What is an Aggravated Battery Charge in Louisiana

The terms used in the criminal justice system, not only in Louisiana but across the country, are not easily discernible for laypeople. The lack of clarity is especially true when it comes to the charge of aggravated battery. So, what’s an aggravated battery?

Aggravated battery is a felony criminal charge for the intentional unauthorized use of force against another person’s body with a dangerous weapon.

Many people charged with aggravated battery may have a viable defense. To be found guilty of aggravated battery, the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Elements of an aggravated battery

In Louisiana, aggravated battery is defined as a battery committed in conjunction with special circumstances, such as a dangerous weapon. So to understand an aggravated battery, it’s essential to understand the criminal charge of a battery. LA Code RS 14:34

A battery was committed

The first element that must be proven is that the accused a battery. A battery is the unauthorized use of force against another person’s body that results in offensive touching or actual physical injury.

A battery charge requires actual contact that was intended but not necessarily violent, but it does have to be unwanted or offensive. LA Code RS 14:33

A dangerous weapon

The dangerous weapon could be most anything that can potentially cause serious harm or death if used in a particular way. Some things are inherently dangerous such as knives and guns and even baseball bats.

But other objects may be considered dangerous when used in a particular way that isn’t as obvious. For example, driving into a person with a car or kicking someone in the head with a steel-toed boot.

If the object is not obviously a dangerous weapon, then the government will have to provide case-specific facts to show the item is a dangerous weapon when used in this case and by the accused.

Aggravated Battery Sentences

Aggravated battery is a felony in Louisiana. A person found guilty of aggravated battery shall be fined not over five thousand dollars, and/or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both.

By statute, one year of the sentence has to be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of the sentence if the victim was attacked because they were an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces or a disabled veteran.

Crime of Violence

By statute, aggravated assaults are classified as crimes of violence. Persons convicted for crimes of violence have to serve 85% of their sentence and are not eligible for a deferred sentence under Article 893. Click here to read more about crimes of violence.

Probation for aggravated assault

Louisiana does allow probation for a person convicted of aggravated assault. Sentencing is left to the judge, and they have the discretion, send a person to prison, suspend the sentence, or place the person on probation.

If a judge sentences a person to probation, he typically orders the defendant to comply with special conditions, such as: paying fees, perform community service work, and attend classes.

Failure to comply with the conditions of probation will likely result in revocation of probation. If a person has their probation revoked, they will likely serve the remainder of their time in prison.

Defense to Aggravated Battery charges

Wrong person

The most common argument is that they have the wrong person. You didn’t do the crime and was somewhere else at the time the offense was committed, and you have an alibi witness.

No intent

Another common defense is that you didn’t intend to touch the victim or to cause them harm. For example, if a man were swinging a bat to exhibit his batting prowess and accidentally struck his wife who was standing nearby, the defense would be that he didn’t intend to hit his wife in the head.


Consent is a defense, and if it can be shown that the victim and accused were engaged in mutual combat, it may be considered that each is equally responsible for any injuries.

For example, if two women get into a shouting match in a nail salon and agree to “take it outside” to fight, then neither woman can claim that their injuries were a result of criminal battery. They both decided to participate in the brawl.


Self-Defense can be used as a defense. The accused must show he was using reasonable force to protect himself from an attack started by the victim, and the victim’s injuries were the result of their attempt to defend themselves.

For example, if two men are in a bar and one guy starts harassing the other and then hits the man and holds him on the ground and tries to take his watch.

The man reacts by striking the thief over the head with a beer bottle, causing a gash in his head, then the man that was first attacked used reasonable self-defense and would likely not be found guilty of aggravated battery.

If you’ve been charged with the crime of Aggravated battery, contact our office to speak with an experienced criminal attorney. We have offices in Hammond and Livingston, Louisiana. Call our offices at (225) 686-8006 or visit our website to email us.

Are Divorce Records Public in Louisiana?

Going through a divorce is tough and can get ugly. There are usually tons of documents filed, especially if alimony and child support are involved. Having sensitive documents in the clerk of courts office raises an issue, are divorce records public in Louisiana?

Yes, most of the documents are part of the public record unless there is a specific reason they should be sealed.

Although most documents are public, there are some steps you can take to limit access to your divorce documents by the public.

What records are public?

There is no federal constitutional provision that gives the public the right to access judicial records and proceedings. However, the United States Supreme Court established that a trial is a public event, and all information is public property. (Check out the case of Craig v. Harney, 67 S.Ct. 1249, (1947) to learn more about open access to records.)

Divorce documents filed with the clerk of court are considered public records. These documents must be kept by the court and are available to the public, meaning any person can inspect, examine, and copy the filings regardless of the purpose.

The reason people don’t regularly access these records is they’re unaware of the process required to retrieve the documents, or they are don’t know the materials are publicly available. And of course, there is the expense; governments do not provide copies for free.

However, governments have made it easier and cheaper than ever to obtain public records. Most documents can be assessed through the clerk of court’s website for a minimal fee. So, for a small fee and a little knowledge, anyone can obtain a copy of your “confidential” divorce documents.

Sealed Records

When a court deems records are sensitive and should not be public, they can enter an order to have the records sealed. Individual documents could be sealed or the entire divorce proceedings.

