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Following serious injuries, whether in the case of a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim, working with a personal injury attorney is the most effective way to ensure that you receive the support you deserve. Many clients find that a personal injury attorney can help increase the compensation you receive for your injuries. From hospitality workers who suffer injuries in the New Orleans area to construction workers who suffer injury on the job or even landscaping or masonry workers who face serious injuries due to their work responsibilities, there are many advantages to having an attorney on your side.

Unfortunately, if a language barrier exists, it can complicate the legal process and leave you confused, intimidated, and uncertain. What did the opposing counsel actually find? How did the judge respond? You may find yourself out of your depth, especially when facing extremely technical language or dealing with questions you do not understand.

A bilingual attorney can help. Consider these benefits of working with a bilingual attorney when you must deal with a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim in Louisiana.

1. A bilingual attorney can make sure that you understand the questions you’re asked and how you should respond.

Many people respond to uncertainty by talking more. If you did not fully understand the question in the first place, providing more information will increase the odds that you answered it correctly, right?

Unfortunately, when dealing with workers’ compensation or personal injury claims, it can prove beneficial to provide less information to the insurance company or other party asking questions. A bilingual attorney can help you understand the questions asked and what information you need to provide. Not only that, they can ensure that you understand your rights and what information you should and should not share, preventing you from potentially minimizing the compensation you can receive by offering too much information.

2. A bilingual attorney can improve your understanding of the data collected by opposing counsel.

If you need to take your claim to court, it can prove extremely confusing even when you speak the language fluently. When a language barrier exists, opposing counsel may try to capitalize on your lack of understanding as they present evidence. You may have the key to disproving or disputing evidence they have provided, but if you do not understand it, you may not have the ability to provide it. A bilingual attorney, on the other hand, can translate all of that information into your native language, increasing your understanding.

3. A bilingual attorney can make sure that everyone understands you.

Whether you’re on the phone with the insurance company for the fourth time this month or you’re answering questions about your injuries and limitations in court, a bilingual attorney can help ensure that everyone involved in the process understands what you have to say. A communication barrier can make it incredibly difficult for you to share information, whether you’re going over how your injuries have impacted your life or explaining how the injuries occurred and who helped contribute to your accident. A bilingual attorney can help translate what you have to say and ensure that your story gets heard correctly.

4. A bilingual attorney can help you better understand your rights.

Let’s face it: many laws and legal rights are difficult to understand even in your native language. Add in a language barrier, and it can prove even more difficult for you to get the information you need. By working with a bilingual attorney, however, you can improve your understanding of your legal rights. Your attorney can explain your right to compensation following a serious injury, help you understand what happens after a workplace injury, or help you understand how to handle your medical bills following a serious accident.

5. A bilingual attorney can help you understand the compensation offers provided.

In many personal injury claims, the insurance company that covers the liable party will not simply write a check for the full amount you deserve. In many cases, they may try to get you to accept a lower settlement. When a language barrier exists, you may struggle more to understand exactly what the offer entails, including how that offer compares to your long-term medical expenses and the other issues you may face. A bilingual attorney can help provide you with a better understanding of that settlement offer and how it is likely to impact you. This can help you make a better decision about when to accept an offer and when to continue negotiating.

If your claim needs to go to court, a bilingual attorney can also translate the judge’s pronouncements or a jury verdict, which means you will fully understand what the verdict represents for you.

6. A bilingual attorney can help connect you to the resources you need.

Your injuries may leave you in serious need of assistance, especially if you suffered severe injuries that cause multiple complications. Where a language barrier exists, it can cause additional complications in getting the support and assistance you need. While some providers offer services in a second language, others may not–and it can prove difficult to discover which ones will work with you and for you without calling each one. When you work with a bilingual attorney, on the other hand, that attorney can help narrow down available resources and ensure that you can connect with the providers you really need throughout your recovery and as you file your claim.

If English is not your first language, working with a bilingual attorney can make handling your personal injury or workers’ compensation claim substantially easier. At Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C., we have a complete bilingual staff who are experienced in translating legal jargon and ensuring that our clients fully understand the challenges they face. If you suffered an injury due to the negligence of another party or suffered an injury at work that has left you in need of workers’ compensation assistance, contact us today at  504-523-6496 to schedule a consultation.

