make sure to take pictures of the overall scene, any damage to your vehicle, and your own personal injuries.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible – Whether you end up calling for emergency responders to transport you to the hospital or simply take yourself there, it is absolutely critical that you begin documenting your injury and its impact on your life early. Get a full checkup to search for fractures, traumatic brain injuries, or other internal wounds that may not be readily apparent due to adrenaline released during the crash.
  • Contact an attorney – After seeing a doctor, this is the most important call you will make. A skilled lawyer can help by locating the insurance policy of the at-fault driver who fled the scene and filing a personal injury lawsuit for your damages. In situations where that isn’t possible, an attorney is still indispensable for protecting you in the event your own insurance provider attempts to deny the claim in bad faith.

Dealing With Insurance Following a Louisiana Hit and Run Crash

Far more drivers without any sort of insurance policy use Louisiana roads than you likely expect, which is one reason why the at-fault party may have fled the scene in the first place. Having full vehicle insurance with additional uninsured motorist coverage may save you from financial ruin.

Unfortunately, when all is said and done, your actual costs may be well over the payout cap for any uninsured coverage in your plan. You also need to keep in mind that insurance companies, like any other business, exist primarily to generate a profit rather than to specifically help you recover after an accident.

There are far-too-many instances where insurers are reluctant to pay out at all, especially in situations involving long-term physical recovery, or they may simply try to pay less than you deserve. If you don’t deal with insurance carefully, an adjuster may attempt to argue your injury was caused by a previous event, or that you aren’t hurt as badly as you claim.

Retaining a legal professional to deal with insurance adjusters can be a tremendous help in protecting your financial recovery. Insurers are much more likely to take your claim seriously and provide the full and fair amount you deserve when a lawyer handles communication. However, in cases of hit and runs specifically, an experienced litigation attorney is even more crucial. Your legal counsel can help guide you whether insurance refuses to pay out or the at-fault driver is eventually located. In either case, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover the full damages you are owed.

Talk to a Car Accident Attorney Today If You Were Hurt in a Hit and Run

Were you or someone you love harmed during a crash where the at-fault driver fled the scene to avoid consequences? Get in touch with the Scott Vicknair law firm today to set up a consultation. Our trial-ready team is eager to hear about your case and find out how to help you move towards a financial recovery after a hit and run accident upends your life.

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