Those who have been injured often worry that they will be unable to recover damages (aka, money) from someone else if their own actions contributed to their injuries. Louisiana follows the pure “comparative fault” rule, which allows an injured person to recover under these circumstances, although sometimes at a reduced amount.
Comparative fault is best understood through a dose of history. Traditionally, the states followed a rule known as pure “contributory negligence.’ Under this rule, an injured person could not recover any damages if she was found to be even slightly at fault. To illustrate, if a jury found an injured person only 1% at fault, the injured person could not recover against someone the jury found 99% at fault. A few states still use this rule, such as North Carolina and Virginia. Most states, however, have gone away from the harshness of pure contributory negligence.
The rule currently used by most of the states is known as “comparative fault” or “comparative negligence.” There are two versions of this rule: pure comparative fault and modified comparative fault.
Louisiana and Mississippi both apply pure comparative fault to negligence actions, such as car accident cases. Under Louisiana law, an injured party can recover even if she was mostly at fault in causing her injuries. For example, if the jury found the damages (her injuries) to be worth $1000, but found the injured party to be 90% at fault and found the other party to be 10% at fault, the injured party could still recover 10% of the damages, or $100.
The second type of comparative fault is known as “modified comparative fault.” States that follow this rule allow an injured party to recover as long as her own negligence does not exceed a certain percentage. Most of these states bar the injured party from recovering if she was 51% or more at fault; however, some of them disallow recovery if the injured person is 50% or more at fault.
In modified comparative fault states, such as Texas, the injured party can recover as long as her negligence does not exceed the applicable threshold. However, damages are reduced proportionately to her fault.
In the example above, the injured party would not be allowed to recover because she was found to be 90% at fault for her own injuries. Had the jury instead found her to be only 10% at fault, she would have been permitted to recover, but she would only have received 10% of the damages awarded by the jury.
Louisiana does not apply comparative fault if the person being sued caused the injuries intentionally. In those cases, the injured person may recover all damages assessed, even if she played a part in causing her own injuries.
A possible recovery for injuries can best be evaluated by an experienced Louisiana personal injury lawyer, particularly when the injured party may be deemed partially at fault. To schedule a free consultation today, contact Wright Pichon & Gray