Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Blog

How Crash Reconstruction Works After an Accident

December 17, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Have you ever wondered how law enforcement determines the cause of a car accident if everyone in the vehicle has died? What if the people in the crash survive, but don’t remember or didn’t see what happened? What if there is a dispute among the witnesses about what happened? When all the facts of an accident are disputed or unknown, car accident reconstruction teams are an excellent resource to help investigators reveal liability for the crash and determine who should be held responsible for the injuries sustained by the victims.

Car Accident Reconstruction Team Methodology

Crash reconstruction is very similar to the work of forensics experts at a crime scene. Many areas throughout the country have accident reconstruction professionals that work as a division of local law enforcement. Teams consist of specialists such as forensic engineers, mathematicians, mechanics, physicists, computer graphics specialists, and photographers.

Crash reconstruction teams utilize scientific methodology to determine the cause of a car accident. The scene of the crash usually reveals the first clues. For example, skid marks can help determine speed and reveal which drivers applied their breaks and when, and who perhaps had the last chance to avoid the accident. Damage to the vehicles, including point of impact and broken glass help uncover the angle of impact. Medical reports from the victims are also useful to the team in their evaluation of the angle and magnitude of the impact. Traffic light functioning, the time of day, road conditions, and weather reports all factor into the team’s simulations and conclusions.

How Attorneys Work with Crash Reconstruction Experts

While crash reconstruction teams are frequently used when the facts are unknown, they are also utilized when the facts are in dispute.

It is very common for each of the drivers involved to give very different versions of the same accident. Passenger and witness reports may also be in conflict. The report of the crash reconstruction professionals can help resolve the drivers’ inconsistent stories and reveal the truth of what happened. This evidence can be very persuasive to an insurance adjuster seeking to settle to a claim as well as to a jury deciding the battle in court.

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, Bart Bernard works with the best reconstruction investigators to get to the truth behind the crash and gather convincing evidence for your case.

Speak with Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Bart Bernard

Bart Bernard is one Louisiana’s leading car accident attorneys. Our legal team includes top investigators including crash reconstructionists who work together to build your best case. Our offices our conveniently located in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana, consultations are always free, and there is a never a fee for our services unless we collect compensation on your behalf. Call today and Get it Done Right™ with Bart Bernard.

  1. Kinkle, Fredrick. “The wreckage speaks: A crash reconstruction team tells stories that victims can’t.” The Washington Post. February 27, 2018.
  2. Weiss, Kurt D. “Auto accident reconstruction: The basics you must know.” Plaintiff. November 2007.
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What Are the “No Zones” of a Truck?

December 12, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Big rig semi truck blue wolf of roadsTrucks, tractor-trailers, semis, and buses can be more dangerous to each other and to other vehicles than cars can. Why? Because they have “no zones.” No zones are the blind spots where even the most attentive truck driver cannot see other vehicles. As a result, the drivers have no idea that another vehicle is there. They may move into another lane, back up, or make other moves that they assume are safe – but that can be dangerous and even fatal to other motorists.

What’s the best way to deal with no zones? Be aware of them. Drive defensively whenever you are around a large truck. Position your own vehicle so that the truck driver can see you at all times.

Make Sure You Can See the Driver’s Face

The best defensive driving tip around trucks is to look for the driver’s face in the side mirrors. If you see the truck driver’s face, it means the driver can also see you. It’s a sure sign that you are not in a blind spot.

But if you look in the driver’s side mirrors on a truck and do not see his face, the driver also cannot see you. You are in a blind spot. They have no idea you are driving to the side of them or in back of them. Your chances of having an accident while driving in the truck’s “no zone” are much greater.

Avoid the 4 “No Zones”

There are “no zones”  on each side of a large, 18-wheeler style truck.

  • The front
  • Left side
  • Right side
  • The rear

The Front

A truck driver cannot see for almost 20 feet in front of his vehicle, because of the way trucks are designed and the height at which drivers sit. Never cut in front of a truck in the 20-foot no zone in front.

The Left and Right Sides

Tractor trailers have very big blind spots on both sides, that angle outward. Use the rule of thumb that you should be able to see the driver. To be on the safe side, avoid driving to the side of a truck if at all possible.

