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What to Do If You Have a Car Accident in Louisiana: A Checklist

August 17, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Bystanders describing the scene of an accident to the police officerWhat do you do if you have a car accident in Louisiana? It’s best to follow these steps, to ensure your safety, make sure any medical needs are attended to, and to work with law enforcement.

1. Remove yourself and your car from any danger

If you are in traffic or your car is at risk of being hit by traffic, or otherwise in a dangerous place, move it. Don’t move it far, but move it far enough to ensure that you and the car are securely out of danger.

2. Stay at the scene

Never leave the scene of an accident. It could make you at risk for criminal charges later on. Stay at the scene. As indicated above, you may move your vehicle if it’s at risk, but don’t drive away from the general scene.

3. Call an ambulance if needed

If anyone, including other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, has been injured or is in need of medical attention, call an ambulance.

4. Call the police

The safest thing to do is to call the police. Even if no one is visibly hurt and no law has been violated, a police report will provide details of the incident to your insurance company. If the law has been violated, the police are essential. Tell the officer(s) fully and completely what happened for their report.

If a tow truck needs to be called or the area needs to be cleared, the police can help.

5. Put your hazard lights on

Hazard lights make it clear that an accident has happened. They also make it clear that you are waiting for the police.

6. Exchange information with any other drivers

Exchange your contact and insurance information with any other drivers. Don’t, however, volunteer any information that indicates it was your fault or offer an apology. An apology can be construed by some courts, in some situations, as an indication that you were at fault.

7. Take pictures of the scene

 If you have a smart phone or any other device, take a picture of the scene. Take a picture from all angles of the road and from your car. Take close-up pictures and pictures that show the scene from a distance, but still visible.

8. Take notes on what happened

If you don’t have a camera, write down notes about what happened while the scene is still fresh in your mind. What you did; what the other driver did; road conditions; and weather.

9. Talk to witnesses and get their contact information

If there were witnesses and they are available, get their contact information. If a case goes to court and the other party is at fault, witnesses can help establish your case.

10. See your doctor

See your doctor as soon as possible if you need medical attention.

Even if you don’t need medical attention, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Some consequences of accidents, like concussions or whiplash, don’t have symptoms immediately. Tell your doctor’s office you’ve been in an accident and need to be checked out. Explain to the doctor what happened and what happened to your body.

Speak with an experienced auto accident attorney in Baton Rouge and Lafayette

If you have been involved in a car crash, we’re here to help. The Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm has two convenient offices, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette. For a free consultation with an experienced Louisiana car accident attorney and to find out how much your case might be worth, call our offices today or contact us online.

More Info on What to Do After a Car Accident:

  1. Araujo, Mila. “I Had a Car Accident – Now What? Steps to Take After a Crash.” The Balance, January 31, 2017. https://www.thebalance.com/i-had-a-car-accident-now-what-2645472
  2. “What to Do After a Car Accident: 10 Steps to Reduce Your Risks.” Consumer Reports, November 2015. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/12/what-to-do-after-a-car-accident/index.htm


The Four Most Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Louisiana

August 10, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

fatal highway car crashIn 2013, 32,700 people were killed in the 5.6 million car accidents that occurred across the country. More than 2.3 million people were injured in these accidents.

In Louisiana, police registered 478 deaths in passenger vehicles during 2015. Nearly 1,000 drivers in our state alone were involved in fatal car crashes.

Most common causes of fatal car accidents in Louisiana

These statistics are very sobering. But it’s even more sobering to look at the causes of fatal car crashes. Nearly all car crashes stem from preventable causes.

National statistics compiled by an insurance industry association indicate that the most common cause of fatal car accidents in Louisiana is failure to operate with required equipment. Seat belts save the lives of 73% of people involved in fatal accidents, including both drivers and passengers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiles data on accidents as well. According to this data, many accidents in our state are caused by excessive drinking and failure to obey the speed limit.

The lives taken by these drivers could, in other words, have been saved by obeying the laws against drinking and driving and going over the speed limit.

In Louisiana, for example, 245 fatal car accidents were related to alcohol impairment. The drivers had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.8 or above when tested.

One hundred and sixty-five of the fatal accidents were related to speeding. Cars going at higher speeds do more damage if they hit another vehicle, and they may not be able to stop or slow down in time to avert an accident.

