When someone suffers an injury because of another person’s negligence, they may be entitled to seek financial compensation for damages from the at-fault party. The injured party may do so by filing a personal injury claim with the appropriate insurance company.
However, there are various elements that must be present to win a claim, there must be adequate evidence to support the case, and there are often disputes or hang-ups along the way. For these reasons, we encourage you to seek advice from an attorney before initiating any personal injury claims – particularly if your injuries are serious and the damages are substantial. For a free legal consultation with a Lafayette personal injury lawyer, call Cueria Law Firm at 800-899-7102.
What types of cases fall under personal injury?
Anyone can sustain an injury anywhere and at any time. So long as the injury occurred because of another’s party’s unreasonable actions or inaction, then it probably falls under personal injury law. Personal injury cases are broad and encompass many types of accidents. The Cueria Law Firm, LLC has the background and legal aptitude to handle all types of cases, including:
- Auto accidents – Car, truck, motorcycle
- Transit accidents – Airplane, bus, train, public transit
- Other roadway accidents – bicycle, pedestrian, mopeds
- Premises liability – Swimming pool accidents, slips and falls, playground injuries, collapsed buildings, dog bites
- Work accidents – Accidents occurring at the worksite caused by a third party
- Product liability cases – Defective products and parts, and dangerous pharmaceuticals
- Medical malpractice – Wrong site surgery, wrong patient surgery, prescription errors, delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, labor and delivery errors
- Maritime injuries – seamen, longshoremen, and offshore worker injuries
What are the basic elements of a personal injury claim?
Personal injury claims are based on the concept of negligence, but there is more to it than that. There are actually four basic elements that a case must have in order to be valid: duty of care, negligence, causation, and damages. When assessing your injury to determine if you qualify to file a claim, you will need to answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Did the person who caused your injury (defendant) owe you a duty of care? Duty of care refers to a person’s legal responsibility to another to act in such a way as to not cause harm – within reason. For instance, if you were a patron at a retail store when you were injured, then the store owner owes you a duty of care. If you were trespassing, no duty of care may exist.
- Was the defendant negligent of his duties? The defendant must have somehow breached his duty of care in order to have a viable claim; that is, he or she must have acted in a careless or negligent manner. For instance, if you slipped and fell at the store on a freshly mopped floor, the store owner would be negligent if he or she failed to clean it up or put up caution signs.
- Did the defendant’s negligence cause your injuries? There must be a direct link between the defendant’s negligence and your injuries. If you tripped on your own shoelaces, for example, obviously you cannot hold the store owner liable. Your injuries must be related to the defendant’s breach of duty.
- Did you sustain actual injuries? Because the whole reason for filing a personal injury claim is to collect compensation for your monetary and non-monetary harms, you must be able to prove that you were actually hurt. You can do this by presenting medical records, expert testimonies, and videos and photos.
What does the personal injury claims process entail?
The first thing you will need to do after a serious accident is review your legal options with an attorney. The Cueria Law Firm, LLC can help you determine who the liable party is and where you will need to file your claim. Various types of insurers may be involved, depending on the type of injury. For example, vehicle accidents claims are filed with auto insurers; premises liability claims are filed with homeowners’ insurance companies or under a business’s liability policy; medical error injuries are filed with the medical facility’s medical malpractice insurer, etc.
After you determine where to file your claim, we will help you fill out the proper forms, gather the appropriate evidence, and submit the claim and a demand letter explaining your damages. The insurance company will then review your claim and make a determination. If it accepts your claim, the adjuster will offer you a settlement. Usually, this initial settlement is much lower than the actual value of your claim, so avoid signing any offers until your attorney has reviewed it. You can negotiate for a fuller figure.
If the insurer denies your claim or you cannot reach a compromise on the settlement, you can take the case to civil court. The 15th Judicial District Court serves Lafayette. The judge or jury can hear your case, make a decision, and if you win, order the defendant to pay you an appropriate award.
What kinds of damages can an injured victim recover?
The underlying purpose of personal injury laws is to allow a way for injured victims “to be made whole” again. In other words, negligent parties are to compensate victims for the losses they sustained to bring them back to the same financial position they were in prior to the accident. So if you have racked up $40,000 in medical bills and other debt as a result of your accident, the defendant should have to compensate you that much, plus compensation for the intangible harms, like pain and suffering.
Granted, money can never undue your injuries, but it can help you meet current and future financial needs. It can provide a cushion for you during your recovery so you can focus on getting better, not stressing about finances. Your settlement or award can include compensation for various types of monetary and non-monetary harms you suffered as a result of your injuries, such as:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Lost wages, lost earning capacity, and loss of promotion
- Disfigurement and scarring
- The cost of incidental expenses, such as hiring someone to help with work around the house that you would normally do, or the cost of putting in a wheelchair ramp if you suffered permanent disability
- The effect your injuries have had on your family life, career, and sense of well-being
- Emotional ramifications, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and social anxiety disorders
- Loss of consortium
How do I get started with my personal injury claim?
Louisiana has only a one-year statute of limitations. (La. Civ. Code Art. 3492) To get started, call the Cueria Law Firm, LLC and request a free consultation. Our firm has been serving personal injury victims for 28 years. Our primary focus is helping injured people in Lafayette and their families find justice via personal injury claims and lawsuits. We would like a chance to do the same for you. Contact us today at 800-899-7102.