Posts in Auto Accidents

Auto Accidents

Can the Insurance Company Force You to Total Your Car?

January 10, 2019 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Car That Has Been In A Front End Collision.You were in a car accident and your vehicle suffered significant damage – now what? Do you take it to the body shop for repairs or consider buying a new car?

In most accident situations, this decision is left up to your insurance provider. If the vehicle damage is extensive, the insurance company may “total” your vehicle. In layman’s terms, this means the cost of repairs are more than the value of the vehicle. In cases like these, the insurance adjustor will write it off as a total loss.

How do insurers calculate total loss?

For example, let’s say you wrecked a 15-year-old Honda Accord. Your insurance company may decide the car is a total loss, even if it is still technically functional, because the car’s value is already so low, and the cost of repairs would be expensive.

In the state of Louisiana, a truck or automobile that has suffered damages equivalent to 75% or more of the current market value is declared a “total loss.” This market value is established by the most recent edition of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Handbook.

If the insurer declares your car totaled, it should pay you the vehicle’s cash value, less your deductible. In most cases, the car is then taken to a salvage yard where it will be sold for parts.

It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to look to other valuation sources when placing a monetary figure on a total loss claim. For this reason, it’s important to know what your car is worth according to the NADA handbook and speak to a reputable car accident attorney about your claim.

What to do when insurance totals your car

Insurance companies seemingly hold the power in these situations, but you are able to dispute a total loss claim if you feel the adjustor has undervalued the worth of your vehicle. It is possible to negotiate a total loss settlement with the aid of an experienced lawyer. If you have valid reason to question the settlement that is proposed, your policy may allow you to hire an independent appraiser who can provide a second opinion.

If you and the insurer fail to agree on the assessment of the vehicle, that doesn’t necessarily mean a lawsuit, but it may entail more aggressive negotiations or arbitration.

In addition, Louisiana places time limits on paying out total loss claims. If the insurance company fails to pay the agreed upon settlement within 30 calendar days, they may face attorney’s fees and penalties.

How a car accident lawyer can help

Securing a fair settlement for your car accident claim in Louisiana is not without its challenges. In accidents involving significant damage or personal injury, it pays to retain a skilled car accident attorney who can ensure your rights are fully protected. If your insurance totaled your car and you feel taken advantage of, reach out to the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers today.

Representing clients throughout Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Acadiana, Baton Rouge car accident lawyer Bart Bernard stands ready to help you fight for the money you deserve.  Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™ — call today to arrange a free consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. Auto Trader, Crash Course for Coping With a Totaled Car
  2. The Balance, What to Do After a Total Loss Auto Accident?

Calculating Vehicle Damage After an Accident

January 7, 2019 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

traffic fatalitiesHow do you calculate the dollar amount of damage to your car after an accident?

The first step is to get an estimate from a car repair shop. Be sure to check and see if your repair company is covered by your insurance, since not all insurance companies work with all repair shops. Get an estimate before you take it in for repairs.

Be sure to save all the bills from the repair company you take the car to. If the car needs to be serviced in more than one shop, make sure you retain the bills from each location. Any costs related to the damage, such as paying to have it towed, should be included.

Diminished Value

There are times when the vehicle damage calculation becomes a bit complicated. That’s because vehicles that have been in accidents have “diminished value.”

Diminished value refers to the fact that, even though a car has been completely repaired, it doesn’t retain the same value as a car that has never been in an accident. Even if there is no visible or structural damage, many buyers will consider a car that has been damaged in a collision structurally weaker and less sound than one that has never been in an accident.

As a result, buyers usually are not willing to pay as much for a car that’s been in an accident as they are for one that’s accident-free. Your car’s value, therefore, has been diminished by the fact of the accident. Many of the reports that used car buyers look at, such as Carfax and similar services, will reveal whether a car has been involved in an accident, including the date.

Either the insurance company or the party responsible for the accident should compensate you for the diminished value of your car.

What if Your Car Is a Total Loss?

If a car would cost more to repair than it would be worth at resale (using a reputable site like Kelley Blue Book or Edwards), the insurance company will likely declare it a total loss, no matter the amount of damage.

In other words, a total loss depends as much on the value of your car as on the nature and extent of the damage to it. If the value of the car is less than the repair cost, a total loss could be declared even if the damage doesn’t look that bad to observers.

Call a Respected Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a crash, call seasoned Baton Rouge and Lafayette car accident lawyer Bart Bernard today. Your initial consultation with Bart will cost you nothing, and you owe no fees unless we win your case. Call today, and Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™!

Additional Resources:

  1. Araujo, Mila. Diminished Value After a Car Accident: Will Your Car Insurance Pay? The Balance. October 25, 2018.
  2. Accident Guide in Louisiana.
  3. Kelley Blue Book.

