Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Four Worst Offshore Oil Rig Disasters

June 23, 2017 Maritime 0 Comments

oil rig offshoreWhen accidents happen on offshore oil rigs, they can happen quickly and without warning. The loss of life and injuries can be disastrous. Explosions, fires, and even drowning in the ocean waters threatens workers on the rigs.

The Piper Alpha, 1988

Just look at the worst oil rig disaster in history, the Piper Alpha disaster in Britain’s North Sea. It occurred in July 1988, and killed 167 rig workers.

It began with leaking gas from a platform pipe. Routine maintenance had caused a pressure safety value to be taken off earlier in the day. At shift change, maintenance was not complete and the incoming crew was supposed to have been informed not to turn on one of the affected pumps.

However, they were not informed. It was turned on when another pump tripped. A series of explosions hit the platform as gas caught on fire. The platform was completely destroyed. Fighting the fire took 3 weeks.

The Alexander L. Kielland, 1980

The Alexander L. Kielland, a semi-submersible platform for the workers on the Edda oil rig in Norway, capsized in March 1980. One hundred and twenty-three workers were killed, most due to drowning.

The Deepwater Horizon, 2010

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and ensuing fire on the semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon caused the death of 11 workers and injury to 17 more. The Deepwater Horizon was roughly 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Transocean owned and operated the unit. It was drilling oil for BP.

The accident also caused the biggest worldwide marine oil spill to date. It is considered the most significant environmental disaster in the history of the U.S.

The Abkatun Permanente, 2015

In August 2015, 4 workers were killed and 45 injured on the Abkatun Permanente platform due to an explosion and subsequent fire. The platform, in the Gulf of Mexico, was run by Pemex, the state-run Mexican oil company.

If you’ve been injured on an oil rig

People who have been injured on an offshore oil rig may be able to bring a lawsuit against the company or its contractors for negligence. If there were harmful or dangerous conditions or practices, or rules and regulations weren’t followed properly, and it can be shown that the company or its contractors knew or should have known about the conditions and did nothing to rectify them, you may be eligible to collect damages for negligence.

Plaintiffs may seek damages for expenses related to medical treatment, physical therapy, medications needed, lost wages due to recovery time, or training if the injured party requires a new line of work. A suit can also cover claims for pain and suffering.

If an oil rig accident has caused fatalities, the deceased person’s family can bring a suit for wrongful death. Family members can bring a lawsuit for the pain and suffering, as well as medical treatment, physical therapy, medications, and lost wages of the deceased. 

When you need an experienced attorney

If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in an offshore oil rig disaster, we are here to help. We are experienced in maritime law and offshore oil rig cases. The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers maintains two Louisiana offices, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette. Our clients include locals and those from out of state who need advice from an experienced maritime attorney in Louisiana.

For a free consultation with a Louisiana oil rig accident attorney, call or contact me online today.

Additional “biggest oil rig disasters” resources:

  1. Mohney, Gillian. “Oil Rig Explosion Kills 4 in Gulf of Mexico, No Spill Reported.” ABC News. August 1, 2015.
  2. The World’s Worst Offshore Oil Disasters.
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How Does Louisiana Comparative Negligence Law Affect Your Claim?

June 13, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits 0 Comments

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Accidents happen. But not all accidents are created equal. Sometimes fault is clearly on the side of one party but other times both the plaintiff and the defendant can bear some of the legal responsibility. In Louisiana, it is important to know that if you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you can still recover if you were partly to blame.

Louisiana comparative fault laws

Each state has adopted its own laws determining how to handle a personal injury claim when the claimant shares some responsibility. Louisiana is in league with the most generous states, having adopted a pure comparative negligence rule.

Under pure comparative negligence, an injured party may recover for injuries even if he or she was more at fault than the opposing party. This is in contrast to the small handful of states that do not let a party recover for an injury if they bear the slightest bit of fault, or the majority of states that allow recovery so long as the victim’s fault was less than either 50% or 51%, depending on the location.

How comparative fault is applied

Louisiana’s comparative fault law is found at Louisiana Civil Code 2323. It has the effect of reducing a claimant or plaintiff’s claim in proportion to the percentage of his or her fault. This means, for example, that if you were 75% at fault, you could still recover 25% of your damages.

The rule affects any type of personal injury claim. This means even if you suffered the unfortunate loss of a loved one who was partially at fault for an accident, you can still recover in a wrongful death claim. Keep in mind that you must still be able to prove all of the elements of negligence against the defendant and this will be tougher when the evidence is less clear-cut.

