Most New Orleans personal injury lawsuits involve a single negligent defendant whose actions led to the victim’s injury. Occasionally, however, the negligent actions of two parties – or even more – may combine to create a set of circumstances that lead to someone being injured. In such cases, the victim may proceed against all of the parties whose negligence resulted in a personal injury.
When there is more than one defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, Louisiana’s courts follow a comparative fault approach in apportioning fault among several defendants. Under comparative fault, each defendant will be assigned a percentage of the fault and will be responsible for paying that percentage of the damages. In other words, the defendant who caused 80% of the damages is responsible for 80% of the financial judgment.
This apportionment of the financial judgment applies even if one of the parties responsible for the injury is insolvent, unable to pay, barred by law from being sued, or even is unidentified. If, for example, the party responsible for the majority of the injury is unable to pay the damages, the other defendants are not required to “pick up” that portion of the damages to ensure that the victim is fully compensated. Furthermore, the plaintiff can be comparatively at fault when her conduct contributes to injuries for which she seeks damages. In this case, the claim will be reduced in proportion to her degree of fault.
The only exception to comparative fault involves cases in which the defendants are found to have conspired to commit an intentional act that led to the victim’s personal injury. In such cases, all of the defendants are, in effect, responsible for ensuring that the victim is fully compensated. If one of the defendants cannot pay their apportioned share, the remaining defendants are required to take over payment of that defendant’s share. Also, comparative fault is not applicable to reduce the recovery of damages by a negligent plaintiff in an intentional tort case.
We would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have regarding this topic. Please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.