How to Stay Safe on the Roads on New Year’s Eve

December 27, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Blue flasher on the police car at night.The holiday season is cause for celebration, and New Year’s Eve festivities are right around the corner. No matter how you plan on ringing in the New Year, one thing remains certain – December 31st is one of the most dangerous nights to be on the road (for motorists and pedestrians alike). Whether you’re driving to a friend’s party or hitting your favorite club, motorists can expect to see an increased presence of police check points thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Drive Sober campaign.

It goes without saying that you should never drink and drive or operate a vehicle while impaired. Even if you have a designated driver or take taxis, you’re likely to come across impaired revelers behind the wheel this New Year’s Eve. According to the NHTSA, drunk driving accidents claimed almost 11,000 lives last year in the U.S., and December is one of the deadliest months of all.  Some 885 people lost their lives in crashes involving a drunk driver last December.

Tips for road safety this holiday season

So how can you stay safe on the roads this New Year’s Eve? The NHTSA offers these practical tips.

  • Designate a sober driver – One of the best ways to enjoy the evening’s celebrations is by asking a friend or family member – or a companion who is not drinking – to drive you back home safely. With a sober, alert driver at the wheel, there are fewer chances of being hurt in an alcohol-related accident
  • Always buckle up – Using a seat belt is one of the best defenses to keeping you safe in the event of an accident with an impaired driver.
  • Use public transportation – Trains, taxis and buses are an excellent option for getting around town safely. If public transport isn’t available, consider using a ride hailing service instead.
  • Download the SaferRide mobile app — Before heading out for the night, you can download a free SaferRide app, provided by the NHTSA. The app is available on Android and Apple smart phones and lets you share your location and arrange a sober driver to pick you up.
  • Stay distraction free – Alcohol and drugs aren’t the only concern on New Year’s Eve. Stay alert for distracted drivers and call 911 if you see a motorist who driving erratically or seems impaired.
  • Prepare to stay overnight – If you indulged in one too many drinks, it’s better to stay off the roads completely. This could mean getting a hotel room or staying at a friends’ house. The app Hotel Tonight (available on iOS and Android) finds cheap, last-minute deals on nearby hotels and lets you book them on the spot.

Even if you refrain from drinking, that doesn’t mean the streets are safe. If at all possible, try and avoid being on the roads after 9 PM, and if you must be, plan well in advance.

Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™

On behalf of the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers, we hope you have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve with friends, loved ones and family.  By taking a few precautions, you can help ensure your celebrations aren’t marred by tragedy.  In the event of an accident, it’s important to take swift action to protect your legal rights.

For years, Louisiana residents have relied on the dedication and results offered by car accident lawyer Bart Bernard. To arrange a free case evaluation, call us today.

Our injury attorneys represent victims in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Acadiana and all Louisiana.

Additional Resources:

  1. NHTSA, NHTSA Reminds Motorists to Drive Sober this Holiday Season
  2. Northwestern Medicine, 5 Tips for New Year’s Eve Safety

How Crash Reconstruction Works After an Accident

December 17, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Have you ever wondered how law enforcement determines the cause of a car accident if everyone in the vehicle has died? What if the people in the crash survive, but don’t remember or didn’t see what happened? What if there is a dispute among the witnesses about what happened? When all the facts of an accident are disputed or unknown, car accident reconstruction teams are an excellent resource to help investigators reveal liability for the crash and determine who should be held responsible for the injuries sustained by the victims.

Car Accident Reconstruction Team Methodology

Crash reconstruction is very similar to the work of forensics experts at a crime scene. Many areas throughout the country have accident reconstruction professionals that work as a division of local law enforcement. Teams consist of specialists such as forensic engineers, mathematicians, mechanics, physicists, computer graphics specialists, and photographers.

Crash reconstruction teams utilize scientific methodology to determine the cause of a car accident. The scene of the crash usually reveals the first clues. For example, skid marks can help determine speed and reveal which drivers applied their breaks and when, and who perhaps had the last chance to avoid the accident. Damage to the vehicles, including point of impact and broken glass help uncover the angle of impact. Medical reports from the victims are also useful to the team in their evaluation of the angle and magnitude of the impact. Traffic light functioning, the time of day, road conditions, and weather reports all factor into the team’s simulations and conclusions.

How Attorneys Work with Crash Reconstruction Experts

While crash reconstruction teams are frequently used when the facts are unknown, they are also utilized when the facts are in dispute.

It is very common for each of the drivers involved to give very different versions of the same accident. Passenger and witness reports may also be in conflict. The report of the crash reconstruction professionals can help resolve the drivers’ inconsistent stories and reveal the truth of what happened. This evidence can be very persuasive to an insurance adjuster seeking to settle to a claim as well as to a jury deciding the battle in court.

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, Bart Bernard works with the best reconstruction investigators to get to the truth behind the crash and gather convincing evidence for your case.

