When labor-management disparities intensify across various sectors, New Orleans emerges as a beacon of progressive labor policy. A city known for its rich culture and spirited community, it now distinguishes itself through significant strides toward establishing a fairer work environment. Introducing the Workers’ Bill of Rights and strengthening union rights for city employees are particularly notable among these initiatives. 

These measures demonstrate a robust commitment to reshaping the labor landscape in a region that has often faced challenges in this domain. Such legislative advancements aim to enhance the working conditions for many and set a precedent for other cities to follow in championing worker rights.

Key Takeaways – Advancing Workers’ Rights in New Orleans

New Orleans spearheads a transformative approach to labor relations with initiatives such as the Workers’ Bill of Rights and a comprehensive union rights ordinance. The Workers’ Bill of Rights encompasses a suite of essential protections for a dignified workplace, including equitable wages, enhanced workplace safety, substantive benefits, and solidified rights to organize. Concurrently, the union rights ordinance provides robust support for collective bargaining and ensures effective representation for city workers.

However, these reforms are not without their obstacles. State laws often pose significant barriers, necessitating a strategic alignment among local government officials, businesses, and labor organizations to effectively implement and sustain these changes. The interplay of these forces underscores the complexity of revising labor policies within the framework of existing legal constraints.

As a focal point for examining the efficacy of progressive labor policies, New Orleans provides a critical case study. The city’s proactive stance in advocating for workers’ rights offers valuable insights into the potential for such policies to influence broader economic and social outcomes. Through its efforts, New Orleans aims to foster a more equitable local labor market and contributes to the national dialogue on labor practices, positioning itself as a potential model for other urban centers grappling with similar challenges.

Comparing the Workers’ Bill of Rights and Union Rights Ordinance

Aspect Workers’ Bill of Rights Union Rights Ordinance
Scope Protects fundamental rights for all workers Strengthens rights for city employees
Key Provisions Fair wages, workplace safety, benefits, right to organize Transparent bargaining, protection from anti-union tactics, mandatory negotiation with unions
Impact Sets a standard for labor rights citywide Improves working conditions and service quality for the public sector

What are the key provisions of New Orleans’ proposed “Essential Workers Bill of Rights”?

The “Essential Workers Bill of Rights” in New Orleans aims to protect workers’ fundamental rights, including fair wages, workplace safety, access to necessary benefits, and the right to organize and join unions. 

The proposal seeks to enshrine these rights in the city charter and address critical concerns faced by the local workforce.

Background and Context

Labor rights across the United States present a diverse and complex landscape shaped by the varied approaches of individual states and municipalities toward union representation and workers’ rights. New Orleans stands out within this national context due to its unique cultural heritage juxtaposed against pronounced economic disparities. The city has long been a focal point in conversations about labor justice and economic equity, reflecting its historical significance and contemporary challenges.

Historically, New Orleans’ labor movement faced numerous hurdles, including restrictive labor regulations and broader economic adversities that hampered workers’ collective bargaining power. However, recent years have witnessed a resurgence in labor activism driven by a combination of factors. Dedicated advocacy groups have played a pivotal role, pushing for reforms and mobilizing workers around shared goals. Likewise, city authorities have shown an increased openness to addressing these issues, influenced by both political pressures and a growing recognition of the need for change. Additionally, the workforce itself has become more aware of its rights and the potential benefits of organized labor, further fueling this revitalization.

The Workers’ Bill of Rights Proposal

March 2024 marked a pivotal moment in New Orleans’ labor rights history, with the municipal council introducing the Workers’ Bill of Rights. This ground-breaking proposal, supported by Step Up Louisiana and various other labor rights organizations, seeks to embed essential workers’ rights directly into the municipal charter, establishing a formal framework for worker protections at a city-wide level.

Spearheaded by Councilmember Helena Moreno, the initiative is designed to safeguard core worker entitlements. Key among these are the guarantees of access to necessary benefits, the assurance of safe working conditions, and the provision of fair salaries. The proposal aims to enshrine these rights, setting a precedent for municipal involvement in upholding labor standards.

Key Provisions

The Workers’ Bill of Rights targets specific concerns paramount to New Orleans’ workforce, outlining a series of reforms designed to enhance the working environment across various sectors. Each provision in the Bill is carefully crafted to address the needs and rights of workers, reflecting a holistic approach to labor reform.

Fair Wages: One of the bill’s cornerstone goals is establishing a legislative framework ensuring employees receive remuneration that reflects their efforts and essential needs. It advocates for a wage system that not only meets minimum standards but also corresponds to the region’s cost of living and economic demands.

Workplace Safety: Another critical aspect of the Bill is its focus on enhancing workplace safety regulations. It proposes rigorous improvements to current laws to minimize the risks of workplace accidents and health issues. The initiative seeks to create a healthier and more secure environment for all employees by bolstering safety standards.

Access to Benefits: The Bill also emphasizes the importance of access to comprehensive benefits, which are crucial to the overall well-being of workers. It champions the right to paid leave, health care provisions, and other fundamental benefits contributing to the security and welfare of employees and their families.

Right to Organize: Upholding and strengthening the right to organize is a vital feature of the Bill. It supports workers’ freedom to form and join unions, a fundamental aspect of labor rights that enables workers to collectively negotiate for better terms and advocate for their interests effectively. This provision is intended to empower employees, giving them a stronger voice in their workplaces and industries.

Union Rights Ordinance

In a significant move towards bolstering labor rights, the City Council of New Orleans passed a transformative law in June 2023 that expanded union rights significantly for city employees. This ordinance was designed as a complementary measure to the Workers’ Bill of Rights, enhancing the legal framework supporting workers in the public sector.