Louisiana drivers between the age of 15 years old and 20 years old were involved in 74 of the fatal accidents. One driver was under the age of 15.

Louisiana as compared to other states

Driving without required equipment, when impaired by alcohol, and speeding are not unique causes of car accidents just in Louisiana, of course. They cause many accidents across the nation. But how does Louisiana rank with other states in causes of car accidents?

Unfortunately, Louisiana ranks #4 for fatalities caused by careless or reckless driving. We also rank #4 for car accident deaths due to speeding.

Finally, Louisiana is one of the states where driving impaired by alcohol causes a high percentage of fatal accidents, although we do not rank in the top 5.

An experienced auto accident attorney in Baton Rouge and Lafayette

If you have been involved in a car crash that caused injuries or death, we can help. The Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm has two offices for the convenience of our clients, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette. For a free consultation with a Louisiana fatal car accident attorney, contact Bart Bernard by phone or online today.

More data on fatal car accidents in Louisiana:

  1. Lake, Rebecca. “Car Accident Statistics: 23 Facts and Fatal Trends.” CreditDonkey, May 30, 2015. https://www.creditdonkey.com/car-accident-statistics.html
  2. Speiser, Matthew. “This Map Shows What Causes the Most Fatal Car Crashes in Each US State.” Business Insider, May 28, 2015.  http://www.businessinsider.com/the-cause-of-the-most-fatal-car-crashes-2015-5
  3. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts, Louisiana, 2011-2015. https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest?_program=%2FProduction%2FApps%2FSTSI%2FSTSI


Lafayette, Louisiana Car Crash Statistics

June 7, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Low angle shot of a car driving on the road

Did you know that Louisiana ranks #1, tied with Texas, for “Worst Drivers in America”? This title was based on NHTSA data on fatal crashes, including failure to obey traffic laws, careless and distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving. Here in Lafayette Parish, most drivers are careful, attentive and law-abiding, with excellent safety records. That said, calls from car accident victims and their families are still among the most frequent type of call we receive at the offices of Lafayette attorney Bart Bernard.

Car crash stats for Lafayette, LA

In 2014, Lafayette saw:

  • 17 fatalities, involving 22 vehicles and 27 people
  • 6 fatal drunk-driving accidents
  • 6 fatal car crashes involving pedestrians

From 1994-2014, the highest number of Lafayette car accidents were recorded:

  • In the month of July (64)
  • Sunday mornings (69)
  • Friday evenings (59)

In 2006, Lafayette fatal car crashes were above the national average, but we’ve had a lower number since then. In 2014, Lafayette had 13.1 percent of accidents/100,000 people, compared to 16.1 percent/100,000 people statewide.

Lafayette’s most dangerous intersections

According to KATC News, the following intersections had the most accidents from January 2012 to October 2013:

  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Kaliste Saloom Road: 152
  • Johnston Street near College Road: 113
  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Johnston Street: 108
  • Johnston Street near Camellia Boulevard / Rena Drive: 104
  • Pinhook Road near Kaliste Saloom Road: 97
  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Robley Drive: 93
  • West Congress Street near Guilbeau Road: 84
  • Willow Street near Evangeline Thruway: 74
  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Congress Street: 66
  • West Willow Street near Ambassador Caffery Parkway: 65

“The biggest offender is people going through red lights on left turns,” Lafayette Police Corporal Paul Mouton said.

Louisiana crash data reveals alarming trends

Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc says Louisiana roads and highways are safer than they were in 2007, when there were 900 crashes and 993 fatalities — due to increased use of seat belts and stricter enforcement of impaired driving laws. However, the numbers are starting to creep up again.

LeBlanc points to the following alarming trends among Louisiana drivers:

  • The fatality rate among 18-20 year olds increased in 2014.
  • Alcohol-related crashes in this group increased for the first time in five years.
  • More single vehicle crashes in late-night and early-morning were reported.
  • Reports of riding without a seat belt and aggressive driving are up.

Louisiana drivers see huge auto insurance spikes

More crashes mean higher insurance premiums. Typically, auto insurance premiums creep up about 1 percent a year. But Louisiana auto insurers have been operating on very slim profit margins (as low as 3-4%) in recent history. Insurers have justified raising their rates as much as 13.5 percent a year by arguing that their pockets have been gouged by newer cars with more expensive-to-repair safety features combined with the uptick in distracted driving.

