What Laws Apply in a Louisiana Auto Accident?
Pursuing the legal remedies to pain, suffering, medical expenses and lost wages often feel like more problems piled on top of your existing troubles. We at the law office of Anderson, Dozier, Blanda & Saltzman want to try and ease that burden—not only by representing you—but by informing you, too.
This article will provide a brief explanation of the general legal framework through which a personal injury claim is brought and some of the most important laws on the subject.The Claim
A claim for the recovery of damages begins with Louisiana Civil Code Articles 2315, 2315.1, and 2315.2. The first of these three articles requires a person to compensate or “make whole” anyone who has been harmed by their negligence. In today’s society, the party actually making the payment is the auto liability insurer or the person at fault. Article 2315 is the basis under Louisiana law that allows an injured individual to file suit for the general damages (pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, etc.) and the special damages (specific financial expenses such as lost wages, medical expenses and court costs) incurred as a result of the auto accident caused by another person’s fault.
Articles 2315.1 and 2315.2 are more complicated statues which provide the basis for recovery of damages in the event a death is immediately caused by the auto accident or that occurs subsequent to the auto accident but is related directly or indirectly to the trauma of the accident. Wrongful death claims also involve general and special damages, frequently allowing the surviving family members to obtain compensation for the financial support that they lost because of the death.
Generally, only an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in handling claimants’ (plaintiffs) litigation should be retained for significant or catastrophic personal injury claims including wrongful death claims. Nowadays, in the world of ever-increasing medical costs, the availability and the amount of auto liability insurance is often a significant issue in catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death claims.
What must be proven to support a claim for personal injuries arising from another person’s negligence?Fault
Louisiana has a fault-based system, i.e., in order to recover from another vehicle driver or owner, that driver or owner must be at fault wholly or partially. If the auto accident results from split fault, then comparative negligence principles apply, i.e., you can generally collect only the percentage of damages equal to the percentage of fault by the other person (by example, if the other driver is 60 percent at fault and your total general and special damages equal $10,000, you would collect 60 percent or $6,000). It follows directly that if you are 100 percent at fault there will be no recovery no matter how badly injured you are or how tremendous your losses are.Medical Insurance and Documentation
Nowadays, many people have multiple layers of health insurance and potential insurance recoveries for an accident (medical/hospitalization coverage, employer disability benefits, workers compensation insurance, your auto policy medical payment coverage, etc.). An experienced plaintiff personal injury attorney will be able to advise which, if any, of these coverages to claim and which insurance entities must be reimbursed in the event of a final recovery from the at-fault party’s liability insurer. However, in any event, medical treatment and documentation of medical treatment is always a necessary element of a personal injury claim.Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity
Specific detail and documentation is necessary to collect lost wages (past and future) incurred as a result of an accident through someone else’s negligence. First, adequate liability insurance of the part of the at-fault driver is necessary. Second, medical documentation is necessary to establish that the lost work or disability (temporary or total) was directly related to the trauma of the accident. Third, direct documentation both from your employer and from the government (tax returns, social security earnings, W-2’s, etc.) is required. Specific laws, both state and federal, govern whether pre-tax or post-tax earnings are available in personal injury claims.Exemplary or Punitive Damages
In Louisiana, punitive damages require proof that the at-fault driver was intoxicated either through alcohol, drugs or medicine and that the intoxication directly contributed to the accident.
A complicated Louisiana and United States court system, coupled with a resistant insurance industry (defended by experienced insurance defense attorneys), creates a situation where even minor auto and truck injuries require attorneys experienced in plaintiff personal injury procedures, strategies and trials. At Anderson, Dozier, Blanda & Saltzman, we are proud to have earned many accolades for our representation of injured claimants over the past 40 years:
- US News Best Lawyers/Law Firms
- The Best Lawyers in America
- Best Attorneys of America
- National Board of Trial Advocacy—Board Certification
- The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- Super Lawyers
- Super Lawyers Rising Stars
- National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys
- 10 Best Client Satisfaction American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys
- Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- AV Rating (Preeminent) for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability (Martindale-Hubbell)
Please call Anderson, Dozier, Blanda & Saltzman today at (337) 233-3366.