Who is Responsible For a Dog Bite or an Animal Attack in Louisiana?

Louisiana has specific laws covering incidents where a pet or a dog attacks or bites someone.

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite or an Animal Bite in Louisiana?

Louisiana Civil Code Art. 2321. provides:

"The owner of an animal is answerable for the damage caused by the animal. However, he is answerable for the damage only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal's behavior would cause damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. Nonetheless, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages for injuries to persons or property caused by the dog and which the owner could have prevented and which did not result from the injured person's provocation of the dog. Nothing in this Article shall preclude the court from the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in an appropriate case.

What Happens if I Was Attacked by a Dog or an Animal and Injured by Not Bitten?

This statute covers not only injuries caused by the animal bite, but also for damages or injuries caused by other animal behavior. For example, if your mailman is coming to deliver your mail and your dog runs at him, causing him to fall and injure himself, it is possible that the mailman could seek damages under this statute even though he was not bitten. In this vein, a case in Louisiana found the owners of a runaway racehorse liable to damages caused to an automobile it damages while running away. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Simon, 598 So. 2d 1255, 1992 La. App. LEXIS 1250 (La.App. 4 Cir.), cert. denied, 604 So. 2d 970, 1992 La. LEXIS 2678 (La. 1992).

What Do I Have to Prove if I was Bitten or Injured by an Animal?

In order to establish strict liability against a dog owner under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2321, a plaintiff must prove that

1) his person or property was damaged by the owner’s dog;

2) that the injuries could have been prevented by the owner, and

3) that the injuries did not result from the injured person’s provocation of the dog.

In order to establish that the owner could have prevented the injuries under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2321, the plaintiff must show that the dog presented an unreasonable risk of harm. Nelson v. James, La. App. 40400, 917 So. 2d 678, 2005 La. App. LEXIS 2576 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2005).

To prove liability under this statute for any other animal attack, you need to prove

1) his person or property was damaged by the owner’s animal;

2) that the owner knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal's behavior would cause damage;

3) that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care;

4) and that the owner failed to exercise such reasonable care

Does Insurance Coverage Animal or Dog Bites?

Under most circumstances, there will be insurance coverage if you were attacked or bitten by an animal as they are typically covered under a homeowner’s policy of insurance. Your insurance company will likely provide you a lawyer to defend these claims. Insurance questions can be complicated. Contact us for a free consultation on whether you may be covered under an insurance policy if you are the victim of an animal attack or if your animal has attacked another person in Louisiana.

Megan Kiefer
Public Statement on Behalf of Eugene Grant

We would like to thank the NOPD for releasing the body camera footage of the arrest of Eugene Grant so that the public can see exactly what occurred on the night of July 8th. 

What is clear from the video is that what occurred on Frenchmen Street that night was terrifying for all those who witnessed it, horrifying for the crowd, the responding NOPD officers, and, most of all, terrifying for Eugene, who is disabled and autistic.  What is clear from the video is that, as a community, we are lucky that the situation was not more catastrophic and that we all need to work together to ensure that it does not reoccur.

Ultimately, what Eugene wants is to play music and to be safe while doing it.  We must have serious conversations about community policing, the use of force in responding to nonviolent calls, as well as how the NOPD is trained to respond to those with disabilities.  We need to have dialogue about the peaceful coexistence of business owners and musicians on Frenchmen Street. We are happy to report that conversations about positive changes are already in place.  We want to thank Chief Ferguson, Chief Westbrook, Councilwoman Palmer, Mayor Cantrell, and the countless members of the music community, who have all reached out to Eugene and his family following this incident, and we encourage collaboration and dialogue into the future that includes the musicians with a seat at the table during these discussions.  With constructive efforts, we are confident that we can all move forward together positively.

Thank you again for your support, and we hope to see you on Sunday, July 21 at 2 p.m. at Washington Artillery Park for a rally in a show of support for our musicians in New Orleans.  Eugene invites you to come and asks for you to peacefully demonstrate your love for our local musicians.


Megan Kiefer
Public Statement on Behalf of Eugene Grant

We are representing Mr. Grant, a disabled musician who was violently arrested on Frenchmen Street last week. Here is his official public statement, which we released today:


Eugene and his family want to thank all of the friends, family, musicians, and community leaders who have reached out to him to offer their support during this difficult time. They have truly been overwhelmed by the outpouring of your love.

What happened on July 8th to Eugene was unacceptable. Eugene, who is 5’6, developmentally disabled, and autistic was forcefully arrested by NOPD officers for playing music on the most famous music street in New Orleans. Eugene was tackled by the arresting officers, physically harming him and breaking his trumpet.  He was then jailed, terrified at what would happen to him, causing extreme emotional distress. All New Orleanians should be concerned about what happened to Eugene.

Ultimately, Eugene wants two things.  He wants to be able to play music and he wants to ensure that the police interact with musicians and disabled individuals in a way that is not violent.  These wants should be our wants. Eugene wants what has happened to him to start a greater conversation amongst the city, the police, and the community about effective solutions to pervasive problems.

Eugene is a musician.  Music is all he knows and all he wants to do.  The City of New Orleans is supported culturally, financially, and historically by musicians like Eugene. It is imperative that the City cultivate an environment on Frenchmen Street that allows street musicians like Eugene to flourish.   We look forward to working with community leaders, the City Council, the police, and the mayor to discuss changes we can make and policies we can put in place to ensure the success of our musicians.

Secondly, Eugene is severely developmentally disabled and autistic.  No matter the circumstance, the police should not respond to someone armed with only a trumpet, with violence and weaponry.   We are encouraged that the NOPD will conduct a thorough investigation into Eugene’s arrest and the use of force surrounding it and will be honest and transparent with the results of that investigation with Eugene as well as the public at large. We look forward to positive changes to prevent this use of force in any similar situation against a person with apparent disabilities in the future.

Thank you again for your support, and we hope to see you on Sunday, July 21 at 2 p.m. at Jackson Square for the rally that is being held to support musicians in New Orleans.

 *this has been updated to eliminate the reference to the use of a taser by the police. Although the police tasers were unholstered during this arrest, Mr. Grant was not tased.

Megan Kiefer
Can my insurance company raise my rates if I make a claim in Louisiana?

Our clients are always concerned when they are deciding whether to make a claim under their uninsured motorist coverage whether their insurance company will raise their rates.  They always express that they do not want to sue their own insurance company.

