FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Personal Injury

What is my case worth?

One of the often asked questions about a personal injury claim is,“what is my injury worth?” Unfortunately, the answer is not very satisfying. For most people, no amount of money is enough to pay for their injury. Money cannot heal broken bodies; money cannot restore a person’s dignity and a feeling of self worth; money cannot bring back a lost loved one.

That being said, money is about the only way we have of trying to make up for an injury or a loss of life. This means that someone must place a value on each injury, each life, and there are some very harsh realities when that happens.  Figuring out how much your accident injuries are worth is a critical aspect of any personal injury claim, and it’s the part of a claim that is most difficult to determine; the amount varies depending on your very particular circumstances.

WHAT AN INSURANCE COMPANY MUST COMPENSATE

To determine what your claim is worth, you must first know the types of damages for which you may be compensated. Usually, a person who is liable for an accident — and therefore his or her liability insurance company — must pay an injured person for:

  • medical care and related expenses
  • income lost because of the accident, because of time spent unable to work or undergoing treatment for injuries
  • permanent physical disability or disfigurement
  • loss of family, social, and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event
  • emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression, or strains on family relationships — for example, the inability to take care of children, anxiety over the effects of an accident on an unborn child, or interference with sexual relations, and damaged property

If you have been injured in an accident, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney that can help you in determining your claim’s worth. Every case is different and it is important to let your attorney help in deciding what is fair and just.

HOW WILL MY BILLS GET PAID?

Let’s talk about how medical bills can get paid if you’re involved in a personal injury accident. Medical bills can be paid in various ways. First and foremost, we would look at the type of automobile coverage that you have on your own vehicle to see if you have med pay coverage. If you have med pay coverage, then this may allow you to file your medical bills with your auto insurer and then seek reimbursement from the at fault liability carrier. Secondly, at Haik, Minvielle & Grubbs, we’ll bend over backwards for our client, and if that means paying for medical bills, well then that’s what we’ll do. There’s various ways to assist the client. We can take out a client loan, pay the medical bills directly, we can assist with MRIs, we can assist you with your prescriptions, we can also assist you with your doctor’s appointments.

Whatever it may be, we’re willing to assist our clients with their medical needs. Again, there are various ways, and some of that depends on if the client even has health insurance. If a client has health insurance, then we may advise that you file your bills with the health insurance carrier. Then we will seek reimbursement from your health insurance carrier at the end of the case.

SHOULD I GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT?

Often times, when you’re in an accident, whether it be a car accident, you’re hurt offshore, or you get hurt at work, someone from your company, or your company’s insurance company may want to take a written or recorded statement from you. Now, there’s nothing that says you should not necessarily give a recorded statement; however, keep in mind that any statement that you give to an insurance company before you speak with a lawyer could be used against you at a later date.

The good rule of thumb is before giving a statement to anyone, call your lawyer, speak about it, and if need be and you feel like you need to give that statement, your lawyer can at least be present to make sure that your rights are protected.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I HAVE AN ACCIDENT?

You’ve just been rear-ended, now what do you do? First, you need to take care of your physical safety and make sure that you’re okay. But if you’re able to, here’s some important things to remember to do. You should always take a picture. Most of us have cell phones now that have cameras. If you’re able to, take a picture of the damage and then the accident scene as soon as you can. You should also talk to the police officer and give them your full cooperation. Make sure that everyone that was there, look for eyewitnesses, and make sure they give their name to the police officer.

After that, if you need to seek medical treatment, go to a hospital, go to a local doctor and get the help you need to document your injuries. The day after, you’re going to feel worse than the day before. In most cases, the muscles start to become sore, you tighten up and you can probably have a hard time getting off the couch or out of bed. This is when you know you’ve really been injured. What are you supposed to do? It’s important that you continue to go to the doctor and get treatment. You’ve been injured through no fault of your own. Sometimes the insurance companies might want to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong, but you haven’t. Document your injuries by going to the doctor, getting the medicines filled, and as hard as it might be, taking it easy and take time to get better. In the end, you’ll be compensated for the time you may have lost from work for your pain and suffering.

What you do need to do is be careful about talking to the other insurance company. They want to take your statement, they want to do it for one reason, they want to try to pin you down as to what happened. They want to try to get you to minimize your injuries. You need to keep all your documentation: medical pills, prescription pills, estimates from your damages, and those pictures that we talked about. It’s very important that you keep all that and use that as evidence in the future. In some point in time, you may want to talk to a lawyer. If so, we will be glad to talk to you the first day or whenever you need us.

 

Maritime Laws

WHAT LAWS APPLY TO MARITIME AND OFFSHORE INJURIES?