The Rear

Many drivers do not realize that trucks don’t have a rear-view mirror. As a result, they have a blind spot of roughly 200 feet from the truck’s rear end. To be on the safe side, don’t follow too closely behind a truck. Not only can the driver not see you, but the size of an average vehicle relative to the significant height of the truck makes it impossible for you to see what might be ahead of it and cause it make a sudden stop.

Truck Accident Attorney in Louisiana

If you or a loved one needs expert legal representation in the wake of an accident, the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has years of experience handling 18-wheeler accident claims. Get it Done Right™ with truck accident lawyer Bart Bernard.

Additional Resources:

  1. State of Utah Department of Transportation. Know the No-Zones.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. What Is the No-Zone?
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Roadway Fatalities Down in 2017

December 11, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

traffic highway

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, recently announced that total roadway fatalities across the country dropped in 2017. The news is especially significant because both 2015 and 2016 witnessed significant rises in the number of people killed across the U.S. in accidents on the road, of 6.5% and 8.4%, respectively.

Preliminary figures for the first half of 2018 seem to indicate that the trend of decreasing fatalities was continuing into this year.

Altogether, 37,133 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, according to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Other data collected by the NHTSA was mixed. The data on pedestrian deaths was encouraging, as they too fell nearly 2% — the first time the numbers had fallen in four years. But the number of fatal crashes involving combination trucks climbed 5.8%.

More deaths occurred in urban settings than in rural ones throughout the nation, for the second consecutive year.

Speeding, Distracted Driving, and Alcohol Cited as Causes

Despite the drop year over year, the fact that more than 37,000 people lost their lives to crashes that were likely preventable is still cause for concern.

The NHTSA cited the top three dangers in vehicle accidents as being driving too fast for road conditions or over the speed limit, distracted driving, and driving under the influence (DUI).

In addition, the agency noted that driving while impaired by drugs was an emerging risk factor.

Drive Safely This Holiday Season

The lessons from the data are clear. When you drive, obey the speed limit and drive at a safe speed for road conditions. Don’t drive while distracted – which means no texting, e-mailing, playing online games, or even gazing off the road. Your eyes need to be on the road at all times to drive safely. If you have been drinking, don’t drive! Call a friend, family member, or ride service or designate a driver at social events. The same goes for drug use; never indulge and drive. Call a friend, family member, or ride service to get you.

Speak with Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer Bart Bernard

If you or a loved one has been in a motor vehicle accident in Louisiana, call the experienced car accident attorneys at the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers. We have offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We will be happy to review your case.

Our initial consultation is free, so call today! Get it Done Right™ with Bart.

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Fact Research Note. 2017 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview. October 2018.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. DOT Announces 2017 Roadway Fatalities Down. October 3, 2018.
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Five Tips for Driving in Gusty Winds

December 10, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Most drivers are well aware of the hazards posed by inclement weather conditions such as heavy rains, snow, and ice. But what about gusty winds?

Winds of even 30 to 45 mph can make driving significantly more dangerous. First, they can actually blow your car off course. Second, they can blow other vehicles, including big tractor-trailers, off course, posing significant danger to other motorists on the road. High profile vehicles such as trucks, vans, and SUVs are particularly at increased risk in high winds.

Strong winds can also blow around debris such as tree limbs, road detritus, or fallen cargo. Here are 5 tips for safe driving in gusty winds.

#1 Watch the weather report

The U.S. National Weather Service provides wind advisories prior to and during the time high winds are expected. A Wind Advisory, for example, alerts viewers that gusts of up to 45 mph or sustained hour-long winds of 30 mph or above are expected in 36 hours. A High Wind Watch will let you know if sustained winds of 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or above are expected in the coming 12 to 48 hours.

Even the low end of the scale, 30 mph, is enough to blow smaller objects around. If you have a choice of whether or not to drive when wind advisories are issued, it is safer not to. If you must drive, follow the steps below.

#2 Be alert

Stay extra vigilant behind the wheel during wind advisories. If a large truck is moving from side to side, try to get away from it – semis or big rigs can cause fatal injury if their trailers detach and collide with another vehicle. Also be on the lookout for tree limbs that can blow into the stream of traffic, posing additional dangers.

#3 Drive slowly

It’s prudent to decrease your speed during high winds. The faster you’re going, the less reaction time you have. If you need to stop or pull over suddenly, it’s safer to do so if you’re already traveling at a slower speed.