Union Rights Ordinance

The ordinance established new avenues for collective bargaining, enabling city employees to negotiate more effectively for better wages, improved working conditions, and comprehensive benefits. It also reinforced worker representation, ensuring that employees have a strong voice in discussions that affect their professional lives and personal wellbeing.

This legislation marked a pivotal moment for public sector unions in New Orleans, providing them with the tools necessary to advocate more powerfully for their members.

Implications and Impact

The passage of the Union Rights Ordinance in New Orleans has set the stage for profound changes within the municipal workforce. By mandating a transparent and equitable bargaining process, the legislation ensures that all negotiations between city employees and management are conducted fairly, minimizing the risk of disputes and misunderstandings. Moreover, the ordinance offers robust protection against anti-union tactics, safeguarding employees’ rights to organize without fear of coercion or retaliation.

This legal framework compels the municipal government to engage directly with union representatives, fostering a cooperative relationship conducive to constructive dialogue and mutual respect. Such interactions are crucial for effectively addressing workers’ concerns and adapting policies to meet evolving needs.

The ordinance considered a critical initial step toward improving labor relations in the public sector, has significant implications for the broader municipal environment. Improved working conditions lead to higher job satisfaction, which is instrumental in enhancing employee retention. As workers feel more valued and supported, their commitment to their roles tends to increase, reducing turnover and the associated costs of training new employees.

Challenges and Obstacles

Despite New Orleans’s progressive strides in labor reform, significant challenges remain in fully implementing the Workers’ Bill of Rights and the union rights ordinance. One of the primary barriers is state legislation that curtails the powers of the Civil Service Commission, thereby restricting its ability to oversee and enforce organizational activities effectively. This limitation can undermine efforts to ensure fair labor practices and equitable treatment of city employees.

Furthermore, the success of these legislative measures heavily depends on the cooperation among the municipal government, private sector companies, and labor organizations. Effective collaboration is essential to navigate the complex landscape of labor rights and implement policies that can lead to substantial worker improvements. With a united approach and mutual understanding among these key stakeholders, achieving the intended benefits of the reforms could be significantly improved.

Economic and Social Benefits

The impact of New Orleans’ labor rights movement extends beyond immediate benefits to employees and their families and contributes to broader economic and social progress. By advocating for safe working conditions and fair pay, these policies directly address systemic income disparities and promote economic stability within the community. Such measures not only improve the livelihoods of individual workers but also enhance the region’s overall economic health.

Moreover, by setting a precedent for labor rights, New Orleans could influence labor practices beyond its borders, catalyzing a shift toward more equitable working conditions across other regions and possibly nationwide. This ripple effect could contribute significantly to reshaping national labor standards and promoting social justice.

Future Directions and Potential

As New Orleans embarks on this ambitious journey to bolster union participation and enhance workers’ rights, the city is positioned as a crucial experimental zone for observing the impacts of such laws within an urban setting. The developments in New Orleans offer valuable lessons on the interplay between social justice, economic realities, and labor legislation.

Even with the progressive orientation of these legislative endeavors, several obstacles stand in the way of implementing the Workers’ Bill of Rights and union rights law and reaping their advantages. 

State legislation limits the Civil Service Commission’s authority and hinders organizational activities, which creates major obstacles. 

Moreover, collaboration between the municipal government, companies, and labor groups is essential for these programs to be successful in producing noticeable gains for workers.

What Else Do We See?

New Orleans’ legislative strides in expanding union participation and fortifying workers’ rights mark a significant shift in the city’s approach to labor policy. Amid various challenges, the city’s commitment to fostering a fair and equitable workplace is commendable. It exemplifies a model that other communities nationwide could look to for inspiration. As these initiatives unfold, their impact on enhancing workers’ lives and promoting a more equitable labor environment will serve as a testament to the potency of progressive legislation and collective efforts in addressing critical contemporary issues.

The city’s achievements in this realm exemplify successful endeavors in the ongoing struggle for economic justice and labor rights, illustrating that substantial progress is attainable through dedication, collaboration, and robust advocacy—even against formidable legal and economic challenges. Moreover, New Orleans’ efforts to safeguard worker rights and encourage unionization could potentially ignite a nationwide movement toward enhanced labor justice, further ensuring a brighter future for its workforce.

Broadening the Dialogue on Workers’ Rights

The initiatives in New Orleans have catalyzed a broader discussion on workers’ rights, underlining the impact of localized action despite state and federal constraints. This dialogue is expanding to address the needs of a modern workforce, including freelancers, gig economy participants, and those in precarious employment situations. By spearheading these reforms, New Orleans is compelling other states and localities to reconsider their stance on labor rights and the pivotal role of unions in advocating for workers.

Strengthening Community and Economic Resilience

Pursuing enhanced workers’ rights is deeply connected to bolstering community and economic resilience. Issues such as fair pay, safe workplaces, and access to benefits are not merely labor concerns but also vital economic measures. These can reduce poverty, stimulate consumer spending, and elevate the overall quality of life. New Orleans demonstrates that supporting workers’ rights is crucial for forging a more durable and sustainable economy that benefits all citizens.

Navigating Legal and Political Landscapes

Implementing the Workers’ Bill of Rights and the union rights law necessitates strategic navigation of complex political and legal landscapes. Advocates and local officials need to work together to ensure these initiatives withstand political challenges and legal scrutiny. This might involve engaging in legal battles, building coalitions supporting labor reforms, and raising public awareness about the importance of workers’ rights. New Orleans’ experiences provide a valuable case study on how cities can advocate for labor reforms within the constraints of broader political and legal frameworks.

Role of Education and Advocacy

Education and advocacy play critical roles in advancing workers’ rights. Organizations like Step Up Louisiana equip workers with the necessary knowledge and tools to advocate for themselves and their colleagues. These groups help workers understand rights and the methods to exercise them effectively. Moreover, public education campaigns can shift societal perceptions towards supporting labor reforms, thus reinforcing the argument for legislative changes. The initiatives underway in New Orleans highlight the indispensable impact of grassroots activism and educational efforts in shaping legislative reforms.

