Suffering an injury in an auto accident in which weather or atmospheric conditions play a role can present some distinct challenges. Since the law recognizes an “act of God” defense, your case may encounter some unique hurdles in pursuit of compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. With the help of a knowledgeable Louisiana car accident attorney, you may still be able to succeed despite an opponent’s claims of an “act of God.” In one injured man’s case, he won his appeal because he persuaded the court that the defendant’s inaction opened it up to potential liability.
The holiday season was not 100% happy and bright for a Louisiana man named Scott in 2011, when he found himself involved in a multi-car pile-up. In the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 29, 2011, he was a passenger in a vehicle that encountered heavy, dense fog and smoke along westbound Interstate 10 in the New Orleans area. Visibility dropped to near zero. The driver began braking but hit the truck in front of him. That vehicle was stopped because it had rear-ended the vehicle in front of it. The vehicle carrying Scott was subsequently hit by two more vehicles.
In multi-car collisions, the facts may indicate many different possible strategies in terms of legal action. The involvement of numerous drivers means that there may be multiple different people or entities that could be liable to you for the injuries that you suffered in the crash. Additionally, if some outside person or entity did something to create a dangerous situation that led to all of the collisions, that person or entity may be at fault too.
The latter was true in Scott’s case. The area where the crash occurred was near Oak Island, which is 1,482 acres of marshland just south of I-10. The injured man contended in his lawsuit that the wreck was the result of the near-zero visibility and that those conditions were the result of a marsh fire on Oak Island that the owners allowed to keep burning over many months. This failure to act made the owners negligent and to blame for the harm inflicted in the accident, according to Scott.
The law says that people or entities cannot be liable for conditions that arise as a result of an “act of God.” The island’s owner used that in this case, arguing that the near-zero visibility was a result of fog, which was an act of God. The owner also contended that the fire was a result of a lightning strike (another act of God) and that, based on the act of God defense, they couldn’t be liable.
While the trial court ruled for the owners, the Court of Appeal concluded that Scott could proceed in his case. The injured man had attorneys who brought multiple theories under which the island owner could be liable, and the appellate court identified one of them that should have allowed the injured man to go to trial. Louisiana has a law, La. C.C. 2317, that makes owners liable if their property causes harm as a result of the property’s “ruin, vice, or defect” and if the injured party can show that the owner knew or should have known about that ruin, vice, or defect but still failed to use reasonable care to address it.
Scott had evidence on these points in his case. His wetlands expert testified that the owner of Oak Island should have engaged in periodic controlled burning, due to the island’s consisting mostly of scrub shrub. In the expert’s opinion, Oak Island hadn’t undergone a controlled burn in a half-century or more. This inaction was enough to give Scott a viable case for trial under Section 2317.
When you’re hurt in an auto accident, make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. Contact the diligent Louisiana rear-end collision attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm, who have spent many years fighting for injured people and are here to help with your case.
For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.
More Blog Posts:
Passenger Receives $434K Jury Award for Injuries Suffered in Baton Rouge Two-Car Accident, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Sept. 25, 2017
Tips for Driving in the Rain, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, March 30, 2017