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Subject: Debt collection for small business
Question: I own a small business in new orleans. I have made several attempts (in writing and phone contact) to collect payments from other small area businesses that purchased my services to no avail. The cash flow is critical to my survival and I'm looking for a legal way to collect. The highest uncollectable amount is $5500 and it goes down from there. Should I file small claims suits against the vendors? Any advise will be appreciated.

Answer: (May, 2012)
Larry Demmons | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

There are several options you can pursue, depending on the manner in which you provided the services. You could sue for breach of contract, or sue on an open account. Each has its advantages, depending on the particular facts of your situation. I'd be happy to discuss the details about your specific situation if you'd like. Larry Demmons - Taggart Morton - 504-599-8527.

Subject: Statue of Limitation for sueing
Question: I live in a town home that I rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina. The property next to mine is own by Road Home. but has not rebuilt or touch since the storm. Since 2010, my home my began receiving damages due to their negligence. What is the staue of limitation for sueing for damages.

Answer: (December, 2011)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

In Louisiana, statute of limitations is called prescription. Without more information as to the nature of your true claim, it is difficult to give you an opinion on prescription. Generally, claims involving injury or damage to one's person or property must be brought in a court of proper jurisdiction within one year from the date of the injury or damage; however, this time period may be different for different causes or claims. There are other factors that may be involved; for example, time begins to run in certain circumstances when the person knew of the injury or damage or should have known of the injury or damage. You will need to see a lawyer who can advise you on the law after he has been given all the facts that he needs to know to properly give advice.

Subject: Fire at my Home
Question: I have been deny on a claim. A fire at my house. How long do I have to file a law suit.

Answer: (May, 2011)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Generally, you have one year from the date of the event to bring an action in a court of proper jurisdiciton in Louisiana. Without knowing more of your matter, you would have one year from the date of the fire.

Subject: I was in a hit from behind at a red light
Question: the man didn't have no insurancefor the car.

Answer: (January, 2010)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana is a comparative fault state. That concept places a percentage of fault on each party. Louisiana requires mandatory insurance coverage of a minimum amount. The state, if it receives notice from the law enforcement agency, will suspend the vehicle owner's license. The state's action doesn't help your problem which is how to recover any damages that the "rear ender" may have caused. You can seek the advices of a lawyer although you will have trouble finding one who will take your case because the lawyer needs to be paid for his time. You will not be allowed to recover attorney's fees should you pay a lawyer to represent you. Louisiana only allows recovery for attorney's fees under authorization of law. You could file a small claims action in a small claims court; in Orleans Parish, you could file in 1st or 2d City Court, but you can only claim a limited amount of damages. In Jefferson Parish, you can file in 1st or 2d Parish Court and there you can only claim a limited amount of damages. If you accident occurred somewhere else, then you should check with the local clerk of court's office for a small claims court.

Subject: Denied Insurance Claim
Question: My wife had been seeing an orthopedist since March 2008 for discomfort in her shoulder. In October, while she was working for an animal hospital in North Carolina, she had a dog pull on her arm, worsening the pain in her shoulder. She filled out an incident report with her employer, who informed her that Workers Comp. Insurance would not be covering anything having to do with her shoulder because she was already seeing a doctor. The Worker’s Comp. Insurance carrier contacted her to review the incident report she filed. She was told the same thing. We continued her care under the insurance I buy through my employer (she is covered as my dependant). We moved back to New Orleans in December, and continued her care with another Orthopedist. In February she had surgery on her shoulder to repair a tear. About a month after the surgery, my insurance company declined to pay citing a third party liability and that her employer’s Worker’s Comp Insurance carrier should pay. We contacted her employer’s Worker’s Comp. Insurance carrier. At that point, they had yet to make a determination of coverage. They have since declined to cover. We have appealed with my insurance company, but they seem to taking an awful long time to come to a decision. My wife is still in constant pain, and her Orthopedist wants to do another MRI, but nothing can happen until one of the insurance companies pays what is already outstanding. What should be the next step? What state should I be filing a law suit in?

Answer: (July, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Your question involves North Carolina law. We are not able to answer your worker's compensation question involving North Carolina law. We provide information on Louisiana law and any other states where we may practice. North Carolina is not one of them. You should contact immediately a North Carolina lawyer specializing in worker's compensation claims. You should also bring up the issue of insurance coverage with the lawyer to see if he is able to represent you on that matter. It seems to me that your insurance coverage issue is intricately woven together with your worker's compensation issue. You should make your inquiries immediately as you may run up against a statute of limitations baring you from bringing any suit. Sorry that we can not be of more assistance.

Subject: Home renovation contractor issues
Question: Is there a time limit (statute of limitations?) for work done on my home by a contractor. I had wood floors installed which have been buckling since installation. They were laid incorrectly and the buckling is a result of the faulty installation. (just pulled up the boards and found that they did not put down a moisture barrier which is the cause of the buckling and also voids the warranty on my floors!) It has been 2 years since the initial installation. Do I have any legal grounds to sue for damages/replacement?

Answer: (July, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

The answer to the question depends on whether there was a written contract or not and whether there were plans or not. Generally, Louisiana law has a one year limitation for most part for claims for damages. However, there is a provision in the Louisiana Civil Code that provides for a 10 year prescriptive period (aka statute of limitations in other states). Art. 3500 of the Louisiana Civil Code makes a contractor open to a lawsuit for 10 years, but there are provisions that shorten the period of time to 5 years if certain requirements are met. You will need to check to see if 9:2771 and 2772 would apply to your situation as the two provisions govern a residential building contractor and the manner in which he completes the work. If you meet the time in which to file suit, then the contractor would generally be responsible for poor workmanship and subject to damages. I am puzzled by the mention of a warranty on your floor. You may want to check the warranty contract language, if you have a warranty agreement, to see if it can help you with the contractor. Consulting a good lawyer about the specific details of your problem is advisable.

