Despite their vulnerability to injury, bicyclists and pedestrians are often close to traffic. As you travel the same Louisiana roads, you could be involved in an accident. Even if you are not criminally liable, you could find yourself facing a personal injury or wrongful death claim depending on the circumstances. You likely are wondering what your options are.
What does the other party have to prove in order for me to be held liable for the accident?
Before a Louisiana court will make a decision regarding your case, the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit against you) must prove to the court that you were negligent. In order to do so, proving the following elements will be necessary:
1. The plaintiff will be required to show that you had a responsibility to the injured party (a duty of care).
2. The plaintiff will need to prove that you breached that duty (i.e. if you were speeding or otherwise not paying attention).
3. The plaintiff will then need to show that if it had not been for your actions, he or she would not have suffered injuries.
4. The plaintiff will also need to show that nothing else could have caused the injuries.
5. The plaintiff will need to prove that injuries were suffered and damages were sustained
It might seem like some of these elements overlap, but there are subtle differences that can be crucial. If any of these elements are not proved, or are only partially proved, you might not be found liable or may only be found partially liable. Louisiana is a comparative negligence state, which means that the plaintiff may also be partially liable for the accident. The percentage of liability assigned to the plaintiff will reduce any award of damages entered by the court.
How can an attorney help me?
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances behind the accident. Knowing the elements that must be proved by the other party, he or she will determine whether the plaintiff was responsible, or at least complicit, in the accident. He or she can also work with your insurance company to see if a settlement is appropriate. The most important thing to remember is that you do not have to go through this alone. If you are involved in an accident of any kind, especially one with serious injuries or death (which is often the case in accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians), you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.