Bart Bernard Law Firm Blog

Bart Bernard Law Firm Blog

5 Ways a Car Accident Can Change Your Life

January 14, 2019 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Every year, roughly 2 million people are injured as a result of collisions in a motor vehicle. In 2017, the

Standard manual wheelchair standing in empty hospital corridor

Every year, roughly 2 million people are injured as a result of collisions in a motor vehicle. In 2017, the latest year for which figures are available, an estimated 40,100 people were killed in car accidents.

If you’re in a car accident, it can change your life in multiple ways, from everyday annoyances to lasting physical pain and disability to emotional damage. Here are some of the ways in which a car accident can change your life.

1. You will need transportation

If your car is damaged, it will have to be repaired. If the damage is large enough, the car may be a total loss (cost more to repair than it is worth). You may then need to get a new car. While it is being repaired, or while you look, you will need other transportation.

2. Your insurance premiums are likely to rise

If you’ve been in a car accident, whether you were at fault or not, your insurance premiums are likely to go up. You will be paying more for insurance.

3. You or a loved one may be injured

More seriously, either you or a loved one may be injured. Car accident injuries can range from cuts and bruises that heal fairly quickly to serious trauma, such as broken limbs, head injuries, or even spinal cord injuries, which can cause lasting problems with mobility and paralysis. You may be dealing with doctors and other medical personnel, hospitals, physical therapy, and more as a result of the injuries.

Injuries can leave lasting emotional scars as well as physical ones. You also may be incurring high medical bills and, depending on the nature of the injury, be losing time and wages from work.

4. A loved one may have been killed

One of the worst consequences of a car accident, of course, is a death. If a loved one has been killed in an accident, you will suffer profound emotional loss and be grieving. If your loved one was the breadwinner for the family, you may be suffering financial uncertainty as well.

5. You may suffer emotional damage

Many people who have been in car accidents, whether they were physically injured or not, suffer lasting emotional damage. They may experience post-traumatic stress disorder, reliving the frightening incidents over and over again, or they may become fearful of driving, or more.

If You Need a Louisiana Car Accident Attorney

As you can see from this list, car accidents can have multiple effects, from the relatively simply to life-changing and sad. You may suffer grief and trauma. You may be paying for damaged cars, medical bills, therapy, and more. You may have lost a family breadwinner or become unable to work yourself.

If the other driver was at fault, it may be possible to recover financial damages in a legal case. Baton Rouge and Lafayette car accident lawyer Bart Bernard will handle your crash injury case with the utmost care and concern. We are experienced in car accidents and the emotional and financial toll they take.

Our initial consultation on your case is free. Call 337-989-BART (Lafayette) / 225-275-BART (Baton Rouge) or contact me online today.

Click Bart First, Call Bart First™

Additional Sources:

  1. Bomey, Nathan. “U.S. vehicle deaths topped 40,000 in 2017, National Safety Council estimates.” USA Today. February 15, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2018/02/15/national-safety-council-traffic-deaths/340012002/.
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths. How Is the U.S. Doing? https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/motor-vehicle-safety/index.html.
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Can the Insurance Company Force You to Total Your Car?

January 10, 2019 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

You were in a car accident and your vehicle suffered significant damage – now what? Do you take it to

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 Personal Injury Law Firm 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 https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/crash-course-coping-totaled-car-168401
  2. The Balance, What to Do After a Total Loss Auto Accident? https://www.thebalance.com/what-to-do-after-a-total-loss-auto-accident-527138
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Calculating Vehicle Damage After an Accident

January 7, 2019 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

If you’ve been in a car accident, your vehicle may be damaged. How do you calculate the amount of vehicle

traffic fatalitiesIf you’ve been in a car accident, your vehicle may be damaged. How do you calculate the amount of vehicle damage?

Fortunately, it’s usually fairly simple to calculate the monetary cost of vehicle damage. You simply get an estimate from a car repair shop. Be sure to check to 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.

Then, save all the bills from the repair company you take it to. If it ends up going to several – say, a body shop and a paint shop – save both. Any costs related to the damage, such as paying to have it towed, should be added.

Diminished Value

There are times when the vehicle damage calculation becomes a bit more complicated, though. 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 regain 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 has been diminished by the fact of the accident.

Many pieces of data that prospective car buyers look at, such as Carfax and similar services, will carry the information that a car has been in an accident, and give the date. So any prospective buyers are likely to know it.

Either the insurance company or the party responsible for the accident should compensate for diminished value.

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. A total loss could be declared even if the damage doesn’t look that bad to observers, if the value of the car is less than the repair cost.

