Posts by Dawn Snyder

When To Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge

November 26, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Car That Has Been In A Front End Collision.

The minutes, hours, days, and even weeks after a car accident can raise unexpected questions that require informed decision-making. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible is the surest way to guard your rights in those times when you have more pressing matters to take care of.

Do you need a car accident lawyer?

Most people believe that if they just go to court and tell the truth, everything will work out for them. While it is important to tell the truth, personal injury litigation – including the information-gathering and negotiating that can take place long before a lawsuit is filed – is an adversarial process. Each side is working to position its claims, and this process can be intimidating for non-lawyers.

An attorney can help you through both that initial pre-litigation stage, and if necessary, through to trial, helping you understand:

  • The value of the case, based on severity of the accident and resulting injuries;
  • The fairness of settlement offers;
  • The process, and commitment involved, in taking a case all the way to trial; and
  • Legal and factual issues that can complicate the case, like when the other driver was on the job, uninsured, or driving a government vehicle, or when you had a pre-existing condition aggravated in the accident.

Once familiar with the pre-litigation and litigation process, it is easy to understand why parties who are represented by lawyers receive greater compensation than those who represent themselves.

How soon should I hire an attorney?

When it comes to retaining legal counsel after an accident, the sooner the better. Insurance companies get to work as soon as they receive notice of the accident, so within days, you may receive calls offering a low-ball settlement. In other words, the process can take off very quickly.

In Louisiana, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is one year but it is not wise to wait that long to seek legal advice. By retaining a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident, you can:

  • Stop opposing counsel or insurance agents from contacting you; they must instead contact your attorney;
  • Allow your attorney to speak on your behalf, preventing mistakes like an apology made out of politeness that is later used to show fault;
  • Receive assistance in actively preserving documentation and other evidence to build your case; and
  • Ensure all costs and expenses accounted for so you receive full compensation.

Speak with a car accident lawyer in Baton Rouge

When you or a loved one needs the assurance that comes from putting your trust in an experienced and dedicated car accident lawyer in Baton Rouge, call the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers. With offices in Lafayette and Acadiana, we are committed to meeting you where you need us.

Initial consultations are always free, and we never take a fee unless we win money on your behalf. Call today to find out how we can help you pursue your legal options.

Additional Louisiana car accident resources:

  1. Justia, 2011 Louisiana Laws Civil Code CC 3492 Delictual actions,

Halloween Safety Tips for Parents

October 17, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Little children in Halloween costumes trick or treatingAs fall weather finally begins to settle into Louisiana, children and adults alike are preparing their costumes and decorations for Halloween. As you gear up for Halloween, keep in mind some often-overlooked risks and consider taking a few important safety precautions.

Halloween risks

Halloween is the only time of the year when parents are likely to dress their children in dark clothing and send them out in the neighborhood after dark, often unaccompanied. Accident statistics show that this puts children at risk for accidents, especially accidents involving cars.

Some of the factors that can lead to danger include:

  • Ill-fitting costumes and masks that obstruct a child’s vision
  • Dark-colored clothing
  • Trick-or-treating during evening hours, with low visibility
  • More than 10% of parents allow children age 5 or younger to trick-or-treat alone

Halloween pedestrian accident statistics

An often-cited statistic is that children are twice as likely to die in a pedestrian crash on Halloween than at other times of the year. However, a historic study released by the CDC puts the risk much higher – children are four times as likely to die in a pedestrian crash on Halloween – while its editorial notes explain that the results likely underestimate the true risk.

The CDC study analyzed FARS data from 1975-1996 and found that during that time period, from 4 p.m to 10 p.m. on October 31st, there were a total of 89 deaths of pedestrians ages 5-14, for an average of four deaths per Halloween evening. There were a total of 8846 deaths for all other evenings, averaging one death per evening. However, the risk could actually be higher because:

  • FARS data only counts on-road accidents, and does not include likely Halloween accident sites like driveways
  • Many communities hold trick or treat festivities on days other than October 31
  • Some Halloween festivities occur after 10 p.m.

Prevent pedestrian accidents on Halloween

If you are a parent, take the precautions to help kids stay safe:

  • Choose face paint instead of a mask, which can limit vision
  • Put reflective tape on costumes and treat bags
  • Equip kids with flashlights loaded with fresh batteries
  • Accompany kids under the age of 12
  • Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street
  • Remain on sidewalks and if there is none, then walk facing traffic on the farthest edge of the road

If you will be driving on Halloween or another night when there may be trick or treating:

  • Keep watch for children crossing the street and even in driveways
  • Do not assume that once a child has crossed the street it is safe to go; there may be another child or group following
  • Drive slowly and anticipate kids acting unexpectedly
  • Eliminate distractions

Get help from a Baton Rouge pedestrian accident lawyer

Halloween can and should be safe fun for the whole family. In the tragic case of an accident, you need a skillful and compassionate advocate. Baton Rouge and Lafayette car accident attorney Bart Bernard understands the emotional and financial impact that a pedestrian accident can have on victims and their families. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, call today for a free consultation. Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™!

