Can I Make a Claim for Injuries if an Accident was Partially my Fault or the Police Officer Found me at Fault?
In Louisiana, you can make a claim for personal injuries even if you were partially at fault in a car accident. Louisiana uses the comparative fault regime of negligence. That is, a judge or jury will hear all of the evidence in the case and assess each person with a percentage of fault for the accident in addition to rendering a verdict on damages. You are able to collect the percentage of your damages from the tortfeasor that the judge or jury finds that he or she is responsible. Because of this system, even if you are assigned with a percentage of fault in causing an accident, this does not preclude you from recovering from the other driver the percentage of damages that reflects their fault.
For example, assume you are involved in a car accident with another person where you were merging from the left lane into the right lane and side swiped another driver who was traveling 80 mph in a school zone, and the police officer cited you for improper lane usage. Even though you have a duty to clear the lane before merging into it, the other driver also has a duty to travel the speed limit. Let's assume the case goes to trial, and the jury in the case finds you to be 50% at fault and finds the other driver to be 50% at fault due to his speeding. The jury then returns a verdict of $100,000 of damages, which represents compensation for your injuries. The award against the other driver will be assessed at 50%, representing their percentage of fault, and you will be able to collect $50,000.
Because of this regime, you are able to bring a claim for personal injuries and recover for those injuries even if you are partially at fault in the accident. For these same reasons, you can bring a claim even if the police officer finds you to be at fault in the accident because, unlike in court, the police officer is not investigating a traffic accident to determine fault under the Louisiana comparative fault regime.
Predicting what a judge or jury may do in assessing fault for an accident can be very complicated. If you are involved in a car accident in Metairie or New Orleans, it is important to consult with an experienced Metairie personal injury lawyer or a New Orleans personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Give us a call for a free consultation on how we can assist you with this claim. Please call us today for a free consultation on your claim.
Megan C. Kiefer is a partner and trial attorney at Kiefer & Kiefer, who specializes in personal injury litigation.
This is being provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.