Articles Posted in Pain And Suffering Claims

back pain lawsuitAn employee suffering an injury at work can be concerning for both the employee and employer. This concern can be increased when the injury sustained at work is an aggravation of a previous injury. However, as one Louisiana individual discovered, providing solid evidence backing your workers’ compensation claim can be critical to the lawsuit.

Mrs. Alexander worked as an administrative assistant at Stupp Bros in Baton Rouge. On February 12th, 2015, Mrs. Alexander was asked to order toner for the printer. Mrs. Alexander had to obtain the serial number from the back of the printer to collect toner and kneel down to acquire the serial number. While kneeling down and pulling the printer off the wall, Mrs. Alexander felt a tear on her back. Mrs. Alexander fell over and was transported Mrs. Alexander to Prime Medical with some assistance.

While at Prime Medical, Mrs. Alexander was diagnosed with a lower back strain, given over-the-counter medications, and was given a release to return to work. Mrs. Alexander complained about pain and said she had undergone two previous back surgeries while visiting Prime Medical. Four days after the accident, Mrs. Alexander went to the emergency room at Lane Regional Medical Center. An M.R.I. performed on Mrs. Alexander revealed several issues involving a disc in her back.

elevator lawsuit louisianaMost court cases do not proceed to actual trial. In the context of criminal cases, the defendants often accept plea deals. In the context of civil cases, however, parties often settle or the case is simply dismissed through motion practice.

For a plaintiff to succeed in a civil case, he or she must show that there are facts that can prove his or her claim. If there are no such facts, then he or she cannot prove his claim, thus rendering a trial unnecessary. In cases where the plaintiff does not have facts to support his or her claim, the opposing party often files a motion for summary judgment in order to dismiss the claim. 

Patricia Bowen worked at the Earl K. Long Medical Center (“EKL”) located in Baton Rouge. On October 10, 2012, Bowen suffered serious injuries at work when the elevator she used dropped and went up abruptly as she exited it. On October 9, 2013,  Bowen filed a lawsuit against EKL, alleging that EKL was negligent for not performing proper maintenance or maintaining preventive maintenance on its elevators.

forklift accident lawyerWhat may seem like a simple worker’s compensation claim can turn into a surprisingly complicated dispute over the nature of the injury and the payment of benefits. For many years, Reginald Crockerham worked as a forklift operator for Weyerhaeuser Holden Wood Products in Tangipahoa Parish. After almost two years of lower back injuries caused by the forklift’s bad tires, suspension, and seating, Crockerham underwent discectomy surgery and a two-level fusion.

Crockerham filed a claim for benefits with the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC). The OWC found that Crockerham proved that he suffered a work-related accident within the scope of his employment with Weyerhaeuser and awarded him temporary total disability (TTD) benefits as well as past and future medical expenses. Weyerhaeuser appealed to Louisiana’s Court of Appeal for the First Circuit.

Weyerhaeuser argued that Crockerham’s injury did not meet the legal definition of “accident” under state law. In a workers’ compensation case, the claimant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that an accident occurred on the job and harm came from it. An “accident” is an unforeseeable event that occurs suddenly — with or without human fault — and directly causes an injury. The injury must be more than slow deterioration or gradual weakening. La. R.S. 23:1201

abandoned school bus lawsuitHow much of an award or compensation could a parent expect when a school board is found liable for inflicting trauma on a child? A trauma to a child would have a profound effect on the parent as well as the child. Is it not reasonable to expect the school board to pay for the emotional damages the parent suffered? Unfortunately for a Baton Rouge mother, her failure to include in her written pleadings a claim for general damages resulted in a finding of no damages despite trial testimony supporting her emotional distress. A superior lawyer always includes all possible claims in written pleadings to avoid this unfortunate outcome.   

Demondre Morgan was a kindergartener at Westminster Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when he fell asleep on his school bus one September afternoon. After the route was complete, the school bus driver parked and locked her bus without noticing little Demondre. Demondre’s mother, Shunquita Morgan, was waiting for her son at the school bus stop when the bus never arrived. Meanwhile, Demondre awoke to find himself on the bus alone, started to cry, and was heard by two passers-by who rescued him from the bus.  Morgan had reported Demondre missing to the police during this interval, and Demondre was returned to his mother about two hours after his normal drop-off time.  

