How Can I Lower My Car Insurance Rate? Five Things You Can Do to Get Cheaper Car Insurance

         It’s no secret that insurance in Louisiana is way too expensive.  Our clients are always asking “How Can I Lower My Car Insurance?”  Unfortunately, many times,  individuals elect to decrease their coverage, or eliminate uninsured motorist insurance as a quick fix to reduce their monthly note.  Don’t do this! Uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most important coverages in Louisiana and we have seen the very real consequences of not having adequate UM/UIM coverage where our clients are left with very serious injuries without being able to recover for them.  You should carry at least $100,000 of uninsured motorist coverage.  Read more about that here: https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/do-i-need-uninsured-motorist-insurance-in-louisiana

         There are other ways to decrease your car insurance note each month.  Here are the top 5:

1.    Ask for a higher deductible.

A deductible is the amount that you pay before the insurance company has to pay for your damages.  If you are involved in an accident that is not your fault, the other driver’s insurance company will have to cover your deductible.  We have found that changing your deductible to $1,000 could save you 40% on your collision and comprehensive coverage! Of course, before you elect to have a larger deductible, make sure you have enough money to set aside to pay it if you have a claim.

2.    Shop Around!

We have so many clients that have used the same insurer for 10 years.  Don’t do that!  In most industries, loyalty is rewarded, but car insurance may not one of them.  Our attorneys “shop” their own car insurance companies yearly, if not every six months, to make sure they are getting the best coverage for the best rate.  Why? Competition is king.  Prices change from company to company and from coverage to coverage.  You can either do this yourself online by getting quotes from different companies or you can hire an insurance agent that does not work for an insurance company to do this for you.

One of our attorneys just changed their car insurance company and by using an agent to price compare across other companies, her family saved $1000 a year and has much better coverage than before. 

3.    Bundle Up all of your Insurance Policies  

If you have homeowners insurance or excess/umbrella insurance, combine them all into one insurance company.  If you do this, you may save money on a multi-policy discount

4.    Ask about Other Discounts

Some car (and home) insurance companies run other “discounts” for you.  Make sure you are asking about the following discounts to the company or an agent when you are getting your quotes:

·      Antitheft Devices on your Vehicles

·      Good Credit Record

·      Insuring a College Student

·      Insuring a Student with Good Grades

·      Reduced Mileage Use of Cars

·      Multiple Vehicle Discounts, such as no accidents or moving violations

·      Defensive Driving Courses

·      Drivers Ed Courses

5.    Ask About a Good Driver Monitoring System  

At the end of the day, insurance companies don’t want to pay any money to you or anyone else because of your driving.  That’s how they make money. If you are a good driver, there is less of a chance that they will have to pay money on a claim resulting from your driving.  Many insurance companies will give you a device to place in your vehicle to monitor your driving for a few months and, based on your performance (if you are a prudent driver), will lower your rates.  When you are shopping your insurance, ask about this device.

One of our attorneys will always give you a free consultation on your insurance coverage to let you know if you are adequately protecting your family in the event of an accident. Fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

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Name
Megan Kiefer
How Much is my Case Worth? Five Things that Affect What Kind of Settlement You Can Get

           

             We often get asked “how much is my case worth” or “what kind of settlement can I get” following one of our clients being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Even though we have been handling personal injury cases for almost 60 years and even though we have successfully handled thousands of cases, we would be lying (and any lawyer would be lying) if we told you precisely at the beginning of your case what the value of your case is.  If your lawyer has told you at the beginning of your case how much your case is worth, it may be time to consult another lawyer.

It is unfortunate that there are so many lawyer commercials out there where perfectly healthy individuals are smiling into a camera proclaiming that they received $700,000 following an accident. While it is true that there are cases where big Judgments and big settlements occur (and we have helped many of our clients receive incredible results where appropriate), an accident should not be looked at as hitting a jackpot. That’s not the way we practice law.  For our clients, an accident is a tragic event that affects their lives in serious ways.  When our clients come to meet with us following an accident and ask “how much is my case worth”, the truthful and honest answer is that we do not know yet.  The value of a case depends on so many things which take a lot of time to pan out. Before anyone can put any type of estimate on how much your case is worth, you need to first ascertain through your doctors the nature and extent of your injuries.  If you talk to a lawyer one week after an injury and say your back hurts, no attorney should tell you how much your case is worth.  No attorney should tell you how much certain procedures are worth or push you to undergo them within months of being in an accident. 

