Kenny Habetz Injury Law | April 14, 2023 | Car Accident
If you are at fault for a car accident, you could bear significant liability. Under certain circumstances, however, your liability might be limited by someone else who shares fault (most likely the other driver).
Continue reading to learn what happens when you’re at fault for a car accident in Louisiana.
Louisiana’s Pure Comparative Negligence System Explained
Under Louisiana’s pure comparative negligence system, a court apportions liability between (or among) the parties.
The court might decide, for example, that Party A (the plaintiff) is 20% responsible for the accident, while Party B (the defendant) is 80% responsible. Under these circumstances, Party A would only be entitled to receive 80% of their awarded compensation to account for their 20% of responsibility. How would this example work in practice?
Suppose that Party A suffered $10,000 in losses. Since Party B must pay 80% of Party A’s losses, Party B would owe Party A $8,000.
Of course, if Party B was 100% at fault, they would have to pay all of Party A’s damages.
Under this legal theory, if you’re at fault for a collision, your financial accountability for the other party’s damages can be reduced. Thus, you should determine if any other parties, including the claimant, share liability for the crash.
Very few car accident claims go all the way to trial—almost all claims resolve at the settlement table through a process of offer and counteroffer. During negotiations, each party’s offer will reflect their estimate of how much liability a trial court would assess.
Punitive Damages and Outrageous Conduct
A court can add punitive damages to a personal injury claim under certain circumstances. If the court awards them, it will add these damages to the ordinary compensatory damages discussed above. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant, not to compensate the plaintiff. Nevertheless, the plaintiff gets the money.
Louisiana is particularly reluctant to award punitive damages. Louisiana normally doesn’t allow punitive damages in a car accident case unless the offending driver was intoxicated. The amount of these damages could be particularly high in a wrongful death DUI claim.
Types of Evidence Involved in Car Accident Claims
In personal injury law, the truth doesn’t matter unless there is evidence to back it up. Following is a description of some of the types of evidence that plaintiffs frequently rely on to prove car accident claims.
The Police Report
It’s ironic that the police report is so often the centerpiece of a car accident claim, because courts normally do not accept police reports as evidence at trial. Instead, the lawyers must subpoena the police officer who made the report and question them about its content.
Nevertheless, insurance companies typically insist on a police report. Some insurance companies will automatically reject a claim that does not include a crash report.
Medical records are the most credible evidence, although you can still question them. You can use medical records to calculate compensation and sometimes even determine fault for an accident. You can insist on an independent medical exam of the plaintiff’s injuries. This is much easier to do if a lawsuit has already been filed.
Evidence of Lost Earnings
The plaintiff’s employer will likely provide documentary and testimonial evidence of lost earnings.
Parties often rely on eyewitness testimony to determine fault for an accident. Nevertheless, you can always have your lawyer cross-examine a hostile witness. Cross-examination can take place at a trial or at a deposition.
Expert Witness Testimony
The plaintiff might rely on expert testimony to:
- Calculate estimated future lost earnings
- Calculate estimated future medical expenses
- Reconstruct an accident to determine fault
The Support of a Crowley Car Accident Lawyer is Essential If You’re Being Blamed for a Collision
When someone accuses you of fault in a car accident, things could go either way, depending on the circumstances. Don’t try to go it alone, because the consequences of a miscalculation could be serious. Contact a Crowley personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.