Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Bart Bernard Receives TWO “Best Lawyer” Awards from Times of Acadiana

November 9, 2017 News 0 Comments

times of acadiana best of 2017The people have spoken! Times of Acadiana readers have voted Bart Bernard “Best Personal Injury Lawyer in 2018”. In addition to “Best Personal Injury Lawyer,” Bart was also voted “Best Law Firm” in Cajun Country. Winners were announced June 7 at the Victoria Plantation in Broussard.  The results of the vote, and a prominent feature on the firm, were published the following day in both the print and online editions.

The Times’ “Best of” recognizes the top people, places and things to do in Acadiana. Winners are determined by Times of Acadiana readers who nominate and vote for their favorite businesses, people and destinations in each category. During the voting period, ballots can be cast once a day and nominations are added to the list of entries once they are approved by the Times of Acadiana.

Bart Bernard’s Commitment to Community

In an article titled, See Why Bart Bernard Was Named Best Lawyer in Town, Bart was asked what he thinks made his practice stand out this year. He told the newspaper that he’s “been working harder than ever at making a difference in people’s lives … and likes to get personally involved in community and state projects that make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

He cites a program he actively participated in earlier this year, called “Dreams Come True in Louisiana,” an event that helps fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.

He also rolls up his sleeves to help with Thanksgiving food donations for multiple non-profits in Lafayette and Baton Rouge, as well as supporting:

Bart Bernard: Dedicated to Helping Others

Louisiana personal injury attorney Bart Bernard works every day with people from all walks of life whose lives have been forever altered by unfortunate events, helping them get the justice they deserve. These accidents include those involving vehicles, construction, maritime injuries, slips/falls, workers compensation, wrongful death, bankruptcy and more.

After graduating from University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Louisiana State University’s Law Center, the Lafayette native got his start clerking for Judge Gerald Schiff who acted as a mentor to him.

“The best advice I received [from Schiff] was to lose my ego and work hard,” he said.

He proceeded to do just that — opening his own personal injury law firm in 1997 and dedicating his practice to helping others. Now a successful lawyer with offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Bernard is now a mentor himself, and tells young lawyers, “Work on something that motivates you every day, you’ll be surprised where it takes you.”

Bernard is greatly humbled to be voted by Acadiana, for not one, but two “Best of 2017” titles. He is honored to represent his community with these accomplishments, and will strive to be the best for years to come.

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Commercial Fishing in Louisiana: A Dangerous Business

November 9, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

commercial fishingLouisiana is home to many commercial fishermen. Fishing, from shrimp boats to oystering to catching snapper and grouper, is highly important to the economy of the state. But it’s also highly dangerous for the men and women who do it.

Fatality Rates for Commercial Fisherman: 29 Times Higher than the National Average

In fact, the death rate on the job for commercial fisherman is an astounding 29 times higher than the average of occupational-related deaths across the country.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an arm of the United States government, ranks commercial fishing as among the most hazardous occupations in the country.

In the most recent U.S. report, the greatest threats to the life and safety of commercial fisherman in 2015 were vessel disasters, falls overboard, and machinery that was on the deck.

In Louisiana alone, the occupational category that includes fishing had the highest fatal injury rate of any occupational category in 2015. It was 27.9. In comparison, the average fatal injury rate among all occupations in our state was only 5.8. In other words, it’s more than 4 times as high for fishing.

Hazardous Conditions Contribute to Fisherman Fatalities

Commercial fishermen work in hazardous conditions, with harsh and even violent weather and long hours. They face slippery surfaces. The manual labor involved is hard. They are often alone. Deaths from falls overboard, for example, often occur when the fisherman is the only person in the vessel or the only person on deck.

From those conditions come seafood eaten across the United States. Nearly 10 billion pounds of seafood were caught or trapped across the country in 2015. The industry as a whole earned more than $5.2 billion, employing 115,000 people.

But the seafood comes at a price. In the 15 years from 2000 to 2015, an average of 42 fatalities occurred among commercial fishermen every year nationwide. That’s an average of 117 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 4 per 100,000 workers for deaths from all occupations.

Nationwide, nearly half of commercial fishing deaths occur after a vessel disaster, with another 30% from falls overboard. Twelve percent of fatalities are caused from onboard injuries, and 9% occur as a result of diving or onshore injuries.

In the Gulf of Mexico states alone, the shrimp fleet was responsible for half of all deaths in the period.

Injured? Contact an Experienced Louisiana Maritime Attorney

In Louisiana, we love our waterways. They are central to Louisiana identity and life. But if you work in commercial fishing and have been injured, or a loved one has been injured or killed while engaged in commercial fishing, know that there is help for you and that justice is not out of reach.

