Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

D.O.T. Announces Funding to Stop Drunk Driving

January 3, 2017 News 0 Comments

Whiskey with car keys and handcuffs concept for drinking and driving

Injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving are no “accidents,” they are 100 percent preventable says Dr. Mark Rosekind, administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is no secret that the holiday season sees an uptick in DUI crashes and deaths across the country, which government regulators hoped to curtail. Recent estimates tally more than 10,260 deaths each year due to driving while intoxicated, and many of these fatalities occur on New Year’s Eve when everyone is out celebrating.

In an effort to curb the number of needless deaths and injuries, NHTSA regulators launched their annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign just before the holidays. Local law enforcement personnel were instructed to ramp up efforts to protect the public from impaired drivers, and made available a new video website called Last Call 360 that allows visitors to experience a virtual bar scene, interact with other patrons, and understand the devastating ramifications of drunk driving.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign

“We want everyone to be safe this holiday season, which is why we’re urging the public to make the right choice, follow the law and drive sober,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a December press release. While public education is important, officials are also looking toward advanced technologies in the quest to halt preventable DUI crashes and deaths.

In fact, regulators have recently dedicated more than $5 million to help develop a safety technology soon to be employed by automakers that would detect motorists’ blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and automatically prevent them from starting a vehicle if they were above the legal limit to drive.

With hope, this innovative technology called DADSS will soon be available in newer vehicles, keeping drunk drivers off the road. The NHTSA also released some very sobering facts about the consequences of driving while drunk. During the New Year’s holiday period in 2015, drunk driving crashes claimed 31 lives each day, which comes to nearly 140 fatalities over a 4.5 day period. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), DUI crashes kill an average of 27 Americans every day, costing taxpayers a whopping $132 billion each year.

The most catastrophic cost of these accidents is the loss of life, leaving many families without the love, companionship and support of a father, a mother, a child or a sibling.

When you have been injured or lost a family member to a drunk driver in Louisiana, you need the assistance of an expert attorney who can pursue maximum damages in a court of law.

Victims may be entitled to sue for compensation to account for:

  • Medical and hospital expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Property damage
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

Legal counsel for DUI victims

Louisiana car accident attorney Bart Bernard supports any initiatives designed to stop drunk driving accidents. As a seasoned litigator of personal injury and wrongful death claims, it is his goal to see that justice is served and victims are rightfully compensated for their losses.

To explore your legal options or request a free case review with Bart Bernard, we invite you to call 1-88-GET-BART or stop by our convenient office locations in Lafayette or Baton Rouge.

Additional drunk driving crash resources

  1. MADD.org, Drunk Driving Statistics,http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html
  2. NHTSA, U.S. DOT urges public to ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ and announces funding for innovative technology to end drunk driving https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/us-dot-urges-public-%E2%80%98drive-sober-or-get-pulled-over%E2%80%99-and-announces-funding-innovative
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Who is Legally Responsible for a Defective Product?

December 28, 2016 Defective Devices 0 Comments

Red warning exclamation point signA person may not have reason to think about just how many products – both commercial and consumer – he or she comes into contact with each day or how these products may jeopardize personal safety if they fail. We are potentially in peril at any given moment and rely on the safety features of products to prevent danger; when these safety features fail or a product is designed improperly, the results can redefine the course of a victim’s life.

Part of the job of a product liability attorney is to determine who may be legally responsible for a defective product. There is not always a clear-cut answer. Including the correct parties in a product liability claim can make all the difference in receiving fair compensation for injuries. Bart Bernard helps injury victims answer these kinds of questions and has earned a track record of success as a result.

Negligence and defective products

Often overlooked everyday items lead to personal injury and property damage ranging from the most minor to tragically fatal. Consider in an average work day:

  • The coffee maker for the first morning cup of joe, which may cause extensive damage if it catches fire
  • Each of the automobiles on the road throughout the drive to work, which can cause serious injury to other drivers if the brakes fail
  • The office swivel chairs which can cause strains and sprains in the event of a collapse
  • The electrical charger that powers the personal cell phone and may cause burn injuries if it catches fire

The party legally responsible in each instance will depend on who was negligent.

