What are the Comparative Fault Laws for Louisiana?
Each state has laws related to negligence. Louisiana has adopted a comparative fault theory of negligence. Based on LA Civ Code 2323 (2016), when you file a lawsuit claiming damages from a car accident, each person who contributed to the cause of the accident is assigned a percent of fault, even parties who are not named in the lawsuit. In other words, the court or jury looks at the cause of the accident and assigns blame to each party who was involved in the accident. Compensation is then based on the percentage of fault assigned to each party.
Because your compensation could be substantially lower based on the percentage of fault assigned to you for a car crash, it is important to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. Experienced attorneys understand Louisiana’s comparative negligence laws, and understand how to fight the insurance company for the other driver to ensure you are treated fairly. Our attorneys perform an independent investigation to prove you were not at fault for the collision or your fault was minor compared to the fault of the other driver.
Calculating Comparative Fault
Some states refer to comparative fault as comparative negligence; however, regardless of the term, the legal theory is the same. The court “compares” the extent of each party’s negligence to calculate the fault assigned to each party.
For example, in a three-car collision, the driver who was recklessly speeding (more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit) may be assigned 60 percent of the fault. The second driver, who was turning left in the intersection is assigned 30 percent of the fault while the driver who rear-ended the second driver because he was following too closely is assigned 10 percent of the fault.
In many cases, the jury assigns fault based on how the case is presented during the trial. It is important to hire an attorney who has both negotiating skills and trial experience to handle your case. Fighting to prove you are not responsible at all for the crash is crucial so you can recover full compensation for your damages.
Putting It into Actual Numbers
It may be easier to understand comparative negligence if we put it into real numbers. Using the example above, the driver who was assigned 10 percent of the fault can recover 90 percent of his damages. If he has $50,000 in damages, he is entitled to receive $45,000 ($50,000 less 10 percent).
On the other hand, the driver who is assigned the majority of the fault (60 percent) can only receive compensation for 40 percent of her damages. Her damages equal $100,000 because she suffered severe injuries. Unfortunately, her compensation is reduced by her percentage of fault. Therefore, the maximum compensation she can receive is $40,000 ($100,000 less 60 percent). As you can see, the assignment of fault in a car accident case can dramatically impact the amount of money you receive from the other parties involved in the collision.
Pure Comparative Fault
Many states adopt a modified comparative negligence or fault standard. These states have laws requiring the plaintiff to be no more than 50 percent at fault to recover compensation. In other words, if a jury assigns the plaintiff 51 percent of the fault, the plaintiff receives nothing.
In Louisiana, you can be 99 percent at fault and still collect one percent of your damages from the other driver. Filing a lawsuit for one percent of your damages is typically not practical. However, if you have substantial damages (i.e. hundreds of thousands of dollars), it may be worthwhile to discuss filing a claim with an attorney even if your percentage of fault is more than one-half.