Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

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
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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,
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How Tesla’s Semi Truck Will Change the Trucking Industry

December 5, 2017 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Truck on freewayIn mid-November, Elon Musk’s innovative company Tesla announced a self-driving semi truck, slated to roll out in 2019. Although much of the publicity about self-driving vehicles has focused on cars, a self-driving truck has enormous potential to disrupt the transportation industry.

Electric Self-Driving Trucks Forecast to Save Fuel, Increase Productivity

Currently, many goods throughout the U.S. are distributed via long-haul trucking. Tesla’s self-driving truck, which is forecast to have a 500-mile range, is an electric vehicle as well as a self-driving one.

For starters, the fact that it’s electric means savings on fuel estimated at $200,000, according to Forbes.

But it may transform the trucking industry more than that. An economist quoted in Forbes says that self-driving trucks could be “the most powerful thing to hit us since the building of the superhighways in the 1950s.”

Why? Because trucks today are productive only about one-third to one-half of the day. Human truckers must sleep. The trucks also spend nonproductive time sitting, being serviced, and waiting to be loaded.

Some observers believe that the trucking industry could increase its productivity by 100% and cut travel times in half. Autonomous trucks can, theoretically, drive 24/7, which means they keep going for long distances when human drivers couldn’t. Goods could be delivered much faster than they are now as a result.

Safety Behind the Wheel?

Will self-driving semi trucks be safe on the road? Many observers say yes. Like the self-driving car, the autonomous trucks would be programmed to avoid other vehicles and to obey the rules of the road. Potentially, this could improve safety and reduce accidents that stem from driver or other preventable human error.

Some people feel that autonomous trucks could result in an 80% drop in rear-end collisions, for example, as the trucks are programmed to stop when an object — person or thing — is too close to the back end.

But the fact of the matter is, the only self-driving vehicles on the road to date have been prototype vehicles, designed to test the functioning, viability, and safety of the vehicles in real-world conditions.

Because the technology is so new, it comes with a host of questions about real-world applications. Can the sophisticated computer systems be hacked, for example? Might malicious hackers cause accidents? Will they be built with an override for human drivers, as self-driving cars to date have been? Can they identify all road hazards and conditions, such as fog or bridges — areas self-driving cars have had trouble with?

Stay tuned. Potentially, these trucks are big business. They are also vehicles that could affect everyone who drives.

Do You Need an Attorney Experienced in Trucking Accidents?

Have you or a loved one been in a trucking accident? These cases can be complicated, as the party liable could be the company that packed the cargo, maintained the truck, set the schedules, or the driver.

You need a lawyer experienced in trucking law.

Lafayette truck accident attorney Bart Bernard will assess and review your case with the utmost care and concern. The initial consultation on your case is free. We have two offices in Louisiana, in Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Call today to see how much your case is worth!

Additional “Self-Driving Truck” Resources:

  1. Alsin, Arnie. “Beyond Tesla’s Semi Truck: The Future of Trucking and Transportation.” Forbes. November 18, 2017.
  2. Johnson, Eric. “Will Tesla Disrupt the Trucking Industry?” Recode. November 25, 2017.
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What to Do If You Total Your Car

December 4, 2017 Property Damage Claims 0 Comments

Car That Has Been In A Front End Collision.

Motorists usually believe – understandably but mistakenly – that if they are in an accident, their auto insurance reimbursement will prevent a financial loss for the property damage. In reality, when the accident results in a total loss, the owner can be left owing money on an inoperable vehicle. Auto owners who total their car in an accident need to do research, make some decisions, and be prepared to assert their rights.

Auto accident total loss in Louisiana

In general, a total loss occurs when the cost to repair the damage to a vehicle is so high that it is not worth repairing. Instead, the insurance company will pay the insured party the fair market value of the vehicle minus the deductible and take title to the vehicle.

Louisiana statute sets the theshold at 75% – if the cost of repair exceeds 75% of the value of the car based on the latest version of the National Automobile Dealers Association Handbook, it is deemed a total loss and the owner is paid its resale value. The state statutes also spell out that the damage calculation can include the cost to repair or replace the airbags but only if the insured owner consents to that.

What happens if you owe more on the vehicle than you receive as a total loss payout? The loan does not go away – you are stuck paying the balance for the totalled vehicle. It is important to make sure you receive the full amount due based on the NADA pricing information as required by the Louisiana statutes.

Preparing for a total loss claim

If your vehicle was totalled, be sure to do some research to find out what it was worth before the accident and after. If the insurance company’s settlement offer is significantly different, you may need to dig in your heels to obtain a reasonable number or think about calling in a property damage lawyer for help.