Additional Halloween safety resources:

  1. National Safety Council, Halloween Safety On and Off the Road,
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics, Halloween SafetyTips from the American Academy of Pediatrics,
  3. Centers for Disease Control, Childhood Pedestrian Deaths During Halloween — United States, 1975-1996,

Court Recognizes Need to Preserve Mesh Evidence for Trial

June 25, 2018 Defective Devices 0 Comments

surgical mesh

In the ongoing Ethicon Physiomesh hernia mesh litigation in Georgia, the court has entered an order directing that surgical evidence including mesh material and plaintiff tissue be saved for lawsuit purposes. The May 28, 2018, order can affect hundreds of plaintiffs with pending claims against Ethicon in the litigation.

Duty to preserve evidence in hernia mesh litigation

Even without a court order, both before and during lawsuits, parties generally have the duty to preserve items or documents that reasonably could be used as evidence. What makes this type of order different is that it affects non-parties.

When Ethicon claimants have vaginal mesh material removed, the hospitals are not typically parties to the case and they follow their own procedures on discarding medical waste. However, the Georgia Ethicon multi district litigation (or “MDL”) order allows lawsuit participants to direct the hospital to preserve related materials as evidence.

This is not the first time a court has ordered the preservation of mesh evidence. For example, in 2014, the West Virginia Ethicon MDL over transvaginal mesh injuries, Judge Joseph Goodwin ordered that tissues and other surgical materials including anything purported to be mesh or bodily tissue excised from the site. The order instructs hospitals to refrain from destroying the materials and instead to turn it over for preservation as evidence.

MDL orders affect Louisiana mesh plaintiffs

Hernia mesh lawsuits follow the pattern that many dangerous drug lawsuits follow. Rather than be litigated as class-action lawsuits, where one class representative litigates the case on behalf of the rest of the class of affected individuals, individual lawsuits are combined in multi-district litigation, or MDL.

In MDL, cases from across the country can be transferred to another jurisdiction for administration. So an order in the Georgia MDL can be binding on Louisiana plaintiffs who file mesh lawsuits that have been assigned to that MDL.

Thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits are ongoing

Over 3,000 hernia mesh lawsuits have been across the country filed alleging physical problems like adhesions, infection, pain, fever, intestinal blockage, and mesh migration. More than 1,300 of the lawsuits have been combined in MDL and are still early in the litigation process. The first hernia mesh MDL lawsuits are expected to go to trial in 2019.

Help for mesh victims in Louisiana

Unfortunately, when it comes to defective medical products, the injuries are often not immediately apparent but laws limit how long those who are injured have to file a lawsuit. If you believe you have experienced complications because of a pelvic mesh implant, there is no time to waste but we are here to help.

Attorney Bart Bernard is committed to helping people in Louisiana by holding dangerous medical device manufacturers accountable. Call today to schedule a consultation in Lafayette or Baton Rouge to discuss whether filing a hernia mesh lawsuit is right for you.

Additional hernia mesh lawsuit resources:

  1. United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, In RE: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation,
  2. United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, MDL 2327 Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation,

How Does Bad Weather Affect Slip and Fall Liability?

April 11, 2018 Slip And Fall Injuries 0 Comments

Heavy rain in the city. Rain droplets on the staircase during downpour.

Louisiana individuals and property owners alike may be unfamiliar with their rights and responsibilities when it comes to slips and falls in bad weather. As we continue through a season of uncharacteristically severe weather, it may be helpful to review the effect that rain and other potentially hazardous weather can have on slip and fall liability.

Slip and fall liability of property owners and occupiers

Bad weather or not, businesses and individuals in control of property – whether as an owner, a tenant, or even a maintenance or management company – have the responsibility to take steps to protect those who enter the premises. They must act reasonably and, when they know of dangers, must either remove the hazards or warn visitors that they are there.

In extreme winter weather, this duty remains. But it is not just outdoor hazards to be on the watch for. For example, when rain and slush get tracked inside, it can create slick floor surfaces. Property owners and managers need to address these indoor potential threats as well.

Responsibility of individuals

Individuals also have a duty. It is a general duty to be careful while doing whatever it is they do. This means that whether jogging down the road or shopping in a grocery store, people need to watch where they are going, taking heed of warnings of danger. Louisiana follows a rule of comparative negligence, which means a plaintiff’s personal injury award can be reduced in proportion to his or her own degree of fault.