#4 In side winds, steer in the opposite direction

For drivers, side winds are likely the most frightening, as they can make your vehicle skid laterally– and, if they are high enough, give you the sensation you are fighting with your car to stay on the road.

If side winds occur as you’re driving, steer gently and slowly in the opposite direction. Never panic or turn the steering wheel suddenly.

#5 Adjust to head or tail winds

Head or tail winds are much easier to drive in, as they do not affect the orientation of the car. They may either slow you (head winds) or speed you up (tail winds). If tail winds are making the car go too fast, adjust your speed, but don’t use the break to slow the car, because it can cause the vehicle to spin.

Legal representation you can count on

If you have been involved in a vehicle crash where the other driver was negligent, you may be eligible for compensation.

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has extensive experience in successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident claims. We have offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Our initial consultation on your case is free of charge. Call today to speak with a Louisiana truck accident lawyer who gets results. Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™!

Additional Resources:

  1. How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind. November 12, 2014.
  2. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Weather Service. Wind Information Page.
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Drunk Driving in Louisiana: A Growing Epidemic?

November 30, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Driving while impaired by alcohol caused roughly 10,497 fatalities nationwide in 2016, according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But data collected by Louisiana officials indicate that there were 333 deaths in our state caused by alcohol impairment that same year. (The figures are collected by the Louisiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Crash Dashboard.)

That’s a shocking percentage: nearly 32% of the total deaths from driving while alcohol-impaired in the U.S. come from Louisiana. The rate of deaths per 100,000 is 3.3 nationally, but it’s much higher in Louisiana at 5.2.

The national group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), rates all states for its laws concerning drinking and driving. In 2016, Louisiana received a 2.5 rating out of a possible 5. Mississippi, by contrast, scored 4.5 out of 5. Only 19% of Mississippi’s total traffic deaths stem from drunk driving. But 30% of Louisiana’s do.

Have drunk driving deaths in Louisiana risen to epidemic proportions?

Prevention Is Key

The sad fact is that drunk driving deaths and accidents in Louisiana and through the country are preventable. We need to encourage all residents of Louisiana not to drink and drive.

In Louisiana,  it is illegal for drivers 21 years of age and older to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.02 or above. Many law enforcement officials, though, believe the laws should be stricter. They see the carnage on our roads from drunk driving every day.

Our state also has an implied consent in which anyone with a Louisiana driver’s license has implicitly agreed to a test if law enforcement has reasonable cause to believe that the driver may have been drinking or using illegal substances. The test can be of breath, blood, or urine. If  you violate the implied consent law – that is, refuse to be tested – your driver’s license may be suspended for one year.

If you are convicted of a first offense, you may be fined up to $1,000 (plus any court costs), sentenced to jail for a term between 10 days and 6 months, and possibly have an ignition interlock device (IID) placed in your vehicle. Your driving privileges may also be suspended for 90 days.

Penalties and fines go up for second and third offenses.

Do You Need a DUI Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge or Lafayette?

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver, choose a DUI accident lawyer Baton Rouge and Lafayette trust to fight for maximum compensation. For your convenience, Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Our initial consultation is free and there are no legal fees unless we win your case.

Additional Resources:

  1. Eldridge, Haylee. Louisiana searches for solution to drunk driving epidemic. The Daily Reveille. July 13, 2018.
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Louisiana.
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When To Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge

November 26, 2018 Auto Accidents 0 Comments

Car That Has Been In A Front End Collision.

The minutes, hours, days, and even weeks after a car accident can raise unexpected questions that require informed decision-making. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible is the surest way to guard your rights in those times when you have more pressing matters to take care of.

Do you need a car accident lawyer?

Most people believe that if they just go to court and tell the truth, everything will work out for them. While it is important to tell the truth, personal injury litigation – including the information-gathering and negotiating that can take place long before a lawsuit is filed – is an adversarial process. Each side is working to position its claims, and this process can be intimidating for non-lawyers.

An attorney can help you through both that initial pre-litigation stage, and if necessary, through to trial, helping you understand:

  • The value of the case, based on severity of the accident and resulting injuries;
  • The fairness of settlement offers;
  • The process, and commitment involved, in taking a case all the way to trial; and
  • Legal and factual issues that can complicate the case, like when the other driver was on the job, uninsured, or driving a government vehicle, or when you had a pre-existing condition aggravated in the accident.

