August 3, 2023

Understanding Comparative Fault in Louisiana Personal Injury Cases


When the unexpected happens, and an accident occurs, it’s not always clear who is at fault. This is where the legal doctrine of comparative fault comes into play. A New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney at Cueria Law Firm LLC explains this complex, yet essential concept in the following post.

A Brief Overview of Comparative Fault

Comparative fault, also known as comparative negligence, is a legal doctrine used in negligence lawsuits to allocate the degree of fault among each party involved in the accident. This system is based on the proportional liability of each party and is designed to ensure that each party pays their fair share of the damages.

In Louisiana, the concept of comparative fault is governed by Louisiana Civil Code 2323. This law ensures that a plaintiff’s negligence doesn’t completely prevent them from recovering damages. However, the total damages recoverable are reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s degree of fault.

Pure Comparative Negligence in Louisiana

Unlike some states that employ a contributory negligence rule barring the plaintiff from recovering if they are even 1% at fault, Louisiana follows a “pure comparative fault rule”. Under this rule, an injured party can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault for the accident. However, the recovery is reduced by the plaintiff’s degree of fault.

For example, if a plaintiff is determined to be 60% responsible for an accident, they can still recover 40% of their damages. A New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney can help you understand how this rule might apply to your case.

Comparative Fault and Different Kinds of Personal Injury Cases

This rule applies regardless of the type of personal injury claim. Whether it’s a car accident case where you might need a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney, a wrongful death claim, or a claim for injuries suffered due to exposure to harmful substances like asbestos, the comparative fault rule will apply.

The key point to remember is that the allocation of fault must total 100% amongst the parties. This means that in every accident, the judge or jury must account for the fault of all parties who contributed to the injury.

Comparative fault- Court room

Comparative Fault in Action: A Case Study

Let’s consider the case of Williams v. Asbestos Defendants. Mr. Williams, who worked with various sources of asbestos between 1980 and 1998, developed asbestos-related lung cancer and other complications. He and his wife filed a claim against several companies including Dow Chemical Company, Entergy Louisiana, LLC, General Electric Company, Shell Oil Company, and Union Carbide Corporation.

Initially, the trial court held that the damages caused by any one defendant couldn’t be separated from the total harm suffered by the plaintiffs. However, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. They held that the law of comparative negligence applied, and the jury could divide Mr. Williams’ injuries so that fault may be apportioned.

The factors that the jury had to consider in allocating fault amongst the parties included:

  1. Whether the conduct resulted from inadvertence or involved an awareness of the danger
  2. How great a risk was created by the conduct
  3. The significance of what was sought by the conduct
  4. The capacities of the actor, whether superior or inferior
  5. Any extenuating circumstances which might require the actor to proceed in haste without proper thought.

This case serves as an important reminder of why it’s essential to have a New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney representing your interests. They can ensure that fault is apportioned fairly among the parties.

How Comparative Fault Affects Personal Injury Negotiations

In a trial, a jury (or judge in a bench trial) determines the percentage of fault each party bears for the injuries. However, in a settlement negotiation, there usually hasn’t been any formal determination made.

Insurance adjusters and representatives of opposing parties might try to over-emphasize your role in the accident or lead you to believe that you are not eligible to recover. Having a New Orleans Personal Injury Attorney by your side can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

The Importance of Legal Representation in Comparative Fault Cases

Comparative negligence is a complex legal doctrine. Even if you think that you are partly at fault for your injuries, it’s crucial to seek legal representation. The manner in which all of the facts and evidence are presented can profoundly affect the outcome of your case.

At Cueria Law Firm LLC, our attorneys are experienced in handling complex comparative fault issues. We are here to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Additional resources for comparative fault

For more information on comparative fault and its role in Louisiana personal injury cases, consider the following resources:

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, Civil Code Art. 2323 Comparative fault
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, Civil Code Art. 2316 Negligence, imprudence or want of skill

Whether you need a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney or a personal injury lawyer, our team at Cueria Law Firm LLC is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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