Every year thousands of Louisianans are injured in car accidents. In 2016, there were more than 69,000 reported injuries, according to the Highway Safety Research Group at Louisiana State University.
In fact, a recent study found that Louisiana drivers are among the worst in the country. A website called CarInsuranceComparison.com, which helps people compare car insurance rates among different companies, analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and concluded that Louisiana drivers rank first for failure to obey traffic signals and fifth worst for fatalities per miles driven and careless driving.
So what do you need to know if you are injured in a car accident in Louisiana?
Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Under Louisiana law, you only have one year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in state court. This is called the statute of limitations. If you don’t file the lawsuit within the proscribed time period, then you will likely lose your right to seek damages.
The Comparative Fault Rule
Sometimes a car accident is caused by one driver, and other times both (or multiple) drivers are at fault. Louisiana follows the “comparative fault” rule, which reduces the amount an injured driver can receive in damages by his or her fault percentage.
For example, suppose the court finds that Driver A is 20 percent at fault for the accident and Driver B is 80 percent at fault. Maybe Driver B ran a red light but you were driving a few miles faster than the posted speed limit. Driver A’s total damages for the accident are $20,000. Because Driver A was 20 percent at fault, he can only receive 80 percent of the $20,000, or $16,000, from Driver B.
What Damages Am I Entitled To?
If you are injured in car accident, you can seek damages for you medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How Does Car Insurance Come Into Play?
All drivers are required to have car insurance. Because Louisiana is a “fault” state, injured drivers have two options: (1) file a claim with an insurance company or (2) file a lawsuit.
In a “fault” state like Louisiana, the person at fault for the accident must compensate the injured party. But remember that more than one party can be at fault. You are only responsible for the percentage at which you are at fault.
In a “no-fault” state, your insurance company will reimburse you for minor injuries, regardless of who was at fault. There is typically a monetary threshold that triggers your right to sue for damages. Examples include Florida, Michigan and New York.
There are also states that allow drivers to choose between the no-fault system and tort liability. The three states that use this system are New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
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