Nathan Mackowiak, Author at Murphy Law Firm

7 Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents

Big rig truck accidents can do a lot of damage and leave a lasting impact on accident victims’ lives. There are rules and regulations in place to help prevent these big rig trucks from getting into accidents, but every year there are thousands of truck accidents. Recent studies conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 87% of the time big rig truck accidents were caused by the driver. They assigned critical fault in four different ways for drivers: performance (panic, poor decision making, overcompensation), non-performance (driver fell asleep, had a heart attack, seizure, etc), recognition (driver was distracted or inattentive), and decision (driving too fast, merged too late, etc). We’ve compiled a list of the most common causes of big rig truck accidents below. Take a look, and always be careful when driving around these big trucks. 

1. Brake Problems and Other Issues With the Truck

Despite the fact that the grand majority of critical crashes are caused by truck drivers, one of the leading associated factors for big rig crashes are problems with the truck’s brakes. The aforementioned study conducted by the FMCSA found that in 29% of truck accidents brake problems were a factor in the crash. Big 18-wheeler trucks weigh a lot, and it takes a lot of pressure to bring these trucks to a safe stop. The brakes on these vehicles are put under constant strain, and if they are not properly maintained, brake problems will present themselves and likely lead to crashes and other dangerous situations. Tire problems and cargo shift are other common issues that can hamper a truck driver’s ability to operate their big rig safely and lead to crashes. In almost all cases, brake and other vehicle related problems are due to maintenance negligence either by the carrier or the driver themselves. 

2. Driving Too Fast

Truck drivers are delivering goods all across the country, and their employers put them on deadlines to get their job done. What happens when they fall behind schedule due to inclement weather, road construction, an accident, or just heavy traffic? It is human nature to try and make up time and drive faster. The number one driver related cause of truck accidents is driving too fast. Operating and controlling big rig trucks is a skill a lot of people don’t have. It is hard for even the best drivers to keep control of these big trucks when they are going too fast. There is just too much weight involved. If you notice an 18-wheeler moving too fast when you are driving, try to stay away from it because speeding is a major cause of truck accidents. 

3. Drug Use

Over the counter and illegal drug use both contribute to truck accidents. Surprisingly, more accidents are attributed to over the counter drug use than illegal drug use. Ephedrine, the active ingredient in a lot of dieting pills, is a popular over the counter drug used by truck drivers to try to stay up and alert on long drives. However, ephedrine abuse can lead to insomnia (which only makes a driver more fatigued), blurred vision, anxiety, and vomiting. Another popular OTC drug used is cold medicine, more specifically the active ingredient Dextromethorphan. A high can be achieved if enough cold medicine is taken, but this also leads to serious impairment and drowsiness which both lead to accidents. Illicit drugs like cocaine and meth are also used to help aid a driver stay up and alert while driving long hours, and both of these drugs can seriously impair a driver’s decision making and lead to serious accidents. 

4. Drowsiness and Fatigue 

It is all too common for big rig truck drivers to be drowsy and tired while they are behind the wheel. They work long hours, they spend their whole day driving, and when they do stop they usually sleep in the cab of their truck. All of these factors lead to drowsy and tired truck drivers. Most people stop driving when they get tired, but truck drivers don’t always have that same luxury if they have a deadline to meet. There are regulations limiting the amount of hours that drivers can be on the road, but that doesn’t stop carriers from issuing tight deadlines. The pressure to meet these deadlines and stay awake often leads to drug use, or fatigue related truck accidents. It is hard to make good, safe driving choices when you are tired or fatigued. 

5. Illegal Driving Maneuver

Another major cause of big rig truck accidents are illegal road maneuvers made by truck drivers. The main culprits in this category are u-turns and changing lanes when road signage prohibits it. 18-wheeler trucks are very long, and they need a lot of space to successfully execute a u-turn. The reality is most of the time there is not enough room for them to execute this maneuver, and it leads to a truck accident. 

6. Distraction

Distracted driving is a major issue for all types of vehicles and drivers so it shouldn’t be surprising that distracted driving is a major cause of truck accidents. Whether it is cell phone usage, changing a radio station, trying to eat a snack, or another form of distraction, when you take your eyes off the road you cannot adequately prepare yourself for stops and other maneuvers. It is harder to control a big rig truck than most other vehicles and these vehicles have the capacity to do a ton of damage so distracted driving can be far more consequential when one of these drivers gets distracted.

7. Alcohol 

Drunk driving is still a big problem for all drivers, but it is even worse when the operator of a big rig truck is drunk. The overall amount of truck accidents caused by drunk truck drivers is a lot less than over the counter and illicit drug users, but there are still drivers who are impaired by alcohol and driving huge 18-wheeler trucks. Even the slightest amount of impairment can lead to an accident that causes major damages and injuries. 

Baton Rouge Big Rig Truck Accident Attorneys

If you have been hurt in a big rig truck accident, get the help you need from a personal injury lawyer. You need a truck accident lawyer who is not afraid to stand up to the trucking carriers and insurance companies and fight for what is rightfully yours. Don’t settle for a settlement mill! Get a personal injury attorney who has trial experience. Murphy Law Firm is proud to help the injured victims in Baton Rouge and south Louisiana. We have over 150 years of combined litigation experience. Don’t be a victim twice! Call (225) 928-8800 for a FREE consultation today.

