Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation And Personal Injury Claims
How long does it take?
The length of time your claim takes depends on how long it takes to complete the investigation of all facts related to your injuries. It often takes no less than four weeks and frequently longer to settle your case. Treatment of your medical condition depends on your physician. Questions about insurance coverage, ownership or location of the owner will need answers before even making a claim. When a lawsuit is filed, more time will be expended waiting for the formal answer to the complaint, scheduling the discovery discussed below and getting the trial on the court’s calendar. Matthew’s goal is to complete your case as quickly as we can without sacrificing thoroughness.
What do I do after my car accident?
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, it’s important that you take action now. Most personal injury cases in Louisiana must be filed within a certain amount of time after the accident occurred. For car accidents, this time period, known as the statute of limitations, is one year from the date of the accident. It takes time to investigate your car accident and build a strong claim. The more time your attorney has to work with, the better. That’s why you need to contact a qualified car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
What about the filing of my lawsuit?
The actual lawsuit may or may not be immediately filed after Matthew’s first meeting with you. Typically, Matthew thoroughly prepares your case and communicates with the defendant and their insurance company prior to actually filing suit in an attempt to reach an agreeable settlement. In other situations, however, the suit may be filed right away. In either case, the following procedures apply:
- The petition. A lawsuit is started by the plaintiff filing a piece of paper called the “petition.” Matthew will send you a copy of it when it is filed.
- The answer. It is a formal response from the defendant. It’s very rare that liability and damages are admitted in the answer. This is the time when the defense can make any counter claim they feel they have against you and allege that you may have in some way contributed to the cause of your injuries.
- Deposition. After the complaint is filed, the lawyers can take just about anybody’s statement under oath in front of a court reporter, which is referred to as a “deposition.” Matthew will send you some special instructions if your deposition is scheduled to be taken. On the day your deposition is to be taken, come to the office early, at least 30 minutes to an hour before, so that there is time to talk beforehand.
- Interrogatories. These are questions to be answered in writing under oath. When Matthew receives these from the other lawyer, he will send them to you. Do your best to gather the information requested and write down the answers in rough form. There are 15 days in which to supply your answer to the lawyer who submitted the questions. Therefore, returning them as promptly as possible to Lofaso Law Firm, LLC, is important. Matthew and his team will proof them and prepare them in finished form for your review.
- Independent medical examination (IME) or second medical opinion (SMO). The court rules provide for your examination by a doctor other than your treating physician. The idea is to promote fairness by letting the defense obtain an independent medical exam or second medical opinion from their doctor. The same rules we discussed about your own doctor apply here. If you are unhappy about this additional examination, don’t take it out on the doctor who examines you.
Pretrial procedures such as depositions, interrogatories and IMEs are called “discovery.” They are often the source of delay. For example, a doctor’s deposition may only take an hour or two, but getting all the lawyers and the doctor together can often take months.
How should I communicate with my health care provider?
The testimony of your various health care providers will be vital to the success of your case. You should seek medical treatment right away and take care of yourself. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Give the doctor a complete history of the accident, including how it happened. That history becomes part of your medical record and eventually gets into many hands. If something is bothering you, let your doctor know. Sometimes, it is helpful to make some notes to take to the doctor so you do not forget anything.
- Keep all your doctor’s appointments. Missed appointments will go on your record. If you cannot keep an appointment, call the doctor’s office and explain it.
- Be truthful, complete and consistent with your doctor. Do not exaggerate or complain without good reason. It is common for a doctor to testify whether patients are cooperative or are prone to exaggeration. If you exaggerate, your doctor, your attorney or the judge may not take you seriously.
- It is not uncommon to have medical bills that exceed your ability to pay while the case is in progress. It is only very rarely that the defendant or their insurance company will pay your medical bills as long as the case goes along. For that reason, Matthew usually writes to the health care providers promising to protect their reasonable bills out of the proceeds of the case. This inspires cooperation and very often has the effect of keeping these overdue bills from being turned over to credit bureaus or collection agencies. It is up to you to notify Lofaso Law Firm, LLC, of these unpaid bills.
What information should I document or save?
