Get Answers to Your Legal Questions in Our FAQ

Dealing with a legal issue whether it be applying for and receiving disability benefits, fighting for a personal injury claim, or navigating through a divorce, can be a challenge, and many people are left with questions about what they can do to get the help they need.  At the law offices of Loyd J. Bourgeois, we understand how hard it can be to get the answers you need. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers dealing with family law, personal injury, disability benefits, claims, and appeals and the related law in Louisiana.

The following are some FAQs that I receive as a Louisiana attorney. They may answer some of the questions you have regarding your Social Security Disability appeal, your long-term disability insurance denial, your personal injury claim, or your Louisiana divorce. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call the legal team of Loyd J Bourgeois, LLC at 985-240-9773.

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  • How Much Can I Get for a Bulging Disc Injury After a Car Accident?

    So What Exactly is a Bulging Disc?

    To a radiologist, a bulging disc is very different than a herniated disc.

    A bulging disc is when a portion of the disc extends beyond where it should be but has not ruptured.

    Some bulging disc injuries are more likely to cause nerve root impingements and can be just as painful if not more than a herniated disc in many cases.

    A herniated disc is a disc in your spine that has ruptured. 

    Bulging discs are often caused by aging, but can also be caused or aggravated by trauma, like a car accident.

    How Much Compensation Can I Expect for My Bulging Disc?

    What is a bulging disc claim worth?After a car accident, many of my clients wonder what their bulging disc claim is worth.

    Generally speaking, the main things that impact any injury case’s worth are:

    1. Past and future medical bills;
    2. Past and future mental and physical pain and suffering;
    3. Past and future loss of enjoyment of life;
    4. Past and future loss of income or earning capacity;
    5. Loss of consortium;

    What Is the Average Settlement for Bulging Disc Injuries?

    It is difficult to determine average bulging disc settlement figures because most settlements are confidential.

    Because bulging disc injuries are not considered to be as severe as herniated disc injuries, settlements for bulging discs can vary wildly.

    Often, the credibility of the injured plaintiff is what drives the amount of the bulging disc compensation.

    Would I Have Better Results If Took My Bulging Disc Case To A Jury?

    The average bulging disc injury jury verdict is $125,000 with a median of only $30,000.

    There are many variables the jury must consider when reaching their conclusion.

    Symptoms of a Bulging Disc May Not Happen Immediately After the Accident

    If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may not feel the symptoms of a bulging disc right away.

    Even if you are treated in the emergency room after your accident, your bulging disc won't show up on a physical exam or a CT scan.

    An MRI is generally needed to diagnose many back injuries.

    Depending on the severity, symptoms of a bulging disc may range from mild tingling and numbness to moderate or severe pain.

    Most people have problems in the lower back and experience pain in the buttocks, thighs, and feet.

    Bulging discs can put pressure on the sciatic nerve or compress the nerves that control the bladder.

    It is very important for your health and your injury claim that you follow all of the medical advice given to you.

    Treatments can include steroid injections, physical therapy, and in some cases endoscopic spine surgery.

    Taking the Next Step Towards Finding Out How Much Your Bulging Disc is Worth

    If you’ve been in an accident and are experiencing some of these symptoms or have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, don’t hesitate to call Loyd Bourgeois and the LJBLegal team!

    You need the advice of an experienced accident attorney to ensure that you get a fair settlement from the insurance company.

    You probably don't like the idea of filing a lawsuit. Most people don't.

    However, you owe it to yourself and your family to receive fair compensation for your injuries.

    And the fact of the matter is that the insurance company holds all of the cards.

    Our team will walk with you every step of the way. No gimmicks.

    We will work with your doctors to get a full understanding of your injury and limitations.

    We know that this is a stressful time for you so we take on the burden of tracking down medical records and forms.

    Right now, you don’t just need an injury lawyer. You need a trusted advocate and confidant – someone whose only interest is your best interest.

  • Should a Witness Testify at my Social Security Disability Hearing?

    As a Metairie disability attorney, I am often asked this question by my clients.

    My usual response is probably not, but this is a case by case determination.

    Should a witness testify at my SSDI hearing?In most cases, the medical records are available and provide a good picture of your medical impairments.

    As a disability attorney, it is my job to help prepare you for your hearing and the questions that will be asked.