Protect Your Rights with Stephenson Chavarri & Dawson

At Stephenson Chavarri & Dawson, we are committed to fighting for the rights of workers in New Orleans and beyond. 

As the city takes bold steps to advance labor justice through the “Essential Workers Bill of Rights” and the union rights ordinance, our experienced attorneys are here to support you. 

If you have questions about your rights as a worker or need assistance with a workers’ compensation claim, contact us today for a confidential consultation. 

Together, we can ensure that you receive the fair treatment, safe working conditions, and benefits you deserve.

In April 2021, an offshore oil industry boat named Seacor Power capsized in the Gulf of Mexico during severe weather conditions, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The boat was carrying nine crew members, two galley staff, and eight offshore workers. Six individuals were rescued, six were found deceased, and seven are still missing. The boat was attempting to lower its legs to stabilize itself against heavy winds when it flipped. Weather reports had initially predicted much milder winds. The accident happened during a rain squall that significantly reduced visibility. Rescue efforts were hampered by high winds and large waves. The NTSB’s full investigation could take up to two years. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the boat’s owner, Seacor Marine. 

Maritime law serves as a specialized field of legal practice, focusing on issues that arise on open waters. Often, seamen who work on ships, fishing boats, or oil rigs encounter unique challenges, including the risk of injury. Unlike workers on land, those who suffer injuries at sea fall under a different set of laws and regulations. Maritime law aims to provide a framework for understanding these unique circumstances. It offers specific protections and rights to injured seamen, ensuring fair treatment and financial support during recovery. 

Jones Act: A Lifeline for Injured Maritime Workers

One of the most important laws for maritime workers is the Jones Act. Enacted in 1920, it serves as a safety net for those who get hurt while working at sea. Unlike typical workers’ compensation laws on land, the Jones Act allows injured seamen to file a lawsuit against employers for negligence. It covers a wide range of issues, from unsafe working conditions to lack of proper training. If a seaman can prove employer negligence played a role in the injury, compensation can include lost wages, medical expenses, and even pain and suffering. In essence, the Jones Act provides an avenue for injured maritime workers to seek fair treatment and financial support. 

Maintenance and Cure: Financial Support During Recovery

Maintenance and Cure are two pillars of maritime law designed to help injured seamen during their recovery period. ‘Maintenance’ refers to the daily living expenses an injured worker may incur, such as rent and food. ‘Cure,’ on the other hand, covers medical costs directly related to the injury. These benefits kick in automatically after an injury occurs at sea, regardless of who is at fault. Unlike other legal options, proving negligence is not a requirement to receive Maintenance and Cure. It’s a straightforward way for injured maritime workers to get financial support while they heal. However, it’s worth noting that these benefits have limits and may not cover all the costs a seaman might face during recovery. 

Unseaworthiness: When Vessels Fail to Meet Safety Standards

Unseaworthiness is a term in maritime law that refers to a vessel’s failure to meet safety standards. A ship is considered unseaworthy if it has defects or lacks proper equipment, making it unsafe for those on board. This can include anything from faulty machinery to inadequate safety gear. When a seaman gets injured due to unseaworthiness, maritime law allows for the pursuit of compensation. Importantly, the employer’s intent or negligence doesn’t necessarily have to be proven; the mere fact that the vessel was unsafe can be enough for a claim. Compensation can cover a variety of needs, such as medical expenses and lost wages. 

Comparative Negligence: Shared Fault in Maritime Injuries

In maritime law, the concept of comparative negligence comes into play when both the injured seaman and another party, such as the employer, share some level of fault for the injury. Unlike traditional workers’ compensation, which often doesn’t consider the worker’s own negligence, maritime law allows for a more nuanced approach. Under comparative negligence, the total compensation an injured worker may receive gets adjusted based on their percentage of fault. For example, if a seaman is found to be 20% at fault for an accident, any awarded compensation would be reduced by that percentage. 

Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act: Protections for Dockside Employees

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) serves as a special set of regulations aimed at protecting workers who are employed in maritime occupations but primarily work on land. These include people involved in shipbuilding, ship repair, and other harbor-related activities. Unlike the Jones Act, which focuses on seamen working at sea, LHWCA offers benefits to those who get injured while working on docks, terminals, or shipyards. Workers under LHWCA are entitled to compensation for medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. One unique feature is that it allows for the possibility of vocational rehabilitation services, helping injured workers transition into new roles if needed.

Legal Procedures: Steps to Filing a Maritime Injury Claim

Filing a maritime injury claim involves several steps, each with its own set of rules and timelines. Initially, an injured worker must report the injury to their employer, usually within a specific time frame. Following the report, an investigation often takes place to gather evidence, such as photographs, witness statements, and medical records. Once all the necessary information is collected, the claim can be formally filed. Maritime law provides different avenues for claims, depending on the circumstances of the injury and the laws applicable. Options can include filing under the Jones Act, claiming Maintenance and Cure, or seeking benefits through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Each pathway has its own set of requirements and potential outcomes. 

Empowering Injured Seamen Through Legal Knowledge

Personal Injury

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to understanding one’s rights under maritime law. Injured seamen face unique challenges, from navigating complex legal pathways to securing financial support for recovery. By gaining a solid grasp of key legal concepts like the Jones Act, Maintenance and Cure, and comparative negligence, maritime workers can better understand their options for compensation and justice. Moreover, awareness of laws like the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act can offer additional avenues for those working on or near the water. In sum, a well-informed maritime worker is better equipped to make decisions to positively impact their recovery and future. Through legal knowledge, injured seamen can take steps to secure fair treatment and the financial support deserved.

