Frequently Asked Legal Questions
1. Where can I locate a good lawyer?
2. How long will it take for my case to be concluded?
3. What is a contingency fee?
4. What are case expenses and who pays them?
5. Can I handle my claim or do I really need a lawyer?
6. I am unhappy with my present lawyer. Can I change attorneys?
7. What are punitive damages and can I get them as part of my settlement?
Where can I locate a good lawyer?
The Louisiana State Bar Association provides a free lawyer referral service. They will provide you with the names of competent and licensed attorneys who specialize in your area of legal need.
How long will it take for my case to be concluded?
There is no fixed time frame for settling and/or taking a case to trial. Some claims can be settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit. Those cases usually involve less severe injury and or damage to the victim. If a lawsuit has to be filed on your behalf, there are steps which your attorney will take to move your claim through the answer and discovery phases to an expedient trial date. Many factors must be considered prior to settling a claim and/or taking the matter to trial. Your attorney will discuss these matters with you as your claim or lawsuit progresses.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is based upon a percentage of the total settlement or judgment. A standard contingency fee is 33 1/3% to 40%, depending upon the complexity of the case.
What are case expenses and who pays them?
There are two types of expenses that accrue during the pendency of a claim or lawsuit. Those are (1) expenses related to the care and treatment of the injured party, i.e., medical expenses or prescription medication, and (2) expenses related to the furtherance of the claim or lawsuit, i.e., court costs or expert witness fees. These expenses are deducted from the total settlement amount in addition to the attorney's fee.
Can I handle my claim or do I really need a lawyer?
Traditionally, settlements offered to individuals who do not have legal representation, are lower than those obtained by individuals who do retain the services of a competent attorney. There may be damages or causes of action that you may not be aware you are entitled to. If you enter into a settlement without knowing your legal rights or what the fair value of your claim is, you may cost yourself more than you ever would save by not having an attorney. Those rights and damages are forever lost to you when you sign on the dotted line. An initial consultation with an attorney is free. You lose nothing and stand to gain everything you are rightfully entitled to.
I am unhappy with my current lawyer. Can I change attorneys?
You are free to change attorneys at any time if you are dissatisfied with the quality of representation you are receiving. Prior to taking such a drastic step, it is recommended that you first speak with your present attorney and try to resolve any differences or misunderstanding amicably. The problem might be something as simple as a miscommunication. If, after conferring with your lawyer, you still believe you would be better served by another competent attorney, you are free to make a change. You will still owe your former attorney for any out-of-pocket case expenses he or she incurred on your behalf. In addition, your former attorney may be entitled to some portion of the attorney's fee at the conclusion of your case.
What are punitive damages, and can I get them as part of my settlement?
Punitive or exemplary damages are damages that are awarded over and above actual and compensatory damages you may be entitled to. Punitive damages are intended to "punish" a defendant under specific circumstances or in situations set out by law. There are severe limitations on your right to recover punitive damages in Louisiana. As a result, an award for punitive damages is seldom recovered. An attorney will advise you if your injury is one that entitles you to a punitive damage award.
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