Also know going into the settlement process what your intentions for the vehicle are. When the vehicle is totaled, the insurance company typically takes possession of it when it pays out the claim and recovers a small amount by selling it at a salvage auction. If you would rather keep the totaled vehicle, you may be able to work that out in the settlement process, but will likely have to take a deduction from your settlement for the salvage price. You may also need to jump through a few hoops to use the vehicle, such as having it repaired and inspected, before another insurance company will be willing to issue a policy based on its status as a former total loss vehicle.

If you cannot come to an agreement with the insurance company on the settlement option, consider invoking the policy’s appraisal clause, which allows each side to submit an appraisal. In the case of dispute, the appraisal clause allow a a third-party umpire to decide damages. Consulting with a property damage lawyer will help you understand your rights, the process, and the value of your vehicle.

Total loss lawyer in Louisiana

If you have suffered a total loss accident in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, or elsewhere in Louisiana, call property damage lawyer Bart Bernard. Bart will help you fight for maximum reimbursement on a property damage claim. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

Additional Total Loss Auto Accident Resources:  

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, RS 32:702: Definitions,
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, RS 22:1293: Automobile insurance; total loss provision,
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Diminished Value: The Appraiser’s Role

November 22, 2017 Property Damage Claims 0 Comments

Car That Has Been In A Front End Collision.A diminished value claim can be brought if your car is in a major accident and is worth less after repair than it was prior to the accident. In other words, if even after professional repair has been done you could not sell your car on the open market for as much as you could have before the accident, you can bring a claim for diminished value.

You cannot have caused the accident, or you will be unable to bring a diminished value claim. The claim is brought against the insurance company of the person who was responsible for the accident.

An Appraiser Establishes Value of Undamaged Vehicle and Diminished Value

A key part of a diminished value claim is establishing what the vehicle is worth now versus what it would have been had it not been damaged in an accident. To do this, you will need to contact a certified automobile appraiser. It is not sufficient to talk to a repair shop, the place you bought the car, or a dealer.

Certified automobile appraisers are experienced in establishing the value of a car. They will thoroughly inspect the car. They will thoroughly examine the available history of your car. They will drive it.

Certified appraisers base their appraisal on a comprehensive database of similar cars. You will receive an appraisal report.

Is It Worth It to File a Diminished Value Claim?

Before going to an appraiser, you need to be reasonably sure that the difference between the value of your car after repair is less than the value before it. For older cars in a more minor accident, for example, the car might be worth roughly the same after repair and pre-accident, especially given the fact that repairs may have resulted in newer parts being in the vehicle.

Diminished value is generally only worth it if your car is newer, or of significant value, such as an expensive car, a vintage car, a hot rod that is one of a kind, and the like.

When You Need an Attorney to Prove Diminished Value

If you feel that you have a diminished value claim, we are here to help. You will need an appraisal of your vehicle, but it’s prudent to get legal advice in tandem with an appraisal.

Our diminished value attorneys in Louisiana have dedicated themselves to the rights of people in Louisiana who have suffered either personal or property damage due to the negligence of another.

Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We assist both people who are residents of our communities and out-of-state residents who need advice on Louisiana auto accident and insurance law.

Our initial consultation on your case is free. Call or contact us online today!

Additional “Diminished Value Appraisal” Resources:

  1. Auto Appraisal Group Inc. “Value Appraisals.”
  2. Insurance Information Institute. “What Is Diminished Value?”
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The 3 Most Common Drugs Truckers Use Behind the Wheel

November 14, 2017 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Big rig semi truckLast year, drug use among commercial truck drivers hit the highest level since 2009, as measured by United States Department of Transportation (DOT) data.

While the percentage of drivers who failed drug tests was still low, at 1.98% versus 1.85% in the previous year, the increases are still worrisome. Drug use can cause lapses in driver attention and ability to focus, as well as impairing reflexes and reaction time.

Of more concern still is that even small percentages out of the 5.4 million truckers tested represent a large number of drivers. The percentage of truck drivers who failed the test due to marijuana alone, for example, was 0.81%.

That may seem small, but it represents 44,388 drivers on the road who are under the influence of a drug that can impair their driving.

3 most common drugs used by truck drivers

By far the most common drug that truckers use while driving is marijuana. DOT officials noted that the increasing legalization of the drug in many states may make it more available and accessible. Marijuana can cause symptoms similar to alcohol, decreasing concentration and spurring a feeling of sleepiness.

The second most common drug is amphetamines, commonly called “speed.” The percentage of drivers who failed a drug test due to amphetamine in their system was 0.65%, or 35,421 drivers.

