Articles Posted in Car Accident

wall-clock-at-5-50-707582-1024x626A typical work schedule for a full-time employee consist of working seven to eight  hours a day. A customary practice among some employees involves leaving their place of employment a couple minutes before their official workday ends; however, what happens if you are injured during those last few minutes? Are you considered “on the clock?” Can you sue your employer for damages, or are you restricted to workers’ compensation as your only remedy? These are the questions that will be discussed in this article. 

In order to adequately address these issues, we must first define the terms of art. The term “damages” can be defined as financial relief for an injury sustained resulting from another person’s actions or inaction. In tort cases, damages are typically awarded to a party or parties. On the other hand, under Louisiana law, workers’ compensation can be defined as a compromise between the employee and employer or co-employee that allows the injured employee to recover benefits in accordance with the statute La. R.S. 23:1031. Workers’ Compensation will create immunity for the employer or co-employee from civil tort lawsuits, except when intentional acts causing the injury are present. Therefore, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for most injured employees under Louisiana law.

In this case, there are multiple parties. The first party is the plaintiff, Ms. Frazier, who is the injured employee seeking recovery. The second and third parties are the defendants, the City of Shreveport in the Airfield Maintenance Division (the employer), and Mr. Patterson (the co-employee). Both Ms. Frazier and Mr. Patterson are employees for the City of Shreveport in the Airfield Maintenance Division. Ms. Frazier’s work schedule consisted of eight hours a day, arriving at eight o’clock in the morning and leaving work at five o’clock in the afternoon. On January 22, 2013, Ms. Frazier engaged in the customary practice of leaving work shortly before 5:00 p.m. During that time, she proceeded to the employee parking lot and entered her car. Soon thereafter, Ms. Frazier was involved in a low-impact collision with Mr. Patterson.  Unbeknownst to Mr. Patterson, he backed a city-owned truck into the rear bumper of Ms. Frazier’s personal vehicle. Ms. Frazier was then taken to the hospital for an examination. 

roof_tile_roofs_house-1024x768If you are injured by someone in their course of employment, you can contact their employer for your compensation. But unfortunately, employers hire independent contractors to skirt around liability when their workers mess up. Below is a cautionary tale about how cascading levels of independent contractors left an injured plaintiff with limited sources for his injuries. 

Jarrett Lemmon was in an accident involving Jonathan De La Mora that resulted in damage and injury. Lemmon sued Jonathan for causing the accident. Later, Lemmon amended his suit to add Jonathan’s employer, Rosendo De La Mora, and RoofCorp USA, LLC, as responsible for the accident, claiming that Jonathan was working within the scope of his employment when he struck Lemmon. RoofCorp USA, LLC was the parent company that hired Rosendo De La Mora to install roofs as an independent contractor. Rosendo De La Mora then hired his son Jonathan to help install the roofs, separate from RoofCorp’s payroll. RoofCorp filed a motion for summary judgment at the district court level, claiming they could not be held responsible; it was granted.  Unhappy with the ruling, Lemmon appealed.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals was then tasked with deciding if the trial court properly awarded RoofCorp summary judgment. To do so, the appeals court must determine if Jonathan was an employee of Roofcorp at the time of the accident, and the court must decide if Jonathan was in the scope of his employment when the accident occurred. Lemmon claims that Jonathan was an employee of RoofCorp in the court of his employment when he hit Lemmon. 

parking_asphalt_parking_lot-1024x768In automobile accident cases, determining the drivers’ liability is often the core issue in determining damages. Unfortunately, who is at fault in a car accident in a parking lot can be tricky. The following lawsuit out of Lake Charles shows how courts weigh the evidence and come to conclusions in parking lot collisions. 

 The case stems from an automobile accident in a business parking lot. Johnnell Duncan alleged that she was traveling through an intersection and stopped at a “stop line” painted on the pavement another vehicle driven by Alexa Miller hit her.  

Duncan filed a lawsuit against Miller and her insurance company State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The two parties offered contrary views of evidence in the trial court. Miller claimed she was not speeding while turning, while Duncan didn’t stop at the stop line. In addition, Duncan alleged that Miller was holding a cell phone at the time of the accident, which Miller denied. The trial court ruled in favor of Duncan. Miller and State Farm appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeal, Third Circuit.

car_accident_accident_dig-1024x775Have you ever been involved in a car accident? It’s a scary experience that can have serious consequences. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. But what happens when multiple parties are involved? That’s the question at the heart of a case out of Louisiana, where a car accident resulted in a lawsuit between multiple parties. The case raises important questions about the legal responsibility of parties in a car accident and the process for resolving disputes in court.

