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How Is Paralysis Evaluated in a Personal Injury Case?

August 17, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

wheelchair in hospital

If you suffered a catastrophic injury resulting in partial or complete paralysis, the medical and hospital costs can be monumental. In addition to these ongoing expenses, paralysis victims may be unable to work, losing wages and earning potential for the rest of their lives. The state of Louisiana allows victims to seek monetary damages for economic and non-economic losses when an accident results in paralysis.

A successful personal injury lawsuit can seek compensation for a variety of damages including diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization and treatments, medical equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs, in-home modifications, rehabilitation, physical therapy and in-home nursing aides. A paralysis injury case can also seek money damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of future earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life.

If you suffered traumatic injury resulting in paralysis because of someone else’s wrongdoing or negligence, you need a skilled personal injury lawyer who is dedicated to securing a more secure future for you and your loved ones.

Because paralysis has a profound impact on your quality of life, and is often followed by secondary complications, your damage award needs to reflect the true extent of your losses, whether you have lost fine motor control abilities or are confined to a wheelchair.

How paralysis damages are calculated

The purpose of a personal injury settlement is to make the plaintiff or victim “whole.” In the context of paralysis accident claims, it is not uncommon for settlements and verdicts to climb into the millions of dollars given the devastating impact on the victim and their ability to lead a normal life.

When measuring loss in catastrophic injury claims involving paralysis, your attorney will not only look at the immediate medical bills and lost wages, but the long-term effects your injury will have on your life.

The most effective way to evaluate how paralysis has impacted an accident victim’s life is by gaining a thorough understanding of their condition, current struggles and prognosis for recovery. Attorneys do this by collaborating with health care professionals charged with your care, medical experts who specialize in spinal cord injury, life care planners, economists and other professionals who can demonstrate the life care needs both today and years into the future.

Measuring damages in a paralysis injury case will take into account several factors:

  • The severity and duration of the injury and whether the paralysis is temporary or permanent
  • The extent of impact upon the victim’s ability to earn a living
  • How the injury diminished the victim’s quality and enjoyment of life
  • How the injury impacted family and social life
  • Accommodations for ramps and housing modifications
  • The need for round-the-clock nursing care

Time limits for suing in Louisiana

Like all states, Louisiana imposes deadlines for filing a personal injury claim against a third party. Known as a “statute of limitations,” this rule allows paralysis victims one year to sue after the date of injury, whether it happened in the workplace, in a motor vehicle accident, or resulted from medical malpractice. If you do not bring a personal injury claim within this time limit, you may lose your right to seeking financial restitution.

Attorney Bart Bernard understands the short and long-term consequences of catastrophic injuries and is dedicated to seeing that his clients are fairly compensated for their physical, financial and emotional damages. For more than two decades, Bart Bernard has been a personal injury lawyer Lafayette and Baton Rouge residents trust to win maximum compensation for their health care costs, lost wages, reduced earning capacity and rehabilitation expenses.

If you have suffered paraplegia or quadriplegia, we invite you to contact our Louisiana personal injury law firm regarding your paralysis case. To schedule a free legal consultation with a results-oriented attorney who fights tirelessly for his clients, call today.

Additional “Paralysis Personal Injury Claim” Resources: 

  1. Health Guidance, Types of Paralysis http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/16557/1/The-Types-of-Paralysis.html
  2. American Bar Association, Personal Injury Claims https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_issues_for_consumers/personalinjury.html


How Does Louisiana Comparative Negligence Law Affect Your Claim?

June 13, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Accidents happen. But not all accidents are created equal. Sometimes fault is clearly on the side of one party but other times both the plaintiff and the defendant can bear some of the legal responsibility. In Louisiana, it is important to know that if you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you can still recover if you were partly to blame.

Louisiana comparative fault laws

Each state has adopted its own laws determining how to handle a personal injury claim when the claimant shares some responsibility. Louisiana is in league with the most generous states, having adopted a pure comparative negligence rule.

Under pure comparative negligence, an injured party may recover for injuries even if he or she was more at fault than the opposing party. This is in contrast to the small handful of states that do not let a party recover for an injury if they bear the slightest bit of fault, or the majority of states that allow recovery so long as the victim’s fault was less than either 50% or 51%, depending on the location.

