Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

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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Kirk Guidry, Randy Piedrahita and Scott Andrews have been selected to the 2017 Louisiana Super Lawyers list in the practice area of Personal Injury.   According to Thomson Reuters, no more than 5% of Louisiana Lawyers are selected each year by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers from multiple practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.  The Baton Rouge, Louisiana law firm of Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Louisiana.

Pedestrian awareness urged by Louisiana State Police after Baton Rouge fatality: Precautions such as wearing reflective materials, avoiding distractions, and walking a safe distance from travel lanes while facing oncoming traffic could help prevent many pedestrian related crashes.  Troop A News Release.

Karen Tullier was killed in Baton Rouge around 9:00 p.m. on Sunday May 22, 2016, while walking westbound on Burbank Drive near its intersection with Gardere Lane, after being struck by a westbound 1998 Kawasaki motorcycle.

Louisiana law requires that when sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the highway or its shoulder, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. La. R.S. 32:216. Louisiana law also requires every driver to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a highway. La.R.S. 32:214.

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Super Lawyers 2016 selected every member (Kirk A. Guidry, Randy A. Piedrahita and B. Scott Andrews) of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. for inclusion in the 2016 Louisiana Super Lawyers list in the practice area of Personal Injury.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. and all firm members also enjoy the prestigious AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and have been recognized by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News – Best Law Firms®.

Congratulations to our newly elected Governor – John Bel Edwards!!

As a faithful husband, dedicated father, unwavering public servant, proud veteran, humble man of religion, and small business owner, John Bel Edwards will be a Governor who will finally put Louisiana families and Louisiana workers first and get us back on the right track after eight years of failing policies.

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The campaign released the following statement: “We won because of you. Thank you for voting to put Louisiana first. You believed in our campaign to bring honor and integrity back to the state of Louisiana. My campaign slogan has been ‘put Louisiana first’ from the start, and that is exactly what I plan to do for the next four years. To me, that has always meant bringing our people together, regardless of party, to celebrate the things that make our state strong and solve our greatest problems. I promise you tonight that I will always do what is best for all Louisianians — for our children, our veterans, our senior citizens. I believe Louisiana is worth fighting for. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead our state. Louisiana’s future doesn’t belong to a political party — it belongs to all of us. I will work every day to make you proud of your vote and of your state.”

Absent serious injury or death, Louisiana law generally prohibits parking or leaving a non-disabled vehicle standing upon the traveled part of the highway, even after a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately for Lafayette, Louisiana man, 50 year old Alton Ortega, two 18 wheelers involved in an accident on I-10 in Iberville Parish parked their big rigs in the right hand travel lane of the interstate following an accident. According to the Louisiana State Police, around 4:00 a.m on November 6, 2015, Mr. Ortega was traveling on I-10 when he encountered the parked 18 wheelers. He avoided hitting one of the 18 wheelers, but rear-ended the other 18 wheeler. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Louisiana Revised Statute (La.R.S.) 32:141 provides that no person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the paved or main traveled part of the highway when it is practicable to stop, park or so leave such vehicle off such part of said highway, unless the vehicle is disabled to the point that it is impossible avoid stopping and temporarily leaving the vehicle in that position. La.R.S. 32:141(C) further provides that between sunset and sunrise, the driver of any vehicle left parked, attended or unattended on any highway shall display appropriate signal lights thereon, sufficient to warn approaching traffic of its presence.

And, contrary to the belief of most drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident, La.R.S. 32:141(D) provides that if the driver is not prevented by injury and the vehicle is not disabled by the accident, or the accident has not resulted in serious injury or death of any person, the driver shall remove the vehicle from the travel lane of the highway to the nearest safe shoulder.
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A 13 year-old child was killed on October 29, 2015 in a car crash in Monroe, Louisiana. The child was one of several passengers in a 2013 Toyota SUV being operated by Florence Nash of Monroe, Louisiana.

According to the preliminary investigation by Troop F of the Louisiana State Police, the Toyota SUV failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of US 165-B and Buckhorn Bend Road just south of Monroe, resulting in a crash with a 2003 Ford truck being operated by Becky Lee of West Monroe.

Nash and several passengers were taken to local hospitals for injuries. The 13 year-old died from her injuries while at the hospital.

The car crash is still under investigation.
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Money_Cash.jpgIn a dispute characterized by the trial court as “ordinary people against nice doctors and [a] heartless soulless insurance company,” a successful doctor and his insurer appealed a judgment against the unsuccessful plaintiff that ONLY awarded them $3,539.75 for expert costs. The trial court was not persuaded by the “cold heartless” insurance company and the doctor to make the victim of the alleged medical malpractice pay them an additional $34,064.41 to compensate their out of state expert witness.

The dispute arose because an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit can be required to pay the costs (including expert witness fees, deposition costs and related expenses) of the successful party. See La. Civil Code article 1920 and La. Revised Statutes 13:3666 and 13:4533, which give the trial court great discretion in awarding costs as it may consider equitable.

Under the unique facts of the case, and recognizing the flexibility of the trial court in awarding costs, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment because the defendants failed to introduce into evidence any documentation or testimony whatsoever to support the expert’s bills. William McDougald v. St. Francis North Hospital, 50-079 (La. App. 2 Cir. 10/14/15).
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Thumbnail image for BestLawyers.pngBest Lawyers in America© 2016 lists every member of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews.
Paul H. Dué is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice areas of Admiralty and Maritime Law, Appellate Practice, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, and Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs.

Kirk A. Guidry is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice area of Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs.

Randy A. Piedrahita is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs.

B. Scott Andrews is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs.

Best Lawyers® is the oldest and one of the most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession. This lists of lawyers are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of rated attorneys confidentially evaluate their professional peers.
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