Role of comparative fault in personal injury negotiations

In a trial situation, a jury (or judge in a bench trial) will be asked to determine what percentage of fault each party bears for the injuries. In a settlement negotiation, however, there will usually not have been any formal determination made.

It is crucial to know your rights, especially when dealing with insurance adjusters and representatives of opposing parties. They may try to overemphasize the role your fault may have played or lead you to believe that you are not eligible to recover.

Consult a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer

The determination of fault will have a significant impact on how much you can recover for your injury. Your best first step is to speak with a Louisiana personal injury lawyer, especially before giving any statements or speaking with the other party’s insurance adjuster.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers takes injury claims seriously. We fight to win full and fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us today.

Additional Comparative Fault Resources:

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, Civil Code Art. 2323 Comparative fault,
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, Civil Code Art. 2316 Negligence, imprudence or want of skill,
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3 Serious Injuries That Result in Lawsuits

June 10, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits 0 Comments

Three of the most serious injuries that lead to personal injury lawsuits are traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and bone fractures. Read on for an overview of all 3.

Traumatic Brain Injury

TBIs can occur when someone’s head is hit, bumped, or jostled severely. If this occurs, the brain can be bumped and jostled severely as well. As a result, those affected can suffer multiple symptoms, ranging from unconsciousness and memory loss to blurred vision. These symptoms can last just a few minutes or be long term and permanent. Causes can range from a tackle in football to a car crash or falling on a sidewalk.

A concussion is a form of TBI.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 30% of all injury-related fatalities stem from TBIs. Roughly 153 Americans die daily due to TBIs. About 2.8 million people went to emergency departments, were hospitalized, or died due to TBI-related symptoms in 2013. The number of people going to emergency departments alone rose 47% between 2007 and 2013.

For children 14 or younger and adults 65 or older, falls are the leading cause of TBIs. Being hit by or thrown against an object is the second leading cause of TBIs, for all age groups. Vehicle accidents are the third leading cause, again, for all age groups.

Spinal Cord Injury

SCIs occur when the spinal cord is injured in some way. The spinal cord affects the nervous system and muscles. Injuries to spinal cords can result in symptoms from full immobility of the body (paralysis) to trouble moving arms or legs to loss of control over bodily functions.

Worldwide, from a quarter million to half a million people suffer SCIs each year.

Unfortunately, 90% of those are due to traumatic causes, such as falls, vehicle crashes, or other accidents. They are preventable.

SCIs also result in long-term health effects. People with SCI are from 2 to 5 times more likely to die than those who don’t have an SCI. They may be prone to chronic infections, need a caregiver, and be in chronic pain.

Bone Fractures

While bone fractures are less life-threatening and life impairing than either TBI or SCI, they are also caused by trauma, such as a fall or a vehicle accident.

Despite this, they can require extensive medical treatment, especially if the fracture is complicated or the bone doesn’t set correctly. Fractures can require physical therapy to regain the full use of affected areas.

Treatment and a fracture can also cause people to lose time from work and thus result in economic loss. Fractures can also damage the patient’s ability to perform the activities of daily life.

People have, on average, 2 fractures in a lifetime.

Speak with a Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer

If you or a loved one has experienced one of these three injuries, a seasoned Louisiana personal injury lawyer can help. For your convenience, Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, LA. We assist both people who are long-time residents of our communities and out-of-state residents who need advice on Louisiana law.

Our initial consultation on your case will happen at no cost to you. Call or contact me online today.

Additional serious injury resources:

  1. Spinal Cord Injury. World Health Organization. November 2013.
  2. Understanding Bone Fractures. The Basics. WebMed.
  3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Basic Information. TBI: Get the Facts.
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Lafayette, Louisiana Car Crash Statistics

June 7, 2017 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Low angle shot of a car driving on the road

Did you know that Louisiana ranks #1, tied with Texas, for “Worst Drivers in America”? This title was based on NHTSA data on fatal crashes, including failure to obey traffic laws, careless and distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving. Here in Lafayette Parish, most drivers are careful, attentive and law-abiding, with excellent safety records. That said, calls from car accident victims and their families are still among the most frequent type of call we receive at the offices of Lafayette attorney Bart Bernard.

Car crash stats for Lafayette, LA

In 2014, Lafayette saw:

  • 17 fatalities, involving 22 vehicles and 27 people
  • 6 fatal drunk-driving accidents
  • 6 fatal car crashes involving pedestrians

From 1994-2014, the highest number of Lafayette car accidents were recorded:

  • In the month of July (64)
  • Sunday mornings (69)
  • Friday evenings (59)

In 2006, Lafayette fatal car crashes were above the national average, but we’ve had a lower number since then. In 2014, Lafayette had 13.1 percent of accidents/100,000 people, compared to 16.1 percent/100,000 people statewide.