What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

When you sign up for automobile insurance, you have the option of purchasing uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist insurance in addition to your liability coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is insurance that you purchase that steps in to cover you when another driver is not insured or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages.  In fact, in Louisiana, you have to specifically reject this type of coverage if you do not want to purchase it. 

So basically you are buying insurance to step in if another person injures you and does not have enough insurance.

You can also use this coverage if you are involved in a hit and run accident in Louisiana and you have property damage or an independent witness.

Can My Insurance Drop Me if I make a Claim? Can My Insurance Company Raise My Rates If I Make a Claim?

In Louisiana, it is completely illegal for an insurance company to raise your rates or drop you if you file a uninsured motorist claim. The only way they can penalize you is for an at-fault accident.

Louisiana R.S. 22:1284 states:

A.  No insurer shall increase the rate, increase or add a surcharge, cancel, or fail to renew any policy of motor vehicle insurance when such action is based on consideration of one or more nonfault incidents.

B. In this Section, "nonfault incident" means an accident, collision, or other incident involving a vehicle covered by a policy issued by the insurer in which the driver of the insured vehicle was not at fault, regardless of whether the incident was reported to any law enforcement agency.

So, the short answer is that if you are not at fault and you make a claim under your own insurance, THEY CANNOT DROP YOU OR RAISE YOUR RATES.

If it turns out that your insurance company does drop you or raise your rates after you make a uninsured motorist claim or following a nonfault accident, they can be liable to you for a premium refund, damages and attorney’s fees.

Louisiana R.S. 22:1284 states

C. Any insurer who violates this Section shall refund to the insured person the amount of premium which was paid which exceeded the premium which would have been charged if the insurer had complied with this Section, together with a penalty payment in amount equal to triple the amount of the refund or one thousand dollars, whichever is greater. The insured shall also be entitled to attorney fees should he prevail.

D. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, one or more nonfault accidents or collisions shall not be the sole basis for an insurer's denial of an application for a policy of motor vehicle insurance nor shall such an accident or collision be considered by an insurer in determining the rates for such a policy. In addition, no insurer shall require that such coverage be provided by another insurer based solely upon such an accident or collision.

Should I make a Claim against My Own Insurance? 

If you are injured and there is no other insurance available, of course.  This is exactly what you pay for when you buy insurance – to use it when you need it.

If you would like a consultation on whether you can make a claim against your insurance company in Louisiana or whether they could raise your rates or cancel your insurance if you make a claim against your insurance company in Louisiana, please give us a call. We offer free consultations on these claims.

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.



Megan Kiefer
Do I need Uninsured Motorist Insurance in Louisiana?

What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

When you sign up for automobile insurance, you have the option of purchasing uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist insurance in addition to your liability coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is insurance that you purchase that steps in to cover you when another driver is not insured or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages.  In fact, in Louisiana, you have to specifically reject this type of coverage if you do not want to purchase it. 

So basically you are buying insurance to step in if another person injures you and does not have enough insurance.

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

While it may seem tempting to save money every month by declining this coverage, you may want to think twice.

In Louisiana, it is only required under the law to have $15,000/30,000 of automobile insurance on a personal vehicle. Despite this requirement, it is estimated that 13 percent of drivers in Louisiana are not insured at all and an astounding number carry only the minimum amount of insurance on their vehicle.  That is, if you are involved in an accident it is highly likely that the other driver is insured with only $15,000 of coverage if at all, which is not enough to cover even minor injuries in some cases. 

Too many times, we have had to break the news to seriously injured clients that the driver that injured them did not have enough insurance to compensate them for their injuries.  These days, an ER bill can run you almost $10,000 alone.  If the driver who injures you or your family only has minimum coverage, you may exhaust their policy with just one visit.  We have had clients with extremely serious injuries that prevented them from working and caused tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills who were unable to be fully compensated because they did not have uninsured motorist insurance.

Accordingly, securing uninsured motorist insurance can help you to protect you in these situations.

How Much Uninsured Motorist Insurance Should I Have?

You should buy as much uninsured motorist insurance as you can afford.  You never want to find yourself in a situation where you cannot afford medical bills that were caused by another person.  We recommend at least having $100,000 of insurance, but if you could afford more, you will not regret having it and it will be money well spent.

How Can I Get Uninsured Motorist Insurance? 

You can easily call your insurer or go online/your insurance app to increase your coverage RIGHT NOW.  This will go into immediate effect.

 We do recommend you get many quotes and shop this insurance.  An insurance agent can price compare for you. 

If you have questions about UM insurance, what insurance company you should work with or are looking for an agent to price compare for you, give us a call.  We can help to steer you in the right direction so that you and your family is protected.

Megan Kiefer
Have you been Injured by a …. Cow?

It is a frequent and very serious occurrence that you may be injured in a car accident with a cow,  pigs, or other livestock. An average male bull can weigh over 2,000 pounds and can weigh even more than 3,000 pounds, which is more than the weight of a Toyota Corolla! As you can imagine, being involved in an accident with livestock, especially at higher speeds, can cause very serious injury and even death. 

Louisiana law mandates that the owner of a pig, cow, bull, or other livestock has to responsibility to secure their animals. This means that the owner of livestock owner has a duty to make sure there is adequate fencing so his livestock cannot escape, which would require construction of a proper fence, maintenance of the fence, as well as making sure the fence is closed so that his animals cannot escape.

We have handled many livestock accident cases, and it is important to retain an experienced attorney in these matters because different laws apply than a normal car accident. Your attorney will also have to identify the owner of the livestock and may have to get expert testimony to show that the owner was not responsible in securing the livestock.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a cow, pig, or other livestock, you may have significant injuries or medical bills.  Our Metairie and New Orleans car accident and injury attorneys can help you navigate this difficult time.  Call us for a free consultation.

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
Celebrate the Fourth of July Responsibly

July 4th will be celebrated this week commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776.  Many people will celebrate with parties, including fireworks.  While the majority of people celebrating will be responsible, some unfortunately will drive while intoxicated.  Drunk drivers are not only punished in Criminal Court, they are also responsible for paying Punitive damages in Civil Personal Injury lawsuits.  Punitive damages are not typically available in car accident cases. However, the accident victim may be awarded punitive damages when it is proven that the defendant driver (tortfeasor) caused the accident as result of his or her intoxication.  The purpose of the law is to punish drunk drivers.  The rationale is that if certain conduct will result in a large financial penalty because the conduct is considered harmful to society, people will less likely commit the conduct out of fear of reprisals.

