The Process of a Personal Injury Claim

May 31, 2024 Personal Injury

An accident can bring a great deal of uncertainty. Not only are you faced with unexpected bills and lost wages, but the personal injury claim process itself can seem overwhelming. Here’s an overview of what you can expect at each stage of the process and how a personal injury lawyer can help you. 

Notifying Your Insurance Company

If you were involved in a car accident, your policy may require notifying your insurance company that you were involved in an accident. You may decide to do this before you are able to consult with a lawyer. 

This initial conversation with the insurance company should be brief. Simply inform them of the accident, when and where it occurred, and who was involved, if possible. Do not be baited into providing information that isn’t necessary yet or can be misconstrued. For example, you should not discuss the severity of any injuries you sustained. 

You will receive a claim number, and an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. 

Contacting a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you sustained very minor injuries in a clear-cut accident, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle your claim. After submitting your claim to the insurance company, you will need to provide supporting documentation such as receipts, medical records, and damage estimates. 

However, if you sustained serious injuries or liability is unclear, it’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer before making any statements to the insurance company. Your lawyer will protect your best interests and help you build a strong case that proves your losses and who was at fault. Your attorney is also a skilled negotiator who will pursue fair compensation from the insurance company and protect you from any tactics to shift blame. 

Investigation

Once a claim is filed, the claims adjuster from the insurance company will investigate your claim. They may request a statement, contact you for follow-up information, review police reports, and contact witnesses. 

Your lawyer will conduct their own independent investigation into your accident. Your attorney will gather evidence to prove causation and liability and document your damages. Depending on the complexity of your claim and the type of accident, your attorney may hire an investigator and consult with experts. 

Gathering evidence and determining who is responsible for your injuries can be a time-consuming process, depending on the nature of your accident. Multi-vehicle collisions may require a more thorough investigation to determine the chain of events, for example. Medical malpractice cases, on the other hand, are notoriously complex compared to most motor vehicle collisions. 

This investigation is used to determine the value of your damages and liability. The adjuster will determine who is at fault for your losses. In many cases, multiple parties may share liability. In this case, the insurer will assign a percentage of fault to each party. 

Louisiana is one of just a few states that use a pure comparative negligence rule when liability is shared. If the insurer finds you are partially at fault, you will be assigned a share of blame. You can still recover compensation, but your recovery is reduced by your share of fault. 

Your lawyer will present their own theory of negligence during negotiations. If your attorney believes the other party has a greater degree of liability, they will present evidence. 

Medical Treatment

While your lawyer focuses on building your case, your focus will be on your recovery. It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions, go to all follow-up meetings, and complete any course of treatment that’s ordered. 

Demand Package

When you achieve maximum medical improvement, your lawyer will submit a demand package to the insurance company. This includes the details of your claim, a theory of liability, and a settlement demand. 

The demand package may include: 

  • Medical records
  • Bills and receipts
  • Documentation of lost wages
  • Police or incident report
  • Photos of injuries and property damage

If you suffered severe or permanent injury, additional documentation may be necessary. For example, the package may include an expert’s evaluation of your future lost wages and medical expenses. 

Negotiations and Settlement

After the insurer reviews the demand package, they are likely to make a settlement offer. Your lawyer will review this offer with you and discuss your options. If they believe the offer is too low, they will negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair agreement. 

Negotiations can take days or months, depending on the nature and severity of your accident. Sometimes, mediation or arbitration is used to reach an agreement outside of court. Mediation involves both parties and their legal counsel meeting with a neutral third party. 

Arbitration involves submitting arguments and evidence to neutral arbitrators. The arbitrators consider both sides and reach a binding final decision. 

If a settlement agreement is reached, your attorney will prepare a document for you to review that shows how the proceeds will be disbursed. Once you sign the agreement, it’s binding, and you will not be entitled to additional compensation from the insurer or their policyholder. Most personal injury cases end with a settlement agreement. 

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If a settlement agreement can’t be reached, your lawyer will proceed to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Your lawyer will only take this step when necessary; litigation is a time-consuming process. 

Even once a lawsuit has been filed, negotiations can continue. It’s common for an agreement to be reached ultimately before the case is heard before a jury. 

How Long Does an Insurance Company Have To Review A Claim In Louisiana?

Louisiana law sets deadlines for insurance companies to process claims. In most cases, insurers must begin the adjustment process within 14 days of notification of loss. Insurers must submit a settlement offer for property damage claims within 30 days of receiving sufficient proof. 

While there are certain exceptions, a claim must be paid within 30 days of receiving satisfactory proof of loss. This 30-day deadline also applies to third-party claims once a written settlement agreement is signed. 

A Baton Rouge Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With the Claims Process

Have you been injured in an accident and believe someone else was at fault? A Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer can help. An attorney can review your case and help you explore your best legal options for recovering compensation in a personal injury claim.

Contact a Baton Rouge, LA Personal Injury Lawyer from Mansfield Melancon Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact Mansfield Melancon Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Baton Rouge, LA today. We have three convenient locations in Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Lafayette.

We proudly serve East Baton Rouge Parish, Lafayette Parish, Orleans Parish, and its surrounding areas:

Mansfield Melancon Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers – Baton Rouge Office
404 Europe Street Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70124
(225) 263-4787

Mansfield Melancon Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers – New Orleans Office
318 Harrison Avenue Suite 107 New Orleans, Louisiana, 70802
(504) 294-3804

Mansfield Melancon Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers – Lafayette Office
1318 Camellia Boulevard Suite 206 Lafayette, Louisiana, 70508
(337) 473-2991