How comparative fault is applied

Louisiana’s comparative fault law is found at Louisiana Civil Code 2323. It has the effect of reducing a claimant or plaintiff’s claim in proportion to the percentage of his or her fault. This means, for example, that if you were 75% at fault, you could still recover 25% of your damages.

The rule affects any type of personal injury claim. This means even if you suffered the unfortunate loss of a loved one who was partially at fault for an accident, you can still recover in a wrongful death claim. Keep in mind that you must still be able to prove all of the elements of negligence against the defendant and this will be tougher when the evidence is less clear-cut.

Role of comparative fault in personal injury negotiations

In a trial situation, a jury (or judge in a bench trial) will be asked to determine what percentage of fault each party bears for the injuries. In a settlement negotiation, however, there will usually not have been any formal determination made.

It is crucial to know your rights, especially when dealing with insurance adjusters and representatives of opposing parties. They may try to overemphasize the role your fault may have played or lead you to believe that you are not eligible to recover.

Consult a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer

The determination of fault will have a significant impact on how much you can recover for your injury. Your best first step is to speak with a Louisiana personal injury lawyer, especially before giving any statements or speaking with the other party’s insurance adjuster.

The Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm takes injury claims seriously. We fight to win full and fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today.

Additional Comparative Fault Resources:

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, Civil Code Art. 2323 Comparative fault, http://legis.la.gov/Legis/law.aspx?d=109387
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, Civil Code Art. 2316 Negligence, imprudence or want of skill, http://legis.la.gov/Legis/law.aspx?d=109377


3 Serious Injuries That Result in Lawsuits

June 10, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

Three of the most serious injuries that lead to personal injury lawsuits are traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and bone fractures. Read on for an overview of all 3.

Traumatic Brain Injury

TBIs can occur when someone’s head is hit, bumped, or jostled severely. If this occurs, the brain can be bumped and jostled severely as well. As a result, those affected can suffer multiple symptoms, ranging from unconsciousness and memory loss to blurred vision. These symptoms can last just a few minutes or be long term and permanent. Causes can range from a tackle in football to a car crash or falling on a sidewalk.

A concussion is a form of TBI.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 30% of all injury-related fatalities stem from TBIs. Roughly 153 Americans die daily due to TBIs. About 2.8 million people went to emergency departments, were hospitalized, or died due to TBI-related symptoms in 2013. The number of people going to emergency departments alone rose 47% between 2007 and 2013.

For children 14 or younger and adults 65 or older, falls are the leading cause of TBIs. Being hit by or thrown against an object is the second leading cause of TBIs, for all age groups. Vehicle accidents are the third leading cause, again, for all age groups.

Spinal Cord Injury

SCIs occur when the spinal cord is injured in some way. The spinal cord affects the nervous system and muscles. Injuries to spinal cords can result in symptoms from full immobility of the body (paralysis) to trouble moving arms or legs to loss of control over bodily functions.

Worldwide, from a quarter million to half a million people suffer SCIs each year.

Unfortunately, 90% of those are due to traumatic causes, such as falls, vehicle crashes, or other accidents. They are preventable.

SCIs also result in long-term health effects. People with SCI are from 2 to 5 times more likely to die than those who don’t have an SCI. They may be prone to chronic infections, need a caregiver, and be in chronic pain.

Bone Fractures

While bone fractures are less life-threatening and life impairing than either TBI or SCI, they are also caused by trauma, such as a fall or a vehicle accident.

Despite this, they can require extensive medical treatment, especially if the fracture is complicated or the bone doesn’t set correctly. Fractures can require physical therapy to regain the full use of affected areas.

Treatment and a fracture can also cause people to lose time from work and thus result in economic loss. Fractures can also damage the patient’s ability to perform the activities of daily life.

People have, on average, 2 fractures in a lifetime.

Speak with a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer

If you or a loved one has experienced one of these three injuries, a seasoned Louisiana personal injury lawyer can help. For your convenience, Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, LA. We assist both people who are long-time residents of our communities and out-of-state residents who need advice on Louisiana law.

Our initial consultation on your case will happen at no cost to you. Call or contact me online today.

