What Are the Elements of a Personal Injury Claim in Louisiana?

January 14, 2022

Personal injury law can encompass a wide range of issues. A personal injury is any injury that you might have sustained that led to your physical or emotional harm. If someone has caused you personal injury you have the right to take them to court to claim damages. This stems from the fact that if someone has wronged you, you as the injured person have a right to seek redress from them. Personal injury attorneys can help you seek out that redress and make your case in front of a court of law if it gets to that point.

Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

How do you know someone has done something wrong that needs to be addressed in a personal injury claim? Negligence law is a crucial part of proving whether someone has wronged you. Negligence is the failure to exercise due care in a particular situation or set of circumstances. What do we mean by due care? In general life, a person has a duty of care to others who are around them. This duty of care means that the plaintiff has a reasonable care to act in a manner that would preserve the well-being of others. Negligence law aims to ensure the responsible party is held accountable for their actions.

In Louisiana law, an injured person needs to be compensated for their injuries in some way or another. For a personal injury claim, three elements must be present:

  1. Liability: Is someone else at fault for the injury or the defect?
  2. Causation: Was the damage you suffered caused by the accident or defect in question?
  3. Damages: Have you suffered any damages at all from the incident?

Under Louisiana law, if you were to recover your damages from someone as a result of a personal injury lawsuit, you would need to prove these three things. If you cannot prove one of these three elements, then there's no way you can seek recovery from your personal injury case.

Understanding Liability

Liability is a relatively simple concept to explain. If someone caused someone else's injury, they are liable for it. This could be as simple as property damage leading to someone breaking a leg. As mentioned before, a person typically has a duty of care to those who are around them. When that person doesn't exercise this reasonable care in their actions, they could cause injury to someone else. Liability might also extend to an employee of a company. If the employee failed to perform certain actions, that leads to emotional distress or physical harm to a person, their employer might be held liable for their actions.

Defining Causation

The most difficult part of many injury claims is proving causation. Was the plaintiff responsible for the damages that the injured party received? Complications tend to arise when there are multiple parties responsible for multiple damages. Determining which party is liable for what type of damage is crucial to figuring out what you should be getting as compensation for the your injuries. Investigation and information-gathering is a vital process to prove causation between action and damages.

Looking At Damages

Some damages can be quite obvious based on the situation. Someone in an automobile accident, for example, might demonstrate severe injuries that may need medical care to deal with. The cost of medical treatment can be immense and the guilty party may be required to pay for it. However, in other situations, it can be difficult to see the damages inflicted on the injured person. Mental anguish usually needs a psychologist or psychiatrist to make a diagnosis and submit it to a court of law. Damages don't need to just be linked to an accident injury. They could also be in the form of economic losses. If someone is unable to work after being involved in an accident, they might end up with terrible financial losses because of this inability. In other cases, an injury case might be linked to wrongful death. Wrongful death claims can come when a person who is involved in an accident dies as a result of it. Burial expenses might come up to quite a large amount, but wrongful death attorneys can help you get a settlement in your favor.

Punitive and Exemplary Damages

In other states, a court of law may want to make an example of a guilty party by forcing them to pay damages as a result of their negligence. These exemplary or punitive damages are usually used to warn other people away from performing similar actions that could lead to others becoming injured. In Louisiana, punitive damages are not acceptable for a personal injury claim. The exception is when there is a statue that specifically states that punitive damages can be awarded. For example, in the case of a drunk driver, punitive damages can be used to deter others from similar behavior.

Comparative Fault in Louisiana

If you're involved in a personal injury accident, you might be liable for a percentage of fault. Some states have a contributory negligence clause that states that if the injured person was responsible in any way for their injury the defendant need not pay any damages to the plaintiff. Louisiana is different in that the law here is a comparative fault law. Negligent parties can be responsible for a percentage of the injuries and must cover that percentage of the settlement. Even if the injured person is responsible for some amount of their own damages, they can hold the liable party accountable for some of the damages incurred.

Statute of Limitations on Accident Injury Cases

Many states only have a limited window where an injured person can file for an accident injury compensation. In Louisiana, this time period for personal injury claims is only one (1) year. If you decide to bring your personal injury lawsuit to court after the statute of limitations has expired, the court will dismiss the case without a hearing. The most common exceptions come when a minor is involved. Louisiana's time limit doesn't extend to any cases involving a minor. Additionally, when it comes to a faulty product, a plaintiff may not be immediately aware that the device was dangerous. The statute of limitations take this into account when looking at the period for the case.

Settling a Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury attorneys will always aim to settle a claim as soon as possible to ensure that injury victims get what they need. A compensation claim can usually be settled out of court by an experienced attorney. Fair compensation should be of the utmost concern in these cases, since it would not do to have a client suffering because they didn't have a qualified attorney. If you're involved in a personal injury claim, give us a call today and let us help you seek financial compensation for your injuries.