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What to Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall Accident

April 19, 2017 Slip And Fall Injuries 0 Comments

caution wet floor sign at a corridorSlip and fall accidents can lead to serious long-term injuries that can impair your ability to work and maintain your former quality of life. To make sure you have every chance to receive fair and just compensation, it’s important to know what to do in the immediate aftermath of a slip, trip and fall accident.

Liability for a slip and fall

The reason it’s important to know the steps to take immediately after an accident is that, if you are injured and want to bring a suit for damages to obtain redress for your injuries, a court will require evidence of your injury and the conditions surrounding the slip and fall.

Under Louisiana law, another party, whether person or company, may be liable for your injuries. Liable means they are at fault. They must have caused the conditions. Did you slip on a roller skate left carelessly out of the box by a toy store employee? Was spilled milk left for an hour in a grocery store aisle? Then it can be argued that the company caused your slip and fall. They also must have known about the dangerous condition and done nothing to fix it in a reasonable time. Finally, the court will need to know that a reasonable person would have found out about the condition and fixed it.

Checklist for what to do after a slip and fall

What should you do immediately after experiencing a slip, trip or fall injury? Here is a checklist to review after your accident:

Report the accident to management

If you slip and fall in a retail or other store, report the incident to management. There needs to be documentation that an accident happened shortly after it happened, or the court may question why it was not reported.

Get contact information for any witnesses

It’s also highly important to get the names and contact information (phone or e-mail addresses) for any witnesses. If you are with a friend, ask them to do this while you attend to your injuries. Eyewitness testimony can be crucial.

Document your injuries and the scene

If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of your injuries immediately. This is highly important. Cameras are the best form of documentation available. Blood will wash off and bruises fade. You need documentation that gives the full scope of your injuries.

You also need to document what the scene looked like, from several angles. Take pictures of the roller skate or spilled milk from above and sideways on both left and right. Again, the scene will be cleared and cleaned soon. You need evidence of the danger of the situation.

If you do not have a camera when the accident happens, write down all the details about your injuries and the scene as soon as you can. Take pictures of your injuries as soon as you can after the accident.

Seek medical treatment

Go to a doctor if you need treatment. If it’s an emergency, go to the nearest emergency room. Give medical personnel detailed information about your injury and how it happened. Their reports and treatment can be used as evidence.

Complete any accident forms accurately

Some businesses may want you to fill out accident forms. Be sure to do this completely and accurately. Be aware, though, that you are not required by law to do this if you feel uncomfortable.

Consult a slip and fall attorney at no charge

Are you considering contacting a slip and fall lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana? Bart Bernard is highly experienced in slip, trip and fall cases. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another party, we can provide a complimentary consultation to discuss your case. We have convenient offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Call us today or contact Bart Bernard online.

Additional “slip and fall accident checklist” resources:

  1. Slip and Fall Incident Report,

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 Injury Lawyers 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,
  2. State of Louisiana. Louisiana Department of Public Safety, Office of Motor Vehicles. Required Proof of Liability Insurance Prior to Registration of Vehicles,
  3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries. CDC Vital Signs. October 2014.

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

March 30, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits 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. Sapling, How To Calculate Lost Wages,

Everything You Need to Know About a Jack Knife Truck Accident

March 28, 2017 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

18 Wheel Truck on the road. Semi-trailer truck.The sheer size and massive weight of tractor-trailer trucks makes them especially dangerous to other vehicles sharing the roads. Among the worst accident scenarios involving trucks are those involving a “jack knife”, in which a cab and trailer are sent into different directions to form a 90-degree angle.

In “jack knife” accidents, the trailer often ends up careening across the roadway, striking whatever may be in its path. This can prove devastating to anyone in a nearby lane of traffic. It is important for victims of such crashes to understand how liability for their injuries can be assessed in pursuit of fair compensation.