I’ve Been Hurt, What Damages Can I Sue for in my Personal Injury Case?

When you’re injured in an accident, certain aspects of your life can be forever altered. Accident victims are entitled to compensation under Louisiana law for the damages they incur. Hiring a personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure that you receive compensation for all of the damages you’ve sustained as a result of your accident. In Louisiana, damages are classified in two ways, economic and non-economic. All damages that a specific value can be assigned to are economic damages, and damages that are more subjective and harder to quantify in monetary terms are non-economic. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you may be wondering what you can recover compensation for. Let’s explore the question in more detail below.

Medical Bills

Medical treatment, even with health insurance, is not cheap, especially if you have been seriously hurt in an accident. Medical costs add up quickly and range from the various doctor visits, medications, rehab appointments, and more that you may be a part of your life for months, years, and in severe cases for the rest of your life. In Louisiana you are entitled to compensation for the cost of the medical bills you incurred, and potentially the estimated costs of future medical treatments depending on the severity of your accident. 

Property Damages

Accidents can do serious damage to your property too. You can receive compensation for loss of property. This includes costs of repairs, or the monetary value of the item at a fair market price. For example, if you were in a car accident, you would be entitled to receiving compensation for the costs of repairing the car. Let’s say you also had a set of golf clubs or a suit in your car that were also damaged or destroyed, you would also be entitled to the fair market price of these items as well. 

Lost Wages

An accident injury could also keep you out of work, and limit or even stop your ability to earn a living. In Louisiana victims are entitled to compensation for the work they have already missed as a result of their injury, and to future earnings they would have made were it not for the accident that caused their injury. Accidents can have a large economic impact on victims, and lost wage damages help save injured parties from potential economic ruin. 

Pain and Suffering 

Accidents cause more damage to victims’ lives than what can be easily seen and given a monetary value. In Louisiana personal injury law victims are allowed to recover compensation for pain and suffering. These types of damages include but are not limited to:

  • Physical pain
  • Physical impairment and disfigurement 
  • Emotional pain, anguish, and mental disorders
  • Loss of enjoyment 
  • Loss of companionship 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • And more

Loss of consortium damages generally refer to the spousal relationship. Accidents can have a serious impact on relationships from loss of companionship to loss of an ability to maintain a sexual relationship. Placing a monetary value on the pain and suffering damages a victim suffers after an accident is a tough task and is very subjective. 

Punitive Damages

Finally, injured victims may be entitled to receive punitive damages too if the defendants actions that led to or caused the accident were especially egregious. These damages are designed to punish the party at fault and set an example to deter individuals in the future from doing something similar. The easiest example of punitive damages  to give is accidents caused by drunk drivers. On top of all of the other damages already listed, the drunk driver would also be penalized and forced to pay punitive damages to the injured party. The goal of punitive damages is two-fold, punish the person who broke the law, and set an example to try to deter people from drunk driving in the future. 

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Maximize Your Potential Compensation

If you have been hurt in an accident, hiring a personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure that you recover all possible compensation available to you under the law. Personal injury attorneys study the law, they have a wealth of experience with injured victims and understand the typical damages awarded for the different types of injury cases they handle. Be sure that you don’t settle for a settlement mill, or else you could miss out on potential compensation.

Baton Rouge Personal Injury Attorneys

Sometimes the only way to ensure that you receive all of the compensation that you are entitled to is to go to court. You need a personal injury attorney who is not afraid to take a case to court if that is what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve. The personal injury team at Murphy Law Firm has over 150 years of combined litigation experience, and they are not afraid to take a case to court. Learn more about our team, and contact us if you have been hurt in an accident. We can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

5 Ways You Can Maximize Your Potential Personal Injury Recovery

Trying to deal with insurance companies after you’ve been in an accident, especially if you were hurt, can be confusing. Insurance companies will use your confusion against you to try and minimize the amount of money they will have to pay out. You have to remember that insurance companies, especially the companies that do not represent you, are not interested in what is fair for you. These companies are interested in one thing only and that is minimizing their financial liability. Insurance adjusters might tell you many things. If you are unsure about anything that they are saying, contact a personal injury attorney. Below are 5 ways you can help yourself maximize your potential financial recovery.

1. Do Not Give a Recorded Statement 

After your accident, sometimes they’ll even show up at the scene of your accident, an insurance adjuster may try and get you to give them a recorded statement regarding the nature of your accident. First, you are not obligated to give them this statement. Second, this recorded statement will only be used against you in order to minimize your recovery. Rarely, a recorded statement won’t hurt your chances for financial recovery, but giving the insurance company a recorded statement WILL NEVER help you. Be aware that an insurance adjuster may call you and record your conversation saying that they just need the facts of the incident. If you ever make a statement to the insurance companies, it should be done so with your attorney present. 

