Auto/Car Accidents

Lake Charles Car Accident Lawyers

A Lake Charles car accident lawyer can help you take the next steps in recovery.

Driving in Louisiana can be a challenge or a pleasure, especially during the summer months. No matter the conditions, accidents happen. Everything from a fender bender to a major highway pile-up is possible when you get behind the wheel in the Lake Charles area. While we call these accidents, oftentimes they are a result of the wrongdoer neglecting to follow the laws or rules of the road.

When car accidents happen, you need an experienced Lake Charles car accident lawyer in your corner. The Johnson Firm has been serving the Lake Charles area since 1980, dedicating decades of experience to helping you get the compensation for all of the damages and losses you sustain in a wreck . Call us today at (337) 433-1414 for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us help you get on the road to recovery.

Call a Lake Charles Car Accident Lawyer Today

A personal injury attorney in Lake Charles can be a lifesaver. Insurance companies look for any excuse to deny responsibility. Even when they can’t avoid responsibility, they almost always try to get away with paying less than what is owed. 

There are important laws that you must follow that the insurance companies know and may use against you if you do not have an attorney.

  • In Louisiana, if you have been the victim of a car accident, you have one-year to file a lawsuit against an at fault party from the day of the accident.
  • The minimum insurance amount for injuries is $15,000 per person, and $30,000 per accident, no matter how many injured persons there are. This can be a problem in cases where people are hurt even for a short amount of time, or if several people were injured. Property damage claims have a minimum of $25,000. Insurance companies may have more insurance available, but are not required to tell you how much the limits are until a lawsuit is filed.
  • The insurance company is required to investigate your claim within a reasonable amount of time, and in a reasonable way. There are consequences if the other driver’s insurance company or your insurance company refuses to try and gather the facts.
  • Insurance companies will often try to settle quickly for a small amount. Louisiana law does not allow this, but insurance companies may try to pressure you to agree to a low settlement on the phone.

What To Do After A Car Crash

what to do at the scene of a car accidentWhile most every driver hopes to avoid a car accident, they happen every day. If you get into an accident, panic and fear can take hold. Knowing what to do at the scene can settle your nerves and help you overcome anxiety. 

If you get into a car accident, here’s what you need to do at the scene.

1. Call 911.

After an accident happens, you or the other driver need to call 911 to inform the police of the accident. You will tell them the location of the accident so they can come to the scene. Unless you report the accident to the police, it will be harder to prove what happened in the absence of a police report.

After you report the accident to the police, they will come and assess the scene and the damage. They will interview the drivers, passengers, and any witnesses to learn more about the accident and how it happened. They will begin writing the police report but will not finalize it until after the scene of the car accident is settled. 

The officer will likely give you a “crash information form” that includes the date, time, and identities of the drivers in the crash, as well as their insurance information. The official crash report is usually available, at a small cost, within a week after the crash.

2. Exchange information with the other driver.

Although there may be some negative feelings between you and the other driver, it’s vital that you exchange basic information, including your name, driver’s license, license plate number, and insurance information. Ultimately, it will make the insurance claims process easier. If the other driver will not willingly exchange information with you, the officer at the scene will obtain the information, and it will be in the official crash report.

3. Assess the damage.

Once you’ve done the work of reporting the accident to the police and exchanging basic information with the other driver, it’s a good time to take a hard look at the entire car accident scene to find out all of the damage that was caused, including personal possessions, bodily injuries, and of course, vehicle damage. 

Your nerves are often on edge, and your adrenaline is pumping in high gear after a crash. It is very common that people do not begin to feel injuries until hours, or even days, after a crash. It’s important to monitor your body and see if you start feeling hurt. 

Any damage that you see needs to be noted and documented to build the strongest case possible and be reimbursed for all of your expenses.

4. Gather as much evidence as you can.

Whether there are damages, injuries, or off-putting behavior from the other driver, it’s important to gather as much evidence you can at the scene of the car accident. You can take pictures or videos, and you can document anything in a note that you can use to build your case. 

Even if your case doesn’t end up going to court, you will want to make sure that justice is served on your behalf. This is much more possible when you have a lot of evidence backing up any claims.

5. Don’t leave the scene until the police tell you to.

It’s critical to work with the police through the process of assessing and settling the accident scene. Unless you have a medical emergency, do not leave the scene until you are told to. When you leave the scene before you are supposed to, you can run into legal trouble.

