Defensive Driving And The Last Clear Chance Doctrine In Louisiana. What Do They Mean And How Can They Effect A Louisiana Car Accident Claim?

Grady Flattmann
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Local Covington, Louisiana attorney focusing 100% on personal injury matters.

You’ve probably heard the term “defensive driving,” but what is it?  In Louisiana, the law requires drivers to take reasonable means in avoiding an accident.  This is “the last clear chance” doctrine. 

Defensive Driving.  What Is It?

What is defensive driving?  ANSI standards define it as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”  In a nutshell, it’s the process of being aware of your surroundings and anticipating the moves of other drivers around you.

What Are The Key Principles Of Defensive Driving?

The Smith System of Training is a program developed by Harold Smith in 1948.  It has five main principles:

1.  Aim High:  Focus your attention to the entire road, and not just to the car ahead of you.

2.  The Big Picture:  Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

3.  Keep Your Eyes Moving:  Remain alert and don’t get in a “driving trance.”

4.  Leave Yourself an Out:  Anticipate what other drivers may do and don’t get boxed in.

5.  Make Sure They See You:  Don’t assume other drivers see you or anticipate your move.  Avoid getting into another’s blind spot.    

“The Last Clear Chance” Doctrine:

In Louisiana, the law requires drivers to take reasonable measures in avoiding an accident.  This is called “the last clear chance” doctrine.  For example, if a driver sees another vehicle pull out in front of him and could easily avoid a collision by slowing down, but doesn’t, he may be held at least partially responsible for the wreck.   

Defensive driving decreases the chances of being in an accident, but unfortunately, doesn’t eliminate it.  How you react during a car wreck plays an important role in the handling of your claims for personal injury and property damage thereafter. 

Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation.  Whether your accident happened in St. Tammany Parish (Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Bogalusa, Franklinton, Folsom) or anywhere in the New Orleans Metro area, we are here for you.  Contact us today at (985) 590-6182