If you have a maritime injury claim, call 504-523-6496 or contact our expert team for a free consultation. 

In January of 2023, the Louisiana Supreme Court made an important ruling for accident victims suffering emotional distress. A group of plaintiffs who lived near the Valero oil refinery in Meraux claimed an explosion at the plant caused sleep disruption, fear of being outside, and other forms of mental distress. Lower courts agreed with the plaintiffs, but Valero challenged the decision. Although the Louisiana Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the defendant, the case set an important precedent: accident victims in Louisiana can bring a lawsuit and claim damages for emotional distress alone, even if there have been no physical injuries or property damage. 

Louisiana law recognizes the serious nature of emotional distress. Under the Louisiana Civil Code, an individual can seek compensation for distress or anguish caused by a wrongful act. In legal language, this is often referred to as “tort.” The state requires emotional distress be severe and directly resulting from the defendant’s actions. This approach acknowledges psychological harm can be as impactful, if not more so, than physical harm.

Understanding Emotional Distress

Understanding emotional distress involves recognizing it as a real and impactful type of harm. Emotional distress isn’t a physical wound; instead, it refers to the intense and lasting negative emotions a person can experience due to another’s wrongful actions. These emotions might include anxiety, depression, fear, or even insomnia, affecting a person’s everyday life in serious ways. In the legal landscape, emotional distress claims are often associated with situations where someone’s reckless or deliberate actions have caused significant psychological harm. Recognizing the symptoms and effects of emotional distress is the first step in understanding this complex aspect of personal injury law.

Categories of Emotional Distress

There are two main types of emotional distress in the legal world: negligent infliction and intentional infliction. When a person unintentionally causes emotional distress due to their careless actions, it’s called negligent infliction of emotional distress. For example, if someone drives recklessly and causes a severe car accident, the emotional trauma experienced by the victims can fall under this category.

On the other hand, intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when someone deliberately causes psychological harm. A classic instance might be when a person threatens serious physical harm or even death. In these cases, the distress is not an unintended side effect but rather the aim of the wrongdoer’s actions.

Establishing Emotional Distress

To establish emotional distress in a lawsuit, the individual has to provide solid evidence the distress is significant and directly linked to the defendant’s actions. The emotional distress should be more than fleeting sadness or irritation; instead, it should be severe and enduring. Evidence might include medical records from psychologists or psychiatrists, personal journals, or testimonies from friends, family, or coworkers who’ve observed changes in behavior or emotional state. It’s crucial to show the distress experienced is not just a normal reaction to life’s ups and downs, but is a direct consequence of the event or actions caused by the defendant.

The Impact of Emotional Distress on Quality of Life

Emotional distress can have profound effects on a person’s quality of life. Those suffering from it may experience severe anxiety, depression, or loss of sleep, making daily tasks challenging. Some might struggle to maintain relationships, perform at work, or enjoy hobbies that once brought them joy. The constant weight of these feelings can lead to physical ailments too, like headaches or stomach issues. These are not mere inconveniences, but significant changes impact a person’s ability to live their life fully and happily. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand emotional distress, while invisible, can be just as damaging as physical injuries.

Understanding Damages in Emotional Distress Cases

  • Medical Expenses: These costs include any medical treatments required to address the emotional distress, such as sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist. It might also involve medication costs if prescriptions are needed to manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other related conditions.
  • Therapy Costs: If ongoing therapy is needed to help the person cope with their emotional distress, these costs can also be included. This could range from regular appointments with a therapist to specialized treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy or exposure therapy.
  • Lost Wages: If a person has been unable to work due to their emotional distress, they may be entitled to recover lost income. This might also include future earnings if the person is unable to return to work or cannot perform at the same level as before the incident causing the distress.
  • Pain and Suffering: This refers to the actual emotional distress experienced, including feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and other emotional responses to the incident. The amount awarded for pain and suffering varies greatly and depends on the severity of the emotional distress.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If the person’s capacity to enjoy daily activities, hobbies, or other aspects of life has been significantly diminished due to the emotional distress, they may seek damages for this loss. This covers the decreased quality of life or changes to a person’s lifestyle as a result of the emotional distress.

Challenges in Emotional Distress Cases

Emotional distress cases come with their own unique set of challenges. First, proving emotional distress can be difficult. Unlike a physical injury, emotional distress isn’t easily visible and requires substantial evidence. Second, the burden of proof lies with the claimant, who must demonstrate the severity of their emotional distress and its direct link to the defendant’s actions. Lastly, it can be tough to calculate appropriate compensation. There’s no definitive scale for the pain caused by emotional distress like there might be for a physical injury. Therefore, determining a just monetary amount that accounts for the emotional harm suffered can be a complex task.

The Time Limit for Filing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit in Louisiana

 Emotional Distress Law

In Louisiana, there’s a specific time frame in which an emotional distress lawsuit must be filed, known as the statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases, including emotional distress, this period is one year. The countdown usually begins on the date the emotional distress was caused, or when it was first realized by the affected individual. If a case is not filed within this time frame, it could be dismissed regardless of its merits. So, being aware of the timing and rules surrounding the statute of limitations is a crucial factor in an emotional distress claim.

If you are dealing with an emotional distress claim, call 504-523-6496 or contact our expert team for a free consultation. 

Louisiana Personal Injury Laws: Everything You Need to Know

In 2023, excitement over attending Mardi Gras led to three people suffering injuries when a driver tried to do a burnout on the Houma parade route (fortunately the injuries were not serious and the victims were released from the hospital later in the day). The driver was clearly at fault for causing the injuries, and though it is not known if the injured parties decided to file a personal injury lawsuit, if they had decided to do so they may have received financial compensation. 

