Partner at Charbonnet Law Firm LLC

Practice Areas: Personal Injury

On September 9, 2023, Louisiana State Police responded to a fatal accident involving a pedestrian on U.S. Route 90B in Jefferson Parish. The victim, 36-year-old David Allen Smith from Missouri, was a construction worker. He was walking near the right shoulder of the road when he was hit by a dark-colored SUV. The driver did not stop and fled the scene. Smith was taken to a hospital, where he later passed away.

During the investigation, police found a damaged black Dodge Journey abandoned on the same route. 24-year-old Isaiah Mayes was the driver responsible for the accident. Mayes showed signs of impairment and was arrested on multiple charges, including vehicular homicide and hit-and-run involving a fatality. He is currently detained at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

Hit and run accidents can be both shocking and confusing for anyone involved. In Louisiana, a hit and run is defined as the act of causing a vehicle accident and then leaving the scene without stopping to identify oneself or offer aid. State laws are strict when it comes to these types of incidents, often resulting in severe penalties for offenders. Understanding the legal landscape surrounding hit and runs in Louisiana can offer some clarity to victims who find themselves in such unfortunate circumstances. While the emotional toll can be high, knowing what the law says can provide a framework for what steps to take next. 

Immediate Steps to Take After Experiencing a Hit and Run

In the moments following a hit and run accident, emotions can run high and confusion can set in. However, taking prompt action can make a significant difference in how the situation unfolds. First, it’s important to move to a safe location away from traffic, if possible. Next, individuals should check for any injuries and call for medical assistance if needed. Documenting the scene is another key step; taking photos of vehicle damage and any surrounding landmarks can be helpful later on. If there are witnesses, gathering their contact information can be valuable for future reference. Finally, contacting the police to file a report is a necessary step in establishing an official record of the incident. 

Importance of Gathering Evidence: What to Document

After a hit and run accident, gathering evidence becomes a top priority. A well-documented case can offer a clearer picture of what transpired, making it easier to identify the responsible party. Photos can serve as compelling evidence; therefore, capturing images of vehicle damage, skid marks, and even weather conditions can be beneficial. Additionally, any pieces of the other vehicle left behind at the scene can be useful. Writing down the details of the incident while memories are fresh can also be invaluable. Include specifics like the color, make, and model of the other vehicle, if visible, and any partial license plate numbers. Witnesses can provide another layer of evidence. Collecting names, phone numbers, and statements from anyone who saw the incident can offer additional perspectives that may prove helpful later on.

Reporting to Authorities: Filing a Police Report in Louisiana

In Louisiana, filing a police report after a hit and run accident is not just a good idea; it’s a requirement by law. A police report serves as an official record of the incident and can be a valuable piece of evidence in any subsequent legal actions. When reporting the accident, individuals should provide as much detail as possible, including the location, time, and any descriptions of the other vehicle involved. It’s also a good idea to include the names and contact information of any witnesses. Police will usually arrive at the scene to conduct an initial investigation, which may include taking photographs and collecting other forms of evidence. A copy of the police report is typically available within a few days and can be obtained from the local police department. Filing this report promptly can be a significant step in resolving a hit and run case.

Insurance Considerations: Uninsured Motorist Coverage

After a hit and run accident, dealing with insurance matters can be a complex process. One option that can offer some financial relief is uninsured motorist coverage. In Louisiana, auto insurance policies often include this type of coverage, which can help cover medical bills and property damage when the at-fault driver is either unidentified or lacks sufficient insurance. When a hit and run occurs, it’s important to contact the insurance company as soon as possible to report the incident and initiate a claim. Documentation gathered from the scene, along with the police report, can be useful in substantiating the claim. While uninsured motorist coverage can offer some financial cushion, policy limits will apply, and not all expenses may be covered.

Legal Options: Pursuing a Civil Case for Damages

When a hit and run accident occurs, victims may wonder about their legal options for seeking compensation. One avenue is to pursue a civil case for damages, which can include medical expenses, property damage, and even emotional distress. In Louisiana, a civil case begins with filing a complaint against the responsible party, assuming they can be identified. Evidence such as photographs, witness statements, and the police report can be used to build a strong case. It’s also possible to seek punitive damages, which are designed to punish the offender and deter similar behavior in the future. However, punitive damages are not always easy to obtain and usually require proof of extreme negligence or malicious intent. Overall, a civil case can offer a pathway to financial recovery for victims of hit and run accidents.

Statute of Limitations: Time Constraints for Filing a Lawsuit

In Louisiana, like in many other states, there is a time limit for filing a lawsuit after a hit and run accident. Known as the statute of limitations, these time constraints can vary depending on the type of damages being sought. Generally, for personal injury claims, individuals have one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. For property damage, the time frame is also typically one year. Missing these deadlines can result in losing the right to pursue legal action altogether. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of these time limits and act promptly. While a year may seem like ample time, gathering evidence, identifying the responsible party, and preparing a case can be time-consuming processes. 

Settlement vs. Trial: Pros and Cons of Each Approach

Hit and Run Law

When it comes to resolving a hit and run case, two main options are generally available: settling out of court or going to trial. Each approach has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Settlements often resolve more quickly and can be less stressful than going through a full trial. A guaranteed compensation offer, albeit sometimes less than what might be awarded in court. On the other hand, a trial can be a lengthy and emotionally draining process. However, it provides an opportunity for a larger payout, especially if the evidence strongly supports the victim’s case. Trials also create a public record of the incident, which can sometimes act as a deterrent against future negligent behavior by the defendant or others. 

If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, please contact the Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC online, or call our office at (504) 294-5094.


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