At the center of most personal injury and property damage cases, from dog bites to product liability injuries, is the question of negligence. A party is negligent if it was under a duty to do or not do a thing, and by breaching that duty proximately caused the injury or damages. In a product liability case, the plaintiff needs to prove that a defendant was negligent and therefore must be able to point to what duty was breached.

Some of the possible scenarios in a product liability lawsuit:

  • The designer incorporated a safety flaw
  • The manufacturer used the wrong materials
  • The distributor improperly labeled the risks

Cost of defective products

When people are injured by products, the injuries can cause tremendous economic and emotional loss. One indicator is the disparity in personal injury awards by type of cause. According to the Insurance Information Institute, product liability claims top the personal injury jury verdict rankings substantially, with the median 2014 verdict at $3,000,000. For perspective, the next highest median verdict was medical malpractice, at $775,500, followed by business negligence at $226,667.

In order for product liability verdicts to be collectible, the plaintiff must include the proper parties and also ensure that the claims raised are thorough in order to trigger coverage by the defendants’ insurers.

At the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers, we know which questions to ask in order to find the answers that establish liability. We help victims achieve maximum compensation for their injuries. Call any time, day or night, for a free case consultation.

Product liability resources

  1. Bart Bernard, Product Liability Case Review, //product-liability/
  2. Insurance Information Institute, Product Liability, http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/product-liability
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Traffic Fatalities on Rise, Apps may be to Blame

December 6, 2016 News 0 Comments

Car accident side impactAn alarming rise in traffic fatalities in the past two years have left experts scrambling to find a reason behind the trend. Surprisingly, the increase in deaths may be attributed, at least in part, to the increase in the use of mobile devices while behind the wheel. In fact, the connection has led some to plead for new regulations that would eliminate a driver’s ability to use those apps while driving a motor vehicle.

Media reports have discovered that while increased awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving had led to decreasing fatalities on the nation’s roads, 2015 and 2016 have actually seen an uptick in traffic deaths. After an eight-percent increase in fatalities in 2015, 2016 has been shaping up to be even more deadly. The first six months of 2016 saw a nine-percent increase in fatalities over the previous year. Numbers are not yet available for the second half of 2016, so time will tell whether the second half of 2016 will see a similar increase.

Distracted driving a national epidemic

One of the reasons for the increase in fatalities is likely a larger number of cars on the road due to lower unemployment rates. People are using their cars to commute to their jobs or simply get out and about now that their income levels have increased. Reduced gas prices may also be driving the trend. However, distracted driving may be another reason that has safety experts seriously concerned.

According to the federal government, distracted driving played a role in around 10 percent of the 35,000 traffic fatalities in 2015.  Distracted driving can mean a number of things, from eating to using a phone while behind the wheel. One thing is for certain – distracted driving of any kind is a significant danger on roadways. Today, distracted driving has expanded from simply talking on a cell phone to sending texts, browsing the Internet and using a host of different apps like Snapchat and Waze.

“I’d put it as one of the biggest causes of accidents,” Steve Tomzik, battalion chief of the Streamwood Fire Department in Illinois told the Chicago Tribune. “A lot of people in cars are now so self-contained, they’re really not paying attention. They’re eating a sandwich, talking to their friends, running their lives. You should be paying attention to what you are doing.”

Tomzik admitted to the Chicago Tribune he has actually witnessed distracted drivers weaving in lanes, creating a similar danger to those driving while under the influence. Tomzik added that he has seen devastating consequences in many of these accidents, including drivers and passengers going through windshields and others pinned underneath vehicles.

To combat at least a large percentage of this danger, safety officials have proposed that makers of smartphones create software that would lock drivers out of their ability to text or go online when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Drivers would still be permitted to make calls and navigation systems could still be accessed as long as they instructed drivers on how to use the system without distraction. Other functions, including texting, reading text and browsing the Internet would not be allowed.