To establish a claim for punitive damages under La. Civ. Code art. 2315.4, a party must establish the following elements: (1) that the defendant was intoxicated or had consumed a sufficient quantity of intoxicants to make him lose normal control of his mental and physical faculties; (2) that the intoxication was a cause-in-fact of the resulting injuries; and (3) that the injuries were caused by the defendant's wanton or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.

The burden of proving intoxication is on the party claiming injuries (plaintiff).  The Louisiana Supreme Court recently found that a plaintiff did not carry his burden of proof when only circumstantial evidence was admitted.  In that case, plaintiff relied only on his own testimony that the defendant driver was intoxicated because he was “nervous, sweaty and had “droopy” eyes.  Stephenson v. Hotard, 2019-0478 (La. 05/20/19).  To successfully prove intoxication, the plaintiff should admit evidence such as breathalyzer test results, blood alcohol test results, the odor of alcohol, inability to maintain bodily balance and slurred speech. 

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” 

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
The Top 5 Things Your Personal Injury Lawyer is Doing Wrong

The secret is out: there are some bad lawyers out there. It’s true. One thing that is obvious to us is that clients are not getting the attention or care that they deserve from their attorneys.   Some care more about the value of your case than the value of your care and that is really a shame because after an accident, getting you back to 100% should be your attorney’s top priority.  At Kiefer & Kiefer, many of our cases come from clients who are unhappy with their current attorneys who switch to our firm (and end up much, much happier).  Here are the top 5 most frequent mistakes we see attorneys make when they are handling your personal injury or accident cases:

  1. Not Returning Your Phone Calls. This is the #1 complaint we receive from clients who switch to us from their prior attorneys. Put simply, not returning your phone call is unacceptable. At Kiefer & Kiefer, we understand that you are trusting us with a very serious problem no matter how big or small your case is. We give you our cell phone number so you can check in with us at any time you need to about your case.

  2. Making You Treat With Doctors who Specialize in “Litigatory Medicine.” It is a complete myth that if you are involved in an accident, you have to be seen by doctors who your attorney sends you to. We have found that many attorneys send their clients to medical providers (some of whom do not even have a Board Certification) who are quick to recommend expensive and aggressive procedures that make the case easier to settle, which just means more money for your attorney, less money for you, and more risk to your health. Many clients don’t know that there are even some doctors out there who only treat litigation-involved patients and have backroom deals with attorneys to profit off of litigation. We have seen a young man almost die because his attorney forced him into an unnecessary back surgery with a substandard surgeon when he had little to no pain to make his case more valuable. We don’t practice law this way and we don’t deal with doctors who practice litigatory medicine. At Kiefer & Kiefer, we only work with doctors who are the best in the city and who we would see ourselves. Our main goal is to make sure you are in good hands because we care about you and not just your case.

  3. Not Communicating with You About the Reasons Your Case is Not Resolved. We have taken over cases where our clients have said that their attorneys had not updated them in a year on the status of their case, which is shocking to us. It’s true that sometimes litigation takes time. It’s true that a case can sometimes last years. But, we promise you that every step of the way, you will know exactly what is going on in your case and the reason it is still around. We don’t let cases lie around our office - we aggressively push your case to resolution because we recognize that you don’t enjoy being involved in litigation and want us to help you through it as quickly as possible.

  4. Not Working on Your File. What is so frustrating to us is how we see time and time again that insurance companies or defendants are waiting on Plaintiff attorneys to simply give them information to evaluate a case for settlement. Oftentimes attorneys take many, many months before giving the basic information that the other side needs to give you money! The insurance company should never wait on your lawyer, nor should your case.

  5. Not Knowing What They Are Doing. With all of the lawyer commercials that run all day every day on TV, it is really difficult to determine who has your best interests at heart and who is competent. We have watched too many clients get lackluster results because their attorney was simply incompetent to handle their case, but took it anyway. You deserve a good attorney who knows what he or she is doing - this is the only way to get the best result on your case. Ask your attorney what her experience truly is and do not be satisfied with vague responses. It' is ok to interview your attorney before you hire one and you should definitely do so! Experience Matters. At Kiefer & Kiefer, we have been practicing personal injury and accident law for over 60 years. Our current attorneys have a combined total of almost 100 years of experience in this field.

If you are unhappy with your representation, you can always switch attorneys.  You can do so for any reason, at any time, and at no additional cost to you.  We have recently published an article about how easy it is to change your lawyer. Read about that here:  https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/can-i-change-my-lawyer. We always give you a free consultation any case you may have.

Megan Kiefer
We Handle Your Vehicle Property Damage Claim after a Car Accident AT NO COST TO YOU

After you are involved in an accident, one of the most frustrating things you may have to deal with is the damage to your vehicle. If your vehicle is severely damaged, this may affect your ability to get to work, school, or care for your children. If you have not had to deal with this before, you may really feel overwhelmed, especially if the insurance company does not do its part to simplify the process for you.

Too many times, we have clients come to our office disgruntled with an insurance company for messing them around on their property damage claims. In fact, just the other day, an insurance company tried to claim they only had to pay our client 90% of the damage to his vehicle (which was totaled) after their insured t-boned our insured pushing him head on into a pole. Incredibly, the insurance company blamed the other 10% of the damage on the pole!

Most lawyers do not want to help you with your property damage claim. They only want to take your injury claim so that they can make money. But, we know that being without a car only compounds suffering after an accident, so we do this for free for you in most cases.

In Louisiana, insurance companies have strict deadlines to comply with after an accident to help you with your vehicle damage. If they fail to comply, they need to pay penalties and attorneys fees. In fact, in that case where the insurance company blamed the pole for the damage, they wound up having to pay our client an extra $4,000 in penalties plus attorneys fees. Read about the requirements under Louisiana law here:


We will only charge you in the event we have to file a suit and litigate the property damage issue or get the insurance company to award attorneys fees, which means this is at no cost to you at all because we want you to be made whole after the accident.

 This is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
Hurricane Season: Are you covered?

Hurricane season is upon us once again. Although Louisiana has been relatively lucky in terms of hurricanes and tropical storms for the last few years, we were given an unnecessary reminder of their potentially devastating effects by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Michael. In addition to stocking up on supplies and updating your exit plan, now is the time to make sure your insurance coverage on your home/property is in order.

          Although an in depth discussion of insurance coverage is beyond the scope of this post, coverage for hurricane or tropical storm damage usually comes from one of two sources: 1) homeowners insurance, 2) flood insurance. The potential trap for the unwary, is that if there is a lapse in your coverage or you need a new policy written,  coverage does not kick in for thirty days!  Thirty days of watching the weather and praying that a storm doesn’t hit, and that your property is not damaged or destroyed. Do yourself a favor, spend the ten minutes now to confirm that your coverage is current.