Our maritime attorneys have dedicated themselves to the rights of commercial fishing boat workers. 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 maritime law.

Our initial consultation on your case is free. Call today to speak with a Lafayette or Baton Rouge commercial fishing boat accident lawyer and learn about your legal options for monetary compensation.

More On the Dangers of Commercial Fishing:

  1. Fisk Marine Insurance International. Did You Know Commercial Fishing Is the Most Dangerous Job in the U.S.? https://fiskusa.com/blog/commercial-boat/did-you-know-commercial-fishing-is-the-most-dangerous-job-in-the-u-s/
  2. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities. Fatal Occupational Injury Rates by Industry, 2015, Louisiana. https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/rate2015la.htm.
  3. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Workplace Safety and Health Topics. Commercial Fishing Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing/
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Boating Under the Influence in Louisiana: Risks and Penalties

November 3, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

Small motorboat docking at the marina with sunsetWe all love a pleasant day out on Bayou State waters. Despite the freedom you feel in the open waters, it’s important to obey maritime law and avoid operating a boat while drinking. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boat accidents – even greater than operator inattention, driver inexperience, improper lookout, speeding, and machinery failure.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported:

  • Last year, alcohol directly contributed to 282 accidents, 264 injuries, and 87 deaths.
  • More Americans died in boating accidents than any time in the past five years.
  • There were 701 boating fatalities in 2016 – up 12 percent from the previous year.
  • The number of non-fatal injuries increased 11 percent as well.

Locally, there have been over 53 Louisiana boating accidents, resulting in 27 serious injuries and 10 fatalities in 2017, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in June. In 2015, there were 113 Louisiana boat crashes, resulting in 62 injuries and 19 fatalities.

Boating under the influence is no joke in our state. Many boaters do not realize that the penalties are even stiffer for boating DWIs/DUIs than for driving.

What is considered boating under the influence in Louisiana?

Louisiana law prohibits anyone from operating a water vessel with:

  • A Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% or greater (21+).
  • A Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.02% or greater (under 21).

The law also punishes the vessel’s owner (or the person in charge of the vessel) from knowingly allowing an intoxicated person to operate the vessel. Anyone who is boating on Louisiana waters gives consent to be tested for alcohol or drugs if arrested by law enforcement personnel.

What are the penalties for boating under the influence of alcohol?

Operating a Louisiana vessel while intoxicated or under the influence includes a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment up to six months, or both. Arrests for boating DUI/DWI can result in suspension or revocation of boating AND motor vehicle licenses. That is simply for the charge of “boating under the influence.”

Often, the charges pile up in these cases. For instance, a Texas man faced five charges in a Louisiana DWI boating accident that killed an 8-year-old boy in a southwest Louisiana river. If convicted, he would face five to 30 years in prison with hard labor and a fines of $2,000 to $15,000.

Hazards of boating under the influence include serious injury

Boating injuries include:

  • Drowning Deaths
  • Lacerations, Scrapes & Bruises
  • Amputations
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Bone Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Electric Shocks
  • Hypothermia & Shock
  • Internal Organ Injuries
  • Concussions
  • Burns & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Ligament Tears, Sprains & Strains
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

For the best boat accident attorney Lafayette has to offer, contact Bart Bernard

If you’ve been involved in a serious boat accident, contact Bart Bernard, the experienced boat accident attorney Louisiana residents trust. Recently, Bart Bernard secured an award of $23 million for a client seriously injured in a local boating accident. While past results are no guarantee of future outcomes, it costs you nothing to call for a free case review. Legal representation is provided free of charge until a successful jury award or settlement offer is received.

Additional “Boating Under the Influence in LA” Resources:

  1. Louisiana Boat Education Handbook – Alcohol & Drugs, https://www.boat-ed.com/louisiana/handbook/page/42/Alcohol-and-Drugs/
  2. US News & World Report – Texas Boy, 8, Dead in Boating Accident, Texas Man Jailed, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/louisiana/articles/2017-08-21/texas-boy-8-dead-in-boating-accident-texas-man-jailed
  3. US Coast Guard – Recreational Boating Statistics 2016, https://www.uscgboating.org/library/accident-statistics/Recreational-Boating-Statistics-2016.pdf
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How to Fix a Pothole – and Why You Should

November 2, 2017 Slip And Fall Injuries 0 Comments

asphalt parking lot potholes and damageLouisiana’s pothole problem is no secret; at least one online drivers’ magazine has listed New Orleans among the top 10 American “worst pothole cities”.

