When it comes to being involved in an auto accident, recuperating from your injuries is only one of the many challenges that you may have to overcome. Even when fault is clearly established, it can take months or even years to obtain the compensation that you need and deserve from a careless driver and his or her insurance company. Although insurers are meant to provide coverage and protection, they often engage in delay, gamesmanship, and outright evasion when it comes time to pay a claim for damages. Retaining a seasoned Louisiana car accident lawyer from the beginning can help you recover the damages that you deserve in a timely and efficient fashion.

highwayIn a recent lawsuit, a husband and wife were driving when they were involved in a collision with another vehicle that was attempting to change lanes at the time the crash occurred. The wife suffered serious injuries to her neck, hip, and back that required substantial medical treatment, including orthopedic surgery. The doctor concluded that the woman incurred a labral tear in her hip.

The husband and wife eventually entered into a settlement agreement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, which agreed to pay the policy limit of $25,000. Since the woman had sustained damages that far exceeded this amount, she filed a personal injury claim with her auto insurance company, claiming benefits based on her underinsured motorist (UM) coverage policy. This policy had a limit of $30,000, but her insurance company did not agree to pay the benefits.

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insurance policy headerAlthough you may have a clear understanding of how another driver caused you to suffer injuries in a car accident, there may be substantial hurdles to overcome before you can obtain compensation from the other driver. One of the biggest impediments that you may face is your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. An experienced Louisiana car accident lawyer can mean the difference between a long, drawn-out ordeal with the insurers or an efficient and timely resolution of your claim. There are ways to use the legal system to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve, as a recent appellate opinion illustrates.

In the case, a woman and her son were driving along a major road in Baton Rouge in June 2015 when the vehicle in which they were riding was struck from behind at a stoplight. The driver brought a legal action against the individual driving the vehicle that struck her car, and her son joined in the action. The woman and the son also sued the defendant’s auto insurance company.

In response to the lawsuit, the insurer argued that it was not liable for the injuries that the mother and son sustained, noting that the policy it provided to its insured was financed through another company. The insurer then pointed out that the defendant had failed to stay current with his insurance premiums and that the insurer terminated the policy one week before the collision occurred.

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wet floor signWhen Louisiana residents suffer a serious accident, they often have many questions about how the legal process works and which steps are involved. One of the most important parts of a negligence lawsuit is discovery. This is the phase of the trial in which the parties are allowed to request information from the other side about the facts, legal assertions, and witnesses on which they plan to rely at trial. In some cases, the discovery process is relatively straightforward. In other cases, however, it can be very protracted and lead to disputes regarding whether a requested item of discovery is relevant and should be produced. If the parties do not agree about whether a requested document or piece of information is discoverable, they can involve the judge, who will then make a determination.

A recent lawsuit demonstrates why retaining a seasoned Louisiana slip and fall lawyer can help the discovery process run as smoothly as possible. The plaintiff was walking inside a hospital at the time the slip and fall occurred. He was traversing a sloped ramp that joined a skybridge when he slipped and then fell down. The man later brought a lawsuit against the hospital, seeking damages for the injuries that he sustained during the fall. In response to a set of Requests for Admission from the plaintiff, the hospital admitted that the plaintiff slipped on a puddle of water that had resulted from the custodian’s mopping before the plaintiff walked by and that the custodian did not leave the caution signs posted long enough.

Three years later, the hospital asked the court if it could change its response to the Requests for Admission, but the trial court declined the request. The plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment, which he won. The defendant then appealed, arguing that it should have been allowed to change its response to the Requests for Admission and that the court improperly granted the motion for partial summary judgment. The court again rejected the defendant’s attempt to change its responses and upheld the ruling for the plaintiff.

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big oak treeWhen it comes to evidence presented at trial, there are different categories. A witness to an accident is considered a layperson witness, while an accident reconstructionist, doctor, or lab technician can be classified as an expert witness. A recent Louisiana Court of Appeal opinion demonstrates how retaining an expert witness to testify on your behalf during trial can be vitally important to your claim. An expert witness can help you establish liability, or show that a defendant’s lack of appropriate conduct was the cause of the injuries that you sustained. An experienced Louisiana car accident lawyer can assist you with locating the appropriate expert witness.

In the case, the plaintiff was traveling as a passenger in a vehicle passing through Northeastern Louisiana when a thunderstorm erupted and caused serious roadway hazards. The driver was forced to take a detour, and while traversing that unanticipated pathway, a tree fell across the driver’s car. It crushed the roof, striking the passenger in the head. As a result of the blow, the passenger was rendered a quadriplegic.

