Articles Posted in Car Accident

architecture-asian-bird-s-eye-view-186537-1024x768When you are injured in an accident, it may be tempting to file a lawsuit against anyone and everyone who might have been even slightly involved in the chain of events. The pain and frustration of an accident leads some injured parties to try and make as many people pay as possible. This instinct, while perhaps useful, needs to be tempered with some common sense and a firm understanding of the law. And, if multiple defendants are going to be sued, sufficient evidence has to be presented to show each party’s involvement and their negligence in the accident. 

After an accident on the I-20, Mrs. Passon filed a lawsuit against not only the negligent driver and their insurer, but also the City of Ruston (“City”), the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (“Parish”), and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (“DOTD”). Clearly, she thought the intersection was inherently dangerous. After settling with the driver and insurance company, those two parties were dropped from the lawsuit. The City, the Parish and DOTD all filed motions for summary judgment to dismiss the case. The Parish asserted they had no custody or control of the area in which the accident occurred, while DOTD and the City stated the intersection posed no unreasonable risk of harm. DOTD and the City supported their motion with expert reviews of the intersection showing all traffic signals were in compliance with local regulations. They also presented the original construction plans for the intersection. Mrs. Passon countered the motion with a statement by an expert witness and newspaper articles about the intersection in question. 

Summary judgment is when the court decides for one party without a full trial. When the court examines all the information submitted for trial up to that point, such as the complaint, the defendant’s answer, evidence found during discovery, affidavits, depositions, etc., and finds there is no genuine dispute of fact between the parties, summary judgment is entered. La. C.C.P. art. 966. And though Louisiana state law allows a plaintiff to sue a public entity under La. R.S. 9:2800, the trial court granted the summary judgment motions. 

car-buying-car-dealership-car-key-97079-1024x683In today’s world, consumers are faced with increasingly complicated contracts and waiver forms for even the simplest transactions. These contracts not only have the potential to confuse consumers, but create an opportunity for corporate exploitation. The following case illustrates an example of the courts reaffirming protections for consumers over companies. 

Andrea Weddborn and Rene Martinez (“Plaintiffs”) had two car insurance policies that covered their 2007 Toyota Camry. They purchased these policies from Affirmative Insurance Company (“Affirmative”) and National Insurance Company (“National”) (collectively referred to as “Defendants”). In December 2012, Plaintiffs were involved in an automobile accident in Orleans Parish of Louisiana. The accident was caused by an unidentified driver of another vehicle who changed lanes, struck Plaintiffs’ vehicle, and then fled the scene. 

Both Affirmative and National refused to compensate Plaintiffs for the damages suffered in the accident, arguing that Plaintiffs’ insurance policies did not include Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit against the insurance companies.

balance-commerce-composition-261658-1024x768Trials are an economic drain on society. Though they serve an important role in our society, they are costly and time-consuming. As a result, courts cannot take every case to trial, and the judicial system must be selective. Thus, sometimes a court makes a judgment without a trial because there would be no purpose for a trial. These judgments are called summary judgments. Below is a case in which the Trial Court granted summary judgment because one of the parties did not even have a valid legal claim.

In 2002, Kimberly Moe incurred injuries from a car accident in the Orleans Parish of Louisiana. She hired Allen Borne, Jr. to be her attorney. After four months, however, Ms. Moe decided to hire a different attorney, Darryl Carimi. Mr. Carimi filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at fault, Frank Bastian, and his insurer, Allstate. But Mr. Borne, despite no longer being Ms. Moe’s lawyer, asked Allstate to put his name on any settlement checks that were to be issued. While the litigation was ongoing, Ms. Moe died. Upon her death, her surviving spouse filed a wrongful death claim, but eventually settled with Mr. Bastian and Allstate. The settlement check did not have Mr. Borne’s name. In fact, though Mr. Borne had filed a claim against Allstate in order to receive some portion of the settlement, Allstate filed a motion for summary judgment. The Trial Court granted Allstate’s motion.

For an appellate court to consider whether a trial court properly granted a motion for summary judgment, the court must determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact and whether the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Citron v. Gentilly Carnival Club, Inc., 165 So.3d 304, 313 (La. Ct. App. 2015); La. C.C.P. art. 966 A(3). A party wishing to defeat a motion for summary judgment must show that there are sufficient facts the party can show at trial to support its claim. La. C.C.P. art. 966 C(2).

asphalt-auto-automobile-164634-1024x768Can a used car dealer be held liable in a car accident if they failed to check the car purchaser’s license and insurance? According to the Third Circuit Court of Appeal of Louisiana, the answer is no. Ms. Mire purchased a used vehicle from Blake’s Auto Sales in Broussard, Louisiana. Ms. Mire was able to purchase the vehicle by presenting a valid state ID, but was not required to provide proof of insurance or a valid driver’s license. On July 2014, Ms. Mire allegedly caused a car accident that resulted in the death of Mr. Anthony who worked for the Iberia Public Works Department and was installing a sign on the shoulder of the roadway.

