Articles Posted in Car Accident

medical_consultation_treatment_room-scaledCourts often rely on motions for summary judgments to avoid the costly and time-consuming reality of going to trial and presenting a case in front of a jury. Motions for summary judgment are when one party asks the court to decide the case based on the current facts alleged in their favor. Courts should grant these motions when there are no facts in dispute for the jury to resolve. But how much evidence does a party have to present to survive one of these motions? A case out of New Orleans shows that, in some cases, just having medical records could be enough to deny a motion for summary judgment. 

Emmanuel Bridgewater was lounging on a median at the intersection of Washington Avenue and South Dorgenois Street when a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) bus made a left-hand turn off of Toledano street and an immediate right turn onto Washington Avenue. The bus cut the corner too closely and drove onto the median, hitting Bridgewater. As a result of the accident, Bridgewater’s right arm broke, his right leg was injured, and he said that the accident left him permanently disabled. Bridgewater alleged that the bus did not stop after he was hit and instead fled the scene. A bystander who did not witness the accident heard Bridgewater calling for help and called 911 emergency services. An ambulance and New Orleans Police Officer Roger Smith arrived at the scene. Bridgewater alleged that Smith did not question him about the accident before he was taken to the hospital.

Bridgewater filed a lawsuit against the RTA and the City of New Orleans and added the Transit Management of Southeast Louisiana, Inc. (TMSL) as a defendant. Bridgewater accused the defendants of being jointly liable for his injuries and argued that the NOPD officer assigned to the RTA acted to protect the RTA from liability. Bridgewater also asserted that the City was at fault because it failed to place signs in the accident area to warn pedestrians that buses may run onto the median and hit them. The City filed for summary judgment, and the court granted the City’s motion. Next, Bridgewater filed a motion for rehearing, contesting the court’s decision. Then, RTA also filed a motion for summary judgment, and the judge denied Bridgewater’s rehearing and granted RTA’s motion. Bridgewater eventually appealed, and RTA responded, seeking attorney fees and costs against Bridgewater for filing a frivolous claim, which means that the lawsuit lacked any basis. 

bridge_mississippi_river_baton-scaledNothing is more tragic than the loss of life. However, that loss can be tempered somewhat if insurance is in place that provides some financial compensation. While money cannot substitute for the loss of love and companionship that a spouse gives, it can at least provide some help with the bills and, therefore, one less thing to worry about when grieving. But what happens when the insurance company refuses to pay your claim? The following lawsuit in Tangipahoa, Louisiana, discusses these issues in the context of a car accident, uninsured motorist coverage, and the refusal of State Farm to pay the claim. 

As Jerry and his wife Lois Draayer drove down Interstate 55 in Pike County, Mississippi, a motorist struck the couple. Unfortunately, that driver had both crossed the median and lacked sufficient insurance. The underinsured motorist was Russel Allen, and Lois Draayer tragically died from the collision. 

Lois’s family brought a lawsuit against Allen, his automobile liability insurer (Progressive Insurance Company), and named their insurer, State Farm, which they claimed provided Lois with UM coverage. The Draayers added State Farm to the suit to ensure financial recovery for Lois’s death. 

money_laundering_money_music_0-scaledThe lawsuit process can be expensive between investigation, preparation for trial, and the trial itself. This is on top of the emotional rollercoaster of events that have given rise to a lawsuit in the first place. Unfortunately, sometimes a plaintiff may lose at trial and be hit with all the litigation costs for both parties. The following case shows how those costs are within the court’s discretion.

Sarah Reynolds was involved in a head-on collision with a passenger bus while driving her car in Slidell, Louisiana. Both vehicles were operating at the posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour. Reynolds was traveling the wrong way on a westbound overpass on Interstate 10. When authorities reached the scene, Reynolds was found unconscious and unrestrained. Reynolds blood tests revealed a blood alcohol content of .082gm% and a presence of Xanax and marijuana. Reynolds died a few hours after the accident due to the multiple traumatic injuries sustained.

Reynolds’ son, mother, son’s father, and estate filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). They alleged Reynolds had been misdirected onto the wrong side of the roadway due to DOTD’s negligence. DOTD subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the plaintiffs could neither establish negligence nor causation. 

courthouse_alabama_building_226689-scaledEveryone wants to emerge victorious after their day in court, but occasionally the jury will refuse to award the judgment you deserve. When a person loses their case at trial, they can appeal it to a higher court.  The appeal process allows for a narrow reconsideration of a case to assure that the lower court got to the correct answer; if the appeals court finds that the lower court did not get the correct answer, they can amend the lower court’s judgment, including the calculation of damages. 

