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 plaintiff 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.
Vehicle laws provide that when approaching a green light, drivers are entitled to assume that other drivers will abide by the laws regarding the red light and the drivers’ right of way. The court also stated that when a motorist enters the intersection and fails to wait for traffic within the intersection to clear, that motorist is negligent.
The facts indicated that the defendant had been traveling south on Causeway Boulevard, and the light had been green when he entered the intersection. The judge heard testimony that the plaintiff had been riding his bicycle on the sidewalk at night, without the required bicycle lights.
The court added that the plaintiff also rode in a direction against traffic. The court stated that this conduct was against the law. Furthermore, traffic signals apply to drivers of all vehicles. The court stated that the plaintiff ran the red light in front of the defendant’s vehicle.
In conclusion, the court stated that the plaintiff’s negligent conduct created a higher level of risk. Despite the fact that the defendant had the right of way, the plaintiff held the mistaken belief that on his bicycle, he could beat the defendant across the intersection.
The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court in favor of the defendant.
At Lavis Law, our car accident attorneys provide legal guidance and representation to Louisiana residents following motor vehicle collisions. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a motor vehicle crash, contact our office for a free consultation. We can be reached by calling 866-558-9151 or using our online form.
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Louisiana Appellate Court Finds Trial Court Erred in Making Credibility Determination, and Questions of Material Fact Existed Regarding Driver’s Liability in Single-Car Accident, Louisiana Insurance & Injury Lawyer Blog