Articles Posted in Car Wreck

dented side fenderWhen it comes to injuries on the job, knowing whether you are limited to pursuing worker’s compensation benefits or whether you can bring a civil claim against your employer to recover damages can be confusing. At Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C., our knowledgeable Louisiana car crash lawyers have counseled numerous victims about their right to compensation, and we are standing by to assist you. A recent appellate opinion discusses the application of rules regarding whether an injured worker can bring a civil claim against an employer.

The plaintiff and another coworker worked for the City of Shreveport in the Airfield Maintenance Division. One afternoon shortly before 5 pm, the coworker backed a city-owned vehicle into the rear bumper of the plaintiff’s personal automobile. The area where the accident took place was surrounded with barbed-wire fencing and marked with a Restricted sign. A written report was prepared by an airfield employee that day, and the plaintiff went to the hospital for examination.

Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff filed a damages lawsuit against the City of Shreveport, the coworker, and the coworker’s insurance company. After a series of motions and rulings, the trial court determined that the plaintiff’s injury occurred during the course and scope of her employment. In reaching this conclusion, the lower court noted that the accident occurred during the plaintiff’s hours of employment in an area that was not open to the general public and that the plaintiff was technically still on duty at the time of the crash. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, and the plaintiff appealed.

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empty suburb drivewayThere are many complicated issues that can arise in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. When the driver who causes the accident is working at the time of the crash, you may be entitled to recover damages from his or her employer based on a doctrine called vicarious liability. A seasoned Louisiana auto accident lawyer can assist you in determining whether this doctrine may apply to your claim. The sooner you understand which parties to include in the lawsuit, the better. A recent Louisiana appellate opinion discusses this doctrine and the complex issues that it can involve.

The background facts of the case are as follows. The defendant driver was turning into his driveway when he struck a six-year-old child. Unfortunately, the child did not survive the accident. The child’s parents filed a wrongful death action against the defendant driver, seeking a variety of items in compensation. The parents also named the defendant’s employer as a defendant in the action, claiming that the vehicle the defendant driver was driving at the time of the crash was covered by the employer’s insurance policy.

The employer and its insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the defendant driver was not working in the course and scope of his job when the accident happened and that they could not be held liable as a result. For an employer to be held liable for the tortious acts of an employee, the employee must be performing his or her usual job duties and acting with the authority of the employer.

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https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/images/blf-badge-2018.jpgNov. 1, 2017 –U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, for the eighth consecutive year, the “Best Law Firms” rankings include the Baton Rouge, Louisiana injury law firm of Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C., this year in the practice areas of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs (T1) and Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs (T2).
Firms included in the 2018 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. “U.S. News has decades of experience evaluating key institutions in society—from colleges to hospitals,” says Tim Smart, executive editor at U.S. News. “Law firms perform a vital role in American life, and ranking them is a key extension of our overall mission to helps individuals and companies alike make important life decisions.”
The 2018 rankings are based on the highest number of participating firms and highest number of client ballots on record. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top 4 percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. Over 13,000 attorneys provided more than 1,000,000 law firm assessments, and over 7,500 clients provided more than 65,000 evaluations.  Kirk A. Guidry, Randy A. Piedrahita, and B. Scott Andrews are all recognized in The Best Lawyers in America.

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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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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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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xray of backIn a recent case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the plaintiff appealed a jury verdict awarding $3,719.20 in her favor. The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was sitting in the front seat of a vehicle driven by another woman when it was rear-ended by a car operated by the defendant. The plaintiff testified at trial that the vehicle was stopped at a red light at the time of the impact. The defendant testified that her vehicle was also stopped in traffic and that when the traffic started to move, she released the brake and collided with the car in front of her vehicle.

The police responded to the incident and generated a police report. An ambulance was also called but was ultimately unnecessary. The driver of the vehicle in which the plaintiff was riding transported the plaintiff to the hospital, stopping at the plaintiff’s residence to obtain her identification along the way. At trial, the plaintiff testified that she experienced neck and back pain immediately after the impact, which she reported during an examination at the hospital.

When offered pain medication in the emergency room, the plaintiff said she did not need it because she was already taking pain medication for a preexisting chronic back condition. The plaintiff had been treated for low back pain since she was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 12. She underwent a surgery to place a rod in her back, which later broke, requiring a second surgery. In that same year, the plaintiff was involved in a car collision, resulting in injuries to her neck. In 2008, the plaintiff also experienced a slip and fall accident, and a CT of her lumbar spine taken in 2009 showed a protrusion and disc bulge.

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