What Determines Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

The basis of any personal injury claim is proof of negligence. Before you begin negotiating your claim, you must understand how to prove all of the combined elements that form negligence. Although it exists in many forms, the definition remains the same: “conduct which falls short of reasonable standards for protecting a person from foreseeable risks of harm.”

Understanding and proving exactly how the negligence of the party at fault caused your injuries is essential to winning your personal injury claim. Once the elements of your case have been put together, it will be much easier to confidently present the facts to the insurance company’s claims adjuster, a judge, or a jury if the case is elevated beyond initial negotiations.

  1. The four basic elements when considering negligence in a personal injury claim are:

    The first element is establishing the presence of a duty owed by one person to another. People have a duty to act in a reasonable manner toward others in both public and private settings. Each unique personal injury claim starts with identifying this claim to duty of care. In some circumstances, the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant might create a legal duty, such as how a doctor owes a patient a legal duty to provide him or her with competent medical care.

    Some examples of duty of care might include drivers who have a duty to their passengers and other drivers to operate their vehicle carefully. Doctors also have a duty to their patients to treat them in a medically-appropriate manner sensitive to the individual’s needs. Companies have a duty to their customers to make sure their products are safe, especially retail stores who have a duty to their many customers and employees with keeping their floors clear of slippery substances and other potential hazards.

  2. Proving Someone Breached Their Duty

    The second element is a breach of the duty owed by one person to another. A person breaches their duty by failing to act in a reasonable manner toward another person.

Some examples where a breach of the duty of care may include a reckless driver who causes an auto accident or a company that manufactures a defective product that injures a customer, or even a doctor who prescribes the wrong medication where the patient is later hospitalized as a result.

  1. Proving The Breach Directly Caused Injuries

    The third element is when the breach of duty becomes the direct cause of another person’s injuries. The type and severity of injuries must be related with a failure to act in a reasonable way. The source of the breach could be a person, business, organization, or other entity. The term ‘proximate cause’ is somewhat misleading because, as a legal concept, it has little to do with proximity or causation. Instead, proximate cause is moreso related to fairness and justice, in that at some point it becomes unfair to hold a defendant responsible for the results of his negligence.

    A few examples of a direct injury as the result of a breach of duty of care may include a speeding driver who causes an auto accident and someone is injured, where the act of speeding is the direct cause of the injuries. A company that manufactures a defective product where a customer is injured while using it is a breach wherein the product directly caused the injury. A homeowner who fails to clean up a spill from the floor before a guest slips and is injured is also a breach where the failure to clean up the spill is the direct cause of the injury. Likewise, a patient’s condition that worsens because of a prescription error proves the doctor’s action in prescribing the wrong medication is the direct cause and may be liable for any personal injury.

  2. Proving Any Monetary Losses

    The fourth element is tied to the first three, so that when a duty exists, and a breach of that duty directly causes an injury, the injured person is responsible for proving the nature and extent of his injuries. Documented evidence of the injuries and related expenses is vital for recovering any settlement or court judgment against the at-fault party. Without documentation, the person claiming injuries will have a very difficult, if not impossible time negotiating their claim. The first three elements of negligence do not confirm the nature and extent of injuries, nor the financial costs related to those injuries; they must be separately proven.

Some examples of proven monetary losses may include:

  • Hospital treatment records and corresponding medical bills
  • Doctors’ diagnosis and prognosis of the injury
  • Physical therapy and chiropractic records and bills
  • Receipts for out-of-pocket costs related to the injury such as medications, crutches, bandages, hospital parking fees, etc.

