The term “tort law” refers to the branch of law that comprises most civil lawsuits, including personal injury claims. The purpose of a tort lawsuit is for the plaintiff to seek restoration, addressing losses or injury sustained by that patient.
In tort cases, the damages are usually financial compensation for those losses or injuries. Let’s take a look at the types of damages you can recover in Louisiana tort cases and how these damages are determined in a given case.
What constitutes damages in tort law?
There are two main categories of damages under Louisiana tort laws: compensatory and punitive.
Punitive damages are, as the name indicates, designed to punish a defendant for particularly egregious, reckless, or negligent conduct. In an auto accident case, for example, a defendant who was double the legal limit and fled the scene of the accident could face punitive damages for their egregious conduct.
Compensatory damages have two categories of their own: special and general damages. Special damages refer to quantifiable compensation, such as compensation for medical bills or lost wages. General damages are not as easily quantifiable. These include compensation for pain and suffering, potential future lost wages, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
How are damages assessed in tort cases?
The way a judge assesses damages in a particular case depends on the type of damages in question.
With special compensatory damages, the process is relatively straightforward. The judge analyzes the specific financial losses experienced by the plaintiff and seeks to make them whole.
With the other, more intangible forms of damages, the process is a little more complicated. Under Louisiana law, the standard for calculating pain and suffering damages (or other types of general damages) is that the judge or jury must use a “reasonable approach.” This provides a lot of leeway for the damage assessment.
There are a couple of common approaches you are likely to come across:
Multipliers: In the multiplier approach, the court takes the total amount of special damages and multiplies it by a set number to reach the pain and suffering figure. Usually, the multiplier is from one to five, depending on the severity of the injuries and the amount of discomfort they caused.
Per diem: In this approach, there is a specific dollar amount assigned to every day you were forced to deal with the pain and discomfort of your injuries. You would multiply that number by the number of days.
How comparative fault can factor into damages
Louisiana is a comparative fault state, which means if a plaintiff bears any fault in an accident, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of their fault.
For example: say a court determines a plaintiff to have been 20 percent at fault in an accident. If there was $20,000 in total damages, the amount would be reduced by 20 percent. The plaintiff would therefore receive $16,000.
For more information about Louisiana tort law and to schedule a consultation about your legal issue, contact Mark Artall, APLC today.