Morgan filed a lawsuit against the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (“School Board”).  Her pleadings included damages for her son as well as for economic loss for herself due to Demondre’s fears about riding the bus. She did not include a request for any other damages such as emotional distress for herself. The School Board admitted liability. The trial court awarded a total of $4,184.00 in medical and general damages for Demondre. Morgan was not awarded any damages because she did not present any evidence of economic loss and her attorney only sought emotional distress damages at the very end of the trial.  The trial court ruled that the pleadings had not been expanded to include emotional distress damages for Morgan.  

slip fall lawsuit louisianaThe following scenario is not uncommon. Person enters restaurant without incident.  Same person exits restaurant, fails to notice the one-step curb just beyond the door, falls, gets injured, and files a lawsuit against the restaurant.  When is a restaurant owner responsible for such an incident? A recent case out of Baton Rouge explored this question and provided useful guidelines for owners and patrons alike.  

Debra Williams was exiting Walk-On’s, a restaurant in Baton Rouge, when she fell from the sidewalk curb to the parking lot.  Williams was talking with a group of people when she fell and claims she did not see there was a step down. Williams sustained injuries from her fall and filed a lawsuit against Walk-On’s and its insurance company, Liberty Mutual. In support of her petition, Williams attached the affidavit of a forensic architect who stated the curb area did not contain any warnings or different paint color. The architect also cited numerous building codes but failed to demonstrate how the codes were applicable to the Walk-On’s curb. The trial court found that the architect’s affidavit did not factually support Williams’s claim and was unpersuasive. The trial court dismissed the case and an appeal followed.  

In Louisiana, a merchant owes a duty to persons using their premises to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. La. R.S. 9:2800.6(A).  An injured party must prove that the condition causing the injury posed a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm and the merchant had actual or constructive notice of the danger but failed to exercise care in removing the danger. See Dupas v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Ins. Co., 762 So.2d 127 (La. Ct. App. 2000). In determining whether a condition is unreasonably dangerous, a court essentially will decide whether the social utility and value of the potential danger will outweigh and justify the potential harm to others. See Reed v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 708 So.2d 362 (La. 1998). Moreover, if a condition is deemed “open and obvious” it will not be deemed to present an unreasonable risk of harm. No legal duty is owed when the condition encountered is obvious and apparent to all. See  Moore v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 186 So.3d 135 (La. Ct. App. 2015).  

bar fight lawsuit louisianaWe all try our best to avoid trouble, but sometimes fights happen. It may be best to avoid a brawl if you see one occurring. However, when you see your friend in a bind, human nature kicks in, and before you know it, you’re in an altercation that you never signed up for. If you are injured in a fight, proceed carefully when suing the party that caused your injuries. Ryan Martinez learned this lesson the hard way following the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal ruling in the following case.

Martinez intervened in an altercation between his friend and the defendant, Trevor Wilson, at Chevy’s nightclub in Hammond. (“Chevy’s). During the fight, Wilson allegedly attacked Martinez, and Martinez stated that the strike resulted in a mandible fracture. Martinez, after that, sued to recover damages, listing Wilson, Chevy, and their insurers as defendants and asserting Wilson’s liability for battery. The trial court entered a preliminary default against Wilson, as he was absent from court and had not filed a response to the petition. 

Two years later, the trial court conducted a hearing to confirm the default judgment. Although Wilson did not appear at the hearing, Martinez submitted various items as evidence, such as a smoothie receipt and various uncertified medical records. As a result, the trial court signed the judgment finding Martinez entitled to collect $110,128.66 in personal injury damages and medical expenses from Wilson. Wilson promptly appealed the trial court’s decision awarding Martinez the previously noted damages.

Uninsured Motor Coverage Post
Car accidents are scary. Whether any parties are injured or not, dealing with the insurance company for vehicle damage or personal injury is not an enjoyable activity for the general public. The situation is even less enjoyable when the person dealing with the insurance company is not the policyholder.

 In March 2007, Brian Duplichan’s daughter and the mother of his daughter were passengers in a car driven by Beverly Hooper. Although his daughter, Kadie, survived the accident, her mother, Sarah, did not. Both Sarah and Kadie lived with Sarah’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Reeves. Duplichan brought a lawsuit against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance for recovery of damages.

 Kadie and her mother were riding with Beverly Hooper when Hooper swerved off the road into a culvert. These facts are not disputed—it’s the aftermath of the accident that put Spears’ mother—Mary Reeves—and Duplichan through the wringer. 

assorted-cooked-foods-inside-food-warmers-2291367-1024x683How often do you go through the buffet line at your local supermarket? Next time, you might want to think twice before digging in to your lunch.

