Most personal injury cases are based on a claim that someone was injured or killed due to another person's negligence.
Below, our personal injury attorneys review what you need to know about negligence, including how to prove it and what state law says about cases where the victim's own negligence contributed to his or her injury.
What is Negligence?
The legal theory of negligence is used to assign liability for a personal injury. Your attorney needs to establish four things to prove negligence occurred:
Duty of Care
This refers to a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent others from suffering injuries.
Reasonable care means acting as a reasonable person would if he or she were in a similar scenario. For instance, drivers are expected to come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs. They are also expected to use their turn signals when changing lanes.
Doctors have a legal obligation to act the way a similarly-trained medical professional would if he or she were in a similar situation.
You will have no basis for a claim unless you can show that the defendant owed you a duty of care when your injury occurred.
Breach of Duty of Care
This is a failure to fulfill the duty of care that was owed in the situation where the personal injury occurred. A breach of duty of care could be an action taken by the defendant or a failure to act to prevent injury to the plaintiff. An example of failing to act would be a property owner failing to remove an obstacle that ended up causing an injury to a visitor.
You must also establish that breach of the duty of care was the primary cause of your injury. This means you must show a direct link between the defendant's actions or lack of action and the injuries you suffered. In other words, you must show that the injury would not have occurred without the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
The final element of negligence is damages from your injury. Damages could include medical bills, pain and suffering, and a variety of other physical, financial and emotional damages. The purpose of a personal injury claim is to obtain compensation for damages. If there are no damages, there is no basis for a lawsuit.
What is Comparative Fault in Louisiana?
Negligence in a personal injury claim can be a two-way street. In other words, the victim's own negligence could have played a role in his or her injuries.
That is why many states have passed comparative fault laws instructing courts and juries on what to do if the plaintiff is partially liable for his or her injuries.
Louisiana follows a true comparative fault doctrine (Louisiana Civil Code Article 2323). Unlike some states' comparative fault laws, Louisiana's does not prohibit claimants from recovering compensation if their percentage of liability is more than 50 percent. As long as the defendant bears some percentage of responsibility for your injury, you can obtain compensation.
However, the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage of liability. If the jury awards $100,000 in damages and finds you 30 percent liable for the event that caused your injury, your award will be reduced to $70,000.
Contact a Louisiana Personal Injury Lawyer to Help Manage Your Claim
The Louisiana personal injury attorneys of Simien & Simien know how to thoroughly investigate personal injury claims to compile evidence to prove negligence caused your injuries.
We have many years of combined experience recovering fair compensation for victims of negligence, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and a variety of other damages.
Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of Louisiana laws on personal injury claims and how to apply them to your case.
Your initial consultation with our law firm is free and you are under no obligation to pursue legal action. We work on contingency, meaning you only pay legal fees if we recover compensation for your injuries.
Contact us today to set up a free legal consultation.