Every year, Baton Rouge drivers are in thousands of car accidents – from minor fender benders to the serious injury auto wrecks and big rig accidents. Some Louisiana drivers think that if there’s just a few scratches or dings on their car, the only thing they need to do is exchange contact information with the other driver and report the auto wreck to their auto insurance company. Other Louisiana drivers think if they’re feeling pain after a car wreck, but think they can suffer through it, there’s no need to see a doctor immediately. As an experienced Baton Rouge personal injury attorney, I’m here to tell you that both of these assumptions are wrong.
If you’re in an auto accident, the first thing you should do is think of your and your passengers’ safety. If you or someone in your vehicle was seriously injured, call 911 for an ambulance right away. If you’re able to move and exit your vehicle to talk to the other driver, only do so if the surrounding conditions are safe. If not and your vehicle is still driveable, pull over to the side of the road as quickly as possible, then meet the other driver to make sure he or she is okay.
When you speak with the other driver, don’t say you’re sorry or admit fault for the accident – even if you think you were to blame. Instead, check to make sure the other driver and his or her passengers are safe, and call for an ambulance if necessary. Then, notify the other driver that you will be calling 911 so that the police or state troopers can take down a police report. Yes – you read that correctly. No matter how minor you think an accident may be, you always need to get a police report.
Why do you always need a police report? Well, the thing is that while you’re an honest person, only wanting to get your vehicle repaired and medical expenses paid, not everyone else is. Some drivers, especially those who know they are at fault, will lie to auto insurance companies about what happened in the wreck, hoping that you’ll be found partially, if not totally, at fault. Because Louisiana is a comparative negligence state – meaning that each driver involved in a car accident is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident – if you are found to be even only partially at fault, you could be forced to pay expensive insurance deductibles or other damages, and lose out on thousands of dollars owed to you for your own auto repair and medical expenses. Police, however, are experienced at surveying an accident scene, interviewing drivers and witnesses and documenting what happened.
When you talk to the police, be honest about what occurred. And if you think you’ve sustained any injury, tell them immediately and go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Provide the ER doctor with your police report number so they can include it in your medical records – something the insurance companies will need in order to pay your expensive medical bills.
Some people think that as soon as they are able to, they should call the involved parties’ auto insurance companies. But if you were injured in a car accident and also know the first call you make, besides calling 911, should be to an experienced personal injury attorney. This is because auto insurance companies, no matter how polite or helpful they may seem, are in the business of making millions and millions of dollars. And their goal is to pay you as little as possible – no matter how severely you are injured. Insurance companies – even the insurance company that you pay and is supposed to represent you – will try to get you to make a recorded statement about the accident. Don’t do it! The insurance companies are really just trying to “catch” you on tape saying something inconsistent, or misstating what happened in the accident so that they don’t have to pay you the damages you actually deserve.
When you work with a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney like me, you’ll be assisted every step of the way through the auto insurance reporting process. I’ll interview you as soon as you are stable, understand what happened in the accident, and together we will fight for the auto insurance companies for the full damages you deserve.
Don’t face auto insurance companies alone. If you’ve been injured in a car wreck, call RM Legal at (225) 963-9638 so I can put my training as a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer to work for you.