Do You Have A Wrongful Death Lawsuit_Gordon&Gordon

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Frequently Asked Questions

Nothing can make up for the wrongful death of a loved one. It is something nobody ever wishes to experience. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may want to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While this doesn’t bring the victim back, it can help compensate you for the devastating loss. 

Wrongful death refers to the death of someone as a result of negligence or misconduct. This means that someone caused the person’s death by failing to act in a reasonable or careful manner. 

Gordon & Gordon Law Firm understands the burden that losing a loved one can put on a family. We want to ensure that you recover financially so you have more room to recover emotionally. In this post, we’ll cover the who’s, what’s, and how’s surrounding this lawsuit. Here are your most frequently asked questions about a wrongful death lawsuit. 

What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is different from any criminal charges that may have resulted from the fatality. It is a separate civil action brought against the person or people responsible for the death. A criminal charge seeks punishment like prison or probation for the guilty party. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to recover compensation from losses or damages. We’ll cover those types of losses later on.

Most wrongful death lawsuits follow behind a criminal trial. They often use the same evidence, but need a lower standard of proof. This means that while someone might not be found guilty of a crime, they can still be liable for a wrongful death. 

There are many circumstances that might bring about a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of which might include any of these situations that result in the death of an individual:

  • Criminal Behavior
  • Auto, Train or Airplane Accident
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Workplace Accidents
    • Occupational exposure to harmful substances or conditions
  • Negligence During a Supervised Activity
    • Drowning, poisoning, etc.
  • Product Liability

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

To file the lawsuit, many states require the decedent’s personal representative to make the claim. This is most likely the bank or person who was responsible for managing their estate. If they did not already have a personal representative, the court will appoint one. This person will become the personal representative of the estate of the victim. It’s generally one of the wrongful death beneficiaries that’s appointed by the court.

In other states, like Louisiana, the estate can only file a claim if there are no surviving relatives to do so. This means that family members of the deceased get first priority. The following is the order in which family members are able to file in Louisiana:

  1. The surviving children or spouse of the deceased.
  2. If no children or spouse are living, the surviving parent(s).

  • A parent that abandoned the decedent in childhood is treated as deceased.

  1. If no parents are living, the surviving sibling(s) of the deceased.
  2. Finally, if no siblings are living, the surviving grandparent(s) of the deceased.

Adopted family members have equal rights to biological family members in any of the above categories.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Wrongful death settlements are often paid out by insurance providers. If the settlement exceeds the liability coverage limit, the defendant might need to pay the remaining amount. In the case that the guilty party doesn’t have insurance at all, they’re still held responsible for the settlement. 

A wrongful death suit covers both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses refer to measurable sums. This includes the following:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Damaged property bills
  • Lost benefits and wages
  • Value of household services lost

Some states allow the recovery of the decedent’s total lifetime earning capacity. 

Noneconomic losses refer to losses that are not available in the form of a bill or receipt. They are still losses, but cannot measure in the same way. These include:

  • Pain and suffering the victim may have suffered before their wrongful death
  • Pain and suffering of the family members
    • Loss of:
      • Care
      • Companionship
      • Emotional support
      • Guidance
      • Goods and services provided by the decedent

The money you collect from a wrongful death lawsuit is generally not taxable. Yet there are some cases where it might be. It depends on the circumstances behind the awarded money. 

For example, compensatory payments may not be taxable, but punitive damages are. Compensatory payments refer to the economic and noneconomic losses. Punitive damages mean to punish the guilty party for their behavior. A wrongful death attorney will help you determine what damages you’re able to recover and what of those is taxable. 

Who Gets The Money In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

It’s obvious that the victim cannot recover damages from a wrongful death lawsuit. So who can?

The money is generally distributed between the deceased’s estate and their surviving family members. This can include the victim’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, and sometimes grandparents.

In Louisiana, the money goes to whoever is successful in filing the lawsuit. If a year passed before a spouse filed and the deceased’s children file, the money would go to them.

In states like Texas, the jury decides how the money gets distributed. There are also some states where anyone who would’ve inherited from the deceased person is eligible to file a lawsuit and receive damages. 

How Long Does It Take To Settle Wrongful Death Claims?

Before we get into how long it takes to settle the claims, we should inform you of how long you have to file one. Every state has its own statute of limitations. In Louisiana, the statute gives surviving family members one year to file a wrongful death claim. This means that family members have one year from the date of the death to file in court.

In some states, only the spouse is able to file a lawsuit within the first year following their partner’s death. If a suit is not filed within a year, the right becomes available to any surviving children. 

After filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it can take anywhere between 1-4 years to settle.There are some cases when it might take as little as a few months. If the case gets filed outside of court, it’s likely to take much less time. If it’s taken to court, you can expect a longer time frame. It comes down to how your lawyer and court system works with you.

Contact Gordon & Gordon Today

If you lost a loved one due to negligence or misconduct, you may have a wrongful death lawsuit on your hands. Contact Gordon & Gordon today to file your claim. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys will make sure you get the compensation we know you deserve. Let us help you through this difficult process. Visit our website or give us a call at (318) 716-HELP.

personal injury claims process

10 Steps for the Personal Injury Claims Process

Anyone who’s been in a car accident knows: the stress and trauma take a toll. The steps you take in the following minutes and hours might make or break your health and wallet. You must ensure you do everything the law requires you to do. We’ve put together a 10 step process of a personal injury claims process. Use this to prepare yourself if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being involved in an auto accident.

What are the 10 Steps for the Personal Injury Claims Process?

