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What does comparative negligence mean in car accidents?


Louisiana has comparative negligence laws in the state when addressing claims following an auto accident. This means that the fault of the driver in an accident can be assessed anywhere between zero to 100 percent. For instance, if there is a chain reaction of three cars involved in an accident, the first car could get 75 percent fault for the damage from the second car's insurance company, while the third car assumes 25 percent of the fault. This same rule would apply to all the vehicles involved in such a collision. However, this is not a default rule, and the situation can get complicated in certain car accidents.

There can be instances where the insurance companies may not agree on the percentage of the fault and the courts may decide the issue related to damages. Another issue that may arise in such accidents is when one of the vehicles does not have liability insurance and the person has to claim the damages from the driver or the owner of that car. However, if the person has collision insurance, the person can pay the deductible and the insurance company can collect it through a process called subrogation from other companies; depending on the efforts of the insurance company, the person may be able to get the deductible back.

There can be another instance of comparative negligence where the person can be partially at fault. Here, let's say a person may be backing out onto a busy street when another vehicle collides with the vehicle. In such cases, the insurance company may decide to pay only 75 percent of the damages. Although the person may argue that the other driver should have maintained control over the vehicle, the insurance company can state that the person could be partly blamed as he or she did not have a right of way.

There are various aspects to comparative negligence, especially when a person is injured in the accident. Hence, understanding the laws related to comparative negligence is important for every driver before claiming insurance, to understand the payment of damages.

Source: LDI.LA.gov, "Comparative Negligence in Auto Accident," accessed on Nov. 27, 2014

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