Answers to Our Frequently Asked Questions

When you are involved in an accident or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice or abuse, you may not even know the right questions to ask at first. Browse our collection of frequently asked questions to see what others have asked and read our answers to learn all you can about your case.

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  • How do I protect my right to compensation after a motorcycle intersection accident?

    Intersections are one of the most dangerous spots for motorcycle riders. Drivers who are distracted, intoxicated, or careless can easily cause  motorcycle accidents that result in serious or even fatal injuries. 

    Types Of Motorcycle Accidents

    The most common types of motorcycle accidents at intersections include:

    • Running a red light. No matter how experienced they are, motorcycle riders can't maneuver their bikes as quickly or safely as a driver can stop a passenger vehicle. When a driver runs a red light, it's often impossible for a motorcyclist to avoid the collision.
    • Left hand turn accidents. These types of motorcycle accidents are almost always caused by a distracted or careless driver who simply didn't see the motorcyclist in his way. However, they can also be caused by drivers are who are in such a rush that they fail to yield to traffic coming from the other direction.
    • Rear-end accidents. Since motorcyclists don't have seat belts or the protection of a fully enclosed vehicle, even a rear-end collision at a relatively low speed can be deadly.
    • Blind spot accidents. The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it easy for drivers to miss seeing a bike that's in their blind spot. Visibility can also be affected by poor weather or a lack of suitable lighting at night.

    Associated Injuries

    Motorcycle accidents that happen at intersections typically are classified as low-speed collisions, but they can still cause the following types of injuries: 

    Wearing a helmet and thick leather boots, jacket, and pants can prevent some injuries, but motorcyclists are still at risk even if they've taken all of the recommended safety precautions.

    Determining Liability For A Motorcycle Intersection Accident

    Determining liability for an accident is the first step in building a valid personal injury claim. Here are some types of evidence your attorney may consider:

    • Medical records linking your injuries to the accident
    • Police reports from the accident scene
    • Witness testimony
    • Photographs
    • Video footage from traffic cams or nearby businesses
    • Signs of damage on your bike and the clothes you were wearing

    Keep in mind that if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, you may be found to be partially at fault for your injuries. This will reduce your compensation by your assigned percentage of fault. However, if you can show evidence that your injuries would have occurred even if you were wearing a helmet, you may be able to still receive full damages.

    Types Of Compensation Following A Motorcycle Accident

    A personal injury claim can include compensation for several different types of damages, including:

    • Medical needs such as emergency care, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, and pain medication
    • Anticipated future medical care related to a permanent disability
    • Lost wages from the time you were unable to work due to your injuries
    • Anticipated future loss of earning potential related to a permanent disability
    • Pain and suffering

    A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim filed by the surviving family of a deceased person. This type of case can include compensation for:

    • Medical expenses up to the time of death
    • Pain and suffering up to the time of death
    • Funeral and burial costs
    • Lost wages
    • Loss of the deceased person's companionship

    Punitive damages are damages that are intended to punish the defendant instead of reimbursing for actual damages the injured person has suffered. Punitive damages are not typically a part of a motorcycle accident settlement; however, they can be awarded in personal injury and wrongful death cases if the conduct that caused the accident shows particularly reckless disregard for the safety of others. For example, accidents caused by extreme intoxication, drag racing, or playing chicken would demonstrate signs of gross negligence.

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team has extensive experience handling motorcycle accident claims. Please contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at one of our six convenient office locations.

     

  • What are the most common types of elder abuse?

    Elder abuse can occur in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, as well as in a home setting. Perpetrators may be professional caregivers but are often family members or trusted friends. Types of elder abuse

    Abuse can take many forms and may progress in severity over time.

