Comparative Negligence in Louisiana

Since Louisiana is a pure comparative fault state, you can file a claim for damages as long as you are not 100% at fault for an accident.
Written by Sean Boehme
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
follows the pure comparative fault model, you can file a claim for damages after an accident so long as you are not solely at fault. The amount you can claim in damages is proportionate to your responsibility. 
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal term that applies to any accident case. It states that a plaintiff is entitled to damages in an amount proportionate to their fault.
Although comparative negligence comes up in all sorts of accident cases, it is especially relevant after traffic accidents. Car insurance companies assign fault after an accident, and that determines how much you can claim in damages.
For example, if you’re found to be at 40% fault after an accident, you’d be able to file a claim for the proportionate amount in damages—60%.
In some states, you can file a claim as long as you are not 100% responsible for the accident. Even if you’re 99% at fault in those states, you can still claim 1% in damages. However, in most states, there are limitations if you are more than half at fault. 

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

Louisiana abides by a pure comparative negligence model, but that is not the standard in the United States. States use three common models:
  • Pure comparative negligence: You can claim damages proportionately to your fault if you are not solely at fault for an accident.
  • Modified comparative negligence: You can claim damages proportionately to your fault if you are less than 50% (or 51%) at fault for an accident. 
  • Contributory negligence: You cannot file a claim for damages if it’s ruled that you are even slightly at fault for an accident.
Although Louisiana follows the pure comparative negligence model, it is one of only 12 states that do so. Most states have instead opted to follow the modified comparative negligence model.
Although many states used to follow the contributory negligence model, most have phased it out by now.

What is Louisiana’s comparative negligence law?

One benefit to Louisiana following the pure comparative negligence model is that it makes the rules much easier to understand. Whether you are not at fault in the slightest for an accident or you’re hit with 99% of the blame, you can file a claim for damages.
If you’re 20% at fault for an accident, you can file a claim to collect the other 80% in damages. If you’re the one who’s 80% at fault, you can claim that 20% in damages.
You can be assessed 99% percent of the blame and you’ll still be able to claim 1% in damages. If you lived in a state with either of the other two models, you wouldn’t be able to claim anything.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties?

In cases where three or more parties are involved in the accident, you are still assigned fault, although now the responsibility is split multiple ways. You’ll be able to file a claim with one or multiple of the other parties' insurance companies to collect damages.

How is fault decided in comparative negligence cases?

Insurance companies generally determine fault after an accident by reviewing police reports and additional evidence. Some of this evidence may include:
  • The make and model of the vehicles involved
  • Medical records
  • The time and weather during the accident
  • Witness reports
Generally, you can expect insurance companies to use an algorithm to determine fault. If you’re confident that an accident is not your fault, supplying as much evidence as possible will help you make your case.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence?

Louisiana’s pure comparative negligence model makes filing and insurance claim somewhat straightforward. If you’re not 100% at fault, you can be compensated proportionately to your fault.
Let’s say you’re in an accident and are hit while driving through an intersection. You were
texting while driving
, but the other party was speeding and ran a red light.
If the total damage was $1000, and you are assessed 15% of the blame, you’ll be able to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company for $850, or 85% of the damages. 
In Louisiana, the other party could file a claim with your insurance company for $150, or 15%. If you live in a state that follows the modified comparative negligence model, they would not be able to claim anything since they are over 50% at fault.
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Yes, you can expect your insurance company to raise your premium if you are determined to be at fault for an accident. How much your rates rise will depend on your age and vehicle as well as your driving record as a whole.
On average, you can expect your rates to rise around 30% after an accident that you are at fault for.
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