Mr. Anthony’s widow filed suit and named Ms. Mire, as well as Blake’s Auto Sales. She claimed that the used car dealership was liable for failing to certify that Ms. Mire had a valid driver’s license and/or valid insurance coverage when she purchased the car. The car dealer filed a peremptory exception of no cause of action with was granted. The trial court dismissed her claims against the car dealer, with prejudice, and assessed the costs to Mrs. Anthony and she appealed.

Mrs. Anthony claims that the trial court erred when it determined that there was no cause of action against the used car dealer, and the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed. Louisiana law excludes used car dealers from the provisions of the statute unless the car deal is involved in obtaining the license for the vehicle to the customer. See La. R.S. 32:862(B)(2). Since there is no evidence that Blake’s provided this service for Ms. Mire, they fell under the exclusion in the statute. Furthermore, the Hodges decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that was cited doesn’t provide for remedy against the used car dealer so the trial court was correct in dismissing for no cause of action in regards to proof of insurance. See Hodges v. Taylor, 101 So.3d 445, 447 (La. 2012). Regarding the car dealer’s failure to verify Ms. Mire had a valid driver’s license, there is no statute or jurisprudence that requires a valid driver’s license in order to purchase a vehicle, so the trial court was correct to dismiss the case for no cause of action.

accident-action-auto-220996-1024x683Car accidents are always stressful, even if they are minor accidents and no one gets hurt. However, when you have multiple accidents within moments of each other and someone is seriously injured, or killed, things turn serious. And when things turn serious, you will want an experienced attorney at your side.

Mr. Davis was operating a tractor-trailer on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge when he noticed a collision that had recently occurred between a Ford pickup truck and a U.S. Xpress, Inc. tractor-trailer. There were no emergency personnel, signs, or warnings of the accident. As Davis came to a stop he was struck from behind by the defendant, Mr. Scott, who was driving a vehicle owned by Service Transport. After being struck by Scott, Davis’ vehicle thrust forward and hit the Ford pickup. Scott then exited his vehicle and found the driver of the pickup, Jonas Richmond, deceased near Davis’ trailer axle. 

Davis filed suit, naming Scott, Service Transport, and the insurer of Service Transport, National Interstate Insurance Company, as defendants. Davis claimed he was entitled to damages from mental anguish and emotional distress due to the death of Mr. Richmond. The defendants argued that Davis is not entitled to damages because he was not directly involved in the incident that caused the injury and resulting death of Mr. Richmond.

logistics-lorry-mountains-93398-1024x683A car accident is difficult to manage even when it is just a simple fender-bender. Imagine a situation where the accident is  so complex that multiple companies are involved, and those companies begin filing crossclaims amongst each other. The suit can quickly get bogged down and complicated. This is exactly what happened to a family driving in St. Tammany Parish.

Mrs. Tarrah Willis was driving in St. Tammany Parish while her husband, Bruce, was in the passenger seat and their three children were in the backseat. Behind the Willis family was a semi-truck owned by Frozen Water and driven by Mr. Johnson. As traffic slowed, Mr. Johnson failed to apply his brakes and violently struck the rear of the Willis vehicle. As a result, the Willis vehicle collided with the vehicle immediately in front of it. Mrs. Willis, her husband, and their three children were all severely injured due to the accident. Mr. and Mrs. Willis bring this suit to recover damages for themselves and for their children.

After filing suit against Frozen Water and the Insurer of Frozen Water, the Willis family filed an amendment to add Reddy Ice and its insurer as additional defendants. The Willis family claimed that Reddy Ice was vicariously liable due to the level of control Reddy Ice had over Frozen Water’s operations. In response, Reddy Ice filed a crossclaim against Frozen Water. Frozen Water filed an objection, but the trial court dismissed the objection. This appeal followed, with Frozen Water contending that Reddy Ice’s claim for defense and indemnity is premature.

adult-automotive-blur-13861-1024x683Many workers hope that, should they be injured on the job, financial protections are in place to ensure that they have plenty of time to recover before going back to work. The protections are often in the form of workers’ compensation payments. However, these protections will not protect an injured worker indefinitely. Should a doctor find that a worker is fit enough to return to the job, the employer has the right to fire an employee that refuses to return to work. It is important to understand when an injured worker is required to return to the job and what needs to be proven to extend the payment period.

Kerry West was involved in a car wreck while he was working for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (“S&WB”). Mr. West had worked for S&WB for approximately 25 years. After the accident, Mr. West did not return to work. This was under the advisement of his primary care physician, Dr. Waterman. Because it disagreed with Dr. Waterman’s opinion, S&WB sent Mr. West to another doctor for a second opinion, Dr. Steiner. In contrast to Dr. Waterman’s evaluation, Dr. Steiner found that Mr. West could return to work. However, this return was limited to light duty work. S&WB offered Mr. West an accommodating position of light duty work. Despite the new evaluation and the offer of light duty work, Mr. West refused to return to work in the new position. He relied on the opinion of his primary care physician, Dr. Waterman. In response to Mr. West’s refusal to go to work, S&WB held a pre-termination hearing. Mr. West was allowed to testify on his own behalf. He claimed that he was unable to return to work in any fashion. Mr. West was then fired by S&WB pursuant to Civil Service Rule IX § 1.1, as he was unwilling to return to work.

