RIP Jimmy Long Sr.

The 84-year-old statesman died shortly after sustaining serious injuries in a car crash near his home in Natchitoches.

Authorities report that the former state Representative was backing out of a private driveway when a 16-year-old driver in a Jeep Wrangler smashed into with Mr. Long’s vehicle. The driver’s name was withheld due to his age, and Natchitoches Police Detective John Greely indicated that charges may be forthcoming as the investigation continues. Mr. Long served in the state House from 1968 to 2000, and served as chairman of the House Education Committee for sixteen years. A year after leaving that body, Mr. Long joined the University of Louisiana System’s Board of Supervisors, where he had served ever since.

The lawmaker, cattleman, and grocer was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in 2000.

Third Party Liability

In most cases, minors cannot legally own motor vehicles or other property. So, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was under 18, negligent entrustment nearly always applies. This vicarious liability theory states that if an owner knows that a driver is incompetent or otherwise incapable of operating the owner’s vehicle, the owner is legally responsible for any damages that arise from a car crash.

To establish the knowledge element in negligent entrustment cases, the plaintiff may introduce evidence of:

  • Experience: Just like a professional chef can probably prepare a much better omelet than the one I made for breakfast this morning, an experienced driver is much more likely to be competent than an inexperienced one.
  • Age: If the operator is under 16, there is basically a presumption that the person is unlicensed therefore incompetent; a similar presumption arises if the operator was very, very old.
  • Conditions: It is much easier to operate a vehicle on familiar roadways, during the day, and/or during clear weather than it is to operate a vehicle in unfamiliar territory, at night, and/or during a rainstorm.

A bad driving record may not be relevant in negligent entrustment cases, unless the owner paid the ticket, was involved in the car crash, or otherwise had firsthand knowledge.

Wrongful Death

Like most other states, Louisiana has a wrongful death statute that governs negligence actions in this areas. Although most negligence actions have a two-year statute of limitations, there is a one-year SOL in wrongful death actions.

Under this law, the surviving relative(s) may sue to obtain compensation for economic losses, such as funeral expenses, future lost wages, and loss of consortium (contribution to household services), as well as noneconomic losses, such as the deceased person’s pain and suffering. The survivors’ emotional distress and other noneconomic losses are generally not compensable.

The tortfeasor is often not the only person responsible for damages. For a free consultation with a diligent personal injury lawyer in Lake Charles, contact Hoffoss Devall. We routinely handle cases in Calcasieu Parish and nearby jurisdictions.