When a record has been sealed, a person must obtain a court order to view the documents. For example, a court may seal divorces that deal with children, domestic violence, or sensitive business information. They might also seal documents that contain false accusations that would be harmful and create undue harm.

Sealing your records

To have your documents sealed, you need to file a motion with the court requesting the records be sealed. In the action, you will need to convey the reasons you believe sealing the documents is necessary.

Just because you file a request, it is not automatic that the court will grant your motion. You need to provide proper reasons before the judge agrees to seal your case. You can’t just claim it will be uncomfortable for you if the record isn’t sealed.

The Louisiana Supreme court took up this issue in the Copelands divorce case. Al Copeland, the founder of Popeyes Fried Chicken, requested his divorce records be sealed from the public. The New Orleans Times-Picayune wanted to see the documents and filed a suit to obtain access.

The district court and court of appeals agreed with the Copelands that the documents should be sealed, but the Supreme Court disagreed. They found that there may be some justification for sealing portions of the proceeding, but a blanket order sealing the entire record was not warranted.

If you file a motion to seal your divorce proceedings, it would be advisable to request specific pages or parts of documents to be redacted and not file a motion to have the entire record sealed.

If you need help with your divorce, contact our office to get an experienced family law attorney. We have offices in Hammond and Livingston, Louisiana.

Is The Smell of Weed Probable Cause in Louisiana?

Louisiana, through a series of laws, legalized the use of marijuana for specific medical conditions. Does the new law raise affect warrantless searches? or more to the point “is the smell of weed probable cause for a search in Louisiana?”

The smell of weed in a motor vehicle is “probable cause” to search a car; however, the smell of marijuana is not probable cause to search a residence.

With the recent changes to marijuana laws, it’s vital to know your rights regarding legal searches.

The smell of weed can be probable cause to search your vehicle

In Louisiana, an officer can legally search your car without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, and there is evidence of the crime in your vehicle.

The smell of marijuana or alcohol emanating from your vehicle is probable cause that you are committing the crime of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and they have the authority to search your car without a warrant or consent.

However, their authority to search your car isn’t boundless. They can only explore the area of the vehicle that they believe contains evidence of the crime. They are not allowed to perform a comprehensive search.

The smell of weed may not reach the probable cause threshold to search your residence

To permit governmental agents to search on such a basis would undermine the right of individuals guaranteed by our

Individual rights are protected in Louisiana by the state constitution which state persons “shall be secure . . . against unreasonable searches, seizures, or invasions of privacy.” La.Const. of 1974, Art. 1, Section 5.

The protections apply not only to people but also to their property. However, sometimes law enforcement officers may conduct searches without warrants. Whether a warrantless search is legal comes down to the reasonableness requirement.

Generally, a search and seizure conducted without a warrant but based on probable  cause that a crime has been committed is per se unreasonable unless justified by an exception to the warrant requirement

The warrantless exception of exigent circumstances was used in the past to conduct a property search based on the scent of weed. Courts consider “exigent circumstances” as an emergency requiring immediate action to protect life or the destruction of evidence.

In these cases, the courts look at the totality of the circumstances, including the gravity of the offense. Since the advent of the new marijuana laws and the subjective nature of the sense of smell, the scent of marijuana does not fit into any warrantless search exception. The smell of weed is not probable cause for a search in most locations.

If police suspect you’re growing or smoking weed in your house, they need more than just the smell of marijuana to search. It’s also true that a police officer must witness you smoking marijuana in public to arrest you.

If you think your car or residence was searched illegally and your rights were violated, contact our office to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your case. The evidence obtained in a search may be excluded from being used against you.

Can Tinnitus Be Caused by Whiplash in a Car Accident?

You’ve been in a car accident and suffered a whiplash, plus you have a constant ringing noise in your ears. Your doctor diagnosed tinnitus, and now, you are curious to know if the car accident caused your tinnitus and whether you can file a claim based on this condition.

Yes, you can file a claim for damages for any injury you suffered in a car accident, including tinnitus. One of the causes of tinnitus is whiplash, i.e., head and neck injuries.

The term “whiplash” typically refers to neck pain, headaches, and a stiff neck. However, there are other symptoms associated with whiplashes, such as ringing in the ears or tinnitus.

Tinnitus caused by Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash commonly occurs during a rear-end auto accident.

Statistically, about 80% of whiplash injuries due to traffic accidents recover within a few months. However, about 15% – 20% develop “late whiplash injury syndrome” with many complaints including neck pain, headache, disturbances of the head sensorineural systems, including vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus.

Sometimes injured persons don’t focus on tinnitus at the time of the accident but research into “late whiplash injury syndrome” explains why ringing in the ears after a car accident often goes undiagnosed for weeks.

Tinnitus is defined by WebMD as “a common condition characterized by the sensation of sound for which there is no external source outside the individual.”

In other words, people with tinnitus hear noises such as ringing, clicking, or buzzing when no environmental or external sounds are present. The late whiplash injury syndrome is frequently permanent.

Because of its permanent presence, the constant ringing in the ear often becomes intolerable and is severely disturbing to daily life. The degree of psychical impairment depends on the intensity of the tinnitus. Simple, non-contact whiplash injury can cause long-lasting, chronic disturbances.

