Suffering a personal injury can have devastating physical, mental and emotional effects on your life. At Smiley Law, we understand the difficult road ahead and want to help protect your legal rights as you try to recover. We recommend you keep the following factors in mind when pursuing your claim:
1. Who Will Pay?
In the case of a personal injury, the negligent party must pay damages. Louisiana, however, follows the “comparative fault” legal doctrine to determine recovery in cases when an injured person is found to be partially at fault for his/her injuries. Thus, if you are partially responsible for your injury, your ultimate recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
2. When to File?
After suffering from a personal injury, litigation is often the furthest thing from one’s mind. With limited time to pursue your claim, however, you need to secure reliable representation as soon as possible. We remind our clients that Louisiana sets a time limitation, or “prescription period” on the amount of time you will have to file a personal injury claim.
In most auto accident claims, for example, you have one year from the date of the accident to bring your claim. In cases of medical malpractice, you will likely have one year from the date that you discovered, or should have discovered, that your personal injury was caused as a result of malpractice. Be wary of these deadlines. Miss them and lose your right to compensation.
3. What Can I Get From the Other Party?
You may receive damages to help compensate you for medical treatment, emotional distress, lost wages, damage to property, loss of consortium, and even injury to reputation. The court may consider the totality of the circumstances before assessing the total amount of damages to be awarded. It is important to consult an expert to help determine a reasonably certain estimation of damages, especially for non-monetary factors.
4. How Am I Covered?
Coverage will depend on the type of personal injury you suffered. When it comes to auto accident injuries, for example, Louisiana is a “fault” state. Meaning, in most cases, injured parties have an option to pursue a claim against the insurance company or file a claim in court to seek damages. Additionally, in Louisiana, it is important for every driver to subscribe to at least some auto insurance coverage to receive compensation for the first $15,000 worth of damages. In case you do not have the minimum amount of coverage, you may still seek monetary compensation for medical treatment in excess of $15,000. This concept is called “no-pay-no-play” whereby you must carry insurance before you can collect.
5. Where to Go from Here?
Louisiana personal injury law is constantly evolving. If you were injured, your first step should be consulting with an attorney about your claim. The attorneys at Smiley Law can help pursue your legal rights and seek recovery for damages on your behalf.