Additional serious injury resources:

  1. Spinal Cord Injury. World Health Organization. November 2013. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs384/en/
  2. Understanding Bone Fractures. The Basics. WebMed. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-fractures-basic-information
  3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Basic Information. TBI: Get the Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html


How To Measure Damages In a Wrongful Death Case

May 11, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

personal-injury-wrongful-death-2The wrongful death of a loved one is often a surreal experience that turns the family’s life upside down. Even after the impact sinks in, the family is left to deal with the reality every day, from the loss of the loved one’s presence to the end of their financial support.

Louisiana law recognizes the right of the family to recover for these losses. Compensation can include several types of loss, each of which is measured in a different way.

Wrongful death and survival actions

Louisiana Civil Code Section 2315.2 defines a wrongful death as occurring when “a person dies due to the fault of another” and it allows certain family members to bring a claim for damages they suffered as a result.

Section 2315.1 says that when a person dies by an offense, the right to recover for the personal injury survives for one year after the death and may be brought by certain family members.

Section 2315.2 and § 2315.1 may sound the same but they are actually different. The wrongful death statute – § 2315.2 – recognizes the rights of certain family members to recover for their own losses. The survival statute – § 2315.1 – pertains to the rights of the wrongful death victim and passes the right to certain family members.

Both statutes list who may bring an action. The lists are identical and first designate a surviving spouse or child. If there are none, then other surviving family in the order listed in the statute (the victim’s parents, siblings, or grandparents). The right to bring the claims are inheritable, so in some cases other relatives like nieces and nephews may be eligible claimants.

If you are the relative of a victim of wrongful death in Louisiana, speak with an attorney to determine whether the statute grants you the right to bring a claim.

Economic and non-economic damages

Wrongful death and survival claims are both broken down into economic (or “special”) damages and non-economic (or “general”) damages.

Economic damages include losses that can be readily assigned a numerical value. In a wrongful death claim, this may include the value of the loved one’s lost income and the value of services, like childcare, that the loved one provided for the family. In a survival claim, it usually includes medical bills incurred just before death.

Non-economic damages are less concrete. In a wrongful death claim, it can include the family’s emotional suffering. In a survival claim, it can include the lost loved one’s physical pain and suffering – whether it lasted minutes or days – before death.

Non-economic damages are harder to place a number on so they may be estimated using formulas based on the type of loss. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help determine what amounts are realistic in a given community.

Speak with a Louisiana wrongful death lawyer

The wrongful death of a loved one is emotionally and financially devastating and the wrongful death action that follows can be psychologically draining as well. Put your case in the hands of an attentive and caring wrongful death attorney in Baton Rouge. Bart Bernard and his staff are dedicated to helping injury victims secure fair compensation from those who are at fault.

Additional Wrongful Death Resources:

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, CC 2315.2, http://legis.la.gov/Legis/law.aspx?d=109371
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, CC 2315.1, http://legis.la.gov/Legis/law.aspx?d=109370


Pre-existing Injuries: Not a Bar To Recovery in Louisiana

April 1, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

injured woman after car accidentIt happens every day: someone is involved in an accident and suffers an injury, the medical exam following the accident reveals degeneration – a natural aging of the body that often does not cause any impairment – but the defendant or his or her insurance carrier fights against a fair settlement on grounds that the injury was pre-existing.

If you are facing this type of battle in Louisiana, know that the law permits injured plaintiffs to recover for pre-existing conditions when they are worsened by someone else’s wrongful act. The fight over a pre-existing medical condition can be very intimidating but injured parties find confidence – and improved results – when they partner with a qualified Lafayette personal injury lawyer.

New v. pre-existing injuries under LA personal injury laws

An accident can cause both a new injury and an aggravation of pre-existing condition. The law accounts for this and injury victims are entitled to recover for injury caused by the accident – including the exacerbation of an existing medical condition. But defendants and their insurance companies routinely use the existence of a prior injury to reduce the claimant’s rightful settlement.

Insurance adjusters and the insurance defense counsel they employ understand that an injury victim is entitled to recover for a pre-existing condition. They all learn about the so-called “eggshell skull plaintiff”, who are physically fragile in some special way. If another party’s negligence causes an injury, even to the so-called “eggshell skull” of someone who was already injured or physically at greater risk for an injury, the negligent party is liable for the injury over and above what had already existed.