    Neglect Is Elder Abuse

    Failing to perform basic caretaking duties for an elderly person constitutes neglect. Examples of neglect may include:

    • Not administering necessary medication or failing to seek medical care for an injury or illness
    • Failing to provide appropriate meals
    • Not supervising the mealtimes of a person prone to choking
    • Allowing an elderly person to sit in a wet or soiled diaper for hours on end
    • Not taking reasonable precautions to prevent falls or wandering into unsafe areas
    • Attempting to punish the elderly person for bad behavior by withholding food, water, medicine, or other forms of essential care

    Neglect can be either passive or active. Passive neglect refers to being unaware or in denial about an elder's caregiving requirements. This form of neglect is most commonly seen in family caregivers who may not fully understand an elderly person's limitations. Active neglect refers to willful deprivation of necessary care.

    Emotional Abuse To Nursing Home Residents 

    Emotional abuse refers to a pattern of behavior designed to make an elderly person feel isolated, alone, and afraid. Examples of emotional abuse may include:

    • Yelling
    • Making threats
    • Blaming or scapegoating
    • Humiliating or publicly shaming
    • Ignoring
    • Restricting visits from family and friends

    An elderly person who is being emotionally abused may exhibit sudden changes in mood or behavior that indicate high levels of anxiety and depression. He may attempt to avoid the abuser but may also seem to withdraw from loved ones due to shame and embarrassment.

    Emotional abuse is considered dangerous because it's often a warning sign that other inappropriate activities are taking place. For example, a caregiver who is emotionally abusing an elderly person due to frustration may eventually progress to physical abuse.

    Physical Abuse In Nursing Homes

    Physical abuse refers to any non-accidental use of physical force that causes pain and/or injury. For example:

    • Hitting
    • Slapping
    • Shoving
    • Using inappropriate restraints
    • Force feeding that leads to choking

    Elderly people who are being physically abused are often too frightened to report the mistreatment. As such, any signs of bruises, cuts, or unexplained injuries should be thoroughly investigated.

    Sexual Abuse In Nursing Homes

    Sexual abuse of an elderly person includes any form of sexual activity that occurs when the person is forced or unable to provide consent. This includes:

    • Forced nudity
    • Sexual photography or filming
    • Touching or fondling
    • Kissing
    • Intercourse

    Elderly women are significantly more likely than men to be victims of sexual abuse, with the risk increasing if the woman suffers from Alzheimer's or dementia.

    Fraud and Financial Abuse In Nursing Homes

    Fraud and financial abuse refers to behaviors that undermine an elderly person's sense of financial security. For example:

    • Misusing Social Security or other government benefits
    • Using the person's credit card or bank account without permission
    • Stealing household goods or necessary medication
    • Forging the person's signature on legal documents
    • Stealing the elder’s identity - identity theft
    • Participating in investment fraud
    • Soliciting donations to phony charities

    Fraud and financial abuse is problematic because it often goes on for quite some time until the perpetrator is caught. Elderly people often lack the cognitive ability to actively manage their finances, which means they miss the early warning signs of this form of abuse. When the deception is discovered, it's often too late to fully recover the missing funds.

    Receiving Compensation For Elder Abuse

    Elder abuse cases can involve compensation for:

    • Medical expenses
    • Pain and suffering
    • Disability and/or disfigurement
    • Violations of dignity
    • Funeral and burial costs

    When the elderly person lacks the mental capacity to participate in legal action, a guardian ad litem (GAL) must be appointed. This is typically a spouse, adult child, or close family member but can be someone chosen by the court, if necessary.

    In cases where the abuse has led to the elderly person's death, a surviving family member can initiate a wrongful death claim.

    If you or a loved one have been abused in a nursing home you need to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free, no-obligation case review. 

     

  • Can I receive compensation for injuries in a motorcycle accident if I wasn’t wearing my helmet?

    Motorcycle accidents often result in very serious injuries, which is why it's vital to protect your right to compensation by filing a personal injury claim as soon as possible. However, if you weren't wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, keep in mind that your ability to recover damages may be affected. Louisiana helmet laws

    Understanding Louisiana's Helmet Law

    Helmets have been consistently proven to reduce the risk of fatal head injuries in a motorcycle accident, which is why the vast majority of states require motorcycle riders and their passengers to wear an approved helmet. LA Rev Stat § 32:190 states:

    "No person shall operate or ride upon any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle unless the person is equipped with and is wearing on the head a safety helmet of the type and design manufactured for use by operators of such vehicles, which shall be secured properly with a chin strap while the vehicle is in motion. All such safety helmets shall consist of lining, padding, visor, and chin strap and shall meet such other specifications as shall be established by the commissioner."

