Unfortunately, traffic accidents in Louisiana are very common, with 2021 seeing more than 900 crashes in the state. Reckless driving (including speeding, distracted, and drunk driving) and inclement weather are two of the main causes of car accidents in Louisiana, so more often than not, these wrecks can be prevented.
Motor vehicle accidents can be minor or even deadly, and important steps must be taken after each traffic accident. Here are four things that you should do (if you’re not severely injured) if you’re involved in a car accident in Louisiana.
#1: Call 9-1-1
The most obvious thing to do is to call 9-1-1. Dialing for emergency services will bring any emergency service needed to the scene of the accident, whether it’s police officers, an ambulance, or even a firetruck. Be descriptive as possible when calling so that the dispatcher will know which emergency services to send.
No matter how minor the wreck is, it’s still a good idea to get the police on the scene so that they can write a formal police report. This report will detail all information just in case other parties will need to be contacted. Without a police report, drivers can change their stories about what happened which can lead to issues later on down the road.
#2: Gather Information from the Crash Scene
While you’re waiting on the authorities, it’s also a good idea to gather as much information about the crash scene as possible— if you’re physically able to, of course. Some important information you’ll need from the other driver includes:
- Car insurance information
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the crash scene, including pictures of the cars involved, any markings that may have been left on the road, and even street signs. However, you should never move anything on the scene, unless you’re able to move your car in order to keep other traffic moving.
If there are any witnesses around, you can ask to record their statements of what they saw or gather their contact information for future reference, since most witnesses will not wait for the authorities to arrive.
#3: Get Medical Treatment
No matter how minor a car accident is, it’s always a good idea to seek some type of medical treatment, or at the very least, an examination. Of course, if you have visible injuries and/or aches, you should visit your healthcare provider, urgent care, or the emergency room. However, not all car accident injuries are initially apparent, and you may feel stiffness and soreness a few days later. Keep an eye out for any delayed pains, and visit a medical professional.
It’s also not a bad idea to seek medical treatment from a therapist. Car accidents of any type can be a traumatic experience for people of all ages and can lead to the development of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Seeking help from a mental health professional can be just as beneficial as seeking help from a physician.
#4: Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, the last thing you may need to do if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident in Louisiana is to contact a personal injury lawyer/attorney (a lawyer only provides legal advice while an attorney can provide advice and represent you in court). Most personal injury law firms specialize in motor vehicle accidents, but you’ll want to make sure that the firm you choose specializes in this because personal injury also includes:
- Birth injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Premises liability
- Wrongful death
Contacting a personal injury law firm ensures that you’ll get the compensation you’re entitled to and explain to you your rights and what the insurance company is required to do for you. If the insurance company asks you for a statement or presents a settlement amount, it’s always best to check with your attorney to ensure that you’re getting the maximum compensation possible.
It’s important to note here that Louisiana is a tort state and not a no-fault state. This means that victims must be able to prove that the other driver caused the crash that resulted in car damage and/or bodily injuries to receive compensation— as opposed to receiving compensation no matter who is at fault for the accident. This is why gathering as much information as possible by following these four steps is extremely important to ensure you get the compensation you need— especially if you’re not at fault.