  1. Check for Injuries After an Accident
  2. Document Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case
  3. File a Claim with your Insurance Company
  4. Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney for your Case
  5. Determine the Severity of Your Personal Injury
  6. Demand a Settlement
  7. Case Settles or a Lawsuit Is Filed
  8. Discovery
  9. Mediation
  10. Trial 

1. Check for Injuries After an Auto Accident

Make sure that you stop your car in a safe place. Do not leave the scene of the accident. This is a crime. Check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 to get medical help for anyone with injuries.  According to Louisiana law, drivers involved in an auto accident must report the accident to the police if any injury or death occurs, or if there is over $500 in property damage. Many insurance companies also require you to call the police after an auto accident. Check with your policy to find out the terms and conditions.

After the shock of an accident, you may not realize you have suffered a serious head, neck, back, or organ injury. Just because you can’t see an injury or think you only received minor cuts and scrapes, it is still best to have a medical professional evaluate you. Listen to the advice of a medical professional. 

Lots of people choose not to call the police after an accident because at first, it seemed like there were only minor damages or injuries. But often, property damage and injuries arise later. Failure to document an accident with a police report may make it harder to get compensation for your damages later on. 

2. Document Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case

If you can, we recommend that you take photos of the:

  • vehicles
  • license plates
  • surroundings
  • nearby traffic controls
  • any visible injuries

Write down the:

  • driver’s name
  • address
  • phone number
  • license plate number 
  • the vehicle owner’s name

If there were any witnesses, you should also collect their names and contact information. Try to limit conversation with other parties. Do not admit fault or assign blame. In order to aid your memory, write down as many details as possible as soon as you can. It is easy to forget important details in the aftermath, but the more information you have, the easier your case will be. 

3. File a Claim with your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies require you to report the accident very soon after the crash.

Your insurance company might ask you to provide a statement. We do not recommend this. Keep in mind that YOU pay your insurance company. They technically work for you, and you don’t owe them anything.

Your attorney should help you with the personal injury claim process, not your insurance company.

It is best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an auto accident. Then your attorney can advise you how to approach your insurance company. The attorneys at Gordon & Gordon provide free initial consultations. It will cost you nothing to double check with an attorney. This could end up saving you thousands later on.

Even though your insurance company is supposed to be on your side, they might try to diminish your accident and injuries to avoid paying for your damages.Insurance companies always do everything in their power to maximize their profits. They do this by limiting their payments to you as much as possible. 

In most cases, your insurance company is best equipped to help you get your vehicle fixed or pay for a total loss. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, your insurance company can help you get back on the road, as long as you have collision coverage under your policy. After that, your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the insurance company of the driver at fault.

4. Free Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney 

In many cases, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will contact you. They might ask you to provide a written or recorded statement. It is not in your best interest to do so. They might also offer you a small amount of money and ask you to sign a release. Again, it is not in your best interest to do so. 

In our many years as Louisiana personal injury auto accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon, we often advise clients to contact insurance companies as little as possible and never to accept fast cash. Your injuries might last longer than you thought they would. When you sign a release, you will not be able to reopen your claim. Never accept settlements or sign any documents without legal counsel. 

The Louisiana attorneys at Gordon & Gordon have a long history of representing anyone that has suffered a personal injury. Hiring us for your case will help ensure your insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you during the the personal injury claim process. Our attorneys can help you manage the numerous calls you receive from insurance adjusters. We can fight against low settlement offers from insurance companies. 

Scheduling a consultation with one of our attorneys after your personal injury from an auto accident will be free. We only receive compensation for our legal services if we help you recover damages. 

5. Determine the Severity of Your Personal Injury

Once you’ve reached this stage in the process of the personal injury claim process, your legal team will lead you going forward. Our personal injury attorneys at Gordon & Gordon conduct further investigation into the accident. We follow up with you regularly regarding your medical treatment. We also order your medical bills and records as you continue treatment.

Sometimes your pain or injury might not go away. If this happens, we contact your doctor and get a report to submit along with any treatment records. This step can often take a long time because it depends on how you are feeling. Before you consider accepting any offer from an insurance company, you need to have a clear idea of how you’re feeling. 

6. Demand a Settlement

After your injuries have stabilized, we usually demand the insurance to offer a settlement. A settlement is a sum of money an insurance company offers to resolve a dispute with you, the accident victim. 

The insurance company will make the first offer. In almost all cases, the first settlement offer is extremely low. It is often an almost laughable amount. They want to see if you’re willing to accept fast cash now rather than wait for a bigger payout later on.

Insurance companies know that many victims don’t understand how quickly medical bills can pile up. They try to make an offer quickly before accident victims have the chance to consult a lawyer. Don’t let the insurance company do this to you. 

7. Case Settles or a Lawsuit Is Filed

After receiving settlement offers from insurance adjusters, you get the chance to decide whether you want to settle your case or file a lawsuit. Many clients are afraid of going to trial and say that they would prefer to settle. Insurance companies know this too well and offer low settlement amounts.

At this stage of the personal injury claim process, your attorney at Gordon & Gordon will provide guidance. We can tell you whether the offer from the insurance company is fair and whether it makes sense to continue with a lawsuit. 

During this part of the personal injury claim process, your attorney will provide guidance on whether the offer from the insurance company is fair and whether it makes sense to continue with a lawsuit.

There are pros and cons for settling and going to court. The experienced Louisiana personal injury auto accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon will advise you on which option is best for you. 

8. Discovery

In the event you decide not to accept the settlement offer and file a lawsuit, the case begins a discovery period. Discovery means that your personal injury attorney at Gordon & Gordon get to find out more information about the other side. The other side will also learn more about you. Both sides are permitted to request documents, pictures and depositions. 

