If you have been in a car wreck, you probably have questions. The Ruston Lawyers at Goff and Goff have answers.
How much do I settle my auto repair claim for?
You will need to get at least one estimate on the cost t fix your car. The insurance company should pay the reasonable cost to repair your car or the vehicle’s fair market value, which ever is less.Fair market value means what you could have sold the car for just before the accident, given its age, mileage, and condition. The NADA Official Used Car Guide contains such information on recent model cars and can be found at most bookstores, libraries, and banks. The value of older cars can be determined by looking at classified ads or consulting car dealers. Your property damage insurance may include a deductible, which means you must pay a portion of the repair bill. If the other driver’s insurance pays for your property damage, there will be no deductible. (But see also Diminution of Value and Loss of Use Claims below.) If an insurance company does not timely and fairly pay your property damage claim and has no good reason for withholding payment, then the law may allow you to recover penalties and attorneys fees under some circumstances.
Even though my car's going to be repaired it's still going to be worth less. That's not fair.
If your car was involved in a collision, the mere fact that it has now “been in a wreck” may reduce the resale value of the car. You are entitled to recover for that, if it can be proved. Often insurance company adjusters will not agree to pay you for this loss unless and until you have hired a lawyer.
How can I get a rental car?
The other driver’s liability insurance company should provide you with a rental car after accepting responsibility for the accident.Your own auto insurance policy may include a provision for rental and towing expenses. You may use this coverage if there is a dispute over who caused the accident or if the other driver is not insured.You may also have a “Loss of Use” claim, which compensates you for your time without a car. Often insurance company adjusters will not agree to pay you for this loss unless and until you have hired a lawyer.
I can't work, so who is going to pay my bills?
There is no easy answer to this question. Eventually, the settlement of your case should include payment for your lost wages. Usually, the faster you hire legal counsel, the faster your claim can be resolved.
Which doctor do I see, and how do I pay him?
You may have already been to the emergency room or have visited your own family physician. However, many folks consult with a specialist if their injuries do not resolve quickly. If you have injured your neck or back, suffered broken bones or injuries to a joint, you may choose to consult a chiropractor. Ultimately, the other driver at fault in your collision should pay for your damages, including your medical bills. Your own health insurance and/or “Med Pay” portion of your auto policy can help pay your medical bills until your case is finally settled. However, if your insurance pays your medicals, then you may have to pay them back out of any settlement or recovery you get.
How much should I settle my injury claim for?
The amount of your settlement against another driver who is at fault will depend on the severity of your injuries, the amount of insurance coverage available to you and an analysis of the cause of the accident. Louisiana law provides that injury victims can recover for harms and losses such as:
•Past and future lost wages.
•Pain and suffering.
•Disfigurement and physical impairment.
Spouses and children can also recover for some of the damage they sustained due to a loved one’s injuries. If you were driving and did not have car insurance at the time of the wreck or if you were convicted of DWI from the wreck, then your rights to recover may be significantly restricted. An attorney can help you evaluate your case and help you obtain the best settlement.
How long will it take to resolve my claim?
Generally, your property damage claim can be resolved relatively quickly and you can settle your claim for bodily injury at a later date. When a case is finally settled you will have to sign a release that waives your right to make any future recovery against the individual and the insurance company responsible for your accident in return for a sum of money. It is important to note that there is a “Prescriptive Period for all cases (called a Statute of Limitations in other states), which generally requires that you file a lawsuit within one year from the date of your injury. Failure to have a properly drafted lawsuit filed at the right court house and within the time period required by law will result in loss of your claim. However, you do not have to have your case settled within these time periods, you merely must have a lawsuit filed. The time limits to file suit vary, and it is imperative that you remember there is a deadline.Always consult an attorney to determine the deadline to file your particular case. Often the lawsuit takes time to investigate and properly prepare for filing, so it is critically important that you not wait until the last minute to contact a lawyer to represent you. Also, remember that once you settle, it is over. If your injuries worsen over time or you don’t discover a particular injury until after you settle your case, then you are not allowed to recover for that injury.
What are my rights if a loved one is killed?
There are special laws in Louisiana concerning the rights of spouses, parents, or children of a person killed or injured in an accident. No amount of money can make up for the loss of a family member, but these laws provide for the recovery of funeral expenses, medical bills, wages that would have been earned and mental anguish suffered by the survivors. These are commonly called “Wrongful Death” and “Survival” claims.
What if I get sued?
If you have been sued or an injured person makes a claim against you, contact your insurance company immediately. Often this can be done by contacting the local insurance agency who sold you the insurance policy. Your auto liability policy provides in most circumstances an attorney to represent you and your insurance company if you are sued because of a wreck you were in.
Understanding Your Insurance Coverage
-Defends you if someone makes a claim against you.This coverage is required by law.
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist- Will pay you if the wreck was the other driver’s fault and he/she does not have liability insurance or not enough insurance for your injuries.This coverage is required by law UNLESS you waive it.
Collision- Pays the cost of repairing your car or the fair market value; whichever is less, minus a deductible.
Medial Payments Coverage- Pays your medical bills up to a certain limit.
Towing/Rental- Pays for the cost of towing your vehicle and renting a replacement auto.
You may not have all of these coverages included in your auto policy and certain coverages have limits on how much they will pay.Consult your insurance agent or an attorney with questions about your insurance coverage.
What if the other driver has no insurance?
If the other driver has no insurance, you should review your insurance to see if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is insurance designed to pay you for your losses if the other driver has no insurance or not enough insurance. You may also need to hire an attorney to make sure the other driver does not have insurance or other assets to pay your claim.
Do I need an attorney?
You may not need an attorney if you are not injured and if the insurance company has fairly and quickly settled your claim. However, in many cases involving personal injuries, an attorney is necessary to protect your legal rights.Most attorneys charge a contingent fee in accident cases, meaning they are paid a portion of your recovery (usually 33% to 40%, depending on the complexity of the case). If you do not recover any money, there is usually no fee for the lawyer’s time, although you still may be responsible for expenses incurred during the litigation, such as court costs.
Choosing a personal injury attorney
Choosing a personal injury attorney?
You should consider the following:
NO FEE UNTIL RECOVERY
You should not have to pay legal fees unless your case is settled or a recovery is obtained for you. In most injury cases, Goff and Goff charges a legal fee only if you recover money for your injury.
You need a qualified attorney who will meet with you and discuss your case free of charge. The attorneys at Goff and Goff offer free consultations on most civil injury cases.
Most importantly, you need an attorney with experience in your type of case. The lawyers at Goff and Goff have over 80 years of combined legal experience and have represented hundreds of clients injured in automobile collisions.