What are the first things you consider when you go to hire an attorney? If you are like most people, experience, expertise, and disciplinary history are at the top of the list. And those are all important points to consider when you choose an attorney. But what about communication? We’re not just talking about accessibility and responsiveness (although those are important too). How much thought do you put into what language your attorney speaks? Obviously, it’s important that your attorney is fluent in your native language, but what about other languages? There are many benefits to hiring a bilingual attorney. At Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C., we have attorneys who are fluent in English, Spanish, and French.

Why do I need a bilingual attorney?

If your primary language is English, you might not see the value of hiring a bilingual attorney. In fact, unless you speak a language other than English, most people don’t think twice about what language their attorney speaks. After all, all communication will be in English, right? Maybe not. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, recent numbers show that over 66 million US residents speak a language other than English at home. Of those people, nearly 26 million say they speak English less than “very well.” That’s almost 8% of the US population. So how can a bilingual attorney help?

Witness testimony

Witness testimony is an important component of any personal injury or criminal defense case. Even in family law, witnesses can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.  What happens if your primary witness doesn’t speak English? Sure, you can hire a translator, but there are a couple downsides to that. Number one is cost. Every expert or professional you bring on to your case comes with a cost. If you have a bilingual attorney, that is one less cost you will have to incur. Another consideration is comfort. For whatever reason, the witness in your case may or may not feel comfortable talking to an attorney (or in front of a jury). If your attorney speaks the same language as the witness, they may be able to help the witness feel more comfortable.

Attorney-client communication

Maybe you’re looking for an attorney for your family member who doesn’t speak English. Trust and communication are extremely important in any type of legal matter. Whether you are planning your estate or filing a personal injury suit, you want to know that your attorney has your best interest at heart. At Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C., our goal is to make you feel comfortable. We do our best to match incoming clients with the attorney who will best serve their communication needs.

Cultural awareness

Being bilingual isn’t just about knowing another language, it’s about understanding and respecting another culture. Every culture has its own beliefs and traditions. With any form of communication, it’s important to understand a person’s cultural beliefs. Different belief systems can make a big difference when it comes to estate planning, divorce and custody matters, and immigration laws.

How to find a qualified attorney

Beyond making sure that you and your attorney can have open communication (which is arguably the most important thing in any legal matter), there are other considerations you need to keep in mind when you choose an attorney. We touched on a few of these items earlier, but let’s take a look at what you should look for in an attorney and how you can find the right one for you:

  • Ask for personal recommendations: Your friends and family likely have a good sense of your personality type and your unique needs. Asking someone who has personal experience with an attorney is often the best way to find someone to work with. They’ll be able to give you insight into office practices, billing, and overall quality. At Stephenson, Chavarri & Dawson, L.L.C., we love it when a new client comes to us after being recommended by a friend.
  • Do your research: While personal recommendations are good, A: sometimes they are not reliable, and B: sometimes you won’t know anybody who has used an attorney. Whether you find your attorney through your best friend, or by searching Google, research is your friend. Sites like AVVO and Super Lawyers, provide honest reviews from former clients. Additionally, you should always check out your potential attorney’s disciplinary history. In Lousiana, you can look up an attorney’s status here.
  • Schedule a consultation: The best way to determine whether an attorney will be a good fit is to sit down and have a consultation. This is your opportunity to ask your potential attorney about their experience, philosophies, and billing structures. Don’t forget to ask about their availability and trial experience. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your attorney. Keep looking until you find the one that’s right for you.

Invest in your future

We cannot overstate how important it is to work with a competent attorney who you can trust. Legal matters can be complex and you want to hire someone who you know has your best interest in mind. In the same regard, it’s important to choose an attorney who can effectively argue your case and understands your individual needs. In some cases, choosing a bilingual attorney is a necessity. For others, it’s just a smart choice. The best legal strategy involves having the right tools and being able to communicate your needs.

Our office is located off of BUS 90, just blocks from the Mississippi River. Our physical address is 400 Poydras Street, Suite 1990 New Orleans, LA 70130. We are a multi-disciplinary firm with attorneys who work in family law, personal injury, immigration law, and other legal specialties. To learn more about our team or to schedule a consultation, contact our office at 504-523-6496 or fill out our online contact form to get started.

Approximately four percent of the population of Louisiana is comprised of immigrants. Too often, these residents are underserved in the legal field despite the fact they have certain rights afforded to them by simply being present in the United States. A broader look at this population shows of the immigrant population in Louisiana, nearly one-half are either undocumented, or have at least one family member who is undocumented.

