Defenses under the Louisiana Direct Action Statute

The Louisiana Direct Action Statute, La. R.S. 1269 (formerly 22:655) confers substantive rights on third parties to contracts of public liability insurance, which become vested at the moment of the accident in which they are injured, subject only to such defenses as the tortfeasor himself may legally interpose.

Personal defenses, i.e. interspousal immunity, may not be asserted by an insurer in defense of the direct action, but general defenses, i.e. prescription, comparative fault, and worker’s compensation immunity, may be asserted by the insurer.

The insurer’s obligation to the injured person under the direct action statute cannot be prejudiced by the non-prejudicial action of the insured in breaching policy provisions, i.e. breach of a cooperation clause or failure to give timely notice of the accident or suit, in the absence of fraud, collusion or conspiracy.