“I’d say over half of the wrecks we see people bringing in — they won’t admit to it — is from distracted driving. And distracted is usually their phone,” said Jerome Wiley, general manager of Gordon & Sandifer Auto Service Inc. in Baton Rouge.

Here are some Louisiana auto insurance statistics to consider:

  • Louisiana auto insurance rates are rising 25 times the national average.
  • Distracted driving accounts for at least 20 percent of Louisiana’s fatal crashes.
  • In Louisiana, the number of miles driven dipped from 2014-2015, but accidents increased over 7%.
  • The number of Louisiana car accidents has gone up 12.4% from 2011-2015.
  • The cost of insurance claims during that period increased from 67.4% to 76.7% of premiums collected.

Drunk driving in Louisiana

Louisiana has the 13th highest number of DUI arrests in the nation. According to the CDC:

  • 3,046 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in Louisiana from 2003-2012.
  • 5% of Louisiana motorists admit to driving drunk, compared to the national average of 1.9%.

The NHTSA further reports there were:

  • 737 fatal motor vehicle accidents in Louisiana in 2014, with 192 (34%) caused by an intoxicated driver.
  • 12 out of 31 Lafayette Parish traffic deaths were alcohol-related.

Teen car accidents in Louisiana

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission worries that distracted teen drivers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of accidents. While deaths of drivers in the age range of 15-20 dropped 49% from 2003 to 2012, motor vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death for that age group.

  • In 2012, teens accounted for 6% of licensed drivers, but 9% of drivers in fatal crashes.
  • 13% of drivers in accidents that caused injuries were teenagers.
  • Drivers between 16 and 19 are 3x more likely to be involved in a preventable fatal crash.
  • Louisiana saw 7,166 reported crashes involving distracted teens in 2012 alone.

Seek legal representation from the best!

Lafayette car accident attorney Bart Bernard has an extensive network of experts who can investigate and bolster your lawsuit. As a member of the Elite Lawyers of America and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, he has won millions of dollars on behalf of his auto accident clients. One of his clients recently received $4.2 million in compensation after the other driver was found negligent. Call 900-9000 from anywhere in Louisiana for a free legal consultation. No attorney fees are due unless Bart Bernard wins your case!

Additional “Lafayette, Louisiana crash stats” resources:

  1. KPLC – Louisiana, Texas drivers tie as worst drivers in America, http://www.kplctv.com/story/34156478/louisiana-texas-drivers-tie-as-worst-drivers-in-america
  2. KPLC – Louisiana is 13th for DUIs, http://www.kplctv.com/story/34712440/study-louisiana-is-13th-worst-in-duis
  3. KATC – KATC Investigates: Most dangerous intersections in Lafayette, http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=28591150
  4. NHTSA – State Motor Vehicle Crash Data, https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/stsi.htm#
  5. The Advocate – Know why Louisiana car insurance rates might be skyrocketing? Blame it on your phone, http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_9504078a-0032-11e7-b739-abce205de164.html
  6. The Advocate – Distracted Teen Drivers’ Crash Stats Alarming, http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/article_133dfe0e-75d6-5fc5-b578-108059b75867.html
  7. CDC – Impaired Drunk Driving in LA, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/drunk_driving_in_la.pdf
  8. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Traffic Safety Performance (Core Outcome) Measures For Louisiana, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/departments/nrd-30/ncsa/STSI/22_LA/2014/22_LA_2014.htm
  9. Shreveport Times – Crashes and Fatalities Higher in LA, http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/2015/11/17/crashes-fatalities-trend-higher-in-la-in-2014/75936932/


A Distracted Driver Caused My Crash: How Do I Prove It?

May 9, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Bystanders describing the scene of an accident to the police officerDistracted driving accidents kill 8 Americans each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Numerous studies have shown that texting while driving and other distracting activities are among the leading causes of auto accidents in this country. Every day in the United States, distracted drivers cause thousands of accidents, injuring more than 1,160 people, reports the CDC.

How do victims of these preventable tragedies prove that another motorist was talking on their cell phone, texting, eating or otherwise distracted at the time of the crash?

