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Understanding Comparative Fault in Louisiana: How It Affects Your Personal Injury Settlement

Posted in Car Accidents on May 17, 2023

Say a driver runs a red light and collides with another car that was turning left. The driver who ran the red light is clearly at fault for the accident, but the other driver may be found partially at fault for failing to yield to oncoming traffic. Or a consumer purchases a power tool with inadequate safety warnings and instructions. The consumer decides to use the tool without proper safety equipment and while under the influence of alcohol. While using the tool, the consumer accidentally injures themselves. When making a personal injury claim, the plaintiff’s percentage of fault would be determined based on the degree to which their failure to yield contributed to the accident.

Comparative fault is a legal principle that comes into play in personal injury cases where more than one party is partially responsible for the accident. In Louisiana, comparative fault is based on the pure comparative fault rule, which means that a plaintiff can recover damages even if they were 99% at fault for the accident, but the number of damages they receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $10,000 in damages but found to be 50% at fault for the accident, their award will be reduced to $5,000.

The Role of Negligence in Determining Comparative Fault in Louisiana

Negligence is a key factor in determining comparative fault in Louisiana. Negligence refers to a party’s failure to act with reasonable care, which results in harm to another party. In Louisiana, a plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent with negligence contributing to the accident. The plaintiff’s own negligence is also considered, and their percentage of fault is determined based on how much their actions or inactions contributed to the accident.

How Louisiana’s Pure Comparative Fault Rule Affects Personal Injury Settlements

Louisiana’s pure comparative fault rule affects personal injury settlements by allowing plaintiffs to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident. However, the number of damages they receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault. This means that a plaintiff who is found to be 50% at fault for the accident will only receive half of the damages they would have received if they were not at fault at all.

The pure comparative fault rule can be beneficial for plaintiffs in cases where they were partially at fault for the accident but still suffered significant injuries. For example, let’s say a plaintiff was hit by a car while walking across the street. The plaintiff was jaywalking at the time of the accident, but the driver was also speeding and did not see the plaintiff until it was too late to stop. In this case, the plaintiff’s percentage of fault would be determined based on their jaywalking, but they would still be able to recover damages for their injuries.

The Benefits and Challenges of Louisiana’s Comparative Fault System for Personal Injury Claims

One benefit of Louisiana’s comparative fault system is that it allows plaintiffs to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident. This can be especially helpful in cases where the plaintiff’s own negligence was minor compared to the defendant’s negligence. However, one challenge of the system is that it can be difficult to determine each party’s percentage of fault, and insurance companies may try to assign more fault to the plaintiff to reduce their payout.

How Insurance Companies Use Comparative Fault to Limit Personal Injury Payouts in Louisiana

Insurance companies may use comparative fault to limit personal injury payouts in Louisiana by assigning more fault to the plaintiff than is fair or accurate. For example, an insurance company may argue that the plaintiff was texting while driving and therefore should be assigned more fault for the accident, even if the defendant was speeding or driving recklessly. In some cases, insurance companies may even try to shift blame to third parties who were not involved in the accident at all. For example, an insurance company may argue a plaintiff’s injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition versus the accident.

Common Misconceptions About Comparative Fault in Louisiana Personal Injury Cases

Comparative Fault Personal Injury

One common misconception about comparative fault in Louisiana personal injury cases is that a plaintiff cannot recover damages if they were partially at fault for the accident. Another misconception is that the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault, but they will not receive any damages if they were found to be more than 50% at fault. Both misconceptions are incorrect under Louisiana’s pure comparative fault rule.

Another misconception is that comparative fault only applies to car accidents. In reality, comparative fault can come into play in a variety of personal injury cases, including slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and medical malpractice cases.

The Role of Comparative Fault in Defective Product Claims: Holding Manufacturers Accountable

Comparative fault plays a significant role in defective product claims, as it helps determine the extent of responsibility and accountability for manufacturers. When a product is defective and causes harm to the user, the injured party may seek compensation for their damages. However, the defendant, typically the manufacturer, may argue that the plaintiff’s own negligence or misuse of the product contributed to the injuries. In such cases, comparative fault comes into play to assess the percentage of fault on both sides. It allows the injured party to hold the manufacturer accountable for their share of responsibility while also acknowledging any contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff.

Factors Considered in Determining Comparative Fault in Product Liability Cases

When determining comparative fault in product liability cases, several factors are taken into consideration, including the plaintiff’s knowledge of the product’s risks and warnings, their proper use and maintenance of the product, adherence to safety instructions, and any actions that may have contributed to the accident or injury. Additionally, the manufacturer’s duty to provide a safe product, adequate warnings, and clear instructions is evaluated. These factors collectively aid in determining the comparative fault allocation in product liability cases.

If you have been injured due to a car accident, medical malpractice or a defective product, contact us or call (504) 500-5000 today for a free consultation.