What’s so significant about about an individual who is injured offshore, is that they have to be able to speak to an attorney that has the knowledge and the background to be able to assist them. Now, a lot of lawyers might say they have that ability that background but a lot of them do not. As you probably well know, if you’re injured offshore and you’re significantly injured, you’re probably not going to be able to go back to work offshore because the oil industry will just blackball you. It depends on the type of accident that a person has as to the law that’s going to apply to that person’s accident. For instance, you might be injured offshore and fall under The Jones Act, The Longshoremen Benefit Act, or you could actually fall under the State Workmen’s Compensation Act or it could be a Maritime Tropical, which is basically a combination of both.

The recovery under these particular acts or statutes is complex and a lot of it depends on the facts involved. That’s why you need to choose an experienced lawyer or a good law firm that can review these facts and understand the differences between the various laws that apply to your injury and get you the best result.

Real Estate

WHY DO I NEED A REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY?

Buying a home is a very important decision and a big step for those buying for the first time. There are several things to consider when buying a home and you need qualified legal help in order to navigate some of these challenges.

Hiring a real estate attorney is a smart choice. Here are some reasons to hire a real estate attorney:

BUYER

  • Are you an out-of-town buyer?
  • Are you buying a property that is a short sale or bank owned?
  • Are you buying a property that is part of an estate sale?
  • Are you buying a commercial property?
  • Are you buying a property that could potentially have some structural issues?
  • Are you buying a property in a problematic area such as a flood zone or areas with adverse conditions (tornado prone, radon, toxicity levels, etc.)?

SELLER

  • Are you selling a property that is in some state of distress?
  • Are you the heir or executor of a property whose owner is now deceased?
  • Are you selling a house with a non-cooperative partner?
  • Do you have that gut feeling that something could possibly go wrong based on knowledge you have about the property?
  • Do you have judgments or liens in your background?

Divorce

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIVORCE?

Article 102 Divorce
A divorce under Article 102 of the Louisiana Civil Code may be filed immediately, and after the parties have been separated for the requisite time, may be finalized by filing a rule to terminate. If there are children of the marriage, the time to be separated after filing the divorce is one year. If there are NO children of the marriage, the time to be separated after filing the divorce is six months.

Article 103 Divorce
A divorce under Article 103 of the Louisiana Civil Code is one that is filed after the parties have been separated for the requisite time. If there are children of the marriage, the time is one year, and if there are NO children of the marriage, six months. Under this article, a divorce may be granted if:

  1. The other spouse is guilty of adultery
  2. The other spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor

Covenant Marriage
A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:307 governs divorce when a covenant marriage has been entered into. A divorce, or separation from bed and board (which is available only in a covenant marriage), may be granted for the following reasons:

  1. The other spouse has committed adultery
  2. The other spouse has committed a felony and is sentenced to death or imprisonment at hard labor
  3. The other spouse has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a period of one year and refuses to return
  4. The other spouse has physically or sexually abused the spouse or children
  5. The spouses have been living separate and apart for two years without reconciliation
  6. The spouses have been living separate and apart for one year after judgment of separation has been signed

Criminal Law

WHY DO I NEED A SOUTH LOUISIANA DUI ATTORNEY?

If you have received a DWI, DUI, or OWI, you need to see an attorney as soon as possible, because the attorney needs to gather important facts from you. You need to bring a copy of the ticket that you received and any other paperwork the police may have given you. Administratively, they are going to give you a sheet of paper which is a temporary license that you can use to drive for 30 days but you have 15 days to request an administrative hearing through The Department of Administrative Law through the State of Louisiana. If you request that timely within 15 days, you will get an extension of your driving privileges until your administrative hearing can be held, and that is usually done in Lafayette. It’s important to get that piece of paper to an attorney so he can help you apply for your administrative hearing and keep your driving privileges safe.

Once you have the DWI and you have hired an attorney, then he can advise you on what you need to do. He needs to gather all the facts and determine whether or not he can file a motion to suppress the evidence, the DWI test or any other information the police may have gained from you. They may not have properly advised you of your rights and any statement you may have made can be suppressed also. You need to see an attorney immediately with a DWI. Haik, Minvielle & Grubbs have the experience to get you through this devastating situation.

On average, the DWI costs you about $10,000 if you are found guilty and have to have SR22 insurance, if you have to pay an attorney, if you have to pay fines and court costs and you will have to have this extra burden of insurance for at least 3 years. You may also have to put it in an intoxilyzer in your vehicle so it will not start unless you blow without alcohol on your breath.

This law also applies to operating a motorboat out on waters in Louisiana. It’s very important, especially in south Louisiana, where everyone fishes or hunts or uses boats, that you are aware of the law and that you have proper representation. See us at Haik, Minvielle & Grubbs, where we have the experience to get you through this ordeal.

SHOULD I CONSENT TO A SEARCH OF MY VEHICLE?

