Articles Posted in Car Accident

courthouse_court_law_justice_0-scaledLosing a loved one is hard enough. What happens, however, when multiple people claim they have a right to the same property the decedent owns at the time of their death? Cases involving multiple parties and claimants can get tricky, especially when one claimant was the decedent’s spouse and the other was their descendant, as was the case in the following lawsuit. 

After being killed in an accident in New Orleans, Tommie Varnado’s widow, Patricia Varnado, filed a wrongful death and survival action lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). Although Patricia agreed to settle with DOTD, she died before the trial court signed a consent judgment memorizing the settlement. The trial court then signed a consent judgment ten days after Patricia’s death. Months later, Kenneth John Gaunichaux filed a motion to substitute himself as the plaintiff in place of Patricia, alleging the two were married at the time of her death and that he was entitled to recover the settlement proceeds. The trial court permitted the substitution, although, before the settlement distribution, the DOTD questioned the validity of the consent judgment, as it was signed after Patricia’s death. 

Melvin J. Owens Jr. then filed a motion to vacate and set aside Kenneth’s motion for party substitution, instead alleging he should be substituted as the plaintiff in place of Patricia. In his motion to substitute party plaintiff, Melvin argued he was the sole heir of Patricia and was the proper party to represent her and to receive the damage award.

car_damage_auto_exterior-scaledWinning a lawsuit against an employer can be challenging.  Employees are often transient, while the employer is an anchor in their community. Employer responsibility for an employee’s negligent action requires significant factual evidence.  In a recent case out of St. John the Baptist Parish, a missing former employee and a lack of facts prevented the injured party from winning. 

Herbert Collins was driving his car early one morning when Fredrick Davis struck him from behind.  Kelly Construction employed Davis, and he was operating one of their vehicles at the time of the accident.  Collins suffered many injuries, including spinal and muscle injuries.  Collins filed a lawsuit against Davis and his employer Kelly Construction and Kelly’s insurance company Cincinnati Insurance.  Collins alleged that Kelly Construction was vicariously liable for Davis’ actions because Kelly negligently allowed its vehicle to be operated by a careless, untrained driver.  Davis was served with the lawsuit however was unable to be found and properly served. As a result, the lawsuit against Davis was dismissed.  Even more detrimental was that without Davis, little evidence of his negligence and relationship with Kelly Construction could be gathered.   

The Fortieth Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. John the Baptist dismissed the lawsuit after the trial finding there was a lack of evidence to prove vicarious liability against Kelly Construction.   Even after a request for a new trial, the District Court denied the request. However, it upheld the dismissal citing a lack of evidence of an employer/employee relationship and a lack of evidence that the employee was acting in the scope of his employment. Collins appealed to the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.   

law_justice_court_judge-scaledImagine being on a jury – everything you hear has gone through a process of admittance to be used as evidence during the trial. What the jury is told often plays a role in what the jury thinks of the parties and how it assigns blame amongst them. The following lawsuit explores what happens when a defendant challenges the admittance of a piece of evidence it believes unfairly swayed the jury against it. It also helps answer the question; can a litigant exclude evidence in a car accident lawsuit?

Elsie Boudreaux and her mother, Thelma Bizette, passed away due to a car accident in Addis, Louisiana. The surviving family members brought a lawsuit against the Louisiana State Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD). A jury found the accident to be 60% the fault of Boudreaux and 40% the fault of the DOTD.

The DOTD appealed the trial court’s ruling, alleging it erred in denying their motion to exclude evidence of how the department collected crash reports at the accident site. They claimed evidence on crash report procedures was irrelevant to how the accident occurred. They also claimed they were unduly prejudiced because the evidence misled the jury. 

clock_time_time_indicating_19-scaledPersonal injury cases can often drag out for years in a confusing manner. This is especially true when there are disagreements about the proper venue and subject matter jurisdiction. A recent appeal discussed below tackles the challenges of dismissal of actions due to a lack of jurisdiction and the timing requirement of prescription.

This case arose out of a car accident in 2010 in Tangipahoa Parish. Plaintiffs initially filed in federal district court to recover damages for personal injuries, claiming the federal court had jurisdiction due to the diversity of citizenship between plaintiffs and defendants. Ms. Crowe, the defendant, had moved to dismiss due to her claim that she was a Louisiana resident at the time and, thus, diversity of citizenship did not exist. In 2011, the federal court denied Crowe’s motion. 

However, in 2012 a different federal district court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint due to lack of jurisdiction. In the current lawsuit, heard in state court, the defendant argued the case was prescribed on its face because it was filed over two years after the accident, and no defendant was served with process within the applicable period. Eventually, this issue was decided in a pre-trial proceeding, and then evidence regarding prescription was excluded from the trial. The trial court found for the plaintiffs, and the defendants motioned for a new trial based on the claim the court erred in denying the exception of prescription. 

child_musical_instruments_1065633-scaledCar accidents are extremely traumatic events that can impact the lives of anyone involved. The legal issues arising after a car accident can be complex and affect everyone involved. For example, what are the rights of a tutor when bringing claims on behalf of the children they are responsible for? Will they be considered “parents” under the law and be allowed to bring a claim for loss of consortium? The following case out of Baton Rouge discusses those issues in relation to a car accident. 

