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A tortfeasor is obliged to repair the damage that he has wrongfully caused to the innocent automobile accident victim. La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2315. Subject to conditions not granted the tortfeasor, the uninsured motorist carrier is independently obliged to repair the same damage. By effect of the uninsured motorist statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22:1406(D)(1)(a), and its insuring agreement, the plaintiffs' uninsured motorist carrier is required to pay, subject to statutory and policy conditions, amounts which they are entitled under other provisions of law to recover as damages from owners or operators of uninsured or underinsured motor vehicles. By effect of law and the terms of the insuring agreement, therefore, both the uninsured motorist carrier and the tortfeasor are obliged to the same thing.
As the plaintiff injured was getting out of her own vehicle, she was struck by a car driven by a minor. A year after the accident, plaintiffs, the injured person and her husband, brought the action against the owner of the car driven by the minor, the minor's mother, and her liability insurer. Plaintiffs filed the action against their uninsured motorist carrier three years later. The trial court sustained the peremptory exception of prescription filed by defendant uninsured motorist carrier. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. Plaintiffs applied for a writ of certiorari seeking review of the appellate court’s decision, arguing that the appellate court erred in holding that their timely action against the tortfeasors did not interrupt prescription as to the carrier.
Did the appellate court err in holding that the plaintiffs’ timely action against the tortfeasors did not interrupt prescription as to the carrier?
In reversing the appellate court's judgment, and remanding the case to the trial court, the court held that the lower courts incorrectly decided that the carrier's plea of prescription should be sustained. The court held that pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:5801 and La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2097, plaintiffs' timely and properly filed action against the tortfeasors interrupted prescription as to their carrier. The tortfeasors and the uninsured motorist carrier were both obligated to repair the damage that was caused to the innocent automobile accident victim, and each party may be compelled for the whole, as if it were alone.