Posts in Auto Accidents

Auto Accidents

3 Common Car Accident Injuries

February 16, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

car accident head injury victimMore than 3 million people are injured in U.S. vehicle accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Victims have been hospitalized for injuries at speeds as low as 5-10 miles per hour. The degrees and types of injuries sustained vary, but an estimated 10 percent of all motor vehicle accident victims become disabled for the long-term. Louisiana Car Accident Attorney Bart Bernard has seen all kinds of devastating injuries resulting from vehicle crashes. Here are three of the most common.

Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries

Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury where the body’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons are stretched due to sudden movements, causing strains, sprains, and tears. Rear-end collisions frequently lead to hyperextension and hyperflexion in the neck and back. More than “just a pain in the neck,” the worst cases lead to bone fractures, herniated discs, complete ligament ruptures, instability in the spine, and traumatic brain injury. Damage to surrounding nerves can trigger a host of adverse effects.

Most people will recover from whiplash within three months, but disability claims experts have found a third of all whiplash injuries persist longer than a year. The average auto insurer spends $2.7 billion a year on whiplash injuries.

Traumatic brain injury and other head injuries

One study found that 39 percent of people in motor vehicle crashes sustained head injuries, with nearly half of these injuries constituted as “severe.” Head injuries can be open lacerations or closed wounds with swelling inside the head. The worst head injuries are sustained when unbelted drivers and passengers are struck head-on, causing the head and face to hit the steering wheel, instrument panel, and glass. Passengers in side collisions also sustained serious head injuries when struck by the door panel.

Mild brain injuries occur with loss of consciousness and disorientation of 30 minutes or less. Scans appear normal, but victims frequently report cognitive problems like headaches, memory problems, attention deficit, and mood swings.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries occur when the brain is struck by an outside force, causing loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes, memory loss greater than 24 hours, and substantial impairment. These patients may encounter headaches, muscle spasms, sleep disturbances, blurry vision, higher cognitive function impairments, anxiety attacks, debilitating fatigue, abnormal burning sensations, and ringing in the ears. Some victims of TBI end up in unresponsive states for long periods of time.

Chest and internal organ injuries

While air bags and seat belts were designed to decrease chest injuries, they still occur with alarming frequency. One study reported that two-thirds of car accident victims suffered chest injuries, with just under half of these considered “severe.” In fact, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of blunt force trauma to the chest, responsible for up to 80 percent of all cases.

Blunt chest trauma ranges from bruising and minor soft tissue wounds to fatal pulmonary and cardiac damage. Chest injuries were most commonly reported by the drivers on the struck side of a vehicle. Fractured ribs or clavicles can puncture the lungs or essential veins. Multiple fractures of the ribs or sternum can result in an unstable chest wall, causing difficulty breathing. Accumulation of blood and inflammatory mediators can compress the heart, increasing pressure and reducing output. Most people with chest injuries heal within 4-6 weeks, but victims may be more susceptible to chest infections, or experience lifelong arrhythmias and pain symptoms.

Contact Baton Rouge and Lafayette car accident lawyer Bart Bernard within one year of a car accident to explore your full set of legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for hospital stays, rehabilitative costs, medications, surgeries, loss of income, disability, and pain and suffering.

Additional Vehicle Crash Injury Resources:

  1. NSW Government – Anatomy of a Crash,
  2. Traumatic Brain Injury – What Are The Effects of TBI,
  3. Back 2 Health Bellevue – Auto Injury Related Statistics,
  4. Modern Medicine – Trauma Nursing Blunt Chest Injuries,
  5. National Health System Patient Guide – Chest Injury,
  6. Alliance Insurance Group – Filing a Whiplash Claim,

5 Unusual Causes of Car Accidents

January 23, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Solar Eclipse. The moon moving in front of the sun. IllustrationDistracted driving and driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs are the top causes of car accidents. But even people who are teetotalers, and who strictly avoid distractions while behind the wheel, can end up in a ditch or worse. The following list proves that crashes may be attributed to virtually anything—from SpaceX rocket launches to apples.

1. The SpaceX rocket launch

In December 2017, SpaceX carried out its final, and successful, launch of the year by sending out a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Its payload was 10 communications satellites. The launch wrapped up an impressive year for SpaceX, and a few area drivers were so impressed by the rocket launch that they caused a multi-car wreck on the 10 Freeway in Banning, presumably because they were busy gawking at it. Thankfully, no one was killed in the accident.

2. The movements of celestial bodies

Everyone knows you’re not supposed to look at the eclipse unless you’re wearing those nifty eclipse viewing glasses. But some people can’t resist the temptation to self-inflict vision loss. After the eclipse of 2017, a woman in San Francisco blamed her car accident on temporary blindness caused by looking at the sliver of sun. A mother and her young daughter were crossing the street in front of the car, and were both struck. Fortunately, neither was killed, but the girl sustained a broken arm.