Sometimes, ringing in the ears after a car accident is the result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Trauma can cause damage to the brain function resulting in tinnitus. At some point, individuals recognize the ringing is not going away and seek medical treatment.

Tinnitus occurs when the nerve pathways of the ear are damaged by head trauma. When these nerves are affected, it causes a “rewiring” of the brain’s tone map. Individuals who suffer a traumatic brain injury may have dormant nerve clusters in the brain activate.

The activation of nerves results in information flowing an incorrect route and sent to a part of the brain not meant for processing auditory information. Accordingly, these clusters of nerves not generally associated with hearing create a ringing the ears.

Can you file a claim for tinnitus caused by a car accident?

Yes, you can file a claim for tinnitus caused by a car accident; however, just like in any personal injury claim, you must meet some legal standards. Louisiana’s negligence law is codified in Civil Code Article 2315 (A)which states: Every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.

Tinnitus is just like any other injury, it requires proof you have the condition, that the motor vehicle accident caused the disease, and the other party was at fault in causing the accident through his negligence.

To establish your claim, you must show that the negligent conduct was a cause in fact of the harm you suffered, the party had a duty and breached their duty, and finally that you suffered damage because of the breach of the obligation.

Once liability is established, the party at fault is responsible for your losses. The recoverable damages are divided into two categories, special damages, and general damages.

Special damages are easy to determine. They are the actual hard dollars lost because of the accident. The party at fault is responsible for any medical bills, past and future, past, and future lost wages and any personal expenses you have related to tinnitus.

You are also entitled to recover general damagesGeneral damages are not as simple to value; they include personal losses such as past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.

What legal steps should I take regarding my tinnitus injury after my accident?

Contact our office for a free consultation with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your car accident.  Ideally, you should set up an appointment within one week of the accident for several reasons:

  • Insurance companies move fast and begin their investigation of your claim immediately
  • It would help if you had legal advice before the first offer the insurance company gives you
  • Proceeding without an attorney increases the chances of a mistake that costs you money

Insurance companies sometimes offer “fast cash” to settle your claim. Don’t rush; likely, you don’t know yet what the total cost of your injury will be. Many tinnitus ailments cause chronic pain or permanent disability. A lawyer can help you assess the full value of your recovery and help get you the total amount of money you are owed.

If you have been injured in a car wreck contact our office to schedule your free case evaluation. (225)686-8006 

Can You Get Arrested For Being High?

It is becoming common for states to decriminalize recreational marijuana use or approve it for medical purposes. But, can a person still get arrested for being high?

Not typically, but if being high leads to violating public intoxication laws, then yes. It is a violation of these laws when you disrupt the peace, cause a disturbance, or pose a threat to others.

Many Louisiana residents may not realize that you can get arrested for being high. But, in Louisiana, public intoxication is a crime regardless of the substance you used.

Being high can lead to your arrest.

Being high in public can lead to your arrest in certain situations. It is a violation of  RS 14:103 Louisiana law governing disturbing the peace to be publicly intoxicated.

The term “intoxicated” is not limited to being under the influence of alcohol but includes illegal drugs, controlled substances, or another intoxicant (including inhalants such as paint thinner or glue).

Public intoxication arrest typically occurs because of some disturbance, such as injuring other persons or harming property, or posing a threat to your safety.

To gain a conviction, prosecutors don’t need test results but often rely on the testimony of the arresting officer to prove their case.

A charge for disturbing the peace can result in a fine of $100 or less, 90 days or less of imprisonment, or both. The baseline penalty can be enhanced depending on the specifics of the crime.

Disturbing the peace is a charge that will remain on your criminal record unless you get it expunged. An expungement is a civil action to seal your criminal record, making these records unavailable through the State or Federal authorities.

Can I Get Arrested for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana?

Yes, in Louisiana, the possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana is illegal. In specific circumstances, marijuana can be used for medical purposes.

While it is not technically a crime to be loaded in public, possession of any amount of marijuana is still illegal (unless you have a prescription).

Louisiana considers marijuana to mean all parts of plants whether growing or not;  the seeds;  the resin extracted from any part of such plant;  and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.

The law does not restrict the use of mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of a plant which is incapable of germination, or cannabidiol when in a drug product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Persons who drive high are subject to Louisiana DWI/DUI laws. If an officer pulls you over and believes that you are high, he may search your vehicle and even arrest you on a marijuana DUI.

What Are the Criminal Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Louisiana?

The penalties depend on the amount you are charged with possessing and your prior criminal record.


First and second offenses for possessing marijuana is a misdemeanor in Louisiana. You will face a fine of up to $300 and have a drug charge on your record.


From the third offense or more, possessing marijuana in Louisiana is a felony. You are looking at up to two years in prison and more substantial fines.


If you are caught possessing large amounts of marijuana (2,000 pounds or more) and distributing it to others, you can face up to 20 years in prison.

Do You Need An Attorney?

Although an arrest for disturbing the peace laws may seem silly, these charges can stain your record. If you are charged with a crime and are considering an attorney contact our office. We are experienced and can evaluate your case and inform you about your best options.

Who’s At Fault in a Roundabout Car Accident in Louisiana?

