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How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability

How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability

Thousands of consumer goods get recalled every year, from tainted lettuce to defective cars. Sometimes a manufacturer voluntarily issues a recall after discovering a problem that makes their product unsafe. Other times a regulatory agency, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will take legal action to compel a manufacturer to issue a recall. Someone who is injured by a recalled product continues to have legal recourse against the manufacturer for products liability.

A product recall is not a “get out of jail free” card

Nevada’s products liability law provides that anyone involved in the creation or marketing of a dangerously defective product may be held legally responsible for any injuries the defect causes. NRS 695E.090. This captures not only the product’s manufacturer, but also its designer, importer, distributor, and marketer. One reason for this broad scope is to ensure that injured consumers have the best opportunity to recover for their damages, without needing to target only one entity. It then falls to the parties involved in the defective product’s distribution chain to work out amongst themselves who is ultimately responsible. Businesses involved in making or marketing consumer goods typically carry insurance to cover products liability claims.

An injured plaintiff can sue on two different theories:

  1. Negligence. The plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to ensure the product was reasonably safe.
  2. Strict products liability. If sufficient facts are available, the plaintiff can seek to shift the burden of proof to the defendant by showing that the defect was present in the product when it left the defendant’s possession, the plaintiff used the product in a foreseeable way, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injury. Nev. J.I. 7.02.

A product recall doesn’t absolve the parties in the chain of liability from responsibility. In fact, it can be a potentially powerful piece of evidence in a trial. The fact a product was recalled can be used to establish that the product was, in fact, defective. If marketers and distributors don’t pay attention to the recall they may be committing a serious act of negligence.

To ensure fairness, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defect was present in the specific item that caused the injury. For example, a manufacturer of electric blankets issues a recall for a blanket due to a short in its power switch that creates a fire risk. If the plaintiff was injured by a fire caused by the same short, chances are good that a court will allow the fact of the recall to be presented to a jury. But if the plaintiff was injured by a different problem with the blanket (such as a short within the sheet itself), the recall probably isn’t relevant.

Ignoring a recall and assuming the risk of injury

Consumers who become aware of a product recall should comply with them to avoid injury. Failing to heed a recall is not just dangerous, but also potentially hands potential defendants a legal argument that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by continuing to use the product. The weight of an assumption of risk defense will depend on the facts. A plaintiff injured by a burning electric blanket may be assuming the risk of injury if she ignored multiple recall notices and a news story about the issue.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area in products liability cases. If you have been injured by a defective product and have questions about your legal options, our attorneys can help. To speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Liability for Electrical Repairs by Unlicensed Amateurs in Nevada

Liability for Electrical Repairs by Unlicensed Amateurs in Nevada

Homeowners are often tempted to do their own electrical repair work to save money. Some jobs, like replacing a bad light switch, may be fairly easy and seemingly involve little risk. But some homeowners get more adventurous, installing new light fixtures or other electrical features that involve more complex task, like running new power lines. Mistakes can cause problems with a home’s power distribution, electrical shocks, and fires. Homeowners should understand the liability risks involved before undertaking electrical work without going through proper formalities.

Contractors versus amateurs

Nevada law defines a contractor as a person who, in a “professional capacity,” performs any construction, alteration, or repair work, makes a bid to do such work, or claims to have the ability to do such work. NRS 624.020. People who fall within the definition of contractor must hold a license to bid upon or work on a household construction project, including any sort of electrical work.

NRS 624.031(4) provides an important exception to contractor licensing requirements for work completed by the owner of a residential property that is for his or her own occupancy and not intended for sale or lease. Any sale or lease of the property within one year of the work creates a rebuttable presumption that the work was completed with the sale or lease in mind. To take advantage of the exception provided by NRS 624.031(4) a homeowner must apply to the State Contractors’ Board for approval.

The State Contractors’ Board approval process requires the homeowner to submit an affidavit making certain legally binding representations. Among these are requirements that homeowners:

  • directly supervise the work, or do it themselves;
  • hire only licensed subcontractors, if any; and
  • provide workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment compensation, tax withholding, and other benefits for any unlicensed person hired to help with the work.

Failure to comply with these and other requirements will create a presumption that the homeowner has violated the statute. Under NRS 624.700 someone who is convicted of a violation can be subject to court and prosecution costs, and the cost of the Board’s investigation into the matter.

Unlicensed work can create other problems

The chances aren’t high that the State Contractors’ Board will go after a homeowner for changing out a light switch. But doing work without the proper permit can create other problems for a homeowner. For example, when the homeowner goes to sell the house the buyer may insist that any work have been licensed, and any unlicensed work must be inspected by a professional before closing. If the buyer’s inspector discovers any problems the homeowner may need to do the work properly. In addition to the expense of hiring a licensed contractor, this sort of after-the-fact repair work can involve starting over again.

