In 2021, Louisiana set a new record for the number of fatalities that occurred on public highways, with 997 individuals losing their lives. When we examine currently available data from The Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation Safety regarding Orleans parish, we can see that there have been 51 total fatalities and 9,207 total injuries caused by traffic accidents across the parish in 2022.
The “Big Easy” isn’t always easy for those involved in vehicle accidents in New Orleans. Vehicle accidents across the city of New Orleans and Orleans parish often result in major injuries and significant property damage, and this can leave crash survivors struggling to recover the compensation they are entitled to. Typically, individuals recover compensation in one of two ways after a vehicle accident – either through an insurance settlement or through a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver. In some cases, hiring an attorney makes complete sense, but not always.
The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney After a New Orleans Car Accident
Working with an attorney after a crash can help in a variety of ways:
Resources to investigate
On December 4, 2022, one man lost his life, and another was injured when their car slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer parked alongside North Claiborne Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward. In the article describing the crash, the police stated that their investigation has not yet determined why the Honda Accord the men were driving in left their eastbound lane of travel and struck the parked 18 Wheeler on the shoulder of the road.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. When law enforcement officers or anybody other than the crash victims begin to control the narrative, this can paint a grim picture for compensation recovery. Crash victims in New Orleans sometimes need an attorney who can step in and conduct a complete investigation into the incident. Most crash victims do not have the resources necessary to fully investigate a crash, but an attorney does.
A lawyer will not hesitate to investigate every aspect of the claim and even work with accident reconstruction experts if needed. They can obtain valuable information such as traffic cam footage, vehicle black box data, mobile device data, and more to help determine what happened.
Help with insurance claims and negotiations
An article from valuepenguin.com states that crash victims should ask insurance claims adjusters to explain the justification for their settlement offer, consider the argument, and then form a counterargument to ask for more compensation. These are all rather complicated negotiating skills, and most people do not have much experience handling trained claims adjusters.
When crash victims have a car accident lawyer in New Orleans by their side, they will have an advocate with experience negotiating with insurance carriers. An attorney can draft a demand letter and then proceed to handle any settlement offer with counter offers that help maximize the compensation their client receives.
Preparing a personal injury lawsuit
In some cases, it may become necessary for crash victims to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver or another party who may be involved in the incident. Civil claims elevate the situation to the next level, and this will necessitate a discovery process, continued negotiations, and continued investigations. Additionally, a civil personal injury lawsuit could end up in front of a jury trial.
It is crucial to have an attorney present if a civil lawsuit becomes necessary. Handling these types of claims without any legal experience could result in the crash victim losing the claim, losing out on any money they spent to try and win the case, and not recovering any compensation at all.
The Possible Downsides of Hiring a New Orleans Car Accident Lawyer
There are a few drawbacks to working with an attorney after a vehicle accident in Orleans Parish:
Attorneys cost money
Perhaps the largest drawback of hiring an attorney after a car accident in New Orleans is the cost. Attorneys cannot work for free, and there are typically different types of fee arrangements when it comes to working with lawyers.
For a personal injury claim like a vehicle accident, most attorneys will take a case on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer and the car accident victim will agree on a set percentage of the final settlement or jury verdict that will be paid in legal fees. This percentage typically ranges from around 30% to 35% of the final settlement or verdict amount.
Under this contingency fee arrangement, the crash victim will pay nothing up-front or out-of-pocket related to their claim, and they will only pay the legal fees after the attorney successfully recovers compensation for their losses. If the attorney does not win, there will be no legal fees at all.
When a contingency fee is in place, the cost is not necessarily a drawback to hiring an attorney. For moderate to severe injuries and property damage, having an attorney will help maximize the chances of recovering complete compensation. Crash victims will have a better chance at recovering more compensation with a skilled legal mind handling the case, and they will typically recover more even after taking out the contingency fee than they would otherwise have recovered by handling the claim themselves.
However, for relatively minor accident claims, having an attorney may not make much sense. Paying for an attorney if you do not need their services for a simple claim could prove needlessly time-consuming and costly.
This could delay your settlement
Working with an attorney could ultimately delay the claim. Insurance carriers will be more guarded when it comes to communication and settlement offers when they realize an attorney is working with a car accident victim. Additionally, an attorney will want to complete their investigation and make sure that they are helping the client recover the most compensation possible.
If crash victims in New Orleans are looking for a quick settlement after a vehicle accident, they can usually gain that by working with the insurance carrier directly. However, quick settlements are typically not the best route for crash victims to take, as insurance carriers certainly have no problem lowballing their initial offers, particularly to those who do not have much legal experience.