2. Your Attorney Can Give the Insurance Adjusters Evidence

Just like recorded statements, you shouldn’t be giving the insurance adjuster any evidence to value the claim. Your personal injury attorney is more than capable of providing the insurance adjuster with all of the relevant accident information they need to properly value the claim. By trying to give this evidence yourself, you could inadvertently say or do something that the insurance company could use against you to minimize your recovery. The insurance companies will use anything that you say or do in an attempt to minimize your recovery claims. In all matters you should let your personal injury lawyer handle the insurance companies if you want to maximize your financial recovery. 

3. Do Not Settle Too Quickly

It is best to have a lawyer to advise you when it comes to settlement. If you settle too early, you may be missing out on additional compensation especially if you settle before the true extent of your injuries are known. Insurance companies will come out to the scene of your accident or visit you in person shortly after your accident and offer you money. Do not take their money, or sign any of their papers. Their goal is to stay out of court and settle quickly. You will not get fair compensation from the insurance company without an attorney representing you. Also, be wary of settlement mill law firms who will sign up your case and settle it fast.

4. Hire a Personal Injury Attorney with Trial Experience

Insurance companies do not want to go to court. Going to court costs them more money, and their end goal is to minimize costs. They will try and settle the case out of court if they can. This is why you need a personal injury attorney who will go to court if that is what it takes to get fair compensation for their clients. Insurance companies know the personal injury lawyers in their area. They know who will take a case to court, and who won’t. If you hire a personal injury attorney with trial experience, the insurance companies will often offer better settlement terms because they know if they undervalue your claim your attorney will take them to court which will end up costing them even more money in the long run. 

5. Take Pictures

Modern technology makes taking a lot of pictures easier than it has ever been before. If it is safe, and you are able, take a lot of pictures at the scene of your accident. If it is a car accident, photograph the damage to both cars. Be as thorough as possible. This evidence will help your case, and it will prevent the insurance companies from trying to undervalue or downplay the extent of the damages. If you were injured, take daily pictures of your wounds. This evidence will show the true nature of your recovery and injuries. The more evidence you can give your attorney the more compensation they will be able to help you recover. 

Baton Rouge Personal Injury Attorneys

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, the most important thing you can do is retain a personal injury attorney to represent your interests. Anything that you say or do can be used against you by the insurance companies to minimize your potential financial recovery. If you’ve been hurt in Baton Rouge, Murphy Law Firm is here to help you. Our team has over 150 years of litigation experience and a reputation with the insurance companies that we are not afraid to take a case to trial if that is what it takes to get our clients fair compensation for their injuries. Contact us today to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case. Call (225) 928-8800 to set up your FREE consultation.

Baton Rouge Mesothelioma Guide

In the early part of the 20th Century Baton Rouge became a major industrial city for petroleum and natural gas processing. Standard Oil built a refinery here in 1909 that is still operated to this day by ExxonMobil. With the major boom in industry came a major boom in construction too. Soon chemical and polymer companies came to Baton Rouge too, due to the easy access of petroleum by-products. 

During this period of booming industrial and construction activity in Baton Rouge, asbestos was being widely used in a number of different industrial and construction applications. The individuals who worked at these job sites and their families are at an increased risk of contracting mesothelioma. If you or even someone you love has been diagnosed with this terrible cancer or died from it, you should speak with a skilled mesothelioma lawyer to determine if you have an injury case. We’ve put together a comprehensive mesothelioma guide for people living and working in Baton Rouge. We hope this information helps you in your fight against mesothelioma. 

Major Asbestos Exposure Sites in Baton Rouge 

During the better part of the 20th century, asbestos was widely used in a number of different ways. We have compiled a list of job sites, employers, and locations where you may have been exposed to dangerous asbestos and contracted mesothelioma as a result. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it can be helpful in remembering where you or a family member worked. Since mesothelioma takes so long to present itself, you may have completely forgotten you were at one of these places where asbestos was being used. 

  • Albermarle 
  • Allied Chemical Company
  • Avondale Shipyards Inc
  • Baton Rouge City Docks
  • Big Cajun Power Station 
  • Borden Chemical 
  • Cajun Electric
  • City Water Department 
  • Delta Southern Tank Company 
  • Dow Chemical 
  • Dupont 
  • Esso Oil
  • Exxon
  • Firestone
  • Grant Chemical Plant
  • Kaiser Steel
  • LSU
  • Louisiana State Penitentiary 
  • Mobil Chemical
  • Old Union Brew Building 
  • Shell
  • Standard Oil Refinery 
  • Uniroyal Chemical 
  • And Many More!

These are just a few of the work sites or companies that used asbestos during the 20th century and in some cases beyond. For a more thorough list of locations, work sites, and employers click here.

I Was Exposed to Asbestos in Baton Rouge Years Ago. Do I Still Have a Case?

Mesothelioma victims in Baton Rouge, Louisiana have one year from the time they are diagnosed with the disease to file a personal injury lawsuit. Due to the long latency period of mesothelioma, you could have been exposed to asbestos 20 to 50 years ago and just been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Despite the long latency period of this disease, if you hire a mesothelioma attorney, you can hold the party responsible for your asbestos exposure responsible and recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, your pain and suffering and more! If you worked in Baton Rouge and you contracted mesothelioma, get help from a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible. Medical treatment is costly, and you could receive help. 

