Articles Posted in Negligence Claims

alzheimer_s_man_portrait_0-scaledEmployees are often exposed to stressful situations while at work, whether from unhelpful coworkers or understaffing. Under what circumstances are resulting mental injuries entitled to workers’ compensation? 

Diedre Emerson worked for Willis Knighton Medical Center as a certified nurse assistant on the cancer floor. One day, she arrived at work for her regular night shift. She found the prior shift had not completed a lot of their work, so she would have to do additional work. When she learned this, she became upset and mad. She said this was more of the same old behavior.

While working that day, she indicated that she felt something pop in her head but admitted nothing physically happened to cause the pop. After completing her shift, she went to the emergency room. The medical records from the visit did not show she complained about weakness on one side of her body or other neurological symptoms. Her primary complaint was hyperventilation and nervousness. Emerson was subsequently late in calling Willis Knighton to tell them she would not be able to work her shift. She was fired. 

feet_girl_fingers_parts-scaledMedical testimony is an essential part of determining whether an injured worker has a valid claim. What happens if the doctors’ diagnoses conflict and they reach different conclusions about whether an injured worker can return to work?

Maxine Hall worked as a housekeeper for Global Solution Services. While working for Global at a hotel, a door closed on her foot. She went to the emergency room, where a doctor told her she did not have any broken bones. However, another doctor subsequently diagnosed her with a fractured toe. 

Despite receiving medical treatment, Hall continue to suffer from pain in her foot. Hall received workers’ compensation benefits, but the benefits terminated approximately two years after the accident occurred. She then filed a Disputed Claim for Compensation against Global and Illinois National Insurance Company, its insurer. Hall sought to get her benefits reinstated. The Workers’ Compensation Judge dismissed Hall’s claims. Hall filed an appeal. 

driving_camera_in_mirror-scaledIt is common to borrow a car from a family member or friend. If you are unfortunately involved in an accident while driving a borrowed car, who is liable for damages if the accident results from inadequate maintenance? 

While Holly Fontenot was driving a car owned by Patricia Neil and her husband, the parents of Fontenot’s fiancé, she was involved in a single-car accident when she lost control and hit a utility pole. Fontenot had the Neils’ permission to drive their car. There were also two minors in the car with her. 

Fontenot and the mother of the two minor children passengers filed a lawsuit against Safeway Insurance, who insured the Neils’ car. Fontenot claimed the accident occurred because of a lack of maintenance. She claimed the car went off the road because it had a broken tie road, which caused the car’s steering mechanism to fail. 

emergency_rescue_stretcher_injured-scaledIf you are injured on the job, it is best practice to inform your employer and supervisor about your injuries. They will likely inform you about possible workers’ compensation to which you might be entitled. Are you still eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you tried to hide your injury from your employer?

Gary Jeansonne worked as a maintenance worker at a youth center located in Bunkie, Louisiana. Over two months after Jeansonne stopped working at the center, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation, claiming he had hurt his back while working at the center. He claimed the accident had occurred while he was working in the kitchen. Jeansonne claimed to have called his supervisor the next morning to tell him he would not be able to come in to work due to his back, but he did not tell his supervisor his back issues were from an injury at work. 

Jeansonne started receiving medical treatment for his back injuries. His medical records indicate he told his doctor the accident that hurt his back occurred at home. Jeansonne subsequently claimed the report was not accurate and he had just said the incident occurred at home because he wanted to be able to go back to work. 

prison_alcatraz_prison_wing-scaledEven while an inmate, you are still entitled to damages if you are injured on the job. If you are injured while working in a release program, are you entitled to compensation through the workers’ compensation scheme? 

Lindsey French was serving a sentence for drug and firearm charges at the detention center in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. Inmates at the detention center could be released to work for the police as part of the highway maintenance crew. French volunteered to join the crew. While on the crew, French was responsible for operating a tractor.

One day, the tractor French was using hit a tree stump. French was not wearing his seat belt. He fell through an opening in the tractor and fractured his pelvis.

car_racing_crash_accident-scaledUnder Louisiana law, there is a presumption the driver of a car that rear-ends another car acted negligently. However, this presumption of negligence can be overcome in certain situations, such as if the driver of the vehicle that was rear-end shifted lanes soon before the accident.

While Tammy Bloxham was stopped at a red light in her car, she was hit from behind by Andy Gibbs Jr. At the time of the accident, Gibbs was driving a tractor-trailer owned by 31 Energy. Bloxham filed a lawsuit against Gibs, 31 Energy, and 31 Energy’s insurer. Bloxham argued 31 Energy had been negligent in hiring Gibbs and not inspecting its vehicle’s brakes. The defendants filed a summary judgment motion, claiming Bloxham had not reported this claim in her pending bankruptcy. Bloxham also filed a summary judgment motion, claiming Gibbs was liable under La. R.S. 32:81 A and the presumed negligence of the driver of a following vehicle who hits the rear of another vehicle.

The trial court granted Bloxham’s summary judgment motion given the presumption that a following driver who rear ends another vehicle is negligent. The court held this applied even if Bloxham had changed lanes immediately before the accident. The defendants filed an appeal.

labor_farmer_village_workThe distinction between independent contractors and employees has always been something of a balancing test. This distinction becomes vital in workers’ compensation issues, where employees generally enjoy peace of mind with workers’ compensation in the event of an injury, whereas independent contractors usually do not. But are there some cases where an independent contractor can collect workers’ compensation benefits? The answer to this question is illustrated in the following appeal from the New Orleans Office of Workers’ Compensation.

