When vacationing in Louisiana, you want to bask in the ambiance of the French Quarter in New Orleans or tour the Louisiana wetlands. The last thing you want is to get into a car accident that could cost you money you didn't expect to spend and your health if you become injured.
Getting into an out-of-state accident can be even more stressful than getting injured in your home state. If you don't have someone to turn to in the area, the idea of facing the aftermath of an accident alone can feel daunting.
However, you're not alone. If you are injured while on vacation, you can get help from a personal injury attorney that has experience working with tourists. But first, make sure you know what steps to take to ensure you can file a claim for any damages you incur because of someone else's negligence.
Accident Report Data for Louisiana
Getting injured while on vacation in Louisiana is on nobody's bucket list. And, yet, accidents can occur quite often, which means that you need to plan to protect yourself.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Louisiana experienced 681 fatal crashes in 2019, and a total of 727 people died. The death rate per 100 million miles traveled is 1.42 (the highest death rate is in South Carolina at 1.11).
Overall, Louisiana has an above-average injury and fatality rate regarding car accidents.
Surprisingly, 2020 saw a nationwide increase in car accidents and fatalities despite Covid-19 lockdowns. For example, Baton Rouge suffered 88 accidental vehicular deaths. This is the highest the city has ever experienced since at least 2001.
Reasons for the city's increase in vehicular deaths remain inconclusive due to the small sample size.
Concerning boating accidents, there were 124 recreational accidents, 23 fatal accidents, and 24 deaths in 2020.
There is no single overarching cause of boating accidents in Louisiana. But the report attributes 18% of deaths with known primary causes to alcohol use. Of the people who died, 75% drowned. And out of the 75%, 86% of them are not wearing life vests.
What to Do Immediately After an Injury in Louisiana
Whether you're vacationing in Louisiana, or somewhere else in the country, there are risks you can face, especially when you're not used to a city's traffic rules or population density. However, this shouldn't prevent you from taking a well-deserved break and having a good time. What's important is knowing what to do if an accident happens while traveling.
If you get injured while vacationing in Louisiana, your first course of action is to get the medical attention you require so you can recover from your injuries. While you care for yourself, it's also essential to keep track of your expenses and collect the right information so you are prepared to file a personal injury claim if someone else is responsible for your injuries.
Whether it's a car accident or a vacation injury at an amusement park, the steps you should take afterward are roughly the same. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you after getting into an accident as an out-of-state tourist in Louisiana:
1) Seek Medical Attention
After an injury, the most important thing to worry about is your well-being. Even if you don't have severe injuries, or aren't in extreme pain right away, it's still important to see a doctor.
First off, a medical professional can examine you for any injuries that could manifest down the road, such as whiplash, a back injury, or a herniated disc.
Secondly, you'll need medical assessments if you plan to file a suit because of someone else's negligence. Visiting a doctor establishes a document trail that will be essential to proving you were injured and the severity of your injuries.
Even if you're not physically hurt, someone else may need help. Be sure to call an ambulance to assist others at the scene.
2) Report the Accident
It's imperative that you contact the local police and report the accident. Having an official report will help you build your case if you decide to file a personal injury claim. Tell the attending officer what you saw unfold just before the accident took place.
If you're making a claim directly with your insurance provider, you'll likely need to provide them with the accident report for validation purposes.
3) Talk to Any Witnesses
While still at the place where the accident occurred, look for people who may have seen what happened. Ask them if they would be willing to give you their contact information and act as a witness.
As objective and unbiased bystanders, witnesses will help establish your case. If there are many bystanders whose testimonies align with your story, you can increase your chances of getting your injury claim.
4) Gather Evidence from the Accident
Take photos of the cause of the accident and the aftermath. Get pictures of the vehicles and the damaged structures of the scene.
Because you are from out of state and the area may be unfamiliar to you, it's important to take pictures of street names, nearby businesses, and anything else that can help you clarify all the details of the accident later on. Once you leave the site, you may not be able to remember everything that happened.
Also, be sure to save the files in a secure place. Apps like Google Photos and Dropbox upload the photos automatically onto the cloud. This way, you can recover them if your device breaks or if you lose it.
5) Be Aware of Waivers
Travel destinations, such as amusement parks or boating excursions, often use waivers to absolve them from wrongdoings if an accident occurs under their watch. You won't be able to freely blame them for the accidental injury that happened if you sign a waiver.
At the same time, you can't refuse to sign the waiver because you won't be able to join the trip or enjoy the amenities of the vacation spot. However, it's possible you can still file a claim, depending on the terms stated in the waiver. Your personal injury attorney can help clear the air regarding this matter.