If your back hurts after an accident, you can be experiencing a muscle spasm that will go away after a couple of months, or you can be experiencing symptoms that result from a herniated lumbar disc, which could require surgery to rectify.  Discovering the nature and extent of your injuries is a process that can take months if not years and both you and your attorney need to be patient and let the medical process play itself out.  You do not want to settle a case before you know exactly what is wrong with you and you do not want an attorney who is going to push you through medical treatment as fast as possible so he can quickly turn around and settle your case for less than it is worth and before you know the truthful effects your injuries may have on your life.  Once you settle, you cannot reopen your case even if you find out that the accident caused the need for a surgery!  You need to know that there is no deadline put on your recovery and no one should feel like there is. 

      When it is appropriate to discuss with our clients what kind of settlement they can get or how much their case is worth, we take our 60 years of experience to the table to balance dozens of factors.  This will always depend on the specific case.  We may be looking at things such as where the case is pending, who the Judge or jury may be, what kind of witness the person who injured you will make at trial, the costs for you and your family of bringing the case to trial, the opinions of experts, the nature and extent of your injuries, and more. Even though we consider dozens of factors that could influence the settlement value of your case or how much your case is worth at trial, we find that these are the top five things that affect how much your case is worth.

1.     What your injuries are

While we all suffer when we are suffering, Louisiana law does place more value on some injuries over others.  For example, if you break your femur bone, that is considered to be worth more under the law then if you break your pinky toe. If you have an injury to a disc in your neck, that is generally considered to be worth more than ankle sprain.  Whether your injuries cause permanent disability, scarring, or any types of residual problems that your doctor thinks will be present in the future will be considered to increase the value of a potential claim as well.

2.     How long you were in medical treatment for your injuries 

Another factor judges, juries, and insurance companies will look to in determining how much your case is worth is the length of time that you received medical treatment.  The longer you received treatment, the more value that will typically be placed on your claim.

3.     What type of medical treatment you received

The value of your case will also depend on the nature and type of medical treatment you underwent.  Having a surgery, for example, will generally be worth more than just undergoing chiropractic treatment because there is an assumption that it is more painful and more invasive.

4.     How much your medical bills are

Someone who injures you is responsible for your medical bills.   Your attorney will compile all of your medical bills in a case, even bills that were paid for by worker’s compensation, health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare., and you will be entitled to recoup these in the settlement in addition to your pain and suffering.

5.     How much insurance coverage is available  

Unfortunately, sometimes the value of a settlement is limited by the amount of insurance coverage out there.  You can have very serious injuries and high medical bills, but if the person who injured you has minimal insurance coverage or does not have any other available assets, the value of the settlement can be limited by things not in your control.

Every case is different and every case needs to be analyzed by an experienced attorney who can give you the best recommendation of whether to settle a case and for how much.  If you have been injured and would like a free consultation on whether or not you should accept a settlement offer an insurance company has extended, or how much your case is worth, please give us a call.

Name *
Name
Megan Kiefer
What Do I Do If I Was Injured at a Beauty Salon or Spa?

Injured at a Beauty Salon or Spa? What Do I Do?

 Beauty salons and spas should be a place of relaxation, whether you are getting a pedicure, manicure, massage, wax treatment, highlights, or just a regular haircut.  Salons have a responsibility not just to relax you and help you to decompress, but they also have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and sanitary setting free of dangers and hazards and also to hire and train a competent workforce.  When the owners or managers of a beauty salon or spa fail to uphold their end of the bargain, injuries can occur, which can sometimes be serious and even life threatening.

How Do Beauty Salon Injuries Occur?

Beauty salon injuries can occur if the materials are unsanitary.  Beauty salons and spas should be treating its equipment and sterilizing them after use.  If not, these tools can spread diseases and infections from one customer to another, especially tools used for pedicures and manicures.  This can include bacterial infections and even staph infections, which can turn into life-threatening conditions. 

 

Beauty salon injuries can occur if the materials are unsafe. Beauty salons and spas need to be monitoring their chemicals that they use to ensure that they are safe. When chemicals are left exposed to the air or mixed improperly, they can result in severe allergic reactions and chemical burns as well as serious injuries. The beauty salon is responsible for ensuring the safety of the chemicals themselves as well as ensuring that they are kept in safe place and condition.

 Beauty salon injuries can also happen when the staff of the salon is untrained and causes injury.  The salon may hire unlicensed on untrained stylists or masseuses.   Their lack of expertise can cause serious injury.  Believe it or not, we are handling a case right now where a masseuse broke one of our client’s bones when he was giving a massage due to his negligence and inexperience.