          We also always strongly recommend getting flood insurance; even if its not required by your mortgage holder. The relative cost of getting flood insurance is minor in comparison to the value of your home or property and is money well spent. This has been a major issue in Houston and Baton Rouge, where many residents opted not to have flood insurance because they were not in a flood zone, and their mortgage holder did not require it. Ask any of them today, and they will echo my sentiment. Its not worth the risk. Get flood insurance period.  

          Finally, while you are checking to make sure you have homeowners and flood insurance on your property, and that it is current, go ahead and take a look at the coverages afforded. Homeowners typically will delineate coverage for the structure and the contents. Do those amounts make sense for you? Would they provide the necessary coverage if your property was badly damaged or destroyed? Now is the time to make any necessary changes.

If your home or property were to be damaged in a tropical storm or hurricane, its important to document all the damage. The first step is to have before pictures showing your property and personal belongings. You should then immediately report any damage after the storm to your insurance company to get the claims process started. Then, you should contact a lawyer to ensure that you don’t miss a step in the process and to make sure that you are fully compensated. If you have questions about your insurance coverage or need help making a claim for damage, contact us for a free consultation.

  - Chris M. Short is an associate attorney at Kiefer & Kiefer.  

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
How do I get a police report after an accident?

If you have been involved in a car accident or bicycle accident in New Orleans, Metairie or anywhere else in Louisiana, it is very likely that the responding officer gave you a piece of paper with a number on it. Following his or her response to the scene of the accident, the officer will issue a full report of his or her investigation, which is available online.

Here are some resources that will help you locate a police report after an accident in New Orleans, Metairie, or anywhere else in Louisiana:

https://policereports.lexisnexis.com//search/ has a comprehensive search of almost all Louisiana parishes.

If you are involved in a car accident in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, Grant Parish, St. Helena Parish, or Terrebone Parish, you will be able to instantaneously download your report here: https://www.buycrash.com/

If the accident was investigated by the Louisiana State Police, their reports are available here: https://crashreports.dps.louisiana.gov/ladpsecom/SearchCrashes.ts?m=search

An important detail to note is that reports available from these search engines may not be comprehensive. If you want to obtain the written statements that may have been obtained by the officers, body camera footage, dash camera footage, supplemental reports, or any other documentation that the officer may have logged into evidence, you will need to send a FOIA request to the investigating agency.

If you have been involved in an accident, there are other pieces of evidence that are important to secure and steps to be taken in order to preserve a claim. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to review the facts and circumstances surrounding an accident because that is exactly what the insurance company for the other driver is doing. An attorney will be able to open an investigation immediately, and secure evidence such as witness statements and camera footage . We will be able to spend letters advising the other driver not to delete important evidence that will be in his or her possession.

https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/ten-mistakes-following-a-car-accident details mistakes that all of us tend to make following a motor vehicle accident.

We always give free consultations on accident and injury claims. Please give us a call at 504-828-3313 if you believe that we can be of help to you.

This is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
What Do I Do if I was Involved in an Accident at Walmart?

Walmart boasts that each week, over 275 million customers and members visit our more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries and eCommerce websites in 10 countries. They reported 2019 revenue of $514.4 billion. With so much foot traffic, it is common that individuals are injured when on Walmart’s premises.

The attorneys at Kiefer & Kiefer have handled cases where a client was injured when they slipped and fell inside the store, when a defective clothing rack caused a client injury, when a client slipped in motor oil that accumulated outside of the store near the entrance, when a client was injured when a Walmart employee hit them as they were attempting to move dozens of shopping carts, and more. Here is a link to a website discussing one of our cases: https://louisianarecord.com/stories/511465185-woman-seeks-damages-following-alleged-fall-at-walmart

Clients and potential clients are left wondering What Do I Do if I was Injured at Walmart?

What to Do if You are Injured at Walmart?

  1. The first thing you need to do if you are injured at Walmart is to request an employee get you medical attention if needed. Walmart employees can assist you in calling 911 and securing an EMT to get you immediate medical attention.

  2. Report the accident to an employee of Walmart. Walmart requires that their employees perform an investigation into the accident by taking your written statement, taking photographs, reviewing and preserving video evidence,

  3. Do not write or sign a statement when asked by the Walmart employee. Sometimes after a fall, you may be physically or mentally unable to write a written statement. You do not have to. Either way, Walmart will attempt to use this statement against you if you later make a claim.

  4. Gather your own evidence while you are at Walmart and after you leave Walmart. Even if Walmart is gathering evidence, this does not mean you cannot gather your own. Not every part of the store is able to be captured on surveillance and not every employee gathers witness information perfectly. If you are able to, take your own photographs and video and get the identity and phone numbers of all available witnesses.

  5. Do not give a recorded statement to Walmart or its claims adjusters. Walmart will make contact with you within 24 hours to check on you. They may also have a claims adjuster check on you. You are not required to speak with them. In fact, in the days after a serious injury, it is possibly you are heavily medicated, so it does not make sense to give a recorded statement that can later be used against you.

  6. Do not accept an early settlement. In Louisiana, you have a year before you have to file a claim against Walmart. There is no rush to settle your claim, especially before you know the nature and extent of your injuries.

How Do I make a Claim against Walmart?

Walmart is self-insured for claims against it. What does this mean? Most retail stores like Walmart have a general liability insurance policy. They pay the premiums on the policy and, if someone is injured in the store, the insurance company - not the store - handles the claim. So, most claims would be made to an insurance adjuster. Not Walmart. Because Wal-Mart self-insures, Wal-Mart manages all claims against the store through a company that is controlled and owned by Wal-Mart. This means that Wal-Mart pays claims out with their own money. Walmart has its own team of claims handlers and lawyers that are paid to evaluate Walmart injury claims and to save them money by not paying out the value of the case.  The Walmart injury claims can be anything from slip and falls accidents at Walmart, trip and fall accidents at Walmart, merchandise falling onto customers while they are at Walmart, customers at Walmart falling over boxes or merchandise that was left on the ground, wet or freshly waxed floors, holes in the parking lot, and defective or dangerous products in Walmart’s possession. Walmart is notorious for taking a hard line on injuries that occur at Walmart that are hard to prove and refusing to settle these claims.

What is it so Difficult to Make a Claim Against Walmart?

In addition to being self-insured and taking a hard line regarding the refusal to settle cases that have questions about the facts, in Louisiana, the law makes it difficult to prove slip and fall cases. The Louisiana Merchant Act was passed to help defer claims against retailers, like Walmart.