Fire is the most serious concern when it comes to electrical work. If a home burns down due to unlicensed electrical work, a number of consequences are likely to follow. First, the home’s insurer will probably deny the homeowner’s claim for coverage, on grounds that the homeowner’s work was unlawful and therefore not covered by the policy. Second, the homeowner may be liable for negligence for any damages to others, such as harm to neighboring structures or personal injuries.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The best approach to electrical work is to always work with a licensed professional. But when problems arise, talk to an attorney to figure out how to best navigate the legal fallout. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez works with clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today if you have questions about do-it-yourself electrical work, or injuries resulting from the negligent work of others. For a free attorney consultation call 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?

3D printing technology promises to revolutionize the way products are designed and made. At the industrial scale it allows manufacturers to build customized goods at a fraction of their historical cost. Affordable consumer-grade 3D printers give anyone with a computer unprecedented creative control over the design and construction of products. But if a 3D-printed item is unsafe and causes an injury, who bears responsibility?

A 3D printer works by translating a digital model into a real object typically made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a common plastic used in all sorts of products. The printer builds up an object one thin layer at a time, allowing designs to incorporate complex elements like hinges or wheels. In theory a 3D printer can be used to create just about anything.

Libraries of downloadable model files are available on the web, many of them for free. Many designs are simple toys or decorative objects. But other models are for useful objects. Instead of tossing out an old product with a broken part, the consumer could simply print a replacement part. Instead of running to the store to track down a specialized tool for solving a particular problem, the consumer could simply print one.

The potential risk of harm from 3D-printed objects

There probably is little harm if a model file for a cat figurine doesn’t print out correctly. But some products may involve real risk of personal injury. For example, a printed model of a safety fitting on a chainsaw may not have the same performance specifications of the original part, perhaps because the printer’s output material isn’t appropriate for the application or because the model itself isn’t precisely the right shape.

If a consumer is injured by an improperly designed model the creator of the model might be legally liable for damages. Most likely such a case would need to be based on a theory of negligence. The injured person must show that the designer did not take reasonable care to ensure that the model would be safe in reasonably foreseeable applications. A designer might be responsible for warning consumers if the model needs to be made using a specific kind of material, especially if it is something other than ABS.

A central challenge for a plaintiff in such cases will be proving the source of the defect in the 3D-printed object. The model designer likely will point out that he or she had nothing to do with the printing process itself, which could introduce flaws that aren’t inherent in the design. There may also be a good argument that the user of a 3D-printed object assumes the risk that it will not work the way an ordinary commercial product would.

Talk to a personal injury attorney if you have questions

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by a 3D-printed object we can guide you through your legal options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or request a call through our website.

The Role of Expert Testimony in Personal Injury Cases

The Role of Expert Testimony in Personal Injury Cases

In some personal injury cases the cause of the plaintiff’s injury and the defendant’s liability for it can be fairly easy to explain and understand. Ordinarily no special training is needed to understand that a wet floor can cause someone to slip, or that a thrown rock can cause head wounds. But the story is more complicated in many cases. Could a particular chemical cause the plaintiff’s cancer? Was the defendant’s product properly engineered to prevent injury? Did the defendant physician comply with professional standards during surgery? Answering questions like these often requires the testimony of an expert witness.

Nevada’s standards for expert witnesses

The purpose of an expert witness is to allow the case’s trier of fact—the jury or judge—to reach an objective opinion about the significance of technical evidence presented at trial. To qualify as an expert witness in Nevada state court the individual and his or her testimony must meet three requirements (set out in NRS 50.275):

  1. Qualification. The witness must be qualified in the area of specialized knowledge to which the testimony pertains. Qualification may be established by a witness’s education or professional experience.
  2. Assistance. The witness’s expertise must be helpful to the triers of fact as they work to understand a piece of evidence or a disputed fact. Parties may object to specific elements of testimony if it only serves to confuse or distract from the main issue.
  3. Limited scope. The witness’s testimony must be limited only to the areas where the witness is qualified. For example, an engineer asked to offer an opinion about a defect in a ladder can’t also offer input on whether falling from a ladder could cause the defendant’s heart attack.

In some cases an expert’s testimony is a legally required component of a claim. For example, in a professional negligence case, where the defendant is a licensed professional such as a doctor, plaintiffs must submit a sworn affidavit signed by an expert witness who agrees that the defendant acted negligently.