    You are usually the best person to relay how your medical impairments impact your daily life and talk about the limitations that you deal with as a result of your impairments.

    However, in some cases, if either the medical records are not sufficient or if you are unable to adequately explain how you are affected, a witness can be important.

    Can I Bring A Witness to my Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing?

    A sincere, straightforward person talking about how you are affected by your condition can result in a favorable decision.

    Witnesses can be a husband/wife, son, daughter, neighbor, friend, co-worker, supervisor, or anyone else that can provide information on the extent of your limitations.

    When deciding whether or not you should use a witness at your hearing, you need to choose only one or two of the best people to help you present your story.

    As an attorney, I would never call a witness who I had not at least spoken with in advance of the testimony to see what their impressions are.

    Your witness can provide testimony that supports your medical evidence and may add to your testimony.

    I often find if I ask a spouse to share how their husband or wife is impacted by the disability, the spouse often relays much more difficulty than the claimant, having a different impression of the impact.

    Will a Witness Help my SSDI Hearing?

    You need to know before calling a witness whether the witness’s testimony will help your case.

    If possible, the best witness is someone who an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can view as more objective about your claim as opposed to someone close to you, who is likely to be viewed as less than objective and more willing to help you.

    Good objective witnesses are more likely co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, social workers, etc. as opposed to family members and close friends.

    Regardless of the witness chosen, the witness should provide observational testimony and not conclusory testimony.

    What does that mean? An example of observational testimony is, “I have seen Mary return from the store and need to get her son to unload the groceries.”

    Another example is, “While at work over the past few months, I have noticed John needed to get up from his work station and go lay on the floor for about 20 minutes each morning and each afternoon.”

    Conclusory testimony is more like, “I know Mary is disabled because I see her come from the store and need help getting inside the house.”

    The conclusion is that Mary is disabled. Statements like that can hurt a witness’s credibility.

    If you think a witness may be necessary to help prove your claim during the appeals process, you may need an attorney as well.

    Louisiana disability attorney can help you prepare your case and your witness to give you the best chance of success in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits.

    Our law firm is dedicated to helping people like you.

  • How Much Does a Disability Attorney Cost in Louisiana?

    As a Metairie area disability attorney, one of the first questions I am usually asked is "How much will this cost me?

    Many people know that a Social Security representative will improve their chances of getting disability benefits.

    But, they are understandably worried that they can't afford an attorney or advocate to help them fight for their benefits. 

    There are many falsehoods and misconceptions out there about how much a disability advocate charges.

    What is the Most an Attorney can Charge for Disability?

    Here's the great news, an SSDI lawyer will not cost anything upfront.

    Federal disability law fees are set by law and cannot exceed 25% of your back benefits.

    In many cases, the maximum is $6,000 (if we win at the first hearing). That’s because I generally use the fee agreement process.

    AND that amount is ONLY due if I am successful in representing you.

    If your claim is denied, you owe no attorney fees.

    Fees are only due when/if we win your case.

    For example, let’s assume that we are successful in getting your disability benefits.Social Security FAQ: How Much Will a Disability Attorney Cost Me?

    Your onset date is set 17 months prior to today’s date (that means that SSA will owe you back benefits).

    Due to SSA laws, you can be paid 12 months of back benefits in this scenario (because SSA does not pay for the first 5 months).

    If your benefit amount is $850 per month, your back benefits would equal $10,200 ($850 X 12).

    The attorney’s fee on this amount would be $2,550 ($10,200 X 25%). 

    If this number were above $6000, then only $6000 would be paid to your attorney.

    Will a Disability Attorney Take a Percentage of my Future Benefits?

    Here is another important aspect of a disability representative’s fee: you do not owe a fee based on future benefits.

    That is, you will not have to keep paying your disability attorney 25% of your monthly disability check.

    Once the disability lawyer is paid from the back benefits, that is all you owe with respect to fees.

    ´╗┐In some cases, disability attorneys charge costs (which are different from fees) whether your disability claim is successful or not.

    What About Costs?

    Costs include things such as expenses incurred for medical records, long-distance phone calls, mail, parking at your hearing, and other costs paid to develop your disability case.

    As a Social Security disability lawyer in Louisiana, I generally handle the cost issue on a case-by-case basis.

    You should ask your disability lawyer (or disability representative) how they charge costs.

