Frequently Asked Questions
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We all take precautions while driving, but sometimes collisions are unavoidable. Whether the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted, or simply disobeying the rules of the road, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
At Lofaso Law Firm we have years of experiencing handling car accident claims, and we can determine if your accident was the result of someone else’s negligence. We’ll put our knowledge of the law to work as we investigate the crash and build a strong case for you.
Getting injured on the job can mean you’re out of work for weeks, months, or even years. When you lose the paychecks that you and your family depend on, paying for your medical bills and day-to-day living expenses can seem difficult, if not impossible. No matter how you were injured at work, we have the knowledge and the resources to help you. Don’t let another day go by without getting the experienced legal representation you need.
We know how uncertain your life can be when you can’t work. That’s why we’ll do everything we can to get you the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Let us put our years of legal experience to work for you.
How long does it take?
It is important to know that no case is settled until the exact nature of your medical condition has been determined and all investigations have been completed. It usually takes a month or more just to gather all the information that is necessary. In many cases, it is impossible to obtain the necessary medical information because the doctor cannot answer many questions until treatment has been completed. We will often need to answer questions of insurance coverage, ownership, or location of the owner before even making a claim. When a lawsuit is filed, more time will be expended waiting for the formal answer to the complaint, scheduling the discovery discussed below, and getting the trial on the court’s calendar. Our goal is to complete your case as quickly as we can without sacrificing thoroughness.
What do I do after my car accident?
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, it’s important that you take action now. Most personal injury cases in Louisiana must be filed within a certain amount of time after the accident occurred. For car accidents, this time period—known as the statute of limitations—is one year from the date of the accident. It takes time to investigate your car accident and build a strong claim. The more time your attorney has to work with, the better. That’s why you need to contact a qualified car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
What about the filing of my lawsuit?
The actual lawsuit may or may not be immediately filed after our first meeting with you. Our more common practice is to thoroughly prepare your case and communicate with the defendant and his insurance company prior to actually filing suit in an attempt to reach an agreeable settlement. In other situations, however, the suit may be filed right away. In either case, the following procedures apply:
- The Petition. A lawsuit is started by the plaintiff filing a piece of paper called the “petition”. We will send you a copy of it when it is filed.
- The Answer. It is a formal response from the defendant. It’s very rare that liability and damages are admitted in the answer. This is the time when the defense can make any counter claim they feel they have against you and allege that you may have in some way contributed to the cause of your injuries.
- Deposition. After the complaint is filed, the lawyers can take just about anybody’s statement under oath in front of a court reporter, which is referred to as a “deposition.” We will send you some special instructions if your deposition is scheduled to be taken. On the day your deposition is to be taken come to the office early, at least 30 minutes to an hour before, so that we have time to talk beforehand.
- Interrogatories. These are questions to be answered in writing under oath. When we get them from the other lawyer, we will send them to you. All we ask is that you do your best to gather the information requested and write down the answers in rough form. We have 15 days in which to supply your answer to the lawyer that submitted the questions. Therefore, please be as prompt as possible in returning them to our office. We will proof them and prepare them in finished form for your review.
- Independent Medical Examination (IME) or Second Medical Opinions (SMO). The Court rules provide for your examination by a doctor other than your treating physician. The idea is to promote fairness by letting the defense obtain a independent medical exam or second opinion from their doctor. The same rules we discussed about your own doctor apply here. If you are unhappy about this additional examination, don’t take it out on the doctor who examines you.
Pre-Trial procedures such as depositions, interrogatories and IME’s are called “discovery.” They are often the source of delay. For example, a doctor’s deposition may only take an hour or two, but getting all the lawyers and the doctor together can often take months.
How should I communicate with my doctor?
We are using the word “doctor” here, but we mean to include all health care practitioners. The testimony of your doctor can be a very important part of your case. Of course, you should make all you medical decisions on the basis of what is best for your health. Choose your doctor or accept treatment on that basis alone. There are a few suggestions we can offer you in this respect:
- Give the doctor a complete history of the accident, including how it happened. That history becomes part of your medical record and eventually gets in to many hands. If something is bothering you, let your doctor know. Sometimes it is helpful to make some notes to take to the doctor so you do not forget anything.
- Keep all your doctor’s appointments. Missed appointments will go on your record. If you cannot keep an appointment, call the doctor’s office and explain it.
- Be truthful, complete, and consistent with your doctor. Do not exaggerate or complain without good reason. It is common for doctor’s to testify whether patients are cooperative or are prone to exaggeration. If you exaggerate, your doctor, your attorney, or the judge may not take you seriously.
- It is not uncommon to have medical bills that exceed you ability to pay while the case is in progress. It is only very rarely that the defendant or its insurance company will pay your medical bills as long as the case goes along. For that reason, it is our custom to write to the health care providers promising to protect their reasonable bills out of the proceeds of the case. This not only inspires cooperation, it very often has the effect of keeping these overdue bills from being turned over to credit bureaus or collection agencies. It is up to you to notify us of these unpaid bills.