Potholes do not appear instantaneously. As the physical damage grows, so does the cost of repair. For business properties containing an asphalt parking lot, early maintenance and repair can save significant time and money.

What causes potholes?

Timing is everything. The pressure of traffic causes the cracks that lead to potholes, and that allows water penetration of the asphalt. As the temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the year, the water expands and contracts, causing bits of pavement to pop out.

The sponge-like terrain underlying the roads and parking lots of Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and other Louisiana cities amplifies the problem because it allows shifting and settling of the surface. If cracks are not addressed in time, then the potholes will need to be filled.

How to prevent and repair potholes

Best practices to limit pothole damage include:

Seal cracks

Take action in fair weather to fill in any cracks and prevent extensive water intrusion. The method will depend on the size and extent of cracks; many hairline cracks may need a fluid surface seal while larger cracks first need to be cleaned and then coated with a thicker sealant.

Fill potholes

If the parking lot or driveway is in reasonably good condition, it may pay to do a DIY repair. It is not as complicated as it sounds but may be better left to professionals in larger cases:

  • Clean the loose debris out of the holes
  • Remove any vegetation from the area
  • If the hole is deeper than the asphalt, hitting the ground underneath, you may need some dirt, sand, or gravel at the bottom of the hole
  • Heat the inside of the hole – a flame torch will come in handy – to prepare it to accept the patch
  • Pour cold asphalt into the hole, being sure to overfill 1-2”
  • Use a tamping tool to compress the asphalt, adding more cold asphalt it compresses below the surface

Consider a resurface

If the surface is old or in poor condition, a patchy repair may not hold up for long. In that case, it is a good idea to consult with a professional about options such as resurfacing.

The dangers of potholes

As commonplace as potholes may seem, they are a significant cause of injuries. According to federal statistics, more than one in every five emergency room visits is caused by a fall, including a significant proportion of slip and falls. Of slip and fall situations, more than half are due to wet or uneven walking surfaces such as potholes.

In some cases, a slip or trip may lead to minor injuries, but they can also be serious. They can include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Shoulder injuries

When deciding whether to take action regarding a pothole, weighing the potential damage may help put things into perspective.

For those facing the recovery of a an injury involving a pothole, it helps to have the advice of an experienced Louisiana slip and fall lawyer. The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers, with offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, expertly asserts the rights of personal injury victims. Call today to speak with a dedicated legal representative.

Additional “Pothole Repair” Resources:

  1. Asphalt Magazine, Preventing and repairing potholes and pavement cracks, http://asphaltmagazine.com/preventing-and-repairing-potholes-and-pavement-cracks/
  2. Newswheel, 10 Worst Pothole Cities in America: New Orleans, http://thenewswheel.com/10-worst-pothole-cities-in-america/#New-Orleans
  3. National Floor Safety Institute, Slip & Fall Quick Facts, https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/
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Chiropractic Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries

November 2, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits 0 Comments

Doctor looking at x-ray images of human spine.When it comes to treating certain types of spinal cord injuries, some patients may benefit from chiropractic treatment. Although there are many causes of traumatic spinal cord injury, motor vehicle accidents and falls are two of the most common. When the spinal cord is compressed, twisted sideways or pulled, this can impair blood supply, stretch tissues, pinch nerves and damage ligaments, bone and discs.

Chiropractic care, when performed by qualified, licensed practitioners, can be tremendously helpful in reducing neck, back and joint pain associated with rotation, compression and hyper-extension injuries to the spinal cord. This includes biomechanical problems associated with whiplash, herniated discs, bruising, reduced mobility and misalignment of the spinal cord.

How chiropractic treatment helps with SCI recovery

Every patient is unique, but it’s generally recommended to wait at least six months after diagnosis to allow the injury to stabilize before seeking rehabilitation with chiropractic care.

Chiropractic treatment is often utilized to help speed recovery in mild spinal cord injuries by aligning the vertebra in the spinal column (cervical and back). This helps to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord, improve blood flow, which in turn reduces pain and encourages healing.

While chiropractors perform spinal manipulation to treat subluxation (misalignment of the spine), they also employ a variety of techniques to relieve pain and improve mobility. These modalities include:

  • Massage therapy to help minimize inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the nerves
  • Applied pressure and hands-on adjustments of the vertebrae
  • Cold and heat treatment on affected areas to increase circulation and reduce inflammation
  • Recommendations for rehabilitative exercises to stretch and strengthen
  • Counseling on nutrition to help the body heal from within
  • Lifestyle recommendations

Chiropractors do not prescribe medications or pain killers, and instead focus on a holistic approach to treating musculoskeletal problems. A treatment plan will be devised after a physical examination with palpitation, and thorough review of X-rays, ultra-sound tests and/or MRIs or CT scans.

