18-year old Benjamin Guidry of Church Point was killed in a two vehicle crash on February 23rd. The crash occurred on I-10 just west of Rayne. The vehicle Guidry was in crossed the eastbound lanes, went through the median, crossed the westbound lanes, and struck several trees. Guidry was not wearing a seatbelt and the coroner pronounced him dead at the scene. Guidry was a passenger in a 2000 Honda Accord driven by 17-year old Brennen Sonnier, also of Church Point.
According to an article on Southern Louisiana’s CrowleyToday.com,
A 1998 Volkswagon driven by thirty-two year old Megan Collum of San Antonio, Texas was traveling in front of Sonnier. Sonnier approached Collum’s vehicle from the rear and struck the right rear corner of her car. After impact, Sonnier ran off of the road to the left and crossed the median, and westbound lanes of traffic. Sonnier’s vehicle struck several large trees on the north side of the interstate. Sonnier sustained moderate injures and was transported to a local area hospital. A second passenger in the vehicle, seventeen-year-old Aaron Richard of Branch, was critically injured in the crash. Collum was not injured in the crash.
This crash is currently under investigation. Toxicology samples were taken from both drivers and results are pending.
In Louisiana, the individual deemed to be at fault for an accident (and their insurance company) is responsible for all damages created by the accident. This includes property damage, the medical expenses of anyone who is injured, lost wages for time spent in recovery, and even compensation for pain and suffering. If someone has been killed in an accident their survivors may pursue a wrongful death claim against the at fault party.
Fault in an automobile accident can be difficult to determine and often requires extensive research and investigation. Typically, if a party acted negligently they will be found at fault. To prove negligence, you must prove that a duty was owed to the person injured, that duty was breached, and that injury was caused by the breach. Causation requires both cause in fact and proximate cause. Cause in fact means that the injury would not have occurred but for the breach of duty. Proximate cause goes even further and requires that the injury was forseeable, given the breach – that is, it naturally resulted from the breach.
Sometimes fault can be divided between multiple parties. For example, in this case the fault for the accident may have been in both drivers if Ms. Collum stopped abruptly and Mr. Sonnier was speeding. In addition, because Mr. Guidry was not wearing a seatbelt he may have shared some fault.
Louisiana is a pure comparative fault state. This means that courts take on the difficult and complicated task of apportioning fault, and then award damages accordingly. An injured parties’ damages are reduced according to how much they are determined to have been at fault for the accident. For example, if in this situation Mr. Sonnier (driver#1) brought a claim for his injuries against Ms. Collum (driver #2) and it was found that Sonnier was 20% at fault for the accident he would only be able to collect 80% of the damages because his award would be reduced by 20%.
Even seemingly clear cut auto accident cases can become very complex very quickly. For that reason, if you are injured in an accident it is absolutely vital that you have a thorough, detail-oriented attorney who truly understands this area of the law.
At the Berniard Law Firm we have extensive experience in these types of cases and would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your situation. Please call us Toll-Free 1-866-574-8005.