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Do I have to pay you anything to take my case?

No. We take our personal injury cases on a contingency. That means if we collect nothing for your claim, you owe nothing for your claim. Our contract says so!

My car was barely tapped, but I’m injured. Can I still make a claim for personal injuries?

Yes. Louisiana law is clear: if there is proof that someone suffered some injury in a car accident, it doesn’t matter if the impact was a minor one. That’s because everyone’s body is different, and there’s little connection between a car’s damage and the risk of personal injury. So, yes, a claim can be made for personal injuries.

This law is important for people injured in low speed, low impact collisions, where, depending on a number of factors, serious injury can still occur.

Insurance companies don’t like this law, and they’ll sometimes spend thousands of dollars on experts to try to convince you that injuries can’t occur in minor collisions. That defense has no scientific or medical validity, and it’s not the law.

If someone is uninsured and hits me, do they get off the hook? What can I do?

They don’t get off the hook. Insurance coverage has nothing to do with the obligation to pay for someone’s damages. However, if someone is uninsured, you probably won’t collect anything from them personally, as you will usually find such uninsured persons to be delinquent on bills and have credit problems. That means that even if you get a judgment against an uninsured driver, in order to collect it, there may very well be other creditors ahead of you in line to be paid for other debts. That’s why it’s so important to carry uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured.

If I file a lawsuit, do I have to go to trial or can I still settle?

If all parties consent to a settlement, that is all that is required, and that can happen at any time – even in the middle of trial; even after the trial is over and pending an appeal.

What is mediation, and should I do it?

Mediation is often a valuable tool available for parties to settle their cases. It is a form of conflict resolution that is non-binding, safe and effective when in the hands of an experienced and qualified impartial mediator. Most mediations are conducted by a company that specializes in mediating cases, and the mediators are often retired judges or attorneys, but always someone with a law degree. They cannot tell you what to do. They can only facilitate the settlement process. This is very often the best and most common way in which large cases are settled.

I was hurt offshore. What should I do?

You should consult an attorney who handles maritime cases immediately.

Unlike land-based workers, who only receive a partial, preset weekly allowance under state worker’s compensation laws, Mariners are entitled to dollar for dollar damages for their pain and suffering and lost earnings when their injuries are the result of their employer’s negligence or when their injuries are caused by an unseaworthy vessel.

In addition to these damages, a mariner is entitled to Maintenance and Cure, free medical care and living expenses from his employer, even if the injuries are the result of no one’s fault.

I was injured while working on a vessel. What are my rights?

The hazards of maritime/offshore work entitle mariners to special treatment under the law. But what should the mariner do if injured?

If a mariner suffers an injury that requires professional medical treatment or renders him unfit to perform his routine duties on a vessel, he can demand that the vessel provide him with prompt medical treatment. An injured mariner can also demand that the vessel owner complete a report of injury for the coast guard, c. g. form 2692. It will contain valuable information needed to document a maritime/offshore claim. But the best advice is to consult with an attorney to learn what your rights are. You don’t have to hire a lawyer to do that. Once you know your rights, then you can choose the right lawyer to represent you. See an attorney. Call me.

Can my Facebook profile be used against me?

Yes. Whatever you post on social media sites can be easily obtained and may be used to defeat your case if the post or photo shows anything that contradicts your claim. Party shots, strong comments, sexually oriented remarks or political views, all can be used by either side to show the judge or jury aspects of your private life that you may not want publicized. So if you have an ongoing case, be warned: anything you post, and anything anyone else posts concerning you, may be used against you. Discuss your social media with your attorney.

I just got into an accident, and the insurance company wants to pay me. Should I accept the money? I think I should get more than what they are offering.

That question requires individual attention to be accurate, but I can tell you that you should never settle a case without getting legal advice, and you should never settle a case for personal injuries until you are sure that your injuries have completely healed. Then, and only then can you assess the value of the claim accurately, and the value of a case increases (assuming you can prove liability/fault) the longer you can prove you are suffering from your injuries. See an attorney. Call me.

I was in a car accident on private property, so the police would not respond. What can I do?

Car accidents on private property, parking lots or driveways present a unique challenge to personal injury attorneys representing an injured client. Often, these collisions are unwitnessed, and even when they are witnessed, the local police will not usually respond or prepare an accident report. But there are a few things you can do:

First, try to get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Second, use your cell phone to take pictures of where the vehicles stopped before they are moved. Third, ask to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. If the other driver tries to leave the scene, then the police are more likely to get involved if a “hit and run” occurred. In any event, seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Is there any difference between car accidents with cars and car accidents with trucks?