My Loved One Died from Mesothelioma. Do I Have a Case?

If someone you love died from mesothelioma, you could still have a case against the party responsible for their exposure to asbestos. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, you have one year from the time your loved one died to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If mesothelioma was their cause of death, chances are very good that you have a case. A mesothelioma attorney can help you recover compensation for your untimely loss. This can help pay for funeral costs and other arrangements as well as help the family pay any outstanding medical bills, etc. 

How Much is My Mesothelioma Case Worth?

No two cases are completely alike. However, we have personally handled a mesothelioma case that was awarded a 12.5 million dollar verdict, and we have handled other mesothelioma cases that settled for millions of dollars. Results vary based on the individual case, but at Murphy Law Firm we work hard to ensure that our clients don’t settle for less than what is fair. Mesothelioma cases have the potential to settle or be awarded a lot of money because the cancer is so rare, malignant, and life-threatening. 

Baton Rouge Mesothelioma Lawyers

Mesothelioma is a very tricky and rare cancer. People who suffer from mesothelioma see doctors who specialize in this cancer. Why should your personal injury attorney be any different? If you’re suffering from mesothelioma, you need to find an attorney who handles mesothelioma cases. A lot of people end up hiring out of state lawyers because it can be hard to find mesothelioma lawyers in Baton Rouge. You can hire a local attorney! Murphy Law Firm handles mesothelioma cases, and we have attorneys who specialize in these types of cases. We understand how important it is to find a mesothelioma attorney who is helpful and local. Call us today at (225) 928-8800 to set up a FREE consultation with a mesothelioma lawyer to discuss your case. Don’t be a victim twice! Get the help you need to battle mesothelioma.

5 Reasons Mesothelioma is Hard to Diagnose

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the body’s mesothelium. The mesothelium is the membrane that lines the inside of your body’s cavities, mainly in the chest and abdomen. Despite the fact that nearly 75 percent of mesothelioma cases begin in the chest cavity, this cancer is very hard to catch, and it is often misdiagnosed. Mesothelioma is a very malignant form of cancer that often spreads to other parts of the body and creates other health issues for people who have it. The main risk factor associated with mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, and as we will cover later in the blog, asbestos is widely used in several industries and materials. People who contract this disease likely have an injury or wrongful death claim. You should seek counsel from a mesothelioma attorney if you are diagnosed with this terrible cancer.  Below are five reasons why mesothelioma is hard to catch and accurately diagnose. 

1. Vague and Common Symptoms 

Mesothelioma often goes unnoticed by the people suffering from it and their medical professionals because early symptoms of the disease are so common and often mistaken for something else. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, dry cough, and chest pain. Since mesothelioma mainly affects older people, many people confuse the earliest symptoms of mesothelioma as old age. When symptoms finally get bad enough to see a doctor, mesothelioma often gets misdiagnosed as pneumonia, lung cancer, or even abdominal cancer. 

2. Rarity

Contributing to the misdiagnosis of mesothelioma is its rarity. Unless your doctor is aware that you were exposed to asbestos, the symptoms associated with the disease will likely be attributed to something much more common. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, and will likely not be the first thing your doctor thinks is wrong. It is important to tell your doctor if you were exposed to asbestos in order for them to properly diagnose you. 

3. Unknown Exposure to Asbestos

Since asbestos is so widely used in a lot of different applications, you might not even be aware that you were exposed to it. In fact, even if you weren’t working directly with asbestos you could have been exposed in your workplace or it could have been brought home on the clothes of a worker in your family. It is hard to diagnose this rare form of cancer, and unknown exposures to dangerous asbestos only makes the process of accurately diagnosing mesothelioma more difficult for doctors. 

4. Long Latency

The latency period, or the amount of time the cancer grows undetected, for mesothelioma is extremely long. Someone exposed to asbestos might not see the effects of their mesothelioma for 20 to 50 years in some cases. The lengthy latency period makes detection and diagnosis difficult. You may not remember or even know that you were exposed to asbestos 20 or 30 years ago so when you go to see the doctor when your symptoms start to get bad mesothelioma probably won’t be the first thing they look for. 

5. More Difficult to Test For

The only sure fire way to accurately diagnose mesothelioma is to do a biopsy. X-rays and blood samples may lead doctors towards the proper diagnosis, but neither of these methods can accurately confirm mesothelioma. Since the only way to accurately test for mesothelioma requires an invasive procedure and the disease is rare, most doctors will run tests for other types of diseases first. Making matters worse is the rarity of the cancer. Most doctors have little to no mesothelioma experience, and this leads to misdiagnosis. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion where mesothelioma is concerned just because this cancer is so hard to detect and accurately diagnose. 

I Have Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma. What are the Next Steps?