Attorneys have the chance to ask questions of involved parties during a personal injury deposition. These people could include police officers, witnesses, treating doctors, or anyone else who might provide evidence in the case of the trial. 

Once this process is complete, the court usually orders mediation prior to the start of a trial.

9. Mediation

Mediation is the final, informal alternative to going to trial during a personal injury claims process. In a mediation, a neutral third party facilitates a discussion between both sides. The goal is to promote a resolution of the disputes before a trial. The mediator gets to lead the discussion but does not get to make decisions about the case. During a trial, the judge has the ultimate power and influence over the outcome of the case. 

10. Trial 

In the event a mediation is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial. If you’re in a busy Parish, a trial might take a year to start after filing. As long as you filed your personal injury lawsuit claim within a year of the accident, you’re in the clear.

The injured person needs to prove that the other driver was negligent during a trial. He or she must also show how much money the jury should award in damages. The court asks the jury to decide if you were negligent and if your negligence caused your own injuries. Once everyone testifies, the jury decides on a final verdict. 

Fault and liability are determined by the “pure comparative negligence” standard in Louisiana. This means that each driver involved in an auto accident is responsible for their own share of the liability or fault in the accident. 

If you were injured or sustained property damage from an accident and you were partly at fault, you can still recover some damages. The exact amount of compensation you recover depends on how much you contributed to the accident. 

Let the Personal Injury Attorneys at Gordon & Gordon Handle the Personal Claims Process For You

If you were the victim of a personal injury due to another person’s negligence in a car accident, you have nothing to fear with the help of Gordon & Gordon Law Firm. Our clients can tell you about the great results we produce for our clients. If you have a personal injury case and want to speak to a personal injury attorney, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We know how to help you navigate the personal injury claims process.

how much can someone sue for a car accident

Can Someone Sue You For A Car Accident?

Each year, an estimated 37,000 people die in car accidents.  An additional 2.35 million sustain injuries.  While some accidents are truly unavoidable, a large number occur through another driver’s negligence, leading to personal injury claims.  In many instances, the question “Can someone sue you for a car accident?” arises.  The following information serves to help explain the processes associated with car accident lawsuits.

Being Sued for a Car Accident?: Personal Injury Victims

Regarding car accidents, people usually end up suing for negligence.  Negligence is often the basis of a personal injury claim. This means that a failure to exercise a reasonable level of care considering the specific circumstances occurred. This is typically what people need to determine when asking “can someone sue me for a car accident?”

For example, negligence means Driver 1 fails to use reasonable care, causing Driver 2 harm. Driver 2 can then file a lawsuit alleging Driver 1’s negligence. Examples of legal grounds for negligence include failure to comply with driving laws, texting while driving, and failure to keep a safe distance.

Insurance companies use many methods when determining the value of personal injury claims.  Basis for the amount of damages someone sues for is what the other party lost.  This includes monetary losses and emotional damages. Compensation for the medical bills provided, as well as lost wages, and possibly some amount of compensation for pain and suffering factor into the size of the claim.

 Pain and suffering refers to physical and/or emotional stress associated with an accident.  It also includes the injuries caused by the car accident. “Pain and suffering” is a subjective term, leaving a great deal up to interpretation.  When the accident is minor, pain and suffering is especially difficult to prove.

What are the Car Insurance Requirements for Louisiana?

The State of Louisiana requires all vehicle owners to maintain minimum liability insurance.  Those coverage minimums include:

  • Bodily Injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle – $15,000
  • Total Bodily Injury or death liability in an accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle – $30,000
  • Property damage per accident caused by the driver of the insured vehicle – $25,000

Medical treatment, damage to property, and other costs to individuals involved in accidents are paid for by these coverages.  The amount typically allocated to individuals falls within coverage limits.  In the event additional costs, additional coverage covers the balance.

If coverage limits do not pay the entirety of associated bills, at-fault individuals hold responsibility for remaining balances.  Any extra coverage helps offset these unwanted expenses. 

Liability coverage also covers family members or friends behind the wheel, as well as damage following rental car accidents.

The coverages listed above do not apply to the driver’s own damages or injuries.  Additional coverage, such as collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage, serve the purposes of filling these gaps.  Collision coverage pays for repairs/replacements to damaged vehicles.  

Uninsured motorist coverage provides coverage in the event that you have an accident with an individual without insurance.  This insurance coverage also covers hit-and-run accidents.  

Keep in mind insurance coverage requirements when deciding how much to carry. 

Louisiana Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Driving without insurance in Louisiana comes with the imposing of fines.  Fines for driving without insurance can reach up to $1000.   Other penalties include the suspension of driving privileges and license plate cancellation..  It is not uncommon in some cases for vehicle impounding or registration revocation to occur.

A “No Pay, No Play” law  prohibits uninsured Louisiana drivers from collecting damages following an accident.  The first $25,000 in property damages and the first $15,000 in personal injury damages fall into these amounts.

Can I Be Sued For A Car Accident If There Is No Injury?

You can be sued for a car accident even if there is no injury.  Claims filed can attempt to recover damages as result of property damage and emotional distress.

What Determines Fault For A Car Accident in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, each driver in an accident is responsible for the relative liability or percentage of fault.  This is known as a “pure comparative negligence” standard. 

Someone injured or dealing with property damage can still recover damages even if they were still partially at fault for the cause of the accident.  Your level of compensation is reduced by the amount or percentage of fault you are assigned.

For example, if you suffered $10,000 in damages from an accident and the court determines that you were 40% at fault for the accident and the defendant was 60% liable, the defendant will be responsible for paying you $6,000 in damages.

