Q&A

When you are injured should you give a statement?

Insurance companies try to take statements from injury victims before they receive the advice of an attorney. These adjusters are trained to ask questions that close the door to fair justice - especially for damages that are not immediately apparent. You are not required to give a recorded statement - do not do so before speaking to a capable attorney.

How does the court system help good citizens?

Insurance companies seek to maximize profits - not to provide fair compensation to accident victims. The court system allows good citizens to obtain justice when insurance companies don't play fair. That's why it is so important to seek good counsel - and obtain justice.

Why are offshore workers protected by special laws?

Operators of oilfield vessels are given broad authority over their employees that does not exist in land based employment. Injuries frequently occur when that authority is abused. Special laws provide for just compensation when offshore workers are injured due to negligent operations or unseaworthy vessels. A capable maritime lawyer can help you obtain justice.

Why do injured victims seek legal counsel?

Our legal system places the cost of injuries on the negligent party. When an accident occurs, an insurance company will try to preserve evidence that defends its interest - all other evidence may be lost. If you are injured, seek counsel to preserve the evidence that will assure that you obtain justice - not just what the insurance company wants to pay.

 

Auto Accident Questions and Answers

Whom do I speak to at the scene of the accident?

As soon as your safety and the safety of your passengers permit you should call the local police authority or 911 if you are uncertain. You should report any injuries that occurred in the accident, the location of the accident, the time of the accident and your name and telephone number. Do not discuss the facts of the accident with anyone except the investigating officer at the scene of the accident. Do not give any statement concerning the accident unless you are asked by the police officer to do so. If you are aware of any witness who you believe actually saw the accident occur, you should attempt to get their name, telephone number and address (this can be extremely important in the event of a dispute later). Again, do not discuss the facts of the accident or your injuries with anyone other than the police officer and, if called, the ambulance attendants if so requested.

What are my rights when another motorist causes an accident that results in damage to my vehicle?

Louisiana law is clear that a motorist who is negligent must pay for the losses caused by that negligence. Usually that payment is actually made by the insurer of the negligent motorist. Concerning damage to the vehicle, the first issue will be for the insurance company to determine whether the vehicle is "totaled". A vehicle is considered totaled when the damage that has been sustained is equivalent to 75% or more of the current NADA Handbook market value [La. R.S. 32:702 (13)]. Generally with older vehicles that have experienced high mileage, smaller damage can result in the vehicle being declared totaled than with a new or late model vehicle. In the event that the vehicle is totaled, the negligent motorist and his insurer owe the cost of the vehicle, the amount of sales taxes on that cost and a reasonable charge for a rental vehicle (exclusive of fuel, insurance and mileage charges) during the time it takes for the insurance company to determine that a "total loss" occurred. Where a vehicle is repairable the recovery includes (1) the cost of repairs, (2) a reasonable rental vehicle during the time of repairs and (3) the diminished value of the vehicle after the repairs are completed.

What are my rights when a negligent motorist causes injury to me or my family?

The law of Louisiana allows a recovery of all personal injury damages reasonably caused by an accident through the fault of a negligent motorist. The items of damages typically include:

  • A sum of money to reimburse the cost of past and future medical expenses.
  • A loss of earnings or earning capacity.
  • A loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering.
  • Other damages unique to the case.
What should I do to preserve the evidence necessary to recover my damages?

In the confusion that often follows an accident, especially one causing personal injury, much important evidence can be lost. Be certain to gather and record the name, address and telephone number of any witness who you believe actually saw the accident occur. Take photographs of the scene of the accident if the condition of the roadway was, in your opinion, a factor in causing the accident. Take photographs of the damage to your vehicle preferably from various directions. If you suffered any visible injuries, you should have good photographs taken of bruising, cuts, swelling, etc., because these conditions may be important in diagnosing more substantial injuries and they may no longer be visible in a few days. Keep all medical bills, doctor's instructions, emergency room materials, medicine receipts, etc., as these will be very important to you later. The investigating police officer should give you the name of the agency to which he will report the accident and the accident report or file number. Be sure to keep that information for later use.