LA Rev Stat § 9:2800.6 (2015)

§2800.6. Burden of proof in claims against merchants

A. A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably might give rise to damage.

B. In a negligence claim brought against a merchant by a person lawfully on the merchant's premises for damages as a result of an injury, death, or loss sustained because of a fall due to a condition existing in or on a merchant's premises, the claimant shall have the burden of proving, in addition to all other elements of his cause of action, all of the following:

(1) The condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable.

(2) The merchant either created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage, prior to the occurrence.

(3) The merchant failed to exercise reasonable care. In determining reasonable care, the absence of a written or verbal uniform cleanup or safety procedure is insufficient, alone, to prove failure to exercise reasonable care.

C. Definitions:

(1) "Constructive notice" means the claimant has proven that the condition existed for such a period of time that it would have been discovered if the merchant had exercised reasonable care. The presence of an employee of the merchant in the vicinity in which the condition exists does not, alone, constitute constructive notice, unless it is shown that the employee knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the condition.

(2) "Merchant" means one whose business is to sell goods, foods, wares, or merchandise at a fixed place of business. For purposes of this Section, a merchant includes an innkeeper with respect to those areas or aspects of the premises which are similar to those of a merchant, including but not limited to shops, restaurants, and lobby areas of or within the hotel, motel, or inn.

So, it is a common experience that a person who is injured in a store gets left in the dark. No one from the store contacts the injured person, and phone calls to the number go unreturned. Paperwork gets lost, and the claim gets delayed. It is also common that if you do get to talk with someone, they are telling you that your claim is denied and they will pay you nothing.

What Should I do If I am Injured at Walmart and Want to Make a Claim?

Many people get discouraged if their claim is denied and give up, and then Wal-Mart does not have to compensate these people for the injuries they caused because they “go away”. This is one reason why it is so important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after you are injured. Because Walmart will fight you on any type of claim you attempt to make, it is important to consult an experienced attorney who knows the best way to litigate these cases. Basically, to win against Walmart, you need to fight back and show them you mean business. Your lawyer will help you to

  1. Evaluate your injury and fall and let you know if it is a case that is a valid claim.

  2. Gather evidence and make sure that Walmart does not destroy evidence.

  3. Negotiate your case with Walmart and try to resolve it prior to filing a lawsuit.

  4. Filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial to get you the compensation you deserve.

At Kiefer & Kiefer, we have handled many of these cases. We know what we have to prove to get you compensation, and we will gather the evidence to pressure Walmart to give you what you deserve. And if they do not, we have a team of experienced trial lawyers ready to take your case to trial.


This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

What Are the Ten Mistakes Made Following a Car Accident?

It is no secret that when you are involved in a car accident, no matter how severe, it is a stressful event. The shock of being in a car accident has us not thinking clearly. Here are the ten mistakes we see our clients and others make following a car accident.

  1. Not Calling the Police. Even if you are not injured in an accident, it is a good idea to call the police and document it. We have had too many cases where the other driver later denies an accident occurred at all when our clients attempt to get their property damage paid. Calling the police, even if it is inconvenient, allows for a record to be made of an accident.

  2. Not Taking Photographs. After an accident, it is important to move your vehicles so as to not disrupt traffic, but also to make sure you are safe. Before you move your car, take photographs of the vehicle positioning and the property damage.

  3. Not Securing Insurance Information. If you are involved in an accident, make sure you get a photograph of the other driver’s license, license plate, insurance card, and the car’s registration. If you suspect the driver is on a mission for a business, driving for Uber or Lyft, or working for another person, secure that information as well. We have handled cases where our client only obtained a name and telephone number from the other driver, which can turn out to be false!

  4. Not Collecting Evidence. It is important to get the above information, but also important to take photographs and videos of the surrounding areas, to get witness’s names and telephone numbers before they may leave the scene of the accident.

  5. Admitting Fault. While it is encouraged to check on the occupants of another vehicle after an accident, there is no reason to state the accident was your fault.

  6. Skipping a Doctor Visit. Put simply, if you are in pain, go to a doctor. It is important to get checked out after an accident to allay any concerns about a severe injury and to get instructions and medications you may need to start the rehabilitation process.

  7. Settling with the Insurance Company. There is no rush to settle with an insurance company. In Louisiana, you have one year before you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. The most important thing following an accident is not to negotiation compensation with the insurance company, but to make sure you are ok.

  8. Paying a Traffic Ticket. If you receive a traffic ticket following an accident and you do not believe you are at fault, you should fight the ticket, even if it is inconvenient.

  9. Not Consulting an Attorney Early. If you believe you were injured in an accident, it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible. The earlier an attorney gets involved in your case, the more likely that important pieces of evidence will be preserved.

  10. Not Consulting the Right Attorney. If you turn on the television, you know that there are too many attorneys out there that want to take your car accident case. But, what is difficult to sort out is what attorneys actually have experience litigating these cases and what attorneys care about YOU and not just your claim. The attorneys at Kiefer & Kiefer have been working on car accident cases for 60 years. The secret to our continued success in this city is that we know the law and we care about our clients, not just their cases. We are happy to give you a free consultation on an accident claim.

This is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
What Do I Do if My Car is Flooded?

Once again, we are experiencing a deluge of flooding here in New Orleans. If you are one of us unlucky ones this morning who woke up to your car flooded, you are probably wondering what to do.

  1. DO NOT START YOUR CAR. Even though this may be your first instinct, this could cause even more damage if there is water in the engine.

  2. Take photos of the damage. This includes the outside and the inside of your car. Take as many photographs as possible to try to show the extent of the water damage.

  3. CALL A TOW COMPANY to get your car to higher ground if needed so that you can start drying the car out as soon as possible.

  4. Inspect your car - look under the hood to see if you can identify how extensive the damage is, check your oil dipstick (which should indicate whether there is water in your engine), check your electrical components, check your fuel tank.

  5. Remove all of the water you can inside your car. Use a wet/dry vacuum to collect standing water, use towels to soak up water, take out your carpet, seats, or seat cushions.

  6. If you have paid for comprehensive insurance coverage, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible. Your auto insurer will open a claim with you and arrange for you to have your car inspected. Because there is likely to be a lot of claims following this widespread flooding, you will want to do this as soon as possible to get your car repaired or replaced as soon as it is feasible.