Preexisting medical conditions aggravated by an accident do not preclude an injured party from recovering damages and medical expenses from the person who hit them. Ms. Kimberly Guidry has such preexisting medical conditions and was involved in an accident that aggravated those preexisting medical conditions. At trial in the 15th Juridical District, the jury found awarded no damages, no medical expenses, and no lost wages to Kimberly. 

Kimberly had presented medical expert testimony that showed her injuries were aggravated by the accident, but the jury awarded her nothing. With this denial, Kimberly appealed to the Third Circuit Court of appeals. She claimed the jury committed “manifest error” in their findings and that the trial court had committed a “legal error” in failing to grant her a new trial due to this adverse ruling. Kimberly’s case helps answer the question; “If a Louisiana Jury awards no damages because of preexisting injuries, can an appeals court fix the ruling?”

hammer_court_judge_justice-scaledCourt cases are contentious, polarizing atmospheres between the parties. Stubbornness is ripe, and the opposing parties are staunchly in, unsurprisingly, opposition. However, sometimes even opposing parties can agree. Any party can take issue with a court’s judgment, and sometimes ALL parties can take issue with a court’s decision–even if these issues are different. But when multiple parties raise various errors in a trial court judgment, how can the higher courts resolve such allegations of error?

 In 2001, a workplace incident occurred between the plaintiff, Bradley W. Smith, and the defendant, then-coworker Paul Babin. Smith alleged that while the two parties were in the parking lot at their workplace, Babin intentionally hit Smith with his vehicle. In his 2002 lawsuit, Smith claimed that Babin was liable for Smith’s damages and later amended the lawsuit to include Shelter Mutual Insurance Company (Shelter) as Babin’s liability insurer. 

In late 2014, a trial court heard Smith’s lawsuit on liability, causation, and damages and then heard Babin’s crossclaims. At the beginning of the trial, the parties entered a pretrial stipulation that determined Smith’s past medical expenses caused by Babin’s act totaled $338,556.27, for which both Shelter and Babin would get worker’s compensation credit. 

clock_time_dead_broken-scaledBefore taking on one of the nation’s largest, leading automotive manufacturing companies, it is essential to consult an excellent attorney with knowledge of the Federal Court system.  The importance of following the deadlines set by the Court in that system cannot be understated. Unfortunately, the lesson of how critical it is to follow court deadlines came to bear a harsh reality for the children of two deceased car accident victims in the following case.

 Sandra, Carnel, Darnell, Gregory, and Lashawn Joseph (collectively “the Josephs”) sued GM after the car their parents, George and Jeanette Joseph, were passengers in caught fire and crashed into the guardrail, causing their parents’ fatal injuries. In trying to gather evidence to support their claims against GM at the District Court, the Josephs sought expert testimony. Still, they failed to identify expert witnesses or produce expert reports before the District Court’s scheduled deadline passed. Therefore, the District Court denied the Josephs’ motion to reschedule the deadlines based on their failure to show good cause for not meeting the deadline. 

The Josephs did not object to this denial, and GM moved for summary judgment. The summary judgment argued that because Josephs had no experts to prove their claims, they had no case to go forward with. The Josephs attempted to admit expert testimony to challenge GM’s motion. However, the District Court neither allowed the testimony because the Josephs missed the previously scheduled deadlines nor allowed the Josephs extra time for discovery. As a result, the District Court ruled in favor of GM on the motion for summary judgment. The Josephs subsequently appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

Automobile insurance claims are complex enough, as it is unlikely that all parties involved will immediately agree on a settlement amount. These claims become even more convoluted when there are questions as to what state law should apply or when the insured isn’t fully aware of what his policy entails. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened when a man was involved in an accident in New Orleans. 

Jones was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Orleans Parish, and the other driver, insured by Allstate, was found to be at fault. Jones settled with Allstate and then attempted to recover under his own uninsured/underinsured motorist claim from GEICO. GEICO denied his claim stating that Jones was in direct violation of his Georgia-issued policy and statutory law when he failed to obtain GEICO’s approval before settling with and releasing Allstate. 

