A high-speed car wreck in Shongaloo transformed a vehicle into a twisted piece of metal and sent two area residents to the morgue.
According to the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office, 35-year-old Freddy Bryant, of Shongaloo, evidently lost control of his fast-moving 2006 Toyota Corolla on State Highway 2 and crossed over the center line. The vehicle then careened into a school bus carrying mostly pre-kindergarten through second grade students; the driver – 67-year-old Michael Timmons of Sarepta – was unable to avoid the car wreck. Mr. Bryant and a passenger – 29-year-old Gary Matlock of Plain Dealing – were both pronounced dead at the scene.
None of the forty-eight people on board the bus (the driver and forty-seven students) were seriously injured.
Proving Negligence in Car Wreck Cases
In most cases, victims must prove four elements in court to obtain compensation for their injuries. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care, which means they must obey traffic laws and generally drive defensively. Some operators, like truck drivers, Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and other commercial operators, are legally common carriers. There driver may have a higher duty of care, especially with regard to their passengers and/or cargo.
Duty is a legal question for a judge to decide, but breach is a fact issue that the jury decides. Some tortfeasors (negligent drivers) breach the duty of care by violating a traffic or other law, but that is not always the case. For example, David Defendant may be distracted by a smartphone app while driving and crash into another car, and using an app while driving is not technically against the law in Louisiana, at least in most cases. Or, David may lose control of his vehicle on a wet road even though he was not exceeding the posted speed limit.
Cause has both factual and legal elements. There must be a direct link between the breach and the damages (i.e. the car wreck must cause the victim’s injuries). Furthermore, the damages must be a foreseeable result. For example, it is foreseeable that if Car A collides with Car B, the impact might push Car B into oncoming traffic where it could collided with Car C.
The final element is damages. Although victims can recover money for intangible injuries, like emotional distress, there must be physical damages as well; a “close call” is insufficient. In some alcohol-related car wrecks, additional punitive damages may be available as well.
Winning negligence cases are built on solid legal theories. For a free consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Lake Charles, contact Hoffoss Devall. Home and hospital visits are available.