If you or someone you love, has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma you can probably take legal action to help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Mesothelioma cases are difficult which is why you need to hire a personal injury attorney who specializes in this rare disease. A mesothelioma attorney will have a deep knowledge of the disease, how it is contracted, and how to litigate on your behalf. You might think that you no longer have a case because you were exposed to asbestos over 20 years ago, but you can still hold your employer responsible for you and your family’s exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma. In the state of Louisiana, you have one year from the time you are diagnosed with mesothelioma to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your exposure to asbestos. If you have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, you have one year from the time of their death to file a wrongful death lawsuit for their untimely loss. 

Baton Rouge Mesothelioma Lawyers

There are a fair amount of mesothelioma cases in the greater Baton Rouge area due in large part to the amount of industries here that exposed their employees to asbestos. Don’t hire an out of state law firm to handle your case. Hire a local mesothelioma lawyer to help you and your family through this difficult time. Murphy Law Firm has experience representing mesothelioma victims. We want to help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. Don’t suffer alone! Call Murphy Law Firm at (225) 928-8800 to speak with a mesothelioma attorney. We’re local mesothelioma lawyers, and we want to fight for you!

7 Ways Insurance Companies Try to Fool Car Accident Victims: The True Nature of Insurance

The time immediately after a car accident, or any accident that causes injuries, can be chaotic to say the least. Not only are you dealing with your health and the injuries you have sustained, but most likely, you will soon be dealing with a complicated legal situation that many people find confusing. Insurance companies use the chaos in the aftermath of a car accident to try and trick victims and reduce their ability to recover compensation. Remember, insurance companies do not make money when they pay out claims. Insurance companies make money by not paying the full value of injury claims, and they will try a number of different tactics to reduce your injury claim and protect their profits. Read below to learn about seven of the most common tactics insurance companies use against car accident victims. 

1. They Make Contact Quickly 

Immediately following your car accident a claims adjuster or representative from the insurance company is going to try and make contact with you. They may call you while you are in the hospital. It is not unheard of for them to actually show up at the site of your accident and try to talk to you. Why do they respond so quickly? Because they know that people are in a vulnerable state in the aftermath of an accident. They know that there is a good chance that you don’t have legal representation yet, and they know that more times than not, if they can talk to you quickly, you will say something that they can use to reduce your injury claim. You are not obligated to talk to anyone from the insurance company especially while you are in the hospital or at the scene of a car accident. 

2. They Try to Be Your Buddy

People are comfortable talking to their friends and people they trust. Insurance adjusters will try to be as friendly as possible when talking with you. They are trained to get close to you and foster a sense of friendship so you will talk to them. Insurance adjusters will ask how you are doing, and seem concerned for you and your injuries. They are not concerned. All they want is for you to say something that they can use to reduce your injury claim. 

3. They Will Twist Your Words

A common theme so far has been communication and language. The best bet for insurance companies is to use your own words against you. Insurance adjusters are trained to not admit fault for their covered drivers, and to seek ways to get you to claim responsibility for all or some of the accident and your injuries. One common trick insurance companies use against injured victims is to twist the meaning of their words. They will call you and act very friendly. Part of most normal conversations is the question, “How are you doing?” Typically, people just respond with, “I’m doing fine.” Insurance companies will try to twist this innocuous conversation into meaning that your injuries are not as bad as you claim or not as serious as first thought. Be careful. There are a number of different common variations to this question and response. Most of us have conversations that include some variation of it at least once a day, and our responses are generally automatic. 

4. They Will Demand a Recorded Statement

The insurance company will probably tell you that you need to make a recorded statement in order for your claim to be processed and paid. THIS IS NOT TRUE! You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster. You may have to speak with your insurance company depending on what your policy says, but you never have to give the other driver’s insurance company any type of recorded statement. They will use your recorded statement against you. They will slip in innocent seeming questions during the course of your statement that are designed to get you to admit partial fault. There is no reason to ever give the other insurance company a recorded statement about your accident. Even when speaking with your insurance company it is in your best interest to obtain legal representation

5. They Will Make Settling Seem Urgent

In the state of Louisiana, you have one year from the time of your car accident to file a lawsuit to protect your rights. Insurance companies will give you the idea that you need to settle quickly or else you will get nothing for your injuries and damages. They may even offer you money in the direct aftermath of your accident if you sign away your rights to a lawsuit. Don’t be fooled! The insurance company is trying to protect their bottom line. If they are offering you money to settle quickly, before you have had a chance to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer, your car accident case is likely worth far more than what the insurance company is offering you. 

6. They Try to Get a Broad Release of Your Medical Records

Your injuries as a result of the car accident are pertinent to your injury claim. Giving insurance companies access to your medical records directly tied to the treatment of your injuries resulting from the accident is fine. However, insurance companies will try and get you to sign a broad release of your medical records, and you may think that this is no big deal. Insurance companies want to get a broad release of your medical records so that they can use your past medical history in an attempt to show that some of your injuries were pre-existing conditions. Giving insurance companies a broad release of your medical records will only work against you. Give them nothing more than the medical records associated with your accident and the treatment of your injuries. 