    One thing to keep in mind if you use a disability representative from a national firm that must travel to your area is whether or not those travel costs will be charged to you.

    This could include airfare, rental car, hotel stay, and meals. These costs can get expensive and really decrease the amount you end up with at the end of the day.

    While the maximum amount of fees is limited by the law, costs are not limited in the same manner.

    Thus, you need to watch costs and be mindful of them when you hire a disability lawyer. In Houma and other places, these costs for national lawyers and advocates can get excessive.

    There is a possibility that a disability attorney may get more than the $6,000 if your case involves extensive work (usually because of multiple appeals to and from SSA and federal court).

    However, even in that case, the fee charged to you cannot exceed 25% of your back benefits.

    In this case, the fee petition process would have to be used. Your attorney would have to file a fee petition and have it approved by the Social Security Administration.

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  • How Long Should I Wait To Apply For SSDI Benefits?

    The surprising answer is – YOU DON’T NEED TO WAIT!!

    When Can I Apply for SSDI Benefits?

    You can file for social security disability benefits on the day that your doctor diagnoses you with a disability, or on the first day that you can no longer work because of your disability.

    Many people mistakenly believe that they must be disabled for a certain period of time before they can even apply for social security disability benefits.

    You must prove that your disability will last at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

    You do NOT need to wait to apply until after you have already been disabled for 12 months.

    This is true for Houma social security disability claimants, Thibodaux SSDI claimants, and even those in Galliano applying for social security disability. In fact, it is true throughout Louisiana and the Nation.

    If you have a serious illness, disability, or impairment that will last at least a year (or is likely to result in death – like cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease), you can apply on the day the illness, disability, or impairment impacts your ability to work.

    As my wife often tells our kids, just because you CAN do something, that doesn't mean that you SHOULD.

    SSDI FAQ: When Should I apply?

    When Should I Apply for Social Security Benefits?

    If you expect to be out of work for a year or longer or you have a terminal condition, you should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

    You should file your claim for SSDI benefits as soon as you become disabled.

    The longer you wait to file, the longer you will have to wait to receive your disability benefits if you are disabled. 

    Remember, a large number of disabled individuals, especially in Louisiana, are denied social security disability benefits when they first apply. 

    Then they have to go through an appeal process, often including a hearing with a judge.  Some even have to go to court to have their case approved.  The process takes time.

    The longer you wait to apply, the longer it takes for the process to get started. 

    And, if you wait for over a year to apply, you risk losing some of the hard-earned benefits that you are entitled to.

    I usually recommend that my Louisiana disability clients apply for social security disability as soon as they can no longer work because of their disabling condition to get the process started.

    Is There a Time Limit to Apply for Social Security Disability?

    There is no "time limit" to apply for SSDI benefits.

    You can apply for benefits at any time after you become disabled.

    However, as soon as you, in consultation with your doctor(s), determine that you are unable to work and that you will not be able to work for at least 12 months due to your medical condition, you should file for benefits.  

    Any delay may result in you losing benefits that you are legally entitled to by waiting longer than necessary to apply.

    If you are eligible to receive SSDI (or disability insurance), the Social Security Administration can only pay you retroactive benefits for the 12 months before submitting your application for benefits regardless of your disability onset date.

    Therefore, if you wait for more than a year from the date you stop working to apply for benefits, you risk losing more benefits with each month that passes.

    For example, one prior client became disabled in 2012 but did not file for disability benefits until 2019.  While we were successful in proving he was disabled in 2012 when he stopped working, SSA could only pay him benefits from 2018 forward.  He lost benefits he was entitled to from 2012 through 2018.  This cost him thousands of dollars in benefits.

    Now, this does not mean, that if you have a minor illness or injury that will heal within one year, you need to rush out and apply.  Don’t do it.  Your claim will be denied, I cannot help you, and you will be taking up valuable resources needed by those truly disabled.

    Should I File a Disability Claim?

    The information provided here is not advocating that you file a Social Security claim if you are truly capable of working full time.

    If you believe that you can do some sort of work on a full-time basis, your medical records are going to reflect that and you will ultimately be found not disabled, no matter how many appeals you file.

    The Social Security disability application and appeals process is extremely lengthy and stressful.

    Why face financial ruin waiting on Social Security to process an appeal if you can still work?

    Even if you eventually win, the amount of disability benefits you receive will likely not replace all of the income you could make by working.

