Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Recently, a Louisiana Court of Appeal addressed the issue of liability in a personal injury lawsuit following injuries to a bicyclist struck by a car.  The bicyclist plbicycleaintiff and the defendant driver presented their own versions of the incident, since there were no witnesses. In their opinion, the appellate court stated the rules of tort liability in Louisiana and the requirement that a plaintiff prove fault, causation, and damages in a negligence claim. Here, the lower court had found that the plaintiff failed to meet this burden, since there had not been physical evidence introduced by either party, and the court did not necessarily find the testimony of either party credible.

Procedurally, when the trial court judge held the plaintiff had failed to meet his burden of proof and dismissed his claim, the plaintiff appealed that judgment. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court should have applied Louisiana law regarding comparative fault, among other issues. The defendant countered by stating that the judge had not researched the issue of fault when she had found the plaintiff did not meet his burden of proof.

The appellate court stated that tort liability is set forth in La. CC. art. 2315. When a plaintiff brings a negligence action under Louisiana law, they must prove fault, causation, and damages. The court also stated that causation is a factual finding. On appeal, the standard is that of manifest error, meaning that the issue is whether the judge’s conclusion was reasonable. Here, the question was whether the trial court had been manifestly erroneous when they found that the plaintiff failed to prove the defendant had been at fault.

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In order for appellate courts to have jurisdiction, or the ability to review and determine the merit of an appeal, there must first be a valid final judgment from a lower court. In a recent opinion, the Fourth Circuit made clear that a judgment must contain specific, “decretal” language in order to be considered valid. In this opinion, the issue was whether the judgment was in fact valid, since two lawsuits had been consolidated and judgment rendered agacar accidentinst multiple defendants. The appellate court made clear that in order to have jurisdiction, they must have specific language that makes clear against whom the judgment has been rendered, and in which amount.  When the court lacks jurisdiction to consider the merits of an appeal, it will be dismissed without prejudice or converted to an application for a supervisory writ.

The facts indicated that Larry Spencer’s tractor-trailer collided with a truck in which Joseph Urquhart was a passenger. Urquhart filed a Petition for Damages against Spencer, as well as Mr. Spencer’s employer (the owner of the rig) and their liability insurer.  Urquhart then amended his Petition to add the driver of the vehicle in which he was traveling, James Nye, as well as his insurer. Then, Mr. Nye filed a Petition for Damages against Spencer, the owner of the rig, and the liability insurer. The lawsuits were consolidated, and Urquhart’s claims against Mr. Nye and his insurer were dismissed after reaching a settlement.

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The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently issued a decision in a multiple-vehicle automobile lawsuit involving issues of fault and damages.  The court held that the trial court had erroneously allocated fault, and based on the evidence, the two individuals previously without fault were in faccar accidentt negligent and partly responsible for the collision. Specifically, the court analyzed whether two individuals had breached a duty of care by agreeing to tow a vehicle at a high rate of speed.

In their discussion, the court stated that the fault issue centered on State Farm alleging that the 95% apportionment of fault to Ms. Decuir had been an error.  State Farm asserted Mr. Jacobs should have been at least partially at fault, since he operated the towed truck.  Additionally, State Farm contended that a larger percentage of fault should have been assigned to Mr. Sampson because he did not safely regulate his speed, as the driver of the lead truck.

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In a recent personal injury lawsuit following a car accident in downtown New Orleans, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a driver and her automobile insurance company following a single-car accident.  The appellate court found that the trial court had improperly made a credibility determinationpylons when reviewing the summary judgment motion, and this error required reversal.

Plaintiffs Dana Williams and Derrick Sykes were passengers in Eileen Maldonado’s vehicle when she drove through an excavated portion of a street in downtown New Orleans.  At about 10:30 p.m., as Ms. Maldonado drove through the intersection of Elks Place and Cleveland Avenue, the passenger side of her car fell into the excavated portion of the street.

The plaintiffs alleged that Archer Western Construction, the company that was excavating the site, or Ms. Maldonado caused the accident. Mr. Sykes settled with Archer Western. Ms. Maldonado and Imperial, her car insurer, moved for summary judgment. They asked that the plaintiffs’ claims be dismissed on the ground that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Ms. Maldonado was without fault.  The trial court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims against both Ms. Maldonado and Imperial.

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Recently, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal addressed whether the jury erred in their determination of fault and damages in a personal injury lawsuit following a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff pedestrian in this case was found to be at fault for failing to meet his duty of care in observing traffic and yielding to vehicles on the road. Upon an examination of the record, the appellate court upheld the fault allocation but increased the general damages award for past and future pain and suffering.

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Wilson Jolivette left his place of employment in New Iberia, Louisiana by foot and waited near Louisiana Highway 90 for his nephew, who often brought Mr. Jolivette to and from work.  At the same time, Ray Hebert, working for Hanagriff’s Machine Shop, Inc., was driving the shop’s 2005 two-ton flatbed diesel-engine truck. Mr. Jolivette’s hand collided with the driver’s side mirror of Mr. Hebert’s truck, causing Mr. Jolivette to spin. He fractured his left ankle and wrist.

