When you get injured because of someone else’s intentional, negligent, or accidental conduct, you may be able to file a lawsuit to get the costs of your injuries covered. This can be a complex process, however, and understanding the laws that apply to your situation can help you make your strongest case.
Each state has different rules that apply to personal injury claims, so make sure any research you do for your claim applies to Louisiana. Here are some resources to get you started.
In general, most injuries that anther person caused you can be eligible for compensation, though there are some exceptions. You can usually seek an amount of money that covers all associated costs, such as short- and long-term medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and lost wages from time missed at work for recovery.
If someone causes your injuries on purpose, you likely have a case to seek compensation. This is most often seen in battery cases that involve actions like punching, hitting, throwing objects, or other types of purposeful, physical violence.
One of the exceptions that could prevent your award for damages is a claim for self-defense. More often than not, if the other party can successfully argue that they only struck you in self-defense, they won’t be liable for damages. In Louisiana, self-defense is fortified by stand-your-ground laws, which state that people feeling justifiably threatened are not obligated to retreat from the threat, and can instead fight back with reasonable force.
Negligence cases occur when someone was reasonably expected to act a certain way, or show a specific duty of care, and then acted contrary to that standard. Medical malpractice cases may involve claims of negligence, for example, as do many car accidents.
Being the victim of a car accident does not mean that you will be fully compensated for your losses, however. Louisiana has what’s called a “pure comparative negligence” doctrine. That means that if you’re found to be partially at fault for your injuries, the amount the other party owes you gets reduced. If you don’t come to a full stop at a stop sign and roll out in front of a texting driver who then hits you, the court will determine how responsible each party is for causing a collision. By way of illustration, under this doctrine, if you’re found 30 percent at fault and seek $10,000 in damages, you can only recover $7,000. If you’re found to be 90 percent at fault, you can only recover $1,000.
Sometimes, even unintentionally, even while using the appropriate level of care, a person could still do something that leaves you injured. If the cause of injury falls under a rule of strict liability, they may still be responsible for the harm they caused. Strict liability often comes into play with defective products that injure a consumer or homeowners who don’t remove hazards that then injure a guest. Louisiana also has a “one-bite” rule that can make a dog owner strictly liable for injuries their dog caused, even if it was the first time it bit anyone.
Louisiana sees its fair share of tourists coming in from out of state. Sometimes, those visitors can injure a resident during their visit, or can be injured themselves.
Filing a lawsuit against an out-of-state resident can make things a little more complicated. For one thing, it could change what type of court hears the case. Personal injury cases are typically tried in state court. However, with a defendant from out of state and depending the amount of damages requested, the case could be heard in federal court. It could also be heard in federal court if the underlying basis for the claim involves a federal law.
Whether a case is heard in state or federal court may affect the time restriction to bring a case, or the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Louisiana is only one year, so you have one year from the date of your injury to file your lawsuit. In the federal court, however, that limit is two years.
In most cases, whether in a state court or a federal court, a personal injury that takes place in Louisiana and involves a Louisiana resident will most likely be handled at a court located in Louisiana.
With so many types of personal injury claims, possible defenses, and filing logistics, even seemingly simple personal injury cases can get complicated fast. Making any mistakes along the way could keep you from recovering the full amount you’re owed. Working with an attorney can increase the chances that your case succeeds. They will help you properly assess your case, calculate the damages you’re owed, file your lawsuit properly, and represent you in court.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney to discuss the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.