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Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act Provides Speedy Resolution on Behalf of Injured Workers; Appellate Court Holds Partial Summary Judgment in Favor of Employer Must be Dismissed

The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal recently reviewed procedural issues related to the appealability of a workers’ compensation claim. In this recent opinion, the court relied on policy considerations, stating that the goal of the Workers’ Compensation Act is to reach a speedy resolution on behalf of the injured worker.  Here, the appellate court stated that the lower court had left significant matters outstanding when they issued a partial summary judgment in favor of the employer. Timothy Stewart injured his back while in the course and scope of his employment.  Mr. Stewart served as a police officer with the Bogalusa Police Department. His injury resulted when his gun got caught on the steering wheel while he was exiting his police unit. The City of Bogalusa paid workers’ compensation medical and temporary total disability benefits. Mr. Stewart then filed a disputed claim for compensation against the City of Bogalusa. He sought a disability status of permanent total disability. The City denied that Mr. Stewart had suffered an injury as well as that he was totally and permanently disabled. They filed a motion for partial summary judgment, and the workers’ compensation judge granted the motion, dismissing Mr. Stewart’s claim for permanent total disability benefits.

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Louisiana Court: Not Manifestly Erroneous to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Claims for Injuries When He Failed to Comply with Procedural Requirements

The Louisiana Fifth Circuit recently issued an opinion centered on the procedural requirements of filing a delictual action. The court reviewed the trial court’s dismissal of a plaintiff’s claims when the defendants alleged that he had not met the requirements of Louisiana law concerning the timely filing of an original petition following an earlier facsimile filing.  Here, the appellate court held that whether the plaintiff had not timely filed his original petition or had not in fact filed the same original document, it was not manifest error to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. On January 9, 2014, Tracy Palazola was working when he fell from a raised HVAC platform and suffered injuries.  On January 6, 2015, Mr. Palazola filed by facsimile a petition for damages with the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson.  On January 23, 2015, the clerk’s office stamped as received a copy of the petition. Mr. Palazola had filed his petition against defendants IMC Consulting Engineers, Inc., Cali & LaPlace Engineers, LLC, and Landry Construction, Inc.  These defendants filed peremptory exceptions of prescription, arguing that the facsimile filing did not meet the requirements set forth in Louisiana law because the original petition had not been sent to the clerk’s office within seven days of the facsimile filing on January 6, 2015. The trial court held a hearing and then sustained the exceptions and dismissed plaintiff Mr. Palazola’s claims.  On appeal, Mr. Palazola argued that his counsel did forward the original petition within the required seven days.

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Injured Car Accident Plaintiff Cannot Recover from Employer’s Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance Policy Due to Exclusion, According to Louisiana Appellate Court

A recent personal injury lawsuit for damages before the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal required the court to interpret an automobile insurance contract concerning underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. After a car crash, many injured victims seek to recover compensation from the at-fault driver.  However, if that driver is underinsured and cannot cover costs related to the accident, the plaintiff may pursue underinsured/uninsured coverage through an insurance policy. Kim Simon was involved in a motor vehicle crash when an underinsured driver rear-ended her while she was driving her own personal vehicle.  At the time of the accident, Ms. Simon was in the course of her employment with LHC Group, Inc. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh had issued a business auto liability policy to LHC, with a selection for uninsured/underinsured (“UM”) insurance coverage for “owned ‘autos’ only.”  Ms. Simon filed a petition for damages against the driver and added National, on the grounds that LHC carried and National provided UM coverage for Ms. Simon’s benefit. National Insurance moved for summary judgment on the ground that LHC’s insurance policy did not provide UM coverage for Ms. Simon because her personal vehicle was not a “covered auto” under the policy.  Ms. Simon argued that a genuine issue of material fact remained because the policy did not describe specific vehicles, as required by Louisiana law.

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Louisiana Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Negligence Claim for Injuries Caused By Hot Coffee at Drive-Thru Because She Failed to Show She Could Meet Burden of Proof at Trial

A denied summary judgment motion in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from injuries sustained when a drive-thru cup of coffee spilled onto a woman’s abdomen and thighs was recently vacated, and judgment was granted in favor of the restaurant by the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.   The appellate court held that the plaintiff had not met her burden of showing that the restaurant breached its duty of care, and it granted judgment in favor of the restaurant.  Elvia Legarreta alleged in her petition that she ordered a cup of coffee from a Wendy’s drive-thru, and due to the negligence of a Wendy’s employee, the lid of the cup had not been properly secured into the cup before it was given to her.  She claimed that she suffered injuries when the coffee spilled onto her body. Wendy’s filed a summary judgment motion, arguing that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that it was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Wendy’s contended that Ms. Legarreta could not meet her burden of proving that Wendy’s had been negligent. Specifically, they stated that Ms. Legarreta could not show its employee had not properly placed the lid on the coffee cup before the incident.

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