Rights of Undocumented Residents in Louisiana

Regardless of whether a resident of Louisiana is documented or undocumented, there are certain civil rights which are afforded to them. Protections offered under the U.S. Constitution also extend to immigrants despite what many people may believe. Too often, immigrants, both documented and undocumented avoid seeking legal help when they need it because they are concerned about being turned in to Immigration Services. Remember, when you need a lawyer, you are offered certain protections, regardless of your immigration status.

Searching for the Right Legal Counsel for Foreigners

One challenge for many in Louisiana is finding an attorney who not only understands the legal problems a foreigner is facing, but someone who is able to speak the same language. After all, if you are working with a law firm you must be able to communicate effectively so they understand the problems you are facing, and can help provide you with the legal assistance you need in understandable terms. Here are some of the issues you should consider when seeking legal help:

  • Meets your legal needs — ideally, you will want a firm who understands working with foreigners both in Louisiana and abroad who face the same legal issues you are facing. While a family law case that pertains specifically to two parties who both live and work in Louisiana, in some cases, there are two people living in very different jurisdictions. Having an attorney who understands how to successfully navigate these challenging situations is important.
  • Language barriers addressed — all too often, language barriers prevent proper communication with an attorney. If your first language is not English, miscommunication errors can occur. This can be avoided by working with a law firm who has attorneys on staff who speak your native language.

Once you have addressed these two significant issues, you can begin looking at other factors which may be important to you including:

  • Communication skills — there are few things more frustrating than hiring a legal representative who does not communicate with you. You want a law firm which will provide you with updates on the status of your case as well as be available to answer questions you may have. Communication matters when you are involved in a legal matter and if you are not comfortable your attorney will communicate regularly with you, it may be worth thinking about hiring someone else.
  • Professional skills — experience matters when you have a pending legal matter. Finding a competent attorney to represent is important. One of the measures of competency and professionalism is how often the firm gets referrals from other law firms, and how often their clients return. Do not be afraid to ask that question when you are searching for the right legal counsel.
  • Fees and other costs — while you understand the right lawyer may not always be the one who offers the lowest fees, what you do not want to do is hire a lawyer who will run up unnecessary costs. Discuss your case with your attorney and ask them to give you a best case/worst case scenario on what their services will cost. This can help you make a more informed decision before hiring a lawyer.
  • Compassion and caring — when dealing with a lawyer, you want someone who will treat you with dignity and respect. Your attorney must be willing to treat your legal challenges without you feeling they are being judgmental.

Bad Decisions Occur in Times of Stress

One reason why you should use caution when hiring an attorney is because we all tend to make rash decisions when we are under duress. Let’s face it, any time we have turned to a lawyer for help, it probably means we are facing a legal challenge we know we cannot resolve on our own.

Therefore, doing your research is important before you sign any agreements which bind you to an attorney. Make sure you understand what fees you will be paying, how those fees must be paid and what payment arrangements are acceptable. Make you’re your attorney explains any fees outside of their payment such as court appearance costs, document preparation costs, etc. as these additional fees can add up.

We know most people think they will never need an attorney to help them protect their rights, serve as an advocate because they are facing criminal charges, or help them navigate the complex immigration system. But the fact is, at some point or another you may need those services and when you do, you want someone to work with you who will take the time to listen, explain what options are available to you, and help you throughout the legal process. Finding that attorney is easier than ever when you work with our firm. We are committed to doing everything possible to help you through the legal problems you are facing. We will work tirelessly for the right outcome, and help protect your rights from the day you hire us.

When you need legal assistance with matters pertaining to family law, immigration issues, criminal law, collections or if you need the right legal translation and interpreter services, you can count on a local law firm, Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC, which offers you big firm experience with small firm values. We are committed to working towards the best possible outcome for every client we work with.

Those who need legal help with a matter which must be handled in Louisiana and speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, English or another language contact Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC,  at 504-523-6496 to speak with one of our attorneys. Let us help you resolve your legal issue and show you why so many of our clients return when they need additional legal help and refer their friends to us.

As New Orleans legal translators, we have heard of some exciting experiences from clients over the years when deploying the help of a Non-Court Registered/Non-Certified Translator. In fact, some errors are downright tragic. These scenarios could have easily been avoided by hiring a Court Registered/Certified Translator initially.

When you forgo hiring a Court Registered/Certified Translator in favor of a non-certified or freelance option, there is potential for saving yourself money in the short run. But you may be costing yourself more over the long run time horizon, too.

It can be tempting to hire employees, family, friends, or anyone else who speaks a particular language fluently or natively. However, anyone that takes a keen interest in language is aware of the nuances of language. A person’s individual spin on the interpretation can affect the results.

