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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  • Can a brain injury cause PTSD?

    The relationship between brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is complex. Since PTSD is a mental health disorder, it's not caused by a brain injury. However, the two conditions can cause overlapping symptoms and create complexities in the treatment process. Brain injuries and PTSD

    Symptoms of a Brain Injury

    The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) vary in each individual but can include:

    • Trouble with memory and concentration
    • Sensitivity to light and sound
    • Severe fatigue
    • Headaches and dizziness
    • Vision problems
    • Loss of coordination and balance
    • Slurred speech
    • Depression, anxiety, and mood swings
    • Agitation, aggressiveness, or combative behavior
    • Personality changes
    • Poor judgment

    Brain injuries are diagnosed with a neurological examination and imaging tests such as a CAT scan, an MRI, or a PET scan.

    Developing PTSD After a Brain Injury

    Although brain injuries don't cause PTSD, it's possible to develop the condition after any traumatic event. Memories of the accident that caused the brain injury, as well as the emotional trauma associated with the injury, can trigger PTSD symptoms that complicate the rehabilitation process.

    The risk of developing PTSD after an accident causing a brain injury is higher in people with a past history of a mental health disorder such as anxiety and depression. People who are socially isolated and lack a strong support post-accident support system also face a higher risk.

    Symptoms of PTSD after a brain injury can include:

    • Feeling depressed
    • Feeling guilt and shame
    • Feeling anxious and jittery
    • Having unwanted memories of the accident that caused the brain injury
    • Avoiding people or places that remind you of the accident that caused the brain injury
    • Having trouble connecting to friends and family
    • Feeling emotionally numb
    • Finding it difficult to relax because you're always on the lookout for potential threats or dangers to yourself and others

    To some extent, experiencing these symptoms immediately after involvement in a traumatic event is entirely normal. To qualify as PTSD, symptoms must persist for more than a month and cause significant problems in the ability to complete everyday activities or maintain relationships with others.

    Treatment for Brain Injuries

    Mild forms of TBIs are generally treated with rest and close monitoring of symptoms. Patients are urged to avoid physically strenuous or cognitively taxing activities to give the brain time to heal.

    In more serious forms of brain injury, medication may be given to control seizures or reduce pressure in the brain. Surgery may be performed to control bleeding in the brain or repair a fractured skull.

    Someone with a serious TBI will require ongoing rehabilitation to relearn basic skills. This can include learning how to perform tasks such as walking, talking, and self-feeding. The patient's care team will include a neuropsychologist who evaluates cognitive impairment and performance, provides psychotherapy, and develops treatment plans to help the patient manage behaviors and learn effective coping strategies.
    Treatment for PTSD

    PTSD is treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), either in the form of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) or Prolonged Exposure (PE). CPT helps individuals better understand how the triggering event has affected their thoughts and feelings. PE consists of slowly exposing PTSD sufferers to situations or events that trigger symptoms until they are able to react in a more controlled fashion.

    Medications can't cure PTSD, but they can be used to manage specific symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can minimize symptoms of depression, while Prazosin can control nightmares.

    Protecting Your Right to Compensation

    If you've suffered a TBI and are experiencing symptoms of PTSD after an accident caused by another party's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you're partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you can receive compensation that is proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team advocates for injured Louisiana residents throughout the process of resolving their personal injury claims. To learn more, please contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 for a free consultation. Our experienced lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. 

     

  • How can I prove asbestos is the cause of my medical condition?

    patient_and_doctorFrom the late 1800s through the late 1900s, asbestos was used in a wide variety of ways. People who worked in the military, construction, automotive, and shipbuilding industries—and the people they lived with—were often exposed to asbestos products.

    At the time, they may not have suffered any health problems. However, the ill effects of asbestos exposure often don’t appear for decades.

    Today there's not a definitive medical test to see if you were exposed to asbestos years ago.

    You Deserve Compensation If You Can Prove Exposure

    Even without a blood test or other diagnostic tests, you may be able to prove that asbestos caused your medical condition. You can do this if you were:

    • Diagnosed with mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of this aggressive type of cancer.
    • Diagnosed with lung cancer or COPD, absent other risk factors. Without other potential causes, such as smoking, a doctor may determine your condition was caused by asbestos exposure.

