COMMON MYTHS: PARKING LOT CAR WRECKS

parking lot car wrecks

 

Private parking lots often become obstacle courses for drivers. They are usually filled with heavy vehicle traffic moving in and out parking spots, turning from every which angle, and inattentive pedestrians looking down at their phones or shopping lists, the ingredients for car wrecks.

As a car accident lawyer, I often receive calls from victims of private parking lot wrecks. The beginning of the conversation usually begins with the individual saying something to the effect of: “My mom/friend/co-worker said that because my accident happened in a private parking lot, I can’t make the other driver’s insurance company pay for my damages.” A recent call prompted this article, which provides information debunking that misconception.

I.      What Are My Rights in a Parking Lot Car Wreck? 

Although many Louisiana statues regulating motor vehicles on public roadways don’t apply to motor vehicles on private lots, Louisiana courts have imposed duties on motorists driving in private parking lots. For instance, motorists traveling in private parking lots must use “due caution” by being attentive and maintaining a slow driving speed while driving through and backing up in private parking lots. Therefore, if someone driving at a fast pace in a parking lot hits you, that person and his insurance company will likely be held liable for your damages. Among many other circumstances, the same would be true if someone wrecks into you because he/she is distracted by something else (e.g. phone).

II.     Do Officer’s Even Respond to a Parking Lot Car Wreck? 

Another common misconception is that law enforcement officers are told not to respond and never do respond to calls involving parking lot car wrecks. However, local law enforcement agencies are encouraged by the State of Louisiana to respond and usually do respond to such calls. In fact, most local agencies have crash report forms designed specifically for parking lot wrecks. Those forms are used during the local agency’s investigation of the crash scene, to record key facts relating to the circumstances surrounding the car wreck, names of drivers involved, vehicle information, each driver’s insurance policies, and etc.

III.    Other Implications

Furthermore, under Louisiana law, motorists are required to maintain the minimum automobile liability insurance while operating a motor vehicle, whether on public roadways or private lots, to cover damages from any at-fault wrecks of the motorist. If a law enforcement officer learns that one involved has no automobile liability insurance, the officer can cite that individual for not having insurance.

Lastly, if you operate your vehicle unsafely on a private lot, you could be cited for violating the Louisiana “Reckless Operation of a Vehicle Statute.” Because that statute is a criminal statute, it is applicable everywhere, including private parking lots.

The Russell Law Firm represents injured clients involved in private parking lot car wrecks and those with underinsured/uninsured motorist claims throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville,    Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville.

Our firm is experienced and highly skilled in handling private parking lot car wreck and uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. If you or someone you know has been involved in a private lot car wreck in Baton Rouge or anywhere else in Louisiana, make the Right Call, Right Now and contact Louisiana car accident attorneys at the Russell Law Firm today at 225-307-0088. We will take a hands-on, aggressive approach towards getting you compensated for your losses.

**Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

By:      Danny Russell, Baton Rouge area personal injury attorney, licensed in Louisiana.

****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization. 

 

What an Officer Must Tell You Before a DWI Chemical Test

As mentioned in our previous article, “Breathalyzer Refusals – Potential License Suspensions,” by merely driving on a Louisiana highway in Baton Rouge or elsewhere, you consent to Louisiana laws for testing blood-alcohol content (urine, blood, breath, etc.). However, when requesting an individual to submit to a DWI chemical test, the law enforcement officer must first inform him/her of the following information:

  1. His constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona.
  2. That his driving privileges can be suspended for refusing to submit to the chemical test.
  3. That his driving privileges can be suspended if he submits to the chemical test and such test results show a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or above or, if he is under the age of twenty-one years, a blood alcohol level of 0.02 percent or above.
  4. That his driving privileges can be suspended if he submits to the chemical test and the test results show a positive reading indicating the presence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in R.S. 40:964.
  5. The name and employing agency of all law enforcement officers involved in the stop, detention, investigation, or arrest of the person.
  6. That refusal to submit to a chemical test after an arrest for an offense of driving while intoxicated if he has refused to submit to such test on two previous and separate occasions of any previous such violation is a crime under the provisions of R.S. 14:98.2 and the penalties for such crime are the same as the penalties for first conviction of driving while intoxicated.

That information must be read by the law enforcement officer from a from approved by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections prior to the DWI chemical test, and he must request that the individual to sign the form. If he/she is unable or unwilling to sign, the officer must advise that the individual was provided with the information above prior the the DWI chemical test and that he/she was unable or refused to sign.

DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, contact a skilled DWI attorney at the Russell Law Firm.