One of the questions we are asked most frequently, when it comes to criminal practice, regarding search and seizure of one’s vehicle during a traffic stop, is the question: do I have to consent to a search of my vehicle? The answer is NO. You do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle.

First of all, the police officer has to have probable cause to pull you over. Secondly, he has to demonstrate to the judge, that he has reasonable suspicion that there is criminal activity and that a search is warranted. Should he pull you over and ask for consent to search, you have the right to say “No, please obtain a warrant.” If that occurs, the police officer then has to go to a judge, produce evidence to the judge that he has probable cause, along with reasonable suspicion that there is criminal activity being conducted. Then, seek a search warrant for the vehicle. If he obtains the warrant, then and only then, can the vehicle be searched. You have the right to refuse voluntary consent. Please remember this should you be put in this situation.

Estates & Wills

WHY DO I NEED A WILL?

Do I need a will? Or don’t I need a will? Well, the answer is simple. Everybody should have a will. A will can take care of many difficult times upon your passing. That way, everyone knows where everything goes in the event of your passing. You can name an executor, who will handle your estate if something happens to you. You can provide that the executor does not have to post any type of security or bond. You wouldn’t want your wife to have to go buy a bond from an insurance company to be able to handle your estate. You can provide that your executor serve without bond or other security. You can also delineate certain things. For instance, if you want your oldest son to have a certain rifle or shotgun or if you want your daughter to have your wife’s wedding and engagement ring, you can make specific bequests to different children or different charities. You may want to leave a bequest to your favorite church or to the SPCA or any other non-profit. You can plan for that, and do it, by using a will. There are many good reasons to have a will. And no good reasons to not have a will. No matter how large or how small your estate is, you control what happens upon your passing, not the State of Louisiana or the federal government.

HOW DO I PLAN MY ESTATE?

Planning your estate is not as complicated as some people might think. You need to see an attorney to prepare your last will and testament. In certain cases, you may or may not need to pay any estate taxes. In Louisiana, there are no estate taxes. The federal government has estate taxes, but at this time, the exemption is very high, and only if you have a multi-million dollar estate, over 5 million dollars, will you be required to pay and federal taxes at all. But, you need to talk to an attorney, plan your estate, and set up trust accounts for different children. If you have a child that is disabled and want to protect that child, you can prepare a trust and name trustees to care for that child, if something would happen to you. If you are young, you still need a will! Suppose you are thirty years old and have children that are four and five years old, what happens to your children if something happens to you? You can name somebody to care for your children, you can create a trust so that they will have the financial resources to provide for your children.

WHY DO I NEED A TRUST FUND?

If you are concerned about your estate, one of the things you may consider is a trust fund, or a trust. You can set up a trust and leave certain things to the trustees in the trust. If you want to provide for your children and make sure they don’t get a lump sum settlement they can spend in a week, a trust may be the way to go. For instance, if your children are 10, 12, 15 years old, you leave certain things to trustees of the trust to the children. The trustees are given certain powers and you can enumerate specific powers or you can say they have whatever powers are allowed by the Louisiana trust code. For instance, you can say: “I give to John, trustee of the Mary trust, the following:” and name certain things. and say, “The trustee’s powers are enumerated as follows: he provides a home for Mary, he provides food and clothing for Mary, he provides for Mary’s education.” And the trust can terminate. When Mary turns the age of 21, she gets 50% of the trust. When she reaches the age of 25, she gets the remainder of the trust, so she doesn’t get everything at one time and has an opportunity to spend it irresponsibly. If you are considering making a will, you may want to consider setting up a trust for children, especially if they are under 25 years of age, so they can be protected and your estate can be protected from unscrupulous persons who may take advantage of your children. You’ll have a trustee who can prevent that and provide for your children into the future.

HOW DO I PLAN FOR AN UNTIMELY DEATH?

Have you given any consideration as to what happens if you should meet an untimely death? What happens to your estate? No matter how big or how small your estate is, you should have a will. Either you decide what happens to your belongings, or the State of Louisiana does. If you are like us, we would prefer to decide where our estate goes than have the state tell us where it goes. At Haik, Minvielle & Grubbs, we can help you make those determinations. You should also consider having a living will. What happens if you are brain dead, but they can keep you alive artificially for an extended period of time. Do you want that burden on your family? Or do you want to provide that if you have been certified dead, that the doctor can unplug you? You should also consider having a power of attorney. What happens if you’re in an accident and your wife needs to take certain steps and certain actions legally and she can’t do it? She should have the power of attorney to do that for you. You should also have a medical power of attorney. If you are hospitalized and can not make medical decisions, who do you want to make those medical decisions? A doctor, or your loved one? We would choose our loved one. So if you are considering taking care of your estate, you need to contact us at Haik, Minvielle & Grubbs. We have the ability to help you plan your estate, to get the necessary legal documentation in place in the unfortunate event of an accident or your death.