Louisiana Auto Accident Law: How It Differs From Other States
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What is a direct action state?
To find out more about what this means, we asked Tim Young, a Louisiana attorney whose practice handles all aspects of auto accident cases. According to Young, "A direct action state, of which Louisiana is one, allows the injured party to name the insurance company directly in the lawsuit. This is very helpful to the injured party because it lets a jury or judge know that there is insurance to cover the damages. Typically, juries or judges are much more likely to award damages if they know that an insurance company is paying the claim rather than the individual who caused the damage."
Juries often sympathetic when no insurer involved
Juries are often more sympathetic to the individual who caused the accident when an insurance company is not named in the lawsuit. Young told us that it's all a matter of perception:
If the jury has the perception that the individual being sued is going to have to pay the damages out of their own pocket, typically juries are much more reluctant to penalize, or hold that person accountable for, a large judgment. This is especially true when you're dealing with very small companies that are family owned or operated.
We have absolutely seen situations where the lawyers defending these individuals or small companies will make such an argument to the jury. It's our job, and practice, to always name the insurance company so that the jury understands that the small company is not going to pay any part of the award.
Other differences in Louisiana
Louisiana treats auto accidents a bit differently in other ways. Young explained those differences:
- One year statute of limitations: "Louisiana has a one year statute of limitations for automobile accident cases. There is no pre-lawsuit requirement in the sense that there are any types of claim processes that are necessary. Essentially, the injured party is allowed to file suit at any point from one day after the accident up until one year after the accident."
- Comparative negligence: "Louisiana is a comparative negligence state which means that if the injured party is also at fault to a certain degree in the accident, their damages will be reduced by that percentage of fault."
- Lower insurance limits: "Louisiana is also a little bit different then other states because our minimum insurance limit requirement is very low. It's a $10,000 bodily injury minimum insurance policy requirement for drivers. Unfortunately, we see a lot of cases where the individual that causes serious damages only had a $10,000 insurance policy. That effectively limits the recovery that the injured party can receive from that person."
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of law. Click here, to contact a qualified Louisiana Car Accident attorney for a free, no-obligation consultation.