Problems with expert witness testimony

Ideally, an expert witness presents an unbiased, professional opinion. Because experts usually are compensated for their time, serving in the role can become a lucrative source of income for some professionals. The corrupting role money can play in shaping an expert’s opinion raises legitimate concerns about the reliability of testimony, especially if the witness serves the same role again and again for a given party. For example, a witness who gets paid by an insurance company to opine about the cause of appliance fires may be prone to questionable bias in favor of the insurer. Parties who oppose such witnesses need to be prepared to expose the expert’s bias through careful questioning and potentially by presenting counterbalancing testimony.

In many cases two experts can legitimately disagree. A “battle of experts” can be the result, where the plaintiff’s expert supports one conclusion while the defendant’s expert expresses a different or even contradictory opinion. This is especially common in medical cases, where the science on a given topic is not well-settled. In cases like these the trier of fact can be faced with the difficult problem of needing to weigh the relative merits of each perspective.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Where helpful to our clients we work with expert witnesses to develop strong cases for our clients. If you have been injured call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Suing an Estate for Personal Injury Damages in Nevada

Suing an Estate for Personal Injury Damages in Nevada

Someone who is seriously injured by another person’s negligent or reckless behavior is hopefully able to recover compensation. But if the responsible person dies before a case is resolved, the injured person may need to sue his or her estate. In some ways an estate is just like any other defendant, but lawsuits against estates involve some special issues.

At the most basic level, after someone dies their assets are generally used to pay off the deceased person’s debts, with anything left over going to the person’s heirs. Past this basic framework, however, an estate can be quite complicated. Here are a few potential issues a plaintiff may face:

  • Probate. When a person dies with assets that aren’t held in a trust their assets are placed into the administrative process of a probate court. The probate process is intended to provide an orderly way for creditors of the deceased person to make claims against the assets in an estate. The estate’s personal representative, who may be a family member of the deceased or the deceased’s lawyer, is responsible for notifying creditors of the estate about when and where hearings will be held to resolve claims.
  • Trusts. A trust is a type of legal entity that some people use to shield assets from estate taxes and, potentially, creditor claims. A common form of trust, the revocable living trust, does not protect assets from creditors. But high net worth individuals often set up more supplicated vehicles, like spendthrift or “domestic asset protection” trusts, which provide a more airtight protection against creditor claims on property left in the trust for a period of time.
  • Tight deadlines. Public policy demands that estates be settled reasonably quickly. That means that deadlines for making claims against an estate can be quite tight. For example, unless otherwise permitted by the court a creditor who receives notice of an estate going into probate has only 90 days from the date of notice to file a claim. NRS 147.040.
  • Restrictions on continuing lawsuits. A plaintiff against a deceased defendant must comply with all of the rules that apply to a creditor in probate. What’s more, a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against someone who dies must show “good cause” for the lawsuit to continue against the estate in probate. NRS 147.100.
  • Other creditors. After someone dies there are often a range of creditors who will seek to claim a part of the deceased’s estate. Lenders for mortgages and education costs will have sophisticated help at their disposal to protect their interests. The injured plaintiff must have good representation to compete with these behemoths.
  • Fraudulent transfers. If the deceased person tried to shield assets from the injured plaintiff’s claim by giving them away—for example, by gifting a large chunk of money to a child—the plaintiff will need to bring the transferees of such assets into the case to seek recovery of the assets that, in legal terms, were fraudulently transferred (that is, transferred to avoid being subject to the plaintiff’s claim).
  • Out-of-state assets. Quite often someone who dies will own property outside of Nevada. Pursuing claims against those assets can involve working with local counsel in other states to ensure that local rules are satisfied.

Navigating these and other complex issues requires careful work by the lawyers who represent the injured plaintiff. Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients get compensation in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured and would like to explore your legal options, reach out to us today. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Suing a Doctor for Misdiagnosis

Suing a Doctor for Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis of an illness can have serious consequences for the patient. Not only can the patient end up being treated for the wrong disease, potentially at substantial cost and discomfort, but the real problem can go untreated and get worse. For example, a blocked artery misinterpreted as heartburn can leave the patient exposed to grave injury or death. In some circumstances, a misdiagnosis can be a form of professional malpractice for which compensation can be sought in the courts.