Once familiar with the pre-litigation and litigation process, it is easy to understand why parties who are represented by lawyers receive greater compensation than those who represent themselves.

How soon should I hire an attorney?

When it comes to retaining legal counsel after an accident, the sooner the better. Insurance companies get to work as soon as they receive notice of the accident, so within days, you may receive calls offering a low-ball settlement. In other words, the process can take off very quickly.

In Louisiana, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is one year but it is not wise to wait that long to seek legal advice. By retaining a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident, you can:

  • Stop opposing counsel or insurance agents from contacting you; they must instead contact your attorney;
  • Allow your attorney to speak on your behalf, preventing mistakes like an apology made out of politeness that is later used to show fault;
  • Receive assistance in actively preserving documentation and other evidence to build your case; and
  • Ensure all costs and expenses accounted for so you receive full compensation.

Speak with a car accident lawyer in Baton Rouge

When you or a loved one needs the assurance that comes from putting your trust in an experienced and dedicated car accident lawyer in Baton Rouge, call the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers. With offices in Lafayette and Acadiana, we are committed to meeting you where you need us.

Initial consultations are always free, and we never take a fee unless we win money on your behalf. Call today to find out how we can help you pursue your legal options.

Additional Louisiana car accident resources:

  1. Justia, 2011 Louisiana Laws Civil Code CC 3492 Delictual actions,
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What Are Truck Underride Crashes, and What Can Be Done About Them?

November 20, 2018 Truck Accidents 0 Comments

Big rig semi truck blue wolf of roadsSo far this year, there have been reports of at least 25 truck underride accidents in 20 different states. These gruesome collisions have claimed the lives of 20 people and seriously injured scores more. Every year, hundreds of people are killed in underride crashes, when a passenger vehicle slides under the back or side of a commercial tractor trailer, typically sheering off its top. All too often, these crashes result in debilitating harm and horrific death for vehicle occupants.

One of the earliest truck underride accidents involved the famous Hollywood star, Jayne Mansfield, who was killed in a crash just outside of New Orleans. Nearly six decades later, these deadly accidents are still happening on our nation’s roadways.

Regulators say side underride guards will save lives

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 1,470 people in passenger cars died in accidents involving 18-wheelers in 2016. Of those fatalities, nearly 300 passengers were in a vehicle that struck the side of a semi-truck, and 238 were killed when their vehicle hit the rear.

Russ Radar, a spokesperson for IIHS, states that truck underride crashes are entirely preventable, adding that side underride guards will save lives. By law, all tractor trailers and 18-wheelers are required to install rear guards, which have been shown to increase likelihood of survival in the event of an underride.

These large metal barriers are designed to keep smaller passenger vehicles from going underneath the truck’s carriage during a crash. However, IIHS crash data has shown that underride guards manufactured under the current U.S. safety standards are not strong enough and need to be upgraded.

New bill to stop underride accidents

Last year, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bipartisan bill known as The Stop Underrides Act of 2017. If passed, the bill would fortify rear underride guards and mandate that all tractor trailers be fitted with metal barriers on their sides and front. The legislation would also mandate periodic inspections of truck underride guards. Semis that fail the inspection would be taken out of service until the underride guard defects were addressed.

“There is a massive safety design flaw that makes collisions between cars and trucks much deadlier than they need to be,” Senator Gillibrand told NBC News. “This bipartisan legislation would save lives.”

Many critics say this important legislation is long overdue, and that the government has waited far too long to adopt tougher safety standards regarding underride laws.

Truck accident lawyer serving Louisiana

The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has a long track record of success litigating 18-wheeler accident claims, helping clients recover money damages for medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma and the wrongful death of a loved one.

If you or someone you love needs expert legal guidance from a Lafayette and Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer, we invite you to reach out for a free and confidential case evaluation with attorney Bart Bernard today. Click Bart First, Call Bart First™. 

Additional Resources on Truck Underride Crashes:

  1., Lawmakers Call for Guards on Trucks to Prevent Deadly Underride Crashes
  3. NBC News, Senators say bill would save motorists from being killed in truck crashes
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