Legal assistance in Louisiana

When you are the victim of a distracted driving accident, the consequences of that event can be life-changing in a variety of ways. Your injuries may prohibit you from working, while medical bills to treat your injuries can continue to mount.

Victims of distracted driving accidents need experienced legal help to ensure their rights are protected and they receive every type of compensation allowed under the law. Louisiana car accident lawyer Bart Bernard has the experience, skill and resources to help victims maximize the value of their claim. To schedule a free case review, call 225-275-BART in Baton Rouge or 337-989-2278 in Lafayette.

Resources:

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New Law Grants Nursing Home Residents Right to Sue

November 11, 2016 Nursing Home Neglect 0 Comments

nursing home abuseHistorically, federal-funded nursing homes have forced patients and their relatives to sign pre-dispute arbitration agreements prior to admission. By signing these documents, patients and their families were giving up their right to sue in the event of negligence, abuse or other harm committed by staff.

Under the previous system of private arbitration, claims of wrongful death, elder abuse, financial exploitation and sexual harassment never saw a courtroom, essentially stripping the basic rights afforded to patients and their families.

A new rule, passed by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), promises to give new protections to more than 1.5 million nursing home residents and their families. In late September of this year, the agency banned the enforcement of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in the 15,000 long-term care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Now, when a claim arises, residents or their families will have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit, although voluntary arbitration is still available.

Improvements in care, safety & consumer protections

With this new decision, the CMS has restored a fundamental right of nursing home residents throughout the nation – their day in court. The rule is part of a larger, over-arching transformation of policy and procedures in assisted living centers. As part of an effort to set high standards of quality care and safety for elders in these facilities, the CMS is reevaluating staff competency and skill sets in nursing homes, re-vamping its infection and control program, and enhancing training on caring with seniors with dementia.

Considering that elder abuse rates are on the rise, many advocates are applauding these new rules, which mark the first comprehensive update to CMS policy in more than 25 years.

The new policy, which is slated to go into effect this month, has not been welcomed by the nursing home industry. Critics argue that arbitration clauses have saved the government millions of dollars in legal fees, and that by allowing lawsuits to be filed, funds may dwindle forcing some facilities to shut down.

Legal remedies for nursing home abuse

Many families, who are already under pressure to find a suitable facility for an elder loved one, do not read the fine print when signing nursing home admission forms. Unfortunately, under the previous clauses, victims were not able to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions, and many were forced to settle privately for unfair amounts. Research has shown that claims settled through arbitration generally receive 35 percent lower payouts compared to those litigated in court.

Louisiana elder abuse attorney Bart Bernard assists families whose loved ones have been mistreated or abused in a nursing home or assisted living facility. If you suspect substandard care or neglect, speak with an attorney who can evaluate the case and determine if you have a right to compensation. For a free legal consult, please call today.

Resources:

  1. NPR, New Rule Preserves Patients’ Rights To Sue Nursing Homes In Court http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/29/495918132/new-rule-preserves-patients-rights-to-sue-nursing-homes-in-court
  2. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, CMS finalizes improvements in care, safety, and consumer protections for long-term care facility residents https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2016-Press-releases-items/2016-09-28.html
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Single Car Crash Kills Abbeville Man

November 8, 2016 News 0 Comments

Shards of car glass on the street

On Sunday, October 30, 2016, a single-vehicle early morning crash claimed the life of 21-year-old Adan Quinn of Abbeville.

The crash took place before 2:30 a.m. on US 167 near River Road. Quinn was reportedly driving a 2007 Infinity southbound of 167 when he ran off the right side of the road. He then over-corrected the vehicle, crossing the other southbound lanes of traffic and over the median, overturning. Quinn was partially ejected. He was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead on the scene. His passenger, Bryan Gamez, 21, was wearing a seat belt and survived the crash with moderate injuries.

Police have not yet determined the cause of the fatal crash but suspect impairment may have played a part; toxicology samples are still being analyzed by the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab. State Troopers have used the tragedy as an occasion to remind drivers to avoid distractions while driving, wear a seat belt, and never drive impaired.

