According to an article on the townwalk.com, 28 year old Deborah Parker of Elizabeth was killed in a single vehicle accident on the morning of February 18th. According to state police, the crash occurred at the Rapides-Allen parish line at about 7:30 in the morning. Jason B. Mancil, driving a 2004 PT Cruiser, lost control of his vehicle and ran off the left side of the road, hitting a tree. Both Mancil and his passenger, Parker, were not wearing seatbelts. Mancil suffered only minor injuries while Parker was pronounced dead after being taken to Oakdale Hospital. The case is still under investigation, but Mancil has been cited for careless operation.
A situation like this one where a passenger has been killed in a one vehicle automobile accident can create difficult legal issues due to the relationship between the parties (and their survivors).
Under Louisiana law, the person at fault for an auto accident, and their insurance company, is responsible the damages caused by the accident. A party not responsible should not suffer at all financially because of the accident. In addition, if someone has been killed due to another party’s negligent behavior, their survivors may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. To prove negligence the defendant must have owed a duty to the plaintiff, breached the duty, and the damage (in this case, death) must have naturally and forseeably resulted from the breach.
The situation is complicated even more if the injured party is found to have contributed to their own injury, as may be a possibility here. Because Ms. Parker was not wearing her seatbelt, a court of law may hold that she carried out actions that sufficiently led to her own injury. Louisiana is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that the damages each party can collect are reduced by their contribution to fault. For example, if someone is deemed to be fifty percent at fault for an accident, they will only be able to recover a damage award covering fifty percent of the damages (100 percent minus a 50 percent reduction).
Issues created in both car accident and wrongful death cases can be complex and confusing. Having an experienced attorney to protect your interests is essential.
Attorneys at the Berniard law firm are experts in this area of the law. Please call us if you’ve been in an accident. We’d be happy to discuss your options with you. Our attorneys can be reached Toll-Free at 1-866-574-8005.