Fighting a pre-existing injuries case in Louisiana

A fight over the existence and extent of pre-existing conditions in a personal injury case is tedious, fact-intensive, and dependent on medical experts.

By making a personal injury claim, a plaintiff must provide medical records to, and sometimes undergo a medical evaluation by, the defendant’s and/or his insurance company’s counsel. The opposing counsel will go over those records with a fine tooth comb for any indication of a preexisting condition and use that information to reduce the settlement amount – or deny that there are any related damages at all!

Experienced personal injury attorneys understand and expect this fight. They understand how to piece together a chain of medical and factual events, and back it with expert testimony, to overcome the defense claims. They can even turn the defense arguments around and use a history of medical observation as documentation of a “before” and “after” to show how the accident worsened the injury.

Personal injury representation in Baton Rouge, LA

If you or a loved one have been injured in Louisiana and believe someone else may be liable, you may well experience a fight over pre-existing injuries. If the defense convincingly paints the injuries as prior medical conditions, this can take a substantial chunk out of your compensation. Put your trust in Bart Bernard to fight for full compensation.

Call the Bart Bernard Law Firm, with offices in Lafayette and Baton Rouge, for a free confidential initial consultation.

Additional “personal injury liability” resources:

  1. Justia, 2011 Louisiana Laws Civil Code CC 2315.6 – Liability for damages caused by injury to another, http://law.justia.com/codes/louisiana/2011/cc/cc2315-6
  2. Justia, 2011 Louisiana Laws Civil Code CC 2315 – Liability for acts causing damages, http://law.justia.com/codes/louisiana/2011/cc/cc2315


How Much is Your Personal Injury Case Worth?

April 1, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

personal-injury-wrongful-death-2One of the first questions clients ask during a personal injury claim consultation is “what is my case worth?” Calculating damages – or the amount of monetary compensation secured through a settlement or court award –can be a difficult task until you’ve been properly assessed by healthcare professionals for your injuries, treatments and ongoing medical care needs.

As any competent personal injury attorney will tell you, there is no set formula used to determine damages in injury lawsuits, as each case will have unique factors and circumstances. After all, your pain and emotional suffering—including anxiety, depression, sleep loss and other life-altering trauma — will never be the same as another plaintiff’s.  After your attorney has gathered pertinent information and records from your doctors and health care providers, he or she will have the means to offer a more precise assessment of your injury claim.

Calculating personal injury damages

The vast majority of personal injury claims, particularly those arising from car accidents, workplace injuries or slip and falls, never reach the trial stage. In fact, more than 90 percent of claims are settled by insurance companies or the defendants out of court. So how do both parties attach a dollar figure to your injuries, diminished quality of life and other related losses? The nature and severity of your physical injuries will have one of the most significant impacts on the value of your case.

Other factors that will affect your legal recovery include:

  • “Hard injuries” like broken bones, severe burns, spinal cord damage, etc. tend to net higher recoveries compared to “soft injuries” like whiplash, torn ligaments and muscle strains
  • Long-term prognosis for recovery: will you need future surgeries and require ongoing doctor and hospital visits?
  • Has the injury impacted your ability to work or perform normal daily tasks?
  • Will you need a walker, wheelchair or other medical device?
  • Your age and overall health at the time of injury. A 30-year old claimant may get a higher damage award compared to a 65-year old claimant
  • Loss of income due to your injuries
  • Did the accident cause permanent disfigurement or disability?
  • Are you unable to return to work, therefore affecting your future earnings?
  • Have you suffered from emotional trauma such as PTSD, anxiety, concentration problems?
  • Has your partner and/or children suffered a lack of care, guidance or companionship because of the accident?

In general terms, personal injury compensation tends to be much higher in cases involving catastrophic injury (brain damage, amputation, broken hips), long recoveries, partial or permanent disability and loss of future income.