Defendants can use pure comparative negligence standards for calculating damages as a defense argument. In cases dealing with accidents involving multiple defendants and vehicles, pure comparative negligence is especially relevant.

Can Someone Sue Me For A Car Accident If There Isn’t a Police Report?

The short answer is yes.  Someone can sue you without a completed and filed police report.  Ideally, police file a written account of the accident. The possibility of a situation where the police do not come to the scene always remains.  A lack of a police report isn’t a get out of jail free card, so to speak.  You may file a claim with or without an official police report.  

Keep in mind, police reports serve as official documentation of the incident.  Without one, the burden of proof weighs more heavily on the other information presented in the claim.

How Much Can Someone Sue For A Car Accident?

Louisiana does not place a limit on the amount of damages plaintiffs can recover from at-fault defendants following motor-vehicle accidents. Claims brought in small claims court are an exception to this.  Small claims court claims must fall below the $3,000 threshold.

Insurance providers for the at-fault parties will typically pay claims up to the limitations of the policies.  

Injured parties can file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties for recovery of any remaining damages. The amount of the plaintiff’s recovery will be reduced by the plaintiff’s fault percentage of causing or contributing to the accident. 

Generally, policy limits tend to dictate the amount that claims settle for.  Additional amounts rarely get assigned outside of the policy coverage.  Instances of additional damages usually only occur in cases with easily-liquidated assets in the defendant’s possession.

Despite this fact, it is probably in an individual’s best interest to ensure that they have some form of counsel when facing a personal injury claim.

What To Do if Someone Sues You For a Car Accident?

The benefits of consulting with a personal injury lawyer after your involvement in a car accident far outweigh the limited savings associated with self-representation.  A trained, experienced attorney can work with insurance companies and protect your interests as a client.  The seasoned team at Gordon & Gordon have the skills to handle these issues.  They also have a track record of delivering results for their clients when faced with legal uncertainty.

Involved In A Car Accident? Contact Gordon & Gordon, Personal Injury Attorneys

If you find yourself being sued as a result of a car accident, contact Gordon & Gordon today.  Our trained professionals will provide a free case consultation and help you determine the best course of action.  Protect your rights.  Call Gordon & Gordon at (318) 716-HELP or visit us at our website.

non-injury car accident

What To Do After A Non-injury Car Accident

Each year, an average of 6 million car accidents occur within the United States. Roughly 3 million of those accidents involve injuries.  Out of those 6 million accidents, 72% result in some form of property damage.  That’s almost 12,000 car accidents each day involving property damage.  With numbers that high, it can be surprising to find out that the process for handling a non-injury car accident is unclear.

What to do after a non-injury car accident

With this guide, you’ll have the ability to make sound decisions and take constructive courses of action should you ever find yourself in a non-injury car accident.

What is a non-injury car accident?

A non-injury car accident is an accident in which there are no physical injuries to either party involved.  There can still be property damage during an accident and still be considered “non-injury.”

What is the first thing I should do after a non-injury car accident?

After a car accident, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re putting yourself in an advantageous position.  The first thing you should do whenever involved in a car accident is check yourself and passengers for their condition.  Once you’ve assessed that, your next immediate goal should be to get to a safe area.  If the vehicle isn’t damaged and can operate safely, it should be moved to the side of the road.  

Should I call the police if my accident was minor?

Even with no damage or injury involved, attorneys recommend that you report an accident to the police.  This serves as an official report. It also bolsters the record of events in the likelihood the incident makes its way to courtroom proceedings.  

Under Louisiana law, if the accident results in any injury or damage to property in excess of $500, local law enforcement must be identified by the “quickest means of communication.”  Louisiana State Police must also be notified if the accident occurred on a state highway.

If the accident results in injury or damage to property in excess of $100, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections requires you to file a written report within 24 hours.

Where can I get a copy of the accident report?

You can search the Louisiana State Police website for a copy of the accident report.  In order to search for the crash report you must have the name of the driver involved in the crash (first and last name), parish that the crash occurred in, and crash date.

Are negligence and liability the same thing in car accidents?

Negligence is a legal theory used to define behavior considered careless or thoughtless in nature.  Injury or harm to another person may have occurred as a result of the negligent behavior.  An individual can be considered negligent because they failed to do something, such as yielding for a pedestrian, or because they did something that they should not, i.e. speeding or rolling past a stop sign.  Drivers are under the responsibility to exercise care and caution to prevent injury to others that they may encounter while driving.

Liability is the determination of what the responsible party “at fault” must owe in order to compensate the other party for their negligence.

Common causes of car accidents

Countless factors cause car accidents.  Some of the most common causes include:

Distracted driving

According to the American Automobile Association, upwards of 50% of motor vehicle crashes can be related to distracted driving.  Texting and cell phone usage is the primary concern in these instances.  In a recent study of 100 million cell phone users, up to 85% admitted to using their cell phone while driving.  Studies have also shown that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of an accident by 400%.

Driving under the influence

Roughly one-third of all fatal car accidents in the United States happen as a result of someone driving while under the influence.  Even if someone isn’t considered over the legal limit, crashes are still frequent.  1,878 people were killed in 2018 in alcohol-related crashes where the drivers had lower alcohol levels (BACs .01-.07).

Speeding

Speeding, regardless of the reason, is a huge contributor to the total number of car accidents in the country.  This is not limited to driving faster than the posted speed limit, but also includes driving too fast for the weather or road conditions.

Bad Weather Conditions

Inclement Weather has a major effect on traffic patterns and the ability for many people to effectively operate their vehicle.  

Fatigue

Whenever a driver is tired, their ability to remain alert and practice safe driving techniques is hindered.  

