Louisiana Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules

Get an overview of the laws governing personal injury lawsuits in Louisiana.

In this article, we'll cover a few key state laws that might affect your Louisiana personal injury lawsuit, and may even come up during injury settlement talks with an insurance adjuster.

Deadlines for Louisiana Injury Lawsuits

Louisiana laws set a deadline, or "statute of limitations," on the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in court after an injury. In Louisiana, this deadline falls one year after the date of the accident in most cases. The key here is that you'll likely lose your right to file a lawsuit over the incident if you miss the one-year window, so make sure you keep this rule in mind.

Comparative Fault in Louisiana

Each state follows different shared fault rules when it comes to determining how a case is affected when an injured person is found to be partly at fault for his or her injuries. Louisiana's "comparative fault" rule reduces an injured person's damages by an amount equal to the share of fault assigned to that person.

Here's one illustration. Suppose you're driving your car a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit. As you go through an intersection, a driver coming from the cross street runs the red light and hits your car, injuring you. In court it is determined that your total damages for the accident equal $10,000, and that you are 10 percent at fault for the accident, since you were speeding.

Louisiana's comparative fault rule will apply in this example to reduce your $10,000 damages award by $1,000, or 10 percent -- the amount of fault assigned to you. You will be allowed to collect $9,000 from the other at-fault party. Although the numbers may change, this calculation stays the same regardless of how much fault is assigned to you.

Louisiana Auto Insurance Laws

Louisiana is a "fault" state when it comes to auto accident injuries and insurance. This means that in most accidents, injured motorists have a choice about whether to file a claim with an insurance company or file a lawsuit in court to seek damages. Louisiana requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance, including coverage for injuries. This coverage may be enough to pay your bills from the accident, but if it is not, going to court is also an option.

"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases

In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Louisiana however, a specific statute (La. Civ. Code, art. 2321) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog.

Damage Caps in Louisiana

In personal injury cases, damages are a dollar amount that is mean to compensate the injured person for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses from the accident. Some states "cap," or limit, the amount and/or types of damages a person can receive. For instance, caps on non-economic or "pain and suffering" damages are common, as are caps that apply only in medical malpractice cases.

Louisiana law caps all damages in medical malpractice cases at $500,000. Providers found liable for medical malpractice only have to pay $100,000 if they are covered by the state's Patient Compensation Fund, however; the injured patient must receive any amount over $100,000 directly from the fund. This cap does not apply to future medical expenses, and it does not apply to injury cases that do not involve medical malpractice.

More on Louisiana Injury Law

Louisiana's Revised Statutes have several sections that apply to injury cases, including Title 13 on civil case procedures, Title 23 on labor and workers' compensation, and Title 32 on motor vehicle laws.

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