    Since there's not a definitive medical test for asbestos exposure, your doctor and your lawyer will each ask questions about:

    • The jobs you held
    • The jobs of your family members and people you lived with throughout your life
    • Other risk factors for your medical conditions

    If it can reasonably be determined that you were exposed to asbestos and that you developed cancer or another serious health condition as a result, then you may have the legal right to pursue damages.

    Work With an Experienced Asbestos Injury Lawyer

    You're going to need both evidence and persuasive arguments in order to make a fair and just financial recovery. Our experienced asbestos injury lawyers would be pleased to meet with you for a free, no-obligation consultation.

    During our initial meeting, we can discuss your possible asbestos exposure and, if together we determine that moving forward with a claim is in your best interest, then consider representing you on a contingency fee basis. This means you won't owe any legal fees upfront. Instead, we'll only be paid for our services when your claim is settled.

    Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Can I file a slip and fall claim if I was injured on church property?

    If you are injured while attending worship services or other activities at your church, synagogue, mosque, or house of worship, you may be entitled to compensation for accident-related expenses. Churches have the same legal duty of care for their visitors as any other public establishment. Slip and falls at church

    How Slip and Fall Accidents Can Occur

    Slip and fall accidents can occur in churches in many different ways. For example:

    • Interior lighting is dim to provide an atmosphere for contemplation.
    • The floors are often tile or marble, which can be slippery.
    • Steps leading to balconies and alters are often made of polished wood, which provides minimal traction.
    • Churches rely heavily on volunteers, who may leave items in unsafe locations due to a lack of training.
    • Spills may not be promptly cleaned up if staffing levels are minimal.
    • Due to a lack of funds, maintenance may be deferred—creating tripping hazards in parking lots and other areas of the facility.
    • You may injure yourself while volunteering at a church event.

    Protecting Your Right to Compensation

    Even though a church is a nonprofit organization, most churches have employees, administrators, property, investments, and other financial assets. To protect their interests, they generally carry liability insurance. Coverage limits will vary, but most places of worship have policies similar to a small business that is regularly visited by the public.

    If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a church, you should seek an immediate medical evaluation. Even if you're only experiencing minor discomfort, you must rule out signs of a more serious injury while establishing a clear link between the accident and your condition.

    You must also report the incident to the minister, pastor, or church administrator. If you are unable to make an immediate report due to your injuries, ask a friend to family member to make the initial notification on your behalf. This is necessary to seek compensation from the church's insurance company.

    A slip and fall claim can include compensation for:

    • Medical care, including anticipated future medical expenses related to your injuries from the incident
    • Lost wages, including applicable loss of future earning potential
    • Pain and suffering, including physical pain from your injuries and the emotional distress you suffered from the incident

    How Fault Affects Your Compensation

    In some cases, you can be found partially at fault for injuries suffered as the result of a slip and fall accident. For example, if you ignored warning signs that a floor was slippery or jumped over a barrier to enter a restricted area, you could be found to have partially contributed to your injuries.

    You can still receive compensation if you are partially at fault. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. This reflects your financial responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

    The Value of Legal Representation

    Although most personal injury claims are settled out of court, it's still in your best interests to consult an attorney. While you may believe that church officials wish to do the right thing, the insurance company's top priority is protecting its bottom line. This means you could be left without the funds necessary to pay your accident-related expenses.

    It's understandable to be worried about legal costs if you've suffered injuries that have left you with medical expenses and/or limited your ability to work. However, personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney will accept a percentage of the settlement as a fee for representation. Under this arrangement, your attorney has a vested interest in the outcome of your case, and you're able to obtain an advocate for your interests with no upfront expense.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Slip And Fall?

    If you've been hurt in a slip and fall you need to speak with an experienced slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • How are slip and fall claims for elevated falls different from claims for same level falls?

    Although the majority of slip and fall claims involve falls on the same level, elevated falls tend to result in the most serious injuries. If you've been injured in a slip and fall accident involving an elevated fall, it's vital that you understand how to protect your right to compensation. Personal injury elevated falls

    About Elevated Falls

    Elevated falls can take a number of forms. For example:

    • Falls down a flight of stairs
    • Falls from a deck
    • Falls from a balcony
    • Falls from a ladder
    • Falls from trucks, ladders, or other equipment

    Type of Injuries Associated With Elevated Falls

    Broken bones are typical injuries that occur in an elevated slip and fall accident. Fractures may occur in the ankles, legs, or pelvis, but they can also occur in the wrist or arm if the victim instinctively attempts to brace himself for the fall. In some cases, multiple breaks can occur.