Subject: Bankrupt Insurance Companies
Question: What would happen if an insurance company goes bankrupt? For instance, a small business has liability insurance from a company and that business gets sued and files a claim, but the insurance company is in bankruptcy and cannot pay. Does the business need to pay itself, or will the judgment be discharged?

Answer: (October, 2008)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

I am not a bankruptcy lawyer and I do not know what any bankruptcy ramifications would be; I do know that insurance companies go into receivership when the company becomes insolvent and are supervised by the individual states. Louisiana has the Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association. You can read more about it on their website at LIGA will generally take over for an insolvent company. However, this question is much to complicated to give a quick answer and I would suggest if the events happen above, the policy holder seek a lawyer immediately.

Subject: Condo/Townhome Insurance Issue
Question: I live in a town home that I rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina. My neighbor and I both received our Road Home money, but he has not rebuilt his adjoining home. Following Hurricane Gustav, my home is now receiving damages due to their negligence. Is their insurance company required to pay for my damages?

Answer: (January, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

That is a good question. First, you would have to review your condominium documents to see what responsibility the other owner has to you, assuming your town home is not rented and is a condo and has been established under Louisiana Condominium law. Keep your condominium documents in a safe place. You would need to find out if he has insurance and if so contact the company as soon as possible. The owner will likely be responsible for your damage, if proven in a court of law. If he has insurance, they will most likely stand in his shoes and cover his losses.

Subject: Document Hurricane Damages
Question: What if I did not document my home prior to the hurricane and I suffered significant damage. What type of documents am I going to need?

Answer: (October, 2008)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Keep all receipts including travel or evacuation receipts; keep additional living expense receipts; keep any temporary repair receipts and don’t assume that a contractor is going to make a complete repair. Take photographs of the damage. Take a lot of photographs of the damage. Keep all estimates for repair work. If you make your temporary repairs before receipt of any insurance funds, keep receipts, any contracts and any notes on times and dates when work was done.

Subject: Homeowners Insurance
Question: How long do I have to file a claim with my homeowner’s insurance? Is there a time limit on how long I have if I want to sue my insurance company or challenge the settlement? Is there a need to bring a lawsuit within the prescribed period of time under Louisiana law?

Answer: (October, 2008)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

You should notify your insurance company as soon as possible of a loss and follow up with a letter to them with 30 days. Most policies require you to notify them within 10 to 60 days of a loss as a general rule. This is a contractual provision and can be changed. It is important to read your policy. Challenging a settlement depends on what was settled and if it was final. Most policies have a newly discovered damage provision that allows the policy holder to make additional claims. A policy holder has generally one year to bring a suit. A insurance company may waive the prescribed time to bring a lawsuit, but the policy holder is suggested to get such a waiver in writing and seek the advice of an attorney if you encounter some set back from your insurance company.

Subject: Evactuation and Travel Expenses
Question: Is my insurance company required to pay for my evacuation and travel expenses even if my home did not suffer any damage from the recent hurricanes, but we were forced to evacuate?

Answer: (October, 2008)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Depends on what the policy includes; each policy is different. Some companies allow for such an expense others do not. You should read your policy carefully. If you are unsure, notify your company as soon as possible and provide them with as complete information as possible.

Subject: Liability of insurance company for contractor fraud & damages
Question: Please help me with my understanding of peircing the corporate veil and also of getting restitution from a contactor who deliberately covered up contracting issues. The insurance company wants to claim that all of the damages I claim are cosmetic and have no merit. Please help? Advise?

Answer: (April, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

You apparently have three questions which are confusing. One involves piercing the corporate veil, the second is restitution from a contractor who deliberately covered up contracting issues and the last involves insurance coverage. Piercing the corporate veil will require the use of a skilled attorney as there are numerous requirments to get behind a corporation's limitation of liability as applied to the shareholders and officers in an effort to hold them personally liable. Briefly, you would need to look at the corporation and see how it is run, see if they had officers,Board of directors, shareholders meetings, capitalization requirements, registration requirements and many other criteria too numerous to put into this answer. However, showing that corporations have not met the criteria of corporate status does not necessarily mean that a tribunal will pierce the corporate veil. You will need the services of an attorney to accomplish what you desire. The second question provides too little information to give a cogent answer. But you should have a contract in writing that sets forth the terms of each party. If either party breaches the contract, then a suit may be brought to enforce the terms of the contract. You mentioned contracting issues. There are many books written on contracting issues. You would need to be more specific. The third question appears to involve an insurance problem where insurance may insure the corporation; your question does not specify. A skilled attorney should be able to advise you as to the damages that have occurred and whether the insurance company would cover the damages. You would need to have a copy of their insurance policy. There is too little information to give you a clear course of action other than seeking the advice of an attorney.

Subject: auto negligence-pedestrian knock down
Question: Is Louisiana a comparative negligence state for auto negligence? If not what do you use. I am a retired Michigan atty living in texas. a friend got hit in New Orleans. Pedestrian knock down.

Answer: (January, 2009)
Charles Raymond | Taggart Morton L.L.C. | 1100 Pydras Street, Suite 2100 | New Orleans, LA 70163

Louisiana is a comparative negligence state where you pay for your fault or reduce your damages by your comparative negligence. The trier of fact will assign fault to all the parties. Pedestrians can be at fault, but the % is generally low. Contributing factors for a pedestrian's fault would be intoxication, jay walking, or crossing against a light. The driver of a vehicle has the duty to be vigilant to pedestrians and is generally assigned the greater degree of fault should he hit one of them.

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