Injured in a Car Accident?
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
What if I’m injured in an accident?
If you are injured in an accident, you should seek medical attention and contact an
attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will open a claim for you with the insurance company and once the full extent of your injuries have been determined by a healthcare professional, the attorney will negotiate the best possible settlement of your case. If the claim cannot be settled, then the attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf within the delay allowed by law, which is usually one (1) year from the date of the accident. (Louisiana Civil Code article 3492.).
Although there are many ways we can suffer an accidental injury, the most common
types of accidents are car crashes and slip/trip and falls. Let’s take a look at some of the laws applicable to those situations.
We’ve all either been involved in an auto accident ourselves or know someone who has
been. Here are a few laws applicable to auto accidents.
A. No Pay/No Play
Louisiana requires its vehicle owners and operators to carry liability insurance to protect
others on the roads. Failure to carry the requisite insurance precludes the injured owner or operator from recovering the first $15,000 in bodily injuries and the first $25,000 in property damages, even if he had absolutely no fault for the accident. Thus, if you were injured by a vehicle that had $1 million in insurance coverage and you suffered $100,000 in bodily injuries and $50,000 in property damage but had no insurance, your maximum recovery would be $85,000 in bodily injury and $25,000 in property damage.
There shall be no recovery for the first fifteen thousand dollars of bodily injury and no recovery for the first twenty-five thousand dollars of property damage based on any cause or right of action arising out of a motor vehicle accident, for such injury or damages occasioned by an owner or operator of a motor vehicle involved in such accident who fails to own or maintain compulsory motor vehicle liability security. The purpose of the no pay, no play law is to reduce the premiums charged for motor vehicle insurance and to discourage the ownership and operation of uninsured motor vehicles.
B. What if I’m partially at fault for the accident?
Louisiana is a comparative negligence state, which means that each party is responsible
for the extent of the damage they caused. (Louisiana Civil Code article 2323.) For example, if you are 10% at fault for your injuries, then the other party would only be responsible for 90% of your damages. Your recovery will be reduced by 10%. The fact that you bear a portion of the liability does not preclude you from pursuing a claim against the other party(ies) at fault.
C. What if I was not wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred?
Although Louisiana requires, with very limited exceptions, drivers and passengers in
automobiles to wear a seatbelt, until recently, Louisiana law prohibited the fact that an injured party was not wearing a seatbelt to be taken into consideration when determining comparative fault. That changed during the most recent legislative session, when La. R.S. 32:295.1(E) was repealed, effective January 1, 2021. Now, with this recent change in the law, the failure of an injured motorist to wear a safety belt can now be considered as evidence of negligence and can be admitted for the purpose of mitigating damages. Therefore, it is possible that the insurance companies will attempt to use the failure to wear a safety belt against those who file claims
It is too soon to know how much weight this new source of comparative fault will be
apportioned by juries and judges. We can likely anticipate that both plaintiffs and defendants will offer the expertise of biomechanical engineers to argue that the injuries would have been the same or less severe if the injured party had been wearing a seatbelt.
La. R.S. 32:295.1(E). In any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership,
common maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence. Failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be admitted to mitigate damages.
NOTE: §295.1(E) repealed Jan. 1, 2021. See Acts 2020, 1 st Ex. Sess., No. 36 and
No. 37. E. Repealed by Acts 2020, 1 st Ex. Sess., No. 36, §1, and No. 37, §5, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.
Evidence of Failure to Wear a Safety Belt Prior law (R.S. 32:295.1(E)) provided that the failure to wear a safety belt in violation of existing law was prohibited from being admitted to mitigate damages in any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance, or operation of motor vehicle, and the failure to wear a safety belt in violation of existing law was prohibited from being considered evidence of comparative negligence. New law repeals prior law. Effective Date Effective on Jan. 1, 2021. New law has prospective application only and shall not apply to a cause of action arising or action pending prior to Jan. 1, 2021. (Amends C.C.P. Arts. 1732, 1733(A), and 4873(1) and C.E. Art. 411; Adds R.S. 9:2800.27; Repeals R.S. 32:295.1(E)
CONTACT US TODAY
If you need a serious and experienced, personal injury lawyer, contact us today. Gaynell
Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.
This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under federal and/or Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you and/or your business.