Personal injury law in Louisiana covers a wide range of situations when individuals suffer harm due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of others. These scenarios include car accidents like the incident in Houma, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and more. The goal of personal injury claims is to help victims recover compensation for their losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Louisiana’s legal system has unique aspects that set it apart from other states, making it essential to understand the state’s specific laws and regulations when pursuing a claim.

Understanding Louisiana’s Unique Legal System: Civil Law vs. Common Law

Unlike most states that follow the common law legal system, Louisiana is based on civil law. This stems from the state’s French and Spanish heritage, which relies on a system of written laws, or “codes,” rather than case law and precedents. As a result, Louisiana personal injury law can be quite different from that of other states. 

The difference between civil law and common law in Louisiana can impact personal injury lawsuits in several ways:

  • Legal terminology: Louisiana’s civil law system uses different legal terms compared to common law states.. For example, “torts” are referred to as “delicts,” and “negligence” is called “fault.”
  • Interpretation of statutes: In Louisiana, courts strictly interpret the text of the statutes. This contrasts with common law states, where judges have greater flexibility to interpret statutes based on previous judicial decisions.
  • Damages: Louisiana’s civil law system places caps on certain types of damages, such as punitive damages, which are rarely awarded. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, may also be assessed differently compared to common law states.
  • Doctrine of comparative fault: this means that the courts will determine the degree of fault for each party involved in the incident. The victim’s compensation will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault, if any. For example, if a victim is found to be 30% responsible for their injuries, their total compensation will be reduced by 30%. 

Time Limits for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit: The Louisiana Prescription Period

In Louisiana, the time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally one year from the date of the injury. This time limit, known as the “prescription period,” is shorter than most other states. Missing this deadline can lead to the dismissal of the case, making it vital for victims to file their lawsuit as soon as possible. Exceptions to the prescription period do exist, such as cases involving minors or when the injury is not discovered immediately. However, it is always best to consult with an attorney to determine the specific time limits applicable to a specific case.

Types of Personal Injury Cases Common in Louisiana

Louisiana sees a variety of personal injury cases, ranging from car accidents to medical malpractice. The state’s unique environment and culture has also had an impact on specific types of cases, such as maritime and offshore injuries, due to its extensive coastline and thriving oil and gas industry. Also, premises liability cases involving injuries sustained at Mardi Gras and other local festivals are not uncommon. While these events attract tourists and boost the local economy, they also present unique challenges for personal injury cases. Accidents and injuries can occur due to overcrowding, inadequate security, or poorly maintained public spaces.

The Impact of Louisiana’s Damage Cap on Personal Injury Awards

Louisiana has a cap on non-economic damages in certain personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice. The cap is currently set at $500,000, which means victims may not receive more than this amount for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. It is important to understand how this cap may affect potential compensation when pursuing a personal injury claim in Louisiana, as it can significantly impact the overall recovery in some cases.

Understanding Louisiana’’s “Direct Action” Rule

Louisiana allows injured parties to file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party’s insurance company, thanks to the “direct action” rule. This rule can streamline the claims process and make it easier for victims to obtain compensation. However, insurance companies often attempt to minimize or deny claims, so it is crucial to understand the ins and outs of Louisiana’s insurance laws and be prepared to negotiate with insurers. 

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Louisiana Personal Injury Trials

Expert witnesses can play a crucial role in personal injury cases in Louisiana, as they provide valuable insights and testimony to support a victim’s claim. These experts may include medical professionals, accident reconstructionists, economists, and others with specialized knowledge relevant to the case. Their input can be invaluable in proving negligence, establishing the extent of the victim’s injuries, and determining the correct amount of compensation. Engaging the right expert witnesses can significantly impact the outcome of a personal injury case in Louisiana.

Seeking Legal Help

Personal Injury Lawyer

When searching for a lawyer, a potential client should consider factors such as the attorney’s experience in handling similar cases, their track record of success, and their knowledge of Louisiana’s unique legal system. 

Most personal injury attorneys in Louisiana work on a contingency fee basis, which means the client only pays if their case is successful. This fee is typically a percentage of the total compensation the client is awarded. But there can be additional costs, such as court fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses. Clients should discuss these potential costs with their attorney, so they have a clear understanding of the financial aspects of their case.

If you’ve been injured, our experienced team will navigate the Louisiana legal system and help you claim the compensation you deserve. Contact us or call 504-523-6496 to see how we can help. 

In January 2019, nine-month-old Gabrielle Kennedy was safely strapped in her car seat in her mother’s car. She was killed when an Amazon delivery driver rear-ended the car with his rented 26-foot box truck. In June 2022, 30-year-old David J. Riley was sideswiped when a FedEx delivery truck in the Westbound lane of Highway 12 in Louisiana’s Beauregard Parish crossed into the eastbound lane while attempting to pass another vehicle illegally. Mr. Riley was killed.

As the number of delivery trucks on both interstates and residential streets has risen, so have occurrences of delivery-truck accidents causing victims significant injury and death. 

Determining Who is Liable for a Delivery Truck Accident

Delivery trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, and the damage they cause to smaller vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and property is significant. Recovering those losses, or at least mitigating them, as loss of life, mobility, or function can never be fully recovered, requires a careful investigation of all aspects of the accident: the circumstances, the driver, the driver’s employment status and employer, the truck company and manufacturer, and even road conditions and traffic-signal functionality.

A thorough investigation allows victims to hold the party or parties responsible for causing the accident accountable, bringing the opportunity for financial relief and justice. 

How Parties Potentially Hold Liability

It is one thing to recognize who caused an accident. It is another to determine who is legally responsible for paying victims compensation. 

Delivery Truck Drivers

Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and owe all others on the road a duty of care. They must be proactive in following traffic laws and appropriately responsive to their driving environment, and avoid unsafe behaviors, such as reckless or distracted driving, speeding, or driving while intoxicated.