Once you understand the elements of negligence, then you can begin matching them to the facts of your case in order to see if it is eligible for a personal injury claim. Your primary goal is to convince the claims adjuster to approve your settlement demand, and in order to do that, you must prove their insured party was negligent. Proving your case should not be complicated. You must simply gather all of the information that supports your claim and then use it to show how the facts of the accident come together to form negligence.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, a potential legal claim may be worth pursuing, especially if you’ve incurred costly medical bills and missed income from work. You may want to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about your claim. Fortunately, you can have a local attorney do a free evaluation of your case at Gordon & Gordon Law Firm. Give us a call today at (318) 716 – HELP.

carseatsafety

Car Seat Safety Check: Mistakes You Might Be Making

Car seat safety isn’t only a good practice to retain, it’s the law! Anyone with a child is likely to understand the importance of car-seat safety and how difficult it can typically be to set one up. Almost half (46%) of all child seats that are put into a vehicle include mistakes in the installation or in securing the child to the seat, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The errors significantly “reduce the protection of that car seat or booster seat in the event of a crash,” the agency concludes. Studies suggest that parents and caregivers were often confident that they had done it right, but still unknowingly failed to follow all safety precautions when securing their child into a car seat.

 

Some of the most common mistakes made while securing a child into a car seat are:

  • Using the wrong size seat at the wrong age
  • Not positioning the seat where you can get the tightest fit
  • Not fastening the harness straps securely enough or in the correct position
  • Using both lower anchors and the seat belt— you should choose just one type of installation method.
  • Not using the top tether for a front-facing seat. The top tether is critical whether you’re using a seat belt or lower anchors.
  • Continuing to use lower anchors when your child has surpassed the weight limit

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Association

 

Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. In 2015, 35% of car crashes involving children who not buckled up correctly to the car seat or booster seat resulted in fatalities. For this reason alone, it is very important to choose and use the right car seat, correctly, every time your child is in the car. A car-seat check can help bridge the gap between thinking you’ve got it right and knowing you do.

 

The following steps will guide you through installing your car seat correctly and keeping your child safe:

  • Read your car seat’s instruction manual and your vehicle’s owner manual. Every seat and vehicle is different, which may affect the way the way that you’ll install your particular car seat.
  • Place the car seat in the back seat of your vehicle, in the rear-facing position.
    Carefully thread the seatbelt through the rear-facing belt path and make sure there are no twists in the seat belt.
  • Buckle and lock the seat belt tightly to the back seat. (You should not be able to move the car seat side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch.)
  • Make sure your car seat is installed at the correct recline angle, since babies must ride sitting semi-reclined to keep the airway open.
  • Place your child in the car seat with the child’s back flat against the car seat.
  • Place harness straps over the child’s shoulders. Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slots located at or below your child’s shoulders.
  • Buckle the harness and the chest clip, and tighten until snug. The harness is snug enough when you cannot pinch any extra material at the shoulder.
  • If your baby needs support, try to fill the empty spaces with small, rolled blankets on each side of the baby’s shoulders and head so the fit is snug.
  • Bulky clothing or blankets can prevent a snug harness fit. Always buckle the child in the seat first, and then place any coats or blankets over the harness.
  • Place the seat’s chest clip at armpit level, which will hold the harness straps in place on the child’s chest and shoulders.

 

You should never put your children at risk the next time you head for the grocery store, over to grandma’s house, transporting to school, or the dozens of other places you may take them on a weekly basis. Be certain to educate yourself on the latest rules or receive the help from trained Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician who will inspect and approve your car seat installation if you have any doubts. Many parents try their best and still can’t figure this out, while others may think they can stretch an infant seat until they need a booster just to save a bit of money. While there is no link between the cost of the car seat and its effectiveness, please do take all the time you need to make sure you have the right seat with the correct installation for your child’s safety!

Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving: Which is worse?

If you’ve ever gotten behind the wheel while feeling drowsy or just tired from the end of a very long work day, then you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers, or around 168 million people, say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, with about 37%, or 103 million people, actually having fallen asleep at the wheel!

Drowsy driving crashes can result in high personal and economic costs. Plenty of drowsy driving incidents have even resulted in jail sentences for the driver. Multi-million dollar settlements have also been awarded to families of crash victims as a result of lawsuits filed against individuals as well as businesses whose employees were involved in drowsy driving crashes.

