Articles Posted in Accidents

slip_heads_up_warningPersonal injury cases are notorious for their intricate nature, often posing challenges in determining fault and establishing liability. Complications escalate further when discrepancies arise regarding the facts surrounding the incident. When blame is uncertain, and parties refuse to accept responsibility, the legal landscape becomes increasingly convoluted. 

A recent Louisiana Court of Appeals case offered a detailed examination of an issue of material fact in determining fault in a personal injury lawsuit. By exploring the court’s decision and the supporting evidence, we gain insight into the complexities inherent in such cases and their implications on a motion for summary judgment.

James Palmisano fell at work due to the water in the hallway. Palmisano alleged that the water leaked from the men’s and women’s toilets. He filed a lawsuit for his injuries, claiming two plumbing companies, Prejean and Colville Plumbing & Irrigation, Inc., were called to fix the problem but didn’t. 

courthouse_court_law_justice-scaledAll relevant evidence in a case should be produced at trial. However, the evidence included in a complete record can be subjective. Thus, the parties to a lawsuit should rely on the court’s definition of what a complete medical record consists of. 

Christina Dauzat (Dauzat) was involved in a car accident where she was rear-ended by Erin Wright (Wright). Dauzat filed a lawsuit, and a bench trial was held, which favored Dauzat and awarded damages of $17,741.51, with interest. Wright, State Farm, and Dauzat appealed the ruling.

At the beginning of the bench trial, Dauzat’s counsel introduced authorized exhibits: Exhibit D-1-6, which consisted of medical records from various hospitals. At trial, Dauzat introduced medical records and bills she believed were essential to the case, which was agreed upon at the pretrial conference. These records were classified as Exhibit P-4. State Farm had agreed to the authenticity of the bills. Therefore, the records, Exhibit P-4, were admitted into evidence. State Farm complained that Dauzat’s medical records did not contain the entire certified copies; consequently, they wanted to introduce full copies of Dauzat’s medical records. State Farm claimed Dauzat had personal bias as to which records she included.

project_366_138_170512-scaledAlthough you may be excited if you are awarded damages at trial, your award might still face a challenge on appeal. Therefore, when you are involved in a trial for an accident in which you were harmed, it is important to understand what evidence you need to present so that any money you are awarded can survive a challenge on appeal. 

While driving a Honda Accord in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, Juliet All was hit by a Chevrolet Silverado Austin Tynes was driving after he did not stop at a stop sign. As a result, All’s vehicle was knocked into a ditch. All received medical treatment at St. Elizabeth Hospital and was diagnosed with chest pain and neck strain. When her pain did not go away, she went to an orthopedic surgeon for treatment, who diagnosed her with whiplash and cervical spine injury, including injury to her soft tissue. 

All filed a lawsuit against Tynes and Safeco Insurance Company, who insured him. The parties agreed that Tynes was solely responsible for the accident and had insurance coverage from Safeco when the accident occurred. They also stipulated that All’s damages would not exceed $50,000. At trial, All was awarded $66,000 in damages. This was reduced to $50,000 because of the parties’ stipulation. Safeco and Tynes appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding All $50,000 in general damages because her injuries were minimal and of short duration. 

accident_mini_morris_red-scaledSimple driving accidents happen every day due to lapses in inattention. The results of these lapses can have devastating consequences. Whose is at fault in an accident when both parties were less than perfect in assessments of dangers on the road? The subsequent lawsuit from Louisiana shows how a court will determine how much fault each party bears for an accident and adjust damages based on that outcome.

In 2014, Stephan August was out making a delivery for Domino’s Pizza in his own 2010 Toyota Corolla. He was heading West on Louisiana Highway 1040 in Tangipahoa Parish when Lee Kebreanne drove behind him in her 2001 Toyota Camry. According to  Lee, August was varying his speed, giving her the impression that he did not know where he was going. As a result, Lee decided to pass him in the eastbound lane. Unfortunately, as she was in the eastbound lane, August also pulled into the eastbound, and the two drivers collided.  Lee’s car flipped three times and ultimately landed upside down, and August hit his head on the driver’s side door. 

August filed a lawsuit against Lee and her insurance companies, GoAuto and Progressive. A trial occurred where the District Court determined that Lee was 100% at fault and awarded August a total of $14,389.05 in damages. Lee appealed the decision citing that the court was wrong about her fault being 100% and that $12,500 in general damages were excessive.  

car_racing_crash_accident-scaledIf you have ever been involved in an accident, you know it can be challenging to deal with multiple parties. From the other vehicle’s driver to numerous insurance companies, knowing who to contact can often seem impossible. This becomes even more difficult when navigating the workers’ compensation system. 

Marcus Slaughter, who worked for Garda, and Ernest Howard, who worked for DABM, collided on a road in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. Slaughter collided with Howard, suffered injuries, and received medical treatment. DABM’s workers’ compensation insurer paid for Howard’s medical expenses and workers’ compensation benefits while he could not work.

 Howard then filed a lawsuit against Slaughter, Garda, and Garda’s auto insurer.  Although the trial court awarded Howard lost wages and general damages, the judgment stated that it did not include the medical expenses of over $33,000. The trial court reasoned that DABM’s insurer had already paid these medical expenses, so Howard was not entitled to additional recovery. Howard appealed, arguing the court should have awarded him the medical costs. 

firefighter_cars_accident_hood-scaledNobody likes insurance policies or divorce. Both can be extremely messy and full of legal jargon. Megan Daigle experienced this firsthand as her divorced parents’ insurance did not cover everything they hoped for. 

