How Personal Injury Claims Work in Louisiana
In Louisiana, personal injury claims and lawsuits are complex. This is one reason that, if you or a loved one has been injured, it is important to retain experienced and proven Louisiana personal injury attorneys.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Imagine a horrific accident occurred out past Eden Island on I-10 (one the most dangerous roads in America). A New Orleans couple, just engaged to be married, are off for a romantic weekend. As they are driving, one of their tires goes flat. They pull over, well off onto the shoulder, to take a look. As they are walking around the car, suddenly, a red pickup truck veers onto the shoulder behind them at great speed. The fiancee looks up in horror and she yells: “Look out!!” But, too late. The pickup truck strikes her fiance — killing him instantly — and then smashes into the car. The car rolls over with great force hitting the bride-to-be and throwing her into the grass and brush along the road. She is bruised and battered and her ankle and leg are broken. The pickup truck rolls over several times and the driver is killed.
After the accident, the police and ambulance/emergency services arrive to provide immediate medical care for the survivor and transport her to a nearby hospital. Healing and recovery are always the first priority.
With respect to legal claims, in our example, the driver of the pickup truck is at fault for the crash. Legally, persons who are sued in lawsuits for causing accidents are called “defendants.” Even though the driver of the pickup truck died, his estate and his insurance carrier are still liable under Louisiana law for causing the accident. However, he is not the only possible defendant. Other possible defendants include:
- If there was a defect in the tire, possibly the tire manufacturer could be a defendant
- If the driver of the pickup truck was drunk, then potentially a tavern or bar might be liable
- If there was a mechanical defect in the pickup truck, the truck manufacturer could be a defendant
- If there was a failure to properly maintain and/or repair the truck, then the repair shop could be a defendant
- And potentially other defendants depending on the facts of the case
The reason that these might be potential defendants is because, for any given accident, there might be more than one cause and more than one person “at fault.” Under Louisiana law, all guilty parties must shoulder their proportionate responsibility for any injury or damage that they cause.
This is another reason for retaining experienced Louisiana car accident lawyers. Experienced lawyers know how to investigate all causes of action and locate each and every potential defendant. Doing so is essential because, to ensure recovery for all victims, every potential wrongdoer must be brought into the case. Furthermore, typically, each potential defendant will have insurance coverage. That will help with a potential settlement.
In our example, there are two victims: the fiancee and, collectively, the family of the fiance. The fiancee will be able to recover for her:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of society
- Fear and apprehension
- Emotional distress (from seeing her future husband perish)
- Diminution of future earnings (depending on the facts)
- Disfigurement (depending on the facts)
- And more
The family of the fiance will have various distinct and separate claims for loss of society, loss of support and similar legal causes of action.
Let’s assume, in our example, that there are two insurance policies that cover the driver of the pickup and another defendant. Assume that the combined policy limit is $1.5 million. Experienced Louisiana personal injury lawyers will negotiate with the carriers and will work to convince them to offer the combined policy limit as a potential settlement. If that happens, then the team of lawyers representing the fiancee and the team representing the fiance’s family will negotiate and, maybe, agree that the policy limit is fair and then agree on an equitable split. Maybe the parties agree that $1 million is fair for the fiancee and the remainder is fair for the family. A higher amount is reasonable for the fiancee since she suffered severe injuries and has medical bills to pay and may have future lost income, medical bills, and other expenses. If the parties come to agreement, then settlement papers are signed, the insurance carriers pay out, the attorneys are paid their contingency fees and the case is finished. No lawsuit is filed if there is a settlement. On the other hand, if the parties do not agree that the policy limits adequately compensate the victims or cannot agree on an equitable split, then the case moves to litigation.
Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help!
If you have been injured in a Louisiana automobile 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.