    Head injuries become a serious concern when a fall occurs at an elevated level. The most minor form of head injury would be a concussion, but a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in permanent physical or cognitive disabilities requiring around-the-clock care.

    Spinal cord injuries below the neck can result in paraplegia, while spinal cord injuries above the neck cause quadriplegia. Complications of paralysis can include difficulty regulating blood pressure, inability to control bladder or bowels, sexual dysfunction, inability to breathe without a ventilator, and chronic pain. Depending on the height of the fall, this type of accident could result in a fatality.

    Types of Compensation

    A slip and fall claim can include compensation for:

    • Medical care, including emergency room visits, diagnostic tests, surgery, and physical therapy
    • Anticipated future medical needs due to a disability such as wheelchairs and other assistive devices or nursing care
    • Lost wages from the time you were recovering from injuries
    • Loss of future earning potential due to a disabling injury
    • Pain and suffering

    It's vital that you wait for maximum medical improvement before settling your slip and fall claim. This is the point at which you've either healed completely or your condition has stabilized enough that the doctor can reasonably predict your future medical needs.

    Claims for future medical expenses and loss of future earning potential will need to be supported by expert testimony. Medical experts can describe your condition, while life care planning experts can estimate the cost of your future care given current healthcare inflation rates. Vocational experts can testify as to your ability to return to work, while economic loss experts can quantify the value of your lost wages.

    A wrongful death claim for a slip and fall accident that results in a fatality can be filed by the deceased person's surviving family. This claim can include compensation for:

    • Medical expenses up to the time of death
    • Lost future wages
    • Pain and suffering, if the death was not immediate
    • Funeral and burial costs
    • Loss of the deceased person's care and companionship

    How Fault Affects Compensation

    Although property owners or managers have a responsibility to provide safe conditions for visitors and guests, this does not mean they are automatically liable for the accident. In some cases, the slip and fall victim is found at fault.

    In injuries involving elevated falls, drugs or alcohol may be involved. This would make the victim at least partially responsible for his injuries. Ignoring posted warning signs or engaging in horseplay would also be considered examples of partial fault.

    Someone who is partially at fault can still receive compensation for slip and fall injuries, but the settlement is proportionally reduced by the assigned percentage of fault.

    How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help

    Minor slip and fall claims that are uncontested may be settled without an attorney, but you should certainly seek legal representation for a slip and fall case involving permanently disabling injuries or a wrongful death.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Slip And Fall?

    If you've been hurt in a slip and fall you need to speak with an experienced slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Do I need a lawyer to pursue a mesothelioma case?

    If you are considering filing a mesothelioma claim, you will need a legal advisor to represent you and offer advice throughout the process. An attorney who has handled these kinds of cases before can be invaluable to you and your family, especially if your diagnosis is interfering with your family’s financial security. 

    Benefits of Hiring a Mesothelioma Injury Attorney

    Mesothelioma cases are not like typical personal injury cases. It may take a significant amount of investigation and litigation to obtain a fair settlement. The right attorney can take on most or all of the duties involved, giving you the time you need to focus on your health.  Hiring an attorney for your mesothelioma case

    Your mesothelioma attorney can:

    • Determine where the exposure occurred. The asbestos exposure that caused your mesothelioma may have happened decades ago, making it difficult to know who could be responsible. Your mesothelioma lawyer will perform an in-depth investigation of your work history to see which company may be at fault.
    • Calculate your losses. Mesothelioma treatment can cause a significant financial burden for many patients. Your attorney will calculate the amount of your lost wages, medical bills, travel expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering, as well as funeral costs if a loved one with mesothelioma has died. Depending on the details of your case, your lawsuit may include punitive damages to punish a former employer or asbestos manufacturer for putting your life in danger.
    • File your claim on time. Patients have a limited amount of time to file a mesothelioma injury lawsuit. Since these time limits vary from state to state, it is best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after being diagnosed.
    • Ease your burden. Attorneys who are familiar with mesothelioma know how overwhelming and expensive treatment can be. They can see if you qualify for disability, Medicare, or other public benefits until your claim is settled (and in some cases, you may not have to pay these providers back with your settlement).

