Auto Accident Attorney in Lafayette, Louisiana

Have You Been Injured in an Auto Accident or Wreck?

Have you been injured in an auto accident? Were you or a loved one a victim of a negligent driver?

Every day we get behind the wheel of a car and put our trust in complete strangers in a “social contract” of sorts. We trust that other drivers will pay attention and focus on safe driving instead of their phone, Instagram, or radio dial. The vast majority of the time, our trust is rewarded with an orchestra of movement that allows us to arrive safely at our destination.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Sometimes other people forget this “social contract” because they are distracted or simply having a bad day.  When the traffic slows in front of them, they cannot stop in time. Now their bad day is yours. Through no fault of your own, you may suffer life-altering back pain, broken limbs, a traumatic brain injury, or even death.

Your knee may now hurt like your favorite uncle with an old football injury. But he chose to play football and accepted the risk of that injury. You did not. These injuries are thrust into your life unnaturally. That is why the law allows you to seek full and complete compensation for your injuries. If you go it alone and try to handle your case with the insurance company directly, you are almost guaranteed to receive less than full compensation. That is why you need a skilled civil litigation accident attorney who knows how to help victims of wrecks.

Whether you or someone you know was injured, you need an attorney who understands the legal process and who can help you understand your rights and how to exercise them.

At the Ikerd Law Firm, we have built a reputation on standing up for the ‘little guy’ and fighting for full justice, taking on big insurance and negligent third parties to help get our clients the compensation they deserve.

Do you need an experienced auto accident attorney to guide you through the process of recovering damages after a car accident

The legal team at the Ikerd Law Firm provides high-quality legal counsel to victims of auto accidents. Our experienced team will provide you with the information you need, and the support you deserve during these difficult times.

We’ll make sure you understand the legal process and will fight every day to make sure you receive full compensation for any damages you have incurred.

Do not be victimized twice, let us fight for you and your family.


Auto Accident Attorney: What We Do and How We Can Help

Each year millions of auto accidents in Lafayette and around the nation lead to thousands of serious injuries and unfortunate deaths. One moment you are living life as usual, driving to work or running an errand. The next you are tossed into the hellish chaos of an accident that was not your fault.

We know first-hand how traumatizing this experience can be for victims and their families. The Ikerd Law Firm offers robust representation and a relentless pursuit of compensation to help you take back control of your life, health, and future.

The law entitles victims of automobile accidents to recover damages against a negligent party. In order to preserve these rights and pursue damages, it is advisable to seek the help of an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible following an auto accident.


What is an Auto Accident Attorney?

An auto accident attorney is a lawyer who specializes in recovering damages for auto accident victims. Auto accident attorneys are knowledgeable in the field of tort law, which involves pursuing monetary compensation for civil wrongs committed by an individual or organization.

Auto accident attorneys also have experience in handling insurance claims and can advise their clients on the most effective methods for pursuing maximum compensation.


What Does an Auto Accident Attorney Do?

Auto Accident AttorneyAuto accident attorneys assist injured auto accident victims in identifying and filing claims against the person or entity responsible for the wreck in question.

Accident victims who have suffered injuries and damages resulting from an automobile accident can pursue compensation, including compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs or damages associated with the accident.

Auto accident attorneys help their clients calculate the costs of their injuries, gather evidence of the accident, and present a strong case to the insurance company or a jury.

Auto accident attorneys also assist victims by negotiating favorably on their behalf with the insurance company. Insurance companies often try to settle a claim as quickly and cheaply as possible and attempt to shift blame to the victim. An experienced auto accident attorney can negotiate a settlement that maximizes compensation for the victim and covers all damages.

Lastly, attorneys experienced in auto accident cases can provide crucial advice throughout the legal process. We pride ourselves on making sure our clients’ questions are answered and they are an active part of their cases. Auto accident victims such as yourself can benefit from their attorney’s experience and support while they are dealing with the trauma of the accident and the likelihood of costly medical bills and loss of wages.


How Long Can I Wait to File a Claim?

In Louisiana, the general rule for how long you have to file most claims is one year from the date of the accident or the date the injury was discovered. Since most people know they are injured when the wreck occurs, that is the best date to gauge when you must file your claim in court.

In Louisiana, this is called “prescription.” In other states, such as Texas, where the Ikerd Law Firm is barred to litigate cases, this is called the “statute of limitations.” Regardless, you MUST be aware of this deadline. If you miss it, even by one day, you may not be able to seek any compensation for your injuries. Your claim can be dismissed without a trial and without a settlement.