3. Little green Martians

The total eclipse and SpaceX rocket launches are objectively verifiable events. Even though insurance agents and police officers might not let those drivers slide, they at least had a concrete excuse for the crashes. Things get a little trickier when drivers try to convince their insurance companies that they weren’t at fault because the crash was caused by UFO sightings. Ghosts, apparitions, and other paranormal phenomena have also been blamed for car accidents.

4. Using your feet to stop a car

Even if The Flintstones was before your time, you’re undoubtedly familiar with this Stone Age-version of “Friends”. It even managed to convince some people that humans and dinosaurs co-existed during the same time period. So it might not be too surprising that it also apparently managed to convince at least one man that he had the capacity to stop a car with his feet.

The 24-year-old man was arrested near Detroit for the failed use of this unconventional braking technique. He’d found that his brakes weren’t working, but decided to drive his pickup anyway. When using his feet as a brake didn’t work, he drove into four other vehicles.

5. Apple chunks

Big rig accidents can be among the most deadly, but in one case, a crash saved a truck driver’s life. In 2011, a truck driver from Pennsylvania was munching on an apple while behind the wheel. He choked on an apple chunk and passed out. Unsurprisingly, the truck crashed through a concrete barrier, throwing the unconscious trucker against the steering wheel. Investigators found an apple chunk on the dashboard, and concluded that the crash performed its own version of the Heimlich maneuver.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has secured millions in jury awards and settlements for our clients, many of whom sustained injuries and property damage in car accidents in Rouge and Lafayette. Louisiana car accident lawyer Bart Bernard never charges a fee unless your case is successful. Call today to request your free case review.

Additional car accident resources

  1. Los Angeles Times, Dashcam video shows three-car crash as freeway drivers brake for SpaceX rocket launch,
  2. 10 News Tampa Bay, Idaho woman blames car crash on sasquatch,

Uber vs. Lyft: Which Is Better?

January 11, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

rideshare uber lyftWherever you’re headed in the Baton Rouge-Lafayette area, you now have increasing transportation options. Ridesharing service Lyft is expanding in Louisiana, offering families a more economical alternative to traditional taxis. Like its competitor Uber, which has been in Baton Rouge for nearly 3 years, Lyft lets you schedule (and pay) for a ride using an app on your computer or smart phone. Both Uber and Lyft apps let you know exactly where your driver is and what time they’ll be arriving. Simply plug in your destination, request a ride, and voila! The apps even let you rate and tip your driver accordingly.

Both Uber and Lyft employ “independent contractors” rather than employees, both charge more during high-demand periods and offer several tiers of service that come with certain privileges. If you’re wondering about quality of service, rates and availability, which is better: Uber or Lyft? Let’s take a look at some important factors.

Pricing is roughly the same

When it comes down to cost comparison, the general consensus is that both Uber and Lyft have similar pricing structures. Sure, an Uber ride may be cheaper in some cities, but there are numerous variables that influence your fare. It will all depend on what kind of vehicle your request, if traffic is heavy, and whether there’s a price surge for peak travel times. When ride share demand is heavy, both companies will raise their fees – Uber as much as 8 times the original rate. Some have argued that Uber raises their fares too much during peak times, giving Lyft a distinct advantage in the budget department.

How much does Lyft cost in New Orleans?

If you’re traveling around New Orleans, Lyft drivers operate under the following fee structure:

  • Base Fare: $1.25 – Cost Per Minute $0.18
  • Cost per mile: .96 cents
  • Cancel Penalty – $5 to $10

Lyft and Uber coverage areas in Louisiana

Uber has a global presence and a much more significant coverage area compared to Lyft, which is available in roughly 350 cities in the country. Although Lyft is gaining traction in Southern Louisiana, Uber has the upper hand when it comes to the sheer number of drivers throughout the state.  Uber also offers a larger range of vehicle types in many locations, such as UberXL and UberBlack.

Can Uber pick you up at MSY?

Can you use Uber at New Orleans airport? Yes, since 2014 travelers have been able to use UberBlack at the New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY). More recently, UberX has also been given permission to pick up and drop off travelers at MSY. Note that the New Orleans Aviation Board has levied a $4 per trip surcharge on all rides originating from MSY.

Can I hail Lyft at the New Orleans airport?

Yes, Lyft launched their service at the New Orleans airport in July of last year, providing some healthy competition for Uber. Both ride sharing services are substantially cheaper than airport cabs, costing roughly $33 from MSY to most parish locations.

Lyft and Uber safety concerns

While both ride sharing services have many similarities, Uber – statistically speaking– has had more safety incidents make headlines. From car accidents to violent driver assaults, these issues are somewhat rare, but still something to take into consideration when using Uber or Lyft to get around town.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a crash while riding passenger in an Uber or Lyft, reach out to Baton Rouge car accident lawyer Bart Bernard for a complimentary case review. Boasting decades of litigation experience in Southern Louisiana, Bart knows how to fight for maximum compensation and win! Call 1-888-GET-BART to protect your legal rights.