    Exceptions to the law include:

    • A person operating or riding in an autocycle if the vehicle is equipped with a roof which meets or exceeds standards for a safety helmet
    • Members of organizations sponsoring, conducting, or participating in parades or other public exhibitions who have received permits from the police authorities of a village, town, city, or parish

    There is a $50 fine for violating the law.

    How Failing To Wear A Helmet Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

    If you weren't wearing a helmet and suffered head or neck injuries, it's likely that you'll be found to be partially at fault for your injuries. Under the doctrine of comparative fault, your ability to recover damages will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. This means, if you're found to be 50% at fault for your injuries, you'll only be able to collect 50% of the settlement you'd otherwise receive. However, you may be able to increase your compensation if you can provide evidence indicating that your injuries would have occurred even if you were wearing a helmet.

    If you weren't wearing a helmet and suffered no neck or head injuries, your failure to abide by the state's helmet law is considered legally irrelevant. Injuries to the arms, legs, and/or torso can't be prevented by helmet use, so your lack of a helmet is not an issue in your ability to recover damages.

    Types Of Available Compensation

    Available compensation in a personal injury claim includes:

    • Medical expenses, including emergency care, surgery, hospital stays, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, and prescription medication
    • Anticipated future medical needs, if you've been left permanently disabled
    • Lost wages, if you were unable to work because of your injuries
    • Loss of future earning potential, if your injuries have caused a permanent disability that will affect your ability to return to work
    • Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional trauma associated with the incident

    Keeping careful records of your medical expenses and lost wages is essential in protecting your right to compensation, since pain and suffering is most often calculated as a multiplier of these expenses. In cases involving permanent disability, expert testimony is often used to establish the level of compensation necessary to account for future medical expenses and loss of earning potential.

    Protecting Your Legal Rights

    Personal injury claims involving motorcycles can present complex issues. Protect your right to compensation by retaining the services of an experienced attorney who can assess the value of your case, line up necessary documentation, locate appropriate experts to testify on your behalf, and negotiate with the insurance company for the highest possible settlement.

    If you've been injured in a  motorcylce accident you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is dedicated to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered serious motorcycle accident injuries receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

     

  • What Auto Insurance Is Required And What Is Optional?

    Buying auto insurance can be a confusing and difficult process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the industry jargon that most insurance companies use. Imagine the surprise of a car accident victim who learns there is not enough insurance to recover from their injuries, medical bills or lost wages. Don't let this happen to you. Make sure Louisiana Car Insuranceyou understand your automobile insurance policy. Here are some tips and tricks you should know when buying auto insurance or updating your current policy.

    What Liability Auto Coverage Do You Need?

    Bodily Injury Liability (BI)

    • Required by law. (Minimum limits of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident in Louisiana.
    • Covers other peopole's bodily injuries or death if you're at fault.
    • Provides for a legal defense if someone files a lawsuit against you.
    • Covers a judgment against you only up to the policy limits in a lawsuit.
    • Does NOT cover injuries to you or other people on your policy.

    Propery Damage Liability (PD)

    • Covers damage you cause to someone's property, like their car, fence, house or other property damaged in an accident.
    • Provides you legal defense if someone files a lawsuit against you.

    What Physical Damage Coverage Do You Need?

    Comprehensive Coverage:

    • Covers your vehicle for incidents other than crashes, like theft, flood, fire, etc.
    • Pays to fix your vehicle less your deductible. To keep premiums low, select the highest deductible you feel comfortable paying.
    • This is not required by a law, but if you have a loan or a lease, the lienholder will require it.
    • If your car is new or in excellent condition, you may need this. If your car is older or in poor condition, ou may not want to pay for this.

    Collision Coverage:

    • Covers damage to your car if it hits, or is hit by, a vehicle or object. 
    • Pays to fix your vehicle less the deductible you choose.
    • This is not required by law, but if you have a loan or a lease, the lienholder will require it.
    • If your car is new or in excellent condition, you may need this. If your car is older or in poor condition, you may not want to pay for this.