    If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can determine who is liable for your medical bills and pain and suffering. We represent asbestos injury clients on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront costs, and you will not pay us anything until we win your case. Simply fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a free consultation, or call us. To learn more about your options, order our free eBook, Mesothelioma and Your Legal Rights or call us directly at 318.588.6303.

     

  • Can a personal injury claim include compensation for disfigurement?

    Disfigurement from a car accident is a life-changing reminder of the trauma you've suffered. If your injuries are the result of another person's negligence, you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  Compensation for disfigurement

    How Disfigurement Can Occur

    There are a number of ways individuals can develop disfiguring injuries from a car accident. These include:

    • Deep lacerations
    • Burns
    • Amputation of a limb
    • Surgical procedures needed to treat other accident injuries such as organ damage

    Disfigurement can occur on any part of the body. However, facial disfigurement is considered the most serious because this type of injury can't easily be concealed.

    Medical Expenses Associated With Disfigurement

    Some of the medical expenses you might have after suffering disfiguring injuries in a car accident include:

    • Emergency room care
    • Diagnostic tests
    • Follow-up visits
    • Cosmetic surgery
    • Physical therapy for burn scars that have affected movement
    • Prosthetics for amputated limbs
    • Medications prescribed by your doctor such as creams or ointments to reduce the itching and swelling as scars heal
    • Mental health counseling

    Keeping copies of all invoices and bills related to your treatment can make sure you're properly compensated for these expenses.

    Disfigurement and Employment

    Someone who has suffered disfiguring injuries in a car accident can expect a lengthy recovery process. This will likely involve taking time off work for doctor's appointments, surgery, and healing. All time missed from work due to your accident-related injuries can be included in your settlement.

    Disfigurement isn't something you'd normally expect to factor into your future earning potential, but it may be a factor if you're employed in a position that relies on maintaining a specific appearance. For example, models, actresses, news anchors, and entertainers must often meet specific physical requirements to succeed in their professions. However, even less prestigious positions that involve a great deal of public contact could be affected by disfigurement.

    If you believe your injuries will affect your ability to earn a living in the future, your attorney can find an expert witness to estimate the appropriate compensation. Vocational experts can testify as to what types of positions would be available given your skills, education, and the local labor market, while economic loss experts can testify as to the value of lost wages and employer-provided benefits over time.

    Pain and Suffering

    Pain and suffering in a personal injury claim refers to both physical pain and emotional trauma. In a case involving disfiguring injuries, it's common for victims to experience depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health symptoms as the result of how their appearance has permanently changed. Teenagers and young adults may be especially vulnerable to mental health complications related to disfigurement, since this is the time when self-esteem and a sense of self are being formed.

    If you are seeing a therapist as the result of the accident, she can provide insight into the pain and suffering you have experienced. You should also keep a journal documenting your feelings and how your injuries have affected your everyday life. These observations often prove valuable as a negotiating tool.

    Taking photos of your injuries as they heal over time can also be useful as supporting evidence for your case. Since it can take many months to reach a settlement in a personal injury claim, it can be difficult for the court to imagine what your injuries looked like immediately after the accident.

    How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help

    Most personal injury claims are settled out of court, but it's still in your best interest to retain an attorney. The at-fault driver's insurance company will have a team of attorneys working to protect its financial interests and will be reluctant to provide the compensation you deserve.

    Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • When I sign a consent form prior to surgery, do I waive my rights to pursue a malpractice lawsuit?

    Every operation carries an element of risk, even when the procedure is considered routine. Because of this, doctors require patients to sign a consent form before surgery.

    The consent form limits your legal right to sue for surgical complications causing injury, but it does not necessarily prevent you from having a valid medical malpractice claim.  Signing consent forms and medical malpractice

    Understanding Informed Consent

    Informed consent refers to the understanding that patients have the right to make educated decisions about the medical care they receive. While they can rely on the doctor's training and expertise, they still have the freedom to decide what care is best suited for their needs.

