When someone’s negligence causes a vehicular crash, the person who suffered bodily injury or property damage can recover compensation from the negligent party under Louisiana laws. However, certain conditions can elevate the incident to a first degree negligent injury.
Read on to learn about the factors involved with first degree vehicular negligent injury and what they mean for personal injury cases.
What Is First Degree Vehicular Negligent Injury?
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:39.2, first degree vehicular negligent injury happens when an offender operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other means of transportation inflicts serious bodily injury on another person under some specific conditions. These conditions include:
- The offender’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more.
- The offender is under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or abused substance.
- The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and can be legally obtained with or without a prescription.
- The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and are legally obtainable with or without a prescription. Also, the influence is caused by the operator knowingly consuming a dosage substantially higher than the doctor’s prescription or the manufacturer’s recommendation.
What Is the Punishment for First Degree Vehicular Negligent Injury?
According to Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:39.2 (D), the punishment for first degree vehicular negligent injury is a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for up to five years or both.
What Is the Difference Between First Degree Vehicular Negligent Injury and Other Major Driving Offenses?
First degree vehicular negligent injury shares similarities with some driving offenses, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI) and vehicular negligent injury. But there are differences between them.
First Degree Negligent Injury vs. DWI
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) occurs when a person operates a vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances. You can be guilty of DWI even if you didn’t injure anyone. Once a prosecutor can prove that you were driving with a BAC level of 0.08 or more, or under the influence of other controlled dangerous substances, you may be held guilty.
However, for a person to commit a first degree vehicular negligent injury offense, their DWI must have led to an accident causing serious bodily injury to another person.
First Degree Vehicular Negligent Injury vs. Vehicular Negligent Injury
The punishment for first degree vehicular negligent injury is a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment for up to five years, with or without hard labor, or both, while the punishment for vehicular negligent injury is a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months or both.
The other key difference between first degree vehicular negligent injury and vehicular negligent injury is the extent of the injuries the accident caused. For the former, the accident must have caused serious bodily injury, while the latter covers any injury that doesn’t qualify as serious bodily injury. There are two severe outcomes that often result from first degree vehicular negligent injury:
The Injuries May Be Permanent
After a serious bodily injury, it may be difficult or even impossible for your life to go back to normal. The injuries may be permanent, causing some form of disability or impairment. You may suffer some complications that could leave you unable to earn a living or take care of yourself.
Common first degree vehicular negligent injuries include:
You May Require Lifelong Care
Some catastrophic injuries require the victim to receive medical treatment for the rest of their lives. Your treatment may involve hospitalizations, surgeries, rehabilitation, therapies, and in-home care.
How Does First-Degree Vehicular Negligent Injury Affect Your Personal Injury Case?
The level of injury you suffered in an accident can impact your personal injury case. Here are two key ways that a serious injury makes a difference:
Proving Serious Injuries Is More Complex
Pursuing a personal injury case involving a catastrophic injury usually requires more evidence. It can be difficult to establish that the accident caused the catastrophic injury, especially if you suffered multiple serious injuries, have pre-existing injuries, or there was a delay in seeking medical treatment.
Often, you not only need expert medical professionals to diagnose and treat serious injuries, but you also need expert witnesses to explain the nature and extent of the injuries and their long-term effects.
Proving damages for a catastrophic injury can be more challenging. If you require ongoing medical treatment, it can be tough to establish the amount of money that will cover future medical bills. You will also have to show the value of your non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
You May Recover More Damages
Because serious injuries often cause debilitating impairments and incur more medical costs, you may be able to recover more compensation than a victim in a typical personal injury case.
Here are some of the damages you can recover in a case involving serious bodily injury:
- Medical bills, including future medical bills
- Rehabilitation cost
- Property damage
- Lost income
- Lost future income and earning capacity
- Cost of renovating residence to accommodate any disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for a First Degree Vehicular Negligent Injury Case?
You aren’t required to hire a lawyer for a first degree vehicular negligent injury case. However, the issues and procedures involved are complex, so having the expert guidance of a skilled personal injury lawyer will greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Get in touch with the compassionate and experienced catastrophic injury lawyers at Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers, who will help you pursue justice and seek maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us for a free consultation.