Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

24-year-old Ryan Fontenot was riding his bike eastbound on U.S. Highway 190 in the early morning hours last week when he was struck from behind by an unknown vehicle. While looking to make a left-hand turn into Acadian Medical Center from the turning lane, the unknown vehicle hit Mr. Fontenot and propelled him off of his bike and into the westbound lane where he was struck again, causing fatal injuries. Sadly, Mr. Fontenot was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver who struck Mr. Fontenot after he was ejected from the bike showed no alcohol in his system and no signs of impairment. However, the driver who initially hit Mr. Fontenot from the rear fled the scene immediately after the accident.

Though officers are unsure of the type of car that fled the scene, officers believe the hit-and-run vehicle is a ram pickup truck with damage to the left front bumper, headlamp, and fender.

An average of 16,500 car accidents occur daily across the United States. In the blink of an eye, a rear-end car accident can completely turn one’s life upside down by causing life-altering injuries. Such an event can leave one lost as to what to do next, scared as to the daunting recovery process that lies ahead, and confused as to where to even begin. Some insight into the expected process of legal settlements may aid you or a loved one in making important decisions following a tragic accident.

In Louisiana, a car accident resulting in an injury, death, or property damage resulting in over $500 requires the parties by law to contact the local police department. Following the accident, an injured party should seek legal assistance. This will significantly offset the post-accident burdens of both filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company and gathering  supporting evidence like medical examinations, photos, and witness testimony.

Further, an attorney can file suit against a negligent party, thereby holding that party liable for their actions. The lawsuit must be brought within 1 year of the date of the accident or else the claim is forever lost. Once the legal process begins, parties will work tirelessly to reach what is known as a settlement. A settlement resolves the dispute by dropping the claim before reaching trial in return for a monetary compensation. Settlement processes can last anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the severity of the injuries and the accident. In the settlement process, the injured party seeks recompense for physical pain and suffering, repair or replacement of their car, medical expenses, mental anguish from the accident, lost wages, as well as other forms of damages.

An early morning accident was the result of fog in Caddo Parish. A stalled vehicle was rear-ended when another driver failed to stop due to a decreased visibility associated with the foggy conditions.  Though fog is typically something motorists often encounter in the early morning, accidents like this serve as a reminder to remain vigilant even in situations we often encounter on the road.

The attorneys at Broussard & David have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle cases of this nature and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you, or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

 

https://www.ktbs.com/news/local/fog-may-have-contributed-to-crash-in-south-caddo-parish/article_fcbaa4bc-858d-11eb-864c-f72b239e1eea.html

 

A 73-year-old man died from injuries sustained in an ATV accident. While at a gas pump one of the three passengers accidentally stepped on the accelerator causing the ATV to strike a nearby planter. The force of the collision caused the ATV to almost flip on its side and ejected the other passenger before striking a parked truck.

The driver of the ATV was cited for operating an ATV on a public roadway and, pending toxicology, there may be additional charges. Information regarding the additional passenger is unknown.

Broussard & David offers their condolences and sympathy to the family and friends during this difficult time.

Plaintiffs Latoya Fontenot and Michael Robertson were injured when an 18-wheeler changed lanes and struck their vehicle.  There was minor property damage on the Fontenot’s vehicle and neither plaintiffs sought medical attention at the scene.  Robertson and Fontenot began treating with chiropractor Dr. Rowdy Gautreau.  When conservative measures failed, Robertson and Fontenot both presented to Dr. William Brennan, a Lafayette neurosurgeon.  Dr. Brennan performed a laminectomy on Robertson; one year later, Brennan performed a fusion at L4/5 L5/S1.   Dr. Brennan also performed a three-level cervical fusion on Latoya.   Michael Robertson was enrolled in pain management after the accident and was treating with Dr. Sanjiv Jindia for chronic pain.  At the time of the accident, Robertson was working offshore.

Defendants defended the case on all angles: liability and damages. On the first morning of trial, defendants stipulated to liability.  With respect to damages, defendants attacked Robertson’s credibility, particularly the fact that Robertson, a convicted felon, had testified that he did not return to work after the accident despite evidence that Robertson returned to his job for six days.  Defendants also argued that Robertson failed to disclose his 2010 treatment to “chronic back pain” to his treating physicians and that he overexaggerated the facts of the crash and the property damage to the vehicle.  With respect to Fontenot, the defendants argued that while Fontenot was treating with Dr. Brennan and complaining of neck pain, the visits she made to her primary care providers contained no mentions of neck pain.

Plaintiffs experts were as follows:  Sy Arceneaux and Stony Landry, vocational rehabilitation, and John Theriot, economist.  Defendants retained Dr. James Domingue to give expert testimony about Latoya Fontenot’s EMG, and Dr. Chambliss Harrod to provide an Independent Medical Exam regarding the plaintiffs’ need for surgery.