Without compelling evidence, distracted drivers may avoid liability for the injuries, property damage and losses that ensue because of their negligent actions.

If you were involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, here are five important elements that can help prove your case.

How to a prove a distracted driver caused the crash

  1. Police Report – After any type of motor vehicle accident, a police report must be filed. If you personally saw the other motorist engaged in distracted behavior before the crash, be sure to include this important detail when speaking to the officer, who will include it in the report along with other observations regarding the circumstances leading up to the crash.
  2. Eyewitness testimony – Oftentimes, there are other people—whether bystanders, pedestrians, or other passengers – who witnessed the crash and are willing to provide a written statement about if they saw the other driver talking on his or her mobile, texting or engaging in other distracted behaviors. This statement will be included in the official police report and also may be admitted as evidence should the case go to court.
  3. Video footage – In some instances, surveillance cameras from traffic lights, parking garages and intersections may capture clear views of a driver engaging in other activities at the time of the accident. Such footage may compel the liable motorist to settle a claim quickly, rather than go to court.
  4. Cell phone records – A distracted driver’s cell phone records that show the exact time that phone calls and texts were answered are admissible in court, and may lend credence to a plaintiff’s claim for damages.
  5. Photographs of the scene – Photos or video taken of the accident scene (including the inside of both vehicles) can shed light on what the motorist was doing prior to the crash. A half-eaten sandwich, open laptop or make-up case may suggest that driver was not paying attention and introduce the very real possibility that the defendant was driving while distracted.

Consult with a Louisiana car accident lawyer

Establishing liability in a distracted driving accident isn’t always straightforward, which is why victims need to partner with a skilled car accident attorney in Baton Rouge and Lafayette who can help prove their case. If you or someone you love was hurt by a distracted driver in Louisiana, Bart Bernard has the resources and experience to secure just compensation from the at-fault parties.

Call 1-888-GET-BART to arrange a private, no-cost case review today.

Additional “Distracted Driving” Resources:

  1. NHTSA, Distracted Driving https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving
  2. CDC, Distracted Driving, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/
  3. National Safety Council, Thousands have Died in Crashes Involving Cell Phone Use http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving.aspx


Can a Passenger Sue a Driver After a Car Accident?

April 5, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

car accident aftermathCan you sue a driver under Louisiana state law if you are a passenger in his or her vehicle and you are injured in a car accident?

The short answer is, yes. Under personal injury law generally, a person can be sued if his or her negligent actions caused the injury of another. In car accidents specifically, however, it is usually the insurance companies who pay damages. The jury determines who is at fault. The at-fault party’s insurance company pays for medical bills, lost wages for work, and so forth.

First, some background on how Louisiana insurance laws will play a part in your decision to sue …

Car insurance laws in Louisiana

Under the laws of our state, vehicle owners are mandated to have liability insurance. The reason? Precisely the need to have some sort of protection against people who might be injured or killed by the vehicle.

The minimum coverage required is $15,000 for the injury of a single person and $30,000 for the injury of several people.

But these amounts, clearly, are not large, especially when even a short stay in the hospital can hit $75,000 and more.

Partly to cover this eventuality, Louisiana mandates that everyone purchasing a car insurance policy include a coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists (UIM). The only exception is if the person officially, in writing, states that they have declined coverage.

In practice, your own UIM coverage should protect you if you are injured in a car crash and the other party is deemed to be at fault and that other party either has no car insurance or an amount of insurance under the damages caused in the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a passenger where the driver at fault had the minimum $15,000 coverage but your medical bills and lost wages add up to $50,000, your UIM insurance should pay the remainder, $35,000.

If you are a person who has declined UIM, however, you may have no insurance to fall back on.

Passenger injury claims after a car accident

So if your or a loved one’s injuries and lost time from work mount up to dwarf the minimum coverages, can you sue the driver at fault? Well, yes, you could.

There are two issues to think about, though. First, if the driver doesn’t have significant personal assets, such as a large savings or a house, receiving just damages may be very difficult. In a lawsuit, there have to be assets to pay damages. Damages are taken from assets in all personal injury cases.

Second, if you were a passenger, you might have a personal relationship with the driver. He or she might be a spouse, a relative, or a friend. A lawsuit might damage that relationship.

