Starting in the 1970s, some states began to pass legislation to introduce no-fault insurance, a type of coverage that helps pay for your medical bills if you’re injured in a car accident. The key here is it applies regardless of who caused the accident. Their goal was simple: to make it easier to determine which driver was responsible for causing the accident.
But not all states decided to go down this path, and quite a few — including Louisiana — operate instead by comparative negligence laws. It’s a more complex approach; while sometimes it’s very obvious to determine who caused an accident — the driver who ran through a red light or stop sign, for example — other times it can be a much more difficult task. In some instances, it would appear that both drivers bear some responsibility. That’s when comparative negligence enters the picture.
If you’re in a car accident in Louisiana, understanding the state’s comparative negligence laws is important, particularly if you were injured and are planning to file a claim for coverage of your medical bills. Let’s take a closer look at how the system works in Louisiana.
What is Comparative Negligence?
In states that use comparative negligence laws, the courts split the blame for an accident between the parties involved and consider all factors. Was one of them speeding? Was the other not paying attention? Was one of them distracted by the cell phone? Once fault has been determined, recovery for damages gets reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to each driver. Often called “allocation of fault,” the law may decide that one driver bears 70% of the fault, and the other, the remaining 30%.
In other words, not all accidents are created equal, so the system scrutinizes how the accident occurred and what circumstances led to it. While Louisiana uses a comparative negligence system, and if you get injured in a car accident, you can still recover damages even if you were partly to blame for causing it. In fact, you can still recover damages even if you were more at fault than the opposing party.
In Louisiana, the comparative fault law will reduce your claim in proportion to the percentage of your fault. In practice, that means if you were 80% at fault, you can still recover 20% of your damages.
How is Fault Determined in Louisiana?
Louisiana defines negligence as a failure to exercise appropriate care. Under the state’s comparative negligence system, either the judge or the jury will determine the amount of fault for each party. These rules apply to any personal injury claim.
If you’ve been in an accident in Louisiana and intend to file a personal injury claim, you need to take legal action within one year from the date when the accident happened. The court is likely to dismiss your case if you file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired.
As for what damages you could recover after a car accident in Louisiana, it’s going to depend on the specific facts of your case. Let’s say you got injured by a negligent driver. The compensation you could be entitled to would include:
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Damage to your property
- Pain and suffering
- and mental anguish or trauma.
If you got injured by a drunk driver, you could also be entitled to punitive damages intended to punish defendants who engaged in egregious behavior while on the road.
Throughout this complex process, it’s important to first know the full extent of your injuries before you accept a settlement and seek out the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who can fight for the maximum compensation. It’s possible that insurance adjusters will try to overemphasize how much fault you bear for the accident, and the determination of fault will have a significant impact on how much compensation you can recover.
Experienced Louisiana Car Accident Lawyers Near You
Every moment wasted not contacting an attorney to help you with your car accident case is a potential dollar lost in your settlement, so it’s important to partner with a trusted attorney. In Louisiana, attorneys with E. Orum Young Law have decades of experience negotiating with insurers to reach fair settlements for their clients. E. Orum Young Law strives to handle all the complex legwork necessary to pursue a successful claim so you can focus on healing. We have more than 35 years of experience protecting Louisiana drivers and are ready to fight for you.