Browne Law | Personal Injury Attorneys

FAQs

General FAQs

Do I need a personal injury attorney?

While you don’t “need” an attorney to help you resolve your injury claim, we believe you’ll be better off having an attorney help you navigate what can be a tricky process.  Insurance companies have attorneys and professional claims persons protecting their interests, and they will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible. You should have a pro looking out for you and working to make the insurance company pay you every dollar you deserve for your injuries.

What Information should I have before I call an attorney?

Rather than delaying your call and worrying whether you have everything you think you need, just call us.  We’ll talk about your accident, your injuries, figure out what information you already have, and work with you to gather anything else we need.  In almost all cases, the sooner you call and get the process started, the better off you’ll be and the quicker your claim will be resolved.

How long do lawsuits take?

While it’s true that lawsuits can take a long time, not every accident/injury claim requires a lawsuit.  Often, and particularly if we are involved early-on in the process, we are able to resolve claims with insurance companies without having to file lawsuits. Again, the sooner you start the process, the better the chances that the matter can be resolved in less time.

Does filing a personal injury lawsuit mean I’ll have to go to court?

No.  Of course, we can not promise that you will not need to go to court, but the vast majority of lawsuits are settled out of court without having to go to trial.  Again, the sooner you start the process, the better.

Will I be deposed?

Not necessarily.  Again, we cannot promise that you will not need to be deposed, but the earlier we are contacted, the better the chances are that we will be able to resolve your case before having to file a lawsuit, in which case you would not have to give a deposition.

Helicopter and aviation accidents

What are the most common causes of helicopter and other aircraft accidents?

Helicopter and other aviation accidents can be very complicated.  Crashes could be the result of pilot error, engine failure, electronics/avionics failure, maintenance and repair negligence, or a combination of factors.  In almost every aviation case, proving the case requires the skill of an attorney experienced in handling aviation crashes and experts in different fields.  Picking an attorney who knows what to look for, who to sue, and which experts to involve is vital to the success of your case.

Who can be held responsible to the injured parties in an aviation accident?

Figuring out who is responsible for an aviation accident is as complicated as figuring out why the helicopter or plane crashed.  Responsible parties could include the helicopter operating company (which would be responsible for any negligence by the pilot and maintenance personnel), the engine manufacturer, the engine overhaul company, the avionics or electronics manufacturers, other component part manufacturers, potential third parties, etc.  In almost every aviation case, proving the case requires the skill of an attorney experienced in handling aviation crashes and experts in different fields. Picking an attorney who knows what to look for, who to sue, and which experts to involve is vital to the success of your case.

Do the same laws apply to all helicopter and other aviation accidents?

No.  Just as all crashes are not the result of the same cause, different laws will apply to different crashes depending on what happened and where it happened.  And, importantly, your rights will likely be different under those different laws. An attorney experienced in handling these matters can help you navigate what can be a tricky and complicated process.

What monetary compensation is available for aviation accident victims?

No two cases are the same, and your monetary recovery will depend upon a variety of issues, including the extent and duration of your injuries and your prognosis for recovery, the impact your injuries have on your earnings and future earning capacity, the cost of your medical treatment (including the need for future medical care), the applicable law, etc.  However, the types of damages that you may be able to recover include compensation for present and future physical pain and suffering, present and future mental anguish and emotional distress, disfigurement and/or disability, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses including future medical care, lost earnings and damage to your earning capacity, potential other economic losses, etc.  Again, having an attorney who is experienced in handling aviation disaster cases is important to maximizing your recovery.

How quickly after an aviation accident must I hire an aviation attorney?

You are not “required” to hire a lawyer, but we would definitely advise you to hire a lawyer with experience in handling these complex cases as soon as possible after the crash to protect your rights.  Hiring the wrong lawyer for these cases could be as bad or worse than hiring no lawyer. And, you can be sure that the helicopter operating company and any other company that the investigating authorities suspect may bear some responsibility will hire skilled lawyers and experts to protect their interests and deflect blame from them immediately after the crash.  You should do the same as soon as possible.

