Louisiana Personal Injury Claims: What is the Process?
Louisiana Personal Injury Claims: What is the Process?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Louisiana accident, the victim is entitled to make an insurance claim or file a Louisiana personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. Louisiana personal injury accidents come in many types and forms. Automobile accidents are the most common type of Louisiana personal injury case. Other types include slip and fall accidents, construction site accidents, defective or dangerous product cases, and more. If you have been the victim of an accident, it is important to seek the advice and counsel of proven and talented Louisiana personal injury attorneys like the ones at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick, LLC.
Learning about your legal rights and options is generally the first stage in the process of making a personal injury claim. Here are a few of the other important steps.
After medical attention has been obtained and once the healing process begins, the first phase of a personal injury case is the fact investigation. Essentially, the goal is to determine what happened and who is the party — or who are the parties — that are responsible. Sometimes the fact investigation is “easy” and is completed quickly. In a two-automobile accident, generally, one of the drivers is at fault. Louisiana law requires all drivers to have casualty insurance. If there is only one party who is at fault, then it is “easy” to identify the insurance carrier and claims are submitted to that party’s insurance company. Other times, it is more difficult to determine what happened and who is at fault. With a defective or dangerous product case, there may be many possible at-fault parties like the manufacturer of the product, the seller, the designer or maybe the company that repaired or refurbished the product that was implicated in the cause of the accident.
Insurance Claims Submitted
Once at-fault parties are identified, if those parties have insurance, then claims are made to the relevant insurance carriers. Where there is some doubt about fault, usually a claim is still submitted to the insurance carriers to preserve the claims as more investigation is conducted. Once insurance claims are made, the insurance companies will begin their own fact investigation. In fact, often the insurance carriers have already been contacted and they may have already begun their investigations.
Preparation of Legal Papers
While many cases settle long before a lawsuit is filed, many cases do not. When that happens, the victim or victims must file a lawsuit. To initiate a lawsuit, the victim must file what is called a “Complaint.” Generally, a personal injury Complaint must be filed within the one-year anniversary of the date of the accident. Failure to file the Complaint by the deadline means that the case is legally barred. Because of this strict “hard” deadline, if settlement is being delayed by the fact investigation or by insurance company stalling tactics, then your trusted Louisiana personal injury lawyers start the process of writing up the Complaint.
Calculation of Damages
A distinct facet of the fact investigation concerns obtaining copies of invoices, bills, and receipts that show the amount of money damages that the victim has suffered. The goal of a Louisiana personal injury case is to fully compensate the victims for their injury including medical bills, lost wages/income, out-of-pocket expense, pain and suffering, and more. In order to know how much the victim should be paid, it is necessary to tabulate and calculate all the damages. Sometimes settlement negotiations are delayed because medical treatment is ongoing. Generally speaking, the parties will not settle until all of the invoices and bills have been received and, often, until the victim has fully recovered.
After the facts have been investigated and all the damages have been tabulated and calculated, settlement negotiations occur. In truth, there are often several preliminary “rounds” of negotiations that take place as the fact investigation continues and as the medical bills and other invoices are collected. Often, a case can be settled during these earlier “rounds” of negotiation. If not, at some point, there will be a “final” round where parties and the insurance companies try to resolve the case before litigation is filed. If they cannot agree to settlement, then the Complaint will be filed.
Engaging in Litigation
Louisiana personal injury litigation itself involves several phases. The first phase often involves asking the trial judge to make a ruling on the legal sufficiency of the claims. Then, a more intensive round of fact investigation occurs. There may be more requests submitted to the judge for legal rulings and, eventually, a trial will take place where a verdict is rendered. Generally, during each of these litigation phases, the parties will continue efforts to settle the case. For example, if the judge makes a ruling that is favorable to one party, that will often trigger a round of negotiation. The judge may also be asked to help resolve the case through settlement.
Our Attorneys Can Help
For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success with many types of Louisiana personal injury cases. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.