Articles Posted in Louisiana Personal Injury Law

bag of riceThere are many different ways that you can become injured on another person’s property, but one of the most common examples is a slip and fall incident. As seasoned Louisiana premises liability lawyers, we have helped many victims assert their right to compensation after a property owner failed to exercise appropriate care in keeping its premises safe.

In a recent appellate opinion, a plaintiff appealed from a motion dismissing his slip and fall personal injury lawsuit against a grocery store operator. According to his complaint, the plaintiff slipped on spilled rice in the supermarket. The defendant answered the complaint, denying the allegations, and later moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff had not proven that the defendant had actual notice or constructive notice that the rice had spilled. The defendant also contended that the record lacked any evidence that the defendant failed to use reasonable care.

The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff filed a brief opposing the motion but did not attach any evidence or supporting affidavits. After the hearing, the trial court granted the motion, thereby dismissing the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the lower court erred in granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Continue reading

forklift in warehouseThe Louisiana workers’ compensation system is designed to provide benefits to individuals who are injured on the job or as a result of their job duties. In exchange for these benefits, workers give up their right to sue an employer in civil court for damages, except for a few very limited exceptions. As Louisiana work accident lawyers, we have substantial experience assisting people with determining whether their injury falls into one of these categories and whether they are limited to seeking recourse through the workers’ compensation system.

In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered the application of workers’ compensation rules to a minor who was injured. The employer was a party rental business that provides inflatable bounce houses and other items for social events. The injured minor was 15 years old at the time he suffered an injury while working for the employer. The employer classified the minor as a helper, and the minor testified during a proceeding that he was never informed that he would require a certificate to work for the employer because of his age. The minor’s job duties consisted primarily of cleaning and delivering the inflatables and picking them up from the rental locations.

According to the minor, he suffered an injury while a coworker was using a forklift to access one of the inflatables that was located on a pallet. The minor climbed on top of the inflatable to provide it with balance, while the coworker lowered the inflatable on the pallet by using the forklift. The minor testified that this was a normal practice. As the inflatable was being lowered, the minor fell to the ground, and the inflatable fell onto his back.

Continue reading

Dangerous facilities and buildings are a leading cause of injury for Louisiana residents. As dedicated personal injury attorneys, our seasoned team of professionals has assisted many victims with bringing a claim against a landowner who failed to maintain his or her property in a safe and orderly fashion. In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered a Louisiana premises liability action that involved Hurricane Isaac.hurricane

In 2012, the hurricane caused serious damage to LaPlace. On the date that the hurricane wreaked havoc, the plaintiff and her boyfriend and their two children were staying at a hotel in the town. Before the hurricane hit, the plaintiff sent her children to stay at a safe location, while she and her boyfriend remained at the hotel. At around 5 am, the hurricane moved over the hotel, and the plaintiff was awakened by the noise. The ceiling and wall of their room collapsed and fell inward. She was then escorted to the hallway and taken to the emergency room.

The owner of the hotel later discovered that there was a locked door at the end of the hallway that had suffered damage. The door buckled, and the lock was dangling. The wind caused a concrete block wall in that area of the building to collapse. The blocks fell onto the joists above the room in which the plaintiff was staying, causing the wall and the ceiling to collapse and land on top of her.

Continue reading

Yellow School BusesLosing a child is one of the most horrific experiences that a parent can face in his or her lifetime. As experienced Louisiana wrongful death lawyers, we have assisted many individuals with exploring their legal rights and options after a loss of this nature.  In a recent appellate case, the court considered a case in which a six-year-old child died as a result of a school bus crash in Youngsville, Louisiana. When the victim attempted to board the school bus, the door shut on his arm. He was not able to free his arm from the door, and he tripped and fell. Then, as the bus departed, it ran over him. The child was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital. The parents of the victim filed separate claims against the driver of the school bus, the insurance companies, and the Lafayette Parish School Board.