If you’re injured and need medical attention right away, an ambulance will be dispatched to the scene. 

LET A LAKE CHARLES ACCIDENT LAWYER DO THE TALKING FOR YOU

 Beyond damage to your vehicle and the costs of repairing or replacing it, car accidents can cause physical and emotional damage. This results in stress, medical bills, loss of income, and ongoing or permanent pain due to injury. Every case is different and an experienced attorney can help you make sure you get the medical treatment you need, document your injuries properly, and present your claim to the insurance company, and ultimately a judge or jury, if necessary.

Get peace of mind and get the money you need to cover repairs, medical bills, loss of income, and all of your other damages. Our Lake Charles car accident lawyers at The Johnson Firm have over 40 years of experience in dealing with accidents and will work diligently to see that you get the best compensation possible. 

Call us today at (337) 433-1414 or stop by our offices at 910 Ford Street, Lake Charles, 70601 for a free consultation. Let us get to work to get the money you deserve so you can get on with your life.

What To Do After the Car Accident

After a car accident, you may not know what lies ahead. You need to inform your insurance provider about the accident, but what else do you need to do? 

Inform Your Insurance Provider About the Accident

After the scene is settled, quickly inform your insurance provider. You’ll only need to give them the basic details of the accident while they wait for the police report to get the full scoop. You will also need to report the crash to the other driver’s insurer and institute a claims process, which can be done by The Johnson Firm on your behalf.

Get Medical Attention If Needed

Visit your doctor to assess any injuries, as well as your overall condition. Car accidents commonly cause ‘hidden’ injuries, which include concussions, brain injuries, internal bleeding, and more. Plus, in the event that an injury gets worse, you will have early documentation to help build a strong case.

Get a Copy of the Police Report

Once the police report is available, get a copy for your records. This will be helpful for any processing that needs to be done to settle your claim, even if the case doesn’t go to court.

Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Lawyer

When you’ve been in a car accident with severe damage, serious injuries, or unclear fault, you may need to hire legal representation to prepare for a lawsuit. When car accidents don’t settle outside of court, each party will utilize legal help to get compensation for injuries, damages, and more. 

Using a top car accident lawyer gives you the confidence you need to navigate the legal road ahead with ease.

What are the main types of car accident injuries?

car accident injuriesCar accidents can be devastating and impactful, causing injuries of many shapes and sizes. A car accident injury can be “hidden”, such as a concussion or internal bleeding. Other injuries are more obvious, such as a broken bone, wound, bruising, and more. 

An injured person can incur high medical bills, lose income, and more. When you’ve incurred a serious injury and other damages, a leading Lake Charles car accident lawyer at The Johnson Firm can help. Call 337-427-8961 or send a message to our team to get your consultation now.

If you have any of the following injuries, it’s best to visit your doctor immediately. Be sure to obtain copies of any medical documentation, bills, and beyond to hold the at-fault party liable when possible.

1. Head Injuries

Car accidents can result in serious head injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a head wound, or even a severe concussion. Many head injuries call for immediate medical attention and can change a person’s life forever. 

In the best cases, head injuries are mild and short-term, such as a mild concussion, but even a mild traumatic brain injury can have serious, lasting side effects. Severe head injuries are known to cause: 

  • Brain bleeding
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in cognition
  • Loss of senses (vision, taste, smell, etc.)
  • Psychological and emotional changes
  • And more

2. Neck Injuries

When two or more cars collide, passengers and drivers are often badly jolted, causing painful neck injuries. Some of the most common neck injuries that happen during a car accident include whiplash, a pinched nerve, a sprain, or even a fracture. Neck injuries can cause acute pain, stiffness, dizziness, and more.

3. Chest Injuries

When a driver’s chest is forcefully pressed or thrown into a steering wheel or dashboard, a chest injury can happen. Seatbelts also commonly cause chest and shoulder bruising.

Common chest injuries that happen during car accidents are bruised ribs, fractured ribs, organ damage, muscle damage, and more. They may cause the injured person to have trouble breathing, cough up blood, and more.

4. Knee Injuries

Car accidents can cause a wide range of knee injuries, occurring when a knee is forcefully impacted into the dashboard, twisted, or turned. Knee injuries can come in many different forms, such as a torn ACL, torn meniscus, a patella injury, and more. Knee injuries can require surgery, crutches, physical therapy, and long-term healing.

