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We are uniquely qualified as personal injury and wrongful death attorneys. All together we have more than 100 years of personal injury experience and millions of dollars in damages awarded to our clients. Each member of our firm specializes in a specific area of law, so the work we perform will be tailored to your specific needs.

 

The Beautiful Culture of New Orleans

The people and culture of New Orleans are one of the most unique in the entire United States. It encapsulates the melting pot ethos of this country as there are numerous cultural influences within the district, including French, Spanish and African. These influences are reflected in the food, clothing, music, and language of the local residents.

New Orleans was named after the Duke of New Orleans in 17th century France. Hence, the streets are filled with French Creole architecture, reminiscent of the religious style of the post-medieval period. Although the early European residents of New Orleans were mainly from France, the architecture of the ‘French Quarter’ reflects a Spanish style. Here you will see flat tiled roofs, tropical colors, and ornate ironworks.

Louisiana’s cuisine has been described as old-world mixed with modern flavors, and when it comes to crispy fried chicken and soft biscuits, New Orleans is the place to be.

As you may know, New Orleans is home to many annual celebrations and is a worldwide tourist attraction. It’s also home to the ever-famous event called Mardi Gras, which actually means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French. It’s meant to be a time of indulgence before the religious period of Lent and includes parades, live music, fresh food, cultural performances, and much more.

Another very famous festival is called the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (also known as Jazz Fest). New Orleans is speculated to be the birthplace of jazz music. It’s home to some of the jazz and blues greats, including, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Pete Fountain, just to name a few.

Not a fan of Jazz? Well, the festival includes other genres of music that are native to Louisiana, as well as performances from other nationally known artists. Therefore, this is a place where tourists are excited to visit and where residents are proud to live.

 

What is personal injury law?

Personal injury is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit in which the person bringing the action has suffered either physical or mental harm. Personal injury claims represent the most common type of lawsuit filed in the United States, and as a result, the size of the personal injury market is estimated to be over $35 billion. This is a staggering amount compared to other areas of law. These claims are filed against a person, business, or other legal entity that has caused harm to the victim through one of many ways: recklessness, negligence, gross negligence, or even intentional misconduct. Depending on the level of intent or the level of negligence of the responsible party, the victim may be entitled to two main categories of relief: either monetary compensation from the at-fault party or a non-monetary judgment from a court of law.

The monetary damages are usually obtained through settlement but can also be ordered by the court after the trial has concluded. Non-monetary judgments usually involve the court barring the responsible party from performing certain actions or from being at a particular location (for example a restraining order). Monetary compensation can further be divided into two main categories: special damages or general damages. The former includes costs which can be easily measured, for example, medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damages. The latter includes costs which are harder to quantify, for example, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. It’s important to remember that these types of damages are not mutually exclusive, meaning your claim may give rise to both categories of damages.

 

How does a personal injury claim work?

As seen from the description above, New Orleans is a melting pot that is in high demand, garnering many people from within the United States as well as from around the world. Due to the party-filled nature of the city, accidents and other confrontations do inevitably occur. Usually when these things happen, it’s possible for people to let it go. However, there are times where the incident is serious enough to escalate to legal action. First of all, it’s important to remember that, in Louisiana, you only have about one year to file a claim (which is less time as compared to most other states). Therefore, the sooner you retain a lawyer the better. Overall, personal injury cases can have a broad time for resolution, ranging from a minimum of two months to many years. One reason for this is due to the highly personalized nature of each case. Each accident involves different degrees of injuries, different witnesses, and separate procedural requirements. Another reason for the length of a claim is because claims are usually resolved only after treatment for your injuries has taken place. Another reason is due to the investigative nature of personal injury claims. Insurance companies want to make sure that fraudulent claims do not get paid out. Finally, the timeframe for a claim depends on the severity of your injuries. For some injuries, the medical diagnosis can take many months. Also, for psychological injuries, the effects may not be immediately visible. Medical professionals, such as psychologists, may need to take time to fully diagnose the extent of your mental problem.