Roundabouts are widespread across the country and in Louisiana. When used in the manner designed, traffic circles are safe and efficient. However, many drivers are unaccustomed to driving in roundabouts and cause car wrecks. When car accidents happen in roundabouts its essential to know who’s at fault for the wreck.

Once a car has entered the roundabout, it has the right of way. The driver without the right-of-way is typically at fault for a wreck in a roundabout.

If you are the driver with the right of way, you likely are not at fault for causing the car wreck. However, because there are a variety of reasons for car accidents in roundabouts, we will look at the legal obligations in more detail.

Why is it important to determine who’s at fault?

Determining fault is vital in a car wreck because fault establishes liability, that is: who made the mistake that led to the accident. The party liable for an accident is responsible for paying the other persons’ damages caused by the wreck.

When a car wreck happens in a roundabout, just like other accidents, it’s essential to gather information to support your position.

Parties in a car accident often disagree about who is at fault for the wreck. So take steps to ensure your version of the events is established. Accident reports, witness statements, and pictures can be used to prove your case.

Police Reports

Call the police as soon as practicable after an accident. The officer sent to investigate the wreck fills out a standard accident report. In the form, he notes the traffic conditions, time the accident occurred, weather conditions, and other details crucial to the wreck.

Other responsibilities of the investigating officer include noting the conditions of the drivers, take witness statements, and documenting their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

Request the name of the investigating officer, the law enforcement agency he represents, and the report number. The information is needed for you to request a copy of his report. After you receive a copy of the report, review it for any errors, and request an amendment if you find mistakes in the report.

Witness Statements

Independent witnesses are often the pillars to determining fault in a car accident. After a wreck, speak to as many people as possible at the scene. Find out who saw the accident and collect their name, telephone number, and address.

The investigating officer should have the witnesses’ names, telephone numbers, and addresses on the accident report. Still, they don’t always do what they are should, so you need to get the information as well.

Even when an officer gets witness information, it not always written legibly or doesn’t accurately memorialize their account. You may have to contact the witnesses to confirm their honest recollection of the facts surrounding the accident. If the witness supports your position, volunteer to draft the account and ask them to sign it.

take photographs

Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, so take advantage and take pictures of the accident site. Include photos of the cars involved in the accident, the drivers, and witnesses.

In roundabout accidents, pictures can tell your story, where the cars were located, the severity of the damages, and assist in determining who is at fault for causing the wreck. The photographs are often your best evidence in proving your case.

Who’s at fault for a rear-end car wreck in a Roundabout?

The car in the traffic circle has the right away; however, what happens in a rear-end accident. The following vehicle is presumed at fault in accidents. The presumption of guilt can be overcome in some instances but not likely when traveling in a roundabout.

Cars in a roundabout are responsible for maintaining a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. In traffic circles, the gaps between cars are shortened to only a few feet from one another.

If the driver of the following vehicle is not paying attention, traveling too closely, or speeding it likely won’t have time to brake if the car ahead slows down suddenly. The following car is typically at fault for causing a rear-end collision in a roundabout.

Who has the right of way in a roundabout?

The rules of the road establish which party has the legal duty to grant a ‘right of way’ to other road users. But just because another driver should give way to you doesn’t give you the absolute right to crash into them if they don’t.

All users of roundabouts should be alert, patient, and considerate. The purpose of a traffic circle is to keep the flow of traffic moving. However, don’t believe you have ‘right of way’ and you are impervious or at a reduced risk of being in a crash.

Vehicles, including bicycles, already in the roundabout have the right of way in a traffic circle. Cars approaching a roundabout must give way to any person already established in the traffic circle regardless of which direction they are coming from.

In roundabouts with multi-lanes, a driver should be aware of which lane will get them to their destination before they enter the traffic circle. If they start to exit at the wrong spot and attempt to swerve back into the roundabout, they could cause a wreck. If a driver causes a rear-end accident when swerving back into a traffic circle, they are likely at fault.

Traffic approaching from your right has priority unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings, or traffic lights. Pay attention to road markings, which may allow you to enter the roundabout without giving way.

If so, move forward with caution and still look to the right before joining. Note that drivers in roundabouts often don’t signal at all or signal incorrectly.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development provides a PDF pamphlet with diagrams and rules applicable to roundabouts. You can access the rules by clicking on their links.

What happens if you miss your exit on a roundabout?

If you miss your exit, you should indicate with your blinker you are continuing right and go all the way around the traffic circle. When you see your exit put on your blinker indicating you are leaving the roundabout.

Roundabout car wreck claims.

One of the most common places traffic accidents occur are either in or approaching roundabouts. Approaching and driving in a roundabout takes awareness of not only your positioning but also the location of other cars.

Accidents in traffic circles are typically due to drivers getting in the wrong lane for the exit that they want and end up cutting across and running into other drivers.

If you have been in a roundabout accident and suffered an injury, as a result, contact our office. Roundabout claims are often complicated because liability is not clear. We can help navigate your claim to a successful resolution.

Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call our office and speak to Sonja Bradley. She is a lawyer experienced in car wreck cases. You can call our office directly at (225) 686-8006 to schedule your free consultation.

Are Parents Liable for Their Children’s Car Accidents?