The third most common drug is cocaine, which caused 14,939 drivers to flunk drug tests.

Both amphetamines and cocaine work as stimulants. They change perceptions and reaction time, and can cause hallucinations. Truck drivers may be taking them to keeping working long shifts and complete their long-haul assignments.

If so, lack of sleep with drugs on top of it may cause drivers to be inattentive to traffic conditions, impair reaction time and responses, and cause drivers to misjudge distances, among other errors.

While neither opiates such as heroin or phencyclidine (PCP) made the top 3, they did cause a number of drivers to fail drug tests.

Observers also note that there is a widespread opioid crisis in many parts of the U.S. Currently, the DOT doesn’t test for opioid use.

Drivers can be tested at random or before their employment begins. They are also tested after an accident, if there is reasonable suspicion that they might be using drugs, and after they return to duty.

Drivers who test positive for drugs are immediately banned from driving commercially. They have to undergo drug rehabilitation treatment before they can be considered for rehiring.

Louisiana truck accident attorney

Drug use behind the wheel is a danger to other motorists and pedestrians because it raises the risk of accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a truck driver who was abusing drugs, you may be eligible for compensation.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has vast experience in truck accident law. We have offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We assist people who are long-time residents of our communities and out-of-state visitors who need expert legal guidance.

For a free case review with Lafayette truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard, call 337-989-BART today!

Additional Resources on Drug Use among Truck Drivers:

1. Doyle, Kathryn. “Drug Use High Among Commercial Truck Drivers: Study.” Reuters. October 25, 2013. Reuters.

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7 Longest Trucking Routes in America

November 13, 2017 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

It’s not uncommon for long-haul truckers in the U.S. to log more than 600 miles a day, or more than 12,000 miles a month. Many of these truckers brave treacherous road conditions and extreme weather during these grueling commutes as they crisscross the country.

Truck drivers are no strangers to long shifts behind the wheel, in which they get to know some of the nation’s most impressive highways and roads. From Florida to California and from New York to Washington, here are seven of the longest trucking routes in America.

7 Longest Highways in U.S.

On any given day, long-haul truckers are covering huge distances on seemingly endless stretches of highway, as they transport cargo and consumer goods from points A to B.

Here are seven of the longest highways in America:

  1. US Route 20: the longest route in the United States, this coast-to-coast route spans a whopping 3,365 miles, stretching from Newport, Oregon all the way to Boston, Massachusetts.
  2. US Route 6: Also known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, US 6 is another coastal route that runs from California east to Provincetown, Massachusetts, totaling some 3,207 miles.
  3. Interstate 90: I-90 has the distinction as the longest interstate freeway in the United States, clocking in 3,020 miles. This transcontinental highway runs from Seattle, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts. Interstate 90 includes two of the world’s largest floating bridges: the Homer Hadley Memorial Bridge and the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge.
  4. S. Route 30: This east-west interstate is the third longest U.S. route, traveling through the northern tier of the country from Astoria, Oregon to Atlantic City. US 30 covers 3,072 miles.
  5. Interstate 80: The I-80 is the second longest freeway within the U.S. interstate system, and is nearly 2,900 miles from end to end. It runs from San Francisco, CA to Teaneck, New Jersey.
  6. US Route 50: Created in 1926, Route 50 spans over 3,010 miles and connects Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, Maryland. US Route 50 passes through remote, desolated areas in Wyoming and Nevada with few inhabitants, and this stretch has been labeled “the loneliest road in America.”
  7. US Route 60: Venturing more than 2,670 miles (or 4,300 km), US Route 60 travels from southwestern Arizona east to Virginia Beach, Virginia. From start to finish, US Route 60 would take almost 50 hours to drive, non-stop.

Truck Accidents Caused by Drowsy Drivers

According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue is one of the primary causes of commercial truck accidents in the United States. Overworked truckers – who are paid by the mile — are often pushed to violate hours of regulation in an effort to meet tight deadlines. Many of these big rig crashes result in life-threatening injuries and fatalities.

If you or someone you love were injured because of a drowsy or negligent driver, protect your rights by speaking to Bart Bernard, an experienced Louisiana truck accident lawyer. Call our Baton Rouge or Lafayette law offices to schedule a free, no-obligation case review today.

Additional U.S. Trucking Route Resources:

  1. com, The 10 Longest Highways in the USA
  2. Softwareadvice, The Most Loved (and Hated) U.S. Trucking Routes IndustryView
  3. Keep Truckin,  Connection Between Commercial Truck Accidents and Fatigued Drivers



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