How Louisiana’s direct action rule affects car accident lawsuits

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common reasons why people file personal injury lawsuits. Often a result of careless driving, car crashes can cause severe damage to a person’s health and finances, with repercussions that many victims continue to feel for many years afterward.

As the victim of a car accident, you may think mostly of the other vehicle’s driver when you talk about filing a case. After all, the other motorist caused the crash and should compensate you for your injuries and expenses. However, most people should know that, when it comes to motor vehicle accidents, insurance companies play a large role.

How direct action works

In most states, you will not sue the other driver’s insurer directly. The reasoning is that it should not be a party to the suit because it did not cause the accident. However, since insurance companies have a significant interest in the outcome of the lawsuit, their attorneys usually participate in negotiations and other parts of the litigation process.

Unlike many other states, Louisiana law includes a direct action rule, which allows you to include the defendant’s insurance company as another defendant in the lawsuit. Generally, Louisiana plaintiffs see this rule as an advantage.

Benefits to plaintiffs

Typical juries tend to have more sympathy for individuals and may hesitate to impose large damages on a defendant, even if they feel you deserve them. On the other hand, when jurors understand the insurer is there to cover damages, they tend to award more generous amounts, confident that they are not taking away everything from a family or a small business.

Less time to file suit

The ability to immediately include the insurance company in a lawsuit can also cut down on preliminary paperwork and negotiations with adjusters. Louisiana law only gives you one year from your accident to file your lawsuit. For this reason, it is important to get the ball rolling as soon as possible by speaking with a qualified attorney who can assess your case and begin gathering evidence. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your chance to recover, even if you otherwise have a great case.

Comparative fault

If you were injured in an accident, you should also consult a lawyer before assuming that your case is weak. Some people think they cannot recover damages if their behavior contributed to the accident. However, in Louisiana, you can still get damages even if the incident was partially your fault. The jury will determine the percentage of your fault and subtract that percentage from your damages award.

Accident cases include many fairly complex aspects. Speaking with an experienced attorney can give you a better understanding of your case and the ways your lawyer can aid you in obtaining the compensation you need.

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