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Updated by James C. Lawrence, Jr. on Jun 15, 2018
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Common Defenses in Louisiana Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you have been involved in an accident where your injuries were caused by the negligent or wrongful act of another, Louisiana law may give you a right of action to sue and potentially recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, however, the defendant will attempt to avoid or minimize their liability. Defense arguments vary, but there are some that you are more likely to encounter than others. Consider the following defenses.


Statute of Limitations Deadline Passed

The statute of limitations establishes a deadline by which the plaintiff-claimant — here, the injury victim — must file their claims. If the plaintiff does not file their claims before the statutory deadline, then they will be precluded from suing and recovering damages in court.

In Louisiana, there are strict statute of limitations deadlines for personal injury claims — the deadline is just one year from the date of injury. As such, you must consult with a qualified Louisiana personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your claims are evaluated and filed in a timely manner.


There Was an Intervening Event

If you are to successfully recover damages for your injuries, you must demonstrate that the defendant actually caused your injuries. The defendant can only be held liable if they have substantially contributed to your injuries. In Louisiana, as in other state jurisdictions, however, the defendant may be able to avoid liability if they can prove that there was an intervening event that “cut off” the chain of causation connecting their negligent/wrongful actions to your injuries.

Whether some event constitutes an “intervening cause” depends on whether it is a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. For example, if the defendant is driving recklessly and forces you to move into a lane of opposing traffic (in order to avoid them), then it is reasonably foreseeable that you will collide with opposing traffic. The defendant can be held liable even if another car collides with your own, causing injuries.


You Contributed to Your Own Injuries

Louisiana is a pure comparative negligence state. Essentially, you are not barred from recovering damages for your injuries, no matter how high your contribution of fault is. If you are 90 percent liable for your own injuries, but the defendant is 10 percent liable, you would be entitled to recover 10 percent of your total damages.

Defendants do not look to “pure comparative negligence” to avoid liability altogether. Instead, they may argue that you contributed significantly to your own injuries, and thus minimize their liabilities.


All Injuries Were Pre-Existing

A fundamental element of personal injury claims is that the plaintiff-victim have actually suffered damages. If you attempt to pass off a longstanding injury as “new,” then the defendant may argue that the injury was not actually caused by them — the defendant may then effectively avoid liability.

Not all pre-existing injuries preclude damage recovery, however. Oftentimes, your pre-existing injuries may have been made more severe as a result of the accident at-issue. If that is the case, then you have the right to recover damages for the degree to which the pre-existing injury was exacerbated by the defendant’s negligent or wrongful actions.


The Defendant Did Not Violate the Standard of Care

In some cases, the defendant may argue that their actions did not actually violate the reasonable person standard of care, given the circumstances. The standard of care varies significantly depending on the circumstances — for example, a teacher may be held to a stricter standard of care when supervising young children than a tour guide who is supervising adults.

For example, imagine that you are involved in a motor vehicle collision with the defendant. The defendant asserts that they acted reasonably, despite causing a collision. They point to the fact that there was a road hazard which they were forced to avoid. By doing so, they collided with your vehicle unexpectedly. If the presence of the road hazard would have caused others in a similar position to have made the same choice, then the defendant cannot be held liable.