In most cases, you do not have to go to court for a car accident in New Orleans. Most crash victims can hold the at-fault driver responsible and recover compensation through an out-of-court settlement. In most cases, the victim or their lawyer negotiates this agreement without suing the negligent party.
Many people believe they can only use a car accident attorney if they go to court, but having a law firm handle your insurance claim can help you reach a fair settlement to avoid going to trial, as well. Of course, if you need to sue, they will also manage this process for you.
Most Victims Never Need to Make a Court Appearance
Car accidents generally settle out of court. The claims process begins with the victim or their attorney investigating what happened and gathering evidence. The goals of this process include:
- Identifying the at-fault party or parties
- Proving what caused the car accident
- Documenting negligence and liability
- Showing the recoverable damages
- Putting a value on the case
Proving what caused the crash and who is responsible requires understanding the four elements of negligence. This includes:
- The other party had a duty to do something specific, usually following a traffic law.
- They failed to uphold their duty.
- This action or lack of action caused a collision.
- The victim, in this case, you, suffered injuries, financial effects, and psychological damages.
With these elements confirmed, you will verify your recoverable economic damages and value your non-economic ones. There are several methods used to do this, and your attorney can handle this for you based on their experience and common practice in your area.
Then, it is time to file the claim. You will send the insurer a demand letter outlining the case against the policyholder and a total for a fair settlement. This will likely lead to a counteroffer and begin the settlement negotiations process.
For a free legal consultation, call (504) 613-4771
A Car Accident Lawsuit Is Sometimes Necessary
While most cases do settle before the victim files a lawsuit, there are some situations when suing the at-fault driver is necessary to recover the compensation you deserve based on your New Orleans crash.
Examples include when:
There Is No Fair Offer
Sometimes, the insurance company does not believe you will sue and refuses to agree to a settlement. By filing a lawsuit, you can prove the insurance company wrong and force its hand. It will have to increase its settlement offer, or the case will go to trial.
The Insurer Disputes Your Evidence of Fault
In some cases, the insurance company does not believe its policyholder is responsible for the crash or thinks you share the fault. Under La. Civ. Code Art. 2323, you can sue even if you are partially at fault in a crash. However, your payout might go down based on the percentage of fault assigned to you by the court.
The Deadline Is Close
Louisiana has extremely short deadlines for suing after an accident. La. Civ. Code Art. 3492 generally only gives accident victims up to a year to begin a lawsuit. This countdown starts the day of the crash. Sometimes, your attorney may need to sue simply to protect your right to do so.
The Case Is Especially Complex
Some more complex cases may need to go to court because of the time and skill required to build these cases and navigate the claims process. For example, when a truck driver causes an accident, their employer is vicariously liable under La. Civ. Code Art. 2320. This means you would build a case against a large trucking company and its corporate insurer.
Most Lawsuits Never Go to Trial
It is also crucial to know that most cases never go to trial, even when there is a lawsuit. Settlement negotiations continue as the lawsuit moves through the initial phases, and an agreement at this point is common.
In fact, negotiations may occur throughout this process until the trial begins. A settlement is possible at any point, which would allow you to avoid going before the judge and jury in an Orleans Parish civil court.
Our Attorney Will Offer Advice if Your New Orleans Case Heads to Court
When you choose to work with our personal injury lawyer on your New Orleans car accident claim, they will manage all aspects of your case. This includes seeking an out-of-court settlement, preparing and filing a lawsuit, and representing you at trial if necessary.
They can also counsel you on whether your case will likely settle before you must sue the at-fault driver. They may be familiar with insurance companies, local adjusters, and others involved in this process from previous cases.
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Discuss your New Orleans car accident with an attorney from the Morris Bart law office today for free. We provide complimentary consultations and work based on contingency. Call (504) 613-4771 to get started.
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