One insurer settled the mother’s claim for $275,000.  Thereafter, the trial court granted one of the defendant insurance companies’ partial motion for summary judgment and limited the damages claim for both of the victim’s parents to a single amount of $500,000, pursuant to the cap on damages afforded the political subdivision and its insurers pursuant to the Louisiana Governmental Claims Act, La. R.S. 13:5106.  Many more motions were filed, trying to adjudicate whether the damages cap applied to other defendants in the matter.  Then, after a bench trial, the parties stipulated that the driver was solely at fault for the victim’s death.  The trial court issued a verdict in favor of the father and awarded him $50,000 for his child’s survival claim and $250,000 for his wrongful death claim.  The defendants appealed.

On review, the appellate court concluded that the statute should be interpreted as limiting the claims against the defendants to a maximum of $500,000.  he court interpreted the statute as providing a cap for the total amount of damages paid by the defendants, in lieu of allowing a separate cap for each parent’s claim. The appellate court affirmed the judgment against the defendants, but it remanded the case for additional proceedings regarding whether any of the damages needed to be reduced in order to comply with the statutory cap since record contained insufficient evidence of the amount of the payment to the mother.  Miller v. Thibeaux, 2013-541 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1/27/16), 184 So.3d 856, writ denied, 2016-353 (La.4/15/16), 191 So.3d 1035.

crane in lotAlthough most people commonly associate personal injury cases with car accidents, dangerous products also constitute a substantial number of serious accidents each year. As dedicated and experienced Louisiana product liability lawyers, we have witnessed how much an injury caused by an unsafe product can affect a victim’s life. If you were hurt as a result of a dangerous product, we are ready to help you assert your right to compensation.

Recently, a Louisiana court of appeal considered a dangerous product case involving a large construction crane. The operator was injured while in the course and scope of his job. He brought a lawsuit against the crane manufacturer and the party that leased the crane. The matter proceeded to trial, and the jury ultimately returned a verdict that assigned some portion of fault to all three parties, including the plaintiff. The jury also awarded the plaintiff compensatory damages. All three parties appealed.

Information at trial revealed many different aspects of the crane’s origins and usage and the circumstances surrounding the plaintiff’s injury. After the crane was leased, information came out from the manufacturer noting an issue with a component of the crane. The company that leased the crane informed the wholesaler that it would make the modifications because it was familiar with using the crane’s components. The plaintiff was one of the employees whom the company that leased the crane assigned to make the modifications. In deciding how to perform his role in removing the boom from the crane, the plaintiff relied on a label affixed to the crane. The plaintiff was injured when the part was removed.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

In a recent appellate opinion, the liability of a City and a miniature train ride operator was considered.  In May 2006, a local school program conducted a field trip for students and faculty at a park. A local miniature train company donated free rides to the children and chaperones. At approximately 1 p.m., the plaintiffs, who were chaperones working for the school, in addition to two other adults, boarded one of the train compartments. When the train approached the first curve, the conductor stated that he observed a jiggling sensation. He looked over his shoulder just in time to observe one of the cars tipping over. The conductor stopped the train, but both cars had tipped over while the locomotive remained on the tracks. The passengers in the cars were thrust into a fence that bordered the train track.

trainThe plaintiffs filed a lawsuit for damages against the train company. The school filed a motion to intervene, seeking reimbursement for workers’ compensation benefits they allegedly paid to the plaintiffs. In response, the train company filed a cross-claim against the City, claiming that the City failed to provide an appropriate defense and should be required to indemnify the company if it is found liable for the plaintiffs’ damages.

During the first bench trial, which is a trial that does not include a jury, the plaintiffs testified that they did not act or contribute in any way to the accident. The plaintiffs also introduced two inspection reports for the tracks, one issued six months before the accident and the other issued a number of weeks prior to the accident. In general, the reports indicated that some of the rail tiles were “loose and rotten,” in addition to other maintenance issues. The plaintiffs also offered the testimony of the owner of the railroad operation, who stated that it was the City’s responsibility to maintain the track and to perform repairs. The City offered evidence in an attempt to refute that it was responsible for the routine maintenance and inspection of the train and the railroad tracks.

Continue reading