Deadly Day On Lafayette-Area Roads

Three people died in two car crashes in one day in St. Landry Parish.

The first wreck occurred in the overnight hours on Interstate 49 outside of Opelousas. Authorities state that 34-year-old Josie Robertson was northbound when she crossed over to the southbound side and struck 24-year-old Tyler Compton nearly head-on. Ms. Robertson was pronounced dead at the scene; Ms. Compton was rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, but doctors couldn’t save her. Neither woman was wearing a seat belt.

The next fatal crash occurred several hours later near the intersection of State Highway 93 and Roy Road in rural St. Landry Parish. Aaron Guidry was apparently walking in the middle of southbound SH 93 while wearing a light-colored top and black shorts. A motorist, whose name was not released, hit him and killed him.

Both wrecks remain under investigation.

Fact Issues in Car Crashes

An estimated 50 million people are either killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes every year. Although many times these incidents are described as car “accidents,” that term is not really appropriate. While most motor vehicle crashes are unintentional, most fatal crashes also occur because the tortfeasors (negligent drivers) carelessly and thoughtlessly engage in behaviors that put other drivers at risk. Legally, such behavior breaches the duty of reasonable care. Some common breaches in fatal crashes include:

  • Speed: Excessive velocity makes vehicles more difficult to control and multiplies the force in collisions.
  • Distracted Driving: There is some evidence that the hands-free devices built into many newer vehicles are even more dangerous than hand-held cellphones.
  • Substance Impairment: Prescription drugs, like Xanax or Vicodin, and some over-the-counter drugs, like Sudafed or Nyquil, are just as dangerous for drivers as street drugs like heroin or cocaine.
  • Drowsy Driving: Operating a vehicle without sufficient rest is just as bad as operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
  • Alcohol Impairment: Despite a decades-long crackdown in this area, drunk driving is still a serious problem on Louisiana roads.

Damages in fatal car crash cases, and other negligence cases, usually include compensation for economic losses, like property damage, and noneconomic losses, like loss of consortium (companionship and contribution to household affairs).

Legal Issues in Car Crash Cases

In many fatal crashes, such as the second story described above, both parties share some responsibility. For example, assume Plaintiff made an illegal turn and Defendant was intoxicated. So, the jury must apportion fault on a percentage basis. Louisiana is one of only several pure comparative fault states that divides damages strictly according to fault. Assume the jury finds that Plaintiff’s damages were $20,000 and that each driver was 50 percent at fault. In Louisiana, Plaintiff would be entitled to $10,000. But in many other states, Plaintiff would be entitled to nothing, because Defendant was not mostly responsible.

Even seemingly routine car crashes create claims for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced Lake Charles personal injury attorney, contact Hoffoss Devall. We have a successful track record in negligence cases.