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Technology is continually reshaping the legal industry, and we aim to be a step ahead of the pack. As a small firm serving Louisiana and Texas, we need the ability to be in multiple locations at once to address multiple concerns ranging from filing a petition, deposing a witness, or a court appearance. At Sudduth and Associates, that is not a problem.​

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We believe in family and community and encourage interests outside the practice of law. We welcome you to become a part of our family and experience excellent service and traditional values in everything we do. Join with us as we continue our multi-generational tradition of service and leadership in this wonderful community we call home.

 

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Attorneys

James E. Sudduth III

Managing Partner

Adrien Lorrain

Associate Attorney

Kourtney Kech

Associate Attorney

Lori L. Nunn

Of Counsel

Welcome to Louisiana

James E.  Sudduth III

James E. Sudduth III

James E.  Sudduth III

James E. Sudduth III

James E.  Sudduth III

James E. Sudduth III

James E.  Sudduth III

James E. Sudduth III

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Technology is continually reshaping the legal industry, and we aim to be a step ahead of the pack. As a small firm serving Louisiana and Texas, we need the ability to be in multiple locations at once to address multiple concerns ranging from filing a petition, deposing a witness, or a court appearance. At Sudduth and Associates, that is not a problem.​​

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Two Ways to Calculate a Pain and Suffering Settlement​

n any personal injury case, from a car accident to a slip and fall case, there are two main categories of "damages" available to the injured person ("damages" is just a legalese term for losses that the at-fault party must compensate you for). These are your economic or "special" damages and your non-economic or "general" damages. Special damages are all of the easily calculable losses stemming from your accident or injury -- your medical bills, your lost income because of time missed at work, your property damage, and any other out-of-pocket losses. General damages include things like pain and suffering, which means discomfort and physical pain, but also emotional distress, anxiety, and stress that is linked to the accident and your injuries. In a personal injury case, the compensation awarded to a winning plaintiff after a trial is based on these types of damages. It follows that a settlement reached out of court should be based on similar factors, but how do you put a dollar value on your pain? Quantifying Pain And Suffering It is not easy to pin a dollar amount on general damages. But there are a number of approaches that insurance companies take when calculating pain and suffering as part of an injury settlement. The two most common are the multiplier method and the "per diem" (daily rate) method. Multiply Your "Specials" The most common approach is to add up all the special damages (remember, those are your easily calculable economic losses) and multiply those by a number between 1.5 on the low end, and 4 or 5 on the high end. This second number (called a "multiplier") will depend on a number of factors related to your case, including the seriousness of your injuries, your prospects for a quick and complete recovery, the impact of your injuries on your day-to-day life, and whether or not the other party was clearly at fault for the underlying accident. The multiplier method is used in AllLaw's Injury Settlement Calculator because it's believed to be the calculation most frequently used by insurance companies. The sticking point in settlement negotiations is going to be the multiplier used. You are going to argue for a higher multiplier while the defendant, or more specifically their insurer, will want to use a lower multiplier.  2. Use A Daily Rate Another approach to calculating pain and suffering is called the "per diem" method. "Per Diem" is just Latin for "per day", and the idea is to demand a certain dollar amount for every day you had to live with the pain caused by your accident. The slippery part of this approach is justifying the daily rate you use. A good way to make sure your daily rate is "reasonable" is to use your actual, daily earnings. The argument here is that having to deal with the pain caused by your injuries every day is at least comparable to the effort of going to work each day. Let's illustrate the "per diem" method with an example. Imagine you were rear-ended and suffered a moderate neck strain -- whiplash. You are forced to wear a neck brace and take pain pills for two months. You continue to suffer pain for another three months, for a total of five months (roughly 150 days) of pain and discomfort. At your current or most recent job, you earn $45,000 per year – that's $180 per day when you divide your salary by 250 working days per year. To get to a pain and suffering settlement in this case, just multiply your $180 daily rate by 150 days of pain, and you arrive at $27,000. This method falls apart with permanent or long-term injuries, but in those cases, you'll want a lawyer, and your settlement would be based on related verdicts and settlements in your jurisdiction -- data which only lawyers subscribing to expensive services have access to. Use Both Methods And Adjust For The Specifics Of The Accident It's always a good idea to use both methods to start, and then adjust your demand from within that range. You may get wildly different numbers, and that's okay – it all boils down to a negotiation dance at the end. If you were hit by a drunk driver that ran a red light (a slam-dunk case, so to speak) and have a bunch of medical bills, start on the highest end of your settlement range. If you slipped on some ice or snow in front of a private residence, and liability is not so clear, you're settlement will be closer to the lower end. Every case is unique, but the idea is that you want to start at some reasonable number that you can justify in your demand letter. Evidence Of Pain In Your Medical Records When it comes to general damages, when you are receiving medical treatment, it is important to be very thorough in your communication with health care professionals. Report any pain and discomfort you are experiencing. One reason for this is that an insurance adjuster will often accept your report of pain and discomfort as true when the doctor writes it down and it becomes part of your medical records, but an adjuster may well dispute the very same report of pain and discomfort if it comes only from you as part of your injury claim. Your attorney should be able to help you make the best possible case given the evidence you have available. Link to original article

