Over 2 million people are injured in car accidents in the United States every year. Many accidents are slight and go unreported, but others cause significant damage and leading to chronic pain, overwhelming medical expenses, disability, and decreased quality of life. Some people will walk away from a car accident without a scratch, others will spend the rest of their lives fighting the consequences, and many will die leaving their families grief-stricken and responsible for their loved one’s finances. It is very important to contact your Lafayette auto accident attorney right after seeking medical attention if you or someone you love have been the victim of an automobile accident in Louisiana.
The seriousness of a car accident doesn’t have much to do with the seriousness of a victim’s injury. Fender benders can leave accident victims with brain trauma, concussions, and neck or back injuries just as easily as major accidents. Without legal representation, many victims won’t ever recover the compensation they deserve for their injury and suffering.
A Lafayette personal injury attorney at Brandt & Sherman understands the difficulties victims of car accidents face. Every day, we work closely with clients who have been injured in car accidents. We know the causes and effects of accidents and how to represent our clients so that they receive the just financial compensation they deserve. Our firm has 50 years of experience with car accident cases in Louisiana. We understand the law and have helped thousands of victims secure the coverage needed to get back to their lives.
Let our team of legal professionals help you navigate the complexities of Louisiana car accident laws so that you can begin to recover physically and emotionally.
What Causes a Car Accident?
On average, it is expected that you will file an accident claim once every 17.9 years. Most people can expect to be in some sort of accident by the time they reach the age of 33 or 34. The variables involved in a car accident may be singular or may involve a perfect storm of factors that lead to the accident. A few of the most serious and catastrophic types of auto accidents are truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents. Here are some of the more common causes of car accidents throughout the United States.
- Drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2 in 3 people will have some kind of experience with a drunk driving accident in their lives. It is one of the most well-known driving impairments, and also one of the deadliest. Unlike some other causes, these crashes can be prevented by avoiding driving after drinking.
- Distracted driving. Being on a cellphone, eating, or trying to stop kids from fighting in the backseat are all considered distracted driving, and can have deadly consequences. It is illegal in Louisiana under most circumstances to test, send, or read messages on your cellphone while on the road. It is also illegal to use a phone for any purpose in a school zone.
- Many people consistently drive at a rate of 5–10 miles over the posted speed limit. Higher speeds mean a slower reaction time for all drivers. The seriousness in automobile accidents compounds exponentially the faster a driver is going. By the time you get to 75 mph, the impact of a crash will be 9 times more violent than it would be at a rate of 25 mph. The rate of speed of any additional cars involved in a speeding accident will also impact the severity of the overall crash.
- Severe fatigue can be as dangerous as drunk driving. The more tired a driver becomes, the more his impaired reaction times, judgment, and awareness will affect his or her driving. Over 100,000 crashes in the US every year are due to fatigue.
- Defects in cars and roadways can contribute to an accident. In cases where a defect is present, the liable party may be the vehicle manufacturer or a construction contractor.
- Poor weather conditions. If you’ve ever been in a torrential downpour, you understand how easily bad weather can become a hazard. Interestingly, the most dangerous time to drive in poor weather is 20–30 minutes into a rainstorm. The rain has not had a chance to wash away residual oils, which can lead to extremely slick driving conditions.
- Reckless driving. Tailgating, road rage, and disregard for the rules of the road are all dangerous driving habits that can cause accidents.
Car Accident Statistics
We’ve compiled a list of crash statistics to help you understand the impact of car accidents in the US and in Louisiana. These statistics and facts are not intended to scare you away from driving, but to highlight the importance of safe driving habits on the roads.
Car Accident National Facts and Statistics:
- 26% of all vehicular crashes involve cell phone use. The breakdown includes 21% due to talking on the phone and 5% due to texting-related behaviors.
- Vehicle crashes of all kinds are still the leading cause of death in teens between the ages of 16 and 19.
- 75% of teen accidents are due to driver errors including distractions and speeding.
- Marijuana related crashes have tripled in the US since 1999.
- 80 people die on the roads in the US every day.
- There are almost 5,400,000 non-fatal crashes per year in the US on average.
- Drunk driving accounts for the highest rate of roadway fatalities.
- Drivers are far more likely than passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists and others to die in road-related accidents.
- The highest rate of fatal crashes occur on Fridays. Friday has at least a 3% lead on every other day of the week.
Louisiana Accident Facts and Statistics (2013, injury causing crashes).
- There are more crashes on Friday between the hours of 12 and 6 p.m. than at any other time of the week.
