Automobile and Trucking Accidents

If you have been involved in an automobile accident, let the experienced attorneys at THE MCKENNA FIRM get you the compensation you deserve for you injuries.

We know what it’s like to be faced with the unfortunate circumstances of an automobile accident. When you call THE MCKENNA FIRM, know that you will always be treated with the compassion and respect you deserve to help you through this difficult time. You probably may have asked yourself questions about what is going to happen next. We would like to provide you with a free initial consultation, where we can explain the need for possible medical services and any other needs that may arise.

Meanwhile, prior to meeting with a personal injury lawyer from THE MCKENNA FIRM, you can do a few things to help your potential car accident claim, in Louisiana or elsewhere. You may want to follow these simple steps:

1) Save all the documents you receive that relate to the accident and your injuries, including:

a. the accident report,
b. photos of the accident scene and your car,
c. names and contact information of witnesses,
d. copies of your medical records for the
accident-related injuries,
e. photos of the injuries,
f. medical bills, and
g. receipts from prescriptions, car repairs, and other related expenses

2) Follow your doctor’s advice about treatment.

3) Go to every scheduled doctor’s office visit so that the time it takes for you to heal are documented by your doctor, which is the proof you need to show you’ve suffered damages because of the other driver’s carelessness or negligence.

What happens if an insurance adjuster contacts me?

It is important for you to protect your rights in case an insurance adjuster contacts you, inquiring about your accident claim. If an insurance adjuster contacts you, keep the following in mind:

* Do not sign a release. You could be signing away your rights, hurting your claim and consequently the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

* Do not give a statement to the adjuster. Simply inform the adjuster that you are not comfortable with discussing the matter and would like to seek the advice of your lawyers at THE MCKENNA FIRM.

If you need to contact us….

We are here for you. For more than 10 years, Warren McKenna III and the lawyers of THE MCKENNA FIRM have helped injured people like you through difficult times. Be assured that your phone calls will be returned promptly, you will be updated as your case develops.

Auto Accidents: Left Turning Motorists

A motorist should always exercise great caution when making a left turn. In Louisiana, the law sets forth specific presumptions and regulations when an automobile accident occurs with a vehicle attempting to make a left turn. Typically, the driver is required to make a proper observation that the turn could be made without endangering a passing vehicle. Depending on the jurisdiction, the left turning motorist has the responsibility to signal his or her intent to turn a certain distance before initiating the turn. However, the owner’s burden placed upon a left-turning motorist is not discharged by the mere signaling of an intention to turn. The giving of a signal is immaterial if at the time the driver of the turning vehicle did not have the opportunity to make the turn in safety.

The left turning motorist also has the duty to yield to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. Some courts have gone as far to say that when the left-turning motorist observes a vehicle approaching from the rear, it is a dereliction of duty to fail to look a second time before commencing the left hand turn.

Once the evidence establishes that the turning motorist was attempting to make a left turn when the accident occurred, the burden of proof shifts to the motorist to absolve himself of liability. In other words, there is a presumption of negligence when it is proved that the driver executed a left-hand turn and crossed the center line at the time of the impact. If the left-turning motorist is faced with a green arrow left-turn signal, he must prove that he was making such a turn while the arrow was green, or that he had pre-empted the intersection.

However, the left-turning motorist’s duty to yield is inapplicable where the intersection is controlled by an inoperative traffic signal. Any motorist approaching such an intersection is required to utilize a high degree of caution.

Proof of the working condition of the traffic signal can be preserved by taking pictures of the operating traffic signals immediately following the accident. Also, in discussing the incident with the investigating police officer, it is important to point out the working condition of the traffic signals and ask him if he has recorded that fact.

Favored and Inferior Roads

The motorist on a favored street has the right to assume that any driver approaching the intersection on a less favored street will yield the right-of-way. A favored street is determined at the specific location where the accident occurred. This right-of-way driver can indulge in this assumption until he sees, or should have seen, that the other car has not yielded.
The doctrine of preemption allows a non-favored or inferior motorist who enters an intersection to prevail where there is evidence that the inferior driver attempted to cross a favored street when he had a reasonable opportunity to cross without endangering or impeding passage of vehicles on the favored street.