If you have been trying to settle your claim on your own without an attorney and the insurance company keeps stringing things along, they may be hoping that you miss this deadline. Then they will not have to pay you anything. Therefore, it is always recommended that you consult with an experienced auto accident attorney at the Ikerd Law Firm who knows these deadlines and calendars to ensure you do not lose your right to file a claim. Call us today!


How We Pursue Your Claim


We can start putting together your claim by:

  • Gathering accident site and police reports
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Reconstructing the scene of an automobile accident
  • Capturing images of the accident site, damage to automobiles, and injuries
  • Collecting and reviewing  medical records
  • Contacting experts to evaluate the data
  • Speaking on your behalf with the insurance companies


Types of Car Accidents


Lafayette Cases and Auto Accidents We Can Help with Include Those Involving:


Typical Causes of Car Crashes

  • Drivers being unaware of bicycles and pedestrians nearby
  • Head-on crashes and rear-end collisions due to inattentiveness
  • Drunk drivers
  • Defective vehicles and components
  • Distracted drivers
  • Sideswipe collisions because drivers drift out of their lane
  • Rollovers due to excessive speed
  • Multiple-party accidents due to driving too close to traffic
  • Drivers are distracted by texting, phones, GPS, computers, smartphones, etc.
  • Employees trying to get their work completed quickly

Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ)

No one plans for a wreck. You get in the car to drive to the store, work, or drop your kids off at soccer practice, and through no fault of your own, someone having a bad day in the car next to you, swerves into your lane sideswiping you. Now their bad day is yours. Dealing with this unexpected collision can be frustrating. If you find yourself in that situation, try to remain calm and remember to:

  1. Make sure you and your passengers are safe, before checking on other people,
  2. Turn on your hazard lights, flares, reflective triangles, or other hazard warning indicators for other drivers,
  3. Call 911 to report a wreck, be sure to inform them if anyone is injured so they can have both police and an ambulance respond to the scene. If someone is seriously injured and stuck in the vehicle, the fire department may be necessary to respond as well,
  4. Take photos and videos of the scene, try to get as many angles as you can before the vehicles are moved from their position (once the cars are moved, there may be no way of recreating the angles and location of the wreck without good photos or videos),
  5. Move your vehicle from the scene and to a safe space; if the vehicle is not drivable, make sure to get a tow truck called to the scene (police can help with this),
  6. Exchange information with the other driver(s), particularly driver licenses, license plate number, and insurance cards. If you can get their phone number, that is a plus,
  7. Make a note of all the names, badge numbers, and police department of each officer that responds to the scene. This will help track them down later and to get a police report from the correct police department,
  8. Get names and numbers of any one that may have witnessed the wreck, they may need to be interviewed later,
  9. Make a note of any surveillance video cameras you see on local businesses, and on the dash of any cars that may be involved or stopped as witnesses,

In addition to the above, you will want to contact your insurance agent or agency to see if you need to open your own claim, or if liability is clear, open a claim with the other driver’s insurance. You will need to get a copy of the police report, which can a week or two to be completed.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Just because you did not hurt or feel pain at the time of the wreck or the day after, does not mean you were not hurt. Be sure to explain to your doctor any new pain you have and when it arose.

The best way to find out if you are entitled to compensation after an auto accident is to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney. They will be able to review your case and use their experience in the law and with juries to give you an idea of if you are entitled to compensation for your losses, and if so, roughly how much you would be owed.

The purpose of “compensation” in our civil justice system is to attempt to make a person “whole” through an award of money. We do not have “eye for an eye” justice. You do not get to break someone’s back because they caused your back to be broken. Instead, we award money damages to compensate someone for their loss.

Your right to compensation can also depend on which State the accident occurred. In Louisiana, we have a “pure comparative” fault system. This means, that even if an injured party (plaintiff) is found to be 99% at fault and liable for their own injuries, they still have the right to sue someone and recover for 1% of the total damages. In this scenario, a fact finder will have to determine how much the total injury(ies) should be compensated, and then reduce that amount by 99%.

Most States, like Texas, have a modified comparative fault system. In those States, the plaintiff can recover even if they are partially at fault, but only if their fault is not more than 50% in total. Thus, if a plaintiff has $100,000 in damages and is 45% at fault, then they would be awarded $55,000. However, if the plaintiff is found to be 55% at fault, the plaintiff would not recover any compensation.