Should I contact any insurance companies following the accident?

You should notify your own insurance company and give them the basic information concerning the accident. Note that if you wisely chose to pay for uninsured motorist benefits, your own insurer may be placed in a position of defending the actions of the other motorist, so even your own insurance company's interest may be in conflict with yours. Nevertheless, you should give them all information that they feel is necessary to investigate the claim. If your insurance company insists that they must take a statement, ask them to show you the portion of your insurance policy that requires that you give a recorded or written statement; there probably is none. With respect to the other insurance company, you should make them aware of your losses and give them an opportunity to appraise the damage to your vehicle. Do not give them a recorded or written statement.

How do I get the police accident report?

It is a simple process to obtain the police accident report from the investigating agency by providing your name and the time, date and location of the accident. If the investigating officer gave you a file number, you should be able to obtain the information from the investigating agency simply with reference to that file number. There may be a small charge for the report. Be sure to request that all written statements that were gathered by the investigating officer at the time of the investigation be included with the report.

How do I decide whether I need legal representation?

If your injuries are substantial, it is extremely unlikely that the insurance adjuster will be authorized to make a settlement offer to you that approaches the reasonable value of your losses. Initial claims adjusters simply do not have that authorization. If you believe that the insurance company is not going to adequately compensate your losses, you should contact an attorney. Insurance company adjusters are very well trained at representing the interests of their insurance company so as to minimize the payment that you receive for your losses. Do not be misled into believing that the insurance adjuster's aim is to be fair in handling your claim. On the contrary, everything in the training of the adjuster is designed to minimize the payment that he makes to you for your losses.

How do I pay for my medical treatment?

There may be several means through which you can fund your medical treatment. If you are part of a group health program or otherwise have health insurance, that is your first resource. If the automobile in which you were riding at the time of the accident or the one that you were driving includes "medical expense benefits" as part of the coverage, that is also available as a resource to you. That coverage generally can best be used to pay your "deductible" that is not funded by your health carrier if you are so insured. If you were in the course of your employment at the time of the accident, your employer's workers' compensation carrier should pay for your medical expenses. Ultimately, if the negligence of the other driver caused your injuries, you will be able to recover your losses including your medical expenses from that driver's insurer.

How do I recover my lost time from work?

Most liability insurance companies will not pay for lost wages until a final settlement is made on a claim. You should therefore look to other resources to get through the period during which you are unable to work. Some of these resources include:

  1. Worker’s compensation benefits, if you were in the course of your employment at the time of the accident.
  2. Private or group disability benefits (short term and long term).
  3. Social Security Disability Benefits if you are totally disabled and that disability is expected to last for at least one year.
What are my rights if I am injured while in an automobile accident during the course of my employment?

If you are injured while you are on the job, your employer's workers' compensation insurance company must pay two-thirds of your average weekly wage during the time of your disability from work (subject to a maximum limit) and all of your reasonable medical expenses. This area of the law is highly governed by bureaucratic rules, and it is important that you seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether you are being properly compensated should this occur. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another motorist, you will be able to recover your full loss of earnings and medical expenses from the insurer of that motorist, but you must reimburse at least a portion of your worker's compensation benefits from that recovery.

Can I receive financial assistance to pay for medical treatment?

Attorneys are prohibited by professional rules of ethical conduct from agreeing to pay anything including medical expenses in order to be retained on a case. However the rules do permit attorneys to advance the cost of medical treatment as long as a promise to do so is not made as a condition of hiring the attorney.

How do I choose a law firm with the experience and resources to be successful in handling my auto/trucking accident claim?

Experience is the chief factor that you should look at in selecting an attorney. You should ask the attorney about other cases that he has successfully tried before judges and juries. You should ask friends and relatives about their knowledge of the attorney. If you know a judge or someone involved with the court system, ask those individuals about the reputation of the attorney. Broussard & David, LLC has placed a lot of the information about our experience in handling different types of cases on our website. If you are interested in the representation of our firm, you should review our record of which we are quite proud or call to discuss this with us.