In the fall of 2013, Megan Daigle was driving in Morgan City, Louisiana, when she did not stop at a stop sign. This failure to stop resulted in her vehicle, a car her father owns and provides to Megan for her sole use, colliding with a car driven by Monty Rivers. At the time of the accident, Megan was a minor. Megan’s mother had legal custody as her parents were divorced. Megan was insured under an Allstate policy held by her mother and stepfather.  Mr. Rivers was injured in the accident and filed lawsuits against Megan, her father, her mother, and all connected insurance companies. 

Allstate filed a motion for summary judgment and a partial summary judgment, arguing the policy did not provide coverage because a policyholder did not own Megan’s vehicle, and it was available for Megan’s regular use. The lower court granted this judgment. Rivers appealed the granting of Allstate’s motion arguing that Allstate waived their right to assert a coverage defense and that the allegations found in the pleadings were sufficient to put Allstate on notice of the potential coverage defense. Rivers’ argument was based on the understanding that upon receipt of the pleadings, Allstate had sufficient notice of the facts, which indicated the policy held by Megan’s mother did not provide coverage for Megan.

outback_australia_bush_road-scaledThe legal system has neither time nor resources to waste, so courts refrain from entertaining frivolous lawsuits that lack serious or sincere claims. Moreover, in such cases where a court determines that a lawsuit is frivolous, the court will render a judgment against the party who brought the lawsuit and can also order that party to pay damages, including the other party’s attorney fees. For these reasons, it is critical to consult with an excellent attorney before such cases are brought before a court.

As for Marsha Willis (“Willis”), an unauthorized driver of her mother’s rental car, a Louisiana judge for the First Circuit Court of Appeals determined that although she had absolutely no evidence to support her legal claims, she sincerely believed in the positions she argued and therefore her appeal was not frivolous. 

Willis’ mother entered into a rental agreement for a Toyota Corolla with the car rental agency, Enterprise. Shortly after, Willis was driving her mother’s rental car when she crashed into another driver. The other driver sued Willis for damages related to the accident. Then, a claim specialist for Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company (“Empire”), the insurer for Enterprise, notified Willis that they denied her request for coverage in the accident and litigation with the other driver because she was not listed as an authorized driver on her mother’s rental agreement. 

courthouse_court_law_justice_0-1-scaledAllocating damages in a wrongful death case is challenging because putting a price on a life is hard. Therefore, if a family in a wrongful death case feels the jury abused its discretion in calculating that monetary value, then the family can resort to a motion for JNOV to try and correct the decision. However, this is a rigorous standard, and a recent case out of Baton Rouge outlines how a court reviews these motions. 

Noha Salama was visiting family in Louisiana from her home in Israel. Her nephew picked her up from the airport in New Orleans, and the two drove down Interstate 10 toward Baton Rouge. The nephew exited the highway at Louisiana Highway 44/Burnside Drive in Gonzales and stopped at the stop sign at the end of the exit ramp. In an attempt to re-enter the interstate, the nephew drove the vehicle across the four-lane highway and failed to stop at the median, which divided the north and southbound lanes. Once the vehicle crossed over the median, it was broadsided by two cars going south. Salama, who was in the front passenger seat, died at the accident scene. 

Salama’s husband and five children filed a wrongful death action against her nephew, his insurer, the drivers of the two southbound vehicles, their insurers, and the DOTD. The family settled with all of the defendants except for the DOTD, and their case against the DOTD proceeded to a jury trial. The family alleged the DOTD, which had control over the intersection, was at fault for the accident for treating the Highway 44 exit and entrance ramps as a single intersection rather than two separate intersections. 

chair_garden_green_hedge-scaledPersonal injury lawsuits can be complicated, especially when they involve injuries sustained while shopping. Mary Mason found herself in this situation at a Burlington store in Lafayette, Louisiana, when a chair collapsed as she sat on it, causing her to fall and sustain injuries. Despite suing Burlington and claiming negligence, her case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence. This case highlights the importance of having experienced legal counsel to guide you through the lawsuit process. It also answers the question, what is Res Ipsa Loquitor?

Mrs. Mason and her husband visited the Burlington store in Lafayette on Ambassador Caffery Parkway. While Mrs. Mason waited in the car, her husband entered the store. After waiting for some time, Mrs. Mason entered the store to find her husband. As she walked by a chair display, she decided to test out one of the chairs on the platform. Unfortunately, as Mrs. Mason sat down, the chair collapsed, and she fell and hit the platform. She was on the phone with her husband at the time.

A store manager and Mr. Mason entered the area where Mrs. Mason fell. They determined Mrs. Mason’s fall was due to no screws in the chair’s back legs. The store manager removed the faulty chair, so the Masons took photos of it. Mrs. Mason also signed an incident report before leaving the store.

vcc_broadway_hi_res-scaledYou think that when you’re being taken care of by hospital personnel, you are in safe hands and do not have to fear for your safety. However, if you are injured when being moved from a hospital cart to your bed, can you claim negligence based on res ipsa loquitur? The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals addresses this question and the difficulties in recovering damages if you have an underlying preexisting condition.

Joshua Rice was a patient at Cornerstone Hospital for over a year before passing away in May 2012. Joshua’s father, Tommy Rice, brought a negligence suit against Cornerstone, claiming the staff entangled Joshua’s leg and arm when they moved him from a hospital cart to his bed. He suffered a fracture in his hip and shoulder as a result.

Believing they were not liable for Rice’s injuries, Cornerstone filed a motion for summary judgment. Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court should grant summary judgment when there is no genuine dispute of any material fact. If a plaintiff such as Rice cannot prove his case at trial, then a court will dismiss it.

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