If you open a claim with your insurer, under Louisiana law, your insurer owes you a duty of good faith and fair dealing in adjusting your claim. Under LA R.S. 22:1892 and 22:1973, your insurer must adjust your auto claim within 14 days of being notified of the claim. If your insurer does not timely initiate an adjustment of your claim and timely pay any damages you have suffered, you may have a bad faith claim against your insurer. If you think your insurance company is not handling your property damage claims properly, you may have additional claims that you can bring against them, including a claim for penalties and a claim for attorneys fees in addition to your property damage claim. Please give us a call for a free consultation.

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice

Megan Kiefer
Do I Get the Engagement Ring Back if the Wedding is Called Off?

“Popping the question” and asking for someone’s hand in marriage with an engagement ring can be one of the most important questions asked in one’s lifetime.  Presenting someone an engagement ring will likely be one of the most expensive gifts you can give another person.  According to recent surveys, most American couples expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on an engagement ring with the average cost for an engagement ring over $6,000.  Alex Rodriguez just spent up to $5 million on his engagement ring given to Jennifer Lopez.

Even following a “yes” answer to a proposal, it is the unfortunate reality that sometimes engagements and weddings are called off.  After that happens, our clients are often left wondering “Do I have to give my engagement ring back?” or “Can I force my fiancé to return the engagement ring?”

Even if the ring didn’t set you back as much as A-Rod, you will be happy to know that in Louisiana, your fiancé is required to return your engagement ring if the wedding is called off.  

Louisiana courts have held that an engagement ring is a conditional gift.  That is, one of the conditions of the engagement ring is that you have to get married and if you do not get married, the gift must be returned.  See Wardlaw v. Conrad, 18 La. App. 387 (La. App. 2 Cir 1931); Roy v. Florane, 239 La. 749 (La. 1960)   

What Do You Do When a Client Does Not Pay: Recovering Outstanding Debts for Goods or Services and Open Accounts

Of the many hardships faced by small business owners, collecting on outstanding accounts for the goods or services they have provided when their customers have not paid those invoices, is among the most frustrating. It’s a double whammy, not only have you not been paid, but you have already outlaid your time and money and you may not have an entire billing department dedicated to collecting on outstanding invoices. As a small business, we know first hand the frustrations of having open accounts. Thankfully, Louisiana Law provides some measure of protection for your unpaid invoice, or “Open Account,” which even allows you to recover the attorney fees directly from the debtor rather than you having to pay those fees. 

 Louisiana Law broadly defines an “open account” as any account on which purchasers customarily purchase goods and services on credit. Specifically, Louisiana Revised Statute § 9:2781 provides the following extremely broad definition:

 “Open account” includes any account for which a part or all of the balance is past due, whether or not the account reflects one or more transactions and whether or not at the time of contracting the parties expected future transactions. “Open account” shall include debts incurred for professional services, including but not limited to legal and medical services.

 So long as the outstanding debt falls within that broad definition, you are entitled to the protections of § 9:2781. That distinction is important, because it allows you to recover most or all of your attorney’s fees from the debtor, or person that failed to pay, rather than having to pay those fees out of your own pockets. 

Broadly speaking, the statute requires that you make an amicable written demand on the debtor. If the debtor does not pay that amount within thirty (30) days, you are entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in recovering the outstanding amount or “open account.”

Though it is simple in theory, there are a number of exceptions and specials rules that apply depending on the type of debt. Failure to comply with those provisions can drastically effect your ability to recover or amount of recovery. Because of these rules, it is importation to consult an attorney to discuss your open accounts as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know has outstanding balances and would like to speak with someone about trying to recover those amounts as an “Open Account,”  please give us a call today for a free consultation.  

  - Chris M. Short is an associate attorney at Kiefer & Kiefer.  

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice

Megan Kiefer
New Orleans is Taking Affirmative Steps to Curtail Bicycle Accidents

 New Orleans officials have announced they will begin enforcing a $300 fine for blocking bike lanes by the end of April. Currently the fine is only $40 dollars for parking in a bike lane but the city has increased the cost of the fine as part of its plan to improve bike safety in New Orleans. When vehicles are parked blocking bike lanes, it forces cyclists to leave the protection of the designated bike lane and risk their safety by entering the traffic lanes to go around the violating vehicle.

Officials have stated this is only the beginning as they intend to announce a bike safety master plan by the end of the summer. While New Orleans is working on plans to improve city streets for biking, cyclists can take the following steps to ensure their own safety on New Orleans’s busy streets, littered with distracted drivers.

  • Do not bike distracted - avoid wearing earbuds or talking on the phone while cycling.

  • Stay alert to the traffic around you, especially when crossing intersections.

  • When approaching intersections, look out for cars turning in front of you. Distracted drivers may not see you approaching from behind them.

  • Ride with the flow of traffic.

Megan Kiefer
New Orleans Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer

If you were in a business, store, hotel, or other place and slipped or tripped on a hazard and were injured, you may have a claim against the insurer of the store for those injuries. If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident in New Orleans, Metairie, or elsewhere, it is important to consult a New Orleans slip and fall accident lawyer to discuss your rights.

What Causes a Slip and Fall Accident?

Slip and Fall Accidents can be caused by a number of hazards and every slip and fall case is different. Some common slip and fall accidents in New Orleans can be caused by:

  • A substance that is left on the floor, such as a spilled drink, melted ice, or water;

  • Uneven surfaces of a floor such as cracks, loose floorboards, or uneven decking;

  • Uneven surfaces of a parking lot, such as cracks, potholes or sidewalks

  • Wet surfaces such as slippery floors and spills

  • Broken steps or handrails

  • Debris or items that were left dangerously in a walkway, such as pallets or boxes

  • Inadequate lighting

  • Spilled food on the ground of a restuarant

What should I do if I am involved in a Slip and Fall Accident in New Orleans or Metairie?

Slip and Fall accidents can cause serious injury. You should do the following things if you have been involved in a slip and fall accident:

  1. Seek medical attention if you are injured

  2. Report the slip and fall accident immediately to the store manager

  3. Take photographs of what you fell on

  4. Get the names and contact information of anyone you talk to or anyone who may have witnessed the slip and fall

  5. Call a New Orleans slip and fall accident lawyer to consult with you on whether you have a claim

If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident in New Orleans or Metairie, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries, including economic damages such as medical bills and missing wages, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.  These cases are very difficult to prove; before you accept a quick settlement from the insurance company, contact a New Orleans slip and fall accident lawyer for a consultation on your case.

How can Kiefer & Kiefer New Orlean Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer help me with my slip and fall accident?