5. Shoulder Injuries

Shoulders are vulnerable areas of the body during a car accident. The many types of shoulder injuries during a car accident include shoulder dislocation, a fractured clavicle or humerus, or injured tendons, muscles, or ligaments. Shoulder injuries can result in limited to no range of motion, swelling, pain, and more.

6. Other Broken Bones

Many different bones can be broken or fractured during a moderate or severe car accident, including arms, legs, hips, and ribs. Depending on the severity of the broken or fractured bone, a person may need surgery, a cast, a splint, and/or a brace, resulting in long-term care and recovery. 

7. Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is a very serious injury that is often sustained after car accidents. Sometimes, internal bleeding can go unnoticed. Internal bleeding often causes symptoms that can be connected to another injury, including lightheadedness, weakness, headaches, and more, which is why it is very important to visit your doctor to assess your condition completely after a car accident.

8. Cuts, Bruises, and Scarring

Cuts, bruises, and scarring are not always severe. They are often just minor and heal on their own. Other times, a person may sustain a deep gash or wound that needs immediate medical treatment or stitching. Bruises can be extremely deep and painful. Scarring can be claimed in a lawsuit. Scars can be large and unsightly after major surgery or after a large wound, causing anxiety and/or humiliation.

9. Mental Suffering

Mental suffering is not always considered when thinking about car accident injury types, but it is actual damage that can be claimed in a lawsuit. Types of mental suffering after car accidents include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. 

It is extremely common for people who have been in a wreck to be scared behind the wheel, drive with extraordinary vigilance, become extremely nervous as a passenger, and to have nightmares about being in car wrecks. Heavy traffic situations can be a living nightmare for someone who has been in a wreck.

What are the main causes of car accidents?

common causes of car accidentsKnowing the main causes of car accidents can help you be more aware of hazards on the road and avoid accidents as much as possible. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs ongoing research in the Office of Vehicle Safety Research and the Office of Behavioral Safety Research to help reduce car accidents and improve road safety. 

Major car accidents are often caused by risky behaviors, such as speeding, driving impaired, distracted driving, and traffic violations. When the cause of an accident is also a traffic violation, the party who violated the traffic law may be given a ticket, but it is usually left up to the investigating police officer’s discretion. 

If you need help with a recent car accident, a top Lake Charles car accident lawyer at The Johnson Firm would love to meet with you to discuss your case – call 337-427-8961 now.

Whenever you’re on the road, be sure to look out for these top causes of car accidents. That way, you can avoid costly damage, painful injuries, and additional unwanted stress.

Speeding

According to NHTSA’s 2018 statistics, speeding killed more than 9,000 people on the road. It is one of the top types of risky driving that leads to car accidents, injuries, and death. Speeding contributed to more than one-fourth of all car accident deaths in the United States in 2017. Speeding can be due to aggressive driving behaviors, pressure to stay on schedule, and more. 

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is very common. It’s one of the biggest causes of car accidents in Louisiana. Reckless driving can include everything from aggressive driving, such as tailgating, to driving at high speeds and changing lanes too quickly. When a person is driving recklessly, they are disregarding the safety of other drivers and putting everyone on the road at risk.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can be extremely hazardous to other drivers on the road, and it claimed thousands of lives in 2018 (NHTSA). Distracted driving can mean texting, using a navigation system, changing the music, or browsing a device of any sort while driving. 

Running a Stoplight or Stop Sign

Running a stoplight or stop sign is sometimes unintentional, but it always puts other drivers at risk. Whether it’s a four-way stop sign in a neighborhood or a stoplight at a major intersection, running a stoplight or stop sign can cause serious injury or death no matter where it happens. 

Drunk or Impaired Driving

Drunk driving is a top cause of accidents and a major cause of car accident deaths in the United States. According to the NHTSA, drunk-driving crashes kill more than 10,000 people every year.  Drug-impaired driving, which is driving while being under the influence of marijuana, prescription medications, and more, both illegal and legal, can be extremely dangerous to other drivers. 

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving took nearly 800 lives in 2017, according to the NHTSA, and it remains a top reason for car accidents on the road today. People drive fatigued for many different reasons, including late nights out, long road trips, late work schedules, and more. It can be extremely dangerous to drive drowsy, causing crashes late at night or early in the morning. 

This is a particular concern with commercial trucks who are often on tight time schedules. The law requires certain rest periods, but tight deadlines can put drivers in a pinch and make them drive tired in order to not get fired for being late. Unfortunately, this puts every other driver on the road at risk.