My questions have not been answered.

We will be happy to sit down with you at no charge to discuss any questions that you might have concerning your case. Feel free to call our office at 337-233-2323 or toll-free at 888-337-2323 and request an appointment to meet with us directly. We will be happy to help you.

 

Aviation Accident Questions and Answers

How do I find out about what happened in an airplane/helicopter crash?

In the United States, primary responsibility for investigation of crashes is vested in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). This agency frequently utilizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to assist it in the investigation. Additionally, the NTSB will invite all parties of which it is aware that might be responsible for the crash (the aircraft operator, the airframe manufacturer, the engine manufacturer and component manufacturers) to participate in the investigation. All of the factual information obtained by these agencies and private entities is (in the opinion of the NTSB) confidential during the process of the investigation. Obviously there is an inherent conflict of interest here inasmuch as the FAA works closely with most of the entities that may be responsible for the crash. During certain phases of the investigation, the NTSB will release public information through its website at http://www.ntsb.gov/index.html. These reports are released as "preliminary report", "factual report" and "probable cause" report.

Experienced aviation attorneys agree that much of the information contained in these reports is inaccurate and incomplete. Frequently, the reports are influenced by experts hired by the parties who may be responsible for the crash. Often, private investigations of these matters reveal facts that are completely inconsistent with these reports so it is routine for attorneys representing victims of aviation accidents to conduct a private investigation independent of these agency investigations.

Are there different rights and/or investigations for commercial airline crashes versus private aircraft crashes?

Typically the primary difference between commercial crashes of scheduled commercial air carriers and private or chartered aircraft crashes is the scope of the investigation and the manner in which information is released. Frequently the NTSB will conduct a much more comprehensive investigation in the event of the crash of a scheduled commercial air carrier. Typically the NTSB will release information much earlier during the course of its investigation (frequently through scheduled news releases and press conferences) than in the investigation of private aircraft crashes. Additionally, the NTSB creates a higher standard of investigation for crashes involving fatalities than those that result in personal injury.

How do I obtain the preliminary report/factual report/final report of the crash?

To find this information visit the NTSB's website at http://www.ntsb.gov/index.html.

What are the rights of a victim of an aviation crash?

The rights of a victim of an aviation crash (or the survivors of such a victim) have varying rights depending upon the state in which the crash occurred, whether the crash occurred into federal or state waters and whether the crash occurred on a platform fixed to the seabed. These rights can vary dramatically as a result of the location and/or cause of the crash. You should contact an attorney with experience in handling aviation matters if you or a member of your family is the victim of an aviation crash.

How do I find out whether an accident was caused by pilot error, government error or mechanical failure?

First you should visit the NTSB website and review all reports that are made available (see http://www.ntsb.gov/index.html). However, it's important to note that the individuals conducting these investigations frequently have a substantial conflict of interest and the information contained in these reports as well as the determination of probable cause can be erroneous.

Who pays for medical and/or funeral bills for the victims of an aviation crash?

The answer to this question varies dramatically depending upon the location and/or cause of the crash. One set of rules applies to accidents occurring on land and another set of rules applies to accidents occurring at sea or on a fixed offshore platform. You should consult an experienced aviation attorney who can investigate such matters and determine which set of rules apply.

How do I know if I need legal counsel?

In virtually all aviation accidents, one should consult an experienced aviation attorney before discussing settlement with any potentially liable parties. Typically, it is impossible for survivors to obtain accurate factual information in the event of an airplane crash unless litigation is commenced. The rules governing the investigation and dissemination of information related to an aviation accident investigation are designed to limit access to such information by victims. In written position papers the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) claims that such "confidentiality" is necessary to allow full and efficient investigations. In reality such governmental practices result in the concealment of important information that can only be obtained through litigation. Experienced aviation attorneys agree that even through a response to a request for information under the federal Freedom of Information Act agencies will conceal or withhold data important to one's understanding of the cause of a crash.

