October Tragedy Demonstrates Complexities of Auto Accidents

As reported in the Ruston Daily Leader, a tragic three car accident killed 19 year old Francisco Javier Hernandez of Dubach last October. According to State Police records, Hernandez was driving a 2004 Mustang on La.33, lost control of his car, and crossed the center line into the path of a tractor-trailer. The two then collided head on. The driver of the tractor-trailer, 47 year old Joseph Battaglia of Shreveport, escaped the cab of his truck just before it burst into flames. Battaglia was taken to North Central Louisiana Medical Center with minor injuries
A third driver, 24 year old Haley Snipe of Ruston was behind Hernandez at the time of the crash but was able to drive off the road and into a telephone box. Snipe walked away without injuries. Although impairment is not suspected to be a factor in the accident, routine toxicology tests are pending.

In Louisiana, the party at fault for an automobile accident, and their insurance company, is responsible for the damages of the accident and innocent parties should not suffer any financial loss. Louisiana is a direct action state which means that insurance companies can be named directly in the lawsuit. This can sometimes benefit victims because judges and juries may be more apt to award damages when they know they will be paid by an insurance company rather than an individual.

If, as in this case, someone is killed in an accident, their survivors may collect damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Such damages can include the cost of medical care, lost future wages, compensation for pain and suffering or loss of companionship. Such cases may even include punitive damages meant to punish the party at fault. What damages may be collected depends on the relationship between the survivors and the individual who has died. For example, parents who have lost a child may be able to collect compensation for loss of companionship while a spouse could collect lost future wages.

Proving fault in an auto accident case typically requires proving negligence. This means that the injured party must prove that the defendant owed a duty to them, the duty was breached, and that their injuries naturally resulted from the breach.

Louisiana is different from some states in that in cases where fault for an accident lies with more than one party the damages are apportioned according to the level of fault for each party. For example, if someone is found to be 20% at fault for an accident, they may only collect 80% of the damages because their damages are reduced by the 20% they were responsible for. Louisiana is also unique in that the statute of limitations to bring a claim after an auto accident is only one year. After a year, injured parties are banned from bringing additional claims.

If you have been injured in an auto accident it is vital that you have an attorney who understands accident injury law as well as how Louisiana law may differ from other states.

The attorneys at the Berniard Law Firm have extensive experience protecting accident victims and will work hard for your rights. Please give us a call and we would be happy to discuss your case with you. You can contact us Toll-Free at 1-866-574-8005.