Shaw, a construction engineering company, allegedly had a labor agreement with HKA Power. The parties were bound by the Master Supplemental Labor Services Agreement (“Agreement”), which originally existed between HKA Power and Energy Delivery Services but was acquired by Shaw after the agreement was in place. According to Shaw, HKA Power was required to name Shaw/EDS as an additional named insured on their insurance policies once Shaw acquired EDS. The issue arose after a truck accident where Gregory Beasley, an HKA Power employee, was driving a truck owned by Shaw and rear-ended another truck driven by Justin Parker, injuring him and his passenger Gregory Gumpert.

Parker and Gumpert filed a lawsuit against Shaw, Zurich (Shaw’s alleged liability insurer), and Beasley. Zurich and Shaw then filed a third-party claim against HKA Power, alleging Beasley was an HKA Power employee and performed services for Shaw under the Agreement. HKA Enterprises, Inc. was later added as a third-party defendant, with Zurich and Shaw alleging HKA Enterprises was the parent company or successor entity to HKA Power and breached the labor agreement by not naming Shaw/EDS as an additional named insured.

traffic_lights_green_light-1024x678Cities need to ensure public utilities are safe and properly installed. Road fixtures, such as traffic lights and speed limit signs, are an essential part of infrastructure. When road fixtures are installed negligently, the public needs to be able to hold the liable parties accountable. 

So who should be responsible if a road sign crashes into your car or a utility pole falls on you? It depends, and proving why an entity is liable requires a skilled lawyer familiar with the use of experts. In the following case, a plaintiff is seeking to hold the City of Baton Rouge responsible for damage to his car caused by a falling traffic signal. The case shows why the proper use of expert testimony is critical to ensuring both sides get their day in court. 

Randolph Barnett was driving in East Baton Rouge Parish when a school zone sign hanging overhead suddenly fell and crashed onto his windshield. Barnett sued the City of Baton Rouge and the Parish of East Baton Rouge via the Department of Public Works. The trial court granted summary judgment for the City, thereby dismissing the case. Barnett appealed this decision for review by the appellate court. 

1980s_style_tow_truck-1024x768Personal injury cases can lead to placing the blame on a party so the injured person can receive compensation for her injuries. But what happens after a traffic miscommunication if both sides blame the other for the wreck? Further, what if their insurance companies are unwilling to take all the blame and pay for the accident?  The only way to solve this dilemma is through a trial which can help apportion the fault of each side after weighing the evidence. The following case out of Marksville, Louisiana, shows how fault should be apportioned in a personal injury car accident. 

David Sampson was driving down the highway with a passenger, Mario Jacobs, with a second truck attached by a tow rope. The towed truck was being operated by Sandalon Jacobs. Florence Decuir was traveling toward an intersection with the highway where Sampson was driving. Believing she saw Sampson’s turn signal, Decuir turned onto the highway to make more space for the trucks. Allegedly, Decuir did not stop at the stop sign, so Sampson had to hit his brakes, causing the towed truck to rear-end the truck he was driving. Decuir denied seeing the accident. 

Sandalon and Jacobs filed a lawsuit alleging personal injury due to the accident and named several defendants. However, by the time the bench trial came around, State Farm was the only defendant remaining. The trial court apportioned 95% of the fault to Decuir and only 5% to Sampson. The trial court determined Sandalon and Jacobs suffered from soft tissue injuries. Sandalon was awarded $46,500.00 in general damages and $5,397.81 in past medical expenses. Jacobs was awarded $35,200 in general damages and $7,377.73 in past medical expenses. State Farm appealed the trial court decision.

highway_jam_baustelle_jam-1024x769As the weather gets nicer across the country, millions will travel to destinations near or far. Unfortunately, with this increase in traffic, accidents will occur due to the negligence of drivers. But what happens when the roadway’s integrity and safety come into question? Can the state be held liable for a highway’s defects? – The following lawsuit out of Morgan City, Louisiana, helps answer that question.

