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What is a Tort Case, and What does it Involve in Louisiana?

Every person and establishment in Louisiana has a duty of care to protect the safety of entities with whom he/she interacts. When a breach of this duty occurs, such that an entity suffers personal injury or loss, the aggrieved party is entitled to compensation from the party responsible. In many cases, the aggrieved party must seek intervention from the Louisiana judiciary to obtain monetary compensation. Court records of the ensuing proceedings are public documents and available to interested persons upon request.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What is Louisiana Tort Law?

The tort law in Louisiana refers to statutes and common law that form the basis for seeking compensation for tortious injury and aids the judiciary in adjudicating tort claims. The law of torts in Louisiana is not embodied in one statute; it is spread throughout chapters of the Louisiana Revised Statutes.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in Louisiana?

The following are the kinds of tort cases filed in Louisiana:

  • Intentional torts: This kind of tort case covers all personal injury or losses resulting from premeditation. Examples include assault, battery, false imprisonment, fraud, malicious prosecution, retaliatory discharge, and trespass to property.
  • Negligence: Includes torts where an entity fails to discharge their duty of care to another entity, resulting in personal injury and loss. Examples include negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress on a bystander, and negligent entrustment.
  • Strict liability: Includes torts where the tortfeasor bears responsibility by proxy. Examples include injury or loss caused by wild animals and pets.
  • Product liability: A fiduciary duty binds manufacturers to produce and deliver safe products. If a customer suffers injury due to a factory error or misinformation, the manufacturer bears product liability. Common torts include manufacturing defects, warning defects, and design flaws.
  • Medical treatment torts: The common claims that arise here include failure to obtain informed consent and medical malpractice.
  • Invasions of privacy: The common claims that arise include intentional intrusion and impersonation.

What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in Louisiana?

Criminal law in Louisiana operates on a punitive model. The aim is to impose statutory penalties on an offender in the form of jail time, fines, surcharges, community service, and other criminal consequences (Lou. Rev. Stat. § 14:9).. Furthermore, where a person suffers personal injury or loss due to a crime, the criminal law does not provide civil remedies (Lou. Rev. Stat. § 14:6).. On the other tort law in Louisiana operates on a loss compensation model. Tort law also ignores other non-compensatory remedies, such as injunctions, used in other civil cases. Similarly, a person who suffers a tort due to a crime must file a separate suit against the tortfeasor. Although the cases overlap, the outcome of a criminal prosecution is independent of a tort claim.

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Louisiana?

Tort law exists to protect citizens’ rights against conscionable and unconscionable injury. Under the law, an entity does not have to enter a contract or make special arrangements with another entity to exercise the legal rights available to him/her. Furthermore, tort law describes remedies available to an entity when another entity violates such rights or duty of care.

What is a Tort Claim in Louisiana?

A tort claim is a formal request for compensation due to the loss or personal injury incurred from a party’s failure to discharge his/her duty of care (Lou. Rev. Stat. 40:1231.1 (A22))..

How Do You File a Tort Claim in Louisiana?

The petitioner shall send a written notice of claim to the defendant describing the tort, date, time, and location of the incident. It must also include the estimate of the damages sought. The petitioner must then proceed to the office of the clerk of court in the parish of injury. The clerk and administrative staff shall provide official instructions, but not legal advice regarding the case. The filing must show that the petitioner has notified the defendant of the tort and sought compensation. If the claim is against a public employee or agency, the petitioner shall submit a written notice of claim to the agency or the Attorney General.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Louisiana?

A typical tort claim in Louisiana must contain the following information:

  • The name and address of the claimant;
  • Contact information;
  • Name of the tortfeasor (individual or state agency involved);
  • Location of the injury;
  • Date and time of the injury;
  • Circumstances resulting in the injury;
  • The personal injury or loss suffered; and,
  • Amount of damages sought.

Seek a lawyer’s professional advice for additional details as court staff cannot provide legal advice regarding a lawsuit.

What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in Louisiana?

For tort claims against individuals, the case follows the Louisiana rule of civil procedure. The petitioner or the court shall serve the defendant with a summons and copies of the documents filed. The summons shall inform the defendant of his/her duty to respond with an answer, such as no contest, counterclaim, or cross-claim, within a specified window. The case proceeds to a bench or jury trial, and the judge shall adjudicate the claim after hearing arguments and reviewing evidence that the parties submitted.

For claims against a public employee or state agency, the agency shall forward an acknowledgment to the petitioner after receipt of the tort claim. The agency and the Attorney General shall investigate the claim and then decide to accept or reject the tort claim. The petitioner may then file the case in the court of jurisdiction in the parish of injury.

In either case, the parties involved may settle the claim out of court to save time and resources. The judge shall review the settlement agreement and make a ruling. Otherwise, adjudicating the tort claim is at the judge’s discretion per the existing body of common law and statutes. The period of resolving a tort claim in Louisiana takes an average of 180 days. However, complex tort claims may take longer to adjudicate, especially when the parties appeal.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?

The tort law in Louisiana is comparatively nascent. Thus far, it is based on the existing body of common law from court rulings in similar cases. Since it is still evolving, filing a personal injury claim is best left to an experienced lawyer.

Despite the odds, a self-represented claimant armed with the right information can accomplish the same objective. However, this is typically difficult, and a self-represented claimant may be unaware of the full extent of his/her legal rights. The personal injury lawyer examines the merits of the claim and files the tort claim against the tortfeasor. He/she also gathers evidence, goes to court, and negotiates settlement agreements. Overall, the personal injury lawyer protects the best interests of the petitioner.

How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?

The Louisiana State Bar Association provides useful information on finding and hiring a personal injury lawyer on this webpage. The Association also provides access to self-help resources for self-represented petitioners.

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