What information should I document/save?
Although most cases are settled before trial, we have been successful by preparing each case as if it were going to trial. Whether we are dealing with a jury, a defense lawyer, or an insurance adjuster, our job is to present your case the best possible way. We must demonstrate and document the cause of the injury. We must preserve evidence, keep track of witnesses, photograph, examine, interview, and analyze.
Here is what you can do at this stage of the case:
- Begin making a list of witnesses. Just because you are a plaintiff, some people believe that you will exaggerate the effects of your injury or loss. Therefore, anybody who can provide firsthand knowledge of how the injury or loss is affecting you may be important. When you realize that friends, neighbors, and relatives are aware of the problems you are having because of this accident, then make a list of who will be able to vouch for any problems. For instance, employees or supervisors may testify to your problems when you return to work and the amount of your earning loss.
- If you find somebody who has some knowledge about the liability aspect of the case (that is, was an eyewitness to how it happened or knows about how it happened or has heard the other party say something about it), let us know right away.
- If somebody important to the case is moving, keep up with them and give us the new address. This includes you.
- Save everything — every bill, record, or piece of paper that has anything to do with your case. Obtain a receipt and keep record for all drugs, appliances, or bills incurred as a result of you injuries. Also, keep track of anything else that might be an indirect result, of your injuries. An example would be baby-sitters or home-nurses that you would not have had to hire but for the injury.
- Don’t discuss your case with anyone other than your attorneys, doctors, pastor, priest, or rabbi.
- Don’t sign anything with respect to your case until you have checked with the attorney handling your file.
- Keep a diary. You may think you will never forget the circumstances surrounding the incident and that you will never forget how the incident has changed your life. But, as time passes, you will find that events that seemed immensely important when they occurred become blurred in your memory. To prevent this, sit down now and write a brief summary of the circumstances that surround the accident.
- Take photos or call our investigator to photograph anything that may disappear. This is particularly true of injuries and scars where we often need a series of photographs to show changes from month to month.
- From time to time, we may send you a request for updated information. Be as complete and accurate as you can.
How should I communicate with Lofaso Law Firm?
Lack of communication is an over-worked phrase, but it is often the only problem between a lawyer and a client. It is frustrating for a client to try to call the lawyer and then not hear from the lawyer right away. It is also frustrating for a lawyer to be hard at work on a case and be called by a client who believes that nothing is being done. The nature of the work is such that your lawyer will be out of the office, in court, and out of town from time to time. We return all of our calls as soon as possible, but not always are we able to reach you when we return the call. Here are some things that may help:
- Take advantage of our staff. Our secretaries and investigators are highly skilled and carefully chosen. They must have access to our files to do the job and have the same confidential relationship with you that we do. While they cannot give legal advice, they can answer many questions about what is going on in the case. For example, when depositions are set, how a court ruled on a particular matter, or whether we have heard from a particular person are some common questions.
- Leave a message. If the secretary or investigator cannot help you, outline the question or problem to them. That makes it possible for us to help you while we are out of the office. It also cuts down on the common experience of the client of the client and the lawyer leaving a string of messages to call the other which is a procedure often much slower than the mails.
- If you have something you feel is highly confidential, we suggest putting in a letter marked confidential on the outside and sending it to us.
- Dropping by the office unexpectedly is usually a bad idea. Call first. Even if we are in the office, it may be impossible to give the matter you are concerned with the attention it deserves because of a lack of preparation.
How will I be helped with my workers' compensation claim?
When you’re applying for workers’ compensation benefits, even a minor mistake or a missed deadline during the filing process can cause your claim to be denied. That’s why we are there for you during each step of your claim. We can:
- Calculate your current and future medical bills,
- Complete the required forms and submit them on time,
- Determine your level of disability,
- and more.
We’ll also be there to appeal the decision if your claim is denied. We strive to fight for your rights no matter what—even if that means taking your case to trial. You can count on us throughout the entire process.
What should I bring to Lofaso Law Firm for my consultation?
When you come to our office for an initial consultation of your claim, there are a few items you can bring that will strengthen your case, such as:
- Medical records for accident-related injuries
After you’ve been treated by a doctor for your injuries, ask for a copy of your medical report to give to your attorney. This report can be valuable evidence when preparing your case.
- A copy of the police report
Make sure you bring a copy of the police report for your accident. You can request a copy from the Louisiana State Police website or from your local police department. This report will help us determine how your accident occurred.
- The names and contact info for other drivers and witnesses
If you were able to obtain contact information of the other driver or any witnesses to the accident, be sure to bring this to our office. We may need to get in touch with them when we investigate your accident.
- A description of the accident
Write down exactly what happened in the accident as soon as possible after the accident. We can use your written account as evidence when building your case.