According to a recent article in New Orleans’ Times Picayune, Kenneth Allain of Tailsheek pled guilty last month to charges that he permanently injured a 75 year old woman by ramming his car into her while under the influence of prescription drugs. The accident occurred on Louisiana 41 about three miles south of Louisiana 21 in northeastern Tammany Parish. The injured woman, Edythe Proze, was driving in front of Allain and stopped to make a left turn when Allain continued driving, slamming into the back of her vehicle. Troopers at the scene determined that Allain was intoxicated and took a blood sample.
Allain pled guilty to first degree vehicular negligent injuring and was sentenced to ten years in prison: five years for the crash (the max allowed under state law), and five years because he was a repeat offender.
Proze was taken from the scene with moderate injuries. She is now faced with “life-changing” injuries and is living in an assisted-living facility.
Intoxicated/drunk driving is incredibly dangerous and leads to hundreds of deadly accidents a year. In 2008 in Louisiana there were 912 traffic fatalities, 404 of which were alcohol related alone.
Intoxicated driving is taken very seriously in the eyes of the law as well. Not only do offenders like Allain face harsh criminal penalties, but their civil liabilities can be sizable. Typically someone who causes an accident is responsible for the damages created by the accident, which can include being forced to pay medical expenses of those injured, cover the cost of damaged property, and pay for wages that are lost while injured persons are recovering. In addition, when drugs or alcohol are involved, Louisiana law provides for even more damages. Punitive damages, or those meant to punish someone who cause an accident and are awarded in addition to other damages, may also be recovered.
Punitive damages can arise anytime driving has been impaired by some type of chemical substance, whether it be alcohol, narcotic drugs, or even medication prescribed by a physician. Under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.4, proving a claim for punitive damages requires proof of three elements:
1. The driver was intoxicated or had consumed enough of an intoxicating substance to lose control of his mental and physical faculties.
2. The intoxication was a cause in fact of the resulting injury. This means that but for the intoxication the resulting injury would not have occurred.
3. The driver had wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others.
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident caused by an impaired driver, you too may be entitled to collect punitive damages beyond medical expense, lost wages, and other ordinary damages collected in car accident cases. Proving not only the elements of your injury claim but requirements for punitive damages as well will require the help an experienced attorney well versed in this area of law and committed to conducting an intense factual investigation