Throughout my 33 years as a Louisiana personal injury attorney trying catastrophic injury cases, the questions most asked by my clients are:
How long will it take?
What will happen?
I would like now to summarize the twists and turns of the Louisiana catastrophic lawsuit. Recently we settled a multi-million dollar catastrophic injury lawsuit where a worker lost his arm due to a construction accident. The lawsuit was filed approximately 4 years ago. For 3 years we litigated the lawsuit, fighting off motions for summary judgement (this is a motion to essentially end the case) by the defendant and taking depositions (testimony from witnesses and experts) all over the country to confirm that the defendant was negligent.
Negotiating a Settlement at a Mediation
After approximately 2 1/2 years of litigating this matter, the defendants tried a mediation. A mediation is when a person who is not involved in the case helps the attorneys from each side try to reach an agreement on a financial settlement. During that mediation, with multiple insurance companies involved, they offered a paltry sum of $300,000. At this point, it should become obvious to the experienced trial attorney that the only way the insurance companies were going to pay an appropriate amount to my client was to set a trial date and start the jury trial. That does not mean that the case would necessarily be decided by a jury verdict. What it means is that you must get the insurance company in front of a Louisiana Parish jury to make them realize that they are getting ready to receive justice by Louisiana citizens.
Taking a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit to Trial
In this case, after 3 mediations and after the insurance companies refused to offer an appropriate amount, we were able to get a trial date in front of a Louisiana jury. After 10 days of trying the matter, the insurance company finally submitted a settlement amount which was attractive to my client. My client has suffered a permanent and disabling injury, and after the settlement, he was financially stable and would not ever have to work again for the rest of his life.
The Importance of Having a Personal Injury Trial Attorney
What is important to note about this litigation history is that the threat of a Louisiana Parish jury trial may be the only way to receive a fair settlement for a catastrophic injury. Many times the insurance companies believe that the injured person or plaintiff’s attorney does not have the nerve to actually try the case. The main reason for this belief is that trying catastrophic injury cases is extremely expensive. A jury trial can easily cost $60,000 or more. Since personal injury lawsuits are generally handled on a contingency basis, the plaintiff’s attorney pays the upfront trial costs and only is compensated for the trial expenses if the case is successful. It is much less expensive and risky to settle a case rather than take it to the jury. But if an insurance company is not willing to offer fair compensation for a catastrophic injury, the plaintiff’s attorney must have the financial resources, the nerve and the ability to actually try the case.