    All surgeries carry the risk of complications such as infection. These complications can occur even when the surgeon does everything correctly. It is up to you to decide if the benefits of the surgery outweigh the potential risks.

    Before you have surgery, you'll be asked to sign a consent form. Signing a consent form indicates:

    • You know what procedure you are having the surgeon perform.
    • You were told of the possible risks associated with the surgery.
    • Your doctor discussed any available alternative treatments or procedures.
    • You had a chance to ask questions before the surgery.

    When the patient is a child, the parent gives consent. Informed consent is not required for emergency procedures, regardless of the patient's age.

    When You May Have a Malpractice Claim

    Signing a consent form does not give your surgeon total freedom from litigation. You may still have a medical malpractice claim if the surgeon failed to meet the medical standard of care for your condition.

    Some examples of errors that could constitute a valid medical malpractice case include:

    • You were the victim of a wrong site, wrong procedure, or wrong patient surgery.
    • You suffered complications from a retained surgical sponge or surgical instrument.
    • The surgeon punctured a nerve or organ.
    • An improper incision nicked or cut an artery.
    • The surgery was performed incorrectly due to the surgeon's lack of training or experience.

    You may also be able to proceed with a malpractice case if the consent form was not worded properly. As a legal document, the form must contain specific information and phrasing to be considered valid.

    Elements Necessary to Prove a Medical Malpractice Claim

    You must be able to establish four key elements to win any medical malpractice case, including one that involves surgical errors:

    • The existence of a doctor-patient relationship
    • A deviation from the standard of care that constitutes negligence
    • Injuries resulting from the negligent care
    • Specific financial damages resulting from the injuries

    Malpractice claims rely heavily on the testimony of expert witnesses who are professionals with education and experience in a specific area related to your case. These include surgeons who can talk about the accepted standard of care for your condition, as well as experts who can quantify your future financial needs as they relate to the injuries you've suffered.

    Available Compensation

    The majority of medical malpractice claims are eventually settled out of court, with compensation based on negotiations between the malpractice insurer and your attorney.

    Your settlement will include compensation for:

    • Medical expenses related to treating any injuries caused by surgical errors
    • Anticipated future medical needs, if you've been left permanently disabled
    • Lost wages, if you had to miss work due to extra time in the hospital or a lengthy recovery process
    • Loss of future earning potential, if applicable
    • Pain and suffering, which includes both physical pain and emotional trauma

    Malpractice cases are often accepted on a contingency fee basis, which means your attorney agrees to accept a percentage of the final settlement as a fee for his legal services instead of requiring upfront payment. You'll need to consider the contingency fee when deciding if a settlement is adequate for your needs.

    How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault has extensive experience assisting Louisiana residents in obtaining malpractice compensation related to surgical errors. Our attorneys can advocate for your interests throughout the settlement process, leaving you free to focus on recovering from your injuries. To learn more, please contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 for a free consultation.

     

  • Do I have a malpractice claim if I was exposed to harmful radiation from an X-ray or a CT scan?

    X-rays and CT scans are generally considered safe and effective, but serious harm can result if the risks of radiation exposure are not minimized. If you've suffered injuries due to radiation exposure, you may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in either a medical malpractice or product liability case. Radiation exposure malpractice

    Injuries Caused by Radiation Exposure

    X-rays and CT scans allow doctors to get a better view of your bones or internal organs before diagnosing an illness or injury. However, the radiation used to perform these tests does carry a degree of risk.

    Potential injuries linked to radiation exposure include:

    • Organ and tissue damage
    • Cancer
    • Miscarriage
    • Fetal abnormalities

    The dangers of radiation exposure are increased when several tests are performed in a relatively short time period. CT scans carry a higher risk than X-rays because they use higher doses of radiation.

    Responsibility for Radiology Equipment

    In a hospital or imaging center, the person in charge of ensuring that the radiology equipment is used correctly and that patients receive the right dosage of radiation is called a medical physicist. Medical physicists are certified by The American Board of Radiology in one of three subspecialties: diagnostic medical physics, nuclear medical physics, or therapeutic medical physics.