The following is a breakdown of the personal injury claim process. Note that this is a simplified overview and that the actual process can vary depending on your own circumstances. First, we will have an initial consultation in order to understand the facts of your case. If the circumstances permit, it may be wise to make a settlement offer before the suit even begins. If the settlement isn’t fair or is rejected, the lawsuit begins. Next, we start with the discovery process, which allows parties to obtain the relevant information from the opposing side. This can involve compulsory disclosure of documents, and / or the oral examination of the opposing party (known as a deposition). The deposition gives the opposing party a chance to ask you questions about the case. This is a two-way street, as we will also be given a chance to depose the other side. The parties we can depose include the main defendant, an insurance adjuster, and / or a third party. After the discovery, there can be motions back and forth between both sides, either compelling the opposing party to produce evidence or take some other action. Even though legal action is brought on behalf of a client, your attorney may end up dealing with certain matters that can end the dispute completely before the trial even begins, and sometimes even before major hearings are conducted. Each of these matters is heard by way of a motion, which is a subsidiary step within the action itself. They help provide a direction to navigate your claim through the convoluted legal system. However, you may be asking: Why would I want to end my claim before a trial? It’s important to remember that litigation is very expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. Therefore, before commencing a proceeding, it is imperative that your attorney pays attention to your interests, priorities, and desired outcomes of the case. Motions help with this because they provide an opportunity to negotiate with the other side before spending long periods of time, and potentially lots of money, arguing a claim.

Who are the main parties in a personal injury case?

The Plaintiff is the party that is alleging a wrong occurred to them, hence they are the person who files the lawsuit. The Defendant is the party that is alleged to have done the harm and, is therefore the person or business the Plaintiff is filing the lawsuit against. A Counterclaim occurs when the Defendant believes that they in fact have a legal claim against the Plaintiff. A Crossclaim, on the other hand, occurs when one of the Defendants believes that the other Defendant is actually liable for all / part of the Plaintiff’s injuries. There is also something called a Joinder of Claims, which is when a new Plaintiff joins the original Plaintiff’s claim because they believe they have a legal right to relief due to the Defendant(s)’s actions. Note that new Defendants can also be added to the lawsuit as well.

 

What is the role that insurance companies play in personal injury cases?

If you decide to take legal action, insurance companies and their claim adjusters are inevitably involved in the process, so it’s important to have a general understanding of how the system works. When an insurance company covers the cost of an incident, and a claim is filed, an adjuster is assigned to investigate the circumstances around the incident, and then to assess how much the claim is worth. It’s important to remember that the adjuster works for the insurance company, and not for your benefit. Therefore, they are trained to pay out as little as possible to you. However, while insurance adjusters want to pay out as little as possible, they also want to avoid a personal injury lawsuit. If negotiations fail and a settlement is not reached, the outcome of the suit will be determined by either a judge or jury, which is very risky and therefore a poor business strategy. There are certain common factors that insurance adjusters consider when deciding what a claim is worth. These include actual expenses (medical and physiotherapy bills) that have already occurred, actual expenses that are projected to occur in the future (due to the injury), lost income or loss of ability to earn any living, pain and suffering, and other unforeseen negative effects that can occur later on in the victim’s life.

If you are thinking about settling your claim, there are certain things you should consider before doing so. What is the nature of your disability? Will your injuries recover soon, or will they prolong for years? Do you need the money immediately? What are your projected medical costs? Will those medical bills be a one-time fee, or will they be recurring? If they are recurring, how often will the payments be? Do you understand the offer the insurance company is giving you? Are you aware of the options you have instead of an immediate settlement? Do you know if the insurance company is trying to take advantage of you?

We have the power and concentrated expertise of a large firm with the personal touch of a small firm. We represent clients in every type of Louisiana personal injury claim. This includes:

 

Our advertisements say, ‘Chip Forstall takes care of it all’, and we wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true!

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Chip Forstall
320 North Carrollton Avenue
Suite 200
New Orleans, LA 70119

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