7. They Will Look at Your Social Media Accounts

After a car accident insurance companies will look into your social media accounts and activities to see if you have posted anything about your accident. Anything that you post on social media regarding your accident can be used against you by insurance companies looking to reduce your injury and damage claims. The best advice we can offer you is to not post anything regarding your car accident to social media. Remember, insurance adjusters are experts at twisting your words in an effort to reduce your claims. They will stop at nothing to protect their bottom line. 

Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney 

It should be clear by now that your best bet in the aftermath of a car accident is to hire a car accident lawyer. Insurance companies will tell you that you don’t need one. They will tell you that a lawyer will only cost you money and time, but this is not true. Insurance companies don’t want you to hire a personal injury lawyer. They know if you do that you are likely to get more money for your injury and damage claims.

Murphy Law Firm fights for injured victims. We have over 150 years of combined litigation experience, and we are all too familiar with the dirty tricks insurance companies try to put over on injured victims. Call us today at (225) 928-8800 to speak with a personal injury attorney and set up a FREE consultation for your car accident. Don’t be a victim twice!

Pain and Suffering Claim Without a Lawyer

After a car accident or other type of event that causes injury or property damage, you may be suffering from mental and, or physical distress. In personal injury cases this distress is known as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering differs from medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages, in that they are hard to set a monetary value to. Pain and suffering claims are more intangible than a medical bill or a week out of work. It can be hard to prove how much a pain and suffering claim is worth. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, it is always best to consult with a personal injury attorney, especially if you want to make a pain and suffering claim. However, as ill advised as it might be, you can proceed without the help of a personal injury lawyer. If you’re trying to make a pain and suffering claim without the aid of an experienced injury attorney, this is what the process will look like. 

How to Make a Pain and Suffering Claim Without an Injury Attorney 

The first step in making a pain and suffering claim is to send the insurance company a demand letter. A demand letter spells out your injury claim and lists the damages you have incurred. Within the demand letter, you need to discuss your pain and suffering as a result of the accident or injury event and support it with evidence. 

First, you need to show how you calculated the value of your pain and suffering claim. The best way to go about doing this is to explain how your life has been altered as a result of the accident you were involved in. Show how your pain and suffering has impacted and changed your life on a daily basis. Write about the seriousness of your injury, whether or not you have been permanently scarred or disfigured, how long it will take you, or took you, to recover, if there will be future complications as a result of your injury, and socio-economic factors at play in your life. Once you have made your case for your pain and suffering claim, you need to back up your claims with evidence and documents. 

The most important documents that you will need to acquire to use as evidence in your pain and suffering claim are the police report of your accident, your medical records including costs, and any witness statements that were taken. If you were able to get photos of your injuries, the accident, and other important facets of your case, you will want to use these as evidence too. If you’re going to make a pain and suffering claim without a personal injury attorney, you need to collect all of this evidence yourself. Do not let the insurance company collect the evidence for you. If they collect these documents on your behalf, they will choose which ones are important to your claim. You need them to consider all of the evidence. That means collecting it for yourself and attaching it to your demand letter. 

Evidence is the most important aspect of a pain and suffering claim. If you don’t have any evidence showing your pain and suffering, insurance companies, judges, and juries will not award you for these damages. It can be hard to obtain all of the evidence you need to make your pain and suffering claim. Hiring a personal injury lawyer not only makes this process easier, but it also increases your chances of recovering compensation for your claim.

5 Reasons Why You Should Seek Legal Help for Your Pain and Suffering Claim

As we have already illustrated, there are a lot of steps that need to be taken just to send a demand letter to the insurance company. How will you navigate the complex legal waters of a pain and suffering claim after you’ve been injured in an accident and your life has been turned upside down? You should always hire a personal injury attorney after you have been hurt in an accident. Below are five good reasons:

  1. Lawyers have a staff of people to help them collect all documents and evidence
  2. They can accurately gauge how much your pain and suffering claim is worth 
  3. Attorneys can help you negotiate with insurance companies, and represent your best interests
  4. An attorney can hold the insurance companies responsible by taking them to trial if a fair settlement is not offered 
  5. They are professionals who do this work everyday, you are not, and the law is complicated 

You can try and make a pain and suffering claim on your own. The insurance company will probably offer you some money just to make your case go away, but they have no reason to give you full compensation for your pain and suffering claim if you don’t have legal representation and there is no threat of a personal injury trial

Murphy Law Firm, Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers 

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, get help from Murphy Law Firm. Our team of personal injury lawyers has over 150 years of combined litigation experience. We prepare every case for trial. Don’t settle for a settlement mill! Get a free consultation today with a personal injury attorney and discuss the details of your case. Call (225) 928-8800 to get in touch with the experienced trial attorneys at Murphy Law Firm.

What To Do After A Car Accident

What To Do After A Car Accident?

Recognizing what to do after a car accident can lead to feeling frustrated and blindsided. You may be disoriented and dazed yet these initial moments after an accident is crucial for both parties involved. Being aware of what to expect physically after a car accident can help you identify any injuries you may have sustained. In the aftermath of a car wreck, the most important component is the safety of everyone affected. Before anything else, make sure that everyone is safe and call for medical assistance if it is needed. Next, call the police. An official police report is often necessary when there are damages involved in a car accident and you want to recover compensation from an insurance company. Once you have ensured everyone’s safety and called the proper authorities, follow these steps after a car accident to ensure you get all of the information possible and preserve important evidence. 