Mr. West then appealed his termination to the Civil Service Commission for the City of New Orleans. The Commission performed a hearing, where both Mr. West and S&WB testified and presented evidence on Mr. West’s ability to work, and his refusal to do so. Independently, the Commission found that S&WB had found sufficient cause to terminate Mr. West. It was this decision by the Commission that Mr. West appealed to the Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit.

19-Picture-05-22-2019-1024x658The strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk seems harmless enough. Yet, when negligently maintained, it can pose a danger to the public. The case that follows helps determine who should be liable for such a defect when an injury occurs on that piece of property.

Edward Cusimano was delivering pizzas in the Parish of Jefferson. He stopped in front of the defendant’s house to deliver the pie to the neighbors across the street. He got out of his car, walked around to the passenger side to get the pizza, and stepped in a hole and was injured. The hole was on the grassy stretch of land between the road and the sidewalk. Mr. Cusimano filed suit against the Parish of Jefferson and against the owners of the property that had the “grassy hole” in front of it. The defendant property owners claimed that the area where the hole was located was public property and therefore, they were not liable for injuries that occurred due to a defect on that land. The plaintiff, however, claimed that they had a duty to maintain the property, as they owned the property in question. Mr. Cusimano claimed they should have been aware of the hole’s existence, as they had maintained that part of their property for many years. Because they owned the property and should have known of the defect, Mr. Cusimano claimed the defendant landowners should be liable for his injury. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, as Mr. Cusimano failed to show that the defendants actually knew of or created the hole that caused his injuries. Mur. Cusimano appealed the trial court’s decision.

As the appeal was for the grant of summary judgment, the Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fifth Circuit would review the judgment from the beginning, or de novo. The Court of Appeal noted that “the party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of proof.” La. C.C.P. art. 966(C)(2). Therefore, Mr. Cusimano had the burden of showing that the defendants were liable for his injuries. 

asphalt-clouds-daylight-730662-1024x683Guardrails serve a life-saving function on our roads. Their placement on dangerous curves or in front of bodies of water can turn a deadly accident into a routine fender bender. Unfortunately, guardrails cannot be on every section of road. Local and state government agencies are only obligated to place them where they can prevent foreseeable accidents from happening. But, some situations are nearly impossible to predict, especially in cases where the vehicle was not following the road for a long period of time before the accident. With the help of an excellent attorney, St. Charles Parish was able to avoid liability to an injured driver after one of these unpredictable situations.

Dustin Schexnayder, Sr. was driving himself to work on Bonnet Carre Spillway Road (“Spillway Road”) in St. Charles Parish. While driving westbound, Mr. Schexnayder drove off Spillway Road and traveled about 126 feet in the grass next to the road. His car then went airborne and ran into a rock embankment. He could not remember any details of the accident and no witnesses were present.

The accident caused Mr. Schexnayder to become mentally incompetent. Therefore, he was represented by a curator in eventual lawsuit brought against St. Charles Parish, the St. Charles Parish President, the St. Charles Parish Council, the State of Louisiana, The United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USCOE”), and the United States of America. In the lawsuit, Mr. Schexnayder claimed that roads were missing proper shoulders and guardrails and because of the lack of these safety measures his accident turned out worse than it should have. Specifically, Mr. Schexnayder pointed to USCOE request for guardrails in the area of the accident which was denied by Parish employees.

clearing-desolation-destruction-4451-1024x683Accidents can come from the most unexpected of circumstances and result in life altering consequences. Here, a man suffered severe injuries while driving to the local convenience store to purchase a cup of coffee, when a rotten tree from a resident’s yard fell and struck his vehicle.

The victim, 52-year-old Rodney Caldwell, filed a lawsuit against property owner Michael Jones and ANPAC Insurance Company, Jones’ insurance provider. The lawsuit was filed in Lincoln Parish. Caldwell was awarded special and general damages totaling $12,186. However, after being awarded damages for his claim, Caldwell appealed the amount he received in general damages, which totaled $4,000, claiming that the amount was not sufficient compensation for his injuries. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to increase Caldwell’s amount in general damages to $15,000. 

Ordinarily, when assessing damages, the judge or jury have discretion to determine what is a sufficient amount to award the victim. La C.C. art. 2324.1. When determining general damages, the court takes into account the victim’s pain and suffering, loss of physical enjoyment, and other losses of life or lifestyle which cannot be definitively measured in monetary value. McGee v. A C and S, Inc., 933 So. 2d 770 (La. 2006)