    Frequency of Radiation Overexposure

    There is no federal agency that tracks radiation exposure related to X-rays and CT scans performed on the general public. However, the federal government funds a testing service known as the Imaging and Radiation Oncology Core (IROC) that must inspect any radiation center seeking federal funding for clinical trials. In 2008, IROC found almost 30% of hospitals undergoing inspection were not able to properly irradiate a test dummy. This statistic alone suggests a legitimate cause for concern.

    Proving a Malpractice Case

    Some examples of conduct that might be considered malpractice include:

    • The doctor neglected to minimize the risk of radiation exposure by using ultrasound or other non-radiation diagnostic tests before ordering the X-ray or CT scan.
    • The radiation dose wasn't properly calibrated for your body size.
    • You weren't provided with a protective lead apron to shield the parts of the body the doctor didn't need to see.
    • Your doctor recommended tests with unnecessarily high risk and minimal benefit such as a whole-body CT scan.
    • Your doctor was sending patients to an imaging center he had a financial affiliation with—which could be a conflict of interest.
    • You were pregnant at the time, and your doctor didn't inform you of the risks to the fetus associated with radiation exposure.

    Malpractice claims involving radiation exposure can be difficult to prove. Tissue or organ damage and cancer related to medical radiation don’t appear until several years after exposure. Miscarriage or fetal abnormalities will be apparent much sooner, but these effects can also have a number of other causes.

    Finding relevant expert witnesses to testify is essential in proving a causal link between your injuries and the radiation exposure. This testimony can also help establish negligence, which means that your doctor failed to follow the accepted standard of care for your condition.

    Product Liability Claims

    If your injuries are due to equipment failure or improper calibration, this non-medical cause wouldn't be considered malpractice. However, you may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer or servicer of the equipment as part of a product liability claim.

    Product liability law requires companies to be held legally responsible for the harm people suffer due to faulty manufacturing or design errors in a product. Failing to warn of the dangers associated with a product can also be considered evidence of negligence in a product liability claim.

    Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault to Evaluate Your Options

    If you've suffered harm that you believe was caused by exposure to excessive medical radiation, Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help. Our attorneys have extensive experience assisting Louisiana residents in settling both medical malpractice and product liability claims. Cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, so there is no upfront cost for obtaining quality legal representation. To learn more, please contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 for a free consultation.

     

  • How are funds divided in a wrongful death settlement?

    Suffering the loss of a loved one is never easy, but a wrongful death settlement can provide a sense of closure when the death was caused by the negligent conduct of another party. However, you may find yourself wondering how the funds from this legal action will be divided. Wrongful death funds

    Components of a Wrongful Death Settlement

    Compensation in a wrongful death case includes the following types of damages:

    • Pre-death pain and suffering
    • Medical expenses incurred before death
    • Funeral and burial costs
    • Compensation for lost care and companionship
    • Punitive damages, if the death involved particularly negligent or malicious conduct on the part of the defendant

    Distribution of Funds

    Wrongful death cases are typically accepted on a contingency fee basis, which means the attorney who handles the case is entitled to a percentage of the settlement as the fee for legal services. There may also be additional expenses related to the preparation of the case that aren't included in the contingency fee, depending on the terms of the attorney's contract.

    Louisiana law places no specific limitation on how wrongful death settlements are distributed between family members. However, it is most common for the funds to be considered part of the deceased person's estate.

    If the deceased died with a will in place, the settlement is distributed according to the terms of the will. If the deceased died without a will in place, the settlement is distributed using intestate laws. These rules can be quite complicated, but the general guidelines are as follows:

    • If the deceased had children but no spouse, parents, or siblings, the children inherit everything.
    • If the deceased had a spouse but no children, parents, or siblings, the spouse inherits everything.
    • If the deceased had living parents but no spouse, children, or siblings, the parents inherit everything.
    • If the deceased had siblings but no spouse, children, or parents, the siblings inherit everything.
    • If the deceased had a spouse and children, the spouse has the right to use the deceased's share of the community property for life. The children inherit the deceased's share of community property subject to the surviving spouse's right to use it for life, plus all of the deceased's separate property.
    • If the deceased has a spouse and living parents, the spouse inherits all of the community property and the parents inherit the separate property.
    • If the deceased has a spouse and siblings but no parents, the spouse inherits all of the community property and the siblings inherit the separate property.
    • If the deceased had siblings and parents but no spouse, the parents have the right to use intestate property for life, then the siblings inherit everything.