Mariah Schouest and Nicole Smith were good friends who lived and worked in Houma, Louisiana. They enjoyed going on long drives where they would listen to music and talk for fun. Typically, they would drive on Highway 90 toward New Orleans, but on this particular road trip, they decided to go West toward Morgan City. 

Schouest was driving while Smith was sitting in the passenger seat. Having been on the road for some time, Schouest stopped at the gas station on the left since it was getting dark. To get there, she slowed her vehicle, flicked on her turn signal, and began to turn into the median. Unfortunately, before she could turn, the car was hit from behind by a pickup truck driven by Joshua Landry. Smith sustained a severe brain injury as a result of the crash.

car_old_car_car-1024x683Driving while on the job can be a common occurrence for many employees. Sometimes you may even use your personal vehicle on a workplace errand. If so, beware; Accidents happen, and your employer’s insurance may not cover you. 

Kim Simon was struck by an uninsured motorist when driving her personal vehicle while doing her job. Simon’s vehicle was damaged, but her employer’s insurance would not pay to fix the damages. So Simon sued her employer’s insurance to get coverage for her personal vehicle. 

Her company’s insurance provider argued that Simon’s personal vehicle was not covered under the policy because it was not a “covered auto” defined by the policy. Simon argued that because the auto policy did not list any “covered autos.” Further, she felt Louisiana revised statute 22:1295(1)(e) required the insurance policy to cover her unlisted car. 

larimer_sheriff_reserve-1024x683This scenario is not hard to imagine: you are driving along the road, and you get into an accident; however, the other vehicle is not just a regular car owned by a private citizen, but it is a dump truck owned by the local government. When suing a local governmental entity such as a sanitation department or police station, the injured party may face obstacles in naming precise owners of public vehicles or following procedural rules. A recent case out of St. Charles Parish demonstrates what kinds of procedural obstacles a plaintiff may face. It also helps answer the question; what happens if I name the wrong defendant in a lawsuit? Is my case over?

On January 13, 2010, three prisoners in the custody of the St. Charles Parish Sheriffs were being transported in a vehicle owned by the Sheriff’s office when it collided with a dump truck. As a result of the accident, the three alleged they had suffered “severe and grievous injury to body and mind.” On January 12, 2011, they filed a lawsuit against the Parish of St. Charles as the owner of the dump truck, the driver of the dump truck, and its liability insurer. Then the plaintiffs added the Parish of St. Charles Sheriff’s Office as the owner of the prisoner transportation vehicle and the employer of the dump truck driver. 

After discovery, St. Charles Parish filed for a motion of summary judgment, asking the court to decide the case in their favor because the allegations were legally insufficient because the Parish did not own the dump truck. In support of its motion, the Parish attached a Certificate of Ownership, demonstrating the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s office owned the dump truck. The trial judge granted the motion. Subsequently, Greg Champagne, the Sheriff of St. Charles Parish, filed exceptions of prescription, which essentially asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit because the plaintiff did not file the case on time or failed to follow procedural rules. The court also granted the exceptions of prescription, and the plaintiffs appealed.   

texas_flag_texas_flag-1024x683Have you ever been involved in a car accident that potentially involved two states and wondered which state’s laws would govern your personal injury lawsuit? Say, you have an insurance policy issued in Texas, and you get into a car wreck in Louisiana. Which state’s laws will apply if you file a lawsuit related to the accident? The following case shows how Louisiana Courts use a choice of law analysis to determine what state laws should apply in these situations. 

Rafael Garces-Rodriguez and Julio Alonso (Rafels) were involved in a car accident when another motorist struck their car from behind. At the time of the accident, they were insured by Progressive County Mutual Insurance Company. Two years after the accident, Rafels filed a lawsuit against Progressive seeking compensation for their injuries and other damages sustained during the car accident. Progressive filed a motion with the court seeking dismissal of the case, asserting that Rafels rejected uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM coverage). 

Progressive argued that Texas law should apply in the case because the policies were issued in Texas. Under Texas law, rejection for UM coverage is required to be in writing. However, there are no other special procedures or particular language that needs to be used for the writing. See: Ortiz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 955 S.W.2d 353 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1997, pet. denied). A satisfactory rejection in Texas requires minimal effort by the insured. 

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