What to Do to File Your Accident Claim As a Tourist in Louisiana
After getting medical treatment, your next step is to work toward obtaining compensation for any damage incurred. The goal is to get financial relief so you can recover the money spent on your medical care. When you file a personal injury claim, the court may also award you compensation for pain and suffering.
Below are the essential steps you must follow to get the compensation you deserve:
Step #1: Find Out About the Jurisdiction
If your vacation injury is an out-of-state accident, you need to work with a personal injury attorney who is licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where you plan to file the case.
Therefore, you must find out which court has jurisdiction for your case. Then, you can seek legal advice from a local personal injury lawyer.
The court determines the jurisdiction of the case by finding out:
- Where the accident took place
- Where the defendant lives
If the guilty party lives where the accident occurred, you need to file the case in that state. Plan to also seek legal help from a personal injury lawyer who practices in that state.
If the accident is your fault, you'll need to file a claim with your insurance provider, located in your state.
Step #2: Check Rental Car Insurance
If the vehicle you rented was involved and totaled in the car accident, you need to know the insurance policies that apply to the vehicle.
Normally, rental places will recommend that you sign a loss-damage waiver (LDW). It prevents rental car companies from going after you if the car incurs damage or someone steals it.
Consider getting this waiver if you want extra protection. This way, you don't have to worry about paying more if an accident does happen to you and the car.
If you don't sign the LDW and rely on your car insurance policy, the insurance company will help you cover the costs, provided that you cover your deductible first.
If the person at fault has car insurance, their insurer must provide you with a rental car under Louisiana law through its partners such as Budget Car Rental, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and others.
Sometimes, insurance companies fail to cooperate by not providing you with a rental car replacement within five days after the accident, or not paying “reasonable medical expenses.” In these types of cases, companies will incur penalties from the state as receiving these supports are part of your rights as the victim of an accident.
The terms above apply if the car is disabled and not safe to drive. If the vehicle suffered physical damage but still operates well, the liability insurer will only pay for the repairs and not the rental expenses.
Step #3: Contact Your Insurance Providers
At this point, you'll need to gather information about your travel insurance, car insurance, and health insurance. Depending on your situation, you may only need to file a claim with your health insurance company to cover any medical bills you incurred.
First, find out how long you have to file your claims. Some companies have a 30-day window after the accident, while others give you up to three years.
If you contact your auto insurance company directly, keep in mind that they may try to wiggle their way out of paying your bills if there are inconsistencies with your stories. For example, if they ask you if you are feeling fine, and you say yes, even though you are injured, that may affect your ability to receive compensation.
Also, it's important to note that the insurance adjuster – the person responsible for verifying your information and determining the value of your insurance claim – will likely recommend paying you the lowest amount possible.
They will appear friendly to extract information from you regarding the accident that could limit your claim, even if you have documented everything and prove that you are suffering from the accident.
This is why it's important to speak with a personal injury attorney first. An experienced legal professional who is working on your behalf will ensure every step you take supports your future recovery.
When dealing with adjusters, only provide them with the necessary information as required by law. You can direct them to your attorney for additional questions they have.
What If You're at Fault for the Accident?
Suppose you are somewhat responsible for the accident. In that case, you can still receive compensation for the injuries you sustained and the damage done to your belongings because of the comparative fault law.
However, the amount you will receive is equivalent to the percentage of your fault in the accident. For example, if you were 50% at fault, expect to receive half of the claim. The courts will determine how much of the accident is your fault based on the findings and evidence provided.
To help you receive the best claims possible, you must never admit fault to anyone. Simply apologizing to anyone is grounds for insurance companies to not only reduce their liability, but you could also end up with traffic violation citations and insurance rate hikes.
There are a lot of variables at play in an accident. And even minor accidents can throw you off, leaving you confused and unsure about what just happened. The bottom line is that you shouldn't take the blame for something you may not be at fault for.
All you need to do is follow the necessary steps and then contact a personal injury attorney right away so you have the law on your side. If the police ask you questions, cooperate with short and to-the-point answers without admitting fault. Let the investigation play itself out and let the court decide how much you should receive.
Additionally, the victim's auto insurers will reach out to you regarding the accident. Unlike your adjusters and insurance company, you have no obligation to provide them with anything. Let your lawyer deal with this matter.
Navigating the waters of vacation injuries can be tricky since there are lots of variables involved. On top of receiving medical treatment for the injury you sustained from the accident, you need to document your accounts of the story and take photos of the scene for proof.
To make matters even more complicated, you need to find personal injury lawyers within the jurisdiction who will look after your best interest and help you get the compensation you deserve. Once you do this, however, all you need to worry about is your recovery.
If you were injured while on vacation in Louisiana, Schwartz Law Firm has got you covered. Our professional attorneys have decades of experience working on personal injury cases, and we know what it takes to help you attain the most successful outcome possible.
To get started, request a free consultation today.