Speak with Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Bart Bernard

Bart Bernard is one Louisiana’s leading car accident attorneys. Our legal team includes top investigators including crash reconstructionists who work together to build your best case. Our offices our conveniently located in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana, consultations are always free, and there is a never a fee for our services unless we collect compensation on your behalf. Call today and Get it Done Right™ with Bart Bernard.

  1. Kinkle, Fredrick. “The wreckage speaks: A crash reconstruction team tells stories that victims can’t.” The Washington Post. February 27, 2018.
  2. Weiss, Kurt D. “Auto accident reconstruction: The basics you must know.” Plaintiff. November 2007.

Roadway Fatalities Down in 2017

December 11, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

traffic highway

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, recently announced that total roadway fatalities across the country dropped in 2017. The news is especially significant because both 2015 and 2016 witnessed significant rises in the number of people killed across the U.S. in accidents on the road, of 6.5% and 8.4%, respectively.

Preliminary figures for the first half of 2018 seem to indicate that the trend of decreasing fatalities was continuing into this year.

Altogether, 37,133 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, according to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Other data collected by the NHTSA was mixed. The data on pedestrian deaths was encouraging, as they too fell nearly 2% — the first time the numbers had fallen in four years. But the number of fatal crashes involving combination trucks climbed 5.8%.

More deaths occurred in urban settings than in rural ones throughout the nation, for the second consecutive year.

Speeding, Distracted Driving, and Alcohol Cited as Causes

Despite the drop year over year, the fact that more than 37,000 people lost their lives to crashes that were likely preventable is still cause for concern.

The NHTSA cited the top three dangers in vehicle accidents as being driving too fast for road conditions or over the speed limit, distracted driving, and driving under the influence (DUI).

In addition, the agency noted that driving while impaired by drugs was an emerging risk factor.

Drive Safely This Holiday Season

The lessons from the data are clear. When you drive, obey the speed limit and drive at a safe speed for road conditions. Don’t drive while distracted – which means no texting, e-mailing, playing online games, or even gazing off the road. Your eyes need to be on the road at all times to drive safely. If you have been drinking, don’t drive! Call a friend, family member, or ride service or designate a driver at social events. The same goes for drug use; never indulge and drive. Call a friend, family member, or ride service to get you.

Speak with Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Bart Bernard

If you or a loved one has been in a motor vehicle accident in Louisiana, call the experienced car accident attorneys at the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers. We have offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We will be happy to review your case.

Our initial consultation is free, so call today! Get it Done Right™ with Bart.

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Fact Research Note. 2017 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview. October 2018.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. DOT Announces 2017 Roadway Fatalities Down. October 3, 2018.

Drunk Driving in Louisiana: A Growing Epidemic?

November 30, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Driving while impaired by alcohol caused roughly 10,497 fatalities nationwide in 2016, according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But data collected by Louisiana officials indicate that there were 333 deaths in our state caused by alcohol impairment that same year. (The figures are collected by the Louisiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Crash Dashboard.)

That’s a shocking percentage: nearly 32% of the total deaths from driving while alcohol-impaired in the U.S. come from Louisiana. The rate of deaths per 100,000 is 3.3 nationally, but it’s much higher in Louisiana at 5.2.

The national group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), rates all states for its laws concerning drinking and driving. In 2016, Louisiana received a 2.5 rating out of a possible 5. Mississippi, by contrast, scored 4.5 out of 5. Only 19% of Mississippi’s total traffic deaths stem from drunk driving. But 30% of Louisiana’s do.

Have drunk driving deaths in Louisiana risen to epidemic proportions?

Prevention Is Key

The sad fact is that drunk driving deaths and accidents in Louisiana and through the country are preventable. We need to encourage all residents of Louisiana not to drink and drive.

In Louisiana,  it is illegal for drivers 21 years of age and older to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.02 or above. Many law enforcement officials, though, believe the laws should be stricter. They see the carnage on our roads from drunk driving every day.

Our state also has an implied consent in which anyone with a Louisiana driver’s license has implicitly agreed to a test if law enforcement has reasonable cause to believe that the driver may have been drinking or using illegal substances. The test can be of breath, blood, or urine. If  you violate the implied consent law – that is, refuse to be tested – your driver’s license may be suspended for one year.

If you are convicted of a first offense, you may be fined up to $1,000 (plus any court costs), sentenced to jail for a term between 10 days and 6 months, and possibly have an ignition interlock device (IID) placed in your vehicle. Your driving privileges may also be suspended for 90 days.

Penalties and fines go up for second and third offenses.

Do You Need a DUI Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge or Lafayette?

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver, choose a DUI accident lawyer Baton Rouge and Lafayette trust to fight for maximum compensation. For your convenience, Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Our initial consultation is free and there are no legal fees unless we win your case.

Additional Resources:

  1. Eldridge, Haylee. Louisiana searches for solution to drunk driving epidemic. The Daily Reveille. July 13, 2018.
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Louisiana.

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,