How jack knife truck accidents happen

In most cases, the jack knifing of a truck is the result of an unexpected, drastic downward adjustment in speed. This could occur because the driver belatedly realized a need for sudden braking, something which stops the cab’s movement, but produces momentum which propels the trailer sideways in an extremely dangerous manner. In addition to late braking due to driver distraction or error, common reasons for a jack knife include:

  • Inclement weather and road conditions
  • Twisting roadways
  • Excessive speed
  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • Driver drowsiness
  • Malfunctioning/defective truck axle locks

Vulnerability of motorists caught in jack knife truck crashes

With semi trucks weighing roughly 20-30 times more than a common passenger vehicle and boasting substantially greater ground clearance, it is not surprising that those who have the misfortune of becoming entangled with a jack knifed big rig routinely sustain serious harm. Such individuals may find themselves confronted with an uncertain future as they struggle to recover from:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Severely broken bones
  • Deep burns
  • Spinal cord damage/paralysis
  • Damage to internal organs

In addition to the physical trauma such afflictions cause, their emotional and financial ramifications can be equally dire.

Liability for a jack knife truck crash

Anytime a truck is involved in a jack knife incident, the intuitive response for most is that the driver alone is likely to blame. While driver distraction, error and/or failure to heed applicable traffic laws may in fact point to such a conclusion, there are situations in which other parties may share responsibility. A seasoned Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer may choose to pursue substantial compensation from trucking firms found to have failed in their duty to train drivers in how to prevent jack knife events.

Vehicle maintenance contractors discovered to have improperly or negligently maintained a truck’s braking system may also be liable, as is true of truck and truck component manufacturers revealed to have placed defective products on the market. Though these parties may initially seem too far removed from the collision itself to be appropriate targets of litigation, any individual or entity deemed to have played a pivotal role in the harm sustained may be required to compensate victims for:

  • Medical bills
  • Costs of therapy, rehabilitation and continuing care
  • Lost wages
  • Reduction in future earning capacity stemming from injury/disability
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional trauma
  • Lost marital and familial relationships
  • Financial support for surviving dependents in cases of fatality
  • Funeral expenses, where applicable

Zealous representation from a Lafayette personal injury lawyer

Jack knife truck accidents can have a devastating impact on victims and their families. If you or someone you love has had life turned upside down in a split second while traversing Louisiana’s roadways, there is no time to lose in securing the aggressive legal advocacy such cases demand.

To receive a confidential, no-cost initial consultation to begin exploring all available legal options, Louisiana truck accident attorney Bart Bernard invites you to call his offices in Baton Rouge or Lafayette today.

Additional “jack knife truck accident” resources

  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Large Truck Crashes,
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Safety Facts,
  3. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Large Truck Crash Causation Study,

How to Take Car Accident Photos

March 15, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Man photographing his vehicle damages for accident insuranceAnyone who has been in an auto accident knows how disorienting and alarming the immediate aftermath can be. However, the minutes and hours after a crash are the best time for victims to capture photographic evidence that can make all the difference in the success or failure of any subsequent claim for financial compensation.

Why post-accident photos matter

Issues of fault and negligence in auto accidents are not always easily or quickly determined. Therefore, photographic evidence taken soon after the fact can prove invaluable when it comes time to file claims with insurance carriers or pursue a personal injury lawsuit in the courts. Photos provide clear depictions of what happened, the physical locations of the vehicles involved and the damage resulting from the impact.

Because recollections can rapidly fade or be tainted by personal bias, head trauma or other factors, documentation of this type really can make or break arguments concerning liability.

