Accidents at Gentilly truck stop raise concerns about alleged fraud

By Carrie Bradon | Nov 14, 2018

According to a WDSU NewsChannel 6 report, multiple lawsuits that have been filed against commercial truck drivers at the same location are raising concerns about the validity of the lawsuits. 

The article states that a series of accidents have been reported at the same Gentilly truck stop. Nearly all of the details of the alleged accidents are identical, according to court documents.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon typically refers cases to the fraud unit to determine their legitimacy. 

Among the factors that make these accidents seem suspicious are the facts that commercial truck drivers are required to carry $1 million in liability insurance, and that none of the truck drivers has been aware that a collision has taken place. 

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Additionally, the plaintiffs in the alleged accidents have not sought medical care following the collisions and have shown no signs of physical harm after they allegedly were struck by a commercial truck.

Louisiana drivers pay more for insurance than nearly any other state in the country. The average insurance premium in Louisiana is over $1,900, according to the WDSU article, which is about $600 over the national average. Only Michigan has higher insurance premiums than Louisiana.

The more collisions in Louisiana, the more the state's automotive insurance premiums will increase. While the plaintiffs in the lawsuits may come away with awards if their lawyers can prove that they were harmed, all insured motorists will pay more as a result.

Regardless of the shared factors of all of the plaintiffs in the cases and the high insurance coverage that the truck drivers possess, the plaintiffs' attorneys are adamant in their defense, claiming that the labeling of the accidents as "suspicious" is "baseless," "unsubstantiated," and "based on racial profiling."

Donelon's office is examining the situation. 

"We do the investigation with the insurance expertise, but the fraud unit is a partnership of the state police and the attorney general's office, so once we gather the necessary information we turn it over to state police to do the arresting if necessary and then the AG to do the prosecuting, but we are still in the investigating phase of looking into the coincidence of the same corner, the same scenario," Donelon said, in the WDSU article.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs have requested that the judge sanction the defendants, alleging that they are trying to tamper with the trial and prospective jurors. The judge has not announced a decision regarding the requested sanction.

As of now, the trial date has been scheduled for June 2019 by Judge Piper Griffin of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Division “I."

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