Your eldest child got her driver’s license, and then she got into a car wreck. Fortunately, no one was severely injured, but she was at fault for the accident. Now the question is, are you, as her parents liable for the damages she caused?

Parents can be financially responsible for damages caused by their children who are at fault in causing a car accident. Parental liability differs by state, but the general theories of liability for parents are negligent entrustment, vicarious liability, and driving privilege application laws.

The facts and laws are pivotal in determining a parents liability for the damages caused by their child’s negligent driving,

Theories of Parental Liability for a Childs Car Wreck

Teenage drivers are the highest risk drivers for causing and being involved in car wrecks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens ages 16-19. Yes, your child’s welfare is a concern, but let’s examine when you can be held liable, even when you weren’t in the car.

Vicarious Liability for a Child’s Negligence

Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine establishing the responsibility of a person who had the right, ability, or duty to control the actions of another person.

Vicarious liability is based on a relationship with the person who caused the injury. Parents must responsibly supervise and educate their children. The relationship between parent and child establishes responsibility and vicarious liability applies.

Some states impose parental liability by statute for a child’s intentional or negligent acts and also limit their monetary liability. States will have different laws concerning vicarious liability. For this reason, it’s imperative to check the laws where the accident occurred.

Parents Vicarious Liability in Louisiana

In Louisiana, a parent can be held responsible for the damages caused by their unemancipated minor child. Louisiana Civil Code article 2318 codifies the vicarious liability of parents for a minor child.

It establishes that unless a minor has been emancipated either through a legal judgment or marriage, parents are responsible for any damages caused by their minor children.

Parents remain liable even if the child is placed under the care of another person and does not reside with them. However, the parent may reserve the right to proceed against the party caring for the minor.

Parents Vicarious Liability in California

Under California law a parent is vicariously liable for the damages caused by their minor child in three circumstances: 1) When their child’s willful misconduct results in injury,

  • When their child’s willful misconduct results in an injury;
  • When their child’s negligent driving resulted in a car accident; 9. CIVIL LIABILITY [17000 – 17714]
  • When a child causes an injury when using a firearm, the parent allowed the child to use it.

Under Californias, vicarious liability statute parents’ exposure is limited to up to $25,000 for their child’s willful misconduct. To be liable, the child’s action has to result in injury or death to another person or property, and pain and suffering are not recoverable. Californian Civil Code 1714.1

Parents Vicarious Liability in Texas

The state of Texas established civil liability on “a parent or other person who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of a child.” Texas statute 41.001.

The statute caps damages to $25,000 of actual damages, so there is no recovery for pain and suffering or other general damages. It also limits the ages of children it covers from 10 to 18 years of age.

Statute 41.001 is not the end-all. Aggrieved parties may still file a civil suit against parents if they can show the child had a propensity for bad behavior, and the parents were aware of it.

Parents’ have a “duty of care” to prevent their child from causing foreseeable harm, such as joyriding and crashing a neighbor’s car. Parents that breach their duty of care are liable for the damages caused by their breach.

Parents Negligent Entrustment of a Vehicle to Their Child

A parent can be liable under the theory of negligent entrustment if they knew or should have known the child was not able to operate the vehicle safely but allowed the child to drive anyways. The elements to establish a negligent entrustment claim are:

  • The vehicle owner knowingly allowed the driver to take his vehicle;
  • The driver was reckless, incompetent and/or unlicensed;
  • The vehicle owner knew or should have known the driver was reckless, incompetent and/or unlicensed;
  • The conduct of the driver was negligent, and a cause of the accident and the negligence was the proximate cause of the crash

For example, a parent knows his child is drunk, gives him the keys to his car. The child loses control of his vehicle because he is intoxicated and causes an automobile accident.

Parental Liability Under Driving Privilege Application

Some states require parents to assume the liability of their minor children in the application for a driver’s license. This is true for California and Florida. California Vehicle Code 17707 VC imposes liability on the person signing the minor application for a driver’s license.

What to do When your Teenager has a Car Accident

Your daughter just called you and let you know she has been in a car accident. After you check to make sure she is alright, what do you do next? Try to talk to her calmly and ensure her everything will be ok.

Accidents can rattle adults but it is especially difficult for young drivers. Stress, panic, and anger will lead to more problems, so everyone needs to stay calm. Ask her to check on anyone who may be injured.

After she has checked that everyone is stable, and tell her to put on her hazard lights. Next, ask her to call 911 and give a detailed description of her location. She needs to ensure they know where she is before she gets off the phone.

Tell her not to speak to anyone other than the officer about the facts of the accident. Instruct her to not apologize or say, this was all my fault. Advise her to stay in the car until the police arrive. Her safety is the primary concern.

You need to go to the scene of the accident. Once there, exchange information with the other driver and get the name and agency information of the investigating officer. You will need this information to request a copy of the accident report.

Write down the name and address of any witnesses. Take notes about the witnesses and what they said to you at the scene. Take photos of the vehicles and the location of the accident. Also, take a picture of the other driver’s license plate, skid marks, and anything else that may be relevant about the crash.

Talk to your children about safe driving and what to do in case of an accident. Knowing what to do in case of an accident can protect teenage drivers. Car accidents involving teens happen every day, being prepared, and knowing what to do can minimize the impact.