Geneva Marie Fils, an infant at the time, suffered severe personal injuries after being in a car accident. After the accident, Geneva’s maternal aunt and tutor, Calverna Reed, filed a lawsuit related to the car accident. In it, she sought damages on behalf of herself and Geneva for their loss of consortium. A loss of consortium claim is brought when someone has been deprived of their family relationship benefits (ex: love and affection) due to injuries caused by the defendant. 

The trial court dismissed Reed’s claim for loss of consortium. Afterward, the First Circuit Court of Appeals took the case to determine whether Reed’s loss of consortium claim could stand, considering that she was not a parent or guardian of Fils at the time of the accident. 

accident_car_accident_car-scaledComplex insurance issues can add more hassle to the damage from a car accident. What happens if you’re in an automobile accident after failing to pay your insurance premium? Can you still get coverage for your claims? The following case out of Baton Rouge shows why insurance companies must follow proper procedure and offer evidence of cancellation or suffer consequences.

On July 27, 2010, Beverly Smith and Darlene Shelmire were involved in a vehicle collision in Baton Rouge when Shelmire entered an intersection without yielding. Smith sustained injuries due to the accident and filed a claim against Shelmire and her insurer, Gramercy Insurance Company. The insurance company asked the court for summary judgment, claiming that Shelmire did not have insurance coverage at the time of the accident due to the cancellation of her policy for nonpayment. The court held a hearing on the motion and denied it.

The legal entity representing Gramercy Insurance Company, GoAuto, filed a new motion for summary judgment, asserting the same claim that Shelmire’s policy had been canceled before the accident. The trial court again denied this motion. In a bench trial, GoAuto filed a motion for involuntary dismissal, which the court denied. During the trial, the court heard evidence that Shelmire had paid her insurance premium on the afternoon of the accident and reported the accident a few hours later. GoAuto paid Shelmire for the damage to her vehicle the next day, despite their claim at trial that her insurance policy had been canceled by that point. Therefore, the trial ordered GoAuto to pay $15,000 in damages to Smith. GoAuto appealed this judgment. 

money_pay_money_making_0-scaledAlthough a car accident may result in minor damage to your vehicle, it can cause greater damage to your life. By seeking medical treatments and altering your lifestyle due to accident-related injuries, you deserve to be adequately compensated. The following lawsuit, out of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, shows how courts deal with damage awards and the request to increase the same.

Gregory Nichols rear-ended Sheila Joseph’s vehicle in 2012. This accident caused Joseph’s pre-existing arthritic spine condition to worsen. As a result, she had to undergo sixteen months of conservative care to manage the pain. A frequent runner before the accident, it also limited her participation in activities she previously enjoyed, such as running 5K races. 

Joseph then filed a lawsuit against Nichols, and in 2015, it went to a jury trial. Joseph moved for both a directed verdict related to liability and special damages. The court granted her motion in part, ruling that Nichols was 100% at fault. As to the special damages, the trial court took it under advisement. The jury ultimately awarded Joseph the full amount of her medical expenses ($20,118) as well as general damages ($10,500), specifically $10,000 for pain and suffering and $500 for loss of enjoyment of life. 

louisiana_state_coat_arms-scaledWhile a settlement can be a beneficial way to end a legal dispute, it can have long-lasting implications. If you are considering signing a settlement agreement and release, you must understand the possible effects of entering into such an agreement. A prior settlement agreement and release could result in a dismissal of a future lawsuit you bring against a party on the other side of the settlement agreement. The following lawsuit shows why one should carefully review any settlement agreement before signing. Otherwise, you may suffer harsh consequences.

Steven Richard was involved in a car accident in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Richard claimed that while driving westbound on U.S. Highway 425, his vehicle was hit by a car Fred Taylor was driving. Richard later sued Taylor, Fred’s Automotive (the shop where Taylor’s vehicle was repaired), and Caitlin Insurance, the insurance company that covered Fred’s Automotive. This article will focus on the claims Richard brought against Taylor, and the next post will focus on the claims Richard brought against Fred’s Automotive and its insurance company. 

Taylor filed an exception of res judicata. Under La. R.S. 13:4231, a claim can be dismissed when there was a final and valid prior judgment involving the same parties and the cause(s) of action in the second suit existed at the time of the first judgment and arose out of the same occurrence as the first action. Taylor argued that the lawsuit against him should be dismissed under the doctrine of res judicata because Richard had previously signed a release with him. Taylor introduced into evidence a document titled “Release of All Claims” that Richard had previously signed. The trial court dismissed the claim against Taylor, holding the res judicata applied. Richard appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that res judicata applied.

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. 

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