Frequently Asked Questions
When you have been forced to endure the consequences of an unwarranted injury, you may not know what to do next. You may be wondering whether or not you have a valid claim to make, whether or not you need to enlist the help of an attorney, or whether or not you even want to take legal action. For this reason, we have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding personal injury law. If you are looking for answers to more specific questions about your case, however, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer from our firm.
Do I have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Many victims are unsure of whether or not they have grounds to file a personal injury case, as liability is not always so easily determined. In order to pursue a valid claim, however, one must be able to show that the negligent and/or reckless actions of another have caused them to suffer harm. This can include any instance in which a medical professional has failed to implement an appropriate level of care to their patient, or even the event that a distracted driver has failed to adhere to the rules of the road, and subsequently caused a collision. In order to accurately determine the validity of your case, however, you should review the circumstances of your injury with a legal professional.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Each state in the U.S. has implemented a statute of limitations in regard to filing a personal injury lawsuit. This means that an injured victim only has a certain amount of time to pursue legal action in the hopes of recovering compensation. In the state of Louisiana, the statute of limitations only allows an individual one year from the date that they were injured to initiate the legal process. This is applicable for all personal injury claims, including any instance of medical malpractice, product liability, and/or a wrongful death.
What if I am partially responsible for my own injuries?
In Louisiana, the legal system follows the rule of "pure comparative negligence." This differs from modified comparative negligence—which many states now follow—as an injured victim may be able to recover a certain percentage of damages regardless of their own contributing fault. This means that a jury will place a percentage of fault on both the plaintiff and the defendant, and the amount of compensation will be decided accordingly. For example, if a person was illegally crossing the street at the time that they were struck by a reckless driver, even if a jury finds the victim 90% responsible for causing their own injuries, they will still be able to recover 5% of the original amount of compensation.
What should I do if an insurance adjuster is contacting me?
In order to lower their losses, insurance companies hire claims adjusters and representatives. The way they do this is by minimizing the amount of compensation the companies pay out for injuries. You should tell the representative of the insurance company who contacts you that you are contacting an attorney if they ask for recorded statements, medical records, your story, releases, and other information. You should never sign releases without consulting an attorney because adjusters often try to get you to make statements that are detrimental to your claim. When insurance companies ask for releases, they are often asking for blanket authorizations that give them access to your entire medical history.
What are pain and suffering damages?
As a result of the defendant's negligence, you suffered pain and suffering damages. Among them are:
- Physical pain in the past and future
- Mental suffering in the past and future
- Loss of enjoyment of life in the past and future
- Physical impairment
- Emotional distress
Losses such as pain and suffering are more difficult to calculate since they are intangible. Juries are instructed to use their common sense to determine reasonable amounts that are based on the evidence. This makes it vital for you to present clear, easily understandable evidence of the pain and suffering that you have suffered.
How much is my case worth?
The value of a personal injury case is dependent on a wide range of contributing factors, including the nature and severity of the injury that a victim has sustained, as well as the extent of the subsequent pain and suffering that they have been forced to endure. Other variables like incurred medical expenses and lost earnings will also be taken into account, but each case is often very different. Many times an insurance company will prompt a victim to settle for a lesser amount of compensation in order to avoid going to trial, but if one is willing to stick it out through the necessary legal process, they may be able to recover much more than initially offered.
How much money can a personal injury lawyer recover?
In every case involving personal injury, the facts are different. It is not possible to recover a single dollar amount in your case. You might receive an amount that depends on the extent and severity of your injuries, your recovery period, your medical expenses, your income losses, and other relevant factors. An attorney specializing in personal injury law will evaluate your claim and give you a range of compensation amounts that a fair settlement offer might fall within so that you can get a better idea of what to expect.
How serious is your injury?
It is not necessary to hire a lawyer for all injuries. You may be able to settle your own claim if your injury is minor and you have the time to work on your legal and insurance claims yourself. However, if you suffer an injury that lasts for more than a few days or requires medical treatment, you should consider getting help from an attorney. Having your case evaluated by an injury lawyer may be necessary if you had to undergo hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic surgery, or cosmetic surgery. Good legal representation can increase the value of claims that involve substantial past and future medical expenses.
Will I need to hire a lawyer?
Although an individual is not required to retain the services of legal representation before filing a lawsuit, it is highly advised. Without a comprehensive understanding of personal injury law, including the statute of limitations that exist in the state, one may find themselves faced with a complex case that they cannot handle on their own. By contacting an attorney early on in the process, however, an accident victim may be able to better understand their chances of being able to obtain a successful resolution to their case, as well as take the proper steps to secure a favorable outcome. For more information about how a lawyer from Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers can help, schedule a consultation with our firm today.