How Can Comparative Negligence Affect Your Car Accident Lawsuit?

Picture of a car accident

If you think about it, nobody is ever 100% at fault in an accident. Everyone can think of something they could’ve done differently to avoid the crash. Maybe you didn’t react in time. Perhaps you looked away from the road for a split second. Determining fault in a car accident in Louisiana is never easy. Even if there are witnesses to the crash, they all see different things. You can even look at a video of the accident, and you may not be sure who hit who. This is why the law in Louisiana has something called comparative negligence. This basically means that your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Some states prevent you from filing a lawsuit even if you’re only partially at fault. The good news is, Louisiana is not one of them.

Your Lake Charles accident lawyer knows how comparative negligence works. They’ll do their best to prove that the other driver was at fault. Just keep in mind – there is a chance that comparative negligence can affect your case.

Why Does Louisiana Have Comparative Negligence Anyway?

Every state has some law that deals with both parties being at fault. This is because it’s almost impossible to prove that one part is 100% at fault. Except in limited circumstances, both parties can usually be found partially at fault.

Some of the exceptions to this rule include:

  • Drunk driving accidents – It’s hard to hold a driver partially at fault when they’re hit by a drunk driver. One driver decided to drink and get behind the wheel. The other driver simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would be very hard for a car accident lawyer in Lake Charles to prove that the sober driver was at fault.
  • Head-On Collisions – When one driver hits the other head-on, it’s difficult to blame both drivers for the crash. Whether the driver lost control of their car or was doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, they’re probably going to be found 100% at fault.
  • Passenger Injuries – A passenger will almost never be found to be at fault. There could be very unique situations where the passenger is held liable. For example, if they grabbed the steering wheel and directed the car into a telephone pole, they may be at fault. But, generally speaking, passengers are innocent victims.

The other reason for this rule is that, without it, the courts would be clogged with lawsuits. Both parties to an accident may believe the other is at fault. Rather than deal with separate lawsuits, the court will simply determine both parties’ levels of fault.

Comparative negligence allows the court to assign blame to both parties. They can resolve damages in one lawsuit.

How Does Comparative Negligence Work?

The way comparative negligence works is the court assigns a percentage of fault to both parties. For example, one driver may be found to be 80% at fault. This means the other driver is 20% at fault.

Here is how this impacts your case:

Let’s say you were found to be 20% at fault. You sued the other driver for $100,000. The court is going to discount your claim for 20%. So, instead of getting $100,000, you’ll get $80,000.

If the judge find that you were more than 50% at fault, you won’t recover at all. In fact, if you’re more than 50% at fault, the other driver can file a counter-claim for damages.

Your Lake Charles car accident lawyer knows how this rule works. If they think you’re more than 50% at fault, they’ll tell you upfront. It doesn’t make sense to file a lawsuit if you caused the accident. You’ll be lucky if the other driver doesn’t file suit against you.

Louisiana follows the comparative negligence standard that so many other states follow. This means that, even if you’re partly at fault, you can still sue, you just won’t get full damages.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Lake Charles

If you get into a car accident, you should call and speak with a car accident lawyer in Lake Charles, Louisiana. They can review your case and let you know what it may be worth. They can also let you know if they think you’re partially at fault.

Call today and schedule your initial consultation. It’s absolutely free and you pay nothing until you settle your case.

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