Exchange Information with Other Drivers 

Following a car accident it is important to speak with the other drivers involved, if you can, and get their name, phone number, and insurance information. Sometimes the driver of the car will not be the registered owner of the car. If this is the case, also get the name, phone number, and insurance information of the registered owner as well. Note the make and model of their car and the license plate number. Try to find out if any of the cars involved in your accident are company owned cars. Note any damages that pre-existed the car accident if you can. In some cases in the direct aftermath of a car wreck, somebody will take blame for the accident. If someone claims the accident was their fault, make note of this.

Take Pictures 

Preserving evidence is valuable in car accident cases, and now that everyone always has a camera in their pocket it has never been easier to take pictures at the scene of an accident. Get as many pictures as possible. Document the damages, if any, to all involved vehicles, and the scene of the crash including skid marks, street signs, and any other pertinent factors that could have led to the car accident. Take as many pictures as you possibly can after a car accident. When you hire a car accident lawyer, they can sift through all of the pictures you took and find the ones that are valuable pieces of evidence. 

Contact Your Insurance Policy Carrier 

Once things have calmed down a bit, don’t forget to contact your insurance carrier to notify them of the accident. A lot of insurance companies require policy holders to contact them within a certain amount of time after their accident. Failure to notify your insurance company of an accident could lead to your claim being denied. If you are anxious that your insurance company will give you a hard time, contact a personal injury lawyer first, and they can help you deal with your insurance company. 

While it is important to get in touch with your insurance company following a car accident, DO NOT give a statement or sign any paperwork from the other driver’s insurance companies until you have spoken to a car accident attorney first. Don’t even answer questions about the accident from these insurance representatives until you have spoken to a personal injury attorney first. Anything you say to the insurance company will be recorded and can possibly be used against you to minimize your claim. If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, decline to make a statement or answer questions until you have gotten legal advice from an attorney. Be careful, sometimes these insurance companies will offer you quick money if you sign away your rights to file a lawsuit. DO NOT take money or sign any paperwork until you have legal representation. 

What Should I do if I was Injured in a Car Accident

If you were injured in a car accident and taken to the emergency room, your injuries will be thoroughly documented. However, you may be hurt in a car accident and not taken to the emergency room. It is important that you document all of your injuries after a car accident, take pictures of bruises, cuts, etc, and seek medical attention as soon as you possibly can so that there is an official medical record. Whiplash and other injuries associated with car accidents can present symptoms after the fact. It is important to notify your doctor of any symptoms no matter how small they may be after you are injured in a car accident. The sooner you can get your injuries documented by a medical professional and treated, the better chance you will have of getting compensation for them. 

Murphy Law Firm, Car Accident Attorneys with Trial Experience

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you need a car accident lawyer with real trial experience. Don’t settle for a settlement mill! The personal injury attorneys at Murphy Law Firm have over 150 years of combined litigation experience. We prepare every single case with the expectation that it could go to trial if that is what it takes to secure our clients fair compensation. Don’t be a victim twice. Contact Murphy Law Firm for a free consultation at (225) 928-8800.

Louisiana Laws Regarding Fault in Car Accident Cases

In the State of Louisiana, like most states, insurance companies and courts follow a fault-based system to determine who is financially responsible for injuries, damages, etc in car accident cases. However, Louisiana is one of only 13 states in the country that also practices “pure comparative fault,” also known as, “pure comparative negligence,” in deciding the amount of damages that can be recovered. 

What is Pure Comparative Negligence? 

In some car accident cases it is easy to assign fault to one driver or another, but in a lot of car wrecks this is not the case and both of the drivers may carry some portion of the blame. In Louisiana, the pure comparative negligence laws dictate that any damages that injured victims seek be reduced by the amount of fault they are found to be in. Here is an example; Driver A was hurt in a car accident with Driver B. Driver A is seeking 100,000 dollars in damages and injuries. The jury in the case finds Driver A to be 25 percent responsible for the car accident with Driver B. In this case Driver A’s recovery would be reduced by 25 percent. If the jury decided to award Driver A 100,000 dollars for injuries and damages in this case, Driver A would only receive 75,000 dollars. 

In Louisiana, you can file suit and recover damages for your injuries even if you are 99 percent to blame for the car accident that caused your injuries. Judges and juries are bound by comparative fault laws, and adjusters for insurance companies use these laws as guidelines for settlement negotiations. 

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Car Accident

Assigning fault for a car accident is not an exact science. At the end of the day it is up to judges, juries, and claims adjusters to determine who is at fault and to what degree. In order to protect your interests you should hire a personal injury lawyer. The amount of fault assigned to you in your car wreck case, if any, will come down to how persuasive your attorney can be using all available evidence. The difference between getting fair compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained, and not sometimes comes down to the car accident attorney that you hire. If you choose to hire an attorney with little to no actual trial experience, you probably won’t recover the compensation that you deserve. Don’t settle for a settlement mill. Hire personal injury attorneys who prepare for trial. 

