LEGAL CORNER: How long can a train legally hold up traffic? - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

LEGAL CORNER: How long can a train legally hold up traffic?

(Source: KPLC) (Source: KPLC)
(KPLC) -

Submit your questions to news@kplctv.com. Civil matters only, please.

QUESTION: I live in the Carlyss area and normally travel south cities service highway on my way to work in Lake Charles. Recently, there was a train that blocked the crossing for over 30 minutes. I saw an employee of the railroad and I asked him how much longer did he think the train would be there, he glanced at me and said, “until we get through.” Are there any limitations on how long a train can block a crossing?

ANSWER: I think most of us understand exactly where you are coming from. To answer your question, yes, there are rules governing the railroad. It is unlawful for any train, railroad car or equipment, or engine to obstruct vehicular traffic at a public highway railroad crossing for a period in excess of twenty consecutive minutes. There are exceptions, for example when the train is moving or when such movement is prevented by a power brake failure or other mechanical failure or Circumstances over which the railroad company or carrier has no reasonable control, such as a natural disaster or acts of third parties. 

Other exemptions:

  • (b) Enforcement of the Hours of Service Act.
  • (c) Derailment or other accident.
  • (d) A directive of the Federal Railway Administration.
  • (2) No employee performing his duties under the operating rules or orders of the railroad company or carrier or its supervisory personnel shall be prosecuted for any violation of this Section.
  • (3) Any rail carrier violating the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection shall be fined as follows:
  • (a) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of twenty minutes, but not longer than twenty-five minutes, the fine shall be not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars.
  • (b) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of twenty-five minutes, but not longer than thirty minutes, the fine shall be five hundred dollars.
  • (c) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of thirty minutes, but not longer than thirty-five minutes, the fine shall be seven hundred dollars0.
  • (d) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of thirty-five minutes, but not longer than forty minutes, the fine shall be nine hundred dollars.
  • (e) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of forty minutes, but not longer than forty-five minutes, the fine shall be one thousand dollars.
  • (f) If the duration of the obstruction is in excess of forty-five minutes, the fine shall be one thousand dollars plus an additional five hundred dollars for each five minutes of obstruction in excess of forty-five minutes. However, the maximum fine shall not exceed five thousand dollars for an obstruction which occurs within a twenty-four hour period (LA RS 48:391 (A)(1-3)— Obstruction of railroad grade crossings Universal Citation)

QUESTION: I find your Legal Corner segment very interesting. I do want to go to law school but I would like to become a Paralegal and eventually perhaps start my own business. What training or education do I need and what are the restrictions I should be aware of?

ANSWER: A Paralegal is a person who is qualified through education, training or work experience to perform legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental or other agency to perform this work. You may not practice law, hold yourself out to be an Attorney or give legal advice. There are different types of Paralegals, such as traditional, non-traditional, freelance/contract/ independent paralegals and several others. 

The National Federation of Paralegals definition, although quite broad in nature, reflects the diversity of its membership and of the profession NFPA agrees with the position of the American Bar Association (ABA) that the titles "paralegal" and "legal assistant" are interchangeable. However, NFPA prefers the title "paralegal." Over the years, the profession has evolved to the point that the title "paralegal" has needed, in certain circumstances, further interpretation.

Basically, there are four general categories of paralegal practice. The supplementary titles and interpretational information generally used are:

  1. Traditional Paralegal: A paralegal who works with supervision by and/or accountability to a lawyer in a law firm environment.
  2. Non-Traditional Paralegal: A paralegal who works with supervision by and/or accountability to a lawyer outside of a law firm environment. 
  3. Freelance/Contract/Virtual Paralegal: A paralegal who works as an independent contractor with supervision by and/or accountability to a lawyer. Freelance/contract/virtual paralegals are self-employed and act as independent contractors who are retained by attorneys from various sectors (both public and private) on a case-by-case basis. Freelance/contract/virtual paralegals provide necessary support and expertise directly to attorneys on an as-needed basis, thereby providing an economically feasible alternative to hiring a full-time employee. ?
  4. Independent Paralegal: A paralegal who provides services to consumers with regard to a process in which the law is involved and for whose work no lawyer is accountable. Services include document preparation (also referred to as scrivener services), representation when permitted by court rule or statutory authority, and providing information about the legal system and pro se procedures within various courts. · Also included under the category of independent paralegal are the following:
  • Special Advocate: A paralegal who is authorized to participate in court proceedings involving specified classes of parties or cases. The special advocate may be referred to as a "court appointed special advocate" (CASA).
  • Agency Representative: A paralegal who is authorized by statute or agency rule to represent clients in agency proceedings, for example the Social Security Administration.

LA R.S.37§213. Persons, professional associations, professional corporations, and limited liability companies entitled to practice law; penalty for unlawful practice.. No natural person, who has not first been duly and regularly licensed and admitted to practice law by the supreme court of this state, no corporation or voluntary association except a professional law corporation organized pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 12 of the Revised Statutes, and no partnership or limited liability company except one formed for the practice of law and composed of such natural persons, corporations, voluntary associations, or limited liability companies, all of whom are duly and regularly licensed and admitted to the practice of law, shall:(1) Practice law.(2) Furnish attorneys or counsel or an attorney and counsel to render legal services.(3) Hold himself or itself out to the public as being entitled to practice law.(4) Render or furnish legal services or advice.

QUESTION: It seems the harder you work and try to get ahead the more difficult life becomes. I love what I do as a florist! Now, someone sitting behind a desk has decided that I need a license to do so. I am just tired of all the rules and regulations governing every part of my life. Is there anything I can do about this law?

ANSWER: You are correct, November report from the Institute for Justice called on Louisiana to repeal some occupational licenses or adopt scaled-back regulatory alternatives when licenses are needed to ensure safety. It found that Louisiana licenses 77 of the 102 lower-income occupations the institute studied and often Louisiana's laws were more burdensome. You can click on the link provided to see some of the other low-income occupations which are required to obtain licenses. Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, is sponsoring a bill that would do away with the requirement: emerson@leg.la.gov . You can contact her office for more information on how you can assist her in her efforts to eliminate this proposed requirement.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.
 

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