A motorist who is about to enter a roadway from a private driveway is required to yield the right-of-way to all approaching vehicles so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

However, the duty of the driver on the favored street toward the intruding motorist is the much lesser ordinary care standard and that driver may generally rely on the assumption or presumption that those vehicles entering the highway from less favorable positions such as a private drive will not drive into the path of favored traffic. The presumption or assumption may not be relied upon by a motorist who is proceeding unlawfully before or after he sees the intruding vehicle.

A motorist attempting to enter the highway from the shoulder of the road is held to the same standard of care as a motorist entering the highway from a private driveway. A driver is required to keep a lookout for vehicles upon the highway and to resist from entering until it is apparent to a reasonably prudent person that such can be done in safety.

The driver of the overtaking or passing vehicle has the duty to ascertain before attempting to pass a preceding vehicle that from all the circumstances of traffic, the conditions of the highway and the lay of the land, the passing can be completed with safety. He must be alert to the actions of a motorist preceding him on the highway.

Intersectional Collision Cases

Intersectional collisions make up a large number of all motor vehicle accidents. Typically, one vehicle’s front bumper will strike the other on the side in one of three locations: the front panel and the two side panels.

The side of a car has traditionally been the least protected area. There are no bumpers to absorb the impact forces and generally there is very little occupant protection in the side area of the car. Unless your vehicle is equipped with side airbags, the front airbags are essentially useless since they are not designed to activate when the vehicle is not struck in the front bumper area. Because the impact occurs in a vulnerable area of the vehicles, these accidents can inflict serious and fatal injuries on the motorist involved.

When an accident occurs when a stop sign is involved, the law in most states requires that the motorist who is confronted with a stop sign must come to a complete stop. Once stopped, the motorist must evaluate that it is safe to proceed. Only when is safe to proceed can the motorist enter the intersection. Stopping is only half of what the law requires. To stop and then pull into oncoming traffic constitutes negligence and an offending motorists will generally be held at fault for any resulting accident. The driver on the favored street will generally have the right of way and motorist entering that roadway must not enter the roadway until it is safe to do so. The driver that fails to obey the stop sign (by coming to a complete stop and only proceeding when it is safe to do so) will be held at fault.

The problem arises in intersectional collisions when traffic signals are involved and it is not clear who had the green light. Typically each driver will claim to have had the green light. Without independent eyewitness testimony, it may be very difficult to prove who was at fault. Experienced attorneys are needed when serious injuries result from these difficult to prove accidents. Many cities have traffic signal departments (or similar departments) that may maintain records of traffic sequences for all traffic lights. By carefully questioning the drivers, an attorney experienced in these types of accidents can help determine the sequence of the traffic lights when the accident occurred. Sometimes this information is enough to tip the scales in your favor.

Unlicensed Operators

Generally, the owner of a vehicle is not liable for damages which occur when another person is operating the vehicle. However, numerous exceptions to this rule exist where (i) the driver is on a mission for the owner of the vehicle; (ii) when the driver is an agent or employee of the owner; and (iii) when the owner himself is negligent in entrusting the vehicle to an incompetent driver.

Under the negligent entrustment theory, the lender of a vehicle is not responsible for the negligence of the borrower unless he knew or should have known that the borrower was physically or mentally incompetent to drive. For instance, when an owner of an automobile knowingly entrusts the vehicle to an intoxicated, otherwise incompetent driver, the owner is responsible for the harm resulting from the incompetent operation of the vehicle.

Some courts have determined that a reasonably prudent person has the clear duty to recognize the manifest danger of making a long-term, open-ended loan of a vehicle to someone they know or should know is an habitual abuser of alcohol and is prone to drive the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A prudent person should recognize that under these circumstances it is highly likely that serious injuries or death will reasonably result.

Statutory law provides that unlicensed drivers are prohibited from driving and that drivers are prohibited from allowing unlicensed drivers to drive. The intent of this type of statute is to protect the public and the unlicensed driver by preventing inexperienced drivers from operating vehicles on public roads.

However, in most states, the violation of a criminal safety statute does not usually, in and of itself, create civil liability. Most states require that to constitute actionable negligence, the violation must be encompassed within the scope of the risks that the statute was designed to protect against. The violation must also be a cause of the accident. Thus, if a driver is competent and experienced, although unlicensed, then the risk of allowing him to drive may be outside the scope of the risks contemplated by the criminal safety statute which requires a driver’s license.

Violation of a criminal safety statute may provide a presumption of negligence in some cases which will require the offending driver to prove that the violation was not the cause of the accident.