Louisiana is a “Direct Action” State. But What Does That Mean?

Louisiana Supreme Court building

Louisiana is like no other state in the nation. Nor are its laws.

What Is a “Direct Action” Statute?

If you are injured in a car accident in Louisiana, your personal injury case will be subject to a different set of rules than you will find in many other states in the nation. That is because Louisiana has a “Direct Action Statute.” Because of this statute, Louisiana is considered to be a “direct action state.”

But what, exactly does this mean?

In most other states, if you bring a personal injury lawsuit, you cannot name the insurance carrier in that lawsuit. That is not the situation in Louisiana. Louisiana’s Direct Action Statute allows a plaintiff to name an insurer in the lawsuit. There are a number of conditions that must be met, of course. However, broadly speaking, the Direct Action Statute grants a plaintiff a procedural right of action against the insurer in a case where the plaintiff has a substantive cause of action against the insured.

This gives the victim (i.e., the plaintiff) the right to sue the insurer directly when the liability policy covers a certain risk. The statute does not create an independent cause of action against the insurer and it does not extend the protection of the liability policy to risks that were not covered by the policy or were excluded by it (at least in the absence of some mandatory coverage provisions in other statutes). Under Louisiana’s Direct Action Statute, a right to coverage does not exist independently of the policy provisions but is determined by the language of the policy.

Direct Action Statutes have not been adopted by most other states in the nation because they abrogate the common law, which bars suits by plaintiffs who are not in privity with the insurer. Louisiana’s statute, however, is a longstanding one. It dates from as far back in 1918. It expresses the Bayou State’s different points of view on who an insurance policy is meant to protect. It has long been Louisiana’s public policy that “an insurance policy against liability is not issued primarily for the protection of the insured but for the protection of the public.” (Davies v. Consolidated Underwriters, 6 So.2d 351 (La. 1942).)

We Know Louisiana Law.

If you or someone you love has been injured in Louisiana, it is important that you hire personal injury counsel who knows the laws in Louisiana. At the Day Law Group, we practice personal injury law. We offer FREE consultations and we don’t get paid unless you win your case. We have offices in Baton Rouge, and we serve all of Southern Louisiana.  Call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation.

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