Here are the State of Louisiana traffic and injury liability laws you’ll need. You may be entitled to compensation from an at-fault motorist.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the State of Louisiana, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and personal injury claim.
You’re entitled to seek compensation from a negligent motorist whether you were walking, riding, or driving another vehicle when the collision occurred.
In this article, we’ll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. For your convenience, we’ve summarized each law and provided a link to the full text of each State of Louisiana statute.
Pedestrian Traffic Laws
Pedestrians and Crosswalks
LA Code § 32-212
Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways
LA Code § 32-212
Pedestrian Control Signals
Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don’t Walk are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:
- Flashing or Steady WALK. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
- Flashing or Steady DON’T WALK. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian’s crossing on the Walk signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don’t Walk signal is showing.LA Code § 32-233
Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks
Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
LA Code § 32-213
Pedestrians on Roadway
Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.LA Code § 32-216
Pedestrians’ Right of Way on Sidewalks
The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian on any sidewalk extending across such alley, road or driveway, or building entrance.
LA Code § 32-219
Drivers to Exercise Due Care
The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver’s horn when necessary and must exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person.
LA Code § 32-214
Louisiana Driving Laws
Obedience to Traffic Control Devices
LA Code § 32-56
Driving on Right Side of Roadway
Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:
- When passing another driver in the same direction
- When there is an obstruction in the right lane
- Upon a roadway restricted to one way trafficLA Code § 32-71
Passing On the Left
Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
LA Code § 32-73
Limitations on Overtaking on the Left
Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only when the driver can pass to the left at a safe distance, and not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.LA Code § 32-73
LA Code § 32-75
Passing On the Right
Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:
- When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
- When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
- On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.LA Code § 32-74
Following Too Closely
LA Code § 32-81
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices
LA Code § 32-289.1
LA Code § 32-300.5
LA Code § 32-300.7
Drivers and Intersections
LA Code § 32-121
Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections
LA Code § 32-122
Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway
LA Code § 32-124
LA Code § 32-194
Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic
Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway. A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane. Motorcyclists must not ride more than two (2) abreast in a single lane.
LA Code § 32-191
Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as “lane splitting,” motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
LA Code § 32-191
LA Code § 32-190
Motorcycles and Headlights
LA Code § 32-303
Driving Offenses and Accident Rules
LA Code § 32-58
LA Code § 14-99
Alcohol and Minors
LA Code § 14-98.6
Driver’s Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
A driver involved in any accident must stop at the scene of the accident, give their identity (including their name, address, and vehicle registration number), and render reasonable aid. Any driver who fails to perform these tasks is guilty of hit-and-run driving.
LA Code § 14-100
Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury
LA Code § 14-100
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and upon request, exhibit their driver’s license to any person involved in the accident and any police officer investigating the accident.
LA Code § 32-398
Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property
A driver involved in any accident must stop at the scene of the accident and give their identity (including their name, address, and vehicle registration number). Any driver who fails to perform these tasks is guilty of hit-and-run driving.
LA Code § 14-100
Driver’s Duty to Notify Police Department
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total property damage of $100 or more must forward a written report of the accident to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections within twenty-four hours after the accident.
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage of $500 or more must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number, and upon request, exhibit their driver’s license to any person involved in the accident and any police officer investigating the accident.
LA Code § 32-398
Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments
Within forty-eight hours after completing an accident investigation, the investigating law enforcement officer must forward a written report of the accident to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
LA Code § 32-398
Accident Report Forms
The Department of Public Safety and Corrections must prepare and, upon request, supply to police, coroners, sheriffs, and other suitable agencies or individuals, forms for accident reports, calling for sufficient detailed information about the cause, conditions then existing, and the persons and vehicles involved in an accident.
LA Code § 32-398
Open Alcohol Container Law
A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage while the car is traveling on Louisiana roadways.
An opened alcoholic beverage container can be kept only in a locked glove compartment, in the trunk of a vehicle, or in the area behind the rearmost upright seat (in a place where a passenger would not normally sit).LA Code § 32-300
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways. In Louisiana, a driver is guilty of the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
LA Code § 14-98
Ignition Interlock Device
A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device.
The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver’s driving privileges during the pendency of the driver’s probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.
An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver’s body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device.
If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
LA Code § 32-378.2
Louisiana Injury Liability Laws
Louisiana & Dram Shop Law
In Louisiana, the intoxicated person is liable for the personal injuries and property damage they cause as a result of being intoxicated. The person who sells or serves alcohol is not liable for the actions of the intoxicated person who is of legal drinking age.
LA Code § 9-2800.1
Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits
In the State of Louisiana, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:
- At least $25,000 per person
- At least $50,000 for two or more people
- $25,000 per occurrence for property damageLA Code § 32-900
For information about auto insurance in Louisiana, see the Louisiana Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance.
In Louisiana, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim’s liability in causing the accident, their comparative fault, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives. The compensation received by the victims is reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault in causing the accident.
LA Code § 2323
Example of Comparative Fault
One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie’s lane and their cars collided.
Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.
After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson’s car crashed into Melanie’s. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.
Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.
The verdict stated Jackson’s negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie’s equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.
Louisiana’s Fault-based Car Insurance
In Louisiana, the degree to which a person contributed to an accident, or is at fault for an accident, determines the amount of compensation they can receive for the personal injuries and property damages they suffered as a result of an accident.LA Code § 2323
Statute of Limitations
Louisiana has a two (1) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must file a lawsuit within the one (1) year period following the accident or the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
LA Code § 3492
Small Claims Courts
In Louisiana, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $5,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.
LA Code § 13-5202
Louisiana Government Tort Claims – Sovereign Immunity
In Louisiana, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.
If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Louisiana does place a cap on the maximum amount of damages that can be claimed against a government agency or its employees to $500,000.
Example: Government Employee Causes Car Accident
If Melissa, an engineer with the New Orleans Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of New Orleans would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.
If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of New Orleans can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.
To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.
Additional Louisiana Resources
- State Government of Louisiana
- Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development
- Louisiana State Legislature
- Louisiana Department of Public Safety
- Governors Highway Safety Association
- Louisiana Bar Association
- National Conference on State Legislature
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