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Will both drivers be held responsible in deadly car accident?

Many Louisiana readers might be under the impression that there is nearly always one driver held responsible in a two-vehicle accident. However, there are instances in which both drivers played a part in the resulting car accident. This is what police are attempting to determine in a crash that recently took the life of one man and sent at least one other to the hospital.

After a night of celebrating the ordination of a priest into the Episcopal Church, the newly ordained priest was a passenger in one of the vehicles involved in the crash. Preliminary reports indicate that a westbound vehicle ran the red stop light at the intersection where it took place and slammed into the rear of the vehicle in which the priest was a passenger. The 54-year-old man sitting next to the priest in the back seat succumbed to fatal injuries at the scene, and the priest was taken to the hospital with unknown injuries. He is expected to survive, but he was last reported as being "pretty banged up" by church representatives.

Police at the scene of the accident suspect that the driver of the vehicle that was struck was intoxicated. His blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was reportedly .13, which is higher than the legal limit here in Louisiana. He was taken into custody on several charges. Even if a criminal court determines that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the charges he faces, that does not necessarily make him civilly liable for the crash. That issue, if appropriate, would require resolution in a separate civil proceeding.

Regardless, the family of the deceased victim and the priest retain the right to file wrongful death or personal injury claims, as appropriate. Evidence establishing the negligence of one or both drivers in this car accident will need to be presented to a Louisiana civil court. If the court determines that one or both drivers was at fault, awards of damages could be made, which would be owed in accordance with the percentage of liability assigned to each driver by the court, if it is determined that more than one party bears financial responsibility.

Source: theadvocate.com, "Joyful day in Baton Rouge ends with fatal wreck, newly ordained priest injured", Charles Lussier, May 23, 2016

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