Jones then brought a claim against GEICO, where he, in part, filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a judicial determination that Louisiana law applied, not Georgia’s. The Civil District Court of Orleans Parish granted Jones’ partial summary judgment claim and found that Louisiana law applied. GEICO then appealed the Trial Court’s ruling to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, where the issue focused on whether the Trial Court correctly granted Jones’ motion for partial summary judgment. 

motorcycle_motorcycle_689316-scaledWhen finding yourself as a defendant in a lawsuit, you will want to limit your liability as much as possible. Your liability could be altered when a co-defendant is found to be at fault for the injuries to a certain extent. However, when one defendant is dismissed before the trial begins, can another defendant seeking to split the fault appeal the decision? A case arising out of St. Charles Parish aims to answer this question.

Devyn Allen, the defendant, was driving westbound on U.S. Highway 90 when he moved from the westbound lane into the center turn lane. When riding his motorcycle, the plaintiff, Tobias Dixon, hit the back of Allen’s car. Dixon was thrown from his motorcycle upon impact and landed on the pavement. While still on the pavement, Dixon alleged that Patrick Jackson, the co-defendant, ran Dixon over in his pickup truck. Dixon then sued Allen; Progressive Insurance Company, Allen’s insurer; Jackson; Command Construction Industries, Jackson’s employer; the Gray Insurance Company, Command’s insurer; Louisiana Pizza Group (LPG), Allen’s employer; and Tudor Insurance Company, LPG’s insurer. 

Jackson, Command Construction, and the Gray Insurance Company then filed a motion for summary judgment, which asks the court to decide based on the arguments filed in favor of the filing party. Jackson argued that there was no evidence that he hit Dixon while lying on the pavement. The trial court agreed with Jackson and granted the motion. Following the decision, LPG appealed the decision arguing that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether Jackson hit Dixon and that Jackson should also be held liable for Dixon’s injuries. 

transportation_vehicle_road_879026-scaledDriving poses undeniable risks. However, travelers may need to consider how unsafe a barrier curb may be in certain situations. When is the state liable for these conditions? A case from the St. John Baptist parish considered how the state department of development and transportation was at fault for construction risks that contributed to an accident. 

One afternoon, James Harris drove along the Airline Highway in Louisiana with his wife and their two grandchildren. As Harris traveled southbound, another northbound driver, Marilyn (MB), began driving erratically. MB’s car eventually drifted into the opposite side of traffic after crossing over a barrier curb on the highway. Harris moved onto the right-hand shoulder of the road to avoid MB. Unfortunately, despite his efforts to prevent a collision, MB’s vehicle crashed into Harris’, and he injured his left leg, foot, and hip. Ultimately, Harris’ left leg was amputated eight inches below the knee, and MB died from the accident. 

Harris sued the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for failing to have a jersey curb that would have prevented MB’s car from drifting into the opposite side of traffic. In addition, he sued Progressive Security Insurance Company, MB, MB’s insurance provider. The trial court found the DOTD to be 90% at fault and Ms. MB to be 10% at fault for the accident, and the jury ultimately awarded Harris $5,000,000 in general damages and $1,000,000 for loss of enjoyment of life. On appeal, the DOTD argued that the trial court abused its discretion in finding the DOTD liable and in the number of damages awarded to Harris. 

The phrase, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” is often used to describe situations where one thing almost certainly indicates the presence of another. However, establishing a contributing factor to a car accident and liability for negligence does not always follow so direct a relationship.

Shortly before Tropical Storm Lee reached the marshlands of Oak Island just outside of New Orleans in September 2011, an employee of the LPC (“Little Pine”), the entity that owns Oak Island, saw traces of smoke and reported it to the Fire Department (NOFD). NOFD investigated the scene and found a fire, but the area from which the smoke was coming was not accessible to fire crews. The onset of Tropical Storm Lee made it even more difficult for NOFD, which had called in the Louisiana Army National Guard — to reach the source of the smoke. Helicopter water drops were used to treat the fire, but access by boat or other means remained impossible. The fire continued to burn for months under the daily monitoring of NOFD.

On the morning of December 29, 2011, drivers traveling on Interstate 10 past the Oak Island marshlands suddenly encountered thick, dense fog and smoke clouds, resulting in nearly zero visibility. Scott Lowe, a passenger in one of the vehicles traveling on I-10, was involved in a multi-car accident caused by poor visibility conditions. Lowe filed a lawsuit against Little Pine, arguing that it acted negligently by allowing the marsh fire to burn for months after it began, allowing smoke to obstruct visibility along a major roadway, and failing to exercise due care regarding the safety of others. Little Pine filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that there was no genuine issue of material fact about whether Little Pine was liable for an “unavoidable Act of God/force majeure.” In addition, Little Pine asserted it owed no duty to Lowe to extinguish the marsh fire. The trial court granted Little Pine’s motion for summary judgment, and Lowe appealed.

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