    Do I Need Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

    Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury

    • Optional, but should be seriously considered.
    • Covers you, members of your household and passengers for injuries, damages, or death caused in a hit-and-run or by someone without insurance.
    • Your policy will cover your medical expenses, up to the limit on your policy.

    Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury

    • Coverys you, members of your household and passengers for injuries, damages or death caused by someone with insufficient insurance.
    • If you're in an accident caused by a person with insufficient insurance, our policy will pay the difference, up to the policy limit.
    • Uninsured Motorist  Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage can be combined or sold separately depending on the state and the insurance carrier.

    In Louisiana, there is no distinction between uninsured and underinsured. UM coverage provides insurance for both uninsured and underinsured situations. Uninsured property damage insurance covers your auto when property damage is caused by someone without insurance. Underinsured motorist property damage insurance covers your vehicle when property damage is caused by someone with insufficient insurance.

    What Other Type Of Auto Insurance Coverage Is Available?

    Personal Injury Protection Coverage Or Automatic Medical Paymetns Coverage

    • Covers medical, hospital and sometimes funeral expenses of the insured, passengers, and pedestrians who were struck without regard to fault, up to the policy limits.
    • Pays for you or family members injured in another's car or while walking.
    • Total payments covered by PIP/MedPay are the limits indicated. That is the maximum amount that will be paid per person for any combination of covered expenses.

    If you've been involved in a car accident and discover the other driver has no insurance, or if you are underinsured and not able to pay your medical bills based on the negligence of others, you need to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 for your free consultation.

  • What Is Mesothelioma?

    Asbestos has been determined by the Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization and the  Environmental Protection Agency to be a human carcinogen. Many people who have been exposed to and breathed in asbestos while working have decades later been diagnosed with various diseases associated with asbestos.

    Two commonly known lung diseases caused by asbestos exposure include asbestosis (non-cancerous form) and mesothelioma (cancerous form). There is a long latency periodMesothelioma associated with all asbestos diseases. People who are affected may have been exposed in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. Unfortunately, there is still asbestos in some older buildings, and people are still being exposed and becoming ill.

    Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects cells that are found in the lining of the chest (pleura), the heart (pericardium) or the abdomen (peritoneum), according to the National Cancer Institute.

    The only reliable test for diagnosis of mesothelioma is a tissue biopsy. Fluid biopsides have given a higher percentage of negative results than the tissue biopsy test.

    Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure is thought to occur at a younger age than other lung cancers. These types of cancers tend to occur in the lower lobes of the lungs as well. If the exposed person is a smoker, the risk of getting asbestos-related lung cancer rises exponentially.

    There are several stages of mesothelioma. Localized malignant mesothelioma, or Stage I, is generally localized to the lining of the chest cavity around the lung or heart, in the diaphragm or the lung. Advanced malignant mesothelioma, or Stage II, means the cancer has spread  beyond the chest, affecting the lymph nodes in the chest as well. Stage III affects many areas of the chest wall including, but not limited to, the heart, chest, through the diaphragm, or the abdominal lining and sometimes into nearby lymph nodes. Stage IV means the cancer has spread to distant tissues and organs. Recurrent malignant mesothelioma means the cancer has returned after treatment. It can come back in the area originally affected or in other parts of the body.

    Prognosis depends on several factors, including but not limited to, the size of the tumor or the extent of cancer in the body. Treatment of the disease depends on these factors, and consists of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and can comprise a combination of all three.

    If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • How should I prepare for my Social Security disability hearing?

