If you're injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else's residential or commercial property in Louisiana, it may make sense to explore your options for getting compensation for your losses -- especially when the property owner's negligence played a part in the accident.
A number of Louisiana laws and legal rules will almost certainly affect any lawsuit you decide to file over your slip and fall. Two of the most important of these are the statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit in the state's courts, and the "comparative negligence" rule, which can limit your right to recover compensation if you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. Even if you're pretty sure your case will reach a personal injury settlement out of court, you still need to keep these state laws in mind, so read on for the details.
A statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in a state's civil court system. Specific time limits vary depending on the kind of case you want to file.
As with the majority of states, the statute of limitations that applies to a slip and fall case in Louisiana is almost always the same one that applies to any variety of personal injury case. Specifically, Louisiana Civil Code Article 3492 says: "Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. This prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained."
How's that for legalese? In case you're not fluent, a "delictual" action is simply a lawsuit over some kind of harm. So, what Article 3492 says is that any lawsuit for injury or property damage must be filed within one year -- that includes any claim for injury or property damage by someone involved in a slip and fall on dangerous or defective property. Louisiana's one-year statute of limitations "clock" starts running on the date of the accident.
If you don't get your slip and fall lawsuit filed before the deadline passes, you can count on the property owner asking the court to dismiss the case once you do try to file it. In some rare instances, the statute of limitations clock may pause or "toll," giving you more time to get your lawsuit started. Talk to an attorney for the details on these exceptions in Louisiana, and whether they might apply to your situation.
Even if you think your injury claim will be resolved through a settlement, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get a lawsuit started, and talk to a Louisiana attorney if you're running up against the filing deadline.
You're making a slip and fall claim, only to hear the property owner argue that you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. Why does this matter? If any amount of fault for the accident is pinned on you, any court award you receive will be lower than it would have been if you were found fault-free.
Even if your case doesn't make it to trial (even if a lawsuit isn't actually filed), Louisiana's shared fault rules will still be a factor. After all, during settlement negotiations, the other side is concerned with what might happen if your case does wind up in court. So you can expect any settlement offer to reflect their view of the part you played in causing the slip and fall.
Louisiana's "comparative negligence" rule applies to situations like this, and will determine how much compensation you can still receive if you were at all negligent in connection with the accident. This rule can be found at Louisiana Civil Code Article 2323. The key part of this statute says: "If a person suffers injury, death, or loss as the result partly of his own negligence and partly as a result of the fault of another person or persons, the amount of damages recoverable shall be reduced in proportion to the degree or percentage of negligence attributable to the person suffering the injury, death, or loss."
At trial in any kind of Louisiana personal injury case, including slip and fall claims, under Article 2323 the jury or the court will first decide the total amount of the injured plaintiff's losses (medical bills, lost income, etc.). Next, the amount of each party's negligence (including the injured plaintiff's) will be assigned a percentage. Finally, the court will set the injured plaintiff's damages award (the amount he or she will receive from other at-fault parties) in line with those percentages.
So, even where the plaintiff is found to be at fault, they can still get compensation for their injuries, but the amount of compensation they can receive will be reduced in accord with their share of the fault.
So, let's say the jury finds that you are 30 percent responsible for your slip and fall. They also find that your damages (including your medical bills and lost income) total $10,000. That will leave the property owner on the hook for $7,000.
Now that you understand the rule, what kind of arguments can you expect to hear? Here's a look at a few:
It's easy to see why it's so important to make a strong case against the property owner in your Louisiana slip and fall case. Learn more about comparative negligence in slip and fall cases.