When you are injured in a vehicle accident, there are certain things with which you are undoubtedly very familiar, including the factual details of your accident. However, achieving success in your injury lawsuit is about much more than putting together a strong factual presentation. It is also about understanding the law and procedure, and how to use them advantageously. The recent case of one injured man is a prime example. The man’s counsel’s post-trial motion led a trial judge to modify the outcome of the case and increase the man’s damages award from $58,500 to more than $500,000.
While we attorneys believe we know it all, there is a reason why we didn’t’ go to medical school. The great Albert Einstein, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Experts can play a crucial part to a client’s case. This blog post will discuss the importance of a biomechanical expert in an automobile accident.
THE SCIENCE OF THE EXPERT
Auto accidents are not always black and white, when there is a gray area, science may fill in the gaps. As trial attorneys, many lawyers are faced with the all too common qualms of getting ones argument across to a jury. Whether it be a complex medical malpractice case or a three car accident, the law and circumstances can seem so abstract to a lay person. Charts, visuals, and experts are specifically helpful in a personal injury lawsuit.
According to preliminary reports, the tow truck driver lost control and struck pedestrians waiting at a bus stop as well as four parked vehicles. While investigators are still trying to ascertain what caused the devastating accident, the ultimate question is: Who will be found liable for the damages?
In Louisiana there are two types of damages: 1) compensatory damages and 2) punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish and deter certain types of conduct which the law finds to be particularly egregious. Punitive damages are explicitly provided for only in certain circumstances such as: intoxicated drivers, sexual crimes against children, and domestic violence. Punitive damages are the additional damages, which are received over and above compensatory damages. So if for example, the tow truck driver was found to be intoxicated and the intoxicated state was found to be the cause of the collision, the individuals who were injured could potentially recover punitive damages.
- Find a copy of your Flood Policy, Renters Policy, or Business Policy, including the Declaration Page which is the part of the policy that tells you the type and how much you have in coverage. It includes the name and address of the insurance company, with information about the issuing agent, and it includes the contact information for the correct department when making a claim. It also states what is insured, for how much, under which circumstances, and for how long. It is a great idea to store these insurance policies and any other important legal documents in a safe deposit box in a secure facility. This will insure they cannot be stolen or damaged.
- Read and review your Policy. It is extremely important to understand your policy because there are certain rules that you must follow when filing a claim. Understanding these rules will make sure you are treated fairly and will not be taken advantage of. It is also important because these insurance policies may provide immediate financial assistance with food and shelter expenses.
The City of New Orleans is known for its eccentric, vibrant and welcoming attractions; but with fun comes human error. Tourists come to the city with one thing in mind, partying! On July 30th, tourists were partaking in an infamous tour of the city when a vehicle collided with a mule-drawn carriage in the French Quarter. News outlets reported the vehicle was going at a high speed when the driver turned the corner and exerted so much force that the carriage overturned.
Of the injured, three adults and a child were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to WWLTV. While the driver will likely be held responsible for the damages, many locals can attest that sometimes carriages do not always obey the traffic signals. According to the NOPD, the incident is considered an ongoing investigation.
Carriage rides are an attraction all over the United States. In New Orleans, horse and carriage rides date back to the 19th century. Along with the good comes the bad, as the mule-drawn rides have been the subject of countless lawsuits. In an effort to shield sponsors of farm animal activities from liability, Louisiana has enacted a special statute referred to among those in the legal community as the “farm animal immunity” statute. You can read the full text of the statute here.
A woman whose vehicle was sideswiped obtained a judgment and damages award for herself but not her children in a recent case decided by a District Court in Jefferson Parish. That ruling was affirmed by the Louisiana Court of Appeal. Despite testimony from the children and their chiropractor, the appeals court nevertheless determined that the trial court’s decision was not so unreasonable as to require reversal.