    I realize that one of the hardest things for a formerly strong and independent working person to admit is that you need help.

    But realize that you are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

    If you are unable to work due to your disability, disability benefits are available to you under the law, and you have earned the right to pursue them and attain them.

    You have worked your entire life to pay for these benefits in case you ever needed to use them. 

    You can apply online for Social Security Disability benefits (ssa.gov) or at your local Social Security Office.

    Will I Qualify for SSDI Benefits?

    Wondering if you qualify for Social Security Disability?

    With our years of experience, we can tell you through this quick, free, and easy SSDI claim evaluator whether or not we believe you have a case and if we can help you! 

    Do You Qualify? Take the quiz now!

    Do I Qualify for SSDI?

     

  • How do I fill out the Adult Function Report for Social Security Disability?

    Complete the Function Report questionnaire right away and provide truthful and specific answers!

    You only have a limited time to comply (10 days from the date of the letter) with Social Security’s request so don’t delay. But, don’t rush through your answers either.

    Your Adult Function Report, also known as SSA 3373, stays on the record through your entire case and cannot be modified.

    The Adult Function Report is often used by Social Security to discredit your claim.

    The ten-page form asks about your daily activities, personal care, meal prep, household and yard work, hobbies, and social activities.

    If you answer any of the questions incorrectly, incompletely, or inconsistently, we can never update your answer.

    What Is a Disability Function Report?

    If you are filling out an Adult Function Report, Social Security is trying to get an understanding of the activities that you are still able to do (your Residual Functional Capacity).

    When you are filling out your Adult Function Report, we recommend you watch our video about Residual Functionality first. In 5 short minutes, Loyd explains the purpose and importance of Residual Functional Capacity.

    When filling out forms, always keep your Residual Functional Capacity in mind.

    What Do I Say on a Disability Form (SSA-3373-BK)?

    Be honest but don’t exaggerate. Be specific about your limitations.SSDI FAQ: How do I fill out the Adult Function Report?

    If you do not clearly describe your limitations or give vague answers on your Adult Function Report, Social Security will take that to mean your disability really isn’t that bad and you should have no problem returning to work.

    Your Social Security Disability claim will likely be denied.

    It's a good idea to consult with an attorney or at least read these tips before you complete the form.

    5 Biggest Mistakes on Adult Function Reports

    1. Not reading the entire question.

    Take your time when filling out your Adult Function Report and make sure your answers match up to the question being asked.

    One recommendation our firm makes to clients is to answer the questions separately on another piece of paper first before transferring your response to the form.

    This will allow you to work on your answers without messing up the form.

    2. Not being clear about how long it takes you to do things.

    If you tell Social Security that household chores -- like doing dishes for example -- take you an hour, then Social Security is going to think that you can get things done with no problem.

    Be clear when answering questions like this.

    Do you have to sit down when you do the dishes? Do you have to take breaks or lie down? Is that hour broken up into several days because you are unable to do them all at once?

    3. Not being clear about what you do all day.

    Telling Social Security that you “get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, go outside to read, eat lunch, etc…” lets them think you have normal days like everyone else.

    Be specific about what you do all day.

    Did it take you a long time to get out of bed because your back hurt so bad?

    Did you need help putting on your shoes?

    How long did it take you to make breakfast? Or did you have help?

    Were you so exhausted after making breakfast that you needed a nap? Is that why you had to sit down and read?

    4. Not listing the side effects of your medications.

    Side effects of medications can cause unexpected limitations. If you tell Social Security you are able to sit for an hour or so, they may think you can perform office work.

    You need to speak up about the side effects of your medications and how they affect your ability.

    Does your medication make you feel drowsy? Do you need to take naps during the day?

    Does your medication have you going to the bathroom more often than normal (frequent urination or diarrhea)? If so, you won’t be getting much work done in an office.

    5. Not answering questions consistently.

    Consistency is key. It is so important that you answer questions consistently throughout the form.

    Being consistent with your answers will help prove your credibility.

    Do not answer some questions as if it's a "good day," and some as if it is a "bad day."

    If your answers do not match what you have told your doctors or Social Security representatives, it will harm your credibility.

    Providing answers like “I sit outside for 3 hours a day” and then saying, “I can’t sit down for long periods of time” doesn't give Social Security a clear understanding of your disability and limitations.