Russell Law Firm represents clients in DWI/DUI cases throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville, Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville.

Baton Rouge DWI lawyer Danny Russell is skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable about the Louisiana DWI/DUI statutes concerning DWI chemical tests, related non-DWI statutes, and how to evaluate evidence from DWI chemical tests. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DWI, call the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088. We offer free, no obligation initial consultations.

The Russell Law Firm will handle all matters pertaining to your charge in an effective, efficient manner. We take care of paperwork and manage deadlines so that you never have to worry about the status of your case.

Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

By: Danny D. Russell, Esq.

****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization.

Rear-End Accidents: Know the Law

Under Louisiana law, if your vehicle is involved in a rear-end collision with another vehicle, the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended you, is presumed to be at fault for causing the rear-end collision. That is because Louisiana Revised Statute 32:81 imposes a duty upon the driver of a following motor vehicle to maintain a “reasonable and prudent” distance from the preceding vehicle, “having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

In other words, a driver must be observant of the vehicle in front of him (or her), leaving enough distance between his vehicle and the leading vehicle so that he can stop safely and avoid a collision, should something happen with the leading vehicle.  

However, the driver who caused the rear-end collision, may free himself of fault by proving:  

  1. He had his vehicle under control;
  2. He closely observed the vehicle in front of him; and
  3. He followed at a safe distance under the circumstances.

Louisiana courts have recognized several situations where the rear-ending driver may not be presumed to be at fault for causing the collision. An example is when a driver rear-ends another vehicle after that vehicle veered into his lane, leaving him with no opportunity to avoid the collision. Additionally, if a driver unsafely enters a highway from a private driveway or from the shoulder, then gets rear-ended, the rear-ending driver may be free of fault for causing the accident.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients in rear-end collision throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville, Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville. Mr. Russell is an experienced and skilled attorney in rear end collision cases, who has aggressively represented

If you have suffered a personal injury from a rear-end accident, call the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088. We are experienced in handling the complex legal issues, losses, and medical needs of rear end collision cases. Mr. Russell will take a hands on and aggressive approach at getting you the medical treatment and compensation you deserve.

Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.
****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization. 

 

What is a bad faith claim?

In the insurance world, you may have heard the term “bad faith claim,” but do you know what it actually means and how it could affect any pending insurance claim you may have?  

An insurer has a legal duty to act in “good faith” when handling claims, which means that it must conduct a fair and prompt investigation of those claims, and it must also take reasonable steps to settle them. When the insurer decides to take certain action or no action that conflicts with its duty, without a reasonable or justifiable excuse, it is usually considered to be acting in “bad faith,” and you may be able to recover additional damages.

Your right to recovery from a “bad faith” claim partially depends on your relationship with the insurer. Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company, which creates duties for both of you. For the insurance company, a legal duty is imposed upon the insurance company to act in good faith when handling any claim that you file with it (e.g. property damages under your collision coverage, medical bills under your policy’s medical payment coverage, losses filed under your uninsured motorist coverage,  & etc.)..

When you do not have a contractual relationship with the insurance company handling your claim, the duty of good faith in your favor does not exist. That is the case when you file a claim against an insurance policy that does not provide coverage to you. For example, if you are involved in an accident with another driver who is at fault, you must initially file your claims against the other driver’s insurance policy. Because you are not a named insured/covered under that policy, there is no contractual relationship between you and the insurance company who issued that policy. Therefore, the insurance company has no duty to act in good faith when handling your claim. In fact, has the right to take action adversarial to your claim.

Louisiana law lists a number of things that insurance companies do — or don’t do — that are considered bad faith, which are:

  1. Misrepresenting important facts or insurance policy language that relates to the insurance coverage at hand.
  2. Failing to pay a settlement within thirty days after the settlement agreement is put in writing.
  3. Denying coverage or attempting to settle a claim using information from an insurance application that the insurance company knows has been altered, but did not tell their insured about or try to get his/her consent to take that action.
  4. Misleading a claimant about the length of time that person has before he/she has to file a lawsuit to preserve a claim.
  5. Failing to pay any amount of its insured’s claim within sixty days after insured provides proof of his/her losses, when such failure is arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.
  6. Failing to pay other claims listed under Louisiana law in a manner that is arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.

Can you get damages from a bad faith claim?