The parents of Sherena Hundalani, 26, are fighting for justice after their daughter was tragically killed by a taxi in Queens, New York. Hundalani was standing on a sidewalk in front of a Mobil Station on February 24, 2019, waiting to cross the street, when a taxi struck her from behind, dragged her underneath the car, and then fled the scene. Hundalani was taken to a hospital before she later succumbed to her injuries. The taxi’s driver, Lakhvinder Singh, was questioned by police and claimed that the vehicle malfunctioned before he was then released without having any charges pressed against him. The case is still being investigated.

The suit, which names City of New York, the Department of Transportation, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, alleges that Singh was using the Mobil station as an illegal turnaround at the time of the incident, a common practice among taxi drivers in that location. Hundalani’s parents, Prakash and Bina, claim that the various city agencies were aware of the dangerous conditions that led to their daughter’s death and allowed them to continue. “We are devastated beyond words by the loss of our beautiful Sherena,” they expressed. “We are grateful to so many friends who have supported us and expressed their love for our daughter, but there must be accountability when an innocent young woman is killed by a taxi licensed by the City of New York while standing on the sidewalk of all places.”

Though the Hundalani’s are seeking $25 million in damages, an outrageous New York taxi and limousine regulation is potentially standing in their way. That is, under current New York City law, insurance payouts for those injured or killed by a standard taxi or limousine are limited to $100,000 per person, $300,000, per accident, $200,000 in personal injury protection, and $10,000 in property damage. As a result, the city’s streets and sidewalks are being opened to reckless, unlicensed, and underinsured bicyclists as well as underinsured taxis and limousines who face very little threat of legal or financial consequences following a crash.

The family of a Walter Huang has filed a wrongful death suit against Tesla Motors Inc. following a crash that ended his life. On March 23, 2018, Mr. Huang was traveling southbound on Highway 101 when his vehicle, a Tesla Model X, misread the lane lines, failed to detect a concrete traffic barrier, failed to brake the car, and instead, accelerated the car until it struck the median at 71 miles per hour (according to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board). Huang was killed on impact.

According to the suit, “Based on Tesla’s advertising and promotional material, Decedent Walter Huang believed the Tesla Model X’s technology was such that the autopilot features included designed-in programs, software, hardware, and systems that would eliminate the risk of harm or injury to the vehicle operator.” It continues to allege that Mr. Huang “reasonably believed the 2017 Tesla Model X vehicle was safer than a human-operated vehicle because of the Defendant’s claimed technical superiority regarding the vehicle’s autopilot system, including Tesla’s ‘traffic-aware cruise control’, ‘autosteer lane-keeping assistance’ and other safety components.” Huang’s family notes that, despite these advertisement claims by Tesla, Mr. Huang complained on numerous occasions about his vehicle’s autopilot problems that Tesla was never able to resolve.

Plaintiff’s attorneys hold that Tesla either knew or should have known about the vehicle software’s defects that consequently left owners and operators of the Model X in danger of crashing, and moreover, Tesla either knew or should have known that said owners and operators were wholly unaware of the Model X’s defects. Thus, these operators should have been notified of the software issues, sparing them of potential harm. Instead, Mr. Huang was unknowingly driving a computer-operated vehicle that had the potential to malfunction and crash at any moment, and this potential was tragically actualized resulting in Mr. Huang’s death.

A bill that claims to lower Louisiana’s auto insurance rates has passed through the state’s House of Representatives following a vote of 69-30. House Bill 372, proposed by Rep. Kirk Talbot, is based on the purported fact that Louisiana ranks as having the second-highest auto insurance rates in the United States. The cause, according to Talbot, is the increasing number of car crashes and, consequently, increased expenses for the insurance companies who are thus forced to raise their rates. In reality, the bill is nothing more than a scheme to bolster the wealth of insurance companies and gain their political support, all the while presenting the enticing disguise to Louisiana residents that their insurance rates will be radically reduced.

Talbot’s bill, also known as the “Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2019”, proposes an insurance carrier wishlist of way to save money on claims without any reduction in insurance premium costs. The first of which is to increase the prescriptive period for filing suit from one to two years. This change would certainly reduce lawsuits (as our neighbors in Texas and Mississippi have at least two years to file suit). In doing so, the bill encourages lengthened legal negotiations following automotive incidents resulting in a greater number of settlements and, therefore, reduced court costs. In a similar vein, the bill also reduces the jury threshold from the previous 50,000-dollar minimum to a mere 5,000 dollars, theoretically dissuading attorneys from taking cases to court, and again, resulting in reduced court costs. Talbot also puts forward the idea of limiting the amount of recoverable medical expenses following a car crash to that amount that is paid by the health insurance company rather than the amount billed. Lastly, Talbot wants to change the law so the insurance companies can no longer be defendants (just at fault drivers). Consequentially, according to Talbot, by reducing the expenses of insurance companies, the insurance companies unilaterally choose to  lower the cost of their premiums for Louisiana residents.

