How Long do I Have to Sue After an Auto Accident?
In Louisiana, a victim of wrongdoing has only one year to file a lawsuit to recover money damages if he or she has been injured in a Louisiana car accident. This is a strict deadline that will be enforced by Louisiana courts. Under Louisiana law, victims of wrongdoing who are injured or suffer property damage because of a crash are entitled to file insurance claims and initiate lawsuits to recover compensation for ambulance charges, medical bills, costs of medication, damage to their vehicle, pain and suffering, lost wages, out of pocket expenses (like car rental), and more. But, as noted, there is a one-year deadline for filing a lawsuit.
In Louisiana, this one-year deadline is called a “liberative prescription.” In other states and jurisdictions, time deadlines are called “statutes of limitation.” The one-year liberative prescription period is established by the Louisiana Civil Code Art. 3492 which states: “Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. This prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.” The words “delictual actions” mean lawsuits filed with the Louisiana courts.
Under this statute, the one-year prescription period begins running from the day of the accident. All lawsuits for personal injuries are barred from being filed if they are filed more than one year after the date of the accident. This same one-year prescription period applies if the Louisiana auto accident resulted in death. In the case of death, the time deadline begins to run when the victim dies. This is important because sometimes the death occurs days or weeks after the horrific crash
This is the reason that, if you have been injured in a Louisiana vehicle wreck, you must immediately contact proven personal injury lawyers like the ones at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC.
The one-year prescription period is only a short time for your experienced lawyers to accomplish all of the tasks necessary to properly prepare your lawsuit including:
- Investigating various potential causes of the accident, such as mechanical failure or vehicle manufacturing defects
- Collecting and preserving evidence necessary for court
- Locating and interviewing witnesses
- Allowing time for healing, surgeries, rehabilitation and repairs to property — full and complete damages can only be calculated and tabulated after the victim has recovered and the damages repaired
- Negotiating victims’ claims with the relevant insurance companies
The last item is important. It takes a great deal of time to negotiate with insurance companies. It is important to make sure that the victim has recovered completely and all of the property damage has been assessed. This allows for a total and complete claim to be made to the relevant insurance carrier. There can be only one insurance settlement. If there are more injuries discovered after the settlement — like a hidden injury to the spine or brain — there is no legal way to make a second claim with the insurance carriers for this type of later-discovered injury. Further, any settlement means that the victim waives the right to file a lawsuit in court. Experienced Louisiana personal injury lawyers fully understand these issues and watch the prescription deadline closely. If the insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair and just settlement, then the lawsuit must be filed.
Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help: Call Today
If you have been injured in a Louisiana automobile crash, contact the Louisiana car accident attorneys at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases, including, but not limited to, car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.