How to Report a Car Accident

report a car accident

While no one wants to find themselves in a situation involving a car accident, knowing how to report damages and get the most out of any potential insurance claims can take away many potential pitfalls and headaches.  The Shreveport personal injury law firm of Gordon & Gordon is happy to provide this guide for individuals who find themselves looking for guidance when it comes to how to report a car accident and the various aspects of a complete, correct report.  

How Long Do I Have to Report a Car Accident?

Whenever involved in a car accident in the state of Louisiana, an individual has an obligation to stop at the scene.  Once the condition of each person involved has been verified, exchanging information with the other involved parties is the next step.  Then, calling local police and notifying them of the accident should follow.

In the event that any parties find themselves injured as a result of the crash, contacting medical personnel and providing aid if possible should be among the first tasks completed.

Once an initial assessment of the scene ends and all individuals are safe and accounted for, any vehicles involved in the accident should be removed from traffic.  This should take place only if safely moving the vehicles is possible.

If the accident occurs within an incorporated city or town, the driver must report the accident to the local police department.  For accidents that occur outside of incorporated cities and towns, drivers must report accidents to the nearest state police station or sheriff’s office.  In both scenarios, a driver must make a report “immediately, by the quickest means of communication.” 

Do I Have to Call the Police After a Minor Car Accident?

When determining whether or not to notify the police of a car accident, following Louisiana State Statutes serves as best practice.  Accidents involving injury, death, intoxicated drivers, hit-and-runs, or property damages totaling more than $500 must be reported to law enforcement immediately.

State statute section 32-398 also states that “the driver of any vehicle involved in a an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, or total property damage to an apparent extent of $100 or more must also send a written report of the accident to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections 24 hours after the crash.” 

If an individual fails to report a car accident to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours, they face a fine of up to $100 or imprisonment for up to 60 days, or both.

What Information Should I Report After a Car Accident?

In order for a thorough accounting of the incident to take place, the following items should be reported at minimum:

  • Names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers of all driver involved
  • Any insurance information relevant to all drivers involved
  • Vehicle license plate numbers and registration numbers for any vehicles involved or damaged during the car accident.
  • Details surrounding the accident.  These items include weather conditions, road conditions, time, specific geographic location of accident, lighting conditions, and anything else that could have contributed to the cause of the accident.

How Long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit Related To My Car Accident?

When considering filing a lawsuit related to a car accident, Louisiana places a one-year statute of limitations on any claim related to “injury or vehicle damage by driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist after a traffic accident.”

The timing mechanism for this statute of limitations begins on the date of the car accident.

Claims filed outside of this timeframe run the risk of a procedural dismissal.

Should I Take Photos of the Car Accident?

When filing a claim with insurance, the incident documentation plays a key role in how to report a car accident.  Police reports will contain a great deal of detail regarding the car accident. As much factual information provided to the insurance company will bolster your claim.  Scene photos, vehicle pictures, and surrounding street signs also provide additional context when determining the insurance claim validity.

Giving the insurance company or agent as much detail as possible can influence the determination of compensation.  Weather conditions, the other driver’s demeanor, and surrounding traffic signals/signs paint a clear picture for insurance companies.

What are the Car Insurance Requirements for Louisiana?

The State of Louisiana requires all vehicle owners to maintain minimum liability insurance.  Those coverage minimums include:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle, and
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.

These amounts for coverage are used to pay for bills related to medical treatment, damage to property, and any other associated costs to individuals involved or injured in a car accident.  The amount allocated to each party falls under the coverage limits.  Additional coverage protects against costs associated with serious injuries or damage. 

In the event that coverage limits do not pay for the associated bills, individuals at fault are personally responsible for remaining balances.  Any additional coverage helps offset these unwanted expenses. 

Liability coverage also covers family members or friends behind the wheel, as well as damage following rental car accidents.

The coverages listed above do not apply to the driver’s own damages or injuries.  Additional coverage, such as collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, serve the purposes of filling these gaps.  Collision coverage pays for repairs/replacements to damaged vehicles.  Uninsured motorist coverage provides coverage in the event that you have an accident with an individual without insurance.  This insurance coverage also covers hit-and-run accidents.   

Louisiana Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Louisiana imposes fines on drivers found driving without insurance.  These fines can run upwards of $1000.  Driving privilege suspensions also commonly take place.  In some cases, vehicle impounding, the registration revocation, and license plates cancellation occurs.

Louisiana also has a “No Pay, No Play” law that prohibits uninsured drivers from collecting damages following an accident.  These amounts include the first $25,000 in property damages and the first $15,000 in personal injury damages.

Wondering How to Report a Car Accident?  Need Help With a Personal Injury Claim?

If you have been in a car accident and aren’t sure of where to turn, contact the Shreveport car accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon. Speak with us today for a free consultation. Get a trusted attorney on your side, fighting for your rights. Fair compensation can ease the burden of dealing with insurance companies and get you back on track where you belong.  Call us today at (318) 716-HELP or contact us through our website.