This can lead to embellished, omitted, or even altered words that do not communicate the intent of the expert or witness.

The reality is that attorneys and other legal professionals want to pass cost savings onto their clients. However, you may be doing them a disservice by not retaining the help of a Court Registered/Certified Translator. As we’ve said before, there are opportunities to communicate intent that may be lost on a non-certified individual.

Aside from accuracy, there are several reasons from an ethical standpoint that may compel you to hire a court-certified translator. Here are our top five advantages that strongly indicate you should hire one for your next case.

1. They Meet a Standard that Ensures Quality

The complexities of the subject surrounding the areas of law, such as medical diagnosis or proving negligence, make it easy to understand how vital a quality Court Registered/Certified Translator actually is. Often, the translator is responsible for demonstrating complicated elements of a case in a technical or specialized language.

People are often tempted to enlist the help of their family or friends who are fluent in that language. However, there is no certifying body that states that they are trained and proficient in the language that they speak. Even if they are native speakers, they may lack the skills and knowledge necessary to interpret the nuances of each word accurately.

And as the oldest saying the book goes, “You get what you pay for.” Therefore, hiring a Court Registered/Certified Translator produces a better result and ensures quality. Court Registered/Certified Translators invest in their profession just like you invest in yours.

2. They Appreciate and Understand Cultural Correctness

There some aspects of language that non-native speakers don’t necessarily understand. A Court Registered/Certified Translator, native-speaking can guarantee that their work is organized, grammatically correct, and easy to read. They also have specialized knowledge that allows them to interpret cultural or local influences.

As we stated in the previous section, language tends to have nuances that non-native, non-regional speakers don’t pick up on. A Court Registered/Certified Translator can facilitate insight when it comes to an understanding of a local mindset.

3. They Are Consistent at Every Turn

Another benefit of hiring a Court Registered/Certified Translator lies within their ability to produce consistent work over the long run time horizon. There is nothing worse than damaging the reputation of your peers or your organization if inconsistent communication is in the mix. Therefore, it’s crucial to retain the services of a professional Court Registered/Certified Translator.

By their very nature, a translation agency is in it for the long haul. Employing the help of just anyone means that a person may not be available in the future should you need to call upon them about a case later on.

4. They Are True Specialists in Their Field

Specialization is another word we often hear thrown around in the Court Registered/Certified Translator world. This assertion is due in part because professional translators and their agencies often specialize in specific languages or technical terminologies that other generalists don’t have.

Private individuals and businesses have a variety of needs in terms of translation. From legal contracts to testimony in court, a Court Registered/Certified Translator can put your legal team at ease since they can work from multiple aspects and perspectives that the industry needs.

In short, you are enlisting the help of an individual who is professional, consistent, and accurate, no matter the project every time.

Non-Court Registered/Non-Certified Translators can’t offer the same guarantee that they can expertly navigate dense technical language uniformly. Not only that, but they also consult with industry experts regarding the area of law in which you are working.

For example, they will work with other lawyers, doctors, IT experts, and any other relevant professionals that have access to information for further clarity regarding the quality and accuracy of every translation. Therefore a Court Registered/Certified Translator may be able to save you time and money over the long run since their work is so incredibly accurate the first time around.

5. They Create Context and Offer Security

Freelance interpreters might save you money upfront, but they often lack understanding and insight regarding meaning. For instance, they may not wholly understand technical terminology, internal references, abbreviations, or key players of the industry.

When you enlist the help of a professional interpreter, they will always be prepared to assist you in presenting a persuasive and accurate case. A Court Registered/Certified Translator is also able to provide you with the documentation and ethical standards that you require as a legal professional. This may include documentation involving standard service contracts and a non-disclosure agreement. Therefore your relationship with the Court Registered/Certified Translator is guaranteed be treated as entirely confidential.

An Interpreter is an Extension of Your Firm

Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t have your own in-house Court Registered/Certified Translator, then do yourself and your clients a favor by hiring one. There is too much at stake when you leave things in the hands of freelance or Non-Court Registered/Non-Certified Translator with your language interpretation needs since they effectively become an extension of your firm or brand message.

Make sure that you work with a Court Registered/Certified Translator professional offering the proper industry knowledge and linguistic skills that you can trust.

Do You Need Legal Interpreter Services?

If you need New Orleans legal translators or related services, you can discuss your options with our team during your initial consultation. At Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, L.L.C., we know what it takes to produce high-quality translation services every time. Contact our office today by calling 504-523-6496 or you can send us a message via our online contact form.

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