What role does the government play in the investigation after a helicopter or other aircraft crash?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates aviation accidents, including helicopter crashes.  However, you should know that representatives of the helicopter operator and other companies that the NTSB suspects of having some responsibility for the crash are typically involved in the investigation.  The injured parties do not get to participate in the NTSB investigation. In our experience, the companies that are involved tend to try to minimize their responsibility as much as they are able. NTSB investigations can take months or years to complete.  And, while the NTSB will ultimately issue a probable cause report, they might not do so until after your deadline to file a lawsuit has passed. Furthermore, the NTSB’s probable cause determination is not binding on the parties the NTSB believes are responsible in any claim or lawsuit you bring – meaning they can still fight your claim.  So, you should not wait for the NTSB to finish its investigation before you hire a lawyer or commence your claim process. We recommend that you hire a lawyer with experience in handling aviation crash cases as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Should helicopter/airplane crash victims or their families discuss settlement with the operator/airline or its insurance company?

While you don’t “need” an attorney to help you resolve your claim, we believe you’ll be better off having an attorney help you navigate what can be a tricky and complex process.  Insurance companies have attorneys and professional claims persons protecting their interests, and they will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible. You should have a pro looking out for you and working to make the insurance company pay you every dollar you deserve for your injuries.

Are there time limits for bringing a helicopter or airplane crash lawsuit?

ABSOLUTELY.  Statutes exist that limit the time you have to file a lawsuit after an accident, including after aviation accidents.  The time you have will likely depend upon where your accident happened – in Louisiana, in another state, offshore, etc.  And knowing when a suit must be filed and where it should or must be filed under the controlling jurisdiction are critical initial questions your attorney needs to evaluate and decide.  This is another reason why you should hire an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of case. The longer you wait to get the claims process started, the more difficult your claim will likely be to resolve.  Don’t compound your loss by letting the clock run out on your claim. Call us and let us handle all the headache so you can focus on the important things like getting your life back in order.

How long does an aviation lawsuit take and how much of my time will it consume?

No two cases are the same, especially aviation cases.  Any lawyer who tells you with confidence how long a case will take to resolve is probably not being totally truthful.  What we do know from experience is that the sooner you hire a lawyer who knows how to work up an aviation case, the sooner your case is likely to resolve, and more importantly the sooner it is likely to resolve with you receiving fair and proper compensation for all your losses.

What qualifications should my aviation attorneys have?

There are no minimum qualifications required for a lawyer to file an aviation crash lawsuit.  However, if you were going to have a major operation, would you want a surgeon who has no experience performing that operation or one who does not have the best equipment to perform it?  If you have been injured or your loved one killed in an aviation accident, this case is likely one of the most important matters you will ever have to deal with in your life. We think you would be best served by hiring a lawyer who has experience handling aviation crash cases and who has the financial ability to hire the necessary experts and prosecute your case against experienced aviation defense lawyers and defense-minded aviation experts who will spare no expense fighting the claim.

Auto accidents

How much UM auto insurance coverage should I have?

As much as you can reasonably afford.  “Liability” coverage protects you in case you hurt someone else in an accident.  “UM” insurance protects YOU AND YOUR FAMILY in case someone hurts one of you in an accident.  Sadly, most drivers carry just the minimum insurance required by law – if they have any insurance at all!  And, as most of the people who have little or no insurance also have little to nothing in the way of money or other assets that you can recover from them if they happen to injure you, UM insurance is your best bet for protecting yourself.  It’s also a relatively inexpensive add-on to your auto insurance policy by comparison to the other auto policy coverages.

I was in an accident; what do I need to do?

Call 911.  Get a police report.  If you are physically able, use your phone camera to photograph and video as much of the scene as possible – your vehicle, the other vehicle(s) (including license plates), the surrounding scene, any immediately visible wounds or injuries, the other driver’s license, insurance card, and registration, the police report item number form, etc.

I was in an accident, and my insurance company/the other insurance company wants me to give a recorded statement?

Insurance companies are in the business of making money, meaning they want to charge as much as they can in premiums for the policies that they sell, and they want to pay out as little as possible in claims.  Claims representatives, no matter how friendly they may sound, are not on your side.

If you were injured in an accident, the claims representatives for the other party’s insurance company may ask you questions designed to get you to minimize the extent of your injuries and to minimize their insured’s responsibility.  It is almost always in your best interest to have your lawyer handle all communications with the insurance company for you.  Your lawyer may make the decision to let you provide a recorded statement, but your lawyer can also establish the ground rules for the statement and protect you against unfair questions during the process.

Who determines who is at fault after an auto accident?

Ultimately, if you bring a claim, it will be your burden to prove that the other driver was at fault for causing the accident.  Also, it will be your burden to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident as well as the extent of the injuries. Insurers are in the business of paying as little in claims as possible.  They have skilled claims representatives and attorneys who will seek to shift some or all of the fault for the accident to you. Likewise, they will seek to establish that your injuries either pre-dated the accident, that they were caused by some other event, and that they are not as significant as you know they are.