In a small number of States and jurisdictions, if a plaintiff has any fault, even 1%, they cannot recover any damages. These systems are called a pure contributory negligence scheme and exist in places like Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The factors to be considered in determining whether a plaintiff is entitled to compensation:

    1. Jurisdiction from which the case arises
    2. Physical injuries
    3. Property damage injuries
    4. Mental anguish
    5. Traumatic brain injuries
    6. Pain and suffering
    7. Financial losses, included past and future wage loss

Even if you are not at fault for the wreck, you should contact your car insurance company to open a claim. If the other driver’s insurance company denies coverage or fights liability, you cannot wait around to get your car fixed. Thus, contact your insurance company shortly after the wreck and explain everything to them in a truthful manner.

You need to have some information available to give to your insurance company, including all the contact information you gathered for the other driver(s) and all witnesses. You need to send the company the police report, if you have it, as well as any photos or videos you took at the scene. You need to explain to your insurer whether you are having pain and seeking medical treatment.

Inquire into whether your policy includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage may be paid to you by your insurance company to cover things like medical expenses and lost wages. There may be a cap placed on this coverage (like a limit of $15,000).

Remember, in Louisiana the law prevents insurance companies from terminating someone’s insurance when they file a claim but later it is determined they are not at fault for the wreck. La. R.S. § 22:1284

Can you? Yes. Should you? Almost certainly, no.

It is not uncommon for the insurance company of the other at-fault driver to initially deny any liability or claim you make for damages. This is especially true if the insurance adjuster is dealing with you directly and thinks they can lowball an offer to you. You must remember the insurance adjuster has one job: to try to resolve any claim for the least amount possible. That’s it. Their job only exists to handle lawsuits, not to make your life easier. In fact, when they are making things really easy, it is likely they know you can sue for more than they are offering and trying to play nice.

Everyone will be different in terms of their knowledge of the law, insurance, and abilities to negotiate. Unless the adjuster immediately knows how serious your case is and how formidable you are as a negotiator, they may set their “reserves” low in the case, which can limit any recovery you can receive.

If you plan to handle a case by yourself, be sure to understand every conversation you have with an adjuster for the at-fault driver’s insurance company is being recorded. Any admission you make can and will be used against you in the future. Remember, this is the only claim you are handling and have experience with, the adjuster is likely handling dozens of claims at the same time and have years of experience knowing how to get admissions of fact from you about what happened, your medical condition, the likelihood you can get your property damage fixed at a reduced rate by a friend, etc.

Thus, unless you have little to no property damage, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney who can match skill levels with the adjuster in understanding this process. Average recoveries are higher when an attorney is involved than when someone handles a case on their own, and makes up for the fee that will have to be paid to the attorney for their services.

As stated, the one exception to this may be when there is only property damage. Since this is an economic loss you can show a receipt for, it is harder for the adjuster to fight you on the true value of your loss. Additionally, involving an attorney, who will have to charge a fee out of what is recovered, means you will not have all the money necessary to make the needed repairs to your vehicle.

No! Under Louisiana law, when you are involved in a wreck that is not your fault, your insurance company is prohibited from:

  1. Increasing your rate,
  2. Increasing or adding a surcharge,
  3. Canceling your policy, or
  4. Failing to renew your policy.

It is important to note that the above prohibited actions only apply when the reason for the change to your policy is “based on consideration of one or more nonfault incidents.” In other words, if you are in a no-fault wreck, your insurance may be able to increase rates or fail to renew your policy for other reasons.

The relevant law states:

La. R.S. § 22:1284. Motor vehicle insurance; consideration of nonfault incidents prohibited

    1. No insurer shall increase the rate, increase or add a surcharge, cancel, or fail to renew any policy of motor vehicle insurance when such action is based on consideration of one or more nonfault incidents.
    2. In this Section, “nonfault incident” means an accident, collision, or other incident involving a vehicle covered by a policy issued by the insurer in which the driver of the insured vehicle was not at fault, regardless of whether the incident was reported to any law enforcement agency.
    3. Any insurer who violates this Section shall refund to the insured person the amount of premium which was paid which exceeded the premium which would have been charged if the insurer had complied with this Section, together with a penalty payment in amount equal to triple the amount of the refund or one thousand dollars, whichever is greater. The insured shall also be entitled to attorney fees should he prevail.
    4. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, one or more nonfault accidents or collisions shall not be the sole basis for an insurer’s denial of an application for a policy of motor vehicle insurance nor shall such an accident or collision be considered by an insurer in determining the rates for such a policy. In addition, no insurer shall require that such coverage be provided by another insurer based solely upon such an accident or collision.

