Category: Personal Injury

What Should I Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Louisiana?

What Should I Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Louisiana?

After a personal injury accident, you face a difficult situation. The easy path would be to ignore the situation and try to move on with your life. However, you may face significant financial losses due to medical bills and missed time from work. Your quality of life might also decrease due to pain, depression, and disfigurement.

Hiring a lawyer may be necessary to get compensation for your losses. The lawyer you hire for your case could make a dramatic difference in your personal injury case outcome. The right lawyer will have the skills, knowledge, and experience to put you in the best position to recover fair compensation for your injuries.

The Role of the Personal Injury Attorney

Louisiana law gives you the right to pursue injury compensation when you suffer an injury due to someone else’s actions. If you lost a loved one to a fatal accident, you could pursue a wrongful death claim against those who caused your loved one’s death.

In either case, your claim will probably start with an insurance claim. Many accidents are covered by insurance policies such as:

  • Auto insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Medical malpractice insurance
  • General business liability insurance

These policies include liability coverage, which covers claims from third parties that fall within the policy. So, for example, when a driver hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is covered by the driver’s auto insurance liability coverage.

If the driver also suffers an injury, the liability coverage will not cover the driver’s losses. Liability insurance only pays third-party claims against the policyholder. It does not pay claims by the policyholder.

Your attorney will prepare the claim and document your losses. To win a claim, your lawyer must prove the policyholder bears legal liability for your injuries. Many claims will settle at this stage based on the documents submitted. Your attorney only needs to negotiate with a claims adjuster to get you the greatest compensation possible.

But in some situations, the claims adjuster will deny your claim. Some common grounds for claim denials include the following:

  • The policyholder did not cause your accident
  • The policyholder did not act negligently
  • The accident did not cause your injuries
  • Your losses did not result from your injuries

If your injury attorney cannot overcome the claim denial, they must file a lawsuit to continue your pursuit of compensation.

Factors to Consider When Hiring an Injury Lawyer in Louisiana

Some considerations when hiring an injury lawyer include:

The Lawyer’s References

When you start looking for a lawyer, you should look for someone who comes highly recommended. References from other lawyers or even judges should carry a lot of weight. They have often seen the lawyer in action and know the level of skill and knowledge they possess.

References from former clients are also valuable. A former client will only recommend their attorney if satisfied with the results. Equally importantly, if a former client recommends against a lawyer, listen to why they were unhappy with the lawyer’s work.

You should beware of online reviews. While online reviews can provide limited insight into the lawyer’s skills, you have no way to verify the source. As a result, the reviews might give you a false impression of the lawyer.

The Lawyer’s Communication Skills

Most injury lawyers offer free consultations to new clients. Once you narrow down the field of lawyers, you will want to schedule free consultations with the lawyers under consideration.

During the consultation, you will describe your accident and your injuries. The lawyer will explain your legal options and may even estimate the compensation you can seek. As you converse, listen to the substance of the lawyer’s explanation and how well the lawyer explains the legal issues.

Lawyers must have strong communication skills to negotiate with claims adjusters and persuade them to accept your claim. If the claims adjuster denies your claim, the lawyer must explain and persuade a judge and jury to agree with your side of the story and award damages to you.

Experience Handling Similar Cases

Experience can make a difference in the lawyer’s ability to quickly obtain the best possible outcome. However, their total number of years is not the only relevant factor. You want a lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases.

Lawyers gain skills through practice, and the skills that a lawyer gains through handling truck accident cases might not necessarily translate directly to a medical malpractice case. Additionally, the lawyer might not have relationships with the expert witnesses you need for your case if they usually handle different types of cases.

Legal Fees Charged by the Lawyer

One of the most important considerations in hiring a lawyer is the fee you will pay. Most injury attorneys charge a contingency fee. But the percentage could vary from lawyer to lawyer.

The benefit of a contingency fee for accident victims is that you will not need to pay any upfront fees for the lawyer to start working on your case. Additionally, a contingency fee gets paid at the end of the case based on the compensation your lawyer recovers for you. Thus, you only pay if you win or settle your case.

Lawyers in Louisiana must provide a written fee agreement before you hire them. Review the fee agreement carefully and ask any questions that come to mind. You will have fewer disputes with the lawyer if you fully understand the agreement before signing it.

Hiring an Injury Lawyer in Louisiana

Once you choose a lawyer, Louisiana law requires the lawyer to have you sign the fee agreement. The lawyer can start working on your case immediately by collecting your medical records and filing an insurance claim.

Choosing a lawyer is only the first step in pursuing injury compensation. But with careful consideration, you will hire a lawyer who can get the best possible outcome for your case.

What Makes a Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

What Makes a Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

Everyone wants their injury case to resolve quickly and easily. However, sometimes that’s not the case. Every qualified personal injury lawyer is prepared to file a lawsuit and go to trial when they can’t reach an agreement. 

Even though most personal injury cases do resolve by agreement, a case may go to trial for several reasons.

Settlement Vs. Trial

A settlement is an agreement between two parties to end a legal dispute. Usually, a settlement involves one party paying another money, even if it is less money than desired. Settlements can also include other terms like waiving your right to sue or to collect future damages

A settlement is a desirable outcome because everyone avoids a stressful trial. Plus, it reduces the risk on both sides. One side may be worried about having to pay more than the settlement offer after losing a trial, and the other may be worried about losing and getting nothing at all.

On the other hand, a trial is a legal proceeding where a judge or jury listens to the evidence and decides on a legal issue. In a personal injury case, they decide if the defendant is at fault for the accident and the total damages. A trial can be long and expensive depending on the number of witnesses and amount of evidence in a case. 

