Negligence laws vary from one state to the other depending on the civil justice system. Louisiana has adopted a pure comparative negligence rule. Louisiana’s comparative fault law is outlined in Louisiana Civil Code 2323. It reduces the claim of the plaintiff or claimant proportionately to the percentage of their fault.
The comparative rule will affect every injury claim. For example, if you lose a loved one in an accident and it is determined that they were partially at fault during the accident, you may be able to recover part of your damages in a wrongful death claim. However, you must prove negligence against the defendant. Your settlement will be determined by the percentage of fault.
Every individual has a duty of care to one another. Failure to fulfill this duty may result in legal liability. For instance, speeding is a breach of duty of care. Louisiana law uses a comparative fault doctrine in negligence cases. That means the burden is spread out in equal proportions to the person responsible for the accident.
How Comparative Negligence Law Can Affect Your Claim
To understand how Louisiana’s comparative negligence law can affect your claim, imagine a speeding car rear-ends a driver who themself made an error while changing lanes. The total overall damages are $100,000. The court determines that the plaintiff was 20% at fault. According to the comparative negligence rule, the plaintiff will be able to receive $80,000 of due compensation for the total damages.
Essentially, comparative fault enables you to take measures to recover damages from injuries even if you have a role in the accident. The court will consider your claim and reduce the compensation depending on the percentage of your fault. This holds all of the responsible parties accountable for what took place.
In most cases, a negligent driver or insurance company will dispute a claim even when the cause of the accident is clear. That is where qualified attorneys with a proven track record of success come in handy. A lawyer can analyze your case, gather the necessary evidence, interview witnesses, and calculate damages to increase your chance of getting fair and adequate compensation.
Comparative Fault in Personal Injury Negotiations
Judges and juries have to determine the percentage of fault of every party during the trial. The legal theory of negligence is used to determine the liability of personal injury. Your attorney must prove that four oft he following conditions have been met before you can proceed with your case.
Duty of Care
Duty of care is the action that the plaintiff could have taken to prevent injury. Breach of duty of care can lead to legal action.
Proximate cause involves showing a direct link between actions or lack of action of the defendants. It must be proven that their actions caused the accident, at least in part, and that this directly led to your damages. An example of proximate cause may include walking across someone’s property with the owner and injuring yourself on a hidden defensive barrier or broken glass without the owner issuing a warning.
If the accident did not cause any harm, then the lawsuit will not have any grounds. Some of the damages you may be able to claim include:
- Funeral expenses (in cases of wrongful death)
- Medical costs and hospital bills
- The cost of emergency transportation in an ambulance
- Accessibility modifications to your home or vehicle
- The cost of your future treatment
- Your lost wages now and in the future
Statute of Limitation for Louisiana Personal Injury Claims
All personal injury claims have deadlines, which are also known as a statute of limitations. Louisiana State allows a one-year window for people to file their injury case from the date of accident or when they reasonably discovered the injuries. Initiating a legal action after this window closes will likely lead to your case’s dismissal. Because of this relatively small timeframe, it is all the more important to contact an attorney to determine if you can bring forward a successful lawsuit.
Insurance Claims and Comparative Fault
Comparative fault laws are only applicable to formal lawsuits. The insurance company must consider the degree of fault of all parties who were involved in an accident before they determine a settlement offer. In cases where a settlement is offered, the amount will likely be based upon your ability to negotiate.
When it comes to compensation after an accident in Louisiana, it is advisable to have an experienced attorney by your side. Luckily, most lawyers offer a free legal consultation. Many also work on a contingency basis, which means their fees are paid after the case is settled with the insurance company or has been won in court. This makes hiring an attorney in such situations affordable and lower risk than other types of legal action.