Effects of distracted driving

The dangers of distracted driving cannot be understated; nationwide, it kills nine people every day and injures 1,000 more. The problem is especially prevalent among the younger drivers; teen drivers cause one out of every ten fatal car accidents and 14 percent of all auto crash injuries.

It should not be surprising that a leading distraction these days is texting, which makes a crash 23 times more likely. Researchers have found that in an average scenario, a driver sending or receiving a text takes their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At freeway speed, this is long enough to drive the entire length of a football field without looking. Texting is not just a visual activity though; it occupies the hands while also drawing the driver’s attention away from the road at the same time.

In Louisiana, lawmakers recognize the risks involved in distracted driving; it is against the law to operate any motor vehicle on the road while writing, sending, receiving, or reading a text-based communication. The first offense can be punishable by a $175 fine and each violation after that by a $500 fine. It is also illegal for new drivers to use a cell phone except when using it “hands free.”

Auto accident liability

When someone is injured in an accident because another person was careless, such as by driving with distractions, they may be able to recover compensation for their injuries. Compensation can include reimbursement for medical bills, payment for pain and suffering, lost wages, and in the case of death, funeral expenses and wrongful death payments. But to recover, a plaintiff must be able to establish, in a way that meets the legal criteria, that the defendant was liable for the accident.

Proving liability in a traffic crash involves knowledge of relevant laws, understanding of the mechanics involved, willingness to work with scientific and medical experts, and the ability to convey the concepts to a court and jury. For this, you should trust an experienced, dedicated car accident lawyer. The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has been representing personal injury victims in Louisiana for nearly 20 years. We know injury cases inside and out and fight tirelessly for our clients. For a free consultation in Lafayette, Lake Charles, or Baton Rouge.

Resources:

  1. Governors Highway Safety Association, Distracted Driving Laws, http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html
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2016 Brought a Sharp Rise in Traffic Fatalities

October 21, 2016 News 0 Comments

fatal car accident

From January through June of 2016,  19,100 people lost their lives on the nation’s roadways and about 2.2 million more suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

The National Safety Council has revealed that this fatality statistic reflects a troubling nine percent increase from the first six months of 2015 and an even more alarming 18 percent increase from the same time period in 2014. The cost of the deaths and car accident injuries for the first half of 2016 is estimated to be at about $205 billion.

Problems on the nation’s roadways

“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman. Hersman is the president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death,” she added. Otherwise, the total number of motor vehicle accident deaths for the entirety of 2016 could exceed 40,000. If so, it would be the first time in nine years that traffic fatalities had surpassed that threshold.

Some of the states that have seen the most significant upward trends in traffic fatalities are Vermont (up 82 percent since late 2014), Oregon, New Hampshire, and Florida.

These statistics are certainly unacceptable, but there may be a few factors behind the upward trend. During the first half of 2016, drivers in the U.S. logged an estimated 1.58 trillion miles. This was a 3.3 percent increase over the same time period during 2015. Additionally, the average gas prices from January through June were 16 percent lower than they were during 2015. “While many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are at the core of the trend,” said a written statement released by the National Safety Council.

Understanding your legal rights and options

After a car crash occurs, it can be difficult to think clearly. Victims may want to simply put the matter behind them as quickly as possible and so many of them accept the first settlement offered by the insurance carrier. But all too often, these settlements aren’t sufficient to cover medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other losses. These cases become even more complex when one or more car crash victims have lost their lives.

A skilled car accident lawyer can aggressively negotiate with the insurance carrier to secure a fair settlement. If a lawsuit is necessary; however, car accident victims and their families can rest assured that their legal counsel will be there every step of the way to provide effective advocacy.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has developed a sterling reputation among Louisiana families. Mr. Bernard has consistently secured maximum compensation for his valued clients following car accidents, motorcycle crashes, truck collisions, and other types of accidents.

Call our office today at 337.989.2278 to request a free case evaluation at our Lafayette, Baton Rouge or Lake Charles locations.

Traffic fatality resources:

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