Opponents of the bill rightly argue that its power-hungry proponents are taking advantage of honest citizens. Though the bill presents itself as looking out for Louisiana drivers, the bill will instead leave many victims of negligent and careless driving without being able to obtain the justice they deserve. Rather than settling cases outside of court and reducing court costs, the bill will force justice-seeking plaintiffs to take their cases to a jury trial, prolonging a verdict and clogging up courtrooms that could otherwise be free had the case been more expeditiously ruled by a judge. Moreover, by reducing the possible amount of medical expenses to be recovered by a given victim, the victim will often be left paying for large portions of his medical bills, himself, instead of that expense being charged to the person responsible for his damages.

In Arceneaux v. Turner, et al., the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette trial court’s ruling that denied uninsured motorist coverage to a plaintiff. The plaintiff, Gerald Arceneaux, owned a towing company. In November of 2014, he was involved in a car accident while driving a 2012 Ford F250. In a sworn affidavit, Arceneaux stated that he was “on call” when the accident occurred and that the truck he was driving was outfitted with all tools and equipment necessary for any road side service request. Typically, Arceneaux would drive a Ford F450, but that vehicle was in need of repairs. After the accident, Arceneaux filed suit and sought uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage from his insurer. The insurer defended by filing a motion for summary judgment claiming that the policy did not provide coverage for the plaintiff’s claims.  The trial court granted the motion and Arceneaux appealed to the Third Circuit.

On appeal, the issue before the court was whether the F250 Arceneaux drove on the day of the accident could be considered a “temporary substitute vehicle” for Gerald Towing’s Ford F450 Wrecker. Citing Louisiana law, the defendant-insurer argued that Arceneaux could not recover, because he was operating his personal vehicle at the time of the accident and that the F250 was not a covered vehicle under the policy.  However, Arceneaux countered that under the policy the Ford F250 was a “replacement motor vehicle covered under the terms of the policy.” Moreover, the policy states that insureds are anyone occupying a “covered auto” or a “temporary substitute for a covered auto.” To support his claim, Arceneaux pointed to his sworn affidavit in which he stated that the F450 was in need of repairs on the date of the accident, and that he used the Ford F250 to perform work that could or would have been completed by the F450, if it was in service.

Turning to the facts and evidence, the Third Circuit agreed with the plaintiff that the Ford F250 served as a temporary substitute for a covered vehicle, specifically the Ford F450 Wrecker. Therefore, Arceneaux was an insured under the policy at the time of the accident and could potentially recover under his UM coverage. The Third Circuit reversed the trial court’s grant of the insurer’s motion to summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.

In November of 2017, Galvan Alejandro Jr. and William Rhodes were traveling in Vernon Parish, Louisiana when Alejandro, the driver, lost control of the vehicle, went off the road, struck a culvert, and hit several trees. Despite wearing a seatbelt, Rhodes, the passenger, was ejected from the vehicle and killed. The driver sustained only moderate injuries. Suspecting alcohol and excessive speeding as causes for the crash, in January, Louisiana authorities arrested the driver for vehicular homicide and reckless operation.

Louisiana law defines “vehicular homicide” as “the killing of a human being caused . . . by an offender engaged in the operation of . . . any motor vehicle” when the driver is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or other intoxicants. If convicted of vehicular homicide, the driver can be fined and imprisoned for no less than five years and no more than thirty years. In addition to facing possible jail time, under Louisiana law, a drunk driver can face liability for punitive damages, which can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages in some cases. Louisiana Civil Code article 2315.4 states, “exemplary damages may be awarded upon proof that the injuries on which the action is based were caused by . . . a defendant whose intoxication while operating a motor vehicle was a cause in fact of the resulting injuries.”

Punitive damage awards can vary depending upon the facts of each case and even the location of the trial. For example, Broussard & David, LLC partner Blake R. David was lead counsel in Thibodeaux v. AFTCO, where a Lafayette Parish jury awarded punitive damages of nearly $15,000,000.00 against an intoxicated driver. In Calcasieu Parish, Broussard & David, LLC partner Blake R. David was also lead counsel in Tingle v. American Home Assurance Co., where the jury returned a verdict which included $5,000,000.00 in punitive damages where an intoxicated driver caused the death of a family’s two-year-old daughter. In Thistlethwaite v. Gonzalez, another case in which Blake David was lead counsel, a St. Charles Parish trial court awarded over $25,000,000.00 total in punitive damages against an intoxicated defendant driver.