Federico Espinoza Martinez and four others were hired by Jaroslov Rames to lower a washer/dryer combination unit to the first floor of an apartment building. During the lowering of the unit, Mr. Martinez received a laceration on his hand when one of the ropes used snapped. Despite a broken rope and cut hand, Mr. Martinez and the others completed the job. Afterward, Mr. Rames drove Mr. Martinez to the emergency room, paying five hundred dollars to ensure proper treatment was administered. Mr. Martinez later attempted to collect his pay from Mr. Rames. Mr. Rames informed him that he had deducted the five-hundred-dollar emergency room fee from Mr. Martinez’s check and planned to deduct the remainder of the hospital fee from his future earnings.

Mr. Martinez filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits he believed Mr. Rames owed him. The issue was heard by the Office of Workers’ Compensation (henceforth “OWC”), and it was found that Mr. Martinez was not an employe of Mr. Rames, but rather an independent contractor. Benefits were denied based on this finding. Mr. Martinez appealed, maintaining that the OWC failed to apply the manual labor exception outlined in La. R.S. 23:1021(7). The OWC found the manual labor exception did not apply to the set of facts, denying benefits again for Mr. Martinez.

usps_mcveytown_pa_17051-scaledNo one should have to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. If you are dealing with sexual harassment at work and you report it to your employer, you hope they will act on your report. How do actions taken by your employer affect your ability to recover for sexual harassment in court?

Shelita Tucker worked for UPS in Port Allen, Louisiana for three years. One of the subordinates she managed was Larry McCaleb. Tucker claimed McCaleb sexually harassed her for about two years. His alleged sexual harassment involved inappropriate touching. Soon after the incident with the inappropriate touching, Tucker reported what had happened to the business manager. McCaleb was taken out of service while the investigation was ongoing. The next day, Tucker filed a complaint with the UPS Compliance Line. She subsequently also filed a report with the local police department. 

The next week, Tucker was on a scheduled vacation. While she as on vacation, UPS investigated the matter and suspended McCaleb. When McCaleb was allowed to return to work, UPS took corrective action including meeting with McCaleb, counseling him about proper behavior and relevant policies, and prohibiting him from going near Tucker. McCaleb was also convicted of battery and sentenced to 90-days in jail. Tucker reported McCaleb never talked to or touched her again. The one-time McCaleb entered her work area, she reported it and UPS addressed it. Tucker claimed she still felt unsafe at work because McCaleb also worked at the facility. However, she said she was still about to perform her job. She claimed McCaleb would stare at her as she walked in or out of work. 

uranium_radioactive_nuclear_rays-scaledWe have all heard the saying “time is of the essence.” This is especially true when you are filing a lawsuit. If you do not comply with the statutory requirements for how long you have to file a lawsuit, a court will be unable to hear your claim. Although certain exceptions apply that extend your timeline for filing a lawsuit, there are strict evidentiary requirements for these exceptions to apply. 

Julius Lennie worked for a Company that cleaned pipes in oilfields. The cleaning process allegedly involved the emission of naturally occurring radioactive material. About fifteen years after retiring, Lennie was diagnosed with lung cancer and died shortly thereafter. Four years later, his surviving spouse and children filed a lawsuit against various companies for whom Lennie had cleaned their oilfield pipes. They claimed Lennie had been exposed to harmful levels of radiation, causing his lung cancer and death. They claimed the companies had been aware of the dangers of the radioactive materials but did not warn Lennie about the dangerous or take adequate precautions. The Lennies claimed they were not aware about the radiation exposure until less than a year before they filed their lawsuit, when one of Lennie’s children read about it in the newspaper and they met with an attorney. The Lennies claimed the companies had actively concealed the existence of the naturally occurring radioactive materials. 

Because the Lennies filed their lawsuit over a year after Lennie’s death, the defendants filed peremptory exceptions of prescription, claiming they were required to have filed their lawsuit within one year of his death, pursuant to La. C.C. art. 2315.1. The Lennies claimed they did not have any actual or constructive knowledge of their claims until less than a year before they filed the lawsuit, because the companies had concealed it. The trial court granted the defendants’ peremptory exceptions of prescription, finding there was not sufficient evidence the defendants had concealed the existence of the naturally occurring radioactive material such that the Lennies did not have knowledge of their possible claims. The Lennies appealed.

rim_tire_wheel_round-scaledIn the heart of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, tragedy struck on Interstate 10 as a routine drive turned fatal. Arthur Huguley, behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer for AAA Cooper Transportation, found himself in a situation that would forever alter the lives of those involved. A blown-out tire, a series of events, and a wrongful death lawsuit brought forth by Curley Mouton’s surviving family members set the stage for a courtroom drama that unfolded with unexpected twists. In the end, a jury assigned fault, but the defendants, Huguley, AAA Cooper, and their insurer, were not ready to accept the verdict without a fight. This article explores the intricacies of their appeal, shedding light on the compelling arguments presented and the complexities of apportioning fault in a tragic accident.

Arthur Huguley was driving a tractor-trailer in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, on Interstate 10 while working for AAA Cooper Transportation (“AAA Cooper”).  Huguley heard a bang and worried he might have blown out a tire. While performing a maneuver to see if he had blown out a tire, the tire that had blown out came apart and flew into the air. Curley Mouton was driving in a truck behind Huguley when debris from the tire started flying through the air. The debris hit Mouton’s truck, causing him to hit a guardrail, flip over, and crash. Mouton died in the crash. 

Mouton’s surviving spouse and son filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Huguley, AAA Cooper, and their insurer. A jury found in favor of Mouton’s family and assigned 10% fault to Huguley and 90% to AAA Cooper for putting a defective tire on its truck. The defendants appealed, claiming the jury had erred in its ruling.

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