Personal injury is the area of the law that holds wrongdoers accountable for the harm they do to others by their negligent, reckless or deliberate acts or omissions. The intention of personal injury law is not to punish the wrongdoer, although in rare cases the court will order punitive payments. Rather, the point is to “make the victim whole again” by ordering enough compensation to balance the harm done. But how much compensation is fair for an innocent victim who now suffers chronic pain or has lost the ability to walk? Getting appropriate compensation for your injury is a tough task, which you should only trust to an experienced attorney with a record of success. At Goforth & Lilley, we draw on more than 75 years of combined legal experience to provide trustworthy representation that produces positive results.
The legal term for compensation is damages, which refers to the various ways the defendant caused losses to the victim. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident or slip and fall, you have two main categories of damages:
Economic damages are generally easy to calculate, although medical and financial experts often must testify about future damages. On the other hand, noneconomic damages, known collectively as “pain and suffering,” are very difficult to put a price on. Attorneys rely on experience in estimating the noneconomic value of an injury, but juries can be very unpredictable.
There are many hurdles a personal injury claim must overcome before the victim can receive a damage award. The most important is proof of liability. Liability is legal responsibility for a particular harm. To prove liability in a personal injury case, a victim must prove four elements:
As the injured plaintiff attempts to prove these elements, the defendant can assert various defenses. An important defense is known as contributory negligence, which basically alleges that the victim did something to cause the injury event and must share some level of responsibility. Louisiana applies a standard called comparative fault, which reduces the plaintiff’s damage recovery in proportion to the plaintiff’s share of fault. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but the jury decided you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, you would only be able to recover 80 percent of your losses, or $80,000.
Another obstacle is the Louisiana statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Under this law, you have one year to file a personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability or wrongful death claim. This deadline applies to motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents and premises liability accidents. Some maritime personal injuries are also limited to one year, but if yours is a Jones Act claim, you have three years to file. Under certain circumstances, the law may allow a claim extra time, but it is always in your best interests to pursue your claim as quickly as possible by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you were in an auto accident, motorcycle accident or truck accident, your case will generally start with a claim against an insurance company. Insurance adjusters are usually very friendly at the outset as they try to win your confidence so they can settle your case quickly for less than it’s worth. Then they apply the heavy-handed tactics, including lowball offers and delays in processing your claim, to try to leverage a settlement. They want you to think that you can settle your case for a fair amount and save in the bargain by not hiring an attorney. But don’t be fooled! Studies show that claimants with professional representation recover far more than claimants who represent themselves, even after deducting for attorney fees. Plus, our attorneys accept injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so you pay no upfront fees and only pay us after you get a damage award or settlement that you approve.
Goforth & Lilley is a reputable Lafayette law firm with a substantial record of success in personal injury cases. To learn how we can assist with your case, schedule a free consultation and case evaluation. Call us today at 337-446-4239 or contact our office online.
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