Car accidents can be extremely stressful and emotional, and an experienced attorney can assist you in receiving the compensation you deserve. Call our office to speak to an attorney experienced in representing car accident victims.

Can I Sue A Trucking Company Without A Lawyer?

Yes, an individual in Louisiana can file a civil lawsuit in federal or state court without an attorney. Civil actions filed without an attorney in federal courts are referred to as proceeding “Pro Se.” You can click on the link here to access helpful federal civil filing forms.

While the option to represent yourself may seem like a good idea, trucking accidents are very complex. Trucking companies and their insurance companies have experienced attorneys representing them.

These attorneys’ job is to save their clients money, and they use every legal trick to avoid paying accident victims for the damages suffered through their clients’ negligence.

Let’s look at some things you need to consider when going against a big rig company.

Theories of Liability

Driver Error

Employers are responsible for the negligent acts of their employees under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In Louisiana, vicarious liability is established in Civil Code article 2320 by the theory of respondeat superior.

Article 2320 states, “Masters and employers are answerable for the damage occasioned by their servants and overseers, in the exercise of the functions in which they are employed.” Truck drivers typically work for a company.

Companies often hire drivers and categorize them as independent contractors. Specific rules must be followed for a driver to be an independent contractor, regardless of how the company characterizes his employment status. Employment status is an issue that must be diligently examined.

Driver Violations

Federal law restricts the hours a driver can drive a commercial truck per day. The government also has established rest intervals between trips. Drivers and their employers make more money when transporting goods than when resting.

To make more money, they often try to get around the resting mandates, and this often results in accidents. When a driver is on the road too long, he becomes fatigued, sleepy and inattentive.

All commercial drivers maintain a logbook, and you must examine this along with any tracking devices on the truck. You can obtain the information through discovery. It is also necessary to check the numbers and dates for accuracy.

You can often find discrepancies in logbooks when compared to the tracking information and maps. Companies are responsible for the proper training of their employees, and in monitoring their trips for any apparent violations

Hiring Practices

It is critical to know the driving history of the driver who caused the accident. If the driver has a history of accidents, DUI’s, or reckless driving violations, he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of a big truck.

Trucking companies are responsible for who they hire. Hiring a driver with a bad driving record is negligent, and they should be liable. Also, if the company relied on an outside source to screen drivers, they may be responsible.

Once a driver is hired, the employer must monitor his current driving record. A company is negligent if they allow their driver to continue driving if he has failed drug screens or alcohol screens, caused numerous accidents, or received traffic violations for reckless driving


Mechanical failure can cause accidents. In a case involving mechanical failure, the maintenance records must be examined. Federal law requires trucking companies to keep detailed maintenance logs. Failure to have proper maintenance records or failure to provide proper service is violations and a step in proving negligence.


All cargo must be properly secured for travel on the roadways. If the load shifted during transportation because it was not secured and was a factor in causing the accident, the company is negligent.

Parties that may be liable in a Trucking Accident

Truckers are responsible for their negligent acts, and the trucking companies are responsible for the negligence of their employees’ negligence and the safety of their trucks. But often, other parties bear some responsibility for the damages you have suffered.

Truck driver

A trucker has a responsibility to check his rig for proper loading and maintenance. If the accident was caused by something he should have noticed during an inspection, he could be found negligent.

If an accident occurred because of speeding, fatigue, alcohol, or distracted driving of the trucker, he is liable for his negligence.

Trucking Company

The trucking company, also called a “carrier” is responsible for its drivers and trucks on the roads.

Trailer owner, Cargo shipper, and loader

In the trucking industry, it is common for carriers to work as contractors for other trucking and cargo companies. In these instances, there are multiple layers, and all have a responsibility to follow safety regulations and act prudently.

Violations of acceptable standards or regulations by the other trucking or cargo companies could result in liability for your damages. All their records need to be examined thoroughly. If a trucking company is pulling a trailer owned by another company, the trailer records need to review. Failure to properly maintain trailers often leads to accidents.


Big trucking companies hire vendors to perform work, such as running background checks on drivers. Your accident may be caused by a failure to perform a duty a vendor had the responsibility to conduct, and this would make them responsible for your damages. Third-party vendor’s involvement must be looked at to determine if they have liability for causing the accident.


Manufacturers make parts that fail, either by an unsafe design or in construction. If a manufacturer was negligent, then they are responsible for the damages you suffered and will be a party to the lawsuit. Faulty product design or manufacturing could be a product liability case.

Government agencies

Unsafe roadways cause many accidents in Louisiana. If the road was a contributing factor to the wreck, the local or state government might be held accountable.

The contractor hired by the government to work on a section of the road could also be found negligent. The contractor is negligent if his work was shoddy or didn’t comply with acceptable standards, and the substandard work contributed to causing the accident.

Involved in an Accident with a Semi-Truck? Call Sonja Bradley Today

Accidents involving trucking companies are difficult to pursue without an attorney. The Law Offices of Sonja Bradley has the experience and resources necessary to thoroughly investigate a truck accident and bring a claim against all parties responsible for your losses.

Before you agree to settle your claim with an insurance company or lawyers for a trucking company, schedule a meeting with our office, we will provide a review for no charge.

Can I Have Delayed Onset of Back Pain from a Car Accident?