In cases involving more severe spinal cord injuries, including those that require surgical intervention, it is important to consult your primary physician before seeking complementary therapies like chiropractic adjustments. This includes patients who have had spinal cord stimulation, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty or surgery for spinal fractures.

Complementary techniques used by chiropractors

Decades of scientific research has been dedicated to finding medical treatments and alternative therapies designed to enhance the short and long-term consequences of spinal cord injuries, which affect more than 500,000 people each year.

Chiropractic clinics may offer or recommend complementary therapies to promote recovery:

  • Ultrasound therapy to increase blood flow and reduce swelling
  • Acupuncture on meridian points to improve sensory function and reduce pain
  • Massage therapy to improve circulation, range of motion and reduce pain
  • Trigger point injections, also known as prolotherapy
  • EMS – electrical muscle stimulation to strengthen muscle, manage inflammation and control pain

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, natural method to relieve discomfort and promote healing in many kinds of non-threatening or less serious spinal cord injuries, and may help patients achieve a better quality of life.

To learn more about spinal cord injury compensation following an accident or trauma caused by another’s negligence, contact Louisiana personal injury attorney Bart Bernard for a free case evaluation.

Additional Resources on Chiropractic Care for Spinal Cord Injury: 

  1. Spine Universe, Spinal Cord Injury Treatments https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/spinal-cord-injury/spinal-cord-injury-treatments
  2. FIRST Health, CHIROPRACTIC CARE CAN HELP SPINAL CORD INJURIES https://www.firsthealthca.com/blog/chiropractor-torrance/why-chiropractic-care-can-help-spinal-cord-injuries/
  3. AdVaCare Clinics, Chiropractic Care & Physical Therapy can Help with Spinal Cord Injuries http://advacaremn.com/chiropractic-care-physical-therapy-can-help-with-spinal-cord-injuries-dr-dennis-lenselink-bloomington-mn/
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Hurricane Season Poses Dangers to Offshore Workers

September 12, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

Bart Bernard Maritime AccidentEvery day in the United States, an estimated 10,000 men and women wake up on a drilling rig or platform in the Gulf of Mexico, where they brave treacherous conditions to do their jobs. Beyond the day-to-day hazards of working on an offshore pipeline, vessel or drilling rig, maritime workers also face the dangers of tropical storms and cyclones, which can rip apart offshore structures, leaving employees at risk for serious injury and death.

3 offshore workers die after storm evacuation

According to federal officials, more than 75 percent of the 4,000 offshore platforms in the Gulf were in the direct path of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, which destroyed more than 100 structures, and damaged some 457 pipelines. Fast forward three years when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike decimated 60 gas and oil rig platforms.

In 2011, Tropical Storm Nate ripped through the Gulf disabling a 94-foot oil vessel, owned by Trinity Liftboat Services – a Louisiana company based in New Iberia.  Three oil workers died and one was missing after the men called for help and evacuated the vessel. Maritime casualties like these raise the question whether energy companies are taking necessary precautions to protect the safety of their workers with timely evacuations.

The oil and gas industry claim that better weather data and more rigorous design standards have greatly improved hurricane safety for offshore workers and structures. Nonetheless, a recent CDC study found that the fatality rate for offshore personnel is seven times higher than the U.S. average.

Energy giants say their priority is keeping offshore workers and structures safe — particularly as stronger storms become more commonplace.

The destructive winds and rains of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which caused billions of dollars in damage and claimed dozens of lives, underscore the reality that 2017 will be one of the most active hurricane seasons in years, as forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Offshore worker safety concerns for 2017 hurricane season

Has the gas and oil industry taken a proactive approach to addressing hurricane risks, having learned valuable lessons from massive storms like Katrina, Gustav and Ike? While companies certainly take steps to protect their workers from severe weather, critics still have many concerns. Robert Bea, an engineering risk professor and former Shell employee, cautions that energy companies often put profits before safety.

Experts say the oil industry is simply reacting to storms, instead of preparing for them. When hurricanes threaten operations in the Gulf, it’s up to the companies to decide when to shut down and evacuate staff.  “Companies under financial pressure are more likely to take safety risks,” said Bea, “It’s called waiting for the next failure.”