Murphy Law Firm has Trial Experience

The team of personal injury attorneys at Murphy Law Firm have over 150 years of combined litigation experience. We prepare every single one of our cases for the possibility of a trial if that is what it takes to get our clients fair compensation for their injuries. Don’t be a victim twice! If you’ve been hurt in a car accident get help from Peyton Murphy. Call (225) 928-8800 today to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case. 

Louisiana Passes Tort Reform Bill HB 57

This year’s first attempt to pass a tort reform bill, SB 418, The Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2020, failed when it was vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards. Despite having a veto proof majority in support of SB 418 prior to the Governor’s veto, support for the bill fell apart after Edwards vetoed the bill. In a special legislative session Louisiana lawmakers were able to pass HB 57 known as The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020. We have already written extensively on SB 418 and how it would affect injured victims. This blog will explore the differences between SB 418 and HB 57 and how car accident victims are affected by the changes.

Statute of Limitations (Prescription)

The original bill, SB 418, sought to increase the statute of limitations from one year to two years. The thought behind this, which was supported by both sides, was that if given more time car accident victims and insurance companies could reach fair settlement terms before going to court. Since the statute of limitations is only one year, a lot of lawsuits are filed just to protect an injured victim’s rights when they may have otherwise been able to reach a fair settlement. HB 57 does not make any changes to the statute of limitations for injury cases in Louisiana. Under this law the one year prescription period will remain the same. 

Jury Threshold 

Currently, all car and truck accident cases seeking less than 50,000 dollars in damages are heard by a judge in Louisiana. SB 418 sought to lower the threshold for a case to be argued in front of a jury from 50,000 to 5,000 dollars. Governor Edwards wanted the jury threshold figure to be 25,000 dollars, but lawmakers reached a compromise and HB 57 sets the jury threshold at 10,000 dollars. Car accident victims who hire settlement mill law firms or personal injury lawyers with little to no trial experience will suffer the most as a result of these changes. However, since more car accident cases will be tried in front of juries, the legal process for injured victims will most likely move slower and take longer to resolve. This means car accident victims could be waiting to get the compensation they need to cover their medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. 

Collateral Source

This part of the legislation was the most hotly contested. In SB 418, the law limited financial recovery for medical bills to what was actually paid by insurance. Opponents claimed that this left injured victims the responsibility to pay for medical services that insurance didn’t cover even when they were not at fault in the accident. HB 57 limits the amount of medical damages to the amount actually paid, but after the verdict, allows a judge to review the difference between what was actually billed and what was paid and either award up to 40 percent of the difference or decrease the award for medical damages. This will hurt injured victims in the long run and limit their ability to receive fair compensation for their injuries and medical bills. 

Seatbelt Use

Currently, judges and juries are forbidden to use the fact that a seatbelt was not worn at the time of a car accident to reduce damages received by an injured victim. SB 418 and HB 57 both proposed to change this aspect of the law. Now if an injured victim was not wearing a seatbelt, this evidence can be used to reduce the amount of damages they receive in court. Proponents of the measure say that people should not be rewarded for failing to wear a seatbelt. Opponents argue that in some cases it will be difficult, if not impossible, to tell which injuries resulted from not wearing a seatbelt. 

Naming the Insurer

SB 418 sought to shield insurance companies during car and truck accident trials by forbidding mention of which company or companies were insuring the drivers at fault. HB 57 limits the times when personal injury attorneys can mention which insurance companies are involved to the opening and closing of the trial. Proponents of the bill say that juries are far more likely to award larger settlements when they know that insurance companies will be footing the bill rather than an individual. Opponents of the measure say that lawmakers are shielding insurance companies from paying out what they owe injured victims. HB 57 offers protections for insurance companies, but it does not completely shield them like SB 418 sought to do. 

Will HB 57 Lower Car Insurance Rates?

The goal of HB 57 and SB 418 as stated by lawmakers was to lower car insurance rates for Louisiana drivers. Drivers in Louisiana pay some of the highest insurance rates in the country, and something needs to be done to help lower these costs. However, neither SB 418 or HB 57 included a single sentence or any language at all regarding insurance rates. HB 57 just like its predecessor SB 418 does not mandate insurance companies to lower their rates. In fact, insurance companies can raise their rates if they can show it is necessary to provide services. HB 57 much like SB 418 is a special interest bill driven by big insurance companies. This bill does little to actually help Louisiana drivers and only hurts car accident victims. If Governor John Bel Edwards signs HB 57 into law, which he has said he will, the new law will go into effect January 1st, 2021.

You Need a Seasoned Trial Attorney

HB 57 makes trial experienced personal injury lawyers even more valuable than they already were. Don’t make the mistake of hiring a settlement mill! Murphy Law Firm has a team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys that prepare every case for trial. Our team has over 150 years of litigation experience. If you’ve been hurt in a car or truck accident, get help from Murphy Law Firm. Call us today at (225) 928-8800 to speak with a car accident attorney about your case!