It is possible to hold drivers accountable for their accident-causing mistakes or bad choices. But they are not always the culpable party or the only party at fault.  

Truck or Retail Company

Drivers may be employed by the delivery company, retailer, supplier, or courier service they deliver for. These companies must properly train drivers and monitor their performances, and ensure their vehicles are appropriately maintained.

A company may fail in one or more of these areas, and these failures can lead to accidents. The company can also indirectly cause accidents in other ways. Competition among retailers and courier services is high–there is a constant battle for customer satisfaction. As a result, some companies “encourage” drivers to overload their trucks or rush to complete jam-packed delivery schedules. It is easy to see how too-heavy vehicles operated at too-fast speeds can lead to way too many accidents.

Case in point, ProPublica, who reported on the death of baby Gabrielle, states the driver who caused her death explained that he was “running late and failed to spot the jeep in time.”

Vehicle or Part Manufacturers

Vehicle malfunctions or defective parts or systems are other potential culprits. Manufacturers owe everyone on the road a duty of care, not just those who drive their vehicles. These manufacturers must ensure that no part of the vehicle is defective or improperly installed.

Offices Responsible for Road Maintenance and Traffic Systems 

A delivery truck has a tire blowout after hitting a large pothole and hits another vehicle as the truck driver struggles to right the course. On a road darkened by broken street lights, a delivery driver does not see a pedestrian and runs the person over. In these scenarios, and others like them, the entities in charge of keeping roads safe for travel failed to fulfill their duties, and may bear liability for the resulting accidents.

Collecting a Settlement Can Be an Uphill Battle

One thing almost all at-fault parties have in common is this: they do not want to make substantial payouts to victims. As a result, they will use a variety of tactics or legal maneuvers to protect themselves.

For example, to avoid liability when their delivery drivers are involved in accidents, Amazon has created an operating system in which they do not directly employ many of their delivery drivers. Instead, they use a network of contract drivers or form Delivery Service Partnerships (DPSs) with smaller delivery companies. 

Should contract or DSP drivers have accidents, Amazon claims it cannot be held liable since the drivers are not its direct employees. While Amazon or companies like it point fingers at others, victims continue to suffer from their injuries and financial distress.

Victims of Delivery Truck Accidents Deserve Substantial Compensation

Louisiana Truck Accident Lawyer

“I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck” is what people say when they feel terrible pain or are severely ill. Victims of actual delivery truck accidents experience the reality of that statement in devastating ways. 

The consequences of a delivery truck accident are comprehensive, affecting victims physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially. At-fault parties can at least be held liable for restoring a measure of financial stability to their victims. 

Ultimately, there are a number of entities that may be liable for the damages sustained in a delivery-truck accident. Victims have the right to hold any and all parties financially accountable for the damages suffered. 

If you suffered an injury in a truck accident, contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, L.L.C. today, or call our law office at 504-523-6496.

The reality of the matter is that high school sports injuries are costly, financially and emotionally. High school sports represent a time for children and teens to unwind, let go, and have fun. But, children and teens can suffer head injuries, broken bones, and torn or strained muscles resulting in temporary or permanent disabilities. 

Seeing kids roam the hallways of high schools on crutches because of the injuries they rack up playing sports is not uncommon. However, what they do not expect to happen is for them and their families to get stuck with a gigantic bill of out-of-pocket costs that their health insurance will not cover. Will the school pay when this happens? There is a lot to consider when trying to answer that vital question.

High School Sports Injuries Statistics

Recently, a high school football team lost a player to a “season-ending knee injury in the opener,” according to the Albany Democrat-Herald. The seniors on the team were not just playing for ego, but for an opportunity to reach their dream of playing college football and beyond. Imagine standing on the precipice of a successful future amongst your friends, only to stumble backward while your friends get to move forward. The emotional devastation coupled with cruel physical punishment amplifies the heartache. 

Stories like this one are not unusual. According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, every year in the United States, approximately 30 million children and teenagers participate in organized sports. About 3.5 million sports injuries involving children and teens happen yearly, with sprains and strains making up many injuries.

Death, thankfully, is not as common. However, those who do suffer fatal injuries typically sustain a brain injury. Stanford Medicine Children’s Health data shows that almost 50% of head injuries caused by sports or recreational activities usually happen when the child or teen engages in bicycling, skateboarding, or skating.

Most Common Types of High School Sports Injuries

Personal Injury Law

According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, approximately 800,000 children and teens are sent to hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries annually. Numerous situations and factors contribute to these injuries, including falls, collisions, being hit by an object, and overexertion, just to name a few.

Everyday high school sports injuries include concussions, bone fractures, sprains, strains, knee injuries, Achilles tendon injuries, dislocation of joints, and rotator cuff injuries. Children and teens are suffering blows to the head, breaking and fracturing bones, tearing ligaments and muscles, and sometimes injuring their spines, all while playing high school sports. Treating and paying for these types of injuries is no small feat. The risks are real, and so are the real-life consequences, both physically and financially.

Paying For High School Sports Injuries

Health insurance is essential to our well-being. Annual doctor’s appointments, specialists, and sports medicine all cost a substantial amount of money. So, health insurance plays a pivotal role in people’s ability to afford quality medical care to lead healthy lives. 

People recently reported a teen fighting to walk again after being sidelined with a life-altering football head injury.  The injured player needed immediate surgery and was lucky to have survived. Now he relies on a tracheostomy tube to breathe and communicate by typing. As reported, he was in physical therapy with specialists six days a week to attempt to regain the use and strength of his legs. 

As a parent, you will pay anything in the hopes of bringing a sense of normalcy to your child. Personal health insurance can help cover any medical bills or necessary treatment. However, this does not consider copays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses. 