    A hearing with an administrative judge is the second level of appeals for Social Security disability claims. The judge questions the disabled claimant, witnesses, and applicable medical or vocational experts before making a decision.  Preparing for a disability hearing

    Purpose of a Social Security Disability Hearing

    The purpose of your hearing is to learn more about the central issues that relate to your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These include:

    • Medical conditions and medical history. You'll be asked to provide copies of your medical records, as well as answer questions about your pain levels and any associated side effects of the medications you may be taking. Medical history questions may focus on how often you see your doctor and what treatments have been tried for your condition.
    • Physical and mental abilities. Questions about your physical and mental abilities may vary depending on the nature of your disability, but they could include how long you can walk before needing to stop and rest or how much difficulty you have concentrating and remembering new information.
    • Employment history. Questions about your employment history are intended to uncover the types of jobs you may be able to perform. You can expect to be asked about employment from the last 15 years, including how much sitting, standing, and lifting were involved in each position, as well as what specific skills or education you utilized on a regular basis.
    • Daily routine. At your hearing, you'll be asked about what a typical day is like from the time you get up to the time you go to bed at night. You may also be asked about how your routine has changed since you became disabled, if you’re able to perform home repairs yourself, or if you’re having trouble sleeping due to your condition.

    Tips to Prepare for Your Social Security Disability Hearing

    It's understandable to be somewhat nervous about an upcoming Social Security disability hearing, but the process will be less stressful if you keep in mind the following tips:

    • Be honest. Do not lie or exaggerate the severity of your symptoms. If the judge senses you're being untruthful or less than forthcoming, this will derail your case. In addition, everything you say at your hearing is under oath and will be recorded.
    • Don't volunteer unnecessary information. It’s not a good idea to offer up unnecessary details about issues that could hurt your case, such as a past criminal record, your lack of reliable transportation, or a poor local job market. You are required to tell the truth when specifically asked about an issue, but it's not necessary to offer up details that aren't requested.
    • Provide specific details. The purpose of the hearing is to determine how your disability prevents you from working. Provide details that are relevant to your industry, such as not being able to lift more than 10 pounds, not being able to walk more than 10 minutes without requiring a rest period, taking medication that makes it unsafe to drive, or suffering from cognitive impairments that affect your ability to read and understand new materials after experiencing a TBI.
    • Clarify your pain levels. Pain is a subjective concept, so this is one area where you need to be crystal clear in what you're experiencing. Describe your pain in terms of frequency and intensity, explaining what you do to try to obtain relief and using descriptive words such as burning, aching, shooting, or throbbing instead of simply saying that something hurts.
    • Make it clear that you'd rather hold down a job. Appearing eager to collect benefits instead of working will not make a positive impression. Maintain a positive outlook when asked about your past work experiences.
    • Plan to show up early. Hearings are generally fairly quick, with many taking about 15 minutes and most lasting less than one hour. Make transportation arrangements in advance to ensure you don't get lost and miss your appointment.
    • Meet with your attorney before your hearing. Your attorney will be able to go over the documentation supporting your claim and offer specific instructions regarding how to best answer issues of concern.

    If you don't have an attorney who is representing you must speak with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at one of our six convenient locations throughout the state of Louisiana.

     

  • Is medication theft a form of nursing home neglect?

    Drug theft in nursing homes is on the rise, due to the continuing epidemic of prescription opioid abuse throughout the United States. If you believe your loved one has suffered harm due to the theft of his medication, compensation may be available. Medication nursing home abuse

    About Medication Theft

    Prescription pain medications are the most common targets for medication theft. Commonly abused prescription opioids include:

    • Codeine  
    • Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze)
    • Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
    • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
    • Meperidine (Demerol)
    • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
    • Morphine (Duramorph, Roxanol)
    • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
    • Oxymorphone (Opana)

    Benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia are also frequently abused. Examples of medication in this class include:

    • Diazepam (Valium)  
    • Chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride (Librium)  
    • Alprazolam (Xanax)  
    • Triazolam (Halcion)  
    • Estazolam (ProSom)  
    • Clonazepam (Klonopin)  
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)

    How Medication Theft Occurs

    Theft of medication can take several different forms. For example:

    • Not giving a resident a medication that has been prescribed
    • Giving the resident an insufficient dose
    • Substituting an over-the-counter drug such as Tylenol for a prescribed medication
    • Forging a prescription in the resident's name

    In most cases of medication theft, the culprit is a nursing home employee who suffers from a drug addiction and is using the pills to feed their habit. However, prescription medications can also be sold on the black market for a substantial sum. Employees who are struggling financially may find the temptation to supplement their income too difficult to resist when a single pill can be sold for up to $200.