If You Need a Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer

Vehicle damages can be complicated after a car accident, as can assessing financial damages and fault. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a crash, call seasoned Baton Rouge and Lafayette car accident lawyer attorney Bart Bernard today. Your initial consultation with Bart will happen at no cost to you, and you owe nothing 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. https://www.thebalance.com/diminished-car-value-after-accident-2645571.
  2. Accident Guide in Louisiana. DMV.org. https://www.dmv.org/la-louisiana/accident-guide/.
  3. Kelley Blue Book. https://www.kbb.com/.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Lawyer After a Truck Accident?

January 4, 2019 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

If you have been injured, or a relative of yours injured or killed in a truck accident, you may have

Truck on freewayIf you have been injured, or a relative of yours injured or killed in a truck accident, you may have many troubling issues on your mind. Among them? You may not be sure how much it would cost to retain an attorney.

Lawyers Don’t Have to Be Paid Upfront

It’s very important to know the ways in which lawyers receive compensation for their services. Their clients do not need to pay them when first retaining (hiring) them.

Lawyers will discuss your case with you when you first come in to see them. There is no charge for the first meeting. They will give a candid judgment of whether you have a case that could be taken to court or not.

Then, they begin work on your case, working on a contingency basis. “Contingency” means that they will take a certain percentage of any legal settlement you receive as their payment, once the case is over. Most lawyers discuss the amount of their contingency fee with you upfront, as well.

Many law firms also charge for fees they incur during the investigation and litigation of your case.

The answer to the question of “how much does it cost to get a lawyer after a truck accident” is therefore “it costs nothing initially.”

Don’t Handle the Accident Alone

Truck accidents are complicated and can cause large amounts of damage to both people and property. Both these factors mean that folks who have been in a truck accident should never try to handle the accident alone. An experienced truck accident lawyer can make all the difference in the world to your outcome.

Why? Because many different parties or events can be at fault in a truck accident. They may be caused by a combination of factors. The accident may have been caused by the condition of the truck, which may mean the owner or the maintenance company could be to blame. It could have been caused by the state of the road, by weather, or by visibility issues. It could have been caused by the loading of the truck, which means the loading company could be at fault. It could have been caused by another driver or the driver of the truck itself. The driver may have been operating without sufficient sleep, or have felt pressured to not sleep adequately.

Unfortunately, insurance companies and trucking firms sometimes pressure injured parties to accept a settlement, or even deny a settlement. A thorough investigation is often needed to determine causes and a fair settlement.

How Bart Bernard Can Help in Louisiana Truck Accidents

Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard has years of experience helping victims of big rig crashes in Louisiana. He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multimillion Dollar Advocates Forum, with a strong history of obtaining top results for truck accident victims.

Because of their complexity, many truck accidents need to be investigated. Bart works with a network of top investigators and forensic specialists who can determine how the accident happened and what caused it.

Contact us today to discuss your case. All initial consultations are complimentary. Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™ !

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. October 2016. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Drivers_Guide_to_HOS_2016.pdf.
  2. Rhee, Joseph and Alexa Valiente. “The Danger of Forcing Truck Drivers to Drive Sleep-Deprived Exposed.” ABC News. September 18, 2014. https://abcnews.go.com/US/danger-forcing-truck-drivers-drive-sleep-deprived-exposed/story?id=25544862.
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How to Stay Safe on the Roads on New Year’s Eve

December 27, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

The holiday season is cause for celebration, and New Year’s Eve festivities are right around the corner. No matter how

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 Personal Injury Law Firm, 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 1-888-GET-BART.

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

Additional Resources:

  1. NHTSA, NHTSA Reminds Motorists to Drive Sober this Holiday Season https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/nhtsa-reminds-motorists-drive-sober-holiday-season
  2. Northwestern Medicine, 5 Tips for New Year’s Eve Safety https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nye-safety-tips
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How Long Do Truck Drivers Stay on the Road Without a Break?

December 17, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Truck drivers move products all over the nation. Long-haul trucks often drive all night to get the cargo where it

semi tractor trailer driving on the highway in the eveningTruck drivers move products all over the nation. Long-haul trucks often drive all night to get the cargo where it needs to go.

But the consequences can be disastrous if the truckers stay on the road too long without a break. Big rigs and tractor-trailers, if they have truck accidents, can hit multiple vehicles, catch on fire, and shut down entire lanes due to a jackknife. Debris from a truck that’s had an accident can also cause accidents.

Federal Regulations Often Violated

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of hours a trucker can work without a break. Truckers are supposed to drive no more than 11 hours in any 14 consecutive-hour period, and are mandated to be off duty 10 or more consecutive hours before beginning a shift.