Aggressive driving

Aggressive driving plays a contributing factor in over half of all car accidents throughout the country.  The following items fall into the category considered “aggressive driving”:

  • Following improperly
  • Improper or erratic lane changing
  • Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch, or on sidewalk or median
  • Passing where prohibited
  • Failing to yield right of way
  • Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers, failure to observe safety zone traffic laws
  • Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them
  • Failing to signal
  • Racing
  • Making an improper turn

Can I sue after a non-injury car accident?

Even if do not find yourself injured, you can still pursue compensation for damages and expenses related to a car accident.

What non-injury damages can I recover?

You can recover damages for car repairs or other expenses related to the car accident.

How much is a car accident settlement?

The typical settlement depends on the facts of the case and the degree to which the insurance companies and other negligent parties are willing to reach a settlement.  The proper representation determines the size and scope of any settlement you reach.

Is it worth getting a lawyer for a car accident?

In order to fully protect yourself and ensure you receive the amount of compensation, hiring a lawyer to assist you in your car accident case remains almost always worth it in the long run.  Attempting to navigate the legal process alone can add stress and confusion to what is by its very nature a disruptive and taxing experience.  A proven attorney can help ease that burden.

When should I call an attorney after an accident?

Once the necessary reporting to the insurance companies and authorities has taken place, contacting an attorney as soon as possible is a good idea.  Having a professional involved that is experienced in handling accident claims can prevent any unforeseen complications.

Benefits of hiring an non-injury car accident attorney

Hiring a trusted attorney can help you with your accident case in many ways.  Whether it is dealing with the insurance companies, proving the other parties’ liability, building a strong, evidence-based case, or appropriately valuing your claim, a lawyer can take a lot of the guesswork out of the experience for you and help you protect your rights.

Call Gordon and Gordon today

While a non-injury accident may seem like a minor disruption, there are possibile potholes that a qualified, experienced attorney can help you avoid.  Contact the offices of Gordon and Gordon today for a consultation and see how they can help you on the road to recovery. Call 318-617-HELP for a free consultation.

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria for a Hostile Work Environment

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria for a Hostile Work Environment?

Do you know what behaviors are considered criteria for a hostile work environment?

Hostile work environment claims fall under workplace discrimination laws. These laws can be vague and subjective. They can be difficult to understand and interpret. Employees may not understand exactly what behaviors are considered criteria for a hostile work environment. Some employees may think they are overreacting, and are not really the victims of a hostile work environment.

In this post, our experienced workplace attorneys at Gordon & Gordon will try to de-mystify what behaviors are considered criteria for a hostile work environment. We will also discuss possible remedies and ramifications for employers who create hostile work environments. 

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

The state of Louisiana protects employees from discrimination based on sex, race, gender, national origin, religion, and disability. 

Unfortunately, some employers still engage in illegal discrimination when making business decisions. Some employers may also foster an environment where illegal harassment is common.

A work environment becomes hostile when discrimination or harassment becomes so intolerable it affects the terms and conditions of employment. Usually, this means that any reasonable employee would quit their job.

There are several criteria that make a work environment hostile:

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria For A Hostile Work Environment: Discrimination 

An employer being rude or inconsiderate to an employee does not constitute a hostile work environment. Just because behavior is hostile does not mean it is a hostile work environment in the eyes of the law. 

The employee must prove that hostile behavior is due to their race, sex, gender, national origin, religion, or disability.

For instance, an employer calling their employee incompetent is not a hostile work environment.

However, if an employer calls the employee a racial slur, that is discrimination and may constitute a hostile work environment.

A further demonstration of the discrimination rule: imagine a man whose company has demoted him. This man happens to be a member of a minority race. This man also believes the demotion was unfair.

Even if the demotion was unfair, it does not mean there is a hostile work environment. The man must prove that the demotion occurred specifically because of his racial identity.

Discrimination definitely includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is the most common basis for a hostile work environment. Vulgar or inappropriate comments qualify as gender-based discrimination.

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria For A Hostile Work Environment: The Reasonable Person Rule

We mentioned the hypothetical reasonable person above. To qualify as a hostile work environment, this hypothetical reasonable person would find the behavior at the workplace abusive or hostile.

This means that if the average person would not be offended by the behavior, it will probably not qualify as a hostile work environment. 

For example, most people are not offended by men talking about sports. But say that a woman in an office feels her male coworkers are discriminating against her by talking about sports. If their sports talk is her only evidence of gender-based discrimination, that will likely not hold up in court. This is because the average person would not be offended by the talk of sports.

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria For A Hostile Work Environment: The Behavior is Pervasive

The behavior in question must be continuous and long-lasting. It must become a condition of employment. This means that in order to go about your normal day at work, you must put up with this hostile behavior.

For the most part, single instances of offensive behavior don’t qualify as a hostile work environment. If your coworker makes one racially-charged or offensive joke towards you, that is not a hostile work environment. However, if the coworker makes these racially-charged remarks every time they see you for months on end, that may constitute a hostile work environment. 

However, even if certain behaviors do not make a work environment hostile, they may still be illegal. Sexual harassment, for instance, is illegal whether or not there is a hostile work environment.

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria For A Hostile Work Environment: No Investigation

The person who is discriminating against or harassing you does not have to be your boss. We will talk more about that farther down. 

When you are experiencing a hostile work environment, your first complaint should be to your supervisor, if they are not the one committing the offense. To have a viable hostile work environment claim, you must give your employer a chance to remedy the situation. If you have reported the harassment or discrimination and your employer does not investigate or remedy it, you may have a viable claim. Your employer is now complicit in the offensive behavior.