You can obtain a copy of the accident or incident report from the police department that responded to the scene. Typically, this can take several days or weeks to be completed. The officer must find the time to type up the report and submit it to the records department.

Most police departments will charge a fee for the report, so you should call beforehand to find out the costs.

While at the scene, make a note of a few things to help speed along this process, including:

  1. Get the name and badge number of the responding officer who is collecting your information
  2. Make a note of the police department they work for (i.e. sheriff, city police, state police)
  3. Get the name of drivers in other vehicles, which may be necessary if a search of the police system does not reveal a report in your name
  4. Most police agencies will give you a card with an incident report number, keep that and bring it with you to the police station to help look up the right report.

Some police departments have joined the 21st Century and have online portals that allow you to pay for and receive your report through an online system. Check the local website first to save yourself time and hassle.

Once you get the report, read it closely for errors. Most police officers are only trained in collecting the necessary information for their report. Since most officers were not witnesses to the wreck, unless both sides agree on fault or fault is obvious from the circumstances, many officers will not issue a citation or make a determination of fault. This is even more true when vehicles have been moved from the scene before the officer arrived and there are no photos to document the position of the vehicles at impact (take photos and videos!).

The card the officer gives you at the scene should have a number to call for the report. If not, try calling the reports department or traffic division.

Always prioritize your safety. Just because you do not feel injured right after a wreck, does not mean that you are injury free. The sudden impact of a wreck can cause adrenaline to be released throughout your body to help you temporarily cope with the emergency situation. This is your body’s natural “stress-induced” response to trauma and is intended to help you escape the immediate dangerous situation and not be hampered by an injury.

However, the effects of adrenaline in your system will wear off over time. If in the hours or days after your wreck, you begin to feel pain or discomfort in your body, you should see medical treatment at that time. Be sure to be fully truthful with your doctor about the type of pain, the location of the pain, and when the pain arose. Remember, if you previously had an injury that healed or was not causing pain, a new trauma can reignite that injury and cause significant discomfort.

Only you will know if you suffered a new injury as a result of a wreck. It is probably a good policy to always get checked out by a medical professional after a wreck, even if you are not in immediate pain. But pay attention to certain factors in making that decision, including the amount of force in the impact, how your body reacted to the impact and the angles it moved, and whether other people are seeking medical treatment. These are all good indicators that you should have a medical professional check you for injuries.

Some symptoms you should also be conscious of after a wreck, and that may indicate undiagnosed injuries, are:

  1. Head or neck pain or stiffness
  2. Back pain
  3. Headaches or migraines
  4. Numbness or tingling in your arms, fingers, legs, or toes
  5. Trouble sleeping
  6. Mood or behavioral changes
  7. Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)

If you experience any of these symptoms after a wreck, seek medical attention immediately.

You should be prepared to share and receive with other drivers the following items after a wreck:

  1. Photo of your driver’s license
  2. Photo of your insurance card
  3. Your contact information
  4. What hospital you are going to, if being taken by an ambulance or immediately driving yourself after the wreck
  5. Photos and videos of the scene
  6. Vehicle – make and model, license plate, etc.

Be sure to get the same documents and information for all drivers of other vehicles in the wreck.

A determination of who is at fault in a car accident is made by reviewing all the available information about what happened, why it happened, when it happened, and where it happened.

Crucially, more than one person can be at fault for a wreck. Two or more drivers may have done something to contribute to the wreck, including one changing lanes without looking while the other was looking at their phone and not focused on the road. Again, a close examination of every party’s actions is required.

Some evidence used to determine fault, includes:

  1. Statements of the parties
  2. Statement of witnesses
  3. Police report
  4. Expert reports
  5. Photos and videos of the collision
  6. Surveillance or traffic camera footage

Typically, in our system of civil justice, we conduct a negligence analysis, which helps determine whether a party is at fault and what percentage of the fault should be attributed to each party.

Fault can be agreed to by the parties and their insurance companies, avoiding a trial. Ultimately, if a trial is required, a jury or fact finder will determine the percentage of fault to assign to each party.

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