Find A Lawyer Legal Articles Attorney Login

What Are My Rights if I’m a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident in Louisiana?

Offered by The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC

Get the maximum compensation you deserve after sustaining a passenger injury

When a car accident occurs, the focus often falls on the drivers involved—but what about the passengers? In Louisiana, passengers who suffer injuries in car accidents have specific rights for compensation. Yet pursuing a claim can be complex and confusing, especially when you’re dealing with mounting medical expenses, lost income, and insurance companies.

Whether you are dealing with minor injuries or facing long-term consequences, knowing how to proceed with a passenger injury claim can significantly impact your recovery process and the compensation you may receive. To learn more, set up a free consultation with a verified car accident lawyer in Louisiana. 

What types of injuries do passengers typically sustain in car accidents?

In a car accident, passengers can suffer a range of injuries, some of which may not be immediately apparent. The most common passenger injuries in motor vehicle crashes include:

  • Whiplash: This is one of the most frequent injuries in car accidents, particularly in rear-end collisions. It occurs when the force of the crash causes the neck to snap rapidly back and forth. Symptoms may include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, and, in severe cases, dizziness and blurred vision.
  • Fractures: Bones can break due to the impact of a collision, especially at a high speed. Common fractures involve the ribs, arms, legs, and pelvis. Broken bone injuries are often immediately noticeable due to pain and difficulty moving the affected area, but some hairline fractures might initially go undetected.
  • Head injuries: Concussions and other serious head injuries can occur from a direct blow to the head or the violent shaking of the head. Symptoms range from mild (e.g., temporary confusion or headache) to severe (e.g., unconsciousness or amnesia). A concussion is technically classified as a mild form of traumatic brain injury.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Soft tissue injuries include damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They can result in significant pain, swelling, and reduced mobility.
  • Spinal injuries: Spinal injuries are also a common outcome of car accidents. These can range from minor sprains and strains to severe injuries such as fractures or dislocations of the vertebrae. Spinal cord injuries can potentially lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. Symptoms can include severe back pain, numbness, weakness, and loss of control over certain body parts.
  • Cuts and lacerations: During a collision, sharp or loose objects in the car can cause cuts and lacerations. These injuries may be superficial or deep, potentially damaging muscles, nerves, or tendons. Facial and eye injuries may also occur due to broken glass and other debris from the crash.

How to file a passenger injury claim in Louisiana

If you're a passenger injured in a car accident in New Orleans or anywhere else in Louisiana, filing a claim for compensation involves several key steps. Below, you’ll find details on how to get medical treatment, file your passenger injury claim, and work with a lawyer to strengthen your case.

Step #1: Seek prompt medical attention

First and foremost, seek medical treatment immediately after the car accident, even if your injuries seem minor enough to walk off. Your health is the priority; a medical professional can assess and document your injuries. Plus, they can provide treatment before your injuries worsen and establish a link between your condition and the crash you were involved in. 

Step #2: Collect information at the crash scene

If possible, gather as much information as you can at the crash scene. Gathering evidence includes taking photos of the vehicles, the surrounding area, and any visible injuries. It also involves collecting the names and contact information of drivers and witnesses.

Step #3: Notify your insurance company

Inform your insurance company of the car accident as soon as possible. As a passenger, you are not filing a claim with your own insurance (unless you have applicable coverage like medical payments coverage), but you need to be part of the claims filed by the drivers involved.

Step #4: Document everything

Keep detailed records of all your medical treatments, expenses related to your injury, lost wages, and any other impacts on your life caused by the accident. That includes keeping a daily journal of your pain and suffering. Detailed records can help quantify your damages and strengthen your claim.

Step #5: Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney

Consult with an attorney who has extensive knowledge of Louisiana personal injury law and experience handling passenger injury claims. An attorney can provide valuable guidance, help you through the claims process, and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf.

In Louisiana, you have up to one year from the date of the crash to file your claim. However, the sooner you file, the easier it will be for your attorney to gather fresh evidence and witness statements. 

