The Causeway Bridge has been described as long, scary and an engineering masterpiece. While the bridge may be all those things and more, the condition of the bridge has been a concern for years.
On August 8th, the bridge was closed in both directions for hours due to an auto accident. According to preliminary reports, Michael Gibson clipped Joey Leblanc’s truck from the rear during the process of a lane change. After riding the rails, Leblanc’s truck eventually plunged into Lake Pontchartrain. This was a very serious auto accident which could have resulted in severe injuries, however, the Leblanc was fortunately rescued by police officers.
Unfortunate auto accidents like the one Leblanc endured may not have a specific price tag, but Louisiana Tort Law exists to bring some sort of fair compensation to victims of auto accidents. Louisiana law, La. Civ. Code art. 2315(A), provides “every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.” This Article is known as the “fountainhead” of tort liability and we can use this Article to assess the situation involving Leblanc and the Causeway Bridge. As a result of the auto accident, Leblanc sustained injuries which preliminary reports characterize as bruising and “minor.” Often injuries sustained in an auto accident are not felt immediately, in this instance, emotional trauma may also be present. This begs the question, how will Leblanc be adequately compensated, and from whom?
Article 2315(A) provides the basis for Leblanc’s claim against Gibson. While the investigation is ongoing, Gibson will likely be liable because of the improper lane change. As a result of the auto accident, Gibson received citations for driving with a suspended license and careless operation. Careless operation citations are often issued in auto accidents involving improper lane changes.
Aside from Gibson, Leblanc may have additional claims against the public entities responsible for the maintenance and safety of the Causeway Bridge, as arguably the condition and state of the Causeway Bridge may be a contributing factor to the cause of the auto accident between Leblanc and Gibson. Certain elements are required to sustain a legal claim against a public entity. Below you will find a chart of the elements required to prove public entity liability:Over the years the Causeway Bridge has undergone many improvements an structural additions. For example, following a class action filed by the Cardone Law Firm concerning the safety of the Causeway Bridge, lights were placed on the bridge so that travelers could better observe their surroundings. Since its construction, the Causeway Bridge has undergone many improvements and subsequent remedial measures have been taken to improve the safety of the bridge. The legal issue is whether these subsequent remedial measures can be used in a court of law to establish the negligence of the public entity responsible for the safety and maintenance of the Causeway Bridge? This situation is addressed by the Louisiana Code of Evidence.
Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 407 provides, if after an event measures are taken which, if taken previously, would have made the event less likely to occur, the measures are not admissible to prove negligence or culpable conduct in connection with the event. Article 407 is considered a matter of public policy in that it encourages individuals to make remedial measures to lessen the possibility of others being affected by similar accidents. See the full text of the Article here.
Article 407 does not allow the introduction of subsequent remedial measures to establish negligence. However, Article 407 does not prohibit evidence of subsequent remedial measures when offered for other purposes such as proving ownership, authority, knowledge, control, feasibility of precautionary measures, or for attacking credibility. Thus while evidence of subsequent remedial measures may not be admissible in a court of law for some purposes, they are for other purposes, and sometimes those “other purposes” may make or break your case. Article 407 demonstrates why it is important to consult a skilled attorney to navigate evidentiary issues. The attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm have successfully introduced evidence of subsequent remedial measures at trial to obtain favorable results for their clients in a multitude of cases.
For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.