Bad Weather or Bad Road Conditions

Sometimes, car accidents are due to poor driving during bad weather conditions, such as heavy rain, ice, and snow. These weather conditions can cause a lack of visibility for drivers and make it impossible to be completely safe while on the road. Choosing not to drive in bad weather is always best, but sometimes, drivers feel pressure to do so anyway to stay on schedule or get home at a decent time. 

Unfortunately, bad road conditions are often unavoidable. Common bad road conditions include a lack of lighting on roads, large potholes, subpar road infrastructure, and more. Navigating bad road conditions late at night can also be a recipe for disaster.

Vehicle Malfunctions

Vehicles can malfunction and cause accidents, which may be due to lack of maintenance, a faulty part, a manufacturer’s error, or something as simple as a blown tire. If a person blows a tire, he or she may be startled and accidentally run into another car. In some cases when a vehicle malfunctions and causes an accident, the manufacturer can be held liable.

 

Talk To a Lake Charles Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you need help with a recent car accident, don’t walk the legal path alone. The Johnson Firm can answer any questions you have about your car accident and help you find the best route for the maximum compensation you deserve. We can help you claim damages for injury, property damage, pain and suffering, or in the worst cases, a wrongful death.

Get a one-on-one consultation with a trusted Lake Charles personal injury lawyer at 337-427-8961 or send our team a message to tell us more about your case today.

Car Accident Questions & Answers

We get it – after you’ve been in a car crash, the last thing you want to do is spend money on a lawyer. Thankfully, The Johnson Firm charges our clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay until you receive a settlement.

That’s beneficial for our clients, as they don’t have to worry about finding the money to pay for legal services when they have plenty of other things to think about.

The Lake Charles car accident attorneys at The Johnson Firm will help you calculate every cent of what you’re owed, including the future cost of medical care. Because damage and injuries aren’t always obvious (they may appear weeks or even months after the accident), it’s important that you hire a lawyer who will piece together the facts of your case and wait until the most opportune moment to sue, when we have the clearest idea of how much your injuries have and will cost you.

A Lake Charles car accident lawyer will work to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries. We’ll investigate your case, speak with your doctors and any witnesses, and make sure the other party’s insurance company doesn’t devalue your claim.

Of course, our attorneys are also some of the most knowledgeable and experienced in the State of Louisiana. No matter how complicated your lawsuit, we have the resources and in-depth knowledge of the law to help your case go smoothly.

Even if they say something to the contrary, you are not obligated to speak to the other party’s insurance company. If they call you, you should politely explain that you will call them back once you have a lawyer.

Never speak to the other person’s insurance company without a lawyer, as they may ask you questions intended to make you say something that could compromise your claim.

Of course, you’ll need to contact your own insurance after being in a car accident. Even then, refrain from saying things like “It wasn’t that bad,” or “I’m really not in a lot of pain.” You shouldn’t speak about the seriousness of your injuries with anyone except your doctor and your lawyer, and definitely never say things like “I’m sorry,” or “I didn’t mean to.” 

That might seem like a polite thing to do, but in reality, you could compromise your claim by making people think the accident was your fault.

It’s wise to call the police after being in a car accident, and when they arrive, do your best to explain the events as you remember them. Try not to get emotional, and definitely don’t say anything that could potentially be seen as an admittance of fault. This includes things like “I’m sorry,” “I didn’t mean to,” and “I didn’t see them.”

The best thing to do is to answer the police officer’s questions, but don’t volunteer more information than you absolutely have to.

Keep in mind that every car accident case is different; there are complexities and details unique to every accident that make a simple answer virtually impossible.

We can’t give a definitive answer for every client before we know more details, but you can expect a car accident case to settle within a few months. That timeline increases significantly if you go to trial. However, some of those cases can take a few years to reach a verdict.

Several factors will determine how long it takes your case to settle. These include:

  • Severity of damages – Generally, cases with serious injuries and expensive damages will take longer to settle. That’s because a victim might require multiple surgeries or treatment plans before negotiations can even begin.
  • Level of cooperation from the other driver’s insurance company – If the other driver insists they were not at fault, their insurance company may go along and try to delay the case (if they believe that their client is blameless).
  • Uncertainty of fault – If there is uncertainty about who was at fault in the accident, the other party’s insurance company will likely not want to settle.

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An injury can impact your life tremendously. Every type of injury that happens as a result of someone else’s negligence requires the attention of an experienced attorney.