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Statute of Limitations: How Long do I Have to File a Claim After a Car Accident in Louisana?

Posted in Car Accidents on February 17, 2021

When you’re seriously injured in a car accident, you don’t consider how much time you have to settle your liability claim. When you’re hurting, you think about medical treatment and healing. You wonder about your immediate concerns, like getting back to work and earning a living. It’s natural to focus on resuming your normal life, but as you heal, you must also keep your statute of limitations in mind. If you miss this critical deadline, you lose your legal right to recover damages for your injuries.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is your legal deadline for making an injury claim. It’s personal to you because it’s based on the date your accident occurred. Louisiana Civil Code, CC, Art. 3492, Liberative Prescription, sets the statute of limitations for damages you sustain in a Louisiana accident. It gives you one year from your accident date to file a lawsuit or make a claim. If you don’t act before your statute of limitations date passes, you lose your right to make a claim against the party who is responsible for your injuries.

Your Legal Options

When you’re injured in an accident, you have three options for handling a statute of limitations deadline.

  • Settle your claim: If the liability insurer cooperates, you can negotiate a settlement before the statute of limitations becomes a factor.
  • File a lawsuit: You can file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations date.
  • Let it go: You can simply let the statute of limitations pass, but you will probably regret it.

Settling Your Own Claim By the Deadline

You have the right to settle your own claim. Of course, you should probably wait until you’ve reached maximum healing. To make sure you have enough time to resolve your claim, you should never wait until the last few weeks before your one-year statute of limitations runs.

Before your one-year deadline approaches, you must provide documentation to prove your injuries. Liability insurers want to verify your medical bills and wage loss documentation. When you deal directly with an insurer, they also want your written permission to obtain hospital and treatment records you’ve probably never seen. They independently request physicians’ medical reports. These narratives address questions about your injury severity, recovery, prognosis, and potential disabilities.

When you negotiate your own liability claim, you go head-to-head with seasoned claim negotiators. That could mean you’ll have to deal with a liability insurance company representative, an independent negotiator, an attorney, or a self-insured corporation’s legal representative. Whoever you deal with, they will negotiate based on mitigating factors that have nothing to do with your injuries.

  • If you’ve been unable to work, they know you need the money.
  • They assume that you probably don’t know the true value of your claim.
  • They can usually tell if you’ve never negotiated an injury claim before.
  • If your statute of limitations is running soon, they understand that you feel under pressure to settle your claim.

Serious Injuries and The One-Year Settlement Deadline

For a number of reasons, a one-year statute of limitations is realistic only when you have minor injuries. You usually know within a few weeks or months if and when you can resume your normal activities. You have a final tally of your total medical bills and wage losses. You will likely have returned to work already or continued working during your recovery. When you sustain a minor injury, your claim is often simple enough to resolve long before your one-year deadline approaches.

When you’re seriously injured, an early settlement isn’t usually an option. Medical treatment sometimes lasts for an extended period. You will likely experience pain and discomfort for a long time. One year past your accident, you will still be struggling to return to normal. In many cases, you won’t even know by one year if you will have permanent impairments that limit your occupational choices for the rest of your life.

When you sustain a catastrophic injury, one year doesn’t give you enough time to get a clear idea of your future. Catastrophic injuries such as brain damage and spinal cord injuries require long-term treatment and recovery. As you begin to recover, you must relearn skills like driving a car or performing everyday personal tasks. By one year, you’ll still be learning how to adjust to your home and family life.

Sometimes a Lawsuit is the Only Solution

Many injury claims are just too complicated to resolve before the one-year Louisiana deadline. Fortunately, you have other options. When you file a lawsuit before your statute of limitations runs, you protect your right to make a claim against responsible parties. A lawsuit gives you more time to recover from your injuries, evaluate your case, and develop a sound settlement strategy. You can negotiate your claim without the added pressure of a looming deadline.  A lawsuit doesn’t eliminate all time restrictions. You must still follow the court’s discovery, hearing, and trial schedule.

You Have Choices

When you’re injured in an accident, you have choices. You have the right to handle your own claim or file a lawsuit without legal assistance. Of course, when you’re seriously injured, self-representation isn’t necessarily a prudent choice. When you deal with the court system on your own, you miss out on the advantages a personal injury attorney provides.

Attorneys work on your behalf to protect your legal interests. They investigate your accident and work to overcome liability issues. They evaluate your damages and negotiate your claim in a way that produces optimum results. Attorneys make sure that you meet any statute of limitations constraints by filing a timely lawsuit on your behalf.

The Law Offices of John Redmann

If you sustain injuries in an accident, you don’t get a do-over if you miss your statute of limitations. When you contact an attorney soon after your accident, you have a legal advocate who will protect you from missed deadlines and numerous other legal challenges. The Law Offices of John Redmann has offices in Gretna and Metairie, Louisiana. When you trust us to handle your injury claim, we work hard to provide the best results possible.

To schedule a complimentary legal consultation, call us at 504-500-5000.