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How Does Louisiana Law Handle Comparative Fault in Car Crash Cases?

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Understanding Comparative Fault and How It Can Affect Your Case

There were more than 40,000 accidents with suspected injuries in the state of Louisiana in 2022 alone, and each of these has the potential to be a personal injury case. In general, you’re able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party of a car accident and pursue compensation for your injuries and medical expenses, but what happens if you may have contributed to the accident?

Consider this example: You’re driving home from picking your children up at school, and someone pulls out in front of you, causing an accident. But you were also going 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Are you at fault for the crash? How will this affect your ability to get compensation for any injuries? Louisiana is a comparative fault state, which means you may still be able to be awarded money even if you were partially at fault. Knowing how comparative fault works can help you understand if you have a case.

What Is Comparative Fault?

Comparative fault means that the law allows for both parties to be partially at fault for a car crash and that any money awarded can be diminished by the percentage of fault. This may sound complicated, but it’s really a good thing. This means that even if you were partially at fault for a car accident, such as in the speeding example above, you can still sue and possibly be awarded compensation as long as you were less than 51% at fault.

Fault is determined by the insurance companies, so it’s important to have a Baton Rouge car crash legal advisor working on your behalf and communicating with the insurance representatives and their attorneys from the very beginning. The other party’s insurance may try to say you were more at fault than you really were in an attempt to mitigate any payments. They may also try to get you to accept a low-ball settlement offer as a way to avoid going to trial.

Common Scenarios Where Comparative Fault May Come Into Play

In some cases, it’s immediately clear who is at fault for a car accident. If someone runs a red light while your side is green, they have clearly violated the traffic laws and impeded on the right of way of the other vehicle. Another fairly simple scenario is if someone backs into your car while it’s stationary, such as in a parking lot. Your car is stationary and in the proper location, and it was their responsibility to ensure they were maneuvering in a way that didn’t result in a collision. However, there are some situations where it’s not as easy to determine who was at fault.

A rear-end collision is a good example of this. In most cases, the person who hits a vehicle from behind is at fault because they were not maintaining a clear and assured distance ahead. But if the other driver brake-checked them or had to stop suddenly because they weren’t paying attention to traffic conditions ahead, they could be partially at fault.

In many of these partial-fault scenarios, one driver violates the rules of the road in some more egregious way, causing the impact of the accident, but the actions of the other driver may have contributed in some manner. Speeding, driving distracted, or operating a vehicle under the influence are all ways someone could be partially at fault for an accident. All of these impair the driver’s ability to be attentive to traffic and road conditions and react quickly to avoid an accident.

How Comparative Fault Can Impact Your Compensation

So, it’s been determined that you were partially at fault for the accident. Now what? Luckily, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still file suit and ask the courts to award you compensation for your injuries and expenses. What it does mean is that any monies you are awarded could be diminished in accordance with your percentage of fault. Here’s an example with simple numbers to illustrate.

You are injured in a car accident and are awarded $50,000 in a suit against the other driver. But you were also found to be 20% at fault for the accident. This means that the $50,000 could be lowered to $40,000 because it is decreased by your 20% portion of liability. Similarly, if the amount awarded was $200,000 and you were found to be 40% at fault, the amount could be decreased to $120,000.

If more than two people were involved in an accident, the at-fault percentage could be distributed between all of those involved. This can make these situations especially complex. If you were injured in a multi-vehicle accident, it is important that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the crash.

What to Do If You Were Partially at Fault for an Accident

Motor vehicle accidents often involve many variables, and it’s not uncommon for both drivers to be found partially at fault. This doesn’t mean you cannot or shouldn’t still pursue a case. At Walter R. Krousel Jr. & Associates, APLC, we can help you understand whether you’re likely to be found partially at fault and what to do if it happens. Our team will represent your rights and interests every step of the way, from negotiating with insurance companies to representing you at trial if a settlement can’t be made. Call our office at 866-522-3456 to speak with a representative of our firm.

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