Speak with an auto accident attorney Louisiana trusts

The impact of car accidents can leave those affected devastated both physically and financially. Injuries can be catastrophic, leaving victims unable to walk or move without assistance. Surgery and physical therapy to recover from car crash related injuries can amount to thousands of dollars.

Victims of car accidents are entitled to just compensation. The Bart Bernard Law Firm has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We have decades of experience successfully fighting for the rights of clients injured in car crashes.

For a free consultation with a seasoned Louisiana auto accident lawyer, call our Lafayette or Baton Rouge offices, or contact us online today.

Additional “passenger injury claim” resources:

  1. Schneider, Helmut. Louisiana State University, E.J. Ourso College of Business, Highway Safety Research Group: Louisiana Traffic Records Data Report 2015, http://datareports.lsu.edu/Reports/SpecialReports/2015_Data_Report.pdf
  2. State of Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Public Safety, Office of Motor Vehicles. Required Proof of Liability Insurance Prior to Registration of Vehicles, http://www.dps.state.la.us/omv1.nsf/58c968bd569b099986256cdc000806eb/89f0a313d753f522862564cf004a2c5f?OpenDocument.
  3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries. CDC Vital Signs. October 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/crash-injuries/index.html


How To Get Compensation For Your Child’s Car Accident Injuries

April 4, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

child head injury x rayThe majority of children sustain minor injuries or no injuries at all when involved in car accidents. However, the results can be devastating for families of the 13% of children hurt in serious collisions.

“The injury outcome in children can be worse than similar injuries sustained by adults,” reports the National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). “In children, some neurological deficits after head trauma may not manifest for many years,” they add.

If your child has been involved in a Louisiana car accident, it is important to understand who pays and how much they pay. Auto insurance is typically a parent’s first recourse, but a lawsuit is another effective way to cover the cost of rehabilitation.  

Child car accident injuries

According to the NHTSA, the most common injuries among children in car crashes are:

  • Head injuries, such as concussions, contusions, lacerations, and skull fractures
  • Thoracic injuries, such as rib fractures and lung injuries
  • Abdominal injuries, such as upper and lower bowel perforations
  • Upper body fractures of the humerus, radius, and ulna
  • Lower extremity fractures of the pelvis, leg and foot

With head injuries, in particular, it can take years before neurological deficits manifest. Some frontal lobe functions — like higher level reasoning and social/interpersonal skills — do not develop until a child reaches adolescence. Early childhood brain damage may not be apparent until children reach high school. Likewise, brain injuries to the reading and writing centers in a baby or toddler’s brain will not be evident until the child reaches school age.

Every state has what is called a “statute of limitations” for filing personal injury lawsuits. In Louisiana, the deadline is within 1 year of the accident. However, in cases where the injuries were not fully realized until much later, the clock starts ticking when your child receives a diagnosis.

Insurance coverage for child’s car accident

Louisiana is a “fault state,” which means that a police report, camera recording, or eyewitness testimony will be required to establish fault. The driver who is determined to be at fault for the accident will be responsible for paying your child’s medical bills. If you or your child were determined to be partially at fault, the amount you collect will be reduced based on an estimated percentage of your liability.

How much does bodily injury insurance cover in Louisiana?

Louisiana auto insurance minimums are $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. Insurance can cover hospital, ambulance, and emergency room fees. For some claims, it may also cover follow-up visits and equipment costs (such as crutch or wheelchair use.) Sometimes bodily injury protection contributes toward loss of income, pain and suffering, funeral costs, and legal fees.

What does Med Pay insurance cover?

If you purchased your own Medical Payments auto insurance coverage, you can get an additional $1,000 to cover injuries suffered by you, your child, or another passenger riding in your vehicle.

In 2013, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443 – higher than the amount insurance will pay. In many cases, insurance companies balk at paying for injuries. They may try to argue that the amount of care your child received was “excessive,” or that the provider you selected “charged too much.”

It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to lowball the cost of child injuries. Working closely with a personal injury attorney can help you protect your child’s legal rights and gain the compensation you need. If you were injured in the accident, you can also sue on your own behalf.

