Family of Tractor Driver Killed by DUI Suspect Files Wrongful Death Suit

A car accident in a wrongful death caseWrongful deaths are one of the most difficult types of cases that we handle here at the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara. Whether it’s pedestrians who get hit by out-of-control cars, victims of falling objects from great heights, or other freak accidents that result in fatalities, the families that are left behind are left with pain and grief. Last year in Metairie, a tractor driver who was towing a float for the local parade was killed by an allegedly drunk driver, who was being chased by Jefferson Parish Sheriff officers. This past February, the family chose to file a wrongful death suit against one of the officers involved in the chase and against the parade organizers. Let’s take a look at the details.

What Happened in this Case?

The victim’s name was Don J. Dauzat, age 52. According to The Advocate, on the day of the accident, Dauzat had just finished towing an Excalibur float to a parade site, and was moving the tractor he used to another parade site for the Knights of King Arthur. At around 2:50 am, as he was driving the tractor, he was struck by Michael Burrle’s car as Burrle was fleeing police. The lawsuit and The Advocate explained that Dauzat was ejected from the tractor and received serious skull and brain injuries. He died less than a day later at a hospital in New Orleans. Burrle was imprisoned on the charge of suspicion of drunk driving, and then with vehicular homicide after the death of Dauzat.

Filing a Wrongful Death Suit in Metairie

It’s important to understand that although a wrongful death is heart-breaking, they are typically not criminal cases. A wrongful death is typically categorized as an accidental death that could have been prevented if the perpetrator had been less negligent. A lawsuit of this nature can only be filed if there is evidence of the another party’s responsibility in causing the death of the victim.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is one year, and the goal of the suit is to seek compensation to help the families get back on track. Families can file suit for monetary recovery, loss of support and services, lost wages, and loss of love and affection. But it’s important that the suit be filed well before the statute of limitation expires.

In this case, the family of Dauzat filed the lawsuit claiming that the officer pursuing Burrle was not using his lights or siren, and that the parade organizers had not supplied a police escort for Dauzat as he worked late into the night. While the case is still ongoing, it serves as an example of how other parties, that you may not have thought of before, that could be held responsible for the death of a loved one.

How J. Price McNamara Can Help You with Wrongful Death

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important that you have an experienced attorney in the field on your side. Here at the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, our attorneys understand your pain and want to help you obtain the compensation you need for peace of mind after the death of your loved one. We proudly serve clients in Baton Rouge, Metairie and surrounding areas.

Woman Injured After Boat and Bridge Collision


Life belt closeup with boats in the backgroundMetairie residents were shocked this summer when a recreational boat collided with the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in June. The 21 foot fiberglass boat hit the bridge and was carrying five people, all family. According to Jefferson Parish and bridge authorities, one woman was injured when she and one other passenger were thrown from the boat. One of them was wearing a life jacket, while the other was thrown a life preserver while in the water.

Assessing the Boating Accident in Metairie, LA

Under General Maritime Law and Personal Injury, the injured woman in this scenario could have the standing to sue for injuries sustained from a recreational boating incident. The question, however, is who was responsible for the accident. For this scenario, there are a few points that must be taken into account:

  • Could the driver have avoided the bridge?

  • Was the driver being negligent?

  • Did the driver intend to crash the boat into the causeway?

  • Was there something wrong with the boat’s mechanics?

After a follow-up questioning with the driver by the authorities, he claimed that he had lost control of the steering, at which point the boat clipped the piling and crashed into the bridge.

If the boat’s steering had been faulty because of the manufacturer’s oversight, then the injured woman and her family have grounds to sue the manufacturer for negligence. However, if witnesses can prove that the driver was distracted while driving or not suited to drive the boat, then the driver could be sued for negligence.

Contact Our Team for A Free Case Review