Proving Fault in an Accident in Lafayette or Metairie
In Louisiana, all drivers are required to carry minimum liability insurance for automobile accidents. The current liability insurance required for Louisiana drivers is:
- Bodily injury coverage for one person in the amount of $15,000;
- Bodily injury coverage per accident (two or more persons) in the amount of $30,000; and,
- Property damage coverage in the amount of $25,000.
Louisiana is an “at fault” state for automobile insurance. In other words, the driver who caused the accident is “at fault” and responsible for the damages caused by the accident. Therefore, to recover money for an accident claim, you must prove the other driver caused the collision.
Elements for Proving Liability in an Accident
To prove that the other driver is liable for your damages, you must present evidence that proves each of the legal elements for liability. In Louisiana, you must show:
- The other driver owed you a duty;
- He breached the duty;
- The breach resulted in the collision;
- You were injured in the collision; and,
- You suffered damages because of the crash and your injuries.
The first element is the easiest one to prove because all drivers have a duty to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner. By causing a crash, the driver failed in his duty of care. Likewise, proving you suffered injuries caused by the crash can be substantiated through medical records. Proving that the other driver caused the crash (fault) is usually the most difficult element to prove in a car crash case.
Proving Fault in an Accident in Louisiana
To prove fault, we must determine the cause of the accident and identify the party who caused the crash. This process involves a comprehensive investigation to gather evidence to show the other driver did something to cause the crash. For instance, the other driver crossed into oncoming traffic causing a head-on collision, or the driver turned left in front of another vehicle when that driver did not have the right-of-way.
To prove fault, we may take one or more steps while investigating the accident including:
- Visiting the accident scene to take photographs and make videos.
- Searching for videos of the accident from nearby video cameras or traffic cameras.
- Interviewing eyewitnesses.
- Obtaining and reviewing the police report, including interviewing the police officer.
- Inspecting each of the vehicles.
- Hiring an expert accident reconstructionist and/or other experts to recreate how the accident occurred.
- Examining medical records.
Some crashes are more complex and challenging to investigate. For example, accidents involving multiple vehicles or semi-trucks can be difficult to investigate. The sooner an attorney can begin to investigate the cause of the accident, the better chance you have of recovering evidence before it is lost or destroyed. Memories can fade, and eyewitnesses can relocate making it difficult to find them.
Recovering Compensation for an Accident Claim
Proving fault for an accident opens the door to recovering compensation for damages. However, proving damages can also be complicated, especially when injuries involve soft tissue damage. Working with an experienced Louisiana accident lawyer can give you an advantage because an attorney understands the documentation required to prove damages. An attorney can also give you direction on how to document damages.
Some tips for documenting damages include:
- Keep copies of all invoices and bills for medical treatment, including hospitalizations, doctors, physical therapists, ambulance service, chiropractors, anesthesiologists, radiologists, etc.
- Retain all receipts and bills related to medications and medical equipment/supplies
- Keep track of loss of income, including any bonuses or other incentives you lost because you were unable to work
- Retain all receipts and other evidence of out-of-pocket expenses such as paying someone to cut the grass, travel expenses, etc.
- Keep a pain and suffering journal to track your daily pain level, how your injuries impact relationships with others, and how your injuries prevent you from performing daily tasks or enjoying other activities
Your attorney may provide a list of other information he wants you to track to help prove damages. It is essential to work closely with an attorney as you document your damages for an accident claim.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Metairie and Lafayette
Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer. The Law Offices of Blaine J. Barrilleaux represents clients throughout Louisiana in injury claims against other drivers, companies, government agencies, and other parties who may be responsible for an accident.