Frequently Asked Questions

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Workers Compensation Faq

What is Workers' Compensation?

Workers' Compensation is a system in which injured employees can recover for work-related injuries. This system is in place so that workers do not have to pay for medical expenses that they otherwise could not afford.

What is covered by Workers' Compensation?

Workers' Compensation covers medical bills and expenses, lost wages, ongoing care costs, funeral expenses, or any other costs that arise because of a work-related injury

What isn't covered by Workers' Compensation?

Not every work-related injury will be covered by Workers' Compensation. Some of these injuries include injuries arising out of intoxication in the workplace; injuries caused by a fight started by the employee against another; or intentional injuries for the purpose of receiving benefits.

Who pays Workers' Compensation benefits?

Employers typically do not pay indemnity benefits but will have an insurance company that does this for them. Louisiana law requires employers to have some form of insurance, whether it is self-insured or through an insurance company.

What Injuries are covered?

Workers' Compensation insurance covers injuries that occur at work or in the course and scope of employment. For example, if you are injured while traveling for your business, this is covered.

What if I did not have a specific accident but became disabled over time?

You do not always need an identifiable accident at work to receive benefits. Occupational diseases are also covered under Workers' Compensation. These can include such injuries due to repetitive motions or prolonged exposure to hazardous materials.

Do I have to see my employer's doctor?

Typically, yes, you will have to see your employer's doctor. However, Louisiana gives you the right to also see your own doctor. If you see your own doctor for the injury before the employer's doctor, you may still be required to be attended to by their doctor as well.

What rights do I have to sue in court for a work-related injury?

Usually, none. Workers' Compensation exists to compensate injured employees already, and so you will normally not be able to sue your employer for other damages, such as pain and suffering. In limited circumstances, such as when the employer intentionally injures you, you could potentially have a claim against your employer.

How are indemnity benefits calculated?

Indemnity benefits are calculated based upon your average weekly wage (AWW). Your AWW is determined based upon your employer's pay scheme. As an example, if you are paid hourly, your AWW will be determined based upon your pay for the four full weeks prior to your injury, divided by the number of weeks. If you earned $800 over the four full week period, your AWW would be calculated as $200.

Once your AWW is determined, indemnity benefits are adjusted based upon the AWW. Using the above example, you could receive up to a maximum of two thirds (2/3 or 66.67%) of your AWW, or $133.34. Keep in mind, it is not guaranteed that you will receive the two thirds maximum allowed by law. Based upon your injuries, these benefits will continue for a certain period.

How long does a Workers' Compensation claim take to resolve?

This depends upon your injuries, your employer, your claim, and whether you are represented. Some claims can take weeks to resolve, where others take years. It is an entirely case-by-case basis on how long the claim will take to conclude. The typical time range is anywhere from six to nine months.

Can I return to my old job?

If you can do the same work as before your injury, your employer must give you the next position that becomes available. If you are unable to work the same as before, but have been approved for an alternate position, you must take that position. Note, that a huge percentage of Workers' Compensation claims will end in a settlement, and the general rule is that a settlement agreement will require you to resign from your position at the company.

Auto Accident Faq

I was in a car collision. What should I do?

Car accidents are among the most common ways that individuals can become injured, and this means that car accidents are also one of the most common lawsuits. Unfortunately, this means that it is likely that you may suffer an accident at some point in your life. What you do after the accident can be crucial to your case later. The first thing you should do is notify the police and inform them if you or someone else is seriously injured; next, if you are not seriously injured, take pictures of the damage, the scene, and the surrounding area. It can be vital to a claim to have photographic or video evidence of the scene.

It is extremely helpful if you contact an attorney before speaking with any insurance company; their interests are not always the same as yours. By having a lawyer from the beginning, your options are greatly expanded, and you can receive the maximum compensation you require for your injuries.

What if I caused the collision?

It is likely that your insurance will cover the damages incurred as a result of the collision; be aware that your insurance payments will more than likely increase.

What if the other driver doesn't have insurance?

Most insurance policies have uninsured motorist coverage – this is something that a personal injury attorney will be able to determine for you.

What if I can't afford to hire an attorney after a collision?

At Schwartz Law Firm, we do not charge fees at the on-set of the case; we will only get paid if you recover compensation from the case.

Who should I talk to at the scene of the collision?

It is highly recommended that you should only give statements to law enforcement and medical personnel present at the scene. Keep in mind, that your insurance company, the other drivers' insurance company, and any other interested party has their own self-interest in mind; they will try to provide only the bare minimum that is required to cover their expenses, and not ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Personal Injury Faq

I slipped and fell at work. What should I do?

Injuries sustained on the job are covered by Louisiana's workers' compensation laws and typically you cannot sue your employer for a tort claim in court.

I slipped and fell in a store or place of business. What should I do?