How soon do I need to bring my legal claim against the other driver?

Statutes exist that limit the time you have to file an injury lawsuit after an accident.  The time you have will likely depend upon where your accident happened. If your accident happened in Louisiana, you likely have only one year following the accident to file a lawsuit to protect your rights.  However, you should not wait until the last moment to bring a claim. The longer you wait to get the claims process started, the more difficult your claim will likely be to resolve. Don’t compound your loss by letting the clock run out on your claim.  Call us and let us handle all the headache so you can focus on the important things like getting your life back in order.

What if the insurance company offers me a check right away?

It is often tempting to accept the quick check, especially if it’s five figures or more or if you don’t think you were injured too badly.  However, accepting the first offer is almost always a mistake. Do not lose sight of the fact that insurance companies are in business to make as much money as possible.  They are not concerned with justice or with your losses. Once you sign a settlement document, your claim is likely over, and you will be barred from seeking additional compensation if your losses turn out to be more severe than you initially expect.

You should not accept any settlement offer or sign anything until you meet with one of our attorneys for a thorough review of all aspects of your claim.  Think back to all those times you were handed a pen and told to sign a contract or asked to check a box on a web form to provide consent. People have gotten into the habit of signing contracts and other agreements they have not read in-depth.  Some spend the time necessary to read these agreements yet do not understand the terms and sign on the dotted line anyway.

It is in your interest to avoid signing a single document or accepting any settlement check until you have met with an experienced attorney.  Let us review the proposed document, release, or settlement agreement, modify it as appropriate, and engage in negotiations with the insurance company or its lawyer.  Our legal team is experienced in evaluating property loss claims and accident-injury claims and will zealously advocate on your behalf until justice is served.

Are there parties other than the at-fault driver against whom I can take legal action?

Potentially yes.  This is one of the reasons why it is advisable to hire an experienced accident-injury attorney who can evaluate all the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and determine who all the potentially responsible parties are and then develop the information necessary to prove the claim against them.

Why Did My Pain and Injury Symptoms Not Appear Until Days After the Accident?

People injured in an accident often assume that their only injuries are the ones immediately visible to them after the accident.  Though you might not be able to see an injury in the hours or even days after an accident, you may well be injured more than you initially think you are.  For example, it often takes several days for you to feel whiplash symptoms. Likewise, symptoms of concussions a/k/a traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) may take far longer to become apparent (to you or your loved ones), particularly if the symptoms are mild or if you did not hit your head in the accident.  This means it might take some time for all your injuries and the full extent of each injury to become apparent.

Unfortunately, those who immediately report their accident and injury to an insurance company on their own without first speaking to a lawyer and without first undergoing a thorough post-accident medical workup by a physician who is accustomed to treating accident victims, may end up not reporting all of their injuries truly caused by the accident.

Claims reps will almost always try to get you to limit your injuries – either to specific body parts or to specific complaints about those parts.  Insurers may then try to use your early, limited reports of injury against you and seek not to compensate you or reimburse you for medical treatment for injuries you did not initially report.

If you are injured and even slightly suspect another party is responsible for your pain, call a lawyer and meet with a doctor who is experienced in treating accident victims for a comprehensive medical review within the first 72 hours after the accident.  Report all pain and other symptoms, no matter how mild, to the doctor so it can be noted in the official medical report. This professional medical analysis will go a long way in establishing the causal relationship between the accident and your injuries.

If you do not have a doctor who is experienced in diagnosing and treating accident injuries, or if you do not have medical insurance, we can often help you get the treatment you need.

What Types of Compensation Can I Receive in a Settlement?

Obviously, your compensation for your accident-injuries will depend upon a variety of factors, including the facts of your specific accident and the extent and duration of your specific injuries. However, the types of damages that you may be able to recover include compensation for present and future physical pain and suffering, present and future mental anguish and emotional distress, disfigurement and/or disability, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses including future medical care, lost earnings and damage to your earning capacity, potential other economic losses, etc.

Homeowner’s and
Other Insurance Coverage Cases

A storm is coming. Is there anything I can do beforehand that might make my insurance claim easier if my house is damaged?

Yes.  If you are one of the lucky folks who is reading this before you’ve had the misfortune to suffer a storm or other significant property loss at your home or business, there are some things you can do to make an insurance claim easier.

