Preston Jones of Shreveport died last Monday of his injuries after an 18-wheeler collided with his car in Richland Parish.
According to the State Police investigation, the 18-wheeler, driven by Jon Simmons of Cruger, Mississippi, was driving west on I-20 when it changed lanes in front of Jones’s vehicle, a 1997 Ford Explorer. Unfortunately, there was not enough space between the two automobiles to complete the maneuver, and the rear of the 18-wheeler’s trailer struck the front of the Explorer. Jones lost control of the vehicle as it spun rapidly after the collision. The vehicle was sent into the median and began rolling. Jones was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident and was flung from the vehicle. He later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. A toxicology sample has been obtained and is awaiting analysis.
According to La. R.S. §32.295.1 (B), each occupant of a passenger car, SUV, or pickup truck is required to have a seatbelt fastened around his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion. While this is done for safety reasons and the lack of an in-use seat beat is a violation, it does not play into comparative fault for civil suits. Subsection E of the aforementioned statute relates that, “in any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence.” Further, violation of the seatbelt requirement cannot be admitted as evidence to mitigate damages.