How to capture valuable car accident images

The ubiquitous nature of cell phones equipped with cameras makes it easier than ever to capture a large volume of good-quality photos following a car crash. Take as many images as possible from a variety of angles and distances, waiting until later to select the ones that best illustrate what occurred. Some of the most useful shots to get include those that encompass:

  • All vehicles involved in the collision and the damage on each
  • Your own vehicle and the damage sustained
  • Shards of glass and broken vehicle components on the roadway
  • Skid marks on the road surface
  • Details of the prevailing weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • The immediate surroundings including intersections, sidewalks, traffic signals
  • Relevant geographical reference points such as road signs or mile markers
  • Immediately noticeable injuries to all parties involved
  • Police and ambulance personnel responding at the scene

Being as thorough as possible in documenting the accident site can greatly enhance an injury victim’s chances of securing a fair amount of compensation in the event of an insurance dispute or in litigation.

Other valuable post-accident photographic evidence

While it is true that many serious car accident injuries are apparent almost instantaneously, it must be remembered that there are others that take several days or even longer to manifest themselves. Deep bruising, contusions and swelling may exhibit delayed signs of onset, and it is therefore wise to continue taking photos of all harm produced by the collision, whenever it actually presents. Doing so ensures that the full scope of the damage done is recorded for use in the claims and compensation process.

Aggressive advocacy for car accident victims in Louisiana

Each and every vehicle crash has a distinct fact pattern and unique nuances which must be carefully explored if a victim’s recovery claim is to be successful. Louisiana auto accident attorney Bart Bernard understands which types of documentary evidence are most persuasive when doing battle with insurance companies and at-fault drivers. He works collaboratively with medical experts, crash investigators and others to build convincing cases for injured parties across Louisiana.

For a no-cost consultation and a confidential discussion of your legal options following a serious accident, we invite you to contact us by calling our offices in Lafayette or in Baton Rouge.

Additional “taking photos after a car accident” resources

  1. Edmunds, How Car Insurance Companies Handle Car Accident Claims,
  2. DMV, How Car Insurance Companies Investigate Accident Claims,

Investigation Reveals Concerns About Extent of Nursing Home Abuse Epidemic

February 28, 2017 Nursing Home Neglect 0 Comments

Nursing Home AbuseA recent, in-depth investigation by CNN has revealed that America’s seniors are facing an even greater threat than most would have ever suspected in the form of rampant abuse in nursing home facilities nationwide. Examination of voluminous federal and state-level records, interviews with regulatory officials, advocates and the families of victims has presented a devastating picture of failed oversight, unspeakable offenses and profound neglect of the duty owed to those whose well-being has been entrusted to so-called professionals.

Major gaps in reporting of nursing home abuse

After detailing a series of particularly horrific incidents involving the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of nursing home residents, the CNN report draws much-needed attention to the fact that no exhaustive national clearing house of data exists concerning the true number of such events occurring in elder care facilities annually. State investigators are typically the ones to delve into allegations of this type of mistreatment, though a lack of uniformity in how such claims are treated and resolved has made it extremely difficult to quantify the actual scope of the problem on a national level. The CNN study did find, however, that the facilities themselves contribute greatly to this problematic lack of transparency, with over 500 of them having been censured for not properly exploring and reporting allegations of abuse to the relevant authorities or screening prospective employees for troubling past histories.

Aging population boosts demand for quality nursing home care

With medical advances and greater emphasis on healthy lifestyles making it possible for Americans to live longer lifespans than ever before, the need for quality residential elder care facilities is virtually certain to grow in the coming decades. The National Study of Long-Term Care Providers recently put the number of existing licensed nursing home beds in the United States at 1.8 million, a total expected to rise in the near future. While a majority of nursing homes do provide seniors with the dedicated, caring attention they deserve, far too many others are characterized by abhorrent patterns of neglect, abuse and unaccountability to residents and their families.

