I’ve been in a car accident! What do I do?
Stay calm and do not leave the scene. Call the police immediately and report the accident. Let them know if you believe you require medical attention. If you are able to move around, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and note the names of any witnesses to the accident. Give the police an accurate and complete description of what happened, and keep any documentation the police give you regarding the accident and an accident report. Be factual and truthful in your description of the accident but resist any inclination to be apologetic in order to look good or to get along. It is important to be accurate in what you tell the police officer, not to want to apologize or seem agreeable. Call the Colvin Law Firm as soon as possible so that you can maximize any claims you may have for damages resulting from the accident.
I’m not sure I can afford an attorney. Should I still call one?
Yes! Our firm takes most personal injury cases on a contingency basis. This means that rather than you paying us up front, we are paid by receiving a set percentage of whatever award we are able to get you. If you don’t recover any money, neither do we. For other types of cases, such as domestic, criminal and commercial matters, or for successions and estate work, we do not accept contingency fees. However, in those situations, we would be happy to try to create a payment plan that works for you.
How soon do I file a lawsuit?
That question depends on a number of factors. No matter what, though, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe that you have a claim. All legal claims must be brought within a specific period of time after the accident, and the more time we have to prepare your case the better. Additionally, it is sometimes important to speak with an attorney soon after the accident so that crucial evidence can be examined or preserved or important witnesses be interviewed when their memories are still fresh.
I may have been partly at fault in my car accident or other claim. Should I still seek legal advice?
Yes! Louisiana provides for what is called “comparative fault,” and courts will allocate recovery based on each party’s fault. This is another reason that, when you speak to the police officer, you should try to stick to the facts being asked about and not leap beyond them to apologies or your own conclusions about fault. It may well be that, although you feel responsible, an impartial factfinder would apportion only a small percentage of the fault to you.
I received a citation or service of process. How quickly do I need to contact an attorney?
If you were served with a legal document, you should contact an attorney right away. In Louisiana, parties only have a short period of time to respond to lawsuits in state court. The sooner you retain an attorney, the more able an attorney is to adequately respond within that deadline.
I have a preexisting medical condition that was aggravated in my accident. Can I still pursue a claim?
Yes, in some circumstances you can. Courts recognize that aggravating a pre-existing condition can be an injury in and of itself. Make sure you let us know about this condition when you come in so that we can be fully informed.
I think I have a claim, but there are certain things that work against me. Do I have to tell my attorney about these?
Yes, you should definitely tell your attorney everything about your case. Your attorney is your advocate, but he or she can’t fully work for you unless he or she knows all of the facts. If there are facts that work against you, your attorney will be more able to deal with them if he or she knows about them in advance. Make sure you give your attorney a complete picture of what happened.
What should I bring with me when I come in?
You should bring any and all relevant documentation you have. In a personal injury case, this will include the police report, your insurance card and driver’s license, and any notes you have regarding the other driver’s insurance information. Also bring any photographs you may have of the scene of the accident. For estate matters, this includes a listing of your assets and heirs. For criminal law cases, please bring any documentation you have from the police. Many clients also find it helpful to write down the facts of their case so that nothing gets left out. Additionally, if you are dealing with pain or are missing work because of an injury, it may be a good idea to find a calendar with blank space on it and keep a record, day by day, of what complaints you have and the amount of work you had to miss.
DISCLAIMER: The answers provided above are for general information and advertising purposes only. There are many issues that may affect your case. You should seek a lawyer’s advice before taking legal action of any kind.