Lafayette’s most dangerous intersections

According to KATC News, the following intersections had the most accidents from January 2012 to October 2013:

  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Kaliste Saloom Road: 152
  • Johnston Street near College Road: 113
  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Johnston Street: 108
  • Johnston Street near Camellia Boulevard / Rena Drive: 104
  • Pinhook Road near Kaliste Saloom Road: 97
  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Robley Drive: 93
  • West Congress Street near Guilbeau Road: 84
  • Willow Street near Evangeline Thruway: 74
  • Ambassador Caffery Parkway near Congress Street: 66
  • West Willow Street near Ambassador Caffery Parkway: 65

“The biggest offender is people going through red lights on left turns,” Lafayette Police Corporal Paul Mouton said.

Louisiana crash data reveals alarming trends

Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc says Louisiana roads and highways are safer than they were in 2007, when there were 900 crashes and 993 fatalities — due to increased use of seat belts and stricter enforcement of impaired driving laws. However, the numbers are starting to creep up again.

LeBlanc points to the following alarming trends among Louisiana drivers:

  • The fatality rate among 18-20 year olds increased in 2014.
  • Alcohol-related crashes in this group increased for the first time in five years.
  • More single vehicle crashes in late-night and early-morning were reported.
  • Reports of riding without a seat belt and aggressive driving are up.

Louisiana drivers see huge auto insurance spikes

More crashes mean higher insurance premiums. Typically, auto insurance premiums creep up about 1 percent a year. But Louisiana auto insurers have been operating on very slim profit margins (as low as 3-4%) in recent history. Insurers have justified raising their rates as much as 13.5 percent a year by arguing that their pockets have been gouged by newer cars with more expensive-to-repair safety features combined with the uptick in distracted driving.

“I’d say over half of the wrecks we see people bringing in — they won’t admit to it — is from distracted driving. And distracted is usually their phone,” said Jerome Wiley, general manager of Gordon & Sandifer Auto Service Inc. in Baton Rouge.

Here are some Louisiana auto insurance statistics to consider:

  • Louisiana auto insurance rates are rising 25 times the national average.
  • Distracted driving accounts for at least 20 percent of Louisiana’s fatal crashes.
  • In Louisiana, the number of miles driven dipped from 2014-2015, but accidents increased over 7%.
  • The number of Louisiana car accidents has gone up 12.4% from 2011-2015.
  • The cost of insurance claims during that period increased from 67.4% to 76.7% of premiums collected.

Drunk driving in Louisiana

Louisiana has the 13th highest number of DUI arrests in the nation. According to the CDC:

  • 3,046 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in Louisiana from 2003-2012.
  • 5% of Louisiana motorists admit to driving drunk, compared to the national average of 1.9%.

The NHTSA further reports there were:

  • 737 fatal motor vehicle accidents in Louisiana in 2014, with 192 (34%) caused by an intoxicated driver.
  • 12 out of 31 Lafayette Parish traffic deaths were alcohol-related.

Teen car accidents in Louisiana

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission worries that distracted teen drivers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of accidents. While deaths of drivers in the age range of 15-20 dropped 49% from 2003 to 2012, motor vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death for that age group.

  • In 2012, teens accounted for 6% of licensed drivers, but 9% of drivers in fatal crashes.
  • 13% of drivers in accidents that caused injuries were teenagers.
  • Drivers between 16 and 19 are 3x more likely to be involved in a preventable fatal crash.
  • Louisiana saw 7,166 reported crashes involving distracted teens in 2012 alone.

Seek legal representation from the best!

Lafayette car accident attorney Bart Bernard has an extensive network of experts who can investigate and bolster your lawsuit. As a member of the Elite Lawyers of America and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, he has won millions of dollars on behalf of his auto accident clients. One of his clients recently received $4.2 million in compensation after the other driver was found negligent. Call 900-9000 from anywhere in Louisiana for a free legal consultation. No attorney fees are due unless Bart Bernard wins your case!

