Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Over 80 motorcyclists lose their lives every year in Louisiana, representing 11% of all traffic fatalities throughout the state, according to the National Highway Safety Administration. Many more get injured on crowded and dangerous roads like those in Baton Rouge, needing the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer to recover their losses and get back on their feet after the accident.
The most dangerous intersections in town, as far as motorcyclists are concerned, seem to be Siegen Lane & Perkins Road, Hooper Road & College Drive, Perkins & Bluebonnet Boulevard, and Perkins & Essen Lane. However, motorcyclists riding on I-12, Nicholson Drive, Staring Lane, O’Neal Lane, or Burbank Drive should be careful as well.
Motorcyclists who incur injuries and property damage in an accident they did not cause are entitled to compensation for their losses. Since the procedures they have to follow in order to obtain compensation are quite complicated, and time is not on their side, the best alternative for them is to work with an experienced Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyer like Bart Bernard.
When presented with a new case, Bart Bernard analyzes all details, identifies the party at fault for the accident, estimates his client’s losses, and identifies the best strategy to use in order to obtain the compensation his client deserves.
One of the first steps to building a solid case is identifying the party at fault. In order to succeed, the motorcycle accident lawyer will focus on identifying the cause of the accident. In the experience of Bart Bernard, Baton Rouge motorcycle accidents have one or several of the following causes:
- Drivers changing lanes or direction without reassuring themselves – Many drivers in Louisiana are not used to having motorcyclists ride alongside. When they change lanes or direction, they only pay attention to incoming cars, and they often neglect to check blind spots or signal before changing direction. Sudden lane and direction changes can be difficult to prove, but a dedicated Baton Rouge motorcycle crash lawyer will always find a way.
- Open car doors – Drivers stop cars on the Baton Rouge roadways for them or their passengers to get down all the time. Sometimes, they open the door suddenly in the path of oncoming motorcyclists, causing the latter to lose control of their vehicle, fall, and incur serious injuries, especially when riding at high speeds.
- Speeding – Everyone in Baton Rouge seems to live against the clock. People are always in a hurry, and they do not hesitate to press the acceleration paddle in order to reach their destination faster. Unfortunately, the faster they drive, the less time they have to prevent accidents, and the more serious the consequences are when they collide with other cars or with motorcycles.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – Getting behind the wheel after a drink or two, after taking drugs, or smoking weed may not seem like a big deal. However, these substances take their toll on drivers’ attention span and reaction speed, often leading to serious accidents. The presence of drugs or alcohol in a driver’s blood will significantly ease a motorcycle accident lawyer’s work.
- Lane splitting – Since motorcycles occupy less space on the road, many drivers are under the impression that they have the right to overtake them by driving between lanes. Louisiana laws prohibit lane splitting, and any Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyer knows that.
- Failing to maintain a safe distance – Many drivers expect motorcyclists to ride fast, they fail to maintain a safe distance, and when the motorcyclist is forced to slow down or stop, they end up hitting them. There are also situations when drivers whose cars’ stop lights don’t work hit the brake in the middle of the road for no particular reason, making it impossible for the motorcyclist following them to stop in due time.
- Inexperienced drivers – Young and inexperienced drivers often misjudge speed and distance and panic and lose control of the vehicle when faced with various road dangers. They end up making unsafe moves and getting into the path of other motorists, or losing control of their vehicle and causing serious accidents.
- Dangerous road conditions – Rainwater, oil leaks, debris, potholes, poor visibility, inadequate road markings and signage, and drivers’ failure to adjust speed to these conditions can quickly lead to accidents. Sometimes, when the company administrating or maintaining a road fails to do their job, and a motorcyclist incurs injuries as a result of their negligence, their motorcycle accident attorney may decide to sue the respective company or file a compensation claim with their insurer.
- Motorcycle defects – Motorcycles malfunction too, sometimes because of manufacturing defects, other times because they do not receive adequate maintenance. There are also situations when the motorcyclist takes their vehicle to a repair shop and pays for repair or maintenance work that the mechanics never perform. When that happens, an experienced Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to sue the manufacturer or the repair shop and make them compensate all the losses their client incurred.