The tree limb that fell onto the vehicle was from a tree located on a property line. Part of the tree was on a parcel of private property, while the remainder was on a city-owned parcel. The passenger filed suit against both the private parcel owner and the city. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that they did not know or have reason to know that there was a defect or issue with the tree. They alleged that the tree had looked fairly healthy, producing green foliage. In a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that there are no genuine issues of material fact, alleviating the need for a jury and allowing the court to decide the dispute as a matter of law. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

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ladder on roofMedical malpractice actions can arise in a variety of contexts. The following lawsuit demonstrates why it is essential to retain a seasoned Baton Rouge medical malpractice attorney the moment you think that you may be entitled to damages.

According to a recently published decision from the First Circuit of Louisiana, an employee was injured at work after he fell eight feet from the top of a ladder. The employee was brought to the emergency room promptly, where it was determined that he sustained injuries to his knee, hip, and elbow. The emergency room medical staff addressed his injuries, and he was discharged later that day. Shortly after his discharge, however, the hospital staff noticed that he may have suffered a hip fracture, and they recalled him to the facility, where they took additional x-rays of his elbow, which they had not x-rayed initially. The elbow laceration contained foreign material that the hospital failed to identify, and the infection contained flesh-eating bacteria. The employee nearly lost his life as a result of this aggressive infection. Although he was able to recover, the employee developed a chronic condition from the infection known as CIDP. This condition requires ongoing medical care. At the time the accident took place, the employee was 49 years old.

On review before a medical review panel, it was determined that the treating physician failed to use appropriate care when treating the employee’s injuries, but this failure was not the ultimate cause of his injuries. The doctor’s failure to order the x-ray did not change the fact that the wound was contaminated with flesh-eating bacteria. The employee and his wife filed a medical malpractice action against the physician, alleging that his malpractice caused them to incur $268,000 in expenses and that they would continue to incur financial expenses related to the malpractice.

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drinks on barAutomobile accidents are common in Louisiana, but for many victims, navigating the legal process and understanding how to protect your rights can be daunting. Seeking counsel from a seasoned Baton Rouge car accident lawyer can help you ensure that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

A recent Louisiana appellate opinion demonstrates how easily complexities arise in car accident cases. The facts of the case are as follows. The first motorist was driving southbound on Highway 52, followed by the second motorist. The second motorist attempted to make a left turn when a police cruiser driven by an officer entered the southbound lane and struck the first motorist’s vehicle head-on. The officer died as a result of the accident, and the first motorist suffered serious injuries. Evidence in the record showed that the second motorist had been drinking alcoholic beverages before being ejected from a local bar and that he was driving while under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. The record also showed that the officer was acting in the course and scope of employment when the crash happened.

The first motorist filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the sheriff and his insurance company. He also named the second motorist as a defendant, along with his insurance company. Shortly after filing his complaint, the plaintiff added a claim against the bar that had been serving the second motorist and its insurer. The plaintiff alleged that the bar should have known that the second motorist was likely to drive while intoxicated and that the bar engaged in spoliation of evidence by erasing surveillance footage from the day that the accident occurred.

public bus In a recent Louisiana appellate opinion, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal considered an issue involving an accident that occurred on a public bus. In October 2010, the plaintiff boarded a bus in New Orleans and took a seat in the priority seating area behind the bus operator. As the bus departed from the bus stop, it was traveling behind a black truck. Shortly thereafter, the black truck applied its brakes suddenly before executing a turn, and the bus operator stopped the bus quickly to prevent a collision with the truck. The plaintiff alleged that as a result of the sudden stopping, he was ejected from his seat, landing on the floor near the bus doorway. The plaintiff was then taken to the hospital, where he received medical treatment for his injuries.

Following the incident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the bus driver, the transit authority, and additional defendants associated with the incident. The bus authority admitted that the vehicles are equipped with video surveillance devices, but the authority refused to produce the tape recording of the incident. After a bench trial proceeding, which is a trial in which a judge takes the place of a jury, the court returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff against the transit authority. The trial court concluded that the preceding phantom vehicle was 30% at fault and that the transit authority bus driver was 70% at fault and awarded nearly $700,000 in total damages (reduced by the phantom driver’s 30% fault). The plaintiff and the transit authority appealed.