For example, imagine your coworker is making racist statements at work. You cannot make a hostile work environment claim if you do not report this behavior to your supervisor. You must give your supervisor the chance to investigate and discipline your coworker before you involve the courts.

Even if you feel certain your supervisor will not discipline your coworker, it is important to take this step. Your claim will likely not be viable if you do not. 

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria For A Hostile Work Environment: The Behavior Must Have An Adverse Effect

This offensive behavior in your work environment must be distressing enough that it affects your work. 

It is not necessary to prove that the behavior had financial or professional consequences for you. You don’t have to receive a demotion or be fired to prove the behavior has affected your work. However, those are things that will definitely strengthen a claim.

Who Can Create A Hostile Work Environment?

Now we know what behaviors are considered criteria for a hostile work environment. Let’s talk about people who can create a hostile work environment. 

Like we said earlier, the offensive behavior does not have to come from your supervisor. The perpetrator could be:

  • A supervisor in another department,
  • An agent of the employer
  • A co-worker, or
  • A non-employee, such as a contractor, intern, or regular visitor.

Anyone in your work environment can contribute to a hostile work environment, as long as the behavior meets the criteria above. 

What Are Some Examples of Offensive Behavior?

We talked about what behaviors are considered criteria for a hostile work environment. Now we’ll elaborate on what we mean by “offensive behavior” or “hostile behavior”.

Any of the following behaviors can create a hostile work environment:

  • Sharing sexual photos, discussing sex acts or making sexual comments. The perpetrator may direct these comments towards the victim, or in the presence of the victim.
  • Sexual posters on the wall of a cubicle
  • Inappropriate touching 
  • Telling offensive jokes
  • Offering unwanted comments about someone’s appearance
  • Using ethnic slurs or insensitive language
  • Setting up a Facebook group to shame a colleague 
  • Sabotaging an employee’s work
  • Posting inappropriate photos of a colleague on the internet, even when not at work.

Contact Gordon & Gordon Law Firm

The attorneys at Gordon & Gordon have years of experience in workplace lawsuits. If you are wondering if you have a viable hostile work environment claim, call Gordon & Gordon at 318.716.HELP. You can also leave us a message on our website.

being sued for car accident what can they take

Being Sued for Car Accident What Can They Take?

If you’re being sued in a car accident, you probably want to know if the other party will settle.

The short answer is: probably.

The long answer is a little more complicated. About 95% of personal injury cases settle before trial. The same is true for car accident lawsuits.

But why is this? Well, there are several reasons.

Our personal injury and car accident attorneys here at Gordon & Gordon are going to go over them all with you in this post. We’ll also talk about the difference between a car accident settlement and a judgment in court.

Being Sued in a Car Accident: What’s the Difference Between a Settlement and A Judgment?

Well, the most obvious difference is that one happens in court, and one happens outside of court.

But to understand why settlements are preferable in the majority of cases, it’s important to understand how the decision-making process is different in each case. 

So, say you’re being sued in a car accident. That makes you the defendant. 

The first thing that will happen is that the plaintiff’s attorneys will file a claim with your insurance. They will give your insurance company all the information they have: eyewitness testimony, police records, and medical records. They will give your insurance company all the evidence they have that their client sustained an injury and that your negligence and recklessness caused it. 

From there, your insurance company and the plaintiff’s attorneys will begin negotiations. If your insurance company believes the evidence is compelling, they will probably want to settle early. This is because if your case goes to trial, a judge will probably award a massive verdict to the plaintiff. 

If the evidence is weak or uncertain, your insurance company might return with a lower number. This will continue until the number satisfies both parties. If the two cannot reach an agreement, the case will go to trial.

Here’s where things can get sticky for one party or another. In a trial, a judge will decide the amount and also who gets it. Your insurance company and the plaintiff’s attorneys will present their evidence. Once the judge makes a decision, you can’t negotiate it or belatedly accept an earlier offer. So when you’re being sued in a car accident, settling is usually better all around. 

First, Insurance Companies Want to Settle

When you are being sued in a car accident, you probably won’t have to pay up. It will be your insurance company. And it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to settle a case quickly. They want to do this for a few reasons, which we’ll talk about farther down. 

An insurance company’s entire goal is to close a claim quickly. For this reason, your insurance company will push hard for a settlement. 

If you are the plaintiff in a case, a settlement is probably in your best interest. But make sure you consult your attorney before you accept any settlement offer.  

Attorneys and Insurers Want to Avoid the Unpredictability of a Trial

This applies most to an insurance company, but the plaintiff’s attorney will probably want to avoid a trial as well. 

Anything can happen in a trial. To avoid an unexpected result and to reduce their own risks, both plaintiffs and defendants will look to settle a lawsuit. 

Even if neither party gets exactly what they want, there’s a degree of certainty with a settlement. The plaintiff can avoid getting nothing, and the defendant can avoid a massive verdict for the plaintiff. Both of these things can happen in trials, and there is no mitigating it or negotiating it. 

Plaintiffs Want Payment Quickly

The plaintiff in a car accident suit wants to get their payment as quickly as possible. After all, money now is worth more than money later.

Additionally, plaintiffs probably have expenses. These include medical bills and lost wages. The longer it takes a case to resolve, the deeper in debt the plaintiff may get. 

It is always better to settle because when an insurance company agrees to an amount, they will pay it out quickly. If you receive a judgment in court, there is no guarantee of collection. 

This is because if the amount the judge awards you exceeds the defendant’s liability policy, the defendant is responsible for the overage. There is no guarantee the defendant can pay this out-of-pocket. The best way to get paid quickly is to settle. 