    When the children entitled to an inheritance are minors, a guardian ad litem is typically appointed to make sure their interests are protected. This is considered a necessary step due to the inability of a minor child to be financially self-supporting without a parent's income.

    Special Circumstances

    In the majority of cases, the heirs of the deceased are able to come to an agreement using general state guidelines or the provisions of the deceased person's will. However, there are a number of special circumstances that can trigger disputes:

    • Separated but not divorced couples
    • Stepchildren raised by the deceased
    • Foster children in the process of being adopted
    • Children born outside of marriage
    • Half siblings
    • Parents who did not maintain constant contact with their children
    • Individuals who are not immediate family but were financially dependent on the deceased person

    When there is disagreement among those involved, parties may each retain an attorney to advocate for their interests in the distribution of the settlement. This can add considerable time and expense to the process, but it may be considered necessary if there is a sizable settlement to be distributed.

    Has Your Loved One Died Due To The Negligence Of Others?

    If your loved one died due to someone else's negligence you need to speak with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Can nursing home understaffing be a form of neglect and abuse?

    Understaffing is an issue that affects the vast majority of nursing homes, with some studies indicating as many as 90% of facilities lacking the staff necessary to ensure resident safety. If your loved one has suffered injuries due to understaffing, you may be to take legal action by filing a claim for nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse due to understaffing

    Issues Contributing to Understaffing

    A number of issues can contribute to a nursing home failing to have the necessary number of staff employees on duty. For example:

    • High staff turnover due to the stress of the work environment
    • Employees being unable to work due to the flu or other contagious illnesses
    • Scheduling conflicts such as parents of young children not wanting to work weekends or holidays
    • Inability to replace staff members who quit due to low pay or a tight local job market
    • A deliberate effort by management to keep costs down by having minimal staff on duty

    How Poor Staffing Leads to Nursing Home Neglect

    Poor staffing can lead to a number of issues that might be considered neglect. For example:

    • Abrasions
    • Bed sores
    • Bruises
    • Broken bones
    • Chronic infections
    • Choking
    • Falls
    • Poor hygiene
    • Resident-on-resident abuse
    • Unexpected weight loss
    • UTI

    Understaffing affects all residents, but those who are confined to a wheelchair or suffering severe cognitive impairment are most at risk. When staff members are forced to care for a large number of residents in a short time period, those who have the highest needs are inevitably shortchanged.

    How Understaffing Creates a Toxic Environment

    Employees who are forced to work in a facility that is chronically understaffed are likely to become frustrated with their jobs. They may realize that residents need more care, but they feel powerless to provide the necessary assistance due to a simple lack of time.

    If they are forced to work overtime to compensate for short staffing, they may suffer from chronic fatigue. This can lead to mistakes due to inattentiveness or oversights as staff members rush through tasks in an effort to finish their work as soon as possible.

    Identifying Nursing Home Understaffing

    Many different people work in a nursing home, but understaffing is most problematic when it involves positions that directly provide resident care. These include:

    • Registered Nurses (RNs)
    • Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs)
    • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
    • Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
    • Physical Therapists (PTs)

    The law only requires that a nursing home have different staff to provide proper resident care. There is no requirement to have a specific staff/resident ratio. To determine if a nursing home is understaffed, you will want to look for the following:

    • Are staff members constantly rushing through their tasks?
    • Do staff members seem tired or distracted when you attempt to ask questions about your loved one's care?
    • Does your loved one mention being unable to obtain assistance for essential tasks such as going to the restroom or showering?
    • Does the facility seem to have an unusually high number of new employees?

    If You Think Your Loved One Is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse

    The first step whenever you have concerns about the care your loved one is receiving is to report the issue to the facility administrator. The nursing home office is required to investigate your complaint and file a report to the state authorities.

    If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, contact adult protective services or the office of aging in your area, and call an attorney to initiate a nursing home neglect or abuse claim.

    A nursing home neglect or abuse claim is a civil proceeding that includes compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering. If your loved one receives Medicaid or Medicare benefits to cover the cost of nursing home care, however, these programs will have a lien on a percentage of any funds recovered in the claim.

    The experienced attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help you obtain justice for a loved one who has suffered injuries due to nursing home understaffing. To learn more, please contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 for a free consultation.