Personal Injury Cases: The Basics
Accidents and injuries are pretty common, but that doesn’t make them any less painful or confusing when they happen to you or someone you care about. If you get injured in an accident and decide to take steps to protect your legal rights, you may have some basic questions concerning a personal injury claim.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits are legal conflicts that happen whenever a person suffers injury as a result of an accident, and another person may be legally liable for that injury. The person who was injured will get money from the liable person’s insurance company to pay for their medical bills, pain and suffering, as well as other ongoing medical costs. If the case is about medical malpractice, your personal injury attorney will coordinate with insurance companies and hospital lawyers.
A personal injury lawyer can represent you in a civil court case to make your personal injury case official. The goal of this court proceeding is to find out who is legally at fault. This can be done through a court ruling or, as is far more common, through an informal settlement before a lawsuit is filed.
What are the most likely outcomes of a personal injury case?
- Formal Lawsuit: As opposed to criminal cases which are government-initiated, an official personal injury case usually starts when a private person (the “plaintiff”) files a civil lawsuit against another individual, business, corporate entity, or government agency (the “defendant”), declaring that they acted recklessly or irresponsibly in relation to an injury or accident that resulted in harm. This is what lawyers call “filing a lawsuit.”
- Informal Settlement: Most disputes on who was at fault in an accident or injury are settled early and informally. This is usually done by the people involved, their insurance companies, and lawyers for both sides. A settlement is usually reached through negotiations, which are followed by a signed contract wherein both sides agree not to take any more action (like a lawsuit) and instead pay an agreed-upon sum of money to end the problem.
Is There A Monroe Personal Injury Attorney I Could Consult?
- Orum Young Law Offices’ reliable and hardworking personal injury attorneys will help you no matter where you are in Louisiana. We have offices all over the state and in areas close to you. Our locations in Louisiana include:
- Bossier City
- Baton Rouge
- Lake Charles
- New Orleans
Lawyers here at E. Orum Young are now eager to take on your personal injury case. We are here for you every step of the process, and we treat you with care and attention. It’s no surprise why insurance companies would rather not pay out claims or underpay legitimate claims. This is very wrong. We can help you get what you need to get back on your feet after an accident that wasn’t your fault.
For your convenience, we provide round-the-clock appointment availability. Northeast Louisiana Legal Services has recognized E. Orum Young three times as a community leader by honoring him with the Pro Bono Attorney award for his commitment to community service. To put it simply, we are a law firm that gives back to the neighborhood. Call us now for an appointment!
What Qualifies As A Personal Injury Case?
If you or a loved one were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you could be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person at fault. Your potential personal injury case might be qualified if it was caused by someone else’s negligence and you can show that:
- The person at-fault had a duty of care toward you.
- The person at fault breached this duty of care.
- Because of the other party’s breach, you got injured.
- You lost money because of your injuries.
In other words, the person suing needs proof that:
- Which party breached its duty (it can be an employer who was negligent in following safety provisions),
- How they breached this (the most prevalent being when equipment connected to their work breaks down, and,
- How it affected the innocent party (how it affected you physically, financially, mentally, etc.).
Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuits in Louisiana
You have a limited time (referred to as “statute of limitations”) in which you must file your personal injury case in Louisiana court following an injury. In Louisiana, the majority of cases have a one-year deadline from the day of the accident. Remember that if you don’t file your lawsuit within one year of the occurrence, there’s a probability you will lose your right to do so.
Louisiana’s Comparative Fault Rules
Each state has its own unique shared fault rules that determine how a personal injury issue is handled when an injured person is found to be partially liable for their injuries. The “comparative fault” law in Louisiana limits the injured person’s compensation to an amount equivalent to that person’s percentage of fault in causing their injuries.
Here is one example of this. Imagine you’re going a little bit faster than the speed limit in your vehicle. A driver on the opposite side of the street fails to stop at a stop light and crashes into your vehicle, causing you harm. Since you were speeding, the court rules that you are 10% at blame for the collision and that your damages amount to $10,000.
If you are found to be 10% at blame in this scenario, the state’s comparative fault law will limit the damage amount you would receive from $10,000 to $9,000. You are entitled to recover $9,000 in damages from the person at fault. Even if the figures change, this computation remains the same no matter how much blame is put on you.
Louisiana’s Automobile Insurance Laws
When it comes to insurance and injuries from car accidents, Louisiana is a “fault” state. This signifies that injured motorists in most cases have an option to file a claim with their insurance carrier or file a lawsuit to recover damages. Drivers in Louisiana are required to have a minimum level of auto insurance, which includes bodily injury coverage. This coverage might be sufficient to cover your accident-related expenses, but if it’s not, you have the option to go to court.
