Educating our clients is important to us. Please take a few moments to browse our list of personal injury and workers' compensation legal FAQ. If you do not see your question on our list, please feel free to contact us with your legal questions. Every legal case is different and needs to be treated like the unique matter that it is. "One size fits all" is not the motto of the Clayton Law Firm. There are frequently asked questions and issues issues in all legal matters. The answers to those questions can help you to select a law firm that is appropriate for the handling of your legal matter. Some of the more commonly asked questions and issues are addressed below:
Many legal claims are settled without a trial. It is important that your attorney not settle your claim too early in the legal claims process, so that he will have a chance to gather enough information to have a clear picture of what your case is realistically worth. The strengths and weaknesses of a claim are not always obvious early in the process of that claim being handled.
Early in the life of a legal claim, it is often difficult to reasonably or accurately calculate the value of a personal injury or workers' compensation claim. The facts and circumstances of each individual claim vary widely and are important to the determination of the value of your claim.
Accurate determination of the value of a claim generally can only be made after the attorney has done enough investigation, discovery and evaluation of the facts and the law that applies to the case. "Discovery" is the formal litigation process of each side using their attorneys and the legal process to get information and documentation from the other side and elsewhere. At the first meeting with your lawyer, he may be able to form a general idea of the value of your claim, but usually it takes some work on the part of the lawyer to have a more accurate estimate of the value of your claim.
Be very careful of what you say to anyone about your case, and be careful about whom you speak to about your case. It is best not to discuss your case in public or with people whom you do not know and trust. If the insurance company attorney, insurance claims adjuster or anyone connected with them tries to discuss your case, we suggest that you politely tell them that you cannot talk to them, if you have an attorney. If you have an attorney, you should direct those persons to speak with your attorney about your case.
Also, be aware that sometimes people who have a grudge against you will be willing to talk to the insurance company or its attorneys and tell them unfavorable and untrue things about you. Be aware of the fact that what you say out of court can potentially be quoted in court by the persons who hear you.
Be careful about anything that you put in a blog, on Facebook, Twitter, or anything similar. Those electronic media can be accessed by the public. More than one person has put something on Facebook, only to have that statement become evidence in court. Emails and text messages sometimes become evidence in court, so, it is best to be careful what you say
Sometimes insurance companies are fair in their treatment of injury victim claimants. Some times they are not. Sometimes they will offer a fair settlement. But you must remember that the insurance company is more interested in resolving your claim inexpensively than they are about your future or the future of your family.
In our experience, many claims adjusters try to settle as cheaply as possible. They know that most people do not have the legal training or experience to accurately estimate the value of their own claim. What seems like a lot of money to you may actually be less than adequate or
fair to settle your claim.
Every case is different. Some cases are resolved quickly, while others take months or years. At Clayton Law Firm, LLC. we do everything that we can to resolve your claim as quickly as possible, without harming your case by a premature settlement or some other hasty action.
We strive to strike a balance between the quickest reasonable resolution of your case and "selling you out" through a hasty, cheap settlement. In no way do we want to sell you out through a quick settlement.
As soon as we have enough information to accurately place a value on your case, we will advise you, and hopefully we can then begin settlement negotiations.
If you are served with any legal papers, receive any communications from the defense (written or verbal), tell your attorney immediately, and get copies of what you were served with to him. The practice of law involves lawyers having to keep many deadlines that are set by the court or by the law, and great harm can occur to your case if important legal matters are not tended to on time.
Typically you will want to keep good records of anything and everything that you can relating to your claim. Be sure to keep a notebook or folder so that you can record important information and developments. As soon as you can after the accident or incident, you will want to write down everything that you can remember or that you know about the accident or incident and developments which occur later. Keep copies of your medical bills and records, photographs of your damaged vehicle, your injuries (such as cuts and bruises), the accident scene, and the traffic accident or other accident reports.
Depending on the type of claim, there will be a "statute of limitations" or legal deadline for filing your claim with the correct court. You should speak with a lawyer about this sometimes complicated issue. In Louisiana, most personal injury, property damage and work injury lawsuits must be filed no later than one year from the date of accident, although there are exceptions to that general rule sometimes.
There will be a process called "discovery," in which each side serves on the other side "interrogatories," which are written questions to answer under oath, "production requests," seeking to obtain documents and records, and sometimes other requests. That process usually takes a few months or a bit longer.
The insurance company will use the discovery process to get a clear, detailed picture of who you are, what your claim is, and how strong your claim appears to be. At the same time, your attorney is gathering information with which to build your claim and to determine what the
insurance company and its attorneys will try to use as defenses.
The defense attorney may take your deposition, the depositions of your doctors, and other witnesses in the case. Your attorney may also take depositions of important witnesses whom the defense may call to testify at trial. Depositions involve the attorneys asking you or the other witnesses a series of questions, which must be answered under oath, just like being in court. The court reporter types and records every word said by the witness and the attorneys at the deposition. Your attorney is present at your deposition and any other depositions that are taken in your case, to insure that the process operates properly, and to be sure that you are treated fairly.
The parties to any case may file pre-trial motions, asking the court to address important matters in the course of preparing the case for trial.
Most cases do not go to trial. In our experience, approximately 90 percent are settled or otherwise resolved without a trial. However, early in the life of a case, it is usually very difficult if not impossible to determine whether that particular case will proceed to trial or not.
Depending on various factors, if a case goes to trial, its outcome is decided by either a judge or jury. Workers' compensation claims never involve trial by jury.
Any party who is dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial can take an appeal. Generally, the process of getting a case to trial generally takes anywhere from several months to a few years and if an appeal is taken, conclusion of the appeal can take a year or longer.
No one except the judge can order the insurance company to begin or resume making those payments. We realize that not being paid or delays in payment work hardship on most people, but the legal system has no provision for immediate enforcement of your rights. However, we do everything within our power and ability at Clayton Law Firm, LLC. to try to attempt to legally persuade the insurance company to voluntarily begin or resume those payments.
The simple answer is that you should see your doctor regularly for a long as you are still experiencing symptoms or pain from your injury. We do not encourage our clients to go to the doctor simply to "build" their case, but the fact remains that your health and well-being are
We realize that chiropractic and various other non-medical forms of health care may be appropriate as treatment for your injuries. We agree that the type of treatment that is best for you and your injury is the treatment that you should obtain. Several decades ago, chiropractic was not as readily accepted or popular as it is now. Over the course of time, many chiropractors have been instrumental in providing significant pain relief and healing for their patients, without the use of medicine or surgical procedures. Chiropractic is commonly accepted as valid and helpful today.
You should also be aware that many judges and insurance claims adjusters view lengthy gaps in treatment or infrequent treatment as meaning that your injury is not serious or that it has resolved. If you are still in pain or experiencing symptoms from your injury, be sure to regularly obtain the health care that you need to treat those injuries.