Under Maritime Admiralty Law, offshore employers must take reasonable care in the evacuation of its workers during dangerous weather. A failure to fulfill this duty exposes companies to liability should injury or death result. With the 2017 hurricane season underway, and stronger storms forecast, offshore worker safety remains a paramount concern for many.

Bart Bernard – Louisiana offshore oil rig accident attorney

When hurricane evacuations are delayed to keep platform operations running, maritime workers are needlessly placed in harm’s way. Contact Louisiana offshore oil rig accident lawyer Bart Bernard if you or someone you love sustains serious or fatal injuries in a maritime accident. To schedule a free legal consultation in Lafayette or Baton Rouge, please call today!

Call me first. Click me first.

Additional “offshore oil rig injury” resources:

  1. ISHN, Ten years later: Oil rig safety lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina http://www.ishn.com/articles/102193-ten-years-later-oil-rig-safety-lessons-learned-from-hurricane-katrina
  2. NBC News, Three Oil Workers Die After Evacuating Rig in Storm http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44475463/ns/weather/t/three-oil-workers-die-after-evacuating-rig-storm/#.WbfrIMiGNPY
  3. NOLA, Offshore oil and gas industry adapts, but risks remain 10 years after Katrina http://www.nola.com/katrina/index.ssf/2015/08/energy_industry_adapts_but_sto.html
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Best Scenic Motorcycle Rides in Louisiana

September 7, 2017 Motorcycle 0 Comments

motorcycles on the road

Louisiana is a magnet for motorcyclists from all over the country. It’s hard to beat its sweeping roadways with beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. And of course, no visit to the Bayou State would be complete without a stop or two at the roadside eateries serving up scrumptious Cajun fare. Po’boys, jambalaya, and crawfish await you.

Natchitoches: Creole plantation country

If you only have time for just one long, leisurely ride in Louisiana, this is it. Natchitoches (pronounce it “Nack-ah-tish”) is teeming with reminders of long-ago times. In fact, it’s the oldest settlement of the Louisiana Purchase. It was founded in 1714, which was four years before New Orleans was officially New Orleans. Louis Juchereau de St. Denis was a French-Canadian lieutenant who came up from the Gulf to establish a fort. He became friendly with a local Native American tribe, which gave the settlement its name.

Set against the Cane River Lake, Natchitoches is peppered with Creole plantations, and the roads are lined with live oaks dripping with beautiful Spanish moss. Take some time to sightsee around the city. You’ll see plenty of French Colonial architecture.

Head out to the parish roads and state highways that border Cane River Lake, and enjoy the leisurely ride through the Cane River National Heritage Area. Most of the old plantations you’ll see are private residences. If you have time, stop for a visit at Melrose Plantation, which is owned by a cultural heritage preservation group, and Oakland Plantation, which is a National Parks Service property. If you’re a John Wayne fan, you’ll recognize the building from The Horse Soldiers.

Route 22 from Sorrento to Ponchatoula

This is another route much prized by well-traveled bikers. Located in southern Louisiana, this stretch of asphalt is 35-plus miles of riverside and bayou views. Do take your time on this route. It’s a fun, twisty road, but there are some very sharp corners, especially near the French Settlement area. This particular stretch of road has seen its share of mishaps, so try to keep your speed under 15 mph around these corners. Head out in the early morning, before the four-wheeled traffic picks up.

Longleaf Scenic Byway

If you’re in the western part of the Bayou State, the Longleaf Scenic Byway is a must. Look for State Forest Road 59 and get ready for 17 miles of incredible two-lane trails. Cruise through the Kisatchie National Forest, and take advantage of the numerous turn-outs, with sweeping views of rocky bluffs, buttes, and hills. Scattered along the byway are six campgrounds to choose from.

As you head out of the Kisatchie National Forest, head into the Red Dirt National Wildlife Management Preserve, and check out the 36-mile Sandstone Multi-Use Trail. It allows motorcycles, but do watch out for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. You’ll want to keep your speed low regardless, or you might miss the plethora of wildlife along this trail—everything from otters and turtles to bobcats and coyotes.

Need a lawyer after a motorcycle accident?

After a motorcycle accident, bikers near Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana trust The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers for exceptional legal advocacy services. Call today to request your free case review with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Baton Rouge or Lafayette.

More on “great scenic motorcycle routes in Louisiana”:

  1. Rider, Louisiana Motorcycle Rides: Nothing Like Natchitoches, http://ridermagazine.com/2009/04/28/louisiana-motorcycle-rides-natchitoches/
  2. My Scenic Drives, Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway, https://www.myscenicdrives.com/drives/louisiana/longleaf-trail-scenic-byway
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