Types of compensation available

Your attorney should always fight for fair and full compensation to reimburse for the following economic and non-economic losses incurred:

  • Past, current and future medical expenses– this includes all hospital and ambulatory expenses, doctor’s visits, therapy, and medical care treatments rendered to date, in addition to money for anticipated care needs for the foreseeable future
  • Past and future lost wages– a settlement or verdict will always consider the total amount of lost income as well as loss of earning capacity
  • Out of pocket expenses – including transportation costs to get to and from your doctor’s appointments, medication costs, crutches, parking fees, etc.
  • Pain and suffering– this award is considered “special damages” and accounts for the types of psychological trauma that has disrupted your life. This may include grief, inconvenience, fear, anxiety and the loss of the enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium– In many cases, a serious accident impacts not only the claimant, but their spouse and children. These damages account for the loss of care, support, intimacy and guidance that the family would have received if the injury had not occurred.

Maximize your personal injury compensation in Louisiana

If you were harmed because of another person’s careless actions or negligence, you may be eligible for compensation through the courts. Lafayette personal injury attorney Bart Bernard offers the skills, financial resources and legal expertise to achieve the best outcome possible in your case.

Schedule a free case review in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles or Lafayette by calling today.



Loss of Wages in a Personal Injury Case: Your Rights Under the Law

March 30, 2017 Personal Injury 0 Comments

lost wagesIf you are injured due to the negligence of another party, whether the other party is a person or organization, you are entitled to make claims for monetary compensation related to the injury.

While many people focus on monetary damages specifically related to the injury, such as compensation for medical treatment and physical therapy, they should also know that monetary compensation for loss of wages can also be part of a personal injury case.

What does “loss of wages” include?

The term “loss of wages” refers to wages and salary, but also, more broadly, to lost compensation.

Let’s say you are employed for a salary. The injury you received required three days in the hospital and seven more days of doctor-ordered immobilization at home. As a result, you were unable to work for ten days.

Your loss of wages claim is therefore for 10 days’ worth of lost wages.

If you are self-employed and also spent three days in the hospital and seven more immobilized, you are entitled to compensation for 10 days as well. The compensation is calculated at what you would have received in an average 10-day period. If you had work booked and scheduled to be completed for clients, this figure can also be used to establish a just claim.

Lost wages can also be claimed for any sick days that you used for your injury. If you were entitled to two days of sick leave, for example, and took them as part of your hospital stay, your claim can include monetary compensation for those days. After all, had you not been injured, you still would have them to use. Now, if you become ill, those sick days are no longer available to you. You are entitled to ask for compensation.

Claiming lost wages for any vacation time used is similar to sick leave. If you used vacation time for part of your hospitalization or recuperation at home, you have lost use of that vacation as vacation. You are therefore entitled to claim the time as lost wages, paid at the same rate as your salary.

The same principles apply to company holidays and personal days. If an injury caused by a negligent party caused you to lose out on them, you are entitled to compensation for the time.

Finally, lost wage claims can also include loss of business opportunities that you might have had if not for your injury. Were you slated to play tennis with important clients? Booked as a speaker at a company conference? You are entitled to compensation for any and all opportunities related to work if an injury caused you to miss them.

How do you claim lost wages?

To make a claim for compensation of lost wages, you will need records of how much you make.

If you are employed, paystubs and a note on company stationery of your annual salary, sick leave policy, and vacation time accrued should be provided to your attorney. Tax records are also helpful, as they show annual salary and bonuses, if any.

If you are self-employed, compile tax records showing annual income and any records showing monthly income and work booked but not performed. These can all be used to average out your expected income for the period.

For loss of business opportunities, your employer or involved parties should write a letter on company letterhead that you were scheduled for these opportunities.

Finally, compile your medical records showing the nature and extent of your injury and treatment. Your doctor should also write a letter detailing the medical advice you received before returning back to work.

When to consult a personal injury attorney

If you or a loved one have received an injury in Louisiana caused by the carelessness of another entity, call for a free, no-obligation legal consultation with the Bart Bernard Law Firm. If you decide to bring to seek legal redress with Bart Bernard as your attorney, we will work closely with you every step of the way.

Let a seasoned personal injury lawyer in Louisiana help you. Please contact our offices in Baton Rouge, Lafayette or Lake Charles today.

Additional lost wages resources

  1. Temple University Health System, Lost Wages Calculator, http://www.templehealth.org/lostwages/
  2. Sapling, How To Calculate Lost Wages, https://www.sapling.com/6149965/calculate-lost-wages