Which is worse: driving drunk or driving while you’re tired? The answer is that they’re both equally dangerous, and some studies have even shown that there is no difference at all between the two. Driving while sleepy and driving while drunk both have the potential to double your risk for a car accident. Sleep and alcohol may not seem like they have a lot in common when it comes to driving, but going 24 hours without sleep has been shown to be equal to having a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .10 which is over the legal limit for intoxication. Though driving while exhausted may seem relatively harmless, it has very serious consequences.

Sleep deprivation increases the risk of a sleep-related crash; the less people sleep, the greater the risk. You could get into a car accident and potentially harm yourself or someone else. Approximately eleven million drivers (4%) admit that they have had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive. In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month.

But who is really the most at risk when it comes to drowsy driving and the potential accidents that may occur because of this? Sleep-related crashes are most common in young people, especially men, adults with children, and shift workers. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times. Other research indicates commercial drivers and people with undiagnosed sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and acute insomnia are also at greater risk for fall-asleep crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in total monetary losses.
One of the major problems with preventing drowsy driving is that there are no available tests to determine sleepiness, as there are for intoxication such as a “Breathalyzer.” There is also little or no police training for identifying drowsiness as a crash factor since it cannot be examined after the fact if a crash does occur. Drowsiness or fatigue may also play a role in crashes which are attributed to different causes such as alcohol or other distractions.

So, what should you do if you feel yourself falling asleep behind the wheel? If possible, switch out drivers or pull over to the side of the road and take a short nap if you’re unable to stay alert and focused on the road. The most important thing to remember is to get enough sleep! The average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep a night, so plan that into your schedule and drive safely.

If you are involved in a drowsy driving accident caused by someone who appeared to be asleep at the wheel, or if you are involved in a car accident due to a drunk driver, protect your rights and contact one of our experienced car accident lawyers at Gordon & Gordon Law Firm. Studies have shown that the average person can receive a settlement 3.5x larger when receiving legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer than doing it on their own. For a combined 30 years, Louisiana car accident victims have trusted Gordon & Gordon Law Firm to handle their personal injury cases. Call 318-716-HELP for more information.

Auto Accident Checklist: What To Do

Helping those who have been injured due to the fault of another in a car accident.
When a car accident is serious enough to cause fatal or severe injuries, or if alcohol was involved, the state will probably prosecute the driver who was at fault. For all other car accidents- you, the other driver, and your insurance companies may be left to deal with medical bills and car repair expenses. Often, these issues are resolved in court with the help of experienced personal injury lawyers.

The steps you take after an automobile accident can save lives, reduce injuries, and help ensure a quick settlement of your car insurance claim; however, when you are in a panic or stressed, it can be hard to remember exactly what to do. The following checklist guides you through the steps you should take immediately following and also in the days after a car accident:

What should you do in the event of a car accident?

  1. If it is possible, move to a safe area before you stop the vehicle.

If moving your car isn’t possible, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that your vehicle will not be going anywhere. Take a moment to catch your breath and make sure it’s safe to get out of your car before opening the door.

  1. Check on anyone who is involved in the car accident.

Check on all parties involved including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians around to make sure that no one is injured. Call 911 immediately if anyone may be injured at the scene. Even a seemingly minor symptom like dizziness or slight pain should be examined by a healthcare professional to make sure there is no internal injury.

  1. Call the police to the scene of the accident.

Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can prove invaluable when dealing with your car insurance company and other drivers. Cooperate fully with officers but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene. Let the police objectively judge the events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash.

  1. Gather information.
  • Driver and passenger names
  • License plate numbers
  • Insurance information
  • Makes and models of all vehicles involved
  • Contact information of any witness to the accident
  • The name and badge number of any responding police officers
  1. File your insurance claim.

Call your insurance provider from the scene of the car accident, or file it through your smartphone. If you are not sure who to call, check your insurance ID card for your insurer’s contact information.