In circumstances like this, parents may file a third-party claim to hold the organization hosting the event responsible for the out-of-pocket costs. But they do not always realize that there are hurdles associated with this course of action.

High School Sports Injury Lawsuits & Challenges Victims Face

It should be no shock to anyone that insurance companies want to pay as little money as possible regarding filed claims. Not only do courts routinely dismiss third-party claims, but insurance companies always fight for their dismissal. So, the odds are not in favor of the victim and their families in these situations.

Why is it so hard to win? There are two key reasons. First, parents willingly assume the risks associated with their children’s sports by allowing them to play. Second, municipal or governmental agency laws can apply to schools, making lawsuits much harder to file. Just because third-party claims do not have the most remarkable track record does not mean that injured children, teens, or their families should throw up their hands in defeat.

Seeking total compensation for injuries through a personal injury lawsuit is essential. Injured children and their families should not bear the brunt of healthcare costs if the school or organization sponsoring the sporting event is partially responsible. 

How to Prove Negligence in a High School Sports Injury Case

High school sports injuries are commonplace, and families often take on all costs associated with medical bills and treatment for injuries because third-party claims are routinely dismissed. So, what is a parent to do in a situation like this? Working closely with a personal injury attorney, they should seek to prove negligence.

What is negligence in a high school sports injury? It means that the high school or organization sponsoring the event failed to provide adequate supervision. This could apply to the school or the person employed by the school. An unsafe facility or equipment can also play a role in successfully proving negligence.

Explore All Available Options to Protect Rights

Millions of children and teens engage in high school sports every single year. Some do so because they come from a family of athletes. Others are playing a particular sport for the first time out of curiosity or an eagerness to fit in with others. Whatever the reason, no one plays a high school sport hoping to get injured because of a school’s negligence. Moreover, they do not play thinking that the out-of-pocket expenses associated with their injury will be on them to pay when the school is partially to blame for the injury happening in the first place.

With the steady stream of third-party personal injury claims being dismissed by courts and insurance companies, it is natural to assume that there are no options worth exploring. However, options are available and should be considered because protecting the rights of victims and their families is critical. If a school is not providing adequate supervision, unsafe equipment, or a hazardous facility, it should be held responsible for contributing to the injuries sustained by the victim. Speaking with a personal injury attorney is the best first step to make that happen.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury during a high school sport, contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC at 504-523-6496 or fill out our online contact form to request an initial consultation.

What could possibly go wrong when you get a bunch of kids away from home for the first time living together on a college campus? Universities and colleges have an obligation to provide a safe environment for students living on campus but they are not usually responsible for the independent actions of their students or others while on campus. Imposing liability for injuries sustained in dorm rooms or other campus buildings begins with an inquiry into the duty owed by the institution to the injured person. 

Duties Owed by Educational Institutions to Persons on Campus

Students pay educational institutions to live on campus and attend classes. In exchange, the institution must provide students and other permissible guests with a safe environment to engage in the various activities reasonably anticipated to take place. The duties owed to students are greater than to other members of the public because of the relationship between the school and the students. 

As a property owner, a university has the responsibility to keep the property (known as the premises) – including buildings – in a safe and habitable condition, free from unreasonable hazards. Injuries that occur due to faulty maintenance or failing to make necessary repairs can result in the university’s liability for the damage caused. Premises liability can extend to anyone who is injured while lawfully on the premises. 

An educational institution owes an additional duty to its students not owed to non-students. The duty owed to students is to properly supervise and control campus activities that are sponsored or condoned by the school for the benefit of students. When injuries occur to students participating in or as a result of school-related activities, the school can be held liable if a failure to properly oversee an activity contributed to causing the injuries.

What Happens if a Crime Takes Place in a Dorm Room?

If the occurrence in a dorm or campus room is also a crime, the actual perpetrator(s) may have criminal liability while the school may have liability for failing to protect the person(s) injured. The liability of a university for injuries caused by criminal conduct taking place on campus can be based on whether or not the conduct was reasonably foreseeable by the institution. Liability may also be imposed when a university fails to act on reports of criminal conduct. 

Sexual assaults are crimes that occur far too frequently on college campuses, and many do not get reported. In a 2019 study of 182,000 college and graduate students, 13% reported incidents of non-consensual sexual contact. Universities and colleges have been under increased pressure in recent years to do more to prevent sexual assaults.

In 2021, the Louisiana legislature passed a law forcing post-secondary educational institutions in the state to implement comprehensive policies for reporting sexual misconduct on campus. School employees who don’t comply with the reporting procedures are to be fired. Schools must publish their policies and crime statistics online or risk losing funding.

The new law was largely in response to a report showing that Louisiana State University (LSU) did not have clear guidelines for reporting sexual assaults and for years had failed to take appropriate action when sexual assaults were reported. Several Louisiana universities have been named in recent lawsuits alleging mishandling of sexual misconduct claims. 

How Alcohol Use Affects a University’s Liability for Dorm Room Injuries

It is well-documented that alcohol use and life on campus go together for many students. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), close to 53% of full-time college students ages 18-22 drink alcohol. Alcohol has been reported as a contributing factor in assaults and is involved in the majority of sexual assaults taking place on college campuses.

Whether a university can be held liable when alcohol contributed to an on-campus injury may depend on the university’s policies and procedures regarding alcohol use on campus and how adequately the rules are enforced by institution representatives. No university will be held to an unreasonable standard regarding the prevention or control of alcohol use on campus. But a university that does not create and enforce an alcohol policy designed to promote student safety may be found liable when alcohol-related injuries occur. 

Are Colleges Liable When Injuries Occur due to Hazing?

Hazing is a ritual on college campuses for initiating new students. The practice of hazing is a rite of passage that involves students forcing students to engage in unpleasant and often hazardous activities. All colleges and universities have zero-tolerance policies toward hazing and yet it continues on campuses across the nation often with devastating results. 