Additional “Lafayette, Louisiana crash stats” resources:

  1. KPLC – Louisiana, Texas drivers tie as worst drivers in America,
  2. KPLC – Louisiana is 13th for DUIs,
  3. KATC – KATC Investigates: Most dangerous intersections in Lafayette,
  4. NHTSA – State Motor Vehicle Crash Data,
  5. The Advocate – Know why Louisiana car insurance rates might be skyrocketing? Blame it on your phone,
  6. The Advocate – Distracted Teen Drivers’ Crash Stats Alarming,
  7. CDC – Impaired Drunk Driving in LA,
  8. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Traffic Safety Performance (Core Outcome) Measures For Louisiana,
  9. Shreveport Times – Crashes and Fatalities Higher in LA,
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Dog Attacks: The One-Bite Rule in Louisiana

May 31, 2017 Animal Attack 0 Comments

dog attackIf you’ve ever heard someone refer to the “one-bite rule” in reference to being bitten by a dog, you may have wondered what it was. It’s very simple.

The one-bite rule is related to establishing negligence in personal injury claims for dog bites. Owners can only be deemed negligent for a dog bite if they knew or had reason to know that their dog would bite someone. In other words, if a dog bites you or a loved one but had never bitten a person before, or acted in a threatening manner before, you may not be successful in pursuing a claim for negligence and personal injury.

If, on the other hand, a dog has bitten someone previously, and it bites you or a loved one, the owner may be found responsible for damages. According to the one-bite rule, once a dog has bitten someone, the owner must take steps to make sure that the dog cannot harm people. If the court finds that reasonable care to restrain the dog and protect people was not taken, and that failure was responsible for the injury, the owner is liable for damages.

Louisiana law on dog bites

Louisiana law uses the one-bite rule, but also has several other requirements for the owner to be found liable for damages.

  • First, the owner needs to have known or should have known that the dog was dangerous to people. This might include dangerous behavior other than biting, such as growling or striking at people.
  • Second, it needs to be a fact that any injury or damage could have been prevented had the owner taken reasonable care to prevent it. For example, putting a dog in a back yard with a fence surrounding it might be deemed reasonable care to avoid injury.
  • Third, the owner did not take sufficient care to prevent injury.
  • Fourth, the animal was not provoked by the person injured or other persons.

Louisiana law does not pertain only to bites, but to other injuries as well. If an animal knocks a child down and causes injury, for example, it falls under the “dog bite” statute.

The statute also covers animals other than dogs. If, for instance, a horse causes an injury to a person, it is covered by this statute.

Defenses against Louisiana dog bite law

The owner can use several defenses. The first is that the injured party or another party provoked the animal. If a dog is fenced in, for example, and neighborhood teenagers are poking at it with a stick, resultant dog bites, occurring through the fence or as a result of a dog jumping the fence, might be considered the result of provocation.

The second is comparative negligence. An owner could argue that the injured party bears part of the blame. If neighbors cut across a backyard despite “Beware of Dog” signs prominently displayed, it can be argued that they were partially to blame for being attacked by a dog. Any monetary damages, if that argument is successful, are reduced by the percentage the court finds the plaintiff at fault.

Need a dog bite attorney?

If you have issues with a dog bite or other injury involving an animal, we can help. Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices for your convenience in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana.

For a free consultation with a Baton Rouge or Lafayette dog bite attorney, call today or contact us online.

Additional “Louisiana one bite law” resources:

  1. Dog Bites. WebMD.
  2. State of Louisiana, Department of Health and Hospitals. Center for Community and Preventive Health. Protocol for Animal Control and Law Enforcement Agencies Addressing Animal Bites and Potential Rabies Exposures. June 6, 2013.
  3. Louisiana Civil Code. Book III. Of the Different Modes of Acquiring the Ownership of Things. Title V. Obligations Arising Without Agreement. Chapter 3. Of Offenses and Quasi Offenses. Art. 2321. Damage caused by animals.
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Questions of Liability in Louisiana Animal Attacks

May 31, 2017 Animal Attack 0 Comments

beware of dogWhile dog bites are responsible for a significant proportion of lawsuits brought over animal attack injuries, an alarming number of incidents involving other animals such as ferrets, snakes, birds and cats also lead to litigation. Regardless of the type of animal responsible for causing serious harm, it is important for victims to familiarize themselves with the liability rules which may help them secure fair financial compensation.

Dangerous animal attacks

The unfortunate truth is that even pets who appear to be fully domesticated and well-behaved can sometimes act on their natural attack instincts and produce serious injury to unsuspecting visitors. In addition, there are also situations in which individuals negligently attempt to keep wild animals on their property, in violation of local laws and regulations. Too often the result is an animal attack injury that leaves the victim to contend with costly medical bills, lasting disability, lost wages, physical agony and emotional trauma from which it can be difficult to completely recover.