If you are able to prove that the insurance company has acted in bad faith, some of the additional damages you may be entitled could include:  

  • Enhanced Compensation – An enhancement by the court of the monetary sums that the court found was owed to you in damages prior to the insurance company’s bad faith. For example, the court may determine that the $100,000 that you were already owed, should be increased by 20%, bringing your claim for those damages to $120,000.
  • Attorney fees;
  • Excess Judgment – Award in damages over and above the recovery limits that the insurance company would have enjoyed in the absence of its bad faith;
  • Interests – award of interest on amounts in penalties that the court is imposing against the insurance company due to its bad faith; and
  • Additional Amounts – Any other amounts in damages and penalties that the court may decide to impose against the insurance company.

Bad faith claims are often very difficult to prove. That’s why those claims should be handled by an experienced car accident attorney who is knowledgeable of the Louisiana bad faith laws. If you or someone you love believes you are falling victim to an insurance company’s bad faith handling of your automobile accident claims, contact Danny Russell’s office today.

****Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.
****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization. 

 

Louisiana DWI Laws and Penalties

  1. Louisiana DWI Laws & Penalties 

Under Louisiana DWI laws, it is against the law for any person to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater or while under the influence of certain drugs.

If you are pulled over and the officer has a belief that you are indeed under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested. Upon being arrested the officer usually confiscates your driver’s license and issues a temporary driving permit that is good for 30 days. Your driver’s license, along with the evidence he or she has collected against you, will usually be forwarded to the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles or some criminal evidence department of the local law enforcement agency.

After your arrest, you only have 30 days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing with the Louisiana DMV to contest the suspension of your driver’s license.  

The skills of an experienced Louisiana DWI attorney who knows how administrative hearings work, may give you a better chance of avoiding the suspension of your driving privileges.

Potential Penalties for DUI / DWI in Louisiana


Louisiana First Offense DUI

A first offense DUI conviction is classified as a misdemeanor and means that you have not been arrested nor convicted of a previous DUI charge within the past 10 years.  The potential jail time and fines for a first offense DUI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days. The maximum is 6-months. The sentence can be suspended for 32 hours probation instead, of which half the time has to be trash collection.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a first offense will be between $300 and $1,000 plus all the associated court costs.

Special penalty requirements for 1st-time DWI:

  • If the BAC is over .15, but less than .20, then you must serve at least 48 hours of the jail time mentioned above, without the benefit of that 48 hour sentence being suspended.
  • If the BAC is over .20, then the following penalties take effect:
    • 48 hours of mandatory jail time in addition to the general jail time requirements;
    • Fine of $750 to $1,000;
    • Installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months; and
    • 2 year suspension of driver’s license.

Louisiana Second Offense DWI

A second offense conviction is classified as a misdemeanor. The potential jail time and fines for a second offense DWI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: The jail term for a second offense will be between 30 days and 6 months. 48 hours of the jail time you are sentenced to may be suspended.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a second offense will be between $750 and $1,000 plus all the associated court costs.

Special penalty requirements for 2nd-time DWI:

  • If the BAC is over .15, but less than .2, then the following additional penalties take effect:
    • 96 hours of the jail sentence must be served;
    • $1,000 fine;
    • Driver’s license is susptended for 4 years; and
    • An ignition interlock device must be installed for at least 3 of the 4 year license suspension if the driver is allowed to drive.

Louisiana Third Offense DWI

A third offense conviction is felony offense. The potential jail time and fines for a third offense DWI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: The jail term for a third offense will be between 1-5 years. One year of the jail sentence must be served without the benefit of suspension.
  • Fines: The fine for a third offense is $2,000 plus all the associated court costs.

Louisiana Fourth Offense DWI

A fourth-offense DWI charge or “subsequent fourth offense” DWI is considered a felony. The potential penalties for a fourth offense DWI charge are as follows:

  • Jail time: 10 – 30 years. Two years of the jail sentence must be served without the benefit of suspension. 
  • Fines: $5,000 plus all the associated court costs.

For each of the offenses mentioned above, there may be circumstances where the offender may be required to serve additional jailtime, pay greater fines, or have his/her license suspended for a greater period. Some of those circumstances involve whether the offender was a minor, injured someone else while driving under the influence, or others. Further, depending on the offense, other outcomes may result, such as:

  • a court may allow any sentence imposed to be suspended and the offender be placed on probation;
  • the offender may have to install an ignition interlock device;
  • the offender may have to take certain drug or alcohol classes;
  • the offender may have to take certain driving classes; and
  • the offender may be required to perform community service

DWIs can have other serious consequences, so if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, contact a skilled DWI defense attorney at the Russell Law Firm.

