If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you’re entitled to compensation for medical expenses related to the treatment of your injuries, lost wages from the time you were recovering from your injuries, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of the accident. However, you must be able to prove the driver is at fault in order to receive a fair recovery.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
Negligence is the legal theory that assigns financial responsibility in a personal injury claim of any type. A person who is negligent has acted in a thoughtless or careless manner that resulted in harm or injury to others.
There are four elements of a negligence claim resulting from a car accident:
Duty of care.
Drivers have a legal obligation to be reasonably careful when traveling on public or private roadways. This includes driving at a proper speed, being vigilant while looking for road hazards, maintaining control of their vehicle, and ensuring their vehicle has no obvious mechanical deficits such as faulty brakes or burnt-out headlights.
Breach of duty.
The driver’s action or inaction must constitute a failure to exercise a reasonable duty of care. For example, a driver making a left turn is almost always liable to a car traveling straight in the other direction.
You can only receive compensation if you suffered an injury with measurable damages such as the need for medical attention or time missed from work. You must provide proof of damages in the form of bills for medical treatment or pay stubs showing missing wages.
Your injury must be the result of the car accident and not attributed to some other factor. Seeking prompt medical attention after a car accident is the best way to ensure your attorney will be able to establish this element of your claim—especially if you have a preexisting condition that has been aggravated by the accident.
Attorneys use a wide range of evidence to support a negligence claim. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, this may include:
- The police report filed by law enforcement at the scene of the accident
- Any citations the driver was issued, such as a ticket for speeding
- Surveillance video or dashcam footage capturing the accident
- Photos of the accident scene
- Opinions from accident reconstruction experts
- Your own testimony
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Your medical records
- Opinions from medical experts with the training needed to link your injuries to the accident
In most cases, Louisiana’s statute of limitations requires you to file your claim within one year of the date of the accident. However, since gathering the evidence to build a strong case takes time, it’s always best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you are physically are able to do so.
Options for Partially at-Fault Drivers
Sometimes, more than one person’s negligence causes a car accident. For example, one driver may have been speeding and the other may have run a red light. In this case, they are both partially to blame for the resulting collision.
If you’re partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, Louisiana law still allows you to seek compensation in a personal injury claim. However, your recovery will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your own financial responsibility. For example, if you are 20% at fault for the accident, you can collect 80% of your total damages.
If you think you might be partially at fault, do not speak to an insurance adjuster until you’ve consulted an attorney. The insurance adjuster’s goal is to minimize the settlement you receive to protect their employer’s profit margin. Any statements you make—even if it turns out that your perception is incorrect—can be used against you.
When you’re partially at fault, having a skilled attorney on your side can be key to maximizing your recovery. Since there is no specific formula used to assign fault percentages, insurance companies and attorneys must negotiate based on the evidence available. If your attorney can negotiate a lower percentage of fault, you could walk away with thousands of dollars in additional compensation.
Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?
If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.