First, every six months or so – and definitely right before you evacuate for a hurricane – you should use your phone’s video camera and do a walk-through tour of your home or business to document its condition and, importantly, its contents.  It should not take more than 5-10 minutes to walk through every room and open every closet door and every drawer to get a picture of what you have. It’s amazing how the value of ALL your contents can add up, and it’s equally amazing how easily you will forget to include lots of things you own when making a claim if you don’t have a video to help you remember.

Also, it’s a good idea to save the receipts for any major purchases you make for your home or business.  Throw them in a folder along with your insurance policies, or even better, scan or photograph the receipts and insurance policies and save them to the Cloud (password protected if any sensitive information is included).  If you are relying on paper files, you should be sure to grab that folder with your policies and major purchase receipts when you evacuate.

What does my homeowners insurance policy cover?

All too often, people who suffer property losses at their homes or businesses – even catastrophic losses – try to resolve their insurance claims without knowing what their policy actually covers and what their insurance company should pay them.

Your property policy is a contract, likely a contract of 50 to 100 pages including customary endorsements.  Those provisions may grant coverage for certain losses, then exclude coverage due to certain causes, still cover ensuing losses, and possibly delete and replace something you’ve read in one part of the policy by an endorsement saying something totally different.  If it sounds confusing, that’s because it is.

Most people have never read more than the declarations page of their policy (the page that shows the basic information like the property’s location, dates of coverage, policy limits, and premium due).  Those people who have read more of their policy probably did not fully understand all of what they’ve read – even lawyers who do not routinely handle coverage disputes may not initially grasp all the issues that can be involved in a property loss coverage claim.

How can anyone reasonably resolve a property loss insurance claim without understanding what is covered, what is not covered, what they need to do after the loss, what the insurance company is required to do after the loss, etc.?  While it may be possible, we don’t think it’s smart. Call us and let us evaluate your policy (not all policies are the same) and your loss and let us shepherd you through the process.

How can I possibly document and value the contents of my home that were destroyed or damaged?

Insurers frequently deny or delay payment of covered claims by telling their insureds that they have not provided sufficient “proof of loss” information, often providing the insureds with “proof of loss” forms that ask for detailed information the insureds no longer have, especially after catastrophic losses.  It can feel like you’re on a merry-go-round that you can never get off. While you do have an obligation to provide your insurer with “satisfactory proof of loss,” what insurers typically claim they need far exceeds what should be “satisfactory.” After all, it is the insurer’s job to adjust the insured’s loss.  It should not be your responsibility to do their job for them. In any event, we can definitely help you with putting together “satisfactory” information on your lost and damaged contents after a loss and with making sure that you get paid everything that you deserve.

Why are some forms of water damage covered by my homeowners insurance and others are not?

Your homeowners policy is a contract.  Under the terms of that contract, certain losses are covered, while other losses will be excluded from coverage.  Generally, losses due to “flood” are excluded from coverage under traditional homeowner’s policies. “Flood” losses are generally covered by separate Flood Insurance policies.  However, following a storm, it is often not easy to determine what water damage resulted from flood and what water damage resulted from some other cause like wind-driven rain. You will likely have more and better coverage available to you if your loss is covered under your homeowner’s policy instead of under your flood policy.  So, having a lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases and being able to distinguish between causes of loss could be very important to your ultimate recovery following a water damage loss.

Does homeowners insurance cover temporary living expenses following a loss?

Generally, yes.  Homeowner’s policies generally provide coverage, up to certain limits, for additional living expenses that a homeowner incurs after a “covered loss.”  However, your homeowner’s policy is a contract, and not all homeowner’s policies provide the same coverage, and certainly not the same limits of coverage – and the loss must be established to be “covered” before you will be entitled to additional living expense.  Even lawyers who do not routinely handle coverage disputes may not initially grasp all the issues that can be involved in a property loss coverage claim, including what additional living expenses you can recover. So, having a lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases could be very important to your ultimate recovery following a loss.

If my insurance company mishandles my claim, can I sue for bad faith?

Yes, you can, and you probably should.  However, not every non-payment or late payment by your insurer will be considered “bad faith.”  Insurers and their lawyers are skilled at trying to justify why they didn’t pay or why they delayed paying as long as they did.  Insurance companies are businesses, and their goal is maximizing their profits. They know that delaying payment to their insureds creates pressure on their insureds who almost always need their insurance money as soon as possible after a loss.  If they can drag you out, and justify why, they can often get you to take less than you deserve. You should have a lawyer who can help you cut though that nonsense and help you get paid what you deserve as soon as possible.

Contact Browne Law LLC today to set up a free consultation

Successfully guiding clients through personal injury and damages settlements for over 25 years