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One of the principal points of a personal injury case is the determination of fault by the injured party that may affect the injured party’s claim for damages against the other party. Generally, there are two crucial doctrines regarding the determination of fault that may affect damages claim: comparative negligence and contributory negligence.

The State of Louisiana applies pure comparative negligence in personal injury lawsuits.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence doctrine is a legal principle that allows an injured party to claim damages even if they have contributed to their injuries. However, this doctrine would generally reduce the damages claimed to reflect the injured party’s contribution to their injuries.

However, it is essential to note that three types of comparative negligence have specified percentages of fault by the injured party that directly affects their claim for damages

What Are The Three Types of Comparative Negligence?

There are three types of comparative negligence doctrines: pure comparative, modified comparative, and slight/gross negligence doctrines.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In pure comparative negligence, the damages that an injured party may claim against the other party are reduced by the percentage of their fault contributing to their injury.

An example of the application of this principle is as follows: let’s say an injured party incurred $100,000 total damages. However, the injured party was determined to have contributed to the 20% of the damages they had incurred. Here, the pure comparative negligence doctrine will deduct 20% of the injured party’s liability from the $100,000 total damages they can claim from the other party. Thus, the injured party can claim $80,000 from the other party for the damages they had incurred.

Several states, including Louisiana, adopt pure comparative negligence in personal injury cases. Other states that apply pure comparative negligence include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Modified Comparative Negligence

In a modified comparative negligence doctrine, an injured party’s claim to damages is reduced by the percentage of their liability, just like in a pure comparative law. However, if the injured party’s liability exceeds 50% or 51%, depending on their state, they are barred from recovering any damages from the at-fault party.

Some states follow the 50% bar rule, which allows the injured party to claim damages against the at-fault party as long as their contribution to their injury is less than 50%.

For example, an injured party found to have contributed 40% to their injury can pursue a claim of damages minus their liability against the at-fault party under this rule. If the injured party incurred a total of $100,000 in damages, they would be able to claim $60,000 from the at-fault party.

States that follow the 50% bar rule include Maine, Arkansas, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, Kansas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Under this 51% rule, an injured party determined to be either equal or less than the at-fault party’s liability to the injury can claim damages against the at-fault party, minus their degree of fault.

For example, if the injured party is found to have contributed 50% to their injury and that they had incurred $100,000 in total damages, then they can pursue a claim but only for the amount of $50,000.

A majority of states, 23 to be exact, follow the 51% bar rule. These states include Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, South Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Slight/Gross Negligence

The slight or gross negligence rule is the type of comparative negligence that only South Dakota follows. Under this doctrine, both parties’ degrees of fault are compared to each other to determine if there is a claim for damages. If the injured party is found to have some “slight” negligence to their injury, and the other party is determined to have “gross” negligence on the incident, then a claim for damages is allowed. However, if the injured party’s fault is determined to be “more than slight,” then they are prevented from recovering and claiming damages from the other party.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Application of Pure Comparative Negligence in a Lawsuit in Louisiana?

Yes, there is.

Under Louisiana Civil Code CCC 2323, pure comparative does not apply in intentional tort cases where a party was injured or died due to the other party’s intentionally or knowingly causing the said injury or death. Under these circumstances, an injured party’s claim would not be reduced even if they partly caused their injury.

How Does Contributory Negligence Differ From Comparative Negligence?

A critical difference between contributory negligence and comparative negligence is that an injured party who contributed to their injury in any capacity cannot recover any damages or claim against the other party in the comparative negligence doctrine.

In contrast, an injured party is not necessarily barred from recovering damages from the other party under the comparative negligence doctrine.

Understanding comparative negligence or fault as it applies to the State of Louisiana is vital to any personal injury lawsuit as this information is essential in assessing the claimed damages.

If you or a loved one is a party to a personal injury lawsuit, you need a reputable lawyer on your side. Our highly experienced injury lawyers are here to guide and help you in your case. Please call us at (225) 963-9638 or you can click here to contact us for a consultation. Our dependable physical injury lawyers can help you assess your situation, represent your claim, and answer any concerns you may have regarding your lawsuit.

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