Besides the obvious – an 18-wheeler weighs more than six times what a car weighs – there are extensive regulations that apply to trucking companies, and things trucking companies do that other drivers don’t have to do.

A trucking company usually employs people you can get information from, like a safety director. After an accident, there may be drug and alcohol testing of the driver that you can discover. You can get the driver’s daily logs which show the driver’s time on and off during the course of a trip, inspection reports that will show if there was anything wrong with the truck before the collision, and of course, the truck’s load information, which will help show how much the truck weighed when it hit your car. But a trucking company won’t just give you this information. You’ll need a competent and aggressive lawyer to win your case.

I was in a minor car accident, and I was only hurt a little. My medical bills were about $3,000, mostly from the emergency room. I still feel a few aches and pain, but the insurance company only wants to pay me as if my injuries went away after I went to the ER. Is that right?

Most automobile personal injury cases involve soft tissue injuries, injuries that heal within a few months. The biggest mistake people make in these cases is not getting active medical treatment for their injuries. People go to the doctor right at first, but then they stop – sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes longer. People get frustrated that they’re not healing faster; or they have transportation problems.

However valid the reason is to stop going to the doctor, just know that when it comes time to settle a claim for pain and suffering, the insurance company will use these gaps in active medical treatment to pay you less. Remember: the doctor is the one who documents your complaints. The number of months of active medical treatment you have determines the value of your pain and suffering. Think of going to the doctor as your investment in your own case.

I was injured in an accident years ago and was still seeing a doctor and taking medicine when I got rear ended last week. Now my back still hurts, but it’s worse. And now I have to go to therapy. Can I make the guy who caused the new accident pay?

What happens if you are already suffering from an injury when someone’s negligence injures you again? Under Louisiana law, two rules apply:

1. The person who causes an accident “takes his victim as he finds him.” That means, if someone is in a fragile or weakened condition to begin with, if an injury causes them greater harm than it would to a healthy person, the wrongdoer pays for that injury.

2. The other rule is, he is only responsible for the aggravation of any pre-existing condition, to the degree he makes the condition worse.

You’ll need an experienced lawyer to handle these legally challenging cases.

I was drinking when I was hit by a driver that ran a stop sign. Can I still make a claim?

You were in the right, and the other driver was clearly at fault. Under La. Law, your intoxication may not affect your ability to collect damages against the other driver. BUT … how are you going to convince the judge or jury that you weren’t speeding? You were impaired, and your testimony about how the accident happened will be of little value. This shows that even though you’re right, you can still lose a case. And remember, no one has any sympathy for a drunk driver, because drunk drivers kill people. So there’s another reason not to drink and drive. Sorry!

I was injured by a hit and run driver. What can I do?

There is no greater need for UM (uninsured motorist) coverage than when you’re injured in a hit and run accident. The usual reasons people flee an accident scene are because the vehicle was stolen, the driver wasn’t insured, or intoxication. In those situations, often the only way you can recover is by making a claim under your own UM coverage. It’s what you pay premiums for, so use it! People get frustrated when they can’t collect from the wrongdoer. But remember, if the person fled the scene, chances are they don’t own a mansion. That’s where an experienced personal injury attorney comes in. But I can only help it there’s insurance coverage.

Who is at fault in a multicar pileup?

When there’s a chain reaction of rear end collisions with three or more cars, the only person who can easily prove that he is free from fault is the first person in the line. But is the last car in line at fault alone or his fault shared with the middle car?

That dispute can send what should be a simple case into lengthy litigation, with the insurance companies for the middle and last cars blaming each other’s drivers in the next pensive swearing match. To determine fault, we look to the number of impacts felt by the first driver. If there’s only one impact, that means the last driver knocked the middle car into the first in line. In that case, all the blame is on the last driver. If the first driver feels two impacts, that means he was rear-ended by the fault of the middle driver first, and the faulty shared. It’s important to hire an attorney early on to take statements from the drivers as soon as possible. If there are conflicting statements the following drivers are considered equally at fault.

Can a passenger sue the driver of the car he is in, if that driver does something wrong?

A passenger in a car can sue the driver of that car for damages if he’s injured in an accident if it’s not someone in your family, and you’re not listed as an insured on that policy. For instance, if it was a co-worker driving, the passenger can make that claim. But most homeowners and auto policies exclude claims by someone against someone else in the same household, or between spouses or parents and kids. So read your policy carefully. In any case, if your driver is not at fault, you can always make a claim against his insurance for uninsured motorist benefits. It depends on the facts, and you’ll need a qualified attorney to review your case.