We have a team of experienced trial attorneys who can help you with your slip and fall claim. We have successfully handled many slip and fall accident cases. These cases include slip and fall accidents in parking lots, slip and fall accidents at the Wyndham Hotel, slip and fall accidents in Dillard’s and other department stores, slip and fall accidents at Walmart, slip and fall accidents at Intown Suites, slip and fall accidents in an elevator, slip and fall accidents at Chili’s and other restaurants, slip and fall accidents at Touro and other hospitals, slip and fall accidents in Bayou Beer Garden, Tipitina’s, Southport Hall and other bars, as well as slip and fall accidents in the Smoothie King Center and Superdome.

Here are some articles about cases we have litigated as a result of slip and fall accidents in New Orleans and slip and fall accidents in Metairie:






This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Megan Kiefer
Who is Liable When a Police Chase Causes an Accident?

It is no secret that we see a lot of crime in New Orleans and its surrounding areas and so the NOPD and its police officers are frequently faced with a suspect who attempts to flee their inquiry, arrest, or capture which can lead to a “police chase.” Sometimes, these pursuits involve NOPD vehicles and, unfortunately, sometimes these high speed pursuits can lead to serious injury.

Just this month, the NOPD pursued a high speed chase of a suspected stolen vehicle through the Broadmoor area. According to the Police Department, the officers spotted the vehicle near South Derbigny and Toledano streets and tried to pull over the driver, who then sped off.  A police chase ensued and the stolen vehicle crashed into a hair and beauty salon, Unity 1 Beauty Supply & Hair Salon, causing the salon to catch on fire. Two of the vehicle occupants died and one of the customers of the hair salon died in the fire with others suffering serious injury.

The Police Department's Public Integrity Bureau has started an investigation into the tragic Broadmoor beauty salon crash. The New Orleans Police Department officers have been temporarily reassigned due to possible violations of the NOPD vehicle pursuit policy. The accident is still under investigation.


When Should the Police Chase or Pursue a Suspect in a Car Chase?

On 12/6/15, the NOPD adopted a policy regarding suspect pursuit chases due to the federal consent decree and in recognition of the fact that they are inherently dangerous.

It states: “This Department's response to those who unlawfully flee from law enforcement action shall stress a balance between the importance of apprehending offenders and the highrisk nature of vehicle pursuits. Therefore, officers may engage in a pursuit only when they have a reasonable suspicion that a fleeing suspect has committed or has attempted to commit a crime of violence as defined by this Chapter and the escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person. Pursuits for property offenses, misdemeanor offenses, traffic, or civil infractions are prohibited. Officers must receive supervisory approval prior to initiating the pursuit. Officers are not authorized to engage in a vehicle pursuit in order to subdue an escaping suspect who presents no imminent threat of death or serious injury. Vehicle pursuits may never be used for the protection of property.”

According to the consent decree, pursuits for property offenses, misdemeanor offenses and traffic or civil infractions are prohibited for the Police Department. Officers need to receive supervisory approval before initiating a pursuit. The policy states:

Upon express supervisory approval, officers are authorized to initiate a pursuit ONLY when:

(a) an officer can articulate that a suspect is attempting to evade arrest or detention for a crime of violence as defined by this Chapter;

(b) the escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person; and

(c) the suspect is fleeing in a vehicle after having been given a signal to stop by a commissioned member who has identified themselves as a police officer (e.g., in uniform, in a marked police unit, showing badge and ID. – see: definition of Professional Presence Chapter 1.3 – Use of Force).

10. Officers must receive supervisory approval prior to initiating the pursuit. Pursuits for misdemeanor offenses, traffic, or civil infractions are prohibited. Dangerous driving during a pursuit does not justify a continued pursuit.

11. Factors that shall be considered, both individually and collectively, when deciding to initiate or continue a pursuit include:

(a) The seriousness of the known or reasonably suspected crime of violence as defined by this Chapter and its relationship to community safety.

(b) The importance of protecting the public and balancing the known or reasonably suspected offense, and the apparent need for immediate apprehension against the risks to officers, innocent motorists and others.

(c) The nature of the fleeing suspect (e.g., Whether the suspect represents a serious, ongoing threat to public safety. Reckless driving during the pursuit does not justify a continued pursuit).

(d) The identity of the suspect has been verified and there is minimal risk in allowing the suspect to be apprehended at a later time.

(e) The safety of the public in the area of the pursuit, including the type of area, time of day, the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic (e.g., school zones) and the speed of the pursuit relative to these factors.

(f) The pursuing officer's familiarity with the area of the pursuit, the quality of radio communication between the pursuing units and the dispatcher/supervisor, and the driving capabilities of the pursuing officers under the conditions of the pursuit.

(g) The weather, traffic and road conditions that unreasonably increase the danger of the pursuit when weighed against the risks resulting from the suspect's escape.

(h) The performance capabilities and type of authorized emergency vehicles used in the pursuit in relation to the speed and other conditions of the pursuit.

(i) Vehicle speeds.

(j) Other persons in or on the pursued vehicle (e.g., passengers, co-offenders and hostages).

(k) The availability of other resources (e.g., helicopter, airplane, drone, etc.).

(l) The police unit is carrying passengers other than on-duty police officers (e.g., ride-along, emergency transport of civilians, prisoners, etc.). Pursuits shall not be undertaken with a passenger in the pursuit vehicle.

When Should a NOPD Pursuit that was Lawfully Started by Stopped?

12. Pursuits should be terminated whenever the totality of the circumstances, known or which ought to be known to the officer or supervisor during the pursuit, indicate the present risk of continuing the pursuit appears to outweigh the risk resulting from the suspect's escape. While the Department has restricted pursuits to violent crimes, there are situations where conditions require these pursuits to be terminated.

13. The following factors should also be considered when deciding to terminate a pursuit:

(a) The distance between the pursuing officers and the fleeing vehicle is so great that further pursuit would be futile or require the pursuit to continue for an unreasonable time or distance.

(b) The pursued vehicle's location is no longer definitely known (visual contact is lost).

(c) The officer's pursuit vehicle sustains damage or a mechanical failure that renders it unsafe to operate.

(d) The pursuit vehicle has an emergency equipment failure that causes the vehicle to no longer qualify for authorized emergency vehicle status.

(e) The hazards to uninvolved bystanders or motorists.

(f) When the identity of the offender is known and it does not reasonably appear the need for immediate capture outweighs the risks associated with continuing the pursuit, officers should strongly consider discontinuing the pursuit and apprehending the offender at a later time.

