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Comparative Fault-What Is It?

Comparative Fault….What does it mean?

Last edition’s article discussed the concept of tort negligence and the liability that results therefrom.  However, Louisiana law also recognizes that injury, loss or death can be caused by the negligence of more than one person, or even partly result from the negligence of the person suffering the injury or loss.  Consequently, Louisiana law provides for “comparative fault”.   The law on “comparative fault” provides for comparing the negligence/fault of all participants to the harmful event.  In a situation where more than one person’s negligence caused the injury, loss or death, the task becomes assessing the degree and/or percentage of fault to be attributed to each participant, which percentages must total one hundred percent (100%).  The legal effect of “comparative fault” is that no participant to the harmful event is legally held responsible for more than the degree of fault attributable to each such individual.  For example, if two individuals are determined to have equally caused the harmful event, each is responsible for fifty percent (50%) of the loss.  On the other hand, if the person who sustained the loss or injury  is determined to have also contributed to the harmful event, any recovery is reduced by the degree and/or percentage of fault attributable to the injured person.  The only exception to the application of “comparative fault” in Louisiana is in the context of an intentional injury in which case there is no reduction.