Articles Posted in Berniard Law Firm News

DSC00785Welcome from the Berniard Law Firm. We are happy to announce an overhauled website and renewed focus on providing legal information to the public.

Our new website can be seen here www.GetJeff.Com  Our law firm also has a Facebook page that can be found here: Berniard Law Facebook Page.  We would encourage you to go to that page and “Like” the page to ensure you get the latest updates about Louisiana legal matters and the cases that the firm is working on.

Starting tomorrow the Berniard Law Firm will will post on this blog daily, 7 days a week, articles related to litigation matters within Louisiana.  The focus of the articles will be to educate the general public on those legal matters.  The post will cover a wide variety of legal topics, including the various categories listed on the side of this blog.  Our  law firm hopes you find the articles not only educational but entertaining as well.

The Berniard Law Firm’s principal attorney, Jeffrey Berniard, recently taught an Introduction to Personal Injury course. Having been an active part of Continuing Legal Education (CLE), Mr. Berniard was selected to teach the topic due to the firm’s specialization in medical malpractice, first party insurance disputes, and premises liability claims. Some of the topics covered included: Personal Injury Protection and First Party Benefits in auto policies; medical records disclosure including mental health and substance abuse treatment records; recoverable personal injury damages.

Under many state’s no-fault insurance laws, a claimant’s insurance company will only pay for Personal Injury Protection, or the first $10,000 out-of-pocket expenses. The remainder of expenses must be recovered from the Defendant. Many auto insurance companies do offer First Party Benefits packages, an optional supplement that will cover all medical expenses in the event of an accident for the policyholder or anyone else listed on the plan. However, many auto insurance companies also use a computer program that performs a calculation to value the severity of a victim’s injury. The program does not take into consideration the stress, pain, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life that a victim may have suffered.

Medical records unrelated to a victim’s injury, but pertaining to his/her health, are discoverable if “good cause” can be shown. Both state law and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) apply to a consent for release of medical records. The consent must contain ten items, including a statement that the health care provider cannot condition treatment upon the signing of the consent for release. However, because of the broadness of the item language requirements, HIPAA, and state law, a health care provider may refuse to honor the consent. If a consent cannot be obtained from the patient, HIPAA continues to allow health care providers to release information with a court order or a subpoena. If an attorney issues a subpoena without a court order, the health care provider will not release information unless certain assurances are made.

The Berniard Law Firm is proud to be a New Orleans-based organization and nothing says NOLA better than Mardi Gras!

We wish all of our readers a happy, and safe, Mardi Gras holiday!

A recent case within the Kentucky Court of Appeals demonstrates very extremely the need for quality counsel in all court proceedings. Regardless the subject or reasons you may find yourself in court, it is important that the lawyer you hire is not only able to represent you well in the courtroom and past it. While you would like to think the courts have the rule of law well established in the minds of their judges, a qualified attorney will also review the matters at hand to make sure all ‘facts’ are correct in the proceedings.

In the case of Bramer Crane Servs., LLC v. Structure Builders & Riggers Mach. Moving Div., LLC, a lien issue was reviewed by the superior court of the state. While the actual facts of the case are not important for this post, what is important is that the findings of the court were inherently flawed. Cited in the case was a fact that was severely outdated, as much as 20+ years and two revisions.

As the blog Zlien notes, instead of a clean finding, the court had lapsed in its research and failed to note updated law. The issue was that the ruling relied on judicial precedence rather than a review of legislation passed during this time. While one would like to consider the issue a simple lapse in judicial research, the fact remains that this unpublished decision could very easily have gone unnoticed without people stepping up.

This case is a welcome reminder of how an attorney’s advice may sometimes lead to more harm than good. Brown brought suit against his former employer, Skagit, under Title VII claiming racial harassment and constructive discharge. In a deposition, Brown testified that his sole reason for quitting his job at Skagit was due to racial harassment. However, in a deposition four months earlier in an unrelated personal injury case, Brown testified that he left Skagit solely because of debilitating back pain suffered during a car accident. Skagit sought dismissal of Brown’s claims based on his conflicting testimony, which the district court allowed and dismissed with prejudice. The court also went one step further finding Brown committed perjury. Brown’s appeal is based on a matter of fairness, arguing that a less severe sanction is in order and that he was entitled to explain the discrepancy between the testimonies.

To emphasize the facts, in the first case, based on racial harassment and constructive discharge under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. sec. 2000e, Brown testified as to how he felt endangered by his co-workers’ threatening behavior, which involved dropping heavy plates and pipes near him. He was also distraught by his co-workers flinging derogatory remarks at him on a daily basis. He felt compelled to quit his job, as his supervisors purportedly ignored this behavior. When asked why he quit his job, he testified that the only reason he quit was because of the racial harassment. He reiterated that there were no other reasons for his quitting.

In a completely unrelated deposition for a personal injury claim, Brown testified that the exclusive reason he left Skagit was due to his debilitating back pain, which prevented him from performing his job as a welder. He again emphasized and confirmed that this was his only reason for leaving his job.

The ABA (American Bar Association) has called upon lawyers and non-lawyers alike to submit blogs from across the internet as exceptional examples of legal advice and content. With content about the law ranging widely across the internet, the ABA recognizes the value of those blogs that wish to educate the public about a wide range of issues as examples of how attorneys can help bring an understanding of public policy to the masses.

Through a form, located here, ABA members and/or the public can nominate the efforts of attorneys whose work helps explain the complexities that the law has to offer. While the competition prevents bloggers from nominating themselves, the ABA has requested that the work of their peers be showcased. Due by September 9th, blog suggestions can cover any topic of the law, whether maritime, personal injury, civil or criminal in nature. This possibility of diversity makes the Top 100 list all the more interesting because of the wide variety of content the selected are sure to cover.

If you know of a blog that wishes to discuss legal issues of interest to lawyers (and perhaps those outside of the field), click here to fill out the ABA’s form. Limited to 500 words, nominations should explain why the blog, obviously, deserves to be included in the list as well as its value as a whole. Nominated sites should avoid the regurgitation of content from other sites (copy and pasted quotes of news items, etc.), showing that the main focus of the content is original discussion of those issues of law that affect professionals as well as the public.

Reports are coming in that an explosion has taken place at the New Iberia chemical plant, leading to an immediate evacuation of residents in the area and plant personnel.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.