You had a car accident and didn’t feel much pain at the scene. But in the days and weeks following the accident, your back begins to hurt. Is the back pain from the car wreck? Can a person have delayed onset of back pain from a car accident?

Yes, it’s common for victims of car accidents to have delayed injury-related pain after a car wreck. The back pain could be a severe injury and not realized at the time of the collision.

Even collisions resulting in minor damage to your vehicle can cause serious injury. We are all individuals and our bodies react differently to injury and pain. Some people may feel pain immediately, and others not.

How Long does it take for a Back Injury to Show Up?

The length of time a back injury causes an individual back pain varies based on the person and type of injury. Victims of car accidents are excited, and their adrenaline is flowing, masking pain.

Most people at the scene are concerned about superficial cuts and bruises; otherwise, they are happy they walked after the accident. It isn’t until they go home and try to relax that they begin to feel the pain caused by the wreck.

Often a person will wake up the next day stiff and sore in parts of their body that felt normal when they went to sleep. Even more often, the pain is not noticeable until days following an accident.

The time-lapse between the collision to the feeling of pain often happens in injuries to the spine. The gap in time is due to the complex nature of the spinal structure.

Sometime pain may not become evident for days or weeks after the wreck. The spine is the most frequent area affected in an auto collision, more specifically the back and neck.

How Long Does Back Pain Last After a Car Accident?

The severity of your injury determines the length of time back pain lasts. In most cases of muscle strains, soft tissue damage, and bruises should heal with six weeks of the accident.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke conducted a study of whiplash victims and found their rate of recovery from soft tissue injury to be within three months.

The length of time a person suffers back pain depends on the seriousness of the damage caused to the spine. Some people experience back pain a year or longer, even for the rest of their lives.

An MRI or CT scan of your spine will be able to determine the source of your back pain and help determine the length of time you could suffer in pain.

How do I Know if My Back Injury is Serious?

Most cases of back pain are the result of soft tissue damage often referred to as strains or sprains. Strains and sprains happen when a person’s muscle or ligaments tear or overstretch. These can resolve over time but should be examined by a physician.

Symptoms of back sprains or strains include tenderness, swelling, and muscle spasms. These can resolve with the passage of time, but it is prudent to schedule an examination with a physician.

However, the following symptoms are indicators that require you to see a physician:

  • severe lower back pain
  • bowel and bladder problems
  • numbness, weakness, or loss of sensation in one or both legs
  • difficulty walking tingling and numbness that radiates down the legs.
  • prolonged back pain

The symptoms described above are indicative of a serious problem with the spinal structure, possibly a herniated disc pressing on a nerve root. It could also be vertebrae damage or ligament.

If you have any prolonged back pain schedule an appoint to see a spine specialist. It is best to see a doctor as early as possible for treatment to avoid any permanent damage.

Why does my Lower Back Hurt After a Car Accident?

Your lower back mostly likely is causing you pain because you suffered either a muscle sprain strain or have discogenic pain. Discogenic pain originates from damage to a vertebral disc.

The most common causes of discogenic pain are lumbar sprains, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and degenerative spinal diseases.

Lumbar Sprains

Sprains in the lumbar region are the result of overstretching of the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the back caused by trauma. Strains and sprains typically can’t be diagnosed by imaging and instead rely on doctor experience and patient consultation to determine the diagnosis.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the channel housing the spinal nerves and spinal cord. Spinal stenosis happens in the natural course of aging; however, it can be caused by trauma such as a car accident.

Trauma can rupture disc or bone fragment and invade the spinal canal space, applying pressure to the nerves or cord, resulting in pain.

Disc Herniation 

The spine has a cushion-like disc between vertebrae, the vertebral disc is filled with a soft material. When the material protrudes out of the disc, it’s referred to as a disc herniation. The protruding material often contacts the surrounding nerves causing pain.

Degenerative Spinal Diseases

Degenerative disc disorders is a general term used to describe many different injuries and symptoms related to the break down of the spine or its parts as the body ages.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

If you have been involved in a car accident, there is a time limit within which you must file a personal injury and property damage claim. Unfortunately, each state has its own time limit. So be sure to check the time limit in the state you had your accident.

If you were hurt because of another’s negligence, then you are entitled to receive compensation for your losses and pain and suffering.

Time Limit to File a Personal Injury Claim in Louisiana

Louisiana has a brief window of time to file a personal injury claim, one year. Your legal claim for damages must be recorded in the court within one year of the date of the car wreck. The one-year limitation includes a claim for property damage as well. The time limit begins on the day of the crash.

The time limit to bring a suit is based on Louisiana Civil Code Article 3492, which states: “Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. This prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.”

Article 3492 codifies that any lawsuit for injury or property damage must be filed within one year, which includes any claim for injury or vehicle damage by a driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist after a traffic accident.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and sustained injury contact Sonja Bradley, in Hammond Louisiana, or Livingston Louisiana.

Why Are Car Accidents So Common

Traffic accidents seem to occur more and more frequently, especially in Lousiana. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons for car accidents, and steps to help prevent them.

The most common cause of car accidents is distracted driving. Drivers on cell phones, eating, texting, or even reading while driving is all instances that lead to distracted driving accidents.