On review, the transit authority alleged that the trial court improperly held it liable for the plaintiff’s damages and that it held the transit authority to the same legal standard of care as a common carrier. Instead, the transit authority alleged that the standard of general negligence should have been applied and that under this theory, the court should have concluded that the bus driver’s conduct did not fall below a reasonable standard of care. Finally, the transit authority alleged that the plaintiff did not prove that his alleged shoulder and knee injuries were caused by the accident.

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truckaccident-200x300In the recent appellate court decision of Marable v. Empire Truck Sales of Louisiana, LLC, 2016-0867 (La. App. 4 Cir. 6/23/17), the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a $50 million general damage award in a products liability case for a 69 year-old plaintiff who suffered anoxic brain injury and other permanently disabling injuries requiring 24-hour care.  Plaintiff was injured when she lost her footing and became pinned underneath the two rear tires of an over-the-road tractor while running alongside the moving tractor attempting to turn the ignition key to shut off its engine.  After a six-day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding the manufacturer of the tractor 90% at fault for the unreasonably dangerous design of the tractor, which was a proximate cause of the accident.  The jury awarded nearly $11,500,000 for past and future medical expenses and $10,000,000 for past and future physical pain and suffering, $10,000,000 for past and future mental pain and suffering, $10,000,000 for past and future loss of enjoyment of life, and $10,000,000 for scarring and disfigurement.  The total verdict was for $51,448,174.77.

The manufacturer appealed, alleging that pursuant to La.R.S. 9:2800.56 of the Louisiana Product Liability Act (LPLA) the plaintiff had failed to prove: (a) that the tractor’s design was unreasonably dangerous because she presented no evidence that the manufacturer could have foreseen the accident, and (b) that the tractor’s design proximately caused her accident.

The court of appeal agreed with the jury’s finding that at the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s husband was performing the required pre-inspection of his tractor before leaving on his trip.  As specifically instructed to do in the manufacturer’s driver’s manual, the engine of the tractor was running while he was checking safety features on the outside of the vehicle.  The tractor was defective in design because it was not equipped with dual brakes on the rear drive axles – which were available and routinely used by the manufacturer on other models and would have stopped the tractor from moving suddenly, ultimately preventing this accident.

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exposed electrical wiresIn a recent opinion from the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, the court considered a utility company’s appeal of a jury verdict awarding the plaintiff damages in a wrongful death action. The background facts are as follows. The plaintiff was patronizing a bar in Baton Rouge in 2013 talking with a bar employee and a bar owner. The decedent was on the rooftop when he leaned against a parapet wall and reached out to grab a wire hanging approximately one foot away from the building. Roughly 8,000 volts of electricity flowed through the wire and transferred to the decedent’s body, causing his hand to catch on fire and burn off. The decedent died as a result of the incident.

An investigation revealed that the wire was placed too close to the building and that the placement violated the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). The decedent’s father initiated a wrongful death action against a number of defendants, including the utility company responsible for maintaining the wire. After the close of evidence, the jury returned a verdict apportioning 65 percent fault to the utility company and 35 percent fault to the decedent. The total wrongful death award to the father was $1.35 million. The jury also awarded expenses for funeral and burial costs.

The utility company admitted that the electrical line violated the NESC, but appealed, alleging that the trial court erred when it ruled that it owed the plaintiff a duty to disclose its negligence to the plaintiff after the accident. It also challenged the court’s decision to admit evidence that it described as prejudicial based on this alleged admission. The utility company claimed that these issues tainted the jury’s deliberation and the ultimate verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

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empty wooden stairsIn a recent opinion from the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, the plaintiff appealed a judgment from a trial court granting summary judgment on behalf of the defendant, a daycare center.  The plaintiff filed suit against the daycare center after she suffered an accident while picking up her minor son. The plaintiff was 32 weeks pregnant at the time the incident occurred. As the plaintiff was exiting the building, she was carrying her 18-month-old son and using her cell phone when she fell down stairs located at the entrance of the building. According to her petition for damages, her injuries included a fractured tibia and fibula. Her older child experienced bruising and a broken clavicle. Although no one witnessed the accident, people soon arrived to assist the plaintiff, and she was taken to the hospital.

In her petition, the plaintiff sought damages from the daycare center claiming that it was liable for failing to warn her of the dangerous nature of the stairs and for allowing the defective stairway to persist on its premises. In response to these allegations, the daycare center alleged that the plaintiff was comparatively at fault and that her decision against using the handrail while talking on the phone and holding her baby was the cause of her injuries.

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