  1. Get a Property Damage Valuation.

    Obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. If you are not satisfied with how your insurance company has valued your vehicle, don’t give up. Try getting at least two other independent repair estimates or replacement quotes and assertively inform the adjuster of your concerns. If you cannot agree on your car’s value, consider mediation or consult an auto accident attorney.

    7. Use Caution in Discussing the Incident.

    Don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police. You also shouldn’t talk to a representative of another insurance company without the knowledge of your attorney or insurer. If called by the other insurance company, politely ask them to call your attorney or insurer to arrange an interview. Also, tell your lawyer or insurer about the call.

    8. Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers.

    Be careful if you’re offered a settlement from an insurance company. Confirm that all of your physical injuries have been treated. Some injuries may not show up or reach their greatest level of discomfort until many days, weeks, or months later. Do not settle a claim until you know you’ll be compensated for all of your injuries, and consult a personal injury attorney before signing any settlement documents.

Why should you hire a car accident lawyer?

Typically, the final question in dealing with an accident is “who will pay for the damages?” You and the other drivers may decide to handle the damages yourselves without involvement of an insurance company if the accident was minor, however, this may not always the best idea. While the opposing driver may agree to pay for the damages to your car on the day of the accident, they could potentially see the repair bills and decide it’s too expensive. At this point, time has passed and your insurance company will have more difficulty piecing together the evidence if you file a claim.

 
While the services we provide to our clients are extensive, the types of claims we handle are highly focused on those resulting from Louisiana auto accidents or other personal injuries. Through the years, we have established a high level of credibility handling personal injury claims throughout the Ark-La-Tex.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call car accident lawyers Gordon and Gordon at 318-716-HELP right away to get them working for you.

 

Don’t Text and Drive!

Text messaging, also known as SMS (short message service), is on the rise from 9.8 billion messages per month in December 2005 to 110.4 billion messages per month in December 2008. With the overwhelming amount of car accidents caused by distracted driving each year, it is with certainty that an extensive amount of distraction is caused by those who text behind the wheel. Distracted driving is an epidemic on America’s roadways. We see it every day; drivers veering in & out of their lane, running a red light, narrowly missing a pedestrian, or simply not stopping in enough time – because their mind is distracted by something else, such as a cell phone.

Every single time a person takes their eyes off of the road while driving, even if it’s for a couple of seconds, it puts themselves and others in danger. Transporting others in your vehicle is a tremendous responsibility, one that many young drivers take lightly. Imagine living with the thought that your decision to pick up a cell phone while operating a vehicle caused someone to suffer a life-altering injury or death. The fight to end distracted driving starts with you!

From texting, to calling, to using mobile navigation systems, people can always find a way to use their mobile phones while being behind the wheel. Texting while driving is an epidemic and it must be cured before it is too late to do anything about it. Currently, there are many states in the U.S. that have laws against the use of cellphones and texting in the vehicle:

Cell Phoe Use & Texting While Driving Laws

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Texting While Driving Statistics:
Texting and driving makes you twenty-three percent more likely to be involved in an accident. According to this study conducted by Car and Driver magazine, as well as several others by various safety institutions, using a cell phone to read or send text messages delays a driver’s reaction time as much or more than the legal limit of alcohol consumption.

Texting While Driving:

  • Makes you 23x more likely to crash – National Hwy Transportation Safety Admin.
  • Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time – VA. Tech Transportation Institute
  • Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – HumanFactors & Ergonomics Society

Texting While Driving Causes:

  • 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
  • 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
  • Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents

Make the commitment to drive phone-free today. Distracted driving injures and kills thousands of people each year. If you simply cannot resist the urge to check your text messages (or take a call) while driving, take some time to pull off of the roadway and park your vehicle before picking up your cell phone. Also remember, red lights and stop signs are not safe places to check your cell phone; find a parking lot or pull over at a safe location.

