If I Was Partially At Fault for My Car Accident, Am I Totally Out of Luck?

by Julien G. Lamothe

Sometimes, one driver is clearly responsible for an auto accident – the texting or distracted driver who rear-ends a car stopped at a light, the drunk driver who runs a stop sign, the speeding driver who loses control of his vehicle. Other times, however, the actions and decisions of two or more drivers play a role in how and why an accident occurred.

If you were hurt in a car accident and believe that you were partly to blame, you may understandably think that your mistake makes it impossible to obtain compensation for your injuries from the other driver in a car accident lawsuit, even though their negligence contributed to the accident. In Louisiana, however, that is not necessarily the case. If you were partially at fault for your car accident, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit and seek damages from the other driver.

“Comparative Fault” in Louisiana Car Accident Lawsuits

In personal injury cases including car accident lawsuits, Louisiana follows a doctrine known as “comparative fault,” also called “proportionate responsibility.” Under this rule, also applied by nine other states, a plaintiff who is found to be partially to blame for a car accident can still recover compensation, but the judge or jury will reduce any damages awarded to the plaintiff based on his or her proportionate share of responsibility for the crash.

Louisiana’s Civil Code provides that the judge or jury in any personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit will determine the degree or percentage of fault of all people who caused or contributed to the injury or death. If the plaintiff’s injuries or death were partially the result of his or her own negligence and partly someone else’s fault, the judge or jury will reduce the amount of recoverable damages in proportion to the degree or percentage of negligence attributable to the plaintiff.

How Is Comparative Fault Calculated?

Here’s how comparative fault works if you file a car accident lawsuit. A jury finds that you suffered $100,000 in damages arising from the collision. But the jury also finds that you were 30 percent at fault for the accident, while the other driver was 70 percent to blame. As a result, your $100,000 in damages would be reduced by 30 percent, allowing you to still recover $65,000 in damages from the defendant.

You can still seek and recover compensation in Louisiana even if the accident was mostly your fault, though in some other states you would lose any right to compensation if you were 50 percent or more to blame. Taken to the extreme, the proportionate responsibility rule means that even if a judge or jury found you to be 99 percent to blame for the accident, you could still theoretically obtain compensation representing that remaining 1 percent.

Don’t Give Up on Your Rights Just Because You Were a Little in the Wrong

If you suffered injuries in a car accident and believe that you might have been partially to blame, don’t let that stop you from contacting a New Orleans auto accident attorney to discuss your situation. You still may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. How judges and juries assign fault between a plaintiff and one or more defendants in a car accident lawsuit can be complicated. An experienced car accident lawyer who knows the law and understands how to make the most compelling and persuasive case on your behalf can give you the best chance of getting the compensation you’re entitled to under Louisiana law.

Please call Lamothe Law Firm today at 504-321-7747 to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney about your car accident case.

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