Additional “Lyft vs. Uber” Resources:

  1. The Advocate, Getting a Lyft in Baton Rouge starts Thursday as Uber ride booking rival enters the market
  2. Lyft, Lyft in Lafayette- How Lyft Works
  3. The Advocate, Statewide rules for Uber, Lyft in Louisiana clear first hurdle in Legislature

How to Choose the Right Roadside Service Plan

December 13, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Flat tires, overheated engines and other hassles are a part of life for most car owners at some point or another. Whether your battery died or your motor simply won’t start, it’s extremely helpful to have a plan for emergency roadside assistance. This type of coverage can be a true lifesaver, especially when you’re traveling alone at night or on unfamiliar terrain. While many of today’s brand-new vehicles are sold with built-in roadside assistance packages (free of charge), motorists with slightly older cars usually need to purchase this coverage.

Most roadside assistance plans offer a range of basic services for a set yearly fee, from jumping-starting a dead battery to vehicle towing and changing out a flat or disabled tire. But, before settling on AAA or another program, it’s important to read the fine print.

Some plans will cover you as a passenger or driver whether you’re operating your own vehicle or another’s. Other plans offer roadside assistance but only within a certain geographical range. If you plan on traveling outside of Louisiana often, it’s essential to ask questions like these, especially when it comes to towing distances.

Roadside assistance: general services offered

If your vehicle breaks down, won’t start, or is disabled, most roadside assistance plans will offer the following services:

  • Up to 60 minutes of mechanical labor at the site of breakdown
  • Locked out of car: locksmith service if car key is locked inside of car, stolen or misplaced
  • Towing service to the nearest auto repair location (within set perimeter)
  • Delivering a new battery, replacement tire, oil, spark plugs, fuel or other item necessary to get vehicle mobile again

Review & compare your roadside assistance options

Today’s motorists can purchase roadside assistance plans from auto clubs like Allstate’s Good Hands Roadside, AAA, in addition to their own insurance companies. One of the advantages of auto clubs is that the service networks tend to be larger, meaning quicker response times. However, you will still have to pay a yearly fee upfront, regardless if you use the plan. Insurance companies offer competitive rates on emergency roadside assistance coverage, but once you’ve used their service, you may notice an uptick in your yearly premiums.

Some factors to evaluate when comparing plans:

  • Cost – plans can range from $30 to more than $300 a year. Some offer extra benefits like discounts on hotel stays or vehicle rentals, while others may charge more to add on additional family members.
  • Towing policies – Ask about towing distances and policies. A basic plan may only tow up to ten miles to the nearest repair shop, while more expensive plans will tow within a 100-mile radius.
  • Service call limits – How many times can you utilize your benefits? Most plans limit motorists to four calls in a 12-month period, after which you may incur additional charges.
  • Network providers – Make sure you find a plan that has tow truck operators and repair shops in the regions where you are likely to be traveling. Some boast thousands of service providers nationwide, and even offer coverage in Mexico and Canada.
  • What vehicles are eligible? –  Most plans are limited to passenger vehicles, so check carefully if you want to purchase coverage for a motorcycle, trailer or RV.
  • Extra Benefits –Look for extra benefits included in the coverage. Some offer trip interruption insurance, discounts on vehicle repairs, free maps and other trip planning devices.
  • Online reviews –  Check out the Better Business Bureau to see what other motorists are saying about the plan, and whether any complaints have been filed.

Vehicle breakdowns, like auto accidents, are unforeseen events that can be incredibly stressful and frightening. In some cases, vehicle breakdowns on busy freeways have led to secondary crashes and serious personal injury.

Louisiana car accident attorney Bart Bernard offers sound advocacy for motorists who have been hurt through no fault of their own. Request a free case evaluation by calling our Lafayette or Baton Rouge offices at 1-888-GET-BART.

Additional Resources on Roadside Assistance:

  1. StateFarm, Emergency Road Service Coverage
  2. Angie’s List, Choosing a roadside assistance provider
  3. Popular Mechanics, How to Choose (and Use) a Roadside-Assistance Plan

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,

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

August 17, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

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

1. Remove yourself and your car from any danger

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

2. Stay at the scene

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

3. Call an ambulance if needed

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

4. Call the police

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

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

5. Put your hazard lights on

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

6. Exchange information with any other drivers

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

7. Take pictures of the scene

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

8. Take notes on what happened

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

9. Talk to witnesses and get their contact information

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

10. See your doctor

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

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

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

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

More Info on What to Do After a Car Accident:

  1. Araujo, Mila. “I Had a Car Accident – Now What? Steps to Take After a Crash.” The Balance, January 31, 2017.
  2. “What to Do After a Car Accident: 10 Steps to Reduce Your Risks.” Consumer Reports, November 2015.

The Four Most Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Louisiana

August 10, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

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

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

Most common causes of fatal car accidents in Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Louisiana as compared to other states

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

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

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

An experienced auto accident attorney in Baton Rouge and Lafayette

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

More data on fatal car accidents in Louisiana:

  1. Lake, Rebecca. “Car Accident Statistics: 23 Facts and Fatal Trends.” CreditDonkey, May 30, 2015.
  2. Speiser, Matthew. “This Map Shows What Causes the Most Fatal Car Crashes in Each US State.” Business Insider, May 28, 2015.
  3. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts, Louisiana, 2011-2015.