The Russell Law Firm represents clients in DWI/DUI cases throughout the State of Louisiana, including the parishes of East Baton Rouge Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Livingston Parish, Ascension Parish, Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Charles Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Assumption Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Lafayette Parish, St. Landry Parish, Evangeline Parish; and the cities of Baton Rouge, Livingston, Denham Springs, Walker, Gonzales, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, Brusly, Addis, Lafayette, Napoleonville, Kenner, Harvey, Marrero, Estelle, Gretna, Metairie, New Orleans, Terrytown, Westwego, Ville Platte, Eunice, Opelousas, Thibodaux, Houma, Belle Chasse, and Hahnville.

Danny Russell is skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable about the Louisiana DWI laws, related non-DWI statutes, and how to evaluate evidence that law enforcement and prosecutors might try to use against you. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DWI, call the Russell Law Firm at 225-307-0088. We offer free, no obligation initial consultations.

Mr. Russell will handle all matters pertaining to your charge in an effective, efficient manner. We take care of paperwork and manage deadlines so that you never have to worry about the status of your case.

Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

LEGAL ALERT – Louisiana House Bill Seeks to Cut Divorce Wait in Half.

  1. House Bill 136

On Tuesday (4/18/17), a Louisiana House committee advanced House Bill 136 to shorten the wait time to get a divorce from one year to six months, in no-fault divorces of couples with children.

In 2006, Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed a measure extending the waiting period to one year. The purpose of the legislation was to slow down the divorce process, giving spouses an opportunity to “cool off” and seek reconciliation.

The House Civil Law and Procedure committee first tried to kill House Bill 136 but that failed on a 3 to 5 vote. The committee then voted without objection to advance the bill to the full House for consideration.

  1. Votes

Voting to involuntarily defer HB136 (3): Chairman Ray Garofalo, R-Chalmette; Reps. Greg Cromer, R-Slidell; and Julie Emerson, R-Carencro.

Voting for HB136 (5): Reps. Robby Carter, D-Amite; Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace; Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport; Tanner Magee, R-Houma; and Gregory Miller, R-Norco.

House Bill 136 will be sent to the House floor for a vote in the House of Representatives. Should it pass out of the House floor, it will then be sent to a Senate committee. The Russell Law firm will be providing updates on this bill as developments occur.

In Need of a Baton Rouge Family Law Attorney? 

Danny Russell is a divorce and family law attorney in the Baton Rouge area who has experience in dealing with a wide range of family law matters, such as divorce, child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, and community property partitions. He knows divorce and family law in Louisiana and how courts usually side on family law matters. He will carefully assess those things most important to you, explain how the law applies to your circumstances, and help you make decisions that affect your relationships and financial stability.

If you are in need of a Baton Rouge family law attorney, give the Russell Law Firm a call.

****Information furnished herein is only general and not a substitute for personalized legal advice.

By:      Danny D. Russell, Attorney at Law, Louisiana Licensed.

 

 

 

Auto Accidents: Deadline to File a Lawsuit

Someone who sustains bodily injuries and/or property damages (“damage”) resulting from a motor vehicle accident has one (1) year under Louisiana law, from the date the damage was sustained, to file a lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for causing the damage. The date the damage was sustained is usually the date that the automobile accident occurred.

Too often I speak to individuals having a hard time getting the other driver’s insurance company to pay for medical bills incurred for treatment of their injuries or property damages. The insurance company is either not willing to pay the full costs or the insurance adjuster will not return their calls. By the time I am contacted, the individual is either nearing the one year deadline to file a lawsuit or the deadline has already passed.

That is why it is important to make early contact with a personal injury law firm like the Russell Law Firm, if you suffer damages from an automobile wreck. Not only can such a law firm address any questions that you may have, but they may also assist you in dealing with the insurance companies and making sure that you don’t lose your rights forever by failing to file a lawsuit within the one year deadline.

By:       Danny Russell, Baton Rouge area personal injury attorney, licensed in Louisiana.

Danny Russell is a Baton Rouge car accident and personal injury lawyer who has experience dealing with the insurance companies and working towards getting you the proper medical treatment so that you can get back on your feet and maximize your recovery. If you have been involved in a car accident in Baton Rouge or anywhere else in Louisiana, contact a car accident attorney at the Russell Law Firm in Baton Rouge. We will immediately begin scheduling treatment for you and dealing with the insurance companies for your vehicle repairs and personal injury claims.

****INFORMATION FURNISHED HEREIN IS ONLY GENERAL AND NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PERSONALIZED LEGAL ADVICE.

****The photograph above is not a depiction of any actual event or scene, but merely a dramatization.