    Do not copy SSA-3373-bk sample answers that you find on the internet. Make sure that all answers properly describe you and your limitations.

    When filling out your Adult Function Report, make sure your answers fit into the space provided and are short and to the point.

    And remember, everything you say on your Adult Function Report is final.

    Once your report is submitted to Social Security, no changes can be made.

    Need Help Filling Out Your Adult Function Report?

    If you are thinking of applying for Social Security disability benefits or have received a denial, you may want to consider hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.

    Our firm will take away the burden and anxiety of completing and turning in your Adult Function Report and other forms.

    We will walk you through filling out the Adult Function Report (SSA-3373-bk) and all other Social Security forms.

    All forms are submitted to our office and are gone over with you to make sure there is a clear understanding of your disability and limitations before we submit them to Social Security.

    You will never have to submit any forms or medical records or deal with Social Security by yourself. That’s what you pay us for!

    If you are applying for disability and have questions about the function report, it never hurts to talk to or retain an experienced Social Security attorney who can help you properly prepare your case. If you need help with your Function Report call the Offices of Loyd J. Bourgeois at 985-240-9773.

  • How Much is my Herniated Disc Case Worth?

    What Exactly is a Herniated Disc or Ruptured Disc?

    Basically, a herniated disc is a disc in your spine that has ruptured.

    Discs are the cushions that separate the vertebrae and protect the spine.

    A disc becomes herniated when the outside of the disc (the annulus) is cracked and the inner part of the disc (the nucleus pulposus) leaks its jelly-like center and irritates the surrounding nerves.

    Herniated discs are usually associated with trauma, such as a car accident while bulging discs are more often associated with aging.

    For this reason, juries tend to award herniated disc injuries more favorably than they do bulging disc injuries, though bulging discs can also be caused or aggravated by trauma.

    How Much Compensation Can I Expect for My Herniated Disc?

    If you’ve been in an auto accident and have suffered from a herniated disc, you may be wondering what your claim is worth.

    Only once you know how much your herniated disc claim is worth can you negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement for your injury.

    Disc herniations are painful, permanent injuries that require a substantial settlement value due to the seriousness of the injury. That being said, coming up with an injury case evaluation is difficult.What is a Herniated Disk Claim Worth?

    Generally speaking, your personal injury damages include some or all of the following that impacts the case’s worth:

    1. Past and future medical bills;
    2. Past and future mental and physical pain and suffering;
    3. Past and future loss of enjoyment of life;
    4. Past and future loss of income or earning capacity;
    5. Loss of consortium;

    What Is the Average Settlement for Herniated Disc Injuries?

    It is difficult to determine average herniated disc settlement figures because most settlements are confidential and the data is not readily available.

    If liability is not an issue, most disc herniation cases with surgeries settle above $50,000, occasionally going north of $100,000, and cases without surgeries tend to be below $50,000.

    Because there are so many variables involved (surgery/no surgery, insurance coverage of at-fault driver, etc.), herniated disc claims can settle for as high as $1,000,000 or as low as $1,000. It really all depends on the facts of the case.

    Would I Have Better Results If Took My Herniated Disc Case To A Jury?

    The median jury verdict for a herniated disc case is $75,000 with an average of $350,000.

    This means that a few disc herniation cases are awarded very high jury verdicts, but most are under $100,000.

    Only about 5% of these cases ever see jury verdicts over $1 million. 

    There are many variables the jury must consider when reaching their conclusion.

    Symptoms of a Herniated Disc May Not Happen Overnight

    If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may not feel the symptoms of a herniated disc right away.

    Even if you are treated in the emergency room after your accident, your herniated disc won't show up on a physical exam.

    You probably won’t get diagnosed with a herniated disc because emergency rooms generally use a CT scan and those types of injuries are usually found on an MRI.

    Most herniated discs occur in the lower back, although they can also occur in the neck. Signs and symptoms depend on where the disc is situated and whether the disc is pressing on a nerve.

    The most commonly reported symptoms are sudden and intense pain in the lower region of the back, numbness in the legs, debilitating pain in the hips, leg pain, and muscle weakness.

    It is very important for your health and your injury claim that you follow all medical advice.

    Taking the Next Step Towards Finding Out How Much Your Herniated Disc is Worth

    If you’ve been in an accident and are experiencing some of these symptoms or have been diagnosed with a herniated or ruptured disc, don’t hesitate to call our law firm!

