Louisiana Personal Injury Cases: Was the Harm Foreseeable?

January 18, 2023 General

Louisiana Personal Injury Cases: Was the Harm Foreseeable?

In Louisiana premises liability and products liability cases, victims of accidents or victims who are injured by products are entitled to seek recovery of compensation for their injuries. To succeed, victims must prove the separate elements of negligence. In these types of cases, the elements are generally considered to number five and are generally identified as follows:

  • The party being sued — the defendant — had a duty to conform his or her conduct to a specific standard of care — duty
  • Defendant failed to conform his or her conduct to the appropriate standard of care — breach
  • Defendant’s substandard conduct was a cause-in-fact of the plaintiffs injuries — the cause-in-fact element
  • Defendant’s substandard conduct was a legal cause of the plaintiffs injuries — legal causation
  • Actual damages

In this article, we will focus on the duty element and how the concept of foreseeability factors into the legal analysis.

In Louisiana, “duty” is generally defined as an obligation that conforms to the standard of conduct associated with a “reasonable man” in similar circumstances. Further, courts have held that there is a generalized, almost universal duty owed by everyone to use reasonable care so as to avoid injury to another. In other words, “duty” is about taking care to avoid HARM.

Legally, this is where foreseeability comes into play. The duty is to take care to avoid FORESEEABLE harm. This is often expressed as “risk.” As one court recently held, “[i]f a risk is not foreseeable, then there is no duty imposed to prevent harm arising from the risk.” See Dixon v. Barr, Case No. 19-cv-1471 (US District, W.D. Louisiana, January 13, 2022). In that case, there was no duty related to a prison hydraulic door that malfunctioned. The injured party grabbed the door frame as the door was closing, and his hand was injured. This was a malfunction since the door was supposed to stop closing. But no duty was held to exist since the evidence showed that the door was without defect or malfunction for at least five years prior to the accident. As such, it was not foreseeable that the injury would occur. Consequently, there was no duty, and the negligence claim was dismissed.

That being said, foreseeability leading to duty is generally a question for the judges to determine, and, mostly, foreseeability is somewhat “easy” to establish. So, from a couple of Louisiana asbestos exposure cases, reasonable foreseeability was found where a wife was exposed to asbestos fibers carried home on clothing of her husband, who worked at an asbestos plant. Likewise, reasonable foreseeability was found where workers at a local restaurant were exposed to asbestos fibers carried to the restaurant during lunch breaks and after work on clothing of workers. In both cases, the risk was foreseeable that workers would carry fibers on their clothing to their homes and to other places like a local restaurant. As such, the owners of the asbestos plant had a duty to prevent potential harm.

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. 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.