While out for a drive on a Louisiana Sunday afternoon, you stop at the stoplight on a familiar street. As you wait for the light to change to green, your solitude is interrupted by a loud crash and the jerk of your vehicle. You have been rear-ended by a distracted driver, and now you must figure out how to get a resolution to the many issues presented before you because of this car accident.

A legal issue that is often explored after a car accident is that of negligence. The elements of a negligence claim are duty, breech, causation and damages. For duty to be present, the other party must owe a duty of care. In this case, the duty to operate their vehicle in compliance with all the laws. Breach is the failure to perform the duty. For example, in this case, distracted driving.

The element of cause is defined in two ways: but-for causation and proximate cause. The person must be the cause in fact of the accident, meaning: “but for” the other driver’s negligent driving, you and your vehicle would not be injured.

Proximate cause means the other person’s failure to do something or not do something was the cause of the injury. Here, the other person’s failure to stop at the light is the proximate cause of the injury. Finally, there must also be actual damages done to the individual bringing the case.

The state of Louisiana is a comparative fault state. This means that a jury will have to measure the liability of all parties to the accident. The percent of fault assigned to the plaintiff is the percentage that his or hers award will be decreased. Essentially, if a plaintiff is deemed to be 50 percent liable, a $100,000 award will be reduced to $50,000.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Louisiana Negligence Law,” accessed on March 8, 2015