Louisiana is an at-fault state for personal injury claims. Therefore, the injured victim has the burden of proving causation and fault before receiving compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Causation is a crucial element of a personal injury claim. A party is only liable for the damages they cause. Because of the state’s contributory fault law laws, the damages in a case are proportionate to a party’s fault, which could negatively impact the victim’s recovery.
What Is Contributory Fault?
All states have some type of contributory negligence or comparative negligence laws. The laws determine how fault impacts recovery of compensation for damages. The laws fall into one of three primary categories:
- Pure contributory fault (a/k/a contributory negligence)
- Pure comparative negligence
- Modified comparative negligence
Contributory fault is only used in four states and the District of Columbia. It is the harshest form of apportioning damages.
If a victim has any fault for causing their injuries, they are barred from receiving any money for their injuries. The other party could be 99% at fault, and contributory negligence prevents the victim from receiving any amount of compensation for damages.
On the other hand, a pure comparative negligence standard allows victims to receive compensation regardless of their level of fault. The victim could be 99% at fault and still receive a portion of their damages. Less than a dozen states have a pure comparative negligence standard.
Most states have a modified comparative fault standard. Their laws set a 50 or 51 percent bar rate for comparative fault.
If the victim’s fault is above the bar, the victim cannot receive any money for their damages. However, if their level of blame is below the bar rate, they can receive a portion of their damages.
Which Contributory Fault Law Does Louisiana Use?
Louisiana has adopted a pure comparative fault law for personal injury cases. Therefore, you could be mostly to blame for causing your injuries and still file a claim for damages against the other party. However, if a jury finds you partly to blame, your compensation is reduced by your level of fault.
Suppose a jury awarded you $650,000 for a car accident claim. However, the jury found you were 20% to blame for causing the car accident. In that case, the amount you receive would be reduced by 20% or $130,000.
How Do Insurance Companies Use Contributory Fault to Their Advantage?
Insurance adjusters contact victims to investigate their claims. They ask questions and record the person’s responses. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are trained to gather information the company can use against the victim.
For example, the adjuster might ask you about your morning and what you had for breakfast. Telling the adjuster you were out of coffee and had to rush to go through a drive-thru on the way to work could lead to allegations of speeding or distracted driving. The company might allege you were running late because you stopped to get coffee, so you were speeding when you were involved in the car crash.
Because innocent statements could be intentionally misinterpreted to allege fault, it is best to let your personal injury attorney in Lafayette deal with the insurance company. You have the right to legal advice. Our lawyers offer free consultations so you can get legal advice before talking to an insurance adjuster.
How Can You Avoid Being Blamed for Causing an Accident or Personal Injury?
The steps you take after an injury or accident can help you avoid allegations of fault. First, do not admit fault or apologize for an accident. Saying you are sorry could be interpreted as admitting fault.
Avoid discussing the accident with anyone other than your lawyer. When providing details for the police officer at an accident scene, focus on what you recall instead of what you think happened. It is common to be dazed and confused after an accident.
Stop posting information online, including social media accounts. Insurance companies search the internet for posts and pictures they can use to prove you were not injured. Likewise, your comments about the accident could lead to allegations of fault.
When your health is stable, contact a Lafayette personal injury lawyer. An attorney gives you advice about your legal options. However, a lawyer also helps you avoid making mistakes that could hurt your personal injury case.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Lafayette Personal Injury Lawyers
Insurance companies use whatever factors they can identify to undervalue your personal injury claim. Our Lafayette personal injury attorneys know these tactics and are prepared to fight back. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (337) 399-9000 to discuss how we can help you get the money you deserve.