Not all bad weather hazards have warnings, though. Black ice, for example, is more or less invisible, so it can be difficult to avoid. It is important to be on the lookout for these bad weather dangers, but when they cannot be avoided, it is time to take a closer look at whether someone who controlled the property may be liable.

Talk with slip and fall lawyer Bart Bernard

Like other slip and fall injuries, bad weather injuries may be preventable as long as proper precautions are taken. This duty remains even though bad weather is a more rare occurrence.

If you or a loved one has been injured, speak with Bart Bernard, a slip and fall lawyer Baton Rouge and Lafayette, LA put their trust in to fight all the way down the line for injury victims. Bart works tirelessly to investigate your case and collect the hard evidence needed to prove fault. Protect your rights to full and fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more!  Call today to set up a free confidential consultation.

Additional bad weather slip and fall resources:

  1. United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Winter Weather Hazards/Precautions,
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Important Facts about Falls,

Why 18-Wheelers Are So Dangerous

March 29, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Driving down the freeway near an 18-wheeler can make anyone feel a little nervous and the uneasy feeling is not unfounded. There are more than a quarter of a million crashes involving semi trucks and passenger vehicles annually and it is the occupants of the smaller vehicles that typically bear the brunt of the collision — sometimes suffering catastrophic injuries.

Passenger cars outnumber semi trucks on the road but more than one out of every ten traffic fatalities involves a commercial truck. Given the size difference between commercial trucks like semi tractor-trailers and passenger cars and trucks, it is no surprise that the smaller vehicles are at a disadvantage in a crash.

Here are some of the factors that make 18-wheelers a danger on the roads.

Factors that make 18-wheelers dangerous

It is hard to overlook the size disparity between semi trucks and passenger vehicles. It is this size differential that plays a major role in the typical semi accident.

The maximum-weight 18 wheeler weighs more than four times the average passenger car and can easily be three times as long with a single trailer or much longer with a double trailer. This affects:

  • Stopping distance: A semi truck requires more time and distance to accelerate or stop. It can take an 18-wheeler up to 600 feet to stop completely.
  • Length: The longer length of 18 wheelers compared to small cars presents issues when cars attempt to pass because no matter how many mirrors the truck has, its driver will have blind spots. Blind spots lead to many of the accidents involving large trucks.
  • Center of gravity: The high center of gravity on the tractor-trailers makes them less stable and more difficult to maneuver.

These characteristics are related to some of the more prevalent causes of semi truck accidents. They can lead to:

  • Jackknife accidents: The swivel point connecting the tractor to the trailer can lead to a jackknife due to the braking pattern, load distribution, or some other factor where the driver loses control.
  • Rollovers: Rollovers can have several causes, including when the front wheels turn more quickly than the rear containing the cargo. They are more common when the load is full and the truck is speeding.

Many 18-wheeler crashes can be prevented through careful actions. By avoiding improper loading of cargo, staying up-to-date on truck maintenance, diligently taking care of mechanical issues, and preventing driver fatigue, the effects of the truck size can minimized.

Legal advocacy in Baton Rouge and Lafayette

Lawsuits involving commercial truck accidents can be very specialized, calling into question scientific theories over how the accident occurred; liability of individuals and businesses who owned, leased, or loaded the truck; and even the scope and extend of injuries suffered. It is crucial to have a lawyer like Bart Bernard, who has already helped many victims of serious accidents secure the compensation they deserve.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a crash with a semi truck, be sure to speak with an 18 wheeler accident lawyer in Louisiana. Bart Bernard has offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana; call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Additional 18-wheeler accident resources:

  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Large Truck and Bus Crush Facts,
  2. Nationwide, How to Share the Road with Semi Trucks,


What Parents Must Know About the Dangers of Escalators

March 9, 2018 Slip And Fall Injuries 0 Comments

escalator Escalators are a regular sight at family-friendly locations like shopping malls and museums, so a significant portion of the riders of the estimated 90 billion annual rides are children. Though there are more elevators than escalators in the United States, escalator injuries are about 15 times more common and young children are the most likely to be injured by them. Understanding the causes can help parents be prepared to keep their kids safe.