(g) When directed to terminate the pursuit by the pursuit supervisor or a higher ranking supervisor.

(h) When the pursuit is futile, such as when the suspect continues to flee and there is no plan to get him or her to stop.

Additionally, the New Orleans Police Department’s own procedures state the mechanisms the NOPD must use to comply with the pursuit policy:

3. A vehicle pursuit shall be conducted using an authorized emergency vehicle that is equipped with a siren and proper emergency lighting. The officer shall ensure that they have given the suspect they are attempting to stop both a visual and an audible signal to stop by activating their vehicle’s emergency lights and siren (see. La. R.S. 14:108.1).

4. The officer driving an emergency vehicle may, when in pursuit of a suspect (La. R.S. 32:24):

(a) Proceed past a red light, stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation.

(b) Exceed the speed limit so long as the officer does not endanger life or property.

(c) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement (however, movement against traffic flow is not authorized by this Department) or turning in specified directions as long as the officer does not endanger life or property.

(d) Park or stand in a roadway, irrespective of traffic regulations.

5. Officers shall drive with due regard for the safety of all persons. The failure to drive with due regard for the safety of all motorists can lead to disciplinary action, civil and even criminal charges. No call is of such importance and no task shall be expedited at such speeds or lack of reasonable driving that the principles of safety become secondary. Life is more important than property and protecting and preserving life must be placed above all other considerations.

What Happens if I was Injured During a Vehicle Pursuit by a New Orleans Police Department Officer?

Just like in any case in New Orleans or Louisiana, if you are injured by the negligence of another, you may have a personal injury claim for damages. Louisiana law allows for holding the police department liable for damages that it causes when it recklessly or negligently conducts a police chase. See, e.g., White v. Normand, 222 So.3d 205 (La. App. 5 Cir. 2017). However, just because a police officer conducts a vehicle pursuit that results in injury does not mean that they are automatically liable for the injury or damages. Vehicle pursuit cases involve a specialized analysis of the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will need to evaluate the specific facts and circumstances of the pursuit and injury and determine who are purported responsible parties. Because Louisiana is a comparative law negligence state, even if a party is only partially at fault in causing an accident, they can be held responsible for some of your injuries. It is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney in these cases because proving who is the at-fault driver, what standard the court will apply (ordinary negligence or gross negligence), and analyzing the police department pursuit guidelines is complicated.

In the Broodmoor Unity 1 Beauty Supply & Hair Salon fire and accident, for example, a personal injury attorney may attempt to make a claim against the NOPD if the NOPD officers violated the pursuit policy or conducted the vehicle pursuit in a negligent matter as well as the driver of the stolen vehicle.

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

What to do if your landlord will not refund your security deposit in New Orleans or Metairie?

It is no secret that landlords attempt to withhold hefty security deposits from their former tenants when they have no right to do so. Sometimes they give no reason at all, calculating that the tenant writes off the expense instead of pursuing it; other times, the landlord attempts to claim exorbitant repairs or claim that you broke your lease in an attempt to withhold this deposit. The largest victims of this are college students who, at the end of the semester are overwhelmed trying to take finals, move out of an apartment, sell their belongings, and sometimes move across state lines and into a new apartment having to put down a new security deposit, all while dealing with a landlord who has no vested interest in working to get the security deposit fairly analyzed and returned. As we enter the end of the academic school year, we will see an increase in Loyola, Tulane, Xavier, Southern, UNO and Delgado students who are getting deprived of the refund of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars because their landlord refused to return their security deposit and who feel like they have no recourse.

What are the Louisiana Laws regarding When and How your Landlord has to Return your Security Deposit?

The good news is that the Louisiana legislature recognized the tactics that landlords were using to wrongfully withhold security deposits and recognized that it did not make sense for tenants to hire attorneys to fight about a few hundreds of dollars and passed a law to deal with this issue.

In Louisiana, the rules and mechanics governing the return of a lessee’s security deposit is governed by the aptly named Lessee’s Deposit Act. See  La. R.S. 9:3251-3254. Broadly stated, a landlord/lessor must return your security deposit to you within one month after the lease ends. In order to accomplish that, the law requires that you must also leave your landlord an address where they can forward the check. 

That does not mean that your landlord is required to return your entire deposit. Your landlord/lessor may retain any portion of your deposit reasonably necessary to remedy any default/breach of the lease and/or to fix any unreasonable damage or wear to the property. If your landlord does retain any portion of your deposit for damages, they must send you a written itemized statement explaining the amounts they are withholding and why, and returning the remainder of your deposit within thirty days.

If your landlord does not return your deposit or give you itemization of why they are not returning your deposit within thirty days, the law provides that you may be able to recover damages or a penalty, which would require instituting some type of legal claim.  See  La. R.S. 9:3252.

What are the Penalties I can Recover if my Landlord Unlawfully Withholds my Security Deposit?

Refusing to return the security deposit for unlawful reasons shall give the tenant or lessee the right to recover any portion of the security deposit wrongfully retained and three hundred dollars or twice the amount of the portion of the security deposit wrongfully retained, whichever is greater, from the landlord. The court also has the right to award costs and attorney’s fees.

What Can I do to Try to get My Deposit Back Before I move out?

Common sense, and a little foresight can  go a long ways in getting you your security deposit back. Make sure you complete a walk through upon moving in, take pictures, document any damages or non-working items, and let your landlord know about  any damage or problems writing. Similarly, when you move out, make sure to take pictures and videos of the property, showing that you left the property clean and damage free. Make sure you schedule a walk through with your landlord and discuss in detail anything he or she is claiming is damaged and any claims they may have to withhold some of your security deposit. This will give you an opportunity to discuss and fix any of these things before you move out. If the landlord states that nothing is wrong, confirm that in writing - an email is best.

What Do I do if my Landlord simply refuses to return my security deposit?

If you have a true dispute about the return of your security deposit, give us a call. We will not charge you upfront for any consultation and we may write your landlord a legal demand letter if the situation warrants it at no upfront cost to you. What we have found is that oftentimes when your landlord receives a legal letter formally demanding the return of the deposit, they often recognize that they are in the wrong and agree to return the security deposit. If not, we can pursue the recovery of the security deposit and attorney fees and costs in litigation.

We will only collect a fee if you get your money returned.

A recent client stated: “Megan helped me successfully receive my security deposit in full when my landlord failed to return it within 30 days and also failed to give me an itemized statement of deductions. Had it not been for Megan, my landlord would have tried to withhold my entire security deposit for reasonable wear and tear.”

This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.