Collecting compensation with a personal injury lawsuit

Most car accident lawsuits result in out-of-court settlement offers. Lawyers can help you assemble the right paperwork, evidence, medical records, and other documentation to prove you have a sufficient claim. It helps to have an experienced negotiator with access to medical experts, doctors, and independent insurance adjusters who can help estimate the lifetime expenses of your child’s injuries. While necessary medical expenses and economic losses (related to time off work for caregiving) may seem straightforward, it can be difficult to tell if you’re being offered a fair settlement for pain and suffering, physical impairment, or disfigurement.

In light of these complexities, most parents seek legal advice throughout the process. Baton Rouge car accident attorney Bart Bernard has more than 20 years of experience in this arena, whether you are going through a settlement with the insurance company or seeking additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Call today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

Additional “Child Car Accident Compensation” Resources:

  1. NHTSA – Children Injured in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811325
  2. Wallet Hub – Bodily Injury Liability, https://wallethub.com/edu/bodily-injury-liability/8607/
  3. Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association – Cost of Auto Crashes & Statistics, http://www.rmiia.org/auto/traffic_safety/Cost_of_crashes.asp


Hit by a Drunk Driver? Know Your Legal Rights

April 4, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

A set of car keys in the foreground and a glass of whiskey behind.

Louisiana laws protect motorists, passengers and pedestrians who are injured by drunk drivers. State laws make it illegal to operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of more than 0.08% for drivers age 21 and over, and 0.04% for commercial vehicle drivers. If you are hit or injured by a motorist who is intoxicated or impaired by alcohol, you have a legal right to be made whole again, and make a claim for monetary damages.

Despite millions of dollars spent on drunk driving awareness and prevention campaigns, alcohol-related crashes still account for more than one-third of all road deaths in the United States.  According to 2014 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 35 percent of all 737 traffic deaths in Louisiana were linked to alcohol use. Louisiana has ranked among the worst states in terms of DUI fatalities, with the majority of deaths in people between the ages of 20 and 34.

Compounding matters is the fact that victims and their families could have been spared their pain, physical harm, emotional suffering and financial losses in these preventable accidents. Unfortunately, many of these result in severe injuries, massive medical bills, months of lost income, and psychological trauma – and in some cases, loss of life.

In the event you or a loved one is struck by a drunk driver in Louisiana, it’s important to enlist the services of an experienced auto accident lawyer who can effectively represent your claim and protect your rights.

Your right to sue for compensation

In Louisiana, those who are injured by drunk drivers have the option of bringing a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. Civil litigation is often the most effective means of securing compensation to cover your doctor and hospital bills, medical treatments, lost wages, pain and suffering and other accident-related expenses. If the impaired driver is also facing criminal charges, your attorney may recommend that you wait until the case has resolved, as a criminal DUI conviction can bolster your chances of getting a higher settlement or jury award.

Victims have the right to sue for a variety of damages in a civil action, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost income
  • Future loss of earnings
  • Future pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

In some DUI cases, victims may pursue a civil claim against the intoxicated driver who caused the accident, or against the individual or establishment that served alcohol to the driver. Louisiana imposes a one-year time limit on personal injury actions, which may be tolled in situations where criminal proceedings are still pending.

DUI convictions = stronger cases

Insurance companies will generally try to avoid a juried trial if the at-fault party, who they insure, has been convicted of DUI/DWI in a serious car accident. They realize that juries will be more sympathetic to injured plaintiffs and more likely to award a higher punitive damage award (which can reach into the millions of dollars).  As such, your lawyer will be in a better position to negotiate a favorable settlement that accounts for all economic and non-economic damages, including future pain and suffering.

Legal advocacy in Louisiana

For experienced legal representation in the wake of a drunk driving tragedy, contact Louisiana car accident lawyer Bart Bernard, who can advise you on your rights and what to expect in your case. Call our Lafayette and Baton Rouge offices today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

Additional “hit by a drunk driver” resources:

  1. CDC, Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Louisiana https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/drunk_driving_in_la.pdf
  2. Alcoholalert.com, Louisiana Drunk Driving Statistics http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics-louisiana.html
  3. The Acadania Advocate, Drunk driving arrests down in Louisiana, fatalities up —despite millions spent on enforcement http://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/news/article_4db274c8-02c2-5a55-a81a-5674881bab1c.html
  4. DMV, DUI & DWI in Louisiana http://www.dmv.org/la-louisiana/automotive-law/dui.php