The key question is whether misdiagnosis is negligence

Under Nevada’s professional negligence laws, the central issue that a plaintiff must show in most cases is that his or her licensed health care provider, such as a physician or dentist, was negligent in performing professional services. Professional negligence is defined as a “failure . . . to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care.” NRS 41A.015. There are several elements of this definition that come into play in the context of a misdiagnosis:

  • Reasonableness. A doctor is only expected to apply a reasonable level of care, skill, or knowledge to treating patients. Whether a given approach was reasonable is evaluated, as much as possible, by objective standards. For example, a patient who complains of constant fatigue might reasonably be diagnosed with a sleep problem, even though she is also carrying an undiagnosed cancer. On the other hand, it might be unreasonable for a physician to fail to screen a patient for cancer if the patient exhibits a number of symptoms and risk factors.
  • Ordinary care. A doctor needn’t take every possible step to evaluating a condition. For example, perhaps it is not the customary process to order an MRI for an otherwise healthy twenty-something who presents all the usual symptoms of migraines, which could leave a brain tumor undetected. On the other hand, negligence may apply if the ordinary procedure in that situation is to order a precautionary MRI and the doctor fails to do so.
  • Comparison to other professionals. The defendant’s actions are measured according to his or her training and experience. This can have important consequences: a relatively junior professional may be evaluated differently than a seasoned expert, and a highly trained specialist will be treated differently than a generalist.

Technical barriers to recovery

A plaintiff in a professional negligence case must present a sworn affidavit by a professional who works in the same field as the defendant. NRS 41A.071. The affidavit must attest to each of the components of the definition of professional negligence. In other words, the plaintiff must find another doctor who is willing to give an opinion that the plaintiff’s doctor behaved negligently. In addition to the challenge of crafting an effective affidavit, this requirement can pose a practical challenge. For example, if the defendant works in a narrow specialty it may be difficult to find another doctor who is sympathetic to the plaintiff’s case and believes that the defendant didn’t act reasonably.

Anyone considering a medical malpractice suit in Nevada should bear in mind that state law requires such suits to be brought within three years of the cause of the injury, or one year from the discovery of the injury, whichever is earlier. NRS 41A.097(2). In medical malpractice cases Nevada limits a plaintiff’s noneconomic damages, such as for pain and suffering or emotional distress, to $350,000. NRS 41A.035.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The attorneys at the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have broad experience with medical malpractice lawsuits. If you are suffering from the consequnces of a misdiagnosis and are wondering if you have a case, we are happy to talk you through your options. For a free attorney consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

How Breed Can Affect Dog Bite Lawsuits

How Breed Can Affect Dog Bite Lawsuits

Depending on who you ask, some dog breeds are more dangerous than others. Owners of pit bulls argue that the breed gets a bad rap, but a study by the Centers for Disease Control identified pit bulls as the breed most often involved in dog-bite fatalities over a twenty-year period. As a result, many insurers charge higher rates to homeowners who keep pit bulls and other breeds that are considered dangerous. Many landlords who otherwise allow tenants to keep dogs will refuse to rent to people who have certain breeds. When a supposedly dangerous breed bites someone the dog’s breed is often less important than the individual dog’s history for determining liability.

The duties of dog owners in Nevada

Nevada does not have a dedicated statute for dog bites. Whether an owner bears liability for someone being bitten by their dog is typically a question of the owner’s negligence. In the case of dog bites, the central question is often whether the owner failed to comply with a legal duty of care.

Various local and state rules govern dog ownership generally. In Las Vegas all dogs over four months of age must be licensed and vaccinated for rabies. Owners are required to keep their dogs on leashes unless they are contained within the owner’s property, such as behind a tall fence, or in designated places like dog parks. Failing to comply with these requirements can support a grounds for negligence, provided that the lack of compliance was a cause of the dog bite. For example, someone who unlawfully walks a dog off-leash in a public park may be liable for damages if the dog attacks another person’s pet.

A dog’s “dangerousness” is not a question of breed, but of behavior

Specific rules dictate when an animal is legally considered dangerous. Importantly, those rules are not concerned with the dog’s breed, but whether the dog has behaved aggressively in the past. Chapter 7.16 of the Las Vegas Municipal Code authorizes the Department of Public Safety to declare an animal dangerous “if it constitutes a physical threat to human beings or other animals” and either:

  • on two separate occasions within an eighteen-month period behaves menacingly or bites a person without causing substantial bodily harm; or
  • is used in commission of a crime, causes serious injury or death to another animal that is not at large or otherwise being kept in violation of the law, or exhibits a condition like rabies that poses a threat to public safety.

The Municipal Code further authorizes dogs to be declared “vicious” if they kill or seriously injure a person or another animal, or if they continue to exhibit behaviors that previously justified them being declared dangerous. If an animal is declared vicious the dog must be euthanized, unless the owner can successfully challenge the declaration of viciousness at a formal hearing.