Mr. Jolivette filed a petition for damages, and after a two-day jury trial, the jury found that Mr. Hebert was 30% at fault, and Mr. Jolivette was 70% at fault for causing the accident.  The jury then awarded Mr. Jolivette $10,000 for physical pain and suffering, both past and future. They awarded $36,000 for past medical expenses and $8,600 for past loss of earnings, totaling $54,000 in damages. Mr. Jolivette alleged that the jury erred in their assessment of fault and general and special damages awards.

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Recently, the Louisiana First Circuit addressed the issue of shared fault for a car accident in a personal injury lawsuit involving multiple defendants. Specifically, the court in this opinion stated that defendants have a right to have the issue of liability determined in light of the doctrine of comparative negligence. The court also stated that any parties aggrieved have an actual interest in the appeal. highway

Plaintiff Justin Cotton brought a lawsuit for damages after a motor vehicle accident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He contended that as Patrick Kennedy, the driver in the other vehicle, and he turned right in adjacent lanes, Mr. Kennedy veered into his lane and struck his vehicle.  Mr. Cotton sued Mr. Kennedy, Bread Bizz, Inc. (Mr. Kennedy’s employer and the owner of the vehicle), and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company as the liability insurer (referred to collectively as “Bread Bizz defendants”).

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At issue in a recent accident lawsuit before the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal was whether a trailer was a covered vehicle under the commercial automobile insurance policy of a company potentially liable for fatal injuries. Following a devastating motor vehicle accident, the surviving family members of the deceased brought a lawsuit to recover compensation from the responsible parties. The legal issue before the court in this case was whether the lower court properly found the trailer involved in the car accident was covered by an tractorautomobile insurance policy. The court turned to the policy language and examined whether the trailer had been used in connection with the insurer’s business at the time of the accident.

In this case, Hallmark Specialty Insurance Company appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs Peggy Brazan and Brookes Brazan Wagespack and defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The judgment was issued upon a finding that a sugarcane trailer involved in a fatal accident fell under a commercial auto policy issued by Hallmark to its insured, Arabie Trucking Services, L.L.C.

Arabie Trucking was in the transportation business, including the business of transporting raw sugarcane from fields to sugar mills. They entered into an agreement with Lafourche Sugars, L.L.C. to transport sugarcane to the sugar mills from customer fields. Arabie Trucking also entered into an agreement with WHY, a trucking company, to provide a tractor and a driver to move the sugarcane. Arabie assigned a trailer to WHY to use during hauling season. WHY hired Jerold Washington to drive, and he pulled the sugarcane trailer at the time of the fatal accident in this lawsuit.

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In an appeal involving issues of liability following a car accident, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit reviewed presumptions of liability that apply in certain scenarios. In particular, the court stated that a rear-end collision involves a presumption that the following vehicle was negligent.  In this appeal, the court reviewed a denial of the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment on liability.
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The court stated that summary judgment is a procedural device that is used to avoid a trial when there is no genuine issue of material fact. Material facts are those that either prevent or ensure recovery and affect a litigant’s ultimate success or determine the outcome of the lawsuit.  On appeal, courts ask the same questions that the trial court does regarding whether summary judgment is appropriate – whether there remains a genuine issue of material fact, and whether the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

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Reviewing a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld both the liability and the damages findings of the lower court.  The appellate court in this case stated the Louisiana rule of comparative negligence as it applied to the facts of this case, as well as the rule that a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit must prove the causal connection between the accident and their subsequent injuries.

carShone Bush was a passenger in a red Camaro driven by Todd Williams. Mr. Williams drove into the parking lot of a restaurant in Marrero, Louisiana, and while attempting to travel to a parking place, he collided with a gate/ramp extending from the rear of a delivery truck.  The car suffered damage, and Mr. Bush alleged he sustained physical injuries due to the accident.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Williams brought a lawsuit for damages against the owner of the truck and its insurance company.  At the completion of the trial, the court found that the defendants were liable and allocated fault 75% to Mr. Williams and 25% to the owner of the truck.  Mr. Bush was awarded $3,511.50 and Mr. Williams $2,376.25 in damages.  Mr. Bush appealed the trial court’s decisions on liability and damages.

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In a recent decision, the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal reviewed a judgment in favor of an injured plaintiff who had brought claims against the driver of the vehicle that struck him, as well as her insurance companies. The defendants raised the issue of judicial estoppel, claiming that the plaintiff failed to disclose his personal injury claim in his bankruptcy proceedings and should therefore not be able to recover compensation from the defendants.  In their analysis of whether the trial court erred in holding judicial estoppel did not apply, the appellate court focused on the equitable nature of the doctrine, and whether the injured plaintiff was in fact dishonest and attempting to reap a windfall by concealing his injury claim from the bankruptcy court and creditors.delivery truck

Willie Lee Thomas worked as a delivery driver for Farmers Seafood Company, and while making a delivery, he was struck by a car driven by defendant Wanda Jean Harris. Mr. Thomas was pinned between the rear of his own delivery truck and the vehicle driven by Ms. Harris, and he suffered serious injuries. Mr. Thomas underwent multiple surgeries, but at the time of the lawsuit, he was still unable to work.

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