    Someone who is stealing medication from a nursing home resident may exhibit the following warning signs:

    • Being eager to work the night shift, since there tends to be less supervision during this time
    • Insisting on caring for residents who've been prescribed specific medications
    • Making frequent trips to secured areas of the facility where medications are kept
    • Sloppy record keeping such as "forgetting" to count pills or chart medication administration
    • Decline in personal hygiene and appearance
    • Poor relationships with residents and coworkers
    • Legal problems such as arrests for shoplifting or disorderly conduct

    In some cases, employees who are stealing medication may also be engaging in physical or verbal abuse of the residents under their care.

    Nursing homes are supposed to have policies implemented to reduce the risk of medication mismanagement, including having two staff members verify the administration of medications and providing random drug tests for all employees. However, these precautions are often not enough to eliminate all cases of misconduct and nursing home abuse.

    Effects of Medication Theft

    It’s possible for theft of pain medication to go unnoticed for quite some time. Elderly nursing home residents may be unable to communicate their pain levels or be unaware that they're not receiving all of the medication they have been prescribed. Even an attentive friend or family member may not immediately notice that a resident's pain levels are not being properly controlled, since many elderly people are reluctant to discuss what they view as a natural side effect of aging.

    Theft of medications used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia will result in a resident exhibiting an increase in unusual mental health symptoms. Any erratic behavior you notice should be reported immediately. If the nursing home staff aren't responsive to your concerns, seek a second opinion from another care provider regarding the possibility of medication theft.

    Protecting the Legal Rights of Vulnerable Seniors

    If you believe your loved one has been the victim of medication theft, it's important to talk to an experienced elder abuse attorney. A claim can be filed on behalf of your loved one to seek damages for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. When medication theft contributes to the death of a nursing home resident, the next of kin can file a wrongful death suit to seek damages.

    The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to helping Louisiana residents receive justice for a loved one who has suffered due to medication theft. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at one of our six convenient office locations.

     

  • When is misdiagnosis a form of medical malpractice?

    Misdiagnosis is a common basis for medical malpractice claims. However, it's important to keep in mind that a misdiagnosis doesn't necessarily mean your doctor is guilty of malpractice. Misdiagnosis as malpractice

    How Misdiagnosis Occurs

    Despite all the advances in modern medicine, healthcare providers are still human. Errors in diagnosis can be made for many different reasons. Common risk factors for misdiagnosis include:

    • The patient is a child or someone who has cognitive delays that affect his ability to accurately describe symptoms.
    • The condition involves vague symptoms such as a stomach ache, sore throat, or a headache—indicating many different potential health problems.
    • The patient suffers from a rare condition that the typical healthcare provider has little or no experience with.
    • The communication between the doctor and the lab conducting the diagnostic tests is inadequate.

    Common examples of conditions that are misdiagnosed include:

    • Asthma misdiagnosed as recurrent bronchitis
    • Benign tumor misdiagnosed as cancerous
    • Celiac disease misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome
    • Heart attack misdiagnosed as a panic attack or severe indigestion
    • Staph infection misdiagnosed as the flu
    • Stroke misdiagnosed as a migraine
    • Thyroid condition misdiagnosed as depression

    Misdiagnosis can also refer to a delay in diagnosis. This can include having symptoms dismissed as the result of an overactive imagination when they were in fact signs of a serious medical issue.

    Establishing A Malpractice Claim

    A misdiagnosis doesn't always qualify as medical malpractice. To establish a successful malpractice claim, you must be able to prove that the misdiagnosis was the result of negligence and caused direct harm. If the error was one that a reasonable physician would have made given the circumstances, there is no evidence of negligence. If the error was quickly caught and did not affect your treatment options, there are no damages to seek compensation for.

