Articles Posted in Car Accident

coins_currency_investment_insurance-1024x683Automobile insurance policies can help compensate you if you are injured in a car accident. However, it is essential to be aware of potential policy exclusions that limit what you are entitled to recover. This is especially true with uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”) insurance because an insurer is allowed to have exclusions, such as the exclusion of vehicles covered by the insurance policy. 

Easter McGee was riding in a car her nephew was driving. A wheel flew off, causing her nephew to crash the car into a tree, injuring McGee. Her nephew had liability and UM insurance through Allstate. Allstate paid McGee the liability policy limits. McGee released claims against her nephew but reserved her rights to pursue coverage under his UM policy. 

McGee subsequently filed a lawsuit against Allstate, claiming she was entitled to recover under the UM coverage because her damages exceeded the policy’s liability coverage limits.  Allstate filed a summary judgment motion, claiming McGee was not entitled to recover under the UM provisions because she had been injured in a one-car accident where the driver was at fault, and his liability insurance covered McGee. Further, the UM coverage excluded vehicles with liability coverage under the insurance policy. The trial court granted Allstate’s summary judgment motion. McGee appealed.

laocoon_statue_greek_vatican-1024x609If you prevail in a lawsuit, you might be entitled to various damages. One type of damages available in Louisiana is Lejeune damages, under La. C.C. art. 2315.6. Lejeune damages allow an individual to recover damages from the mental anguish of witnessing the injury of a third party. 

Louise Theresa Doty and her husband, Homer Doty, were at Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles, Louisiana. While on a crosswalk, Brittany Nicole Fontenot hit Mr. Doty. Ms. Doty heard him yell and saw him lying on the ground with severe injuries. Mrs. Doty filed a lawsuit against Fontenot, her insurer, GoAuto, and her under/uninsured motorist insurer, State Farm. Mrs. Doty claimed her Lejeune damages under her State Farm insurance policy was a separate “bodily injury.” As such, she claimed she was entitled to recover beyond the money State Farm had already paid her husband for his injuries. 

Mrs. Doty settled her claims against everyone besides State Farm. State Farm filed a summary judgment motion claiming it had exhausted its policy limits with his payment of $50,000 to Doty. Mrs. Doty claimed she was entitled to recover her Lejeune damages under a separate limit. After a trial, the court awarded Mrs. Doty $50,000 in general damages and a $25,000 penalty for State Farm’s failure to pay her claim within thirty days under La. R.S. 22:1892(B)(1), and her expenses. State Farm filed an appeal.

the_police_arrest_lego-1024x683In the world of litigation, there are often cases that raise questions about who should be held responsible for damages caused by certain events. Take the recent case of Christopher Blanchard, who claimed damages after his police car was hit by a stolen car. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, GoAuto Insurance Company and its insured, Demetrius J. Hicks, dismissing Blanchard’s claim for damages. The court ruled that Hicks, the vehicle’s owner, was not liable for the damages caused by an unknown thief who stole his truck and crashed it into Blanchard’s police car. To better understand how this came about, let us examine the facts and legal arguments of the case and explore the court’s reasoning for upholding the verdict.

The undisputed facts are as follows: Demetrius J. Hicks, a carpenter and subcontractor, parked his truck in front of a house he was inspecting, leaving the keys in the ignition and the engine running. Within minutes, an unknown thief stole the truck and drove off. Hicks tried to stop the thief but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the thief abandoned the truck behind Blanchard’s patrol car and fled on foot. The stolen truck collided with the police car, causing damage.

Blanchard filed a lawsuit against Hicks and GoAuto, the insurance company, seeking compensation for the accident. Hicks and GoAuto denied liability, claiming that Hicks’ truck had been stolen and the thief was responsible for the accident. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, dismissing Blanchard’s claims with prejudice.

vehicle_cargo_industry_1562094-1024x785Licensed and professional commercial truck drivers usually carry heavy materials on their journey. Keeping these materials secured for any type of roadway issue is paramount. But what happens when these large trucks roll over and you think the weight shift was due to faulty or improper packaging? The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals addresses the question as to whether there is enough evidence to bring a claim for a packaging malfunction that leaves you injured.

On January 17, 2014, Danny Barefoot exited the highway in his vehicle in Shreveport, Louisiana, lost control of his eighteen-wheeler truck, and rolled over. The exit rant was looped, and as he exited, the lumber he was carrying shifted, causing Barefoot to crash. Barefoot filed suit against Weyerhaeuser, claiming the company did not package the joists properly, causing the bands to break and the lumber to shift, which led to the truck rolling over.