Liability Dispute

One reason why a personal injury case may go to trial is that there is a liability dispute. If the defendant doesn’t agree to take responsibility for the accident, then they may not agree to a settlement. 

Instead, you’ll need to file a personal injury lawsuit and have the court decide who is at fault during a trial. The decision maker may be the judge or a jury, depending on the type of trial that you choose.

Unfair Settlement Offer

It is very common for a defendant or their insurance company to make an unfair settlement offer. Usually, these offers are very low and do not fully compensate you for your injuries. If your lawyer negotiates with the insurance company but they refuse to pay you more, then the attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit and go to trial.

In these cases, your lawyer is fairly confident that you will win your case and get more money than the offer if you have a trial. Ultimately it is your decision whether or not to accept a settlement offer or go to trial since you are the one who must live with the consequences.

Low Insurance Policy Limits

If you were in a car accident or have a product liability claim, the defendant may be relying on their insurance company to pay for your injuries. Most insurance policies have a limit and won’t pay anything beyond it. After all, that’s the agreement that we make when we pay for an insurance policy.

If you have serious injuries and need more money than what is allowed by the policy, you may need to file a lawsuit against the defendant. That means going to trial. If you win your trial, the defendant will be responsible for paying the full amount of damages, regardless of their policy limit. Their insurance company will pay out the policy and the defendant will pay the excess.

How Can Personal Injury Lawyers Help During A Trial?

A personal injury lawyer can help you immensely during a trial. Trials are complicated legal processes. They involve pre-trial preparations like:

  • filing motions
  • taking depositions
  • collecting evidence
  • hiring experts

During the trial, you need to:

  • examine witnesses
  • enter evidence
  • make legal arguments 
  • make objections
  • follow specific court procedures in your region

Lawyers are trained to do each of these tasks. 

When people represent themselves in personal injury cases, the outcome is usually worse. That’s because non-lawyers don’t fully understand the law, the court procedure, or how to effectively make an argument. People who represent themselves can bog down the trial by making errors and mistakes that frustrate the judge and jury. This may result in losing the case and blowing your chance to get paid.

Contact an experienced injury attorney if you need help with your injury claim.

How Much Can I Get for My Personal Injury Case and How Long Will It Take?

How Much Can I Get for My Personal Injury Case and How Long Will It Take?

Without knowing the details of your case, it is impossible to determine how much your claim is worth, how long it will take to resolve, and how much you will get from your personal injury settlement. However, it is possible to list the elements of damages you might be eligible to receive, and it’s possible to identify some of the factors that will affect the timing of your case

Once you know this much, you can plug in the factors of your particular case and come up with a ballpark estimate. Florida personal injury law recognizes three main categories of damageseconomic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages

Economic Damages

Economic damages are tangible, easy to count, dollars-and-cents damages that include items such as medical expenses and lost earnings.

Medical expenses

You should receive personal injury compensation for virtually all of your medical expenses. Two main limitations are:

  • You might not receive compensation for fringe medical treatments such as homeopathy, and 
  • If health insurance covers some of your medical expenses, you cannot receive a double recovery based on a personal injury judgment or settlement

If your injuries are long-term, you can receive anticipated future medical expenses. You might need an expert witness to prove the amount.

Lost earnings

Lost earnings include amounts you would have earned if you hadn’t missed work due to your injury. 

Diminished earning capacity

Diminished earning capacity includes earnings you expect to lose in the future because a long-term or permanent injury will prevent you from returning to your previous job. You might need expert testimony to prove the amount of your claim.

Miscellaneous economic losses

Your injuries might have forced you to place your children into daycare. You might have had to hire someone to do housework while you were incapacitated. All of this and more can justify compensation.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses. They often amount to far more than economic damages.

Pain and suffering

Pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical pain and distress you suffered because of your injuries.

Mental anguish and emotional distress

Mental anguish and emotional distress damages compensate for shock, fear, disappointment and other purely psychological pain.

Loss of enjoyment of life

Your injuries might have impaired your ability to enjoy activities that once sustained you, such as exercise, playing chess with your friends, etc. 

Disfigurement and physical impairment

Imagine you suffered extensive facial scarring. Compensation for your physical pain and suffering wouldn’t cover the social stigma and humiliation you experienced as a result.

Loss of consortium

Your spouse’s injuries may have deprived you of their intimacy, companionship, and sexual relations.  Loss of consortium damages compensate you for these losses. Remember, it is the injury victim’s spouse that files a claim for loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant, not compensate the victim. As the victim, however, you still receive the money. Only outrageous behavior by the defendant justifies punitive damages, and courts usually refuse to award them.

Factors That Affect the Timing of Your Claim

Most successful personal injury claims settle out of court. Following is a list of factors that might influence how long you have to wait to receive compensation

How long it takes you to reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

MMI is the point where your doctor decides that your condition will not improve any further. It is best to wait until you reach MMI to file your claim so that you will know how much to ask for. The longer it takes you to reach MMI, the more money you can ask for.

The amount of your claim

The more money you ask for, the harder the defendant will fight and the longer your claim will take to resolve.

The complexity of your claim

More complex claims take longer to resolve than simpler ones.

Your negotiating skills

The better your negotiating skills (or your lawyer’s), the quicker you can resolve your claim.

Whether you file a lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit can slow down the resolution of your claim but add to the amount of your damages. Most lawsuits do not proceed to trial.

Whether the defendant will settle

If the defendant stubbornly insists on trial, you will have to wait longer for your money.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Help With Your Claim

In most cases, it takes a few weeks to a few months to settle a personal injury claim. If the case goes to trial, however, resolution could take a few months to a few years. Very few claims go to trial, and only in unusual cases does resolution take more than a year.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you maximize the value of your case and help move it along in an efficient manner. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney today to discuss your case.