Lots of factors can contribute to a severe accident on the road. While many accidents are one driver’s fault, it isn’t unusual for both drivers to share some responsibility for their collision.
What are your legal rights if you were partially at fault in a severe accident in Louisiana?
Fortunately, Louisiana’s personal injury laws are relatively favorable in this regard. You can still recover some of your losses even if you were partially at fault. But, several considerations are involved, and, as we discuss in greater detail below, you should never assume that you were partially at fault in a crash.
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Louisiana’s Law of “Pure Comparative Fault”
These scenarios are governed by Louisiana’s law of “pure comparative fault.” This law limits—but does not eliminate—accident victims’ ability to recover financial compensation when they are partially to blame for their injuries. Under Section 2323.A. of the Louisiana Laws:
“If a person suffers injury, death, or loss as the result partly of his negligence and partly as a result of the fault of another person or persons, the amount of damages recoverable shall be reduced in proportion to the degree or percentage of negligence attributable to the person suffering the injury, death, or loss.”
Consider an example: You were driving 50mph in a 45mph zone when another driver crossed the road in front of you unexpectedly. An investigation reveals that you had the right of way, and the other driver didn’t look before proceeding through the intersection without stopping. You could not control in time to avoid a collision and suffered severe injuries in the crash. What are your legal rights?
In this scenario, the other driver will likely be found primarily responsible for causing the collision. The crash wouldn’t have happened had they stopped and looked for oncoming traffic. But you were also speeding slightly, which may have contributed to the collision’s severity and your injuries. Under the circumstances, a judge might find that the other driver was 90% at fault and you were 10% at fault. If your financial and non-financial losses from the accident are $100,000, you would be entitled to recover 90% of your losses—or $90,000.
As you can see from this example, it will be well worth filing a claim in many circumstances, even if you are partially to blame for your injuries.
But this won’t always be the case. For example, let’s say you were the driver who attempted to cross the road without the right of way, and let’s say you escaped the accident with only minor injuries. In this hypothetical scenario, you would only be entitled to recover 10% of your losses; when you take your costs and health insurance coverage into account, it might just be best to move on.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is worth speaking with a personal injury lawyer about your legal rights. Determining how much you are entitled to recover isn’t easy, and you can’t trust the insurance companies to calculate just compensation for you. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you make informed decisions in your long-term best interests.
Never Assume You Were Partially At Fault in a Serious Accident
This brings us to another important point: Under no circumstances should you ever assume that you were partially at fault in a severe accident.
You could be wrong even if you think you were partially at fault. Lots of factors can lead to accidents and accident-related injuries, and every accident requires an in-depth investigation to determine precisely why it happened and who is responsible. Just because you made a mistake or did something you shouldn’t have doesn’t necessarily mean that your actions contributed to causing the collision.
Do Not Let the Insurance Companies Convince You that You Were Partially at Fault
In this same vein, you should not let the insurance companies convince you that you are partially to blame for your injuries. Insurance companies aim to pay you as little as possible when you have an insurance claim after a severe accident. To achieve this goal, they will deploy various tactics, including getting you to admit fault in the collision.
But the reality is that you won’t know who was at fault until you hire a lawyer to conduct an unbiased investigation. This won’t stop the insurance companies from using your words against you. If you assume that you were partially at fault or even say, “I guess maybe I could have been partially to blame,” this could get in the way of recovering the financial compensation you deserve.
What Should You Do After a Serious Accident That May Have Partially Been Your Fault?
Given this risk, what should you do after a severe accident that you think may have partially been your fault? As with any serious accident, one of your priorities (along with seeing a doctor) should be to talk to a personal injury lawyer. When you hire a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation to determine who was at fault in the accident;
- Gather all available evidence of liability;
- Assess your legal rights and help you make an informed decision about filing a claim;
- Deal with the insurance companies for you so that you don’t inadvertently admit partial fault; and,
- Calculate your accident-related losses and, if warranted, fight to recover just compensation on your behalf.
Discuss Your Serious Accident Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Alexandria, LA
Were you seriously injured in an accident that you believe may have partially been your fault? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact us before you say anything that could jeopardize your claim for just compensation. To confidently speak with personal injury lawyer Chris J. Roy, Jr., call 318-413-6191 or request a free consultation online.