First, the most important thing is to make sure that you receive proper medical attention for your fall, in case you have severe or life-threatening injuries as a result. If you are able, make sure that an accident report is completed at the time. Remember, you are not required to sign anything, and you are not required to give any statements; it is highly recommended that you do neither of these things without being represented by an attorney first.

If possible, create a record of your own, detailing the circumstances that led to the fall, such as the conditions on the floor, like spilled water or uneven pavement, or objects that were in the way that should not have been. Detail as well any witnesses that were present, what you heard or felt or saw when you fell, and any comments made by witnesses after you fell. It would be best if you are also able to take photographs or video footage of the condition that caused your fall; photographic evidence is sometimes the best way to ensure you receive compensation.

I received medical attention because of my slip and fall. Am I entitled to receive compensation for the billing?

Typically, any costs incurred as a result of the negligence of a property owner should be compensated. These costs may include lost wages due to injuries, loss of earning capacity, temporary or permanent disability, pain and suffering, or past and future medical bills.

Should I speak with the insurance adjuster?

Most businesses carry premises liability insurance. Once you have fallen, the insurance company will have an insurance adjuster contact you to determine the extend of your injuries and how they occurred. It is almost always the case that the adjuster will attempt to poke holes into your story or blame you for the fall. It is in your best interest not to talk to the adjuster without counsel, and it is a bad idea to provide them any written or recorded statement that could be used against you in the future.

What is a “condition”?

A “condition” is the state of the area where you fell, that is not safe. These can be something permanent, like a sidewalk that was designed defectively, or something temporary, like water that has spilled off a table onto the floor. If your fall is caused by a temporary condition, liability of the owner will depend on whether there was a reasonably opportunity for the owner to be made aware of the condition and whether they took reasonable steps to correct the condition.

Maritime Law Faq

What is maritime law?

Maritime law is a set of federal regulations, statutes, and laws that determine how a company can operate when offshore.

What is the Jones Act?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or Jones Act, is a federal statute that entitles injured crew members to receive compensation for the injuries they sustained while underway.

What are the requirements to sue under the Jones Act?

Seamen are the only class that can sue employers under the Jones Act. Seamen must:

(1) Have at least 30% of their working time on a United States vessel in navigable waters;
(2) Have an established connection to the vessel; and
(3) Contribute to any work aboard the vessel.

Note that contributing to the work aboard a vessel is not exclusively the transportation or navigation of the vessel but contributing to the function of the vessel or furthering its mission.

How long do I have to file a claim under the Jones Act?

The statute of limitations for a Jones Act claim is three years from the time of the injury. However, if the injury is not noticeable until a later date, the three-year period to file a claim will begin from the discovery of that injury. Note that an injury is not necessarily required to be from a specific identifiable accident but can be something like an occupational disease, which can occur from repetitive motions or prolonged exposure to hazardous substances, or loss of hearing or sight.

What forms of benefits can I receive under the Jones Act?

Typically, any compensatory benefits are required immediately upon injury. Other damages may be awarded by the end of a Jones Act claim or settlement of the claim with the employer. Other damages include:

(1) Lost wages
(2) Medical expenses and bills
(3) Loss of earning capacity
(4) Pain and suffering

What is the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA)?

The LHWCA is a separate federal statute than the Jones Act and covers the compensation, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation services to employees injured on navigable waters of the United States and/or areas primarily used for loading, unloading, building, or repairing a vessel.

The LHWCA also covers survivor benefits to dependents if the injury causes or contributes to death.

Am I covered by the LHWCA?

The LHWCA covers employees involved in traditional maritime positions, like ship-repairmen, shipbuilders, construction workers, or shipbreakers. To qualify, the injury must occur on the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas, such as piers, terminals, docks, wharves, or loading bays. Employees that do not do traditional maritime work can still be covered if their work is performed on navigable waters.

The LHWCA excludes:

(1) Seamen (also known as masters or members of a crew of any vessel);
(2) Employees of the United States government, or a state or foreign government;
(3) Employees who were intoxicated and injured themselves; and
(4) Employees who intentionally harm themselves or others.

The LHWCA also excludes individuals that are covered by state workers' compensation systems.

What is the difference between the Jones Act and the LHWCA?

The Jones Act covers seamen, or “masters or members of a crew of any vessel”. The LHWCA specifically excludes seamen as being covered; if you are a seaman, you would recover for injuries under the Jones Act, not the LHWCA.

What are my responsibilities as an injured Longshoreman?

Your employer must have written notice of an injury within 30 days of the injury, or within 30 days from the point you become aware that you have an injury or disability. If the injured employee dies, their survivors or representatives must file a Claim for Death Benefits within 1 year after the date of death.

Schwartz Law Firm

Schwartz Law Firm LLC attorneys bring over 25 years of combined experience securing personal injury recoveries and workers’ compensation successes in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.