Narcotics Suspected in Leesville Crash: Legal Implications of Impaired Driving

John C. Elliott, 26, of Zavalla, Texas was driving a 1999 GMC pickup east on LA.8 and he lost control while passing another vehicle in a curve. He collided with several trees before the truck stopped on La. 8 facing the other direction. Elliot was injured seriously and taken to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. There were two passengers in the car.

As reported in the Leesville Daily Leader

His two passengers,19-year-old Susie Dixon and an infant, both of Zavalla, Texas, suffered minor injuries and were transported to Byrd Regional Hospital.

Police believe Elliott was impaired by narcotics. He was charged with driving while impaired, child endangerment, careless operation, no driver’s license, and passing in a no passing zone.

In addition to having to deal with criminal charges, Elliott will most likely face civil repercussions from the accident. In Louisiana the person found to be at fault for an automobile accident is financially responsible for all damages created by the accident. Damages that can be collected include compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. The situation as to who is at fault may be more complicated when there are two drivers who contribute to the accident. Because Louisiana is a comparative fault state if an injured party is found to be partially at fault for his accident, his damages are reduced by his percentage of fault.

Here, however, there was only one car involved in the accident. If the driver, is found to have acted negligently in causing the accident he will be found at fault and will be liable for injuries to his two passengers. Negligence means that the driver’s standard of care fell below that a reasonable person would be expected to exercise in the situation. Negligence has several elements, proving them requires research and an excellent understanding of the facts of the case. There are other places to look for support for a fault finding as well. For example, if a police report has been filed and there is any mention of a traffic law violation or careless driving it can show the driver was at fault.

A civil lawsuit is very different from criminal charges. A criminal case is filed by a state prosecutor and if convicted the defendant can face fines, incarceration, or other penalties. If a defendant is found guilty in a civil suit they must pay restitution to the plaintiff who was injured by their negligent action. In a civil lawsuit the plaintiff must prove by ‘preponderance of the evidence’ that the defendant committed the negligent action and that the action caused damages. Preponderance of the evidence means that the plaintiff’s version of the facts is more likely to be true than not true. This standard is lower than the standard required to be successful in a criminal case.

If you have been injured in a car accident and believe that your injuries were caused by the negligent action of another person, you may be entitled to be compensated. It is vital that you have a hardworking, dedicated attorney on your side.