    You need legal advice to ensure that you get a fair settlement from the insurance company.

    You have been injured and there’s no shame in getting reimbursed for lost wages and trying to get back what the accident took away from you. Our team will walk with you every step of the way. No gimmicks.

    We set ourselves apart by taking the time to actually listen and go the extra mile.

    Our team is experienced in handling herniated disc cases. We will work with your doctors to get a full understanding of your injury and limitations. We know that this is a stressful time for you so we take on the burden of tracking down medical records and forms.

    Right now, you don’t just need an injury lawyer. You need a trusted advocate and confidant – someone whose only interest is your best interest.

  • What Kind of Settlement Can I Expect for a Torn ACL?

    How Much is a Torn ACL Worth?

    Like all other injuries, there is no set standard amount when it comes to an injured ACL. The amount of your settlement will depend on the severity of your injury and the events that led to you being injured.

    An experienced personal injury attorney will work with your doctors to fully understand the extent of your injury and will fight with the insurance company to make sure that your settlement amount is fair and is enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    Can you tear your ACL in a Car Accident?

    An ACL injury is a sprain or tear in the anterior cruciate (KROO-she-ate) ligament (ACL). The ACL is a small structure, less than 1.5 inches long and .5 inches wide, and is one of the major ligaments in your knee. Its job is to stabilize the knee and prevent the knee from buckling.

    Though commonly considered a sports’ injury, ACL tears often occur in car accidents and slip, trip, and fall accidents. When the knee is moving and then suddenly stops, pivots, or changes direction, an ACL tear can happen.

    If you were in a car accident or other accident and experience the following symptoms, you may have a torn ACL.

    • Hearing a loud pop or feeling a popping sensation in the knee
    • Severe pain
    • Swelling in the knee
    • Instability, or the inability for you to put weight on your knee

    How Much Should I Settle For an ACL Knee Injury?

    What is My Torn ACL Injury Worth After an Accident in Louisiana?If you were in a car accident and suffered a torn ACL, you may have a good personal injury case. Unfortunately, there is no set amount, but two main factors in determining a settlement value are how severe is your injury, and how likely is it that the jury will find the defendant liable if the case does go to trial.

    Some damages, like medical bills, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity are easier to predict because they are based on the amount that the victim has paid or lost and/or will continue to pay or lose. Knee surgery verdicts and settlements will most likely be higher than those that only required some physical therapy.

    Other damages like pain and suffering are more difficult to determine and are based on the severity of the torn ACL injury and the injury’s contribution to the victim’s loss of quality of life. For example, if an accident victim was very physically active – enjoying sports and other outdoor activities – and suffered a disabling ACL injury, their damages based on “loss of quality of life” will likely be higher than if the victim had been relatively sedentary prior to the injury.

    Give Your Torn ACL Claim a Fighting Chance!

    After your accident, the insurance company will want you to settle right away, often for the lowest possible amount. That’s why we highly recommend hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced local attorney will be better able to predict what your settlement amount should be by working with your doctors to fully understand the severity of your torn ACL injury and the circumstances involved that led you to be injured.

  • How Much is a Spinal Cord Injury Worth in Louisiana?

    What Is My Spinal Cord Injury Claim Worth?

    The spinal cord, protected by your vertebrae, is a delicate bundle of nerves that forms your central nervous system. It is one of your body’s most important structures and injury to the spinal cord can cause severe pain, paralysis, or death. In the United States, the leading causes of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents, followed by falls, violence (primarily gunshot wounds), athletic or recreational activities, and medical complications or malpractice.

    Even in the best of circumstances, a spinal cord injury can be a devastating blow. Besides insurmountable medical bills, survivors may deal with ongoing health challenges, such as respiratory difficulties, increased risk of illness, and loss of motor and sensory functions, as well as new financial challenges, and loss of quality of life.

    The Settlement Value of a Spinal Cord Injury Will Depend on Its Type and Location

    Three Main Spinal Cord Regions:

    • Cervical spine  (upper back and neck)
    • Thoracic spine (mid-back)
    • Lumbar spine  (lower back)

    When a vertebra is damaged, it will impact the parts of the body that are below the location of the injury. The amount of compensation you are owed will depend on the location and severity of your spinal cord injury.What Is My Spinal Cord Injury Worth After a Car Accident in Louisiana?