If you have any questions, or if you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident as a result of someone else’s distracted driving, call personal injury attorneys Gordon and Gordon at 318-716-HELP.

Uninsured Motorist Protection

Louisiana motorists are generally required to maintain liability insurance on their vehicles. The main purpose of liability insurance is to pay damages on behalf of the insured party in the event that someone is injured by the negligent operation of a vehicle. Under state law, each vehicle must carry liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person injured or killed, and at least $30,000 per accident if two or more people are injured or killed.

Unfortunately, far too many people ignore these laws and drive without the necessary insurance to keep themselves and other motorists protected while driving. To address this problem, Louisiana law requires that every auto insurance policy issued in the state include uninsured motorist coverage, unless the customer specifically rejects the coverage in writing.

What is Uninsured Motorist Protection?

The uninsured coverage must be in amounts at least equal to the policy’s liability coverage, unless the customer opts in writing for lower coverage or chooses coverage for economic loss only, without coverage for pain and suffering.

The law defines an uninsured motorist to include a hit-and-run driver who cannot be identified. Under this circumstance, there must be physical contact between the vehicles unless the injured person can prove, through an independent witness, that the unidentified driver caused the accident. An uninsured motorist is also defined to include someone who is underinsured; that is, they have insurance, but not enough to cover all of the victim’s injuries.

In a serious injury claim arising out of an auto accident, uninsured coverage can play a key role in providing adequate compensation for the victim. It is a good idea for every driver in the state of Louisiana to make sure that they have uninsured coverage in their insurance policy, and if not, to get coverage as soon as possible.

Who Needs Uninsured Motorist Protection?

Louisiana has a mandatory uninsured motorist statute. By means of this, a person in Louisiana buying automobile insurance is also presumed to have bought uninsured or underinsured coverage. Louisiana law specifically requires that the individual purchasing the insurance policy reject such coverage if the mandatory uninsured motorist coverage is not going to be included. In fact, Louisiana has a form that the individual purchasing the policy will have to sign in order for the underinsured coverage to be officially rejected.

This can be important to note because there are occasional cases where we are able to show a judge or jury that the individual purchasing the policy never rejected such coverage before being involved in an auto accident. Courts will hold that they are entitled to underinsured coverage unless they have specifically signed off on the rejection form.

Why Is Uninsured Motorist Protection So Important?

It is estimated that the rate of uninsured motorists on Louisiana roads is approximately 13%. This number is slightly under the national average of 13.8% but still presents a major threat to uninsured and insured drivers alike. If a driver’s expenses are not covered by a form of insurance, they must be provided for by the driver typically out-of-pocket. Lower monthly premiums through rejection or underinsurance also comes with a severe, more costly risk.

When a person is injured by a negligent driver and the driver turns out to be uninsured, the injured person can make a claim against the uninsured coverage of their own policy. The uninsured coverage essentially takes place of the liability coverage that the negligent driver failed to carry.

The experienced auto accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon understand the troublesome and confusing world of insurance navigation. If you or a loved one are suffering as a result of an auto accident, whether insured or uninsured, please contact us today at 318-716-HELP (4357) for a free and confidential consultation to protect your rights and limit potential liabilities.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

According to Louisiana State University crash data, for the 5-year period between 2012 and 2016, 433 accidents involved motorcycles- with between 8 and 10% of all fatal auto accidents in Louisiana being strictly from motorcycle accidents. These crashes typically involved persons aged 20 to 29. The highest year for motorcycle accident fatalities in Louisiana was in 2006 with 95 reported deaths, although the number is projected to rise to 97 this year. Louisiana motorcycle accident statistics are impacted in a large part by the number of registered motorcycles. In the 5-year period between 2004 and 2008, the number of reported motorcycles rose steadily from 55,800 to nearly 70,000. This has also caused a steady increase in the number of fatalities simply because of the increase in number of motorcycles on the road.

