One of the reasons many people are afraid to file a personal injury claim or contact an attorney is because they have a lot of questions about personal injury claims.
That is why Simien & Simien has created a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about Louisiana personal injury claims along with detailed answers to these questions.
After reviewing these questions and answers, you will be able to make a well-informed decision about whether to contact a personal injury attorney and pursue a claim for the injuries you or a loved one has suffered.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is an insurance claim or civil lawsuit filed by an individual who suffered an injury or property damage caused by the negligence of another entity, such as an individual, government entity or business.
Personal injury claims can also be filed on behalf of an individual who was killed due to an injury caused by another entity's negligence.
If your attorney proves that another party was negligent, you should be able to recover compensation for damages resulting from your injuries, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and out-of-pocket expenses.
There are many different types of personal injury claims, including:
Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
Many people assume that they have a viable personal injury claim simply because they suffered an injury in an accident. However, an injury claim is not viable unless there is evidence that negligence occurred.
There are four elements of negligence you must establish to have a chance to recover compensation for damages:
- There was a duty of care – Generally speaking, a duty of care is a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to others. For instance, property owners have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure their property is safe for anyone who has a legal right to use the property. Doctors and other medical professionals also have a legal obligation to provide health care that satisfies accepted medical standards.
- The duty of care was breached – Your attorney will need to compile evidence showing that the entity that owed you a duty of a care did not fulfill the duty of care. For example, in a car accident insurance claim or lawsuit, your attorney would need to show that the other driver acted recklessly. An example of a reckless action by a driver is texting and driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The breach of the duty of care is the primary cause of injury – You need to establish a causal link between the defendant's actions and your injuries. For example, if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need proof that the defendant's actions were the direct cause of your loved one's death. In this type of claim, you would probably have to counter claims from the defense that your loved one's death was caused by a preexisting medical condition or another injury that occurred later.
- Your injury resulted in damages – You need to provide evidence of how the injury affected you financially, physically and emotionally. This could include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the injury did not create damages, you have no basis for a personal injury claim.
The best way to determine the viability of your personal injury claim is to contact an attorney to review the injuries you suffered and the accident or other event that caused your injuries.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
The value of a personal injury claim depends on the number of damages you suffered and how much these damages cost. The more damages you suffered and the more expensive they are, the more valuable your claim is likely to be.
There are many different types of personal injury damages, including:
This covers all past, current and future medical expenses related to the treatment of your injuries, such as:
- Medical tests, such as blood tests, x-rays and MRIs
- Bills from stays in hospitals and other medical facilities
- Emergency transportation to a medical facility
- Co-pays for visits with doctors and specialists
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- In-home care
- Wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other medical equipment
- Prescription medications
Severe injuries often cause people to miss work, either because they are receiving medical treatment or they are physically or mentally unable to work. Fortunately, you can recover compensation for all wages lost when you miss work due to your injuries.
This often applies in cases involving traffic accidents and defective product lawsuits. This covers damage to personal property as a result of the defendant's negligence.
For instance, you can recover compensation to pay the repair or replacement of your car if it was damaged in the accident that caused your injuries.
Personal injuries often prevent people from doing some of the things they used to do, such as household chores or taking their kids to school. That is why the law allows injury victims to obtain compensation if they have to hire someone to do things they used to do on their own.
Personal injuries can also result in damages that do not have a monetary value attached to them. For instance, you could be dealing with:
- Physical pain
- Mental health issues, like depression and anxiety
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent disability
- Loss of companionship if the injury hurts your relationship with your spouse or kids
Wrongful Death Damages
If you are filing a lawsuit on behalf of a loved who was killed by negligence, you may be entitled to any or all of the following:
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of insurance and retirement benefits
- Lost wages the deceased would have earned
- Loss of care, companionship, guidance and emotional support
How Much Compensation Can I Recover?
If you are filing an insurance claim, the amount of compensation you can recover will be determined by the limits of the insurance policy you are drawing compensation from.
While there is a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, there is no cap on damages in any other type of Louisiana personal injury lawsuit. This means there is no limit to the amount of compensation you could recover.
The medical malpractice damage cap in Louisiana is $500,000 plus the cost of future medical care and related expenses. This means that you cannot recover more than $500,000 in total compensation, excluding the cost of future medical expenses.
What if I Was Partially At-Fault?
There are many personal injury cases where the victim bears some level of responsibility for his or her injuries.
In some states, you cannot recover any compensation if your amount of responsibility is above a certain percentage. Fortunately, Louisiana's comparative fault law has no such restriction.
Under Louisiana CC 2323, your compensation award will be reduced by your percentage of fault for your injuries. This means that a $100,000 award would be $50,000 if you bear 50 percent of the responsibility.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Louisiana?
Louisiana has different statutes of limitations for different types of personal injury lawsuits. These statutes limit the amount of time for you to file a lawsuit. Once the statute for your case expires, you cannot bring a claim.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Under Louisiana Civil Code (CC) Article 3492, personal injury claims must be filed within one year of the date the victim sustained an injury. This applies to the following types of lawsuits:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and fall claims
- Product liability claims
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is also one year, according to Louisiana CC Article 2315.1.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Under state law, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within one year of the date of the alleged malpractice or within one year of the date the victim discovers that he or she has grounds to file a lawsuit.
However, no matter how long it takes the victim to discover that malpractice occurred, claims cannot be filed more than three years after the alleged malpractice.
Personal injury cases should be filed as soon as possible, to avoid exceeding the statute of limitations. That is why you should contact Simien & Simien as soon as possible to discuss your claim. If you have a viable case, we will make sure it gets filed on time.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
It is in your best interest to hire a personal injury attorney to help manage your case. A skilled attorney has experience dealing with insurers and high-priced lawyers employed by defendants. An attorney is also a veteran of the negotiating process and knows how to aggressively negotiate fair compensation.
Simien & Simien's attorneys are prepared to conduct an extensive investigation to uncover all of the important facts in your case. We can advise you throughout the legal process on how to defend your best interests.
It is particularly helpful to have an attorney at your side when more than one party played a role in your injuries, such as in truck accidents. Simien & Simien's personal injury lawyers know how to identify all liable parties and pursue the compensation you are owed.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
Unfortunately, many people decide against hiring an attorney because they are concerned that they cannot afford it.
However, personal injury lawyers are typically paid on contingency. This means there is no upfront fee for the initial consultation and your attorney will not receive compensation unless he or she recovers the compensation you deserve. In other words, personal injury attorneys do not get paid unless you get paid first.
Will My Case Take a Long Time?
Due to the unique nature of personal injury cases, it is hard to know how long it will take for your lawsuit to reach a resolution. If your case settles without going to trial, it may only take a few months. If your case goes to trial, it may stretch on for years.
Fortunately, your attorney can manage every aspect of your case and continually work to help ensure a favorable outcome, through a jury verdict or fair settlement.
Do I Have to Go Through a Trial?
Another reason people are scared to hire an attorney is that they think they will have to go through a lengthy, stressful trial.
However, most personal injury cases are settled out of court, as defendants often do not want to deal with the expense of a trial.
At Simien & Simien, if we are unable to reach a fair settlement, we are prepared to take your case to trial. We can manage every aspect of your case to help reduce your stress or anxiety.
Contact Simien & Simien Today for a Free Consultation
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