What do I do if I think I have been exposed to medical malpractice? Do you handle medical malpractice cases?

If your medical condition is the result of a defective medical product, that is technically not a medical malpractice case. As for cases alleging medical negligence, we do not handle medical malpractice cases anymore (for several reasons to numerous to go into here) but perhaps I can give you some guidance, and I invite you to send me an email with your story. You probably know from your doctors already the reasons why they believe you had a bad result from your treatment or surgery. Much information can be found on the internet, and you should find out as much through your own research before contacting an attorney. But beware of the short time limits to make a medical malpractice claim in Louisiana. To find that out, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Also, before an attorney can assess you case, he or she will need a complete and certified copy of all of your medical records. Regardless of what medical personnel tell you verbally, if a statement is not in the medical chart, it is nearly impossible to prove.

Know the difference between medical malpractice and a bad result. I can tell you that just because your condition is not “fixed,” this does not mean anyone committed malpractice. To prove a malpractice case, you’ll have to show, with doctors in the same specialties you are suing, that the treating doctors did something that was below the standard of care in your case, and that the deviation from the standard of care is the cause of your problems. Typically, when a surgery is done, complications can occur even under the best of care, and there can never be a guaranteed result. For this reason, you would have signed a detailed consent for surgery, which probably lists the distinct possibility that the surgery would not work.

Since the law says that the amount of vehicle damage has nothing to do with whether an individual is hurt, the insurance industry has invested heavily in developing a theory to use in court, called the “delta v threshold,” which claims that minor impacts cannot cause a serious injury. This insurance theory is based on a handful of highly questionable studies, sponsored by the insurance industry, who used human volunteers in staged accidents (hardly scientific). That theory is not valid.

I slipped and fell and got hurt. Can I make a claim?

Sometimes. This is known as a “premises liability” case. There’s a difference between a slip injury caused by a foreign substance, like a wet floor at a grocery store, or the “banana peel” type case and a trip in a parking lot type case. In both cases, there has to be a defect that caused the fall. In both cases, there is also a requirement that you have to be able to prove “notice.” That is a legal term which sometimes makes it impossible to prove that the owner of the premises knew or should have known of the substance or defect before the fall. The only slip and fall or trip and fall claims usually worth pursuing are when the person who fell can prove that the store or owner created the defect in the first place. An example is when a store employee mops up but does not put a wet floor sign up to alert people of the danger. That’s a case we can help you with. Another example of a store created hazard that can be successful is one involving falling merchandise caused by a store employee’s improper stacking of merchandise. Each case is different. Call us if you want us to advise you.

What’s a class action, and what are the pros and cons?

Class actions dominate the legal news these days. That’s because class actions are uniquely designed to help a large number of people get relief for the same claims, where it might be too expensive for one person to sue alone. A class action is simply a lawsuit, filed by someone called a class representative who has a typical claim that many other people also can make. If the court allows the class action then it’s as if everyone defined in that class filed suit too.

The beauty of a class action is that a committee of lawyers does the work and you do not have to file your own suit or hire your own individual lawyer because that committee is your lawyer. Later on there will be an opportunity to opt out of the class if that’s what’s best for you.

Can I terminate my attorney? If I do, how does it work when I go to find someone new to take my case?

You can terminate your attorney at any time, but it may not be wise. Depending on the amount of work he or she can prove was done before you fired them, the former attorney can request payment and has a privilege on your case based on the amount of work they’ve done, the value of the work done, and other factors, which the court has to consider. However, if the attorney has done something improper, then you can terminate the attorney for cause, and there may be nothing owed. If you terminate your attorney without cause, your next attorney will have to fight with the first attorney over the apportionment of fees, which makes it difficult to find a new attorney.

What happens when you lend your car to someone and they cause an accident? Does your insurance cover that? Are you liable since you’re the owner of the car?

The person you lend your insured car to is considered a “permissive user.” It is as if anyone else in your household is behind the wheel. But if someone else is driving your car, with your permission, or you leave your keys around and make it a habit of making your car available to someone, and they borrow your car and cause an accident, they are personally liable, and so is your insurance company, but rarely would the owner be liable.

Remember, that if you give someone permission to use your car, some cases have held that if that person you lent your car to, in turn, lends it to someone else, and that third person causes an accident, it’s just as if you lent the car directly to that third person, and your insurance will have to pay – but again, not you personally.