Special Education Law & the IEP​

Special education laws give children with disabilities and their parent's important rights. Specifically, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives families of special education children the right to:   have their child assessed or tested to determine special education eligibility and needsinspect and review school records relating to their childattend an annual "individualized education program" (IEP) meeting and develop a written IEP plan with representatives of the local school district, andresolve disputes with the school district through an impartial administrative and legal process Eligibility Under IDEA Every school district is legally required to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities (20 U.S.C. §1412(a)(3)). After the evaluation, the district may provide the child with specific programs and services to address special needs.IDEA defines "children with disabilities" as individuals between the ages of three and 22 with one or more of the following conditions: mental retardationhearing impairment (including deafness)speech or language impairmentvisual impairment (including blindness)serious emotional disturbanceorthopedic impairmentautismtraumatic brain injuryspecific learning disability, orother health impairment (20 U.S.C. §1401(3); 34 C.F.R. §300.8). For your child to qualify for special education under IDEA, it is not enough to have one of these disabilities. There must also be evidence that the disability adversely affects your child's educational performance. Once a child is found eligible for special education, subsequent evaluations take place at least every three years. If you are not satisfied with the initial evaluation or you feel your child's disability or special education needs have changed, your child is entitled to more frequent assessments, and even outside or independent assessments (20 U.S.C. §1414; 34 C.F.R. § §300.301-306). Individualized Education Program (IEP) Under IDEA, special education develops and implements an individualized education program, or IEP, that meets your child's unique needs. The acronym IEP refers to several related things: An initial meeting where the school district determines whether or not your child is eligible for a special educationA yearly meeting where you and school representatives develop your child's educational plan, andA detailed written description of your child's educational program.Every written IEP document must include the same information, although forms will vary from one school district to another.- Current educational status -- a description of your child's current "academic achievement and functional performance" in school.- Goals and objectives -- "measurable annual goals" designed to meet your child's specific educational needs.- Instructional setting or placement -- a determination of the situation and services needed to provide your child with an appropriate    education.- Transition services -- considerations of the vocational and placement needs for a child who is 16 or older.- Due process -- your right to take any dispute you have with your child's school district to a neutral third party for resolution.  (Parents of children who are not in special education do not have this right.) For more information on IEPs, read Nolo's article Preparing for the IEP Meeting. Special Education Law: 2005 Changes In 2005, Congress made important modifications to IDEA. While most special education rights and procedures remain the same under this new law, there have also been numerous and significant changes. For instance, the new law affects: Teacher qualificationsTeaching methodsTransition servicesHow a school may identify a child with a learning disability, andThe content, development, review, and revision of IEPs. In 2006, the Department of Education issued regulations interpreting the revised IDEA. These regulations add requirements and rules that go well beyond the scope of the actual law. If you have a child in special education, it is important that you understand how the regulations affect your child's rights. You can download and read the text of the regulations on the website of the Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers. Or, contact your state department of education, your school district, or local support groups to find out how these changes will affect special education in your community. Sources of Information About Special Education and IDEA Your local school district. The district is required by the IDEA to provide you with a copy of federal and state statutes and regulations and any relevant policies. Be sure to request this information, along with the school district's IEP form and any parent guide that's available. Local parent support groups. In many communities, local organizations offer support and information for parents of children inspecial education. The groups in your area may have helpful information about your school district and how it complies with IDEA. U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). For information on the IDEA and special education law, visit OSERS at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers. Your state department of education. The federal IDEA is binding on all states. The federal government provides financial assistance to the states, which are responsible for making sure the local school districts comply with the IDEA. Most states have laws that generally parallel IDEA. States can provide children with more, not fewer, protections than IDEA does. For more information on state special education laws and regulations, contact your state department of education. Your school district can give you the appropriate office to contact. Link to original article 

How to Make a Self-Defense Claim​

Could you make successful a self-defense claim? In American criminal law, one of the most popular defenses you can claim is self-defense. Many times this happens in assault cases. However, it is most notoriously and many times most effectively, used as a homicide defense. So how do you make a self-defense claim? It depends on where you end up in court. It Depends Some jurisdictions define criminal defenses based on a common law system. This means the definition evolved through a series of legal cases and court interpretation. Eventually, this very literal trial and error process created a legal standard that most courts end up using. Essentially the defendant has to meet an objective standard of showing that using force was necessary and that he or she had an immediate fear of death or serious bodily harm. This means you have to show that the average person would have reacted the same way given the circumstances. In some places, the law requires a person to retreat, or run away, before fighting back. If this is a law where you live, and you choose to use your hands rather than your feet, you may not be able to claim self-defense. Breaking the CodeOther jurisdictions follow some variation of the Model Penal Code or MPC. The MPC is a suggested set of legal definitions, crimes, and punishments created by the American Law Institute. Some states adopted the code in its entirety or modified it before making it law. In these areas, the courts use the code's definition to determine if the defendant has met the elements of a crime or defense. On the issue of self-defense, it says, "The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion." In English, this means a person asserting a self-defense claim has to prove an immediate threat of harm and an immediate need to protect him or herself. A former Walgreen's security guard is hoping a court will accept his claim of self-defense for shooting a shoplifter to death in Milwaukee last year. The former guard says he scuffled with the other man as he was trying to get away. According to him, the shoplifter had already punched him and was charging at him. He pulled his gun and fired. Was this enough of a threat to justify using a gun? Was the guard in immediate danger of losing his life or being seriously hurt? That's what jurors will have to decide. Battered Woman's Defense Recently, more courts have been allowing the Battered Woman's Defense as a type of self-defense. One reason it has been a problem is that it lacks the immediacy requirement as defined under the common law and Model Penal Code. Instead, expert testimony about the psychological impact of abuse is allowed to substitute for the immediacy issue. In California, convicted murderer Susan Greenberg was freed from prison after her battered woman's syndrome defense was reconsidered. Greenberg's husband had beat and threatened her throughout the course of her marriage. Rather than looking to the immediacy of danger at the moment, the woman strikes back at her attacker, juries can instead examine the continuing threat of violence and harm to the woman as a valid defense. Despite the jurisdiction or whether it is a battered woman's case, the keys to proving self-defense are necessity, immediacy, and gravity. You have to prove there is some type of grave danger, death or serious bodily harm. You have to prove it was immediate and there was no other option, making it necessary to fight back. Link to original article

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