Is an allegedly negligent state trooper responsible for the victims’ injuries following an Interstate 10 car crash?
According to a recent lawsuit, John Rice, Barbara Rice, and their unnamed minor child were sitting in their vehicle after a car wreck and waiting for first responders to arrive. Court documents state that Richard Reggio, a Louisiana State Police trooper that was en route to the scene, drove into an oncoming car’s pathway, causing it to veer suddenly and collide with the Rice’s stationary vehicle.
The plaintiffs demand unspecified damages.
Eggshell Skull Rule
As a preliminary note, when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is a state employee, the victim must normally follow a special procedure that includes filing a notice of claim. This procedure also applies in cases involving police harassment, false arrest, and other official misconduct.
Insurance companies almost automatically deny liability in these kinds of cases, citing pre-existing condition. In the above case, the insurance company would almost certainly claim that the victims were injured because of the previous car crash and not because of the tortfeasor’s alleged lack of care.
But from a legal standpoint, the eggshell skull rule often applies. This doctrine states that even if a plaintiff is in a weakened state or otherwise susceptible to injury, the defendant is liable for damages. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled on this issue a few years ago in Augustine v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, and the court held that “Plaintiff suffered an aggravation of her pre-existing conditions and that said aggravation was caused by the subject accident, regardless of how minimal it seemed, such that she was entitled to be compensated for the full extent of that aggravation.” The Louisiana Supreme Court declined to review the case, so it is the law of the land in this state.
Therefore, under current law, if a victim has a prior knee injury, a low-speed car crash aggravates the injury, and the victim needs a knee replacement, the tortfeasor is responsible for all the victim’s economic damages, such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Tortfeasors are legally responsible for all the damages they cause. For a free consultation with an experienced Lake Charles personal injury attorney, contact Hoffoss Devall. Our law firm has a small town atmosphere and access to nationwide resources.