    The process of determining if a misdiagnosis rises to the level of negligence generally relies heavily on expert testimony. Healthcare providers specializing in the patient's condition will testify as to the appropriate standard of care given the symptoms that were present. Testimony from experts often focuses on differential diagnosis, which is a tool that doctors use to continually rule out different diseases until they find the correct cause of a patient's condition. It's a form of medical detective work, using the following steps:

    1. List the patient's symptoms.
    2. Conduct various diagnostic tests.
    3. Make a list of potential medical conditions that could be causing the patient's symptoms.
    4. Use test results and medical knowledge to eliminate or rule out causes of the symptoms until the correct diagnosis is made. The most serious or potentially life-threatening causes should be ruled out first before less serious conditions are considered.

    Establishing harm requires showing that you suffered damages as the result of the physician's conduct. You may show evidence that the misdiagnosis caused you to experience one of the following:

    • Increased risk of complications
    • Decreased your risk of survival
    • Required you to undergo more aggressive treatment than would have been necessary if your condition was diagnosed earlier
    • Made you undergo needless but potentially harmful procedures such as chemotherapy or radiation

    Protecting Your Right To Compensation

    If you are successfully able to establish all of the elements necessary for a malpractice claim, you can seek compensation for:

    • Medical care related to the malpractice injury such as additional surgical procedures, hospital stays, medication, and therapy
    • Anticipated future medical needs, if the malpractice injury left you permanently disabled
    • Lost wages for the time you were unable to work due to your injury
    • Any applicable loss of future earning potential
    • Pain and suffering

    Since malpractice law can be quite complex, the best way to protect your right to compensation is to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can gather evidence and negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you receive the highest possible settlement. The legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to helping Louisiana residents advocate for their right to malpractice compensation after suffering harm related to a misdiagnosis. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review at one of our six convenient office locations throughout the state.

     

  • Why are experts crucial to a malpractice case?

    Expert testimony plays a vital role in the success of any medical malpractice case. Since there is a great deal of technical information involved in deciding whether a healthcare provider's conduct qualifies as negligent, courts rely on expert testimony to interpret the facts of a case. Expert testimony in malpractice cases

    How To Win A Medical Malpractice Claim

    Experiencing a bad outcome from your medical care does not necessarily mean that you've been a victim of malpractice. To receive compensation for your injuries, you must prove your healthcare provider caused your injuries as the result of violating the standard of care for treating your condition.

    Using Expert Testimony To Establish Standard Of Care

    The primary role of an expert witness in a medical malpractice case is to establish the standard of care. This is a term that refers to what a reasonable provider with similar skill and experience would have done to care for the patient.

    Some issues an expert may be asked to establish include:

    • Which symptoms should be looked at when diagnosing a particular medical condition
    • What diagnostic tests should be ordered when a patient seeks treatment with a specific set of symptoms
    • How to correctly interpret test results
    • If a lack of a diagnosis is reasonable based on the patient's symptoms
    • If the patient's symptoms could have been reasonably misdiagnosed as another medical condition
    • Whether the time between receiving a diagnosis and beginning treatment was reasonable
    • What were the risks and benefits associated with a specific medication or course of treatment, given the patient's history
    • What method should be used to perform a surgical procedure
    • How a patient would be monitored for complications

    Proving Causation With Expert Witnesses

    To show causation, you must establish that your injuries are the result of the provider's negligence. In cases where surgical tools are left inside a patient or surgery is performed on the wrong body part, establishing causation is straightforward. In cases involving a serious illness such as lung cancer or complications from labor and delivery, establishing causation is much more complicated. Expert witnesses can also be vital in proving cases where there is some debate as to causation.

    Qualifications For Expert Witnesses

    An expert witness doesn't have to be a doctor who has treated you directly. However, not all healthcare providers qualify as expert witnesses. To be a suitable expert witness, you need to consider the provider's:

    • Academic experience
    • Board certification
    • Expertise in a specific field of medicine
    • Familiarity with protocols for your medical condition
    • Experience in malpractice law
    • Past experience serving as a witness

    Since advances in medicine are being made every day, note that it's possible to encounter experts who disagree about a particular issue. Each side is allowed to submit his expert testimony for the court to consider.