How escalator injuries happen

When it comes to escalators, to say that there are a lot of moving parts is more than just a figure of speech. Potential points of failure include:

  • Steps
  • Handrails
  • Comb plates
  • Belts
  • Screws and other fasteners

When any of these parts is broken, defective, poorly maintained, or improperly installed or adjusted, it opens up the possibility of injury. The most commonly-reported ways these happen include:

  • Slipping or tripping
  • Falling, including over the side rail
  • Entanglement due to motorization

Children are among most likely escalator injury victims

Children are particularly vulnerable to entrapment accidents, where the moving parts of the escalator trap a piece of clothing or body part. Of the 10,000 annual escalator injuries in this country, most are to children under the age of 12 or seniors over 65.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, falls account for 75% of the injuries while entrapment between the escalator sidewall and the top or bottom of the escalator or its moving stair makes up about 20%. About half of these entrapment type accidents injure children under the age of 5.

Avoiding escalator injuries

Children’s escalator injuries are most often attributable to something getting caught between the stair and sidewall or in the comb plate at the bottom or top of the escalator. Small hands and footwear are among the common hazards.

When riding with small children, remember the following:

  • Make sure shoes are tied before riding
  • Stand in the middle of the escalator stair and do not let children ride too close to the side
  • Hold the rail with one hand and firmly hold the child or the child’s hand with the other
  • Tuck away any loose clothing or dangling accessories
  • Do not allow children to ride while sitting
  • Step over the comb plate rather than riding into it

If an injury does occur, seek medical help. As soon as possible, also try to take some photos of where the accident happened and obtain the contact information for witnesses.

What happens if you are injured on an escalator?

An escalator injury can result in physical pain, emotional suffering, and mounting medical bills. Louisiana slip and fall lawyer Bart Bernard is dedicated to helping personal injury victims recover from these losses by holding property owners accountable. Call today to schedule a free consultation in our Baton Rouge or Lafayette offices.

Additional Escalator Injuries Resources:

  1. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health,
  2. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Know the Steps to Safety When Using Escalators, Some shoes more likely than others to pose risk,
  3. Schindler, Escalator Tips,

4 Insurance Company Tricks Not to Fall for After a Car Accident

December 11, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Man photographing his vehicle damages for accident insurance

A car accident causes many stresses – car repairs, medical bills, physical recovery, and more. Louisiana requires drivers to have liability insurance to guarantee injured victims have the resources to meet these challenges. Unfortunately, the same insurance companies often resort to common tricks in an attempt to save money.

Louisiana statutes require that insurers settle their policy holders’ claims fairly. But if you are making a claim against the policy of another driver, you are considered a “third-party claimant” and the statutory duties do not apply to you. Here are some tricks to watch out for during your insurance claim process.

1. Demand a recorded statement

The insurance adjuster will likely tell you that you must participate in a recorded conversation or give a recorded statement. If you were making a claim under your own policy, this may be true but as a third party claimant, it is not; you have the right to refuse. Better yet, if you retain an attorney then you can instruct the insurance company to direct all communication through him or her.

2. Request an authorization for medical records

Your medical records are confidential and protected until you sign a release. It is true that at some point in the process, you may need to give the insurance company the authority to review these – but it is not always necessary. They are looking for ways to minimize your claim, such as by painting your injury as a preexisting condition. Speak with a lawyer before granting this kind of access so that you have a better opportunity to control how and how much private information is shared.

3. Rush a settlement

A claim settlement will include a release agreement which will state that the settlement is final and that the claimant cannot bring any other claims related to the incident. If the insurance adjuster can coax you into accepting a rushed settlement, perhaps with the assurance that you will be able to pay your medical bills as soon as possible and have a few bucks left over for yourself, they will also ensure that you sign away the right to pursue any other claim you might have, even if you do not know about it yet (like a future medical treatment). Always consult with counsel before signing an agreement, because you may be forever giving up crucial rights.

4. Insist that you do not need a lawyer

The insurance adjusters know that when a lawyer is involved, they will pay more on the claim. The adjuster will often tell you that if you retain a lawyer, you will simply have to share your settlement so why bother? In reality, studies show that claimants represented by counsel recover a greater settlement and the difference more than makes up for any legal fee. Do not help the insurance company by giving up your right to representation.

Speak with a Louisiana accident lawyer

If you have been injured in an accident, call a Louisiana car accident lawyer before falling for any of the insurance company’s tricks. Bart Bernard is dedicated to holding big businesses and negligent individuals accountable. He has offices in both Lafayette and Baton Rouge for your convenience and all representation is offered on a contingency basis, so you never pay a fee unless we win money for you.

Additional LA Insurance Settlement Resources:

  1. Louisiana Department of Insurance, Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance,
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, RS 22:1892 Payment and adjustment of claims, policies other than life and health and accident; personal vehicle damage claims; extension of time to respond to claims during emergency or disaster; penalties; arson-related claims suspension,
  3. Louisiana State Legislature, RS 22:1973 Good faith duty; claims settlement practices; cause of action; penalties,