Car wrecks can be traumatic and horrific experiences no matter where they occur. Legally, however, your location may matter more than you think. In Louisiana, auto accident victims are subject to a different set of rules than victims in other states particularly because Louisiana is a “direct action state.” The attorneys at Smiley Law want you to be prepared for the unexpected. Here’s what you need to know:
How does it work?
Louisiana is a direct action state. A direct action state allows the injured party to bring a direct-action lawsuit, which names the insurance company as the defendant. In a non-direct action state, an injured party can only name the insured who actually harmed the victim. In a direct-action lawsuit, the insured is treated as a third party in the case.
A direct-action lawsuit can be helpful for the injured party for a variety of reasons. Firstly, such a lawsuit can let the jury and/or judge know that there is insurance to cover the damages. Juries and/or judges are more likely to award damages if they know that an insurance company is on the hook for them, not a specific individual. Meaning, if the jury and/or judge think that the individual being sued is going to have to pay damages out of his/her own pocket, then they are less likely to award a large judgment to the injured party, even if he/she rightfully deserves it.
Additionally, a direct-action lawsuit can help you avoid the extra time and process necessary to eventually be paid by an insurance company after a judgment is given against an individual.
What should I keep in mind?
If you are a plaintiff in adirect-action lawsuit, you must still prove all of the same facts that you would have to prove in a lawsuit brought against the insured. In addition, you must also prove that the insured was covered by the insurance company and that the coverage of the insurance policy extended to the kind of wrong for which you seek a remedy.
Where to go for help?
If you find yourself in a car wreck in Louisiana, we recommend you reach out to local counsel to help file your claim. Because Louisiana has some unique rules that can help determine the success of your claim, speaking to a professional as quickly as possible is highly recommend. Contact the attorneys at Smiley Law if you have any questions regarding a potential accident claim.