    Consequences For False Or Misleading Testimony

    Expert witnesses once received absolute immunity from civil litigation related to their testimony. However, this is no longer the case. An expert who provides false or misleading testimony can also be subject to action from the state licensing board or discipline by professional medical associations.

    Finding An Expert Witness

    When you retain an attorney for your medical malpractice case, he will locate appropriate experts on your behalf. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys have developed networks of experts they can call who are suited to testify on a specific aspect of your case. Your attorney will also handle the fee for the expert's time and expenses, which will be reimbursed from the settlement you receive as part of your contingency fee agreement.

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help

    As a victim of medical malpractice, you're entitled to compensation for:

    • Medical care related to your malpractice injury
    • Cost of any future medical needs related to your injury 
    • Lost wages during your recovery
    • Any applicable loss of future earning potential
    • Pain and suffering

    The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to helping Louisiana residents advocate for their right to malpractice compensation after being victimized by a healthcare provider's negligence. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation at one of our six convenient office locations.

     

  • What happens if a defective GPS causes an accident?

    Relying too heavily on a Global Positioning System (GPS) device or smartphone app to provide directions can have a serious downside. GPS information may not always be accurate, which means you could be placing yourself or others at risk of a car accident. Car accidents caused by a GPS

    How Your GPS Can Lead To A Car Accident

    A GPS is a network of satellites that can calculate your location by transmitting signals to a receiver and using a process known as trilateration to determine where you are using at least three satellites in the network. The military has been using GPS technology since 1960, but GPS devices weren't available to the general public until 2000 and didn't become widespread until the last decade.

    GPS devices and navigation apps typically have disclaimers that indicate the data they provide may be imperfect. It is vital that drivers pay close attention to road signs and their surroundings to avoid an accident.

    Some examples of how a GPS can cause an accident with incorrect or outdated navigation information include:

    • Being instructed to turn the wrong way down a one-way road
    • Being instructed to drive off a demolished bridge
    • Being instructed to drive into a river
    • Being instructed to drive into a construction zone
    • Using a GPS as a pedestrian and being told to walk onto a highway

    It may seem that reasonable people would not follow directions that put them in peril, but many people have more confidence in a machine than in their own navigation skills. Others don't realize they've made a mistake until it's too late.

    GPS use can also cause accidents by contributing to distracted driving behavior. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that programming a GPS while driving is just as risky as texting while driving—which increases your crash risk by up to 23 times.

    Liability For Car Accidents Involving GPS

    The law is murky surrounding liability for car accidents involving a faulty GPS. The current legal system is based on the notion that drivers bear primary responsibility for crashes, but the widespread use of GPS is changing the standard of what counts as reasonable behavior on the part of a driver.

    In most cases, manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their product is safe and works as intended. However, claiming a specific duty on the part of the GPS mapmaker would open up the door to nearly unlimited liability. Additionally, there is some debate on whether GPS units constitute a product or service. If a GPS is a service, product liability law doesn't apply.

    Holding manufacturers liable for a faulty GPS can be difficult because it can be argued that disregarding the visual cues associated with the road in front of you is equivalent to a misuse of the product and, thus, voids the warranty.

    States such as Louisiana use a comparative fault system to determine responsibility for crashes. Many experts believe that this approach may become common in cases where faulty GPS data contributed to the accident. In a comparative fault scenario, the GPS manufacturer would be partially responsible for providing incorrect data, and the driver would be responsible for a percentage of the damages based on his inattention to his surroundings.

    Receiving Compensation For Your Injuries

    If you've been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your expenses. Damages you can recover include:

    • Emergency medical care and any necessary follow-up appointments
    • Anticipated future medical costs, if you've been left permanently disabled
    • Lost wages from the time you were unable to work due to your injuries
    • Loss of future earning potential related to a permanent disability

    The best way to protect your right to compensation following a car accident is to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you determine who may be financially responsible for your injuries, accurately assess the value of your claim, gather evidence to support your case, line up applicable expert witnesses, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is dedicated to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered serious car accident injuries receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. Appointments are available at six convenient locations throughout the state.