Personal Injury FAQs


 Dog bites

Workers compensation/Social Security Disability

 Auto accidents

Products liability

Premises liability


Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer’s help?

It is in your best interests to only provide your contact information to an insurance company until you consult with a personal injury lawyer. The more significant your injuries, the more imperative it becomes to seek legal counsel before providing any statement.

Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?

About 95 percent of personal injury cases filed settle prior to trial.

What is considered “pain and suffering?”

Pain and suffering includes harm caused by physical injury and mental anguish experienced through avoiding activities you engaged in prior to your accident and the potential of surgery.

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What determines the amount I might recover?

Every case addresses three issues:

  • Liability—establishing someone’s negligence
  • Damages—the amount that will fairly and adequately compensate you for your injuries
  • Source of collection—insurance or other assets from which damages can be recovered

What is a typical settlement amount?

An experienced personal injury lawyer reviews and interprets your case information to determine the appropriate value for your claim:

  • Incurred medical bill amount
  • Future medical bills
  • Loss of past income
  • Your age
  • Any permanent limitations caused by the injury
  • Impact on future earning capacity
  • Activities you can no longer do
  • Activities you can do but do not enjoy as much
  • Prognosis for further problems
  • Strength of lay witness testimony

The goal is fair and adequate compensation for your injury and an experienced attorney will know what a reasonable jury would award. The strength of lay and expert witness testimony will likely influence the amount.

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Dog bites

A dog bit me. Who do I tell?

Contact your local animal control agency or the police.

Which jurisdiction covers dog bites—state or local?

Both. In addition to Louisiana laws, your local communities might also have animal laws covering bites, leashing and vaccinations. Your local laws might ban ownership of certain breeds, too.

What do leash laws cover?

Most communities require dogs to be leashed unless they are confined to a house or fenced yard, even on the owner’s property. Failing to adhere to the leash laws combined with dog biting may increase potential penalties.

Can posting a “Beware of Dog” sign help get me out of trouble if my dog bites someone?

While the sign may help to alert others to any potential hazard, specific facts surrounding the dog bite determine any liability.

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Workers compensation

What should I do if I get injured on the job?

You must notify your employer of the injury. You should also tell your employer if you need medical attention. You may also have to notify Louisiana’s industrial commission.  An experienced workers compensation lawyer can help you understand the process and your rights in Louisiana and file your claim.

How can I jeopardize my benefits?

Your claim may be denied if you fail to report injuries promptly or fail to cooperate with your employer and authorized treating physician regarding medical evaluations, treatment, rehabilitation services and claim investigation. Your claim can also be denied if you refuse to return to suitable employment. Some other reasons for denial of claims include submittal of fraudulent information, refusal to take a drug test and refusal to submit to a medical examination by the authorized treating physician, at reasonable times.

Under what circumstances could I be denied workers compensation benefits as a result of an on-the-job injury?

Benefits are not payable if you are injured while engaged in willful misconduct or if your injury is due to the use of alcohol, drugs or the misuse of controlled substances

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Am I barred from recovery if I was at fault?


Can I sue anyone else for a work-related injury?

This is called a third party suit. If your injury was caused by the negligence of a third party other than another person who is also an employee of the company for which you work, you may have a right to sue that party.

What if my workers compensation claim is denied?

If your employer and its insurance company deny coverage on the claim, you may file a claim with Louisiana’s agency. There is a time limitation—all workers compensation statutes restrict the amount of time you or your dependent has to file a workers compensation claim, usually between one to three years from the date of injury, depending on the state. If your claim is for a job-related disease, the time limitation period begins when you learn you have the disease.

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Can I receive Social Security Disability and workers compensation?

Yes. However, there are cases in which there may be some offset.

Do I have to be injured at work to receive workers compensation?

No. As long as your injury is related to your job, you are covered. If you are injured while traveling on business, running errands for business or even attending a social function required by your work, your injury is covered.

What compensation will I receive?

In general, benefits include replacement income, medical expenses and often job training, schooling or job placement assistance. Compensation for a temporary injury is usually two-thirds of your average wage up to a limit.

If your injury permanently prevents you from returning to work or unable to work any job, you may be eligible to receive long-term or lump-sum benefits. You also may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

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Must I see an insurance company doctor, or can I see my own doctor?

Since the workers compensation insurer is paying your benefits, you must see a doctor approved by the company. However, you may have the right to ask for another doctor at the insurance company’s expense if you clearly state that you don’t like the insurance company’s doctor. Often, you also have the right to a second opinion for serious injuries. In some instances, you may automatically be transferred to your own doctor for long-term care.

Can I ever sue my employer in court over a work-related injury?

If your employer’s intentional, personal conduct causes your injury, you can skip the workers compensation system and sue your employer in court for full compensation, pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Is there more than one definition of “disabled?”

Yes, and that is why it is possible to receive both Social Security Disability and workers compensation. And, workers compensation could determine you are not disabled and Social Security could determine that you are. Further, insurance companies could define disability in other ways. Attorneys knowledgeable in this complex area of personal injury law, such as The Law Office of Thomas E. Townsley, LLC, can work with you to explain the differences in easy-to-understand language and help you file all appropriate claims to receive the compensation you deserve.

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Auto accidents

Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?

No. While the insurance company might try to draw a direct correlation between damage done to your car and the severity of your personal injury, it is possible that the body sustains damage even if the car did not. The reverse may also be true—a car might experience major impact but the people might only suffer minor cuts and bruises.

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Products liability

What if I know that a defective product harmed other people besides me?

When the same defective product injures a large number of people, they may join together in a class action lawsuit to hold manufacturers and sellers liable for the injuries caused by their product.

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Premises liability

I fell and was injured. Can I sue someone?

If you fell while working, your injuries may be covered by your employer’s workers compensation insurance.

If your injury occurred in a store or a building, you can sue to recover damages to compensate you for your injuries. Be aware, however, that a building owner is not liable for every injury that occurs on the property. To recover for an injury, the owner or operator of the business must have breached his duty to keep the premises reasonably safe and to warn of known dangers. A Lake Charles premise liability attorney can provide you with additional details about premises liability.

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