In the aftermath of a traumatic experience, such as a motorcycle accident involving personal injury or wrongful death, the last thing you need is a lawyer that treats your case like you are just a number. Rest assured that when we take on a case, we give it the individual attention that it deserves, ensuring our clients’ success and well-being after such a tragedy. Contact our motorcycle accident lawyers when you have been involved in any of the following accidents:

  • Head-on or Rear End Collision
  • Drunk or Distracted Driving Accidents
  • Intersection Crashes
  • Multi-Vehicle Accidents

After a motorcycle accident, you may be faced with serious injuries, extensive medical bills, as well as many other hardships. When your financial recovery or health is at stake you should never have to face the uncertainty of the legal landscape alone. At Gordon & Gordon Law Firm, we tackle the complicated claims process for you. We know how to win big in important negotiations and trials alike. We have won millions for our clients in settlements that cover necessary expenses related to the injury, as well as lost wages and damages for personal injury or death.

Don’t trust your future in the hands of just anyone; instead, rely on our motorcycle accident attorneys with over 30 years of experience to find the right solution for you. With our combination of knowledge and compassion for the clients we serve, we are the area’s trusted source for quality legal representation. Call as soon as you are injured in an accident to make sure that all of the necessary evidence and documentation has been handled appropriately, ensuring that nothing will get overlooked.

Let us help you get financial recovery and the measure of justice you deserve. Please call us today to request an appointment with experienced motorcycle accident lawyers Gordon & Gordon. We are proud to serve Shreveport, Bossier & Mansfield, LA, as well as all of the surrounding areas in the Ark-La-Tex!

What is No Pay, No Play?

This is what La. R.S 32:866. has come to be called. What is no pay, no play? Simply put, if you do not have insurance on your vehicle at the time of an accident, even if you aren’t at fault, you cannot make a claim for your property damage or your bodily injury. Specifically, you can not collect the first $15,000 of bodily injury or $25,000 worth of property damage. This applies to not only the driver but also the owner.

For Example: if you’re riding in your own uninsured car with someone else, then you would BOTH be unable to make a claim.

Thankfully, there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • If the driver is found guilty of or if there plead no contest to DUI
  • If the at-fault driver hits and runs
  • If your car is parked

If you have any questions about no pay, no play, please give Gordon & Gordon a call today!

(318) 716-HELP (4357)

If I use my own insurance, will my rates go up?

The question we are often asked, & the confusion we hear about more than any other, is using your own insurance coverage to handle your personal injury claim. Most people believe that their insurance rates will increase. While there is certainly some truth to this, if you are at fault for an accident, yes, your rates can go up, but they will not go up if you are not to blame for an accident.  The State of Louisiana has addressed this issue in La. R.S. 22:1466(A), which says that:

“No insurer shall increase the rate, increase or add a surcharge, cancel, or fail to renew any policy of motor vehicle insurance when such action is based on consideration of one or more non-fault incidents.”

There are a few things to pull out of that statute:

  1. The insurance company can not add any type of charge to your account for you making a claim on your insurance.
  2. They can not take the claim into account, for insurability purposes or for rate purposes, when it comes time for you to renew your policy.
  3. It doesn’t matter at all how many times you make a claim on your policy, as long as you are not assessed any fault for the accident.

At Gordon & Gordon, we have had several clients who seem to have a target on their back. One client was rear ended three times in a year and we were able to make Uninsured Motorist claims without any impact whatsoever on his policy or rates.

If you have any questions, please give us a call at (318) 716-HELP.

Welcome to our new website!

We are excited to launch our newly renovated website.
At Gordon & Gordon, we have over 30 years of combined legal experience in the following areas:

 

Serving clients throughout Shreveport, Bossier, Mansfield & the entire Ark-La-Tex, we are committed to achieving the best outcome for those who have been personally injured due to the fault of others and will go the distance to help our clients.

Give us a call at (318) 716-4357 and let Gordon & Gordon fight for the settlement you deserve!