When You’re Being Sued in a Car Accident, Everyone Wants to Save Money on Litigation

Litigation is expensive. When a case drags on for years and years, the costs start to pile up. There are depositions to attend, and expert witnesses to hire. 

The price tag can easily reach five figures before trial and will double just for the trial itself. Both sides will incur these costs and would probably like to avoid as many of them as possible. Settlement early accomplishes this.

Achieving Closure After Being Sued in A Car Accident

Plaintiffs want to move on from their injury. When you’re being sued in a car accident, you want to get on with your life. Insurance companies want to close claims. Settling a case achieves closure more quickly than going to trial.

Being Sued in a Car Accident? Contact Gordon & Gordon

If you or a loved one is being sued in a car accident, call Gordon & Gordon at 318.716.HELP. You can also leave us a message on our website. 

Medical Records to Collect & Keep

Medical Records to Collect & Keep

After you’ve been injured, or a loved one killed, because of the negligence and recklessness of another person, corporation, or property owner, your relevant medical records are critically important. When it becomes time to file an insurance claim or pursue a personal injury civil lawsuit, documentation of your medical diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and expenses is necessary in order to calculate and recover monetary damages for your injuries. The more detailed, specific, and comprehensive your medical records are, the greater your chance of winning a fair monetary settlement is.

Extensive Medical Records Are Imperative for Successful Claim Negotiation and Litigation

Your medical records are evidence and should include, if applicable, the following documents and reports: ▪ Ambulance EMT intervention report ▪ Emergency room records ▪ Medical diagnosis and treatment ▪ Prognosis, short- and long-term ▪ A recommended course of treatment ▪ Physician’s notes ▪ Record of treatment pain you experienced ▪ Explanation of your emotional trauma ▪ Physician -predicted necessary future medical treatment ▪ Predicted need for physical and occupational therapy ▪ Copies of all medical bills ▪ Physician -documented future medical bills ▪ Professionally estimated, written future medical bills ▪ Psychiatric or psychology reports ▪ Current and future bills for necessary medical apparatus ▪ In-home nursing care expenses In the event your loved one has been killed in an accident, the applicable above documentation is also necessary, including the deceased’s funeral expenses.

Keep a Journal for Personal Injury Claims

As you begin your recovery, if you are able, journal how you feel, including your pain and emotional state because of your injuries and trauma. Also, attend all doctor appointments and receive all recommended treatment and rehabilitation. Not following through with these suggestions, may negatively impact your case.

Medical Records Are Evidence for Personal Injury Cases

To win a fair monetary settlement for your injuries and pain and suffering, or to be compensated for a loved one’s wrongful death, every medical document available is necessary to settle an insurance claim or win a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The insurance company’s adjustors, medical experts, and attorneys will require your medical records before they will consider settling a claim. Should your damages require pursuit of a personal injury claim in a civil court, the prosecution is entitled to your medical records to assess damages and prepare their case. Of course, your attorney will also need these documents to prepare a vigorous defense on your behalf. When we meet with you in one of our Shreveport, Bossier City, or Mansfield offices, please bring as many of your records as possible. But if you don’t have all your records and documentation and don’t know how to acquire them, we can help.

FREE CONSULTATION, NO UP-FRONT COST for Personal Injury Cases

Meeting with a Gordon & Gordon attorney is free. And if we agree to work together, we’ll never charge you a penny until we win your case. To speak personally with one of Gordon & Gordon Law Firm’s experienced Shreveport, Bossier City, or Mansfield personal injury attorneys, call 318.716.HELP (318.716.4357) today.

Louisiana Laws: Statute of Limitations

Louisiana Laws: Statute of Limitations

What Are Louisiana’s Statute of Limitations Laws When Filing A Car Accident Claim?

After you were injured and your vehicle was damaged in a Louisiana car accident, caused by a negligent or reckless driver, you only have one year to file a claim under the state’s statute of limitations law. The Louisiana statute of limitations, Civil Code Article 3492, paraphrased, allows a maximum of one year from the day injury or damage happened to file a claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit. If the injuries, or their full extent, are discovered later, the one-year statute of limitations begins when the injuries are discovered.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations Exceptions

Though the Louisiana personal injury or property damage statute of limitations limit is inflexible if the average person misses its deadline, some exceptions can be made to the one-year claim reporting. For instance, the one-year limit may be exceeded if the damaged party is a minor, mentally ill or otherwise incompetent, is incarcerated within the year following the accident, or lives out of state. In the case of a minor whose parents did not file on their behalf, the minor can file a lawsuit within one year after their 18th birthday.

When the at-fault party is a public entity or government agency, a different type of claim must be filed, possibly within a shorter period than a typical complaint.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

In the event of a wrongful death caused by an at-fault driver, the one-year statute of limitations’ deadline doesn’t begin until the actual day of the victim’s death, which may occur after the accident.

What if You Filed A Claim On-time, But It Was Denied?

So, you filed your claim on time, but it was denied.  What now?  In Louisiana, you have 15 days to appeal the denial. But the appeal process is complicated and must be done correctly, or you may still miss your chance for monetary compensation.

Gordon & Gordon Louisiana Car Accident Attorneys Know the Complex Statute of Limitations Laws

Because understanding the limitations for filing claims under Louisiana’s complex and confusing statute of limitations laws is challenging for the average citizen, hiring an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to handle your claim in a timely manner and guide you through the process is important.

Acting quickly is imperative. If you delay and miss the statute of limitations deadline, you will lose the opportunity to ever collect any monetary settlement. And once the claim is filed, then begins the arduous and complex process of winning your fair, rightful financial compensation.