Elder abuse estimates indicate need for vigilance

The National Council on Aging has suggested that no less than 1 in every 10 Americans aged 60 or older has been subjected to one type of elder abuse or another, but that only 1 of every 14 such cases will be reported to law enforcement or other supervisory authorities. As a result, friends, relatives and others who are close to elderly individuals must take it upon themselves to stay vigilant and attuned to the signs of possible abuse, particularly in residential care environments. Some of the critical hallmarks for which to watch include:

  • Unexplained decline in hygiene
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bruising or scratches
  • Uncharacteristic agitation or aggressiveness
  • Withdrawal from personal relationships or favorite hobbies

It is especially important for loved ones to investigate the circumstances surrounding the appearance of one or more of the above symptoms, largely because nursing home residents may already be in the throes of mental or communicative decline and unable to express concerns for themselves. Anytime abuse is suspected, it is crucial that further inquiry be conducted as soon as possible, and the help of an experienced elder law attorney can often prove invaluable.

Unwavering advocacy for Louisiana’s seniors

If you believe that someone you love may have been victimized in a care facility, nursing home abuse attorney Bart Bernard stands ready to zealously assert your family’s rights, seek justice and pursue full accountability from those responsible. Whether by assisting in the filing of a complaint with the Health Standards Section of the Louisiana Department of Health or initiating a civil lawsuit against an unscrupulous nursing home operator, our firm is prepared to offer the aggressive advocacy the circumstances require. To discuss the facts of your case contact us today in Lafayette or in Baton Rouge.

Additional “nursing home neglect & abuse” resources

  1. CNN, Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes,
  2. Louisiana Department of Health, Complaints,
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Elder Abuse Prevention,
  4. National Council on Aging, Elder Abuse Facts,
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States, Data From the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2013-2014,

Who is Legally Responsible for a Defective Product?

December 28, 2016 Defective Devices 0 Comments

Red warning exclamation point signA person may not have reason to think about just how many products – both commercial and consumer – he or she comes into contact with each day or how these products may jeopardize personal safety if they fail. We are potentially in peril at any given moment and rely on the safety features of products to prevent danger; when these safety features fail or a product is designed improperly, the results can redefine the course of a victim’s life.

Part of the job of a product liability attorney is to determine who may be legally responsible for a defective product. There is not always a clear-cut answer. Including the correct parties in a product liability claim can make all the difference in receiving fair compensation for injuries. Bart Bernard helps injury victims answer these kinds of questions and has earned a track record of success as a result.

Negligence and defective products

Often overlooked everyday items lead to personal injury and property damage ranging from the most minor to tragically fatal. Consider in an average work day:

  • The coffee maker for the first morning cup of joe, which may cause extensive damage if it catches fire
  • Each of the automobiles on the road throughout the drive to work, which can cause serious injury to other drivers if the brakes fail
  • The office swivel chairs which can cause strains and sprains in the event of a collapse
  • The electrical charger that powers the personal cell phone and may cause burn injuries if it catches fire

The party legally responsible in each instance will depend on who was negligent.

At the center of most personal injury and property damage cases, from dog bites to product liability injuries, is the question of negligence. A party is negligent if it was under a duty to do or not do a thing, and by breaching that duty proximately caused the injury or damages. In a product liability case, the plaintiff needs to prove that a defendant was negligent and therefore must be able to point to what duty was breached.

Some of the possible scenarios in a product liability lawsuit:

  • The designer incorporated a safety flaw
  • The manufacturer used the wrong materials
  • The distributor improperly labeled the risks

Cost of defective products

When people are injured by products, the injuries can cause tremendous economic and emotional loss. One indicator is the disparity in personal injury awards by type of cause. According to the Insurance Information Institute, product liability claims top the personal injury jury verdict rankings substantially, with the median 2014 verdict at $3,000,000. For perspective, the next highest median verdict was medical malpractice, at $775,500, followed by business negligence at $226,667.

In order for product liability verdicts to be collectible, the plaintiff must include the proper parties and also ensure that the claims raised are thorough in order to trigger coverage by the defendants’ insurers.

At the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers, we know which questions to ask in order to find the answers that establish liability. We help victims achieve maximum compensation for their injuries. Call any time, day or night, for a free case consultation.

Product liability resources

  1. Bart Bernard, Product Liability Case Review, //product-liability/
  2. Insurance Information Institute, Product Liability,