Although most cases are settled before trial, Matthew has been successful by preparing each case as if it were going to trial. Whether dealing with a jury, a defense lawyer or an insurance adjuster, Matthew presents your case the best possible way. He must demonstrate and document the cause of the injury. He must preserve evidence, keep track of witnesses, photograph, examine, interview and analyze. Here is what you can do at this stage of the case:
- Create a witness list. Because you are a plaintiff, some people believe that you will exaggerate the effects of your losses or injury. Therefore, anybody who can provide firsthand knowledge of how the injury or loss is affecting you may be important. Your relatives, neighbors or friends may be able to vouch for the struggles you are experiencing following your accident. Your employees or supervisors may also be willing to testify on your behalf regarding earnings losses and any other problems if you return to work.
- If you find somebody who has some knowledge about the liability aspect of the case (that is, an eyewitness who knows how it happened or who has heard the other party say something about it), let Matthew know right away.
- If somebody important to the case is moving, keep up with them and give Matthew the new address. This includes you.
- Save everything such as receipts and records for medical expenses, prescriptions, medical devices you had to buy because of your injuries. Also, keep track of anything else that might be an indirect result of your injuries. An example would be babysitters or home nurses whom you would not have had to hire but for the injury.
- Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney, doctors, pastor, priest or rabbi.
- Do not sign anything with respect to your case until you have checked with your attorney handling your file.
- Keep a journal right away. Writing a summary of everything you remember about the accident as soon as possible will be useful as time passes.
- Take photos or call Lofaso Law Firm, LLC, for assistance to photograph anything that may disappear. This is particularly true of injuries and scars where a series of photographs to show changes from month to month will be needed.
- From time to time, Matthew may send you a request for updated information. Be as complete and accurate as you can.
How should I communicate with Lofaso Law Firm, LLC?
Matthew returns all calls as soon as possible. There may be times he cannot reach you when he returns the call. Here are suggested guidelines:
- Take advantage of Matthew’s staff. His secretaries and investigators are highly skilled and carefully chosen. They must have access to your files to do the job and have the same confidential relationship with you as Matthew. While they cannot give legal advice, they can answer many questions about what is going on in the case. For example, when depositions are set, how a court ruled on a particular matter and whether the other side has responded are some common questions.
- Leave a message. If the secretary or investigator cannot help you, outline the question or problem to them. That makes it possible to generate solutions to help you. It also cuts down on the common experience of the client and the lawyer leaving a string of messages to call the other, which is a procedure often much slower than the mails.
- If you have something you feel is highly confidential, you may put it in a letter marked confidential on the outside and send it through the mail.
- Dropping by the office unexpectedly is usually a bad idea. Call first. Even if the staff is in the office, it may be impossible to give the matter you are concerned with the attention it deserves because of a lack of preparation.
How will an attorney help me with my workers’ compensation claim?
Missing a deadline or failing to provide the requested information can result in denial of your claim for benefits. That is why attorney Matthew Lofaso is there for you during each step of your claim. He can assist you with:
- Accurately determining your current and future medical expenses
- Completing the workers’ compensation forms
- Submitting completed forms on time
- Determining whether your disability will be partial/full temporary or permanent
He also stands by clients for appealing a claim denial decision at trial.
What should I bring for my consultation?
When you come to Lofaso Law Firm, LLC, for an initial consultation of your claim, there are a few items you can bring that will strengthen your case, such as:
- Medical records for accident-related injuries. After you’ve been treated by a doctor for your injuries, ask for a copy of your medical report to give to your attorney. This report can be valuable evidence when preparing your case.
- A copy of the police report. Make sure you bring a copy of the police report for your accident. You can request a copy from the Louisiana State Police website or from your local police department. This report will help determine how your accident occurred.
- The names and contact info of other drivers and witnesses. If you were able to obtain contact information of the other driver or any witnesses to the accident, be sure to bring this to your appointment. Matthew may need to get in touch with them when he investigates your accident.
- A description of the accident. Write down exactly what happened in the accident as soon as possible after the accident. Your written account may be used as evidence when building your case.
Put An Experienced Attorney To Work For You
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence or at work, you could be out of work for an uncertain amount of time. No matter how you were injured, attorney Matthew Lofaso has the knowledge and the resources to help you. Don’t let another day go by without getting the experienced legal representation you need. Matthew knows how uncertain your life can be. That’s why he’ll do everything he can to get you the compensation you deserve. Send an email or call 225-755-9972 today.