- Traffic violations are the highest contributor to crashes in the state.
- The majority of crashes occur on state roads.
- There are more car accidents in March than at any other time of year, on average.
- The highest number of crashes (3,341) were due to non-collisions with motor vehicles, followed by rear endings (2,285).
- There were 773 crashes in Lafayette, LA, in 2013. The majority were rear endings.
The following pie charts are graphic visualizations illustrating the different types of roadways and highways in the state of Louisiana that the most amount of fatal automobile accidents take place on. These charts also highlight which types of roads in the years spanning from 2010 to 2014 have the highest and lowest percentage of fatal auto accident occurrences each year. The data for these visualizations was provided by the Louisiana Crash Data Reports website.
What to do if You’re in a Car Accident
Many people have no idea what to do immediately after a car accident. Accidents happen quickly and can leave those involved in an accident off guard. Here’s what to do if you are in a car accident.
- Don’t leave. Leaving will be considered a hit and run and is illegal. Stay until a police officer tells you that it’s okay to leave. If you can, do not leave until all other parties have gone.
- Assess the situation. Are you hurt? If not, check on the others in the accident. Never move anyone who is unconscious or is experiencing pain in the neck or back. However, if there is a valid hazard, it is best to move everyone out of the way as quickly and safely as possible.
- Call 911 if medical assistance is necessary and call the police.
- Turn on your hazard lights. If possible, move your car to the side of the road.
- Here is information you should secure if possible:
- Address and personal information of all parties involved.
- License plate numbers and car information including the make and model.
- Other driver’s insurance information and registration number and driver’s license number.
- Identifying information and addresses of any witnesses.
- Physical evidence, if necessary.
- Pictures of the accident. Use your smart phone or carry a camera for this purpose.
- Contact your insurance company to file a report and contact an attorney for a consultation. Consult your attorney before accepting any settlement from an insurance company.
What NOT to do after an accident:
- Don’t panic.
- Don’t leave the scene.
- Don’t talk about the accident – especially about who is at fault – with anyone except for your attorney. The evidence may be used against you later.
- Don’t wait to seek legal advice. The time after an accident is crucial to secure evidence and gain an understanding of the accident for any case that you might have or might be presented against you.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Accident injuries may result even from minor fender benders, which is why it is important to always seek the advice of an attorney after being involved in a car accident. Accurate medical records are very important when proving injuries in car accident cases.
Sometimes, injury may not be apparent until sometime after the car accident. There is a statute of limitations of 1 year from the time of the accident for filing a claim for personal injury in Louisiana. If you miss this date, it may be very difficult or impossible to prove your case in court.
Here are some of the more common injuries sustained in car accidents.
- Head injuries. brain injuries may include concussion or brain trauma. Brain injuries can occur even in minor accidents and may be difficult to identify. They can also be some of the more serious injuries resulting from an accident.
- Neck and back injuries. Whiplash and being jolted in the impact of a crash often result in neck and back injuries that may lead to chronic pain or spinal cord injuries that may be mild or very serious.
- Internal injuries. Fractured or broken ribs can impact the lungs and other organs and severe bruising in some areas can also affect internal organs.
- Psychological trauma. Psychological difficulty in recovering from serious car accidents is real and can impact lives in a major way. Even people who initially seem okay with the circumstances surrounding an accident may experience psychological trauma in some form at a later time. It can be just as impactful, if not more so than some physical injuries.
A Lafayette Accident Attorney that will Fight for Your Compensation
Louisiana has lower insurance limits than many other states. By law an individual is only required to carry a minimum of a $15,000 policy. In some cases, this can make awarding damages difficult because the defendant may not have the financial means to compensate an injured individual.
To remedy this, Louisiana also has UIM (uninsured/underinsured) coverage as part of most standard auto insurance plans. If a defendant can only pay $15,000, your UIM/UM policy may pay the remaining amount of damages owed to you
Compensation for your injuries goes beyond medical coverage. You may be awarded financial damages to cover the cost of the following.
- All medical expenses associated with the injury.
- Lost income, if your injury prevents you from working for a period of time.
- Lost earning potential, if your injury prevents you from earning the amount you were accustomed to earning prior to the accident.
- Pain and suffering, to cover the decreased quality of life an injury might present.
- Loss of consortium, if your spouse can no longer claim marital benefits that were available before the accident.
Every car accident is different, and the amount of damages can vary widely depending on the circumstances. Contact Brandt & Sherman, LLP, today to learn more about how we can help you in your car accident case.