One of the first steps many people assume they have to take after a car accident is reporting the incident to their insurance companies. After all, the insurance company exists to help you get compensation for the financial losses you may have experienced as a result of the car accident. If you do not report the accident, you cannot get that much-needed compensation.
However, in some cases, you may find that time gets away from you. You might not plan to repair your vehicle immediately. You might have injuries that you must recover from before you can move forward with your vehicle repairs–or that simply take priority over managing the other details of the claim. However, you may have a limited amount of time to report a car accident to your insurance company in Louisiana.
Reporting the Accident: What You Need to Know
According to Louisiana law, you have a legal obligation to report any accident that causes injury or death, or any accident that causes property damage of more than $500, to the police–regardless of who caused the accident.
If anyone suffers a serious injury or you know that you have faced considerable property damage, you should call 911 from the scene of the accident and report it to the nearest police department immediately. Wait for the police to arrive and give an accurate report of what led to the accident. You may also have to send a written report to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours of the accident.
Reporting the accident to your insurance company, on the other hand, may not be directly governed by legal timelines. Instead, your insurance company may have a specific timeframe by which you must report an accident in order to receive compensation.
In order to file a claim for injuries sustained in a car accident, you must file a claim by one year after the accident. If the statute of limitations on your car accident claim expires, the insurance company may refuse to hear your claim at all, and you may have no legal recourse for recovering compensation.
When Should You Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company?
Whether you caused the accident and need to seek compensation through your insurance company directly–either for yourself or for the other driver–or you need to touch base with your insurance company for help managing your claim, you should report the accident to the insurance company as soon as possible. The sooner you report the accident, the sooner you can start the ball rolling on your claim, and the sooner you can get the compensation you may need for property damage or injuries related to the accident.
However, in some cases, you may want to talk to a lawyer before you reach out to the insurance company.
What Happens if You Delay Reporting an Accident to Your Insurance Company?
If you delay reporting a car accident to your insurance company, you may face several immediate challenges. First, and most obviously, if you do not report the accident to the insurance company, you cannot receive compensation for it. Delays in reporting can slow down the claim process and make it more difficult, in general, for you to get the compensation you need. Furthermore, delaying an accident report can make it more difficult to collect the evidence necessary to establish liability.
Finally, in some cases, delaying an accident report may cause you to miss out on the compensation you deserve altogether, since if you delay too long, the insurance company may not have to pay out on your claim.
When Do You Need a Lawyer to Help Manage a Car Accident Claim?
In cases involving only minor property damage, you can usually handle your insurance claim yourself. However, in some cases, you may find that you need a car accident lawyer to help walk you through your insurance claim. Sometimes, you may want to contact an attorney before you contact the insurance company. In general, you should work with a car accident attorney if:
You suffered injuries in the accident.
While insurance companies often settle claims for property damage relatively easily, since they have a clear estimate for what those damages will cost to repair, seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident can prove much more difficult. If you suffered injuries in the accident, especially if you have severe injuries that will require long-term medical treatment and a long road to recovery, get in touch with a car accident lawyer as soon after your accident as possible.
You aren’t sure exactly what factors contributed to the accident (or the insurance company tries to dispute them).
Sometimes, you may discover that multiple factors contributed to your car accident. You might, for example, discover that a mechanical failure caused the accident, or that a driver on the clock was trying to adhere to strict policies issued by his employer, which may have led to the accident. In those cases, you may need an experienced car accident attorney to help investigate the accident and give you a better idea of your next steps. Other times, you may disagree with the assessment of fault in the accident–or you might find that the insurance company disputes the terms of the accident and refuses to pay the compensation you deserve. In those cases, you may need a car accident lawyer to help you navigate your claim.
You have a hard time getting the insurance company to pay the compensation you deserve.
If the insurance company delays payment, denies payment for certain aspects of your injuries, or otherwise makes it difficult for you to seek the compensation you deserve, contact a car accident lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you learn more about your rights and streamline the process of filing for compensation after your accident.