It is important to note that, under Louisiana laws, all the parties involved in an accident can share liability for it. The law sees the overall liability for an accident as 100% and distributes fault percentages to the parties involved, according to the details of the case. The liability percentage attributed to one party determines the percentage of the total damages that party will be liable for.
For example, someone 25% at fault for an accident that resulted in total losses of $10,000 will be liable for $2,500 of those losses. If they incurred losses exceeding $2,500 themselves, they will only recover the difference. This means the primary objective of every party involved in the accident will be to attribute as much of the fault as possible to the other party or parties.
When it comes to motorcyclists, drivers often try to blame them, claiming that they ride at high speeds, perform dangerous maneuvers in traffic, and overtake other vehicles without maintaining a safe distance. This means that any motorcyclist injured in an accident will have three objectives:
- Prove the fault of the other party
- Prove their own innocence
- Prove the losses they incurred
This is easier said than done. In order to determine whether their client shared liability for the accident, a motorcycle accident lawyer will often begin by reviewing the traffic laws their client may have violated. Here is a brief overview of the most critical motorcycle laws in force in Louisiana.
Main Motorcycle Laws in Force in Louisiana and How Their Violations May Impact the Work of a Baton Rouge Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Helmets Are Mandatory
Although many motorcyclists hate this rule, failure to comply with it could make them responsible for any head injuries they incur in a motorcycle accident in Baton Rouge or anywhere else in Lousiana. Research shows that motorcycle helmets help 67% of their wearers avoid brain injuries. Motorcyclists who do not wear helmets risk getting a ticket.
Protective Eye Gear Is Mandatory
The role of the gear is to protect the motorcyclists’ eyes against wind, pebbles, and road debris. Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32:190.1 stipulates that motorcyclists have to wear protective eyewear and the gear they wear at night should not be tinted.
No Kids Younger Than Five
Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32:191 (E) prohibits motorcyclists to transport children under five years of age on their vehicle. Motorcyclists who violate this stipulation and get into an accident could be liable for any injuries the child they were transporting incurs, despite their motorcycle accident attorney’s best efforts.
No Multitasking or Distractions Allowed
Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32:191 stipulates that motorcyclists should have both hands free to operate the motorcycle. Those who take one hand off the handles to grab a water bottle or use a mobile phone and get into an accident could share liability for it and should consult a Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Watch the Seating
Revised Statutes Section 32:191 mandates that motorcyclists and their passengers ride astride permanent regular seats, with one leg on each side of the vehicle, to avoid loss of balance and ensure optimum maneuverability.
No Lane Splitting
Although motorcycles occupy less space than cars, Revised Statutes Section 32:191(1) prohibits driving between lanes or passing cars in the same lane they are in. Motorcyclists should use the left lane to overtake cars or wait until they can do it safely on a single-lane road. Riding the lane and driving between car rows is prohibited as well. If motorcyclists get into an accident while violating this rule, there is little their motorcycle crash lawyer can do to avoid their liability.
No More Than Two Motorcycles Riding Abreast
Revised Statutes Section 32:191 stipulates that only two motorcyclists be allowed to ride abreast on the same lane. Those who violate this section and get into accidents will most likely share liability for it, so they should consult a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Only Use Modulating Headlights during the Day
Although modulating headlights are a great way to save power, they are only safe to use during the night. The law prohibits their use during nighttime, and those who get into an accident at night, while using modulating headlights, could share liability if the other party claims the lights were not visible from a distance.
Handlebars up to Shoulder Level
Under Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32:191.3, motorcyclists are not allowed to ride vehicles whose handlebars height exceeds their shoulder level. Specialists consider higher handlebars difficult to maneuver, and failure to comply with their recommendations could make the rider partly liable for any accident.
Although violations of any of the above laws at the time of the accident could be used against the motorcyclist to prove their partial liability for the accident, this does not mean the latter cannot recover any damages.
It only means they should discuss their case with a Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyer to find out exactly where they stand and what options they have. Under Louisiana laws, even someone 90% at fault for an accident can recover damages if the damages they incurred represent more than 90% of the total damages their accident caused.
Moreover, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney may be able to prove that the accident would have occurred and would have had the same consequences even in the absence of their client’s negligence.