How do I know that an attorney has qualifications to handle an aviation case?

If you are seeking an aviation attorney, you should question any potential choices concerning specific aviation cases that they have handled previously, cases that they have actually tried as lead counsel to conclusion and the nature of the party that they represented in such cases. The Broussard & David, LLC website on which you are currently logged discloses some of the experience of this law firm in handling such cases.

 

Offshore Accident Questions and Answers

What are my rights when I'm injured on a vessel such as a jack-up, semi-submersible drilling rig, drilling ship, etc.?

Because the rights of a victim of a maritime accident depend dramatically on the classification of the vessel involved and the status of the victim as a seaman or passenger, the rights of a victim must be analyzed carefully by an experienced maritime attorney. Rights of maritime victims can vary dramatically depending upon whether the victim is an employee of the operator of the vessel, a passenger or a member of the crew of the vessel and can even depend upon which federal jurisdiction (court) governs the area in which the accident occurred. If you are injured as a result of the actions or condition of a vessel, you should contact a highly experienced maritime attorney. The Broussard & David, LLC website onto which you are presently logged discloses some of our past experience in representing victims of such accidents.

What are my family's rights in the event I am injured or killed in an offshore accident?

Because the rights of the family of a victim of a maritime accident depend dramatically on the classification of the vessel involved and the status of the victim as a seaman or passenger, the family's rights must be analyzed carefully by an experienced maritime attorney. Rights of the maritime victim's family can vary dramatically depending upon whether the victim is an employee of the operator of the vessel, a passenger or a member of the crew of the vessel and can even depend upon which federal jurisdiction (court) governs the area in which the accident occurred. If your loved one was injured as a result of the actions or condition of a vessel, you should contact a highly experienced maritime attorney. The Broussard & David, LLC website onto which you are presently logged discloses some of our past experience in representing the families of victims of such accidents.

What are my rights when I'm injured on a fixed platform?

The rights of a victim injured on a fixed platform, whether the platform is located in state territorial waters or on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States, are for the most part governed by the laws of the adjacent state. The victim's rights can depend upon whether the accident resulted from the negligence of a vessel operating near the platform, the platform operator itself or its contractors. Analyzing the rights of a victim in such accidents is extremely complex and you should contact an experienced maritime attorney should you be so injured. The Broussard & David, LLC website onto which you are currently logged provides some of our firm's past experience in handling such matters.

Will I lose my job if I bring a claim?

Typically one's decision to bring a claim or not is not as important in answering this question as is the quality of the employer of such a victim. Typically the employer of a victim of an offshore accident stands to gain through the employee's recovery against negligent third parties. Through such claims an employer can recover expenses incurred by the employer through its responsibility under the Workers' Compensation Act or its responsibility in providing maintenance and cure benefits to its seaman employees. An experienced attorney can help you understand these issues so you should consult such an individual if you are faced with the decision of whether or not to bring such a claim. The Broussard & David, LLC website onto which you are currently logged can inform you as to our extensive experience in handling such claims.

Who pays for my medical bills?

The laws concerning the rights of a maritime victim to recover medical expenses vary dramatically between the classification of such a victim in his employment status. If the accident victim is a member of the crew of a vessel, the vessel operator may be responsible for medical benefits under its obligation to provide "care". If not, the employer of the victim may owe medical benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act. The answer to this question is complex and you should consult an experienced maritime attorney concerning such issues. The Broussard & David, LLC website onto which you are currently logged can inform you as to our extensive experience in handling such claims.

How do I know that an attorney has the qualifications to handle a maritime case?

You should question an attorney who you are considering as your representative closely concerning his actual past experience in handling maritime cases through trial as lead counsel to conclusion. The issues concerning victim's rights in a maritime case are typically quite complex and require an extensive understanding of this area of the law. Our firm's extensive experience in handling such claims is shown on the Broussard & David, LLC website onto which you are currently logged.