 Beauty salon injuries can also happen when the staff of the salon acts negligently.  Even trained beauty salon staff may not know how to appropriately administer highlights or chemical treatments, they may use improper wax temperatures, or leave hair dye in too long, or they may not complete a skin patch test before completing a chemical treatment.  All of these actions can result in extreme hair loss, scalp injuries, allergic reactions, serious chemical burns, and wax burns. We are handling a few cases currently where chemicals used to dye our clients’ hair caused serious chemical burns, resulting in infection and permanent hair loss.  improper wax temperatures, leaving hair dye in too long, and not completing a skin patch test before completing a chemical treatment.

Beauty salon injuries can happen when the beauty salon is unsafe.  Slip and fall injuries are common in beauty salons or spas.  Beauty salons are consistently using products that create slip and fall hazards.  A perfect example of this is the negligent use of hair products.  If the stylist is using hair spray or other products on a customer and allowing it to fall on the ground without cleaning it up and another customer walks through and slips and falls on the hair product on the floor.  These slip and fall injuries can cause broken bones, herniated discs in the neck or back, or even head injuries. 

What Are the Common Types of Beauty Salon Injuries?

Beauty Salon injuries can include:

·      Extreme hair loss

·      Permanent hair loss

·      Scalp injuries

·      Allergic reactions

·      Eyebrow loss

·      Serious chemical burns

·      Wax burns

·      Bacterial Infections

·      Staph Infections

·      Cuts and abraisons

Is There Insurance Coverage If Was Injured in a Beauty Salon or Spa?

Many beauty salons and spa are insured for these exact situations.

What Do I Do If I Was Injured in a Beauty Salon or Spa?

As with any time you are injured, it is important to seek immediate medical attention, especially if you suspect you have an infection or a serious medical condition.  Additionally, do not dismiss or minimize your injuries because they occurred in a beauty salon or spa.  Beauty Salon injuries can cause life-threatening or permanent conditions. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney who has experience handling these exact cases.  At Kiefer & Kiefer, we have handled many cases dealing with spa or beauty salon injuries.  We can give you a free consultation to get the help and compensation you deserve. 

Please call us for a free consultation at 504-828-3313 or fill out the form below if you would like someone to contact you.

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

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What Do I Do If I Fell off of a Balcony?

In Louisiana, we see a lot of balcony collapse or balcony fall cases. This can occur when the actual flooring of a balcony caves in, if a balcony rails fail, or if an entire balcony collapses. This type of accident can cause severe injuries to an individual, as it typically involves a fall of one story or more. We have handled many of these cases, some dealing with falls at a residence and others dealing with a fall when a balcony collapsed at a hotel. In one of our cases, after the balcony failed at the hotel due to dry rot, causing serious injuries to our client, the fire marshal actually shut down the hotel, finding that the balconies on almost all of the buildings were at risk for collapse due to dry rot.

In Louisiana, the owner of a property is responsible for keeping it safe. Some of the applicable laws are as follows:

Art. 2317. Acts of others and of things in custody.

We are responsible, not only for the damage occasioned by our own act, but for that which is caused by the act of persons for whom we are answerable, or of the things which we have in our custody.

Art. 2317.1. Damage caused by ruin, vice, or defect in things

The owner or custodian of a thing is answerable for damage occasioned by its ruin, vice, or defect, only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the ruin, vice, or defect which caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. Nothing in this Article shall preclude the court from the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in an appropriate case.

Art. 2322. Damage caused by ruin of building

The owner of a building is answerable for the damage occasioned by its ruin, when this is caused by neglect to repair it, or when it is the result of a vice or defect in its original* construction. However, he is answerable for damages only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the vice or defect which caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. Nothing in this Article shall preclude the court from the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in an appropriate case.

Accordingly, if you are involved in an accident caused by a balcony collapse or a balcony fail, you will have to prove that the owner of the building knew or should have known of the problems with the balcony. This is typically proven through expert testimony.

If you have been injured due a balcony failure, it is important to consult an attorney who has experience handling these cases as they can be complicated. Please call us for a free consultation at 504-828-3313 or shoot an email to megan@kieferlaw.com if you would like someone to contact you.


Name *
Name
Megan Kiefer
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.

Name *
Name
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:

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF EUGENE GRANT

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.

 

 

Name *
Name
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.

Name *
Name
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.

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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:

https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/2019/2/14/what-happens-if-the-insurance-company-fails-to-pay-my-vehicle-damage

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.

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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.

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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.

https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/neworleans-slip-and-fall-accident-lawyer

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

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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.

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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


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Name
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