On June 14, 2014, Cynthia Small entered Rouse’s Market hoping to enjoy a meal there. After purchasing items of prepared food from Rouse’s buffet, Ms. Small tried to enjoy her meal, but instead found a human fingernail hidden within. Ms. Small then brought a lawsuit against Rouse, claiming that she suffered from nausea, vomiting, and mental anguish on account of Rouse’s negligence. The lower court held a bench trial, which determined that Rouse’s was at fault. The court also awarded damages to Ms. Small in the amount of $2,500.00. Rouse’s appealed that decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the trial court erred. 

The Supreme Court of Louisiana has held in cases similar to this that an analysis looking to risk and duty should be applied. The Court stated that a food provider owes a duty of care to behave like a reasonable person who is knowledgeable about cooking and preparing food. Porteous v. St. Ann’s Cafe & Deli, 713 So.2d 454, 457 (La. 1998). On appeal, the Court must determine if the lower court erred by finding that Rouse’s breached this duty of care.

grocery-cart-with-item-1005638-768x1024Dollar stores carry a wide variety of merchandise, and stacking these items on shelves saves space. When stocking, employees should always take reasonable care to stack items in a safe manner so they do not fall off the shelf and potentially injure shoppers. For one Slidell man, however, an everyday grocery trip to Dollar General turned into a 4-year, $50,000 lawsuit.

Charles Frazier went to Dollar General one August day to buy a quart of oil; however, when he went to grab the bottle, plastic tote lids on the shelf above him slid off, bumped him in the neck, and caused him to fall onto one knee. After getting up, he reported the incident to a store manager. Then, nearly a year later, he sued Dollar General for $50,000 in injuries, claiming that he suffered physical pain, mental anguish, medical expenses, and lost wages. According to his lawsuit, Dollar General was negligent in allowing its merchandise to fall off the shelf and onto customers.

These types of lawsuits are appropriately known as falling merchandise cases, and the statute that governs ensuing negligence claims is La. R.S.9:2800.6(A). The Louisiana law provides that a merchant, like Dollar General, must use “a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions.” When brought to trial, the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court of Louisiana ruled in favor of Mr. Frazier, but applied Section B of this statute. This section, instead of requiring an injured party to show that a hazardous condition existed, only requires a showing that the “condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm.” La. R.S.9:2800.6(B). The defendant, Dollar General, appealed this decision to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal.

camera-event-live-settings-66134-1024x683No one wants to be held liable for the injuries of another. Wet floor signs, warning tags, and regular inspections are all ways we provide notice to others of hazardous conditions. Sometimes, though, when a hazard is unexpected or has never presented itself as a potential risk of harm, liability is inevitable. The question then becomes, what is the cost?

On December 14, 2010 Vicki Badeaux (“Badeaux”) arrived at the set for an informational video that was to be filmed by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (“LDED”). Badeaux was scheduled to act in the video and brought several outfits to the set for the crew to pick one for her to wear. James Dupree (“Dupree”), the LDED Fast Start Department Manager wanted to review the script with Badeaux before filming, so he instructed her to hang her clothes on a nearby C-stand, a general purpose stand that was kept on the set. When Badeaux tried to hang her clothes on the C-stand, it fell and hit the right side of her head. Badeaux declined medical assistance and ended up being able to act in the video that day. However, two weeks later, Badeaux began to feel sharp pain in her right temple. Almost a year after the incident, in December of 2011, she filed a personal injury lawsuit against LDED in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court for East Baton Rouge Parish.

At the end of the case, the District Court found that both parties were at fault for the 2010 incident, with LDED 75% at fault for Badeaux’s damages and Badeaux 25% at fault. It was held that Badeaux suffered $41,655 in general damages—damages that cannot be calculated with relative certainty, such as mental or physical pain or suffering, inconvenience, loss of gratification or intellectual or physical enjoyment, or other losses of daily life. Mack v. Imperial Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., 167 So. 3d 691 (La. App. 2014). With the general damages total and allocations of fault, the District Court held that LDED was liable to Badeaux for 75% of her total damages, plus interest, therefore owing her $37,500 and court costs. LDED appealed and the Court of Appeal for the First Circuit determined it would review the District Court’s finding of general damages, as well as its overall holding of LDED’s liability to Badeaux.

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