Distracted driving is a significant cause of accidents on the roads in the United States, but it is not the only causes. Speeding, driving while impaired, and road conditions are also factors in causing automobile collisions.

Distracted Driving: A Common Cause of Automobile Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 3,100 deaths were caused by distracted drivers in 2017. Distracted driving is considered any activity that takes your attention away from driving safely.

Distracted driving can be broken down into three categories:

  • Visual: Looking away from the road while driving;
  • Manual: removing your hands from the steering wheel; and
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

The biggest culprit of distracted driving is texting. Reading a text diverts your eyes from the road for 5 seconds. If a person is driving 55 miles an hour, you will travel approximately 100 yards without seeing the way.

If you have to text or use your cell phone, the best practice is to pull your vehicle in a parking lot and take care of your business. Texting and driving are too risky.

Driving requires your full attention. States have initiated laws curtailing the use of a cellphone while driving. Visit the Governors Highway Safety Association website, from this site, you can access the applicable laws for each state.

Speeding: A Cause of Automobile Accidents

Speeding causes car accidents; it led to the deaths of over 9,700 people in 2017. Driving at excessive speeds is dangerous, plan and comply with designated speed limits.

Speed limits are established based on road conditions and traffic. Accidents caused by excessive speeding has resulted in 26% of all traffic deaths.

Speeding not only endangers the person driving too fast but also the other people on the road. The NHTSA has put together information to help reduce the number of automobile accidents caused by speeding. You can read their message here.

High-speed drivers are more likely to lose control of their vehicle and requires a greater distance to stop. Accidents occurring at higher speeds increase the amount of damage and injury.

Driver Impairment: A Cause of Automobile Accidents

Driving Drunk

Alcohol reduces muscle coordination and reaction time. It also impairs proper thinking and reasoning, which reduces a persons ability to operate a vehicle safely. Driving under the influence of alcohol results in the deaths of almost 30 people per day.

Driving under the influence is dangerous and it’s illegal. Every state has laws making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 or higher. Blood Alcohol Concentration is the alcohol level measured by the weight of alcohol in a specific volume of blood.

Over 10,000 people died in car accidents involving drunk drivers in 2017. The 2017 number is consistent; the average amount of deaths over the last ten years is over 10,000.

Driving drunk is not only dangerous; it is expensive. If you are charged with a DUI, the penalties can include hefty fines, jail time and suspension of your driver license.

Fines can reach thousands of dollars, and if you have to retain an attorney, look to spend upwards of 10,000 dollars. To learn more about DUI laws in Louisiana, read our article.

In many states, people convicted of DUI are ordered to install an ignition interlock device. Interlock devices require a prospective driver to blow into the device before the vehicle starts.

If the operators BAC is above the pre-set limit the ignition will not unlock and allow the vehicle the be started. Interlock devices are an additional expense borne by the person charged with DUI.

If you like to drink alcohol, follow these steps:

  • Have a designated driver before you begin drinking;
  • Have telephone numbers of friends or family members you can call if you’ve been drinking,
  • Plan to call a taxi or Uber driver;

If others are drinking, follow these step:

  • Do not let friends get behind the wheel if they have been drinking, take their keys;
  • If you host a party and plan on serving alcohol, be sure all guest have a safe way home;
  • Encourage others to wear a seatbelt whenever they travel in a vehicle. With the number of impaired drivers on the road, it is best to take precaution and be safe.
  • If you’ve seen an impaired driver on the roadway call law enforcement, you may save someone life.

Reckless Driving: A Cause of Automobile Accidents

Tailgating, changing lanes too quickly and speeding are all forms of reckless driving. Reckless driving or aggressive driving includes a multitude of traffic offenses.

The following is a list of offenses considered to be reckless:

  • Violations of traffic law signals: Running red lights, stop signs, and failure to yield to traffic are some examples;
  • Tailgating: following another vehicle too closely increases the chance of a rear-end collision
  • Passing cars in a no-passing zone;
  • Driving too fast for the weather conditions; Ice, rain, and fog increases the chances of accidents drivers should reduce their speed.
  • Driving too fast for the road conditions; loose gravel, wet roads, potholes, create unsafe conditions, drivers should reduce the speed of their vehicle;
  • Unsafe lane changes: Weaving between cars in traffic increases the chances of a wreck and injury.

Teenagers: Reckless Drivers

Teenagers have a propensity to show off. They often try to impress their friends by driving reckless. They must learn the extent of the damage an automobile can cause.

Remind teenagers to always wear a seatbelt, don’t use their cell phones while driving, don’t speed and obey all traffic signals.

Road Conditions: A Cause of Automobile Accidents

Poor road conditions cause car wrecks. Driving through potholes, uneven road surfaces, and road cracks create dangerous driving conditions. There are many examples of how road conditions can lead to collisions and injury.

An uneven road can cause a driver to lose control of his vehicle and cross the centerline of a highway and collide with oncoming traffic. The American Society of Civil Engineering grades each state’s roads. In 2017 Louisiana roads were rated a D.

The government should maintain roadways in a safe condition. If you spot an unsafe roadway condition contact the proper authority. If you were involved in an automobile accident and believe the roadway was a factor be sure to inform the investigating officer and confirm he notes the condition in the accident report.