How do Louisiana Courts Determine Fault and Damages in Car Accident Cases

Published by The Pellegrin Firm May 25, 2020

On November 13, 2019, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in a case involving a car that tried to pass left on a vehicle on a two-way road. A truck driven by plaintiff Giles Hill attempted to pass a vehicle driven by Sabrina Davis as Davis was attempting to make a left turn onto another road. The two cars collided. The trial court discussed the duties the law imposes on a left turning driver, as well as a passing driver, and it determined that both drivers violated the applicable statutes. The trial court allocated 95% of the fault to Hill, the Plaintiff, and 5% of the fault to Davis, the Defendant. The trial court awarded Hill $18,720.38 to cover the medical expenses for injuries sustained as a result of the accident, but the reward was reduced by 95% as per the allocation of fault. Hill appealed the trial court’s judgement alleging that the trial court erred in its allocation of fault and abused its discretion in awarding only $2,000 in general damages.

Before the appellate court, Hill asserted the following factors as grounds for changing the allocation of fault: (1) the roadway was marked with a broken yellow line, (2) that Davis was aware vehicles regularly passed other vehicles, (3) that Davis breached the duty owed by a left turning vehicle, and (4) that Davis violated the law requiring her to signal her intention to turn within 100 feet of the turn. In opposition, the defense contended that Hill violated mandating no passing within 100 feet of an intersection.

The appellate court amended the judgement to allocate fault of 50% to both parties. The appellate court also found that the collision did cause Hill’s injuries, so it increased his award for general damages from $2,000 to $20,000.

The case is Hill v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company et. al. 283 So.3d 629 (2019).