The crash occurred on Williams Boulevard in Jefferson Parish. A vehicle driven by Joel Hashim moved from the left lane to the center lane of the road and, in the process, struck the vehicle driven by Regina Tezeno, who was already traveling in the center lane. The total damage amounted to one lost headlight and scraped paint. Tezeno sued Hashim and his auto insurer for personal injuries on behalf of herself and her two children. At a trial without a jury, the judge heard evidence and found Hashim 100% at fault. The judge awarded Tezeno $5,535 in damages. The children recovered nothing.
Insurance companies sometimes seek out ways to deny a claim even if the person making the claim is entitled to be paid. Sometimes, even when they pay, insurance companies delay an excessively long time in doing so. Such an excessive delay was the basis of an Ascension Parish man’s lawsuit against his auto insurer. The man lost his case, though, after a trial court and the Louisiana Court of Appeal decided that the insurance company’s payment was made in a timely manner, even though the man’s lawyer did not receive the insurance company’s check until three days after the deadline imposed by the Louisiana Statutes.
The case arose from a 2010 auto accident involving Beau Schexnaildre and Nathan Spicer. Spicer was at fault, and the two sides eventually settled Schexnaildre’s claim through Spicer’s insurance. After that resolution, Schexnaildre also sought payment from his own insurance company, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., under the terms of his underinsured motorist coverage. Thirty-three days after Schexnaildre made his claim, his lawyer received a check from State Farm for $25,000, the limit of the man’s underinsured motorist coverage.
Most drivers have, at some point, found themselves in the position of sitting at a stop sign and needing to navigate a cross street with stopped traffic. Sometimes, there’s even a “helpful” driver who waves for you to proceed. A woman in that position lost her case before the Louisiana Court of Appeal recently because she did not exercise the required degree of caution before crossing an intersection. The decision highlights that an anonymous driver’s waving does not diminish the level of care that the law requires of drivers at stop signs.
The accident that led to the lawsuit occurred at an intersection of two city streets in Monroe. Betty Blount was driving on North 8th Street and was stuck at the intersection of 8th and Louisville Avenue. As a result of another accident, traffic on Louisville was stopped in the outer lane. After spending several minutes waiting at the intersection, both Blount and her passenger, Joseph Solomon, saw a driver in the outer westbound Louisville lanes wave them through. Blount entered the intersection and was struck by a different driver, Sarah Tugwell, who was in the inner westbound lane.
Sometimes it is the auto accident you avoid that still leads to an injury. Two men whose vehicles narrowly missed each other on Highway 431 in Ascension Parish eventually ended up in a fistfight that left one man with a bitten nose and both men in court as a result of the bitten man’s injuries. Since the trial court had enough evidence to conclude that the biter was the aggressor, and not biting in self-defense, the Louisiana Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision to award the bitten man past and future medical expenses.
The source of the incident began when Clifford Barr attempted to turn left from Louisiana Highway 431 into the parking lot of an auto service shop. At the same time, Ray Schexnayder was turning from the lot onto the highway in his truck. The two trucks narrowly avoided colliding, and both men stopped their vehicles in the roadway, and a verbal quarrel ensued.
An insurance company and an auto auction company will not face being sued for spoliation of evidence based upon their negligent failure to preserve a vehicle involved in an auto accident that injured the vehicle’s driver. The Louisiana Supreme Court recently ruled that the state’s law does not recognize a civil claim for negligent spoliation of evidence, although the companies’ failure may allow the injured driver to sue for breach of contract.
In March 2008, a multi-vehicle wreck left Richard Reynolds injured and his car totaled. Reynolds sued one of the other drivers, Robert Bordelon III, for negligence for his role in the accident. In addition to suing Bordelon, Reynolds also advanced claims against the manufacturer of his 2003 Infiniti G35, stemming from the car’s failure to deploy its airbags in the crash. Despite the driver’s alleged requests to the contrary, the auction company that took possession of the Infiniti on behalf of Reynolds’s insurer did not preserve the car, which meant that it was never inspected for defects.