Weyerhaeuser attempted to move for summary judgment. When a defendant moves for summary judgment, the plaintiff must make a positive showing of facts to support their claim. See La. R.S. 9:2800.6(A). In this instance, Barefoot would have to prove with enough evidence that Weyerhaeuser caused his injury from the truck rolling over.

car_accident_bellingham_fire-1024x683Ordinarily, when one is involved in an automobile accident, the injured party files a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.  When a person is involved in an accident with a co-worker in the course of their employment duties, however, the injured party may collect workers’ compensation instead. Can the injured employee “double-dip” and also collect under a Uninsured/underinsured motorist policy?  This was the issue in a recent case out of Delcambre, Louisiana.   

Annique Johnson, Wanda Theriot, and Emily Laester were employees of Le Bon Manger, Inc. While acting within the course and scope of their employment; the employees were in a car accident while Laester was driving.  Laester was at fault, and the employees sustained injuries.  Johnson and Theriot filed claims for workers’ compensation benefits and settled those claims.  Later, Johnson and Theriot (Plaintiffs) filed a civil lawsuit against their employer, Laester, and State Farm under separate policies for each party.  State Farm filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case because the Plaintiffs already collected under workers’ compensation law.  The plaintiffs appealed to the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal.       

Under Louisiana law, fellow employees have statutory immunity from lawsuits brought by co-employees for which workers’ compensation laws provide the sole remedy.  See La. R.S. 23:1032.  This lack of standing to bring a lawsuit automatically means there can be no lawsuit against the co-employee car insurance company.  See Hebert v. Clarendon Am. Ins. Co.  Essentially, the availability of workers’ compensation erases the existence of an uninsured/underinsured motorist and erases the availability of that coverage.  

texas_flag_texas_flag-1024x683It’s pretty common for large corporations to conduct business across multiple state lines. So, too, it’s expected that employees for these types of companies will also have connections with multiple states based on their employment with the corporation. In these situations determining which state and Court has jurisdiction over legal claims when such issues arise can become an incredibly fact-specific inquiry. This was the case for one Workers’ Compensation Judge (“WCJ”), who found that the Office of Workers’ Compensation (“OWC”) located in Lafayette, Louisiana had subject matter jurisdiction to decide the legal claims of a former Tyson-employed truck driver.

Frank Verret (“Mr. Verret”), a Louisiana resident, was hired as a long-haul truck driver for Tyson Foods, Inc. (“Tyson”) in 1999. Initially, he drove to a Tyson facility in Center, Texas, to apply for a position and later called to inquire about the status of his application from his home in Louisiana. During that phone call, Mr. Verret claimed that Tyson hired him for the long-haul truck driver position. Afterward, he drove back to Texas, picked up his truck, and began employment.

Years later, in 2015, while driving his Tyson truck through Oklahoma, Mr. Verret crashed into the median barrier. Mr. Verret was hospitalized and treated for his injuries in Oklahoma, then was sent to Texas for an employer-mandated drug screening before returning to Arkansas, where he had begun his route before the crash. A few months after the crash, a then-retired Mr. Verret filed a Disputed Claim for Compensation against Tyson.

inside_ambulance_ambulance_lighting-1024x576When medical emergencies strike, the rapid response of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) can mean the difference between life and death. However, the high-pressure nature of their role can also give rise to complex legal questions when outcomes take a tragic turn. Richard Miller’s case sheds light on the intricate landscape of EMT liability, illuminating the balance between legal protections afforded to these healthcare professionals and the pursuit of justice for patients and their families. It also helps answer the question: Can an emergency medical technician or their employer be held liable when things go wrong? 

Richard Miller was injured in a motorcycle crash. Following the crash, emergency medical technicians employed by Northshore Emergency Medical Service transported Miller to Riverside Medical Center, where he was found to be in critical condition. Northshore transported him there before contacting Louisiana Emergency Response Network, a clearinghouse used to determine which medical center can best provide for a patient. Because Riverside did not have the proper resources to treat Miller’s severe injuries, the emergency room doctor had to contact the Louisiana Emergency Response Network to determine where to transport him. While in transit to the new hospital, Miller’s condition worsened. Unfortunately, he passed away when he arrived at the new hospital. 