Dog Bite/Dog Attack Cases Have “Strict” Liability
In many U.S. states, a dog owner is partly protected from liability the first time that their dog inflicts harm on someone if they didn’t have any reason to suspect the dog was dangerous. People sometimes call this the “one bite” rule. In Louisiana, however, a law (La. Civ. Code, art. 2321) makes the owner “strictly liable,” which means that the dog owner is responsible for any personal injury caused by their dog, no matter what the past behavior of the animal is in the past.
Louisiana Damage Caps
Damages in personal injury lawsuits are monetary awards intended to reimburse the injured party for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as other losses resulting from the accident. Some U.S. states “cap,” or confine, the sum and/or types of damages that can be awarded to a person. Caps on non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages, for instance, are prevalent, and so are caps that specifically apply to medical negligence cases.
All damages in medical negligence or malpractice claims in Louisiana are capped at $500,000. If a provider is found to be liable for medical malpractice, they only need to pay $100,000 if they’re covered by Louisiana’s Patient Compensation Fund. Any amount over $100,000 must be paid directly to the patient from the fund. This cap doesn’t apply to any future medical bills, nor does it cover personal injury claims that do not involve any kind of medical malpractice.
When To Consider Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
There will be attorneys working for the insurance company you are filing a claim against. A lawyer is a highly trained professional who spends years and endless hours researching the details of the law and collecting information in order to provide the most effective representation possible for their clients. If the party or their insurance company that you’re dragging to Small Claims Court has legal representation, you should think about it as well.
Your Injuries May Be More Serious Than You Thought
A lot of people are hesitant to get legal counsel for injuries that appear relatively minor. For instance, if you are in a vehicle accident and only have a bruised arm and a few scratches, you may not think it is necessary to hire a personal injury lawyer. And if the other party’s insurance company offers to pay your medical expenses and throw you a few extra hundred dollars in addition to that, it may not be worthwhile to find legal representation.
There are a few reasons, however, why you should call or schedule an initial consultation with an attorney, even if your injuries appear minor.
Minor Injuries May Get Worse And Become Major Ones
If your injuries are worse than what you and your physician anticipated and you’ve already agreed to a settlement offer, there is you can do regarding this because when you settle, you waive any and all future claims resulting from the accident. A competent personal injury lawyer would counsel you to wait until you know the full extent of your injuries before accepting an offer and will assist you in deciding the best time to accept an offer.
You are Entitled to Damages for “Pain and Suffering”
A jury would consider emotional distress and pain and suffering damages if your case goes to court. Therefore a settlement that does not cover such types of damages may not be fair. Your lawyer can explain all of the damages you may be entitled to, even for small injuries, and can fight on your behalf to ensure you secure a fair settlement.
Small Cases versus Serious Injuries
When you have a serious injury, you need to hire an attorney. This is because:
- Your attorney can assist in ensuring that you receive the full range of damages to which you are entitled to.
- Attorneys are trained to negotiate, and they can help you get the most money possible.
- When an attorney represents you, the insurer and defendants may view your claim more seriously.
What About My Own Insurance Company?
Many people say they don’t need a lawyer since they have insurance or the other party is covered by insurance. You may feel that insurance companies are looking out for your best interests. However, in many instances, the interests of the insurance company are diametrically opposed to yours:
- Your major goal is to receive as large a damage payout as possible to compensate for what you suffered.
- The primary purpose of insurance companies is to pay out as little as possible in order to maximize profits.
Plaintiffs Who Have Legal Representation Tend to Receive Larger Settlements
According to a 1999 Insurance Research Council study, the average plaintiff obtains a settlement that is three and a half times bigger with legal representation than without. This can make a significant impact on an injury settlement. The details of the law can become complex and complicated depending on your circumstances.
- What happens if the driver that rear-ended you has no insurance or their insurance does not want to pay?
- What happens if your dog bite leaves you extremely ill and costs you thousands of dollars?
- What if your neighbor refuses to accept responsibility?
You can see from these few short examples and questions how a personal injury claim can easily become problematic. You have the right to see an attorney and have one represent you if you are injured and dealing with an insurance company or another private party directly for your claim.
Contact Our Office Immediately to Find Out More About What Qualifies As A Personal Injury Case
The lawyers at E. Orum Young are interested in hearing from you. We help those who have been injured in accidents all around the state of Louisiana. Our locations in Louisiana include the cities of Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Central, Houma, Kenner, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Iberia, New Orleans, and Shreveport. A personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and alternatives in such a case. Call us immediately to make an appointment!