    Common types of spinal cord injuries include:

    2 Types of Spinal Cord Injuries: Complete and Incomplete

    Complete Spinal Cord Injuries:

    The most severe spinal cord injuries are complete spinal cord injuries. These occur when the injury to the spinal cord eliminates the brain’s ability to send signals below the injury site. For example, an injury to the lumbar region can lead to paralysis below the waist while maintaining function in your upper body (paraplegia).

    Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries:

    Though less severe, incomplete spinal cord injuries result from compression or damage being inflicted to the spinal cord that reduces the brain’s ability to send signals below the injury site. Incomplete spinal cord injuries will vary greatly from person to person because of the partially compromised condition of the spinal cord. For some, motor and sensory functions may only be slightly compromised, for others, function may be nearly eliminated.

    How Will My Spinal Cord Injury Settlement be Calculated?

    Your personal injury attorney will push for a settlement so that you receive the compensation you need without spending years in the litigation process.

    The amount of damages you are owed is based on a number of factors such as the location and severity of the injury, cost of medical bills and future care, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and the degree of negligence involved.

    Because spinal cord injuries can be such severe and devastating injuries, settlements tend to significantly larger when compared to other personal injury claims.

    Settlements of several hundred thousand dollars to upwards of 1 million are not uncommon.

    What Types of Compensation Am I Entitled To For Spinal Cord Injury?

    Medical Expenses:

    Due to the fact that spinal cord injuries are so damaging and can require extensive treatment, rehabilitation, and physical therapy, the majority of your settlement will go to covering your medical expenses.

    The amount you receive will be based on the severity of your injury and take into account if your injuries are permanent or if you need lifelong care.

    Be aware that your medical insurance company will be entitled to repayment from your settlement or verdict.  This is called subrogation.

    Pain and Suffering:

    Because spinal cord injuries have a massive impact on your life, a large portion of your settlement will come from emotional, non-financial damages. Chronic pain, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life are all common emotional damages related to spinal cord injuries. In general, the more severe your injury is, the higher your amount of pain and suffering will be.

    Loss of Wages:

    Due to the seriousness of a spinal cord injury, you could be out of work for several months to several years. You may be in the hospital for a long period of time for treatment of your injury and that will likely be followed up by a lengthy recovery period.

    If you can return to work, you will probably have to miss work frequently for doctor's appointments, rehab, and physical therapy treatments.

    If you are unable to ever return to work, you can also claim compensation for loss of future earnings.

    Seek Local Advice Before Signing Anything!

    If you were involved in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury, the insurance company or your employer will try to get you to sign paperwork right away. Don’t do it!

    The insurance companies will try to get you to settle for the lowest amount, often before you’ve been properly diagnosed, and your employer may have you sign away your right to compensation.

    The advice of an experienced, local attorney will be an invaluable asset for you at this time.

    They will work with your doctors to make sure your spinal cord injury is properly documented, and that extent of your injury is fully understood.

    They will also deal with the insurance company for you, so that you can avoid the stress and focus on your treatment.

    If your spinal cord injury was caused by someone else's negligence, call us today at 985-240-9773 and tell us how we can help you win your claim.

  • Do I Need An SSDI Representative? Your Chances Improve by 300% If You Have One

    I am sure you have heard that you do not need a Louisiana Social Security Disability Lawyer to win your disability case. Well, you heard right.

    An often asked question is "do I really need a representative for my Social Security Disability case?"  After all, many people claim to have received benefits on their own - you can probably do it as well - right?

    Except of course, if you are one of the over 62% (based on the 2009 Social Security Statistical Report) of people who have their social security disability claim denied initially.

    Can you win disability without a lawyer?

    Yes, but it won't be easy. There's going to be a lot of red tape.

    Most of our social welfare policies are designed in such a way where they’re a lot more concerned about preventing people who aren’t eligible from accessing benefits than ensuring that those who are eligible actually receive them. We’re fixated on fraud and abuse, which is extremely low in social welfare programs — something like 1 to 2 percent of cases. And even then, it’s not what people mean when they think of “fraud and abuse.” It’s mostly people making mistakes because they didn’t understand eligibility rules.