But all too many news stories tell the same tale: companies who put pressure on the drivers to continue driving no matter how tired they feel. They may be pressured to drive for longer than the mandated limit. Interstate truckers are supposed to keep a log that verifies they have not worked longer than the mandated amount. But many feel economic pressure to falsify the data in the log book so the trucking companies will continue to hire them.

When truck crashes are investigated, crashes have occurred in which truckers were found to be on the road for 36 hours straight. No one can drive well with that amount of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation can cause the judgment of drivers to be impaired. Their reflexes may slow, leading them to brake too soon, not fast enough, or too sharply. All of these braking errors can cause serious accidents in a truck. Their eyesight may be impaired by lack of sleep.

Truck Accidents in Louisiana

Accidents caused by truckers who have been on the road too long can happen anywhere. In Louisiana alone, large trucks were involved in 92 crashes where someone was killed and 2,353 crashes where someone was injured in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. Overall, from all causes, 14% of crashes in which someone is killed involve large trucks or buses.

If You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana

Lack of sleep and adequate breaks may cause truck drivers to stay on the road too long without a break. Both hike the risk that the truck will be involved in an accident.

If you or a loved one has been involved in accidents with truckers who had been on the road too long, you may be eligible for compensation.

Bart Bernard is a truck accident lawyer Lafayette and Baton Rouge residents trust to fight for their rights and maximum compensation. The initial consultation on your case is free. Call today! Our motto is: Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™.

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. October 2016. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Drivers_Guide_to_HOS_2016.pdf.
  2. Rhee, Joseph and Alexa Valiente. “The Danger of Forcing Truck Drivers to Drive Sleep-Deprived Exposed.” ABC News. September 18, 2014. https://abcnews.go.com/US/danger-forcing-truck-drivers-drive-sleep-deprived-exposed/story?id=25544862.
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How Crash Reconstruction Works After an Accident

December 17, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Have you ever wondered how law enforcement determines the causes of a car accident if everyone in the vehicles died?

Have you ever wondered how law enforcement determines the causes of a car accident if everyone in the vehicles died? What if the people in the crash lived, but don’t remember – or couldn’t tell – what occurred? What if there is a dispute between the parties about what happened? Who determines for a fact what occurred, what the weather conditions were, how fast the cars were going, what the drivers did – or didn’t do?

Accident Reconstruction Teams Use Many Skills

Many accidents have no living survivors, no witnesses who can answer those and other questions, or have facts under dispute. So a crash reconstruction begins. Many cities and states have crash reconstruction professionals that work as part of police departments or other law enforcement arms. They are sometimes called accident reconstruction professionals as well. Most teams consist of people with multiple specialties. Some are forensic engineers, others may be mathematicians or physicists. Some are computer specialists and even photography specialists.

Crash reconstruction teams utilize scientific methodology to determine what happened. They use knowledge of the dynamics of vehicles, engineering, physics, mathematics, photogrammetry, and computer applications like simulation or modeling software to determine what likely happened. They may look at skid marks and determine speed. They may run a simulation of the condition, damage, and marks on the vehicles to determine the angle of impact. They will look at the cars to determine what areas were affected by the collision. They will utilize medical examiner’s reports to assess what would have caused the injuries of the victims.

Crash reconstruction is somewhat like the work of forensics in a crime scene; much can be determined from trajectories and knowledge of what happens when metal and glass collide with other objects. Accident reconstruction teams can reconstruct the accident from what is left behind.

How Attorneys Work with Crash Reconstruction Experts

While crash reconstruction teams are frequently used when it isn’t known what happened, they can also, of course, be utilized when the facts are in dispute.

It isn’t uncommon for both drivers to give very different stories about what happened in the wake of a car accident. Accident reconstruction professionals are often needed to determine what really happened.

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

If you need a car accident lawyer in Louisiana with vast experience who works with the best crash reconstructionists to prove the causes of your crash, call Bart Bernard today. We have offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana.

Our initial consultation on your case will be free. Call today and Get it Done Right™ with Bart Bernard.

Additional Resources:

  1. Kinkle, Fredrick. “The wreckage speaks: A crash reconstruction team tells stories that victims can’t.” The Washington Post. February 27, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/tripping/wp/2018/02/27/the-wreckage-speaks-a-crash-reconstruction-team-tells-stories-that-victims-cant/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c2b735fe78f4
  2. Weiss, Kurt D. “Auto accident reconstruction: The basics you must know.” Plaintiff. November 2007. https://www.plaintiffmagazine.com/recent-issues/item/auto-accident-reconstruction-the-basics-you-must-know.
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