Miller’s estate and family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against numerous companies and individuals, including Northshore, the company that transported him to Riverside initially. Northshore filed a summary judgment motion claiming Northshore was not liable to Miller for his injuries. The evidence it provided included an affidavit from the Northshore paramedic, medical records, and deposition testimony. The trial court granted Northshore’s summary judgment motion and dismissed Miller’s case. Miller appealed. 

car_wrecked_accident_collision-1024x617To succeed in a lawsuit, it is not enough that your claim has merit. Rather, you must also comply with sometimes complex procedural requirements. These requirements include strict time limits in which you must file your claim. Otherwise, even if your claim has merit, it could be dismissed because of a peremptory exception of prescription. The following lawsuit involving bad faith insurance claims shows just how critical timely filing and proper crafting of a lawsuit are to preserve all of your claims. 

While Harold Fils was driving a vehicle owned by Bilfinger Salmis, his employer, he was hit by a vehicle driven by an uninsured motorist. Bilfinger’s uninsured motorist insurer was Starr Indemnity. Fils submitted a claim to Starr for his injuries and other damages. Starr paid Fils $45,000 but refused to make any additional payments due to Fils’s purported pre-existing conditions. 

Fils filed a lawsuit against Starr for additional payments. Fils claimed his medical expenses alone were over $45,000. He later amended his petition to claim Starr had acted in bad faith and sought penalties and attorney fees under La. R.S. 22:1973 and 22:1892. Starr filed a peremptory exception of prescription, claiming Fils’ bad faith claim was barred as it had been filed more than one year after he filed his lawsuit against them. The trial court ruled in favor of Starr and dismissed Fils’ bad faith claim. Fils appealed.

parade_festival_irish_parade-1024x683The vibrant spirit of Mardi Gras parades, with their kaleidoscope of colors and joyous revelry, often paints a picture of unadulterated celebration. Yet, beneath the surface of these festivities, unexpected tragedies can unfold, turning the jubilation into a legal labyrinth. Such was the case in Franklin, Louisiana, where a moment of revelry took a distressing turn as a float participant was tragically injured during a parade. What followed was a legal showdown, entangling federal regulations, contractual intricacies, and the question of liability. Amidst the sparkle and confetti, a courtroom drama unfolded, revealing the complex legal considerations surrounding the incident.

Troylond Wise was driving an 18-wheeler he owned but had leased to ACME Truck Line when he was involved in an accident during a parade. Before the accident occurred, Takisha Welch asked Wise to pull a truck for a Mardi Gras parade in Franklin, Louisiana. Welch paid $100 to Wise to use his tractor-trailer. On the parade day, Bridget Jackson was riding in the floating Wise was pulling. When Wise tried to turn right, Jackson was thrown from the float. Wise then ran over her twice. 

Jackson filed a lawsuit against Wise, ACME, and First Guard Insurance Company, the tractor-trailer’s liability insurer. Franklin subsequently settled with First Guard, so the claims against it were dismissed. Before the accident, Wise had a five-year lease with ACME, whereby Wise leased ACME his tractor-trailer. 

statues_amiens_cathedral_pic5-1024x768At the end of a trial, you are focused on whether or not the Judge ruled in your favor. However, it is not enough to only know who won the case, especially if you are considering an appeal. This case indicates the importance of paying attention not only to the outcome but also to the language in the final judgment the trial court issues. Louisiana has strict requirements for language that must be included in a final judgment for it to be valid so that an appellate court can hear the appeal. 

While Christopher Causey Jr. and Priscilla Hopkins were riding on a New Orleans Regional Transit Authority bus, they were allegedly injured following an incident involving hard braking. Their parents filed a lawsuit against the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. Following a bench trial, the court entered a judgment in favor of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. The written judgment stated the plaintiffs had not provided sufficient evidence that the defendant had been negligent and caused the injuries. Notably, the judgment did not name any parties in the lawsuit but used the general terms, plaintiff and defendant. Additionally, the judgment did not explicitly state the relief the trial court granted or denied.

Before an appellate court in Louisiana can hear an appeal, it must first determine if there is a valid final judgment. See Urquhart v. Spencer. For a judgment to be a valid final judgment, it must include decretal language. That means the decision must be clearly and explicitly spelled out in the judgment and be precise and definite. It must also include the name of the party in whose favor the judgment is ordered and any relief granted or denied.  See Bd. of Supervisors of Louisiana State Univ. v. Mid City Holdings, LLC

Contact Information