Also, contrary to what some motorcyclists believe, although the insurance status of the parties involved in an accident influences the compensation the parties can obtain and the procedures they need to follow in order to obtain it, it does not exclude one’s ability to obtain some compensation.
Insurance Coverage Scenarios and the Need to Work with an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge, LA
1. Uninsured Motorcyclists and the Right to Compensation
Under Louisiana laws, motorcyclists incurring injuries or property damages in an accident who are uninsured can only recover damages exceeding the minimum liability insurance coverage they should have had, respectively:
- $15,000/person for injuries
- $30,000/event for injuries
- $25,000/event for property damage
Thus, uninsured motorcyclists who incurred damages lower than these amounts may not be able to recover any money. Those who incur higher damages should be able to recover the difference between the minimum liability insurance and the total damages they incurred.
No matter their situation, uninsured motorists should not give up the idea of seeking compensation without requesting a claim evaluation from a Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyer, for two main reasons:
- Compensations for motorcycle accidents cover more than medical treatments and property damages, so they may exceed the values mentioned above. Other types of damages accident victims can claim, besides medical costs and property damage, refer to lost wages, lost earning capacity, physical and psychological therapy, pain and suffering (physical and emotional), disability-related expenses (wheelchair or medical devices, cost of home care and home modifications to accommodate the disability), motorcycle accident attorney fees, and more.
- There are exceptions to the rule, and an experienced Baton Rouge motorcycle crash lawyer may prove their applicability to the particular case they handle. For example, uninsured motorists may claim compensation for their losses if they can prove that the driver who caused their accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fled the scene, or was committing a felony.
2. Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers and Hit-and-Run Baton Rouge Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcyclists in Baton Rouge mistakenly believe that if the driver at fault for their accident is uninsured or underinsured, or fled the scene of the accident, they will not be able to obtain any compensation. While this may be true in some cases, it is not the rule, and victims should always discuss their case with a motorcycle accident attorney.
Some insurers in Louisiana include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in their clients’ policies if the latter do not request otherwise. Thus, the motorcyclist could be insured and not even know it.
If the party at fault for their accident is uninsured, their own insurance policy steps in, and they can obtain compensation from their own insurer. That is why the first step a motorcyclist injured in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist should take is to review their own coverage with a motorcycle accident lawyer.
If the party at fault is underinsured, the victim can still obtain compensation within the limits of the available coverage, and maybe claim the difference from their own insurer. An experienced motorcycle crash lawyer will not hesitate to investigate the financial situation of the party at fault and, if feasible, sue them for damages in civil court.
Knowledgeable and dedicated Baton Rouge motorcycle accident lawyers like Bart Bernard have solutions even for hit-and-run cases. Sometimes, they conduct their own investigation and manage to identify the driver who fled the scene. Other times, they manage to obtain compensation from their client’s insurer.
The bottom line is those motorcycle accident victims should not give up hope without consulting a motorcycle accident lawyer. In fact, they should consult one as soon as possible after their accident, as they risk losing their right to compensation if they wait for too long.
Louisiana Statute of Limitations or Why Contact a Baton Rouge Motorcycle Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
According to Louisiana Civil Code Title XXIV, art. 3492, delictual actions are prescribed within one year from the date when the damage or injury was sustained. This means that, after one year from their accident, the victims can no longer hold the party at fault responsible and obtain compensation for their injuries or property damage.
The only exceptions to the rule are cases involving minors or those involving permanent disabilities under the Louisiana Products Liability Act. It is important to note that preparing and filing a compensation claim or a civil lawsuit takes time as well. The sooner a motorcycle accident lawyer begins to work on a case the more they can do for their client.
Hire Bart Bernard as Your Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Now!
If you were the victim of a motorcycle accident, you surely want to know whether or not you can obtain compensation for your losses, what value that compensation can reach, and what it takes to obtain it. Bart Bernard can and will answer all your questions.
If you decide to trust him with your case, he will take over all the procedures and will not rest until he obtains the compensation you deserve. The best part is that you only pay for his services from the compensation he obtains for you, when he obtains it, so you have nothing to lose.
With Bart Bernard on your side, you will have a reputed and knowledgeable Baton Rouge motorcycle accident attorney defending your interests and fighting for your rights. Call us today or use the online form and schedule the FREE case evaluation!