In Louisiana, ‘Stop’ Means ‘Stop’

A motorist who apparently either coasted through a stop sign, or failed to see it entirely, caused a severe car crash in Log Cabin.

According to officials in Morehouse Parish, 56-year-old Richard Lindeman Jr. of Bastrop, was westbound on Highway 140 when, for reasons that are still unclear, he failed to stop and yield the right-of-way at the U.S. Highway 425 intersection. He collided with 24-year-old Jessica Eppinette, of Bastrop, who was northbound on U.S. 425.

Mr. Lindeman was pronounced dead at the scene and Ms. Eppinette was seriously injured. Both individuals were properly restrained and authorities are waiting for toxicology test results.

Negligence Per Se

In most car crash cases, the plaintiff must establish five elements: duty, breach, cause-in-fact, proximate cause, and damages. However, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated any criminal law, traffic law, or other statute, the plaintiff must only establish three elements: violation of statute, cause-in-fact, and damages.

In some states, negligence per se (negligence “as such”) only creates a rebuttable presumption. But in Louisiana, if the judge determines that the doctrine applies, negligence per se is conclusive proof of negligence. To prevail on their claims, the plaintiffs must only establish:

  • Cause: If the tortfeasor’s vehicle has an out-of-date inspection sticker, most probably the date had nothing to do with the car crash. Instead, the tortfeasor must be speeding, driving while intoxicated, driving while distracted, or committing another infraction that caused the crash.
  • Damages: In most cases, victims are entitled to compensation for both their economic damages, like lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as loss of consortium (contribution to household management and general companionship).

The judge has the final say on whether or not the negligence per se shortcut applies, and that decision is normally appealable.

Negligence per se might also make it easier to prove punitive damages. These additional damages are designed to punish the tortfeasor and deter future wrongdoing, and in the Bayou State, they are available in alcohol-related crash cases. Jurors are more likely to award punitive damages in egregious situations, such as a high BAC or if the tortfeasor was driving recklessly while impaired.

A statutory violation often means a better result. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Lake Charles, contact Hoffoss Devall. Our law firm has a local vibe and access to nationwide resources.