In March of 2022, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity at LSU was suspended for numerous violations of the school’s hazing policy. The suspension was only the latest penalty imposed on the campus organization with a history of serious misconduct. Other fraternities on the LSU campus have had serious problems with hazing as well. In 2017, a freshman pledge of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity died of alcohol intoxication after being forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol during what police called a ‘potential hazing event.’

Unlike the actual participants in a hazing incident, a university or college is not necessarily liable for the injuries inflicted. If the circumstances demonstrate a failure to enforce anti-hazing policies or tolerance of hazing practices, liability for injuries due to hazing could be extended to the school for failing to provide adequate protection for the injured student(s).  

What to do if You are Injured in a Dorm or Campus Room

Dorm Room Injury Law

If you are injured on the campus of one of Louisiana’s colleges or universities, you should seek medical attention as appropriate and then report the incident to campus police. The university police have the primary responsibility for enforcing university policy and state laws on school property.

If you need legal assistance, contact student services to find out if there is legal assistance available for students. If your school does not offer legal help, they should have information to connect students with other available legal resources in the community. 

If you suffered an injury on a college campus or in a dorm room, contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, L.L.C. today, or call our law office at 504-523-6496.

Yes, you should hire a local lawyer with an intimate understanding of where the injury occurred and how best to expedite the legal process, so the injured victim receives the justice and compensation owed to them by the responsible party.

Stabbing Spree in Vegas Leaves Multiple Dead and Injured

According to The New York Times, recently an unprovoked stabbing occurred outside a Las Vegas casino. During this unfortunate event, tourists and locals were injured. Two people died, and six were injured because of the unlawful and reckless behavior of one person who had no respect for the lives of others.

This stabbing took place on the Las Vegas strip at 11:42 a.m. In other words, this was not a case of people getting caught up in trouble late at night. There is no reason in the world for them to have expected anything other than a perfect day that morning. Yet, fate had other plans.

This news story makes it abundantly clear that, at any moment, life can become extremely challenging, even while on vacation. These untimely deaths and injuries illustrate the importance of a person being ready for anything should they find themselves in a situation where the stakes are just as high.

Cruise Ship Statistics

Vacationing in Vegas is not the only time people are vulnerable to injuries. According to AARP, nearly one-third of international travel takes place on cruises. And a study by BMC Public Health showed that thousands of people experience intestinal infections and influenza while on cruise ships. So, being physically harmed is not the only thing to worry about.

Should I Seek Medical Treatment?

First and foremost, seeking medical treatment is paramount after sustaining an injury while on vacation. Dismissing an injury as minor or insignificant so that a person can return to their vacation and move on is not wise. Having a doctor examine any injuries, big or small, to confirm or deny any problems is the way to go.  

Injuries may not be visible to the naked eye or may be less noticeable because of the heightened emotions the victim is feeling. Seeking medical treatment also creates a paper trail, and having documents from a credible healthcare professional can prove beneficial when filing an insurance claim or lawsuit later on.

Vacation Personal Injury


Should I Notify Someone About My Injury?

Several people should be notified when an injury takes place on vacation. Aside from emergency contacts, the victim should inform those operating the facility where the injury occurred. For example, reaching out to the supervisor or manager of a resort, casino, or restaurant where the injury occurred is essential. Wherever the injury happened, let the person in charge of managing that facility know immediately about the injury because they have a process they typically follow in such situations.

If the injury occurs in a foreign country, it is essential to notify the local authorities and cooperate with them when they arrive. Just like medical treatment documentation, having an official police report of what took place can be helpful when working with a personal injury attorney to secure insurance benefits or file a lawsuit.

What Information Should I Gather?

If injured on vacation, the information one should gather depends on what kind of injury occurred. Many times, injuries on vacation involve cars. So, if the vacation injury results from a car accident, the injured person should collect as much information as possible from the person who caused the accident. The victim must have the other person’s insurance and registration information to file a claim.

Photos of the car accident scene, including injuries sustained and vehicle damage, are essential too. When working with a personal injury attorney or insurance company, these images can serve as evidence.

Additionally, medical bills, receipts, and police reports should be collected. Including these items with the insurance and registration information for the responsible party, as well as any medical reports, bills, and receipts, are highly valuable when building a case.

Should I File an Insurance Claim?

Filing an insurance claim within the United States after being injured on vacation is relatively straightforward. These situations are often labeled emergencies by insurers, so even if the victim is out-of-network, the carrier may be willing to waive any additional fees or higher-than-normal rates.

On the other hand, if the victim is injured while on vacation outside the United States, it might be a little more complicated to file an insurance claim. This is when travel insurance might come in handy because it is built for emergencies during travel. Travel insurance might prove to be more useful than ever because public health crises and natural disasters can have a swift and unexpected effect on vacation plans. If an individual opted for such protection, contacting the travel insurance company to determine what is and is not covered will help them better understand their options after being injured on vacation.

What Should I Not Do?

Understanding what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. For example, following a doctor’s orders after seeking medical treatment so the recovery is as quick and pain-free as possible makes perfect sense and is highly advised. 

One thing not to do is speak too much or offer information that is not requested. Why? Because it could be used against you. Suppose the victim of an injury thinks they are partially responsible for the injury. In that case, that could be used by an insurance company or the responsible party for why they should not be on the hook for the damage done. If a restaurant has a hazard that is not adequately lit and a person gets injured because they could not see the hazard, that is the restaurant’s fault, not the person who got hurt, even if they think they are clumsy by nature. When in doubt, do not take responsibility for any injuries sustained before speaking with a personal injury attorney.

If you suffered an injury while on vacation, contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC at 504-523-6496 or fill out our online contact form to request an initial consultation.

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