Step #6: Adhere to all medical and legal advice

Once you begin working with an attorney, it’s important to follow all medical and legal advice to streamline your recovery and avoid jeopardizing your claim. Here’s what you should do: 

  • Refrain from speaking to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
  • Attend all medical appointments and listen to your doctor. 
  • Avoid any activities that can prolong your injury or disprove your claim.
  • Don’t speak about your case with anyone other than your attorney.
  • Never post about your car accident on social media. 

Determining Fault in Passenger Injury Cases

Determining who is at fault in a car accident involving a passenger injury affects how compensation is awarded in Louisiana. 

Under Louisiana's comparative fault rules, each party involved in a car accident can be found partially responsible for the incident. For passengers, this means that the compensation you may receive can be reduced by any percentage of fault assigned to you (e.g., if you were not wearing a seatbelt).

Typically, one or both drivers are found to be at fault. Fault for the crash could be due to speeding, distracted driving, or failure to obey traffic laws. As a passenger, your claim will generally be against the driver (or drivers) whose actions contributed to the collision.

Sometimes, entities other than the driver(s) can also be at fault. Other at-fault parties may include vehicle manufacturers (for defective parts that led to the accident), government bodies (for poorly maintained roads), or other third parties whose actions indirectly caused the accident. 

To establish fault effectively, an attorney will need to use various types of evidence, including:

  • Police report: Accident reports often contain the officer's assessment of the scene and preliminary determination of fault. They will also include any traffic violations and a diagram of how the investigating officer believes the crash occurred.
  • Witness statements: Testimonies from people who saw the accident can support claims about how the collision happened.
  • Surveillance footage: Video from nearby security cameras can show the moments leading up to the accident. Dashcam video and traffic light footage, if available, can also help paint a picture of how the crash occurred.
  • Accident reconstruction experts: An attorney might call on accident reconstructionists to recreate the crash scene, which could show how and why the collision occurred.

What can I expect from my passenger injury settlement?

Passenger injury settlements vary based on the severity of injuries, the clarity of fault, and the insurance policies involved. The more severe and long-lasting the injuries, the higher the potential settlement for a passenger injury. 

If your injuries affect your ability to work temporarily or permanently, a settlement can include compensation for lost wages and future earning capacity.

Additionally, you may be eligible for pain and suffering compensation. This non-economic damage compensates for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by a car accident. 

When negotiating a settlement, your attorney will draft and submit a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company outlining the damages and the amount sought. The insurance company may accept the demand, reject it, or make a counteroffer. This process can involve several rounds of negotiations.

The time it takes to receive a settlement can vary widely. Simple cases with clear fault and liability may be settled within a few months, while more complex cases, especially those that go to trial, can take years to resolve.

While most car accident claims are settled out of court, there are situations where it may be advisable to go to trial. This decision to file a lawsuit typically arises when the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement that covers all the injured passenger’s damages.

Why hire a Louisiana passenger injury lawyer?

When dealing with the repercussions of an injury from a car accident as a passenger, getting legal representation can positively impact the outcome of your claim. Without an attorney, insurance companies can take advantage of you by shifting the blame or offering a quick, lowball settlement that may not cover all your accident-related expenses. 

An experienced Louisiana passenger injury lawyer knows how to communicate with insurance companies and negotiate for maximum compensation. They also know how to build strong cases by gathering evidence and determining the true value of the damages accrued. 

Hiring a passenger injury attorney in Louisiana won’t cost you anything upfront. They work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless they win your case. To get started, contact a verified lawyer in Louisiana to schedule a free initial case consultation. They’ll answer any questions you have and give you the information you need to decide what to do next.

Car Accidents Assistance
The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC
Power Profile

Founded by attorney John S. Williams, our New Orleans law firm fights for the rights of injury victims throughout Louisiana. We handle legal cases involving car accidents, truck a...