Gordon & Gordon Shreveport, Bossier City, and Mansfield Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Can Help Protect Your Rights Before It’s Too Late

To speak personally with a Gordon & Gordon experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorney in our Shreveport, Bossier City, or Mansfield office, contact us today. For the quickest response, call 24/7 at 318.716.HELP (318.716.4357) or tell us your story on our contact form.

How to Choose the Right Louisiana Accident Attorney

How to Choose the Right Louisiana Accident Attorney

After you’ve recovered from the initial shock of a serious car accident on Louisiana’s roads, quickly involving an experienced car accident attorney can make the difference between winning a fair monetary settlement or not.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’re entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, the cost of rehabilitation, and vehicle repairs or replacement, among other expenses.  

But with so many car accident attorneys in northwest Louisiana to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?

Considerations for Choosing a Louisiana Accident Attorney

Experience and Reputation- To ensure your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit has the highest chance of success, the law firm you hire must demonstrate an extensive history of winning substantial car accident settlements.  A good car accident attorney should be able to provide you with examples of cases they’ve won. An attorney with a solid reputation for high wins is taken more seriously by insurance companies.

Staff -Filing and successfully settling with an insurance company, or pursuing a personal injury claim, is a complex and time-consuming process. Only a law firm that is well-staffed with attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants can handle the massive workload necessary to win a successful settlement.

Financial Resources-In a serious car accident, it may be necessary to hire investigators & expert witnesses, and interview and depose any accident scene witnesses. Further medical evaluations may be required to establish the need for current, future and long-term treatment. These necessary but high-cost preparations can only be accommodated by a law firm with the financial wherewithal to support effective case preparation.

Communication and Focus-Any car accident attorney you hire should demonstrate excellent communication skills, listening attentively to your situation, and respectfully explain what can be a confusing and complicated process.  As your case progresses, you should feel comfortable asking questions and have reasonable access to the attorney throughout the process.

Free Consultation, No Up-Front Costs-Any good car accident attorney will only accept your case if they believe your chance of winning is high. If your case is taken on after a free evaluation, they should only be paid upon winning a settlement.  And they should also be up-front about exactly what fee they’ll take from your final settlement.

Gordon and Gordon: Louisiana Accident Attorneys

With more than 30 years of experience successfully winning claims for car accident victims, our reputation is solid. Gordon & Gordon Law Firm has the necessary support, staff, and financial resources to see your case through to a successful conclusion.  As our client, you can expect consistent, clear communication and respectful treatment. And we will never charge you a penny until we win your case.

To speak personally with one of Gordon & Gordon Law Firm’s qualified Shreveport, Bossier City, or Mansfield car accident attorneys, call 318.716.HELP (318.716.4357) today.

You Don't Need a Lawyer

Gordon & Gordon: “You Don’t Need A Lawyer”

“You Don’t Need A Lawyer” Trick

If you’ve been injured because of an individual or a corporation’s recklessness and negligence, you will likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster. The adjuster will start out by saying that they just want to hear your account of what happened, “in your own words.” You may naively think that if you’re just honest and answer the insurance adjuster’s questions, you will be treated fairly. Then, they inform you the call is going to be recorded. You say, “Okay, that’s fine.” After all, you’re just going to tell the truth.

Don’t Fall for the Insurance Company’s Tricks!

While the insurance company representative may act like they care about the injuries you’ve sustained in an accident caused by their insured, they don’t! The adjuster may act like he cares about you and your resultant financial losses, but this is far from the truth. They may say that you don’t need an attorney because they want to pay you for your injuries and losses if their insured person or company caused your injuries. “If” is the important word here, because their goal is to prove you were at fault, not their insured.

If you agree to speak on their recorded line, that’s when they can strategically set you up to say things which will be used to deny your claim or at least hold you comparatively responsible for the accident. What’s more? If necessary, they’ll get it all on tape to use against you. And once you do this, you may compromise your right to a fair monetary settlement.

The Insurance Adjuster’s Real Job 

The primary responsibility of an insurance adjuster is to collect information that facilitates a claim denial.  Or, at the least, to pay you as little as they can get away with. They are specifically trained to ask questions designed to either prove you were at fault or at least shared responsibility for the accident.  And, shockingly, they are deliberately trained to “be nice” and act like they genuinely care about your well-being. Though not nice or fair, they hope you’ll let down your guard and provide evidence that will help them, not you.  

You Don’t Need An Attorney Lie

Don’t believe them!  Insurance companies have many strategies designed to deny your claim and your rightful settlement.  After they’ve recorded your account of the accident, especially when it’s obvious that you weren’t at fault or only shared some responsibility for the accident, they’ll delay paying you.  It’s another trick they use so they don’t have to pay your claim. While you’re waiting for a settlement check, they’re doing nothing about sending it.  So, you call or email them, perhaps multiple times, only to hear excuses about why they haven’t paid you yet. They hope you’ll give up, and just go away. But with Gordon & Gordon fighting for you, we won’t let them get away with such unfair tactics.

Yes, You Do Need An Attorney – Here’s Why  

As shocking and unfair as it is, the only important thing to insurance companies is protecting their financial interests.  Rest assured, they are not concerned about your financial well-being.  

To protect your interests, you need an attorney who’s on your side.  The personal injury attorneys at Gordon & Gordon know insurance companies’ strategies, which are designed to deny your claim or, at least, hold you partially responsible for the accident.

Gordon & Gordon attorneys don’t want you to fall for their tricks.  With over 30 years handling personal injury and insurance claims, we know how to handle insurance company lawyers and their adjusters so you receive the largest financial settlement legally allowed.  And when the insurance company’s settlement offer isn’t enough, we have the knowledge, resources, and skills to pursue a personal injury claim through the civil courts.

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