    The problem with this unjustified obsession with fraud and abuse is that it means 20 to 30 percent of people are unable to access these programs even when they’re clearly eligible for them, because they’ve created all these administrative burdens designed to target people they don’t want on the programs. So it’s a huge disconnect in terms of trying to meet the broader goals of these programs. -Pamela Herd, author of Administrative Burden: Policymaking by Other Means

    The statistics show that once your Louisiana Social Security Disability claim reaches the hearing level (or above), you have a significant increase in the odds of being found disabled.Do I Need an SSDI Lawyer?

    Why is this? While I do not know for sure, I suspect it is because this is the stage that Social Security attorneys get involved and help their clients get benefits.

    In 2008, at the hearing level or above, greater than 80% of claimants were awarded social security disability benefits.

    So while you may not need a Social Security Disability Lawyer, you may want to get one to help you navigate through the system and improve your chances of obtaining benefits.

    Should I hire a lawyer before applying for disability?

    recent study by the Government Accounting Office found typical adults who had representation, by attorneys or others, had a three times better chance of receiving benefits than those who applied on their own!  This means your chances improve by 300% if you have a skilled, disability representative on your side presenting your case.

    Here are some other interesting tidbits from the study:

    Age is an important factor! Those 55 and older were allowed 4.3 times higher than those 35 yrs old.

    Type of Impairment is important! Those with heart failure or MS were allowed 4-5 times more often than those with asthma.

    Type of claim important! SSDI claims were allowed 1.7 times more often than SSI claims.

    The entire report is interesting but the main takeaway is this: I’m no mathematician but I’ll take a 300% better chance any day of the week. What about you?

    9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim Book OfferIf you're preparing to apply for Social Security disability or appeal a claim denial, I've written a book 9 Mistakes that Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim. This is a helpful and informative guide that will guide you through some of the common mistakes and errors that lead to unfavorable Social Security Disability decisions.

    Don't make a costly mistake that could cause you to lose the benefits that you need to survive! I'd love to send you a copy. Just click here to receive your free copy of my book 9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim.

    Send Me the 9 Mistakes


     

  • Can I negotiate my own personal injury settlement? And if so, where do I start?

    Sure - you can negotiate your own personal injury claim. There is no law that says you have to hire a lawyer. But, just like you can change your brakes without being a mechanic or install a new roof on your house without being a roofer – some things are best left to the experts. 

    And, unlike hiring a mechanic or a roofer, you don’t have to pay anything upfront to have a personal injury attorney give you legal advice or start working on your case!

    Can I negotiate my own personal injury claim? Where do I start?Louisiana Personal Injury Lawyers are paid by receiving a portion of the money they are able to win for you.

    An attorney doesn’t just file personal injury lawsuits, they will do all the frustrating and time-consuming work like dealing with the insurance adjuster for you and collecting the needed medical records.

    Additionally, most lawyers will front the costs of the case (like filing fees, expert costs, deposition costs, etc.) until the case is resolved.

    If you choose to pursue your own case, you will be responsible for all costs, which sometimes run into the thousands of dollars.

    Settling a Personal Injury Claim with an Insurance Company

    Insurance companies are aware that individuals do not have the training or the legal skill necessary to file a lawsuit and try a case to a successful conclusion and as a result will often offer a significantly lower amount of money to someone trying to negotiate their own claim.

    Without the legal skill and training, you may not accurately understand the value of your case or take into account all of your damages.

    Damages for your accident claim include lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage costs, and sometimes punitive damages.

    If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you can likely negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without an attorney:

    1. Does the accident have clear liability?  In other words, is the other person clearly at fault in the car accident or incident?
    2. Did you have minimal injuries and treatment?
    3. Do you have no prior injury history?
    4. Did you have an immediate presentation of injuries?  In other words, did your injuries show up right away?
    5. Were your injuries soft tissue only?
    6. Did you have no gaps in medical treatment?  Did you obtain treatment quickly and consistently? 

    If you answered no to any of those questions, then it's probably in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney before negotiating or accepting a settlement offer.

    If you can answer yes to every one of those questions, then you can most likely negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without the help of an attorney.  In those cases, an attorney will most likely not be able to obtain enough additional money for you to cover their fee.

    If you want to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company yourself, start by reading all the articles on this blog – we have great advice about insurance adjuster tactics and what documentation you need to prove your case.

    It is important to go into the negotiations with an idea of what your case is worth.