Rear-End Accidents: Know the Law

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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.

 

What is a bad faith claim?

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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.

 

Louisiana DWI Laws and Penalties

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  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.

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  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.