Accidents: You Can Still Sue Even if You are Partially at Fault

October 13, 2020 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents

Accidents: You Can Still Sue Even if You are Partially at Fault

If you or a loved one has been the victim in a Louisiana automobile accident, you are entitled to sue the wrongdoer for money damages. This is true even if you or your loved one was partly at fault for the crash. Being partly at fault just means that your money damages will be reduced. This is because Louisiana has what is called a “comparative fault” state, which reduces a victim’s recovery by the percentage of their fault for the accident. See La. Civ. Code § 2323. For example, in the case of Purvis v. Grant Parish Sch. Bd., 144 So.3d 922 (Louisiana Supreme Court 2014), the trial judge found that the victim was 40% at fault for the accident and, consequently, the judge reduced the damages awarded by 40%. This was upheld on appeal.

Generally speaking, to win a Louisiana auto accident case, it must be proven that the other driver was negligent when driving. Generally, proving negligence means proving four legal elements:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation and
  • Actual injury, damage, or death

Typically, in an auto accident, proving duty and breach are straightforward. Every driver has a duty to take care when driving. This means that drivers must keep a careful watch out for other drivers, pedestrians, and others using the roads and highways of Louisiana. Drivers also have a duty to obey traffic laws and drive appropriately given weather and road conditions. Breach, then, is shown by any failure to keep a good watch out and/or any failure to follow traffic rules. To prove the third element, causation, it must be shown that the breach of duty caused the accident which caused the injury, damage, or death. As a simple example, if a driver runs a red light and hits another car, that is negligence. The wrongdoer had a duty to obey the traffic signal, failed to do so (breach) and that caused the accident.

The same analysis is used when evaluating comparative fault. The victim might also have breached his or her duty in some manner, like texting while driving. Essentially, the facts will show that there were two or more causes of the accident. At trial, the jury will weigh the evidence and decide how much fault to assess against the victim and against the wrongdoer.

Note that comparative fault is not applicable if the jury determines that the wrongdoer acted intentionally. Note also that failure to wear a seat belt is NOT allowed as grounds for comparative fault. See La. Rev. Stat. 32:295.1(e) which states that “… failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence.”

Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help: Call Today

If you have been the victim of a vehicle crash, contact the Louisiana car accident attorneys at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have proven experience with many types of car accidents and personal injury cases. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.