Liability when animals attack in Louisiana

Louisiana statute provides that an animal’s owner is answerable for any harm it does to others, provided there is a showing that he or she knew or should have known that harm would likely ensue, that reasonable care could have prevented the harm and that such care was not taken.

Individuals who take it upon themselves to house animals typically considered to be wild in nature, including alligators and monkeys, are typically considered liable for the harm those animals cause to others.

In cases involving dog attacks, a clearly stated strict liability standard has been legislatively imposed on owners across the state. This means that a dog’s owner is liable for injuries to property or persons stemming from an attack which are not traceable to the victim’s own provocation of the animal. This is true even if the dog in question exhibited no prior history of aggressive behavior.

Potential defenses to animal bite claims

Despite the strict liability standard applied in dog attack cases across Louisiana, certain defenses do exist which may be raised by animal owners in order to escape responsibility for paying damages. For instance, a dog owner may argue that he or she had no ability to prevent what ultimately occurred, that the victim engaged in behaviors which provoked the injurious behavior, and/or that the victim was not lawfully on the premises where the incident took place. As in all injury cases, a comprehensive examination of the underlying facts conducted by a knowledgeable attorney is critical to formulating effective counterarguments in the face of such defense tactics.

Fighting on behalf of animal attack victims

Nobody expects to be the target of a vicious animal attack. Because every type of animal attack requires thorough investigation and sound legal strategies, the aid of a seasoned injury attorney can be vital to obtaining the outcome victims deserve. If you have suffered due to the actions of a dangerous animal and the potential negligence of the person responsible for housing and controlling it, Louisiana dog bite attorney Bart Bernard is prepared to help assert your right to justice. To learn more, call the firm’s Baton Rouge or Lafayette location.

Additional Resources on Louisiana Dog and Animal Attacks:

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, Art. 2321 – Damage caused by animals,
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Dog Bites,
  3. American Veterinary Medicine Association, Infographic: Dog Bites by the Numbers,
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How To Measure Damages In a Wrongful Death Case

May 11, 2017 Personal Injury Lawsuits 0 Comments

personal-injury-wrongful-death-2The wrongful death of a loved one is often a surreal experience that turns the family’s life upside down. Even after the impact sinks in, the family is left to deal with the reality every day, from the loss of the loved one’s presence to the end of their financial support.

Louisiana law recognizes the right of the family to recover for these losses. Compensation can include several types of loss, each of which is measured in a different way.

Wrongful death and survival actions

Louisiana Civil Code Section 2315.2 defines a wrongful death as occurring when “a person dies due to the fault of another” and it allows certain family members to bring a claim for damages they suffered as a result.

Section 2315.1 says that when a person dies by an offense, the right to recover for the personal injury survives for one year after the death and may be brought by certain family members.

Section 2315.2 and § 2315.1 may sound the same but they are actually different. The wrongful death statute – § 2315.2 – recognizes the rights of certain family members to recover for their own losses. The survival statute – § 2315.1 – pertains to the rights of the wrongful death victim and passes the right to certain family members.

Both statutes list who may bring an action. The lists are identical and first designate a surviving spouse or child. If there are none, then other surviving family in the order listed in the statute (the victim’s parents, siblings, or grandparents). The right to bring the claims are inheritable, so in some cases other relatives like nieces and nephews may be eligible claimants.

If you are the relative of a victim of wrongful death in Louisiana, speak with an attorney to determine whether the statute grants you the right to bring a claim.

Economic and non-economic damages

Wrongful death and survival claims are both broken down into economic (or “special”) damages and non-economic (or “general”) damages.

Economic damages include losses that can be readily assigned a numerical value. In a wrongful death claim, this may include the value of the loved one’s lost income and the value of services, like childcare, that the loved one provided for the family. In a survival claim, it usually includes medical bills incurred just before death.

Non-economic damages are less concrete. In a wrongful death claim, it can include the family’s emotional suffering. In a survival claim, it can include the lost loved one’s physical pain and suffering – whether it lasted minutes or days – before death.

Non-economic damages are harder to place a number on so they may be estimated using formulas based on the type of loss. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help determine what amounts are realistic in a given community.

Speak with a Louisiana wrongful death lawyer

The wrongful death of a loved one is emotionally and financially devastating and the wrongful death action that follows can be psychologically draining as well. Put your case in the hands of an attentive and caring wrongful death attorney in Baton Rouge. Bart Bernard and his staff are dedicated to helping injury victims secure fair compensation from those who are at fault.

Additional Wrongful Death Resources:

  1. Louisiana State Legislature, CC 2315.2,
  2. Louisiana State Legislature, CC 2315.1,
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