An owner of a dog that is declared dangerous or vicious must comply with a range of special rules, described in section 7.16.030 of the Municipal Code. There are numerous requirements for owners of such animals, including the following:

  • The city must inspect and approve the enclosure where the dog will be kept.
  • The dog must be muzzled, leashed, and under the control of an adult whenever the dog leaves the owner’s property.
  • Warning signs must be posted around the owner’s property.
  • The dog must be sterilized.
  • The owner must carry at least $50,000 of liability insurance covering potential injuries caused by the dog.
  • Sales or other transfers of ownership of the dog must first be approved in writing by the Department of Public Safety.

If an owner fails to comply with these rules and the dog bites someone, the owner may be liable for the injuries under the theory of negligence per se.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served dog bite victims in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by a dog please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

The Collections Process Following A Successful Lawsuit

The Collections Process Following A Successful Lawsuit

Successfully suing the person or business who is responsible for causing a personal injury takes time and expertise. For cases that don’t settle but instead go to trial, success for the plaintiff means obtaining a court judgment against the defendant. In a personal injury case the court order typically requires the defendant to pay the expenses associated with an injury—medical bills, lost earnings, and other costs that have been or will be incurred by the plaintiff during the recovery process. But a court’s judgment is just a piece of paper. Collecting on a judgment often requires more.

A court judgment is not always a remedy

Many injured plaintiffs are often disappointed to learn that a court’s favorable ruling doesn’t immediately resolve the financial challenges associated with their injuries. Unless the defendant raises a valid appeal, a court’s judgment is a binding order against the defendant. The plaintiff has become a creditor of the defendant, similar to a lender. But some defendants refuse to pay, perhaps because they lack the financial resources to do so. When that happens, the plaintiff is responsible for ensuring that the judgment is enforced. The court will not, by itself, take further steps to force the defendant to pay.

Strategies for collecting on a judgment

In Nevada a prevailing plaintiff has six years from the date of the court’s order to enforce a judgment. If enforcing the judgment is taking longer than six years the plaintiff can request an extension of time. NRS 11.190(1)(a). There are several paths a creditor can pursue to recover on a judgment in Nevada.

  • Wage garnishment. In Nevada creditors can obtain a court order to garnish a delinquent debtor’s wages (a so-called writ of garnishment). A wage garnishment order requires an employer to withhold money from the debtor’s paycheck and instead pay it to the creditor. State law places a strict cap on how much of a person’s wages can be garnished: 25% of the debtor’s disposable earnings, or the amount by which the debtor’s earnings exceed 50 times the federal minimum hourly wage, whichever is less . NRS 31.295. Of course, in many situations a defendant will not have earnings sufficient to compensate the plaintiff for anywhere close to the amount of a judgment.
  • Seizing property. A creditor may also ask the court to issue a writ of execution against certain property of the defendant, which allows the creditor to take possession of the property. A writ of execution must specify the property to be seized, such as cash in a certain bank account, a certain car, or other property. Writs of execution are subject to a range of rules and procedures, in part to ensure that a bank or other institution can rely upon them when handing over an individual’s assets. They are also subject to a wide range of exceptions to ensure that the debtor isn’t left homeless or unable to provide for dependents. See NRS Chapter 21.
  • Filing property liens. Another option for creditors is to file liens against certain assets of a debtor. A lien places a publicly available claim on property, such as a car or a piece of real estate, that must be cleared before the owner can sell the property. It can be an effective backstop against a debtor who owns a home, because the lien will complicate selling the home or using it as collateral on a loan.

GGRM helps clients get the compensation they deserve

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area. We are passionate about helping our clients get back on their feet after an injury. That often involves taking steps to enforce a judgment. If you have been injured or you’re having difficulty collecting on a judgment, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Drunk Boating and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Drunk Boating and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Alcohol and boats are often a bad mix. Public education about drunk driving has helped to reduce problems on the road, but it hasn’t been as effective at discouraging problems on the water. Someone who causes an accident while boating under the influence of alcohol can be liable for civil damages as well as potential criminal penalties.

Drunk boating is a crime in Nevada

Under state law, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol within the state of Nevada is crime. NRS 400.410. The law applies to sailboats as well as powerboats. Whether a boat’s operator is under the influence of alcohol is measured in the same way as drunk driving: a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, measured within two hours of operating a boat. Boating under the influence is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or up to six months in jail.

The law provides steeper penalties for people who cause serious injuries or death to others while boating under the influence. A negligent act committed under the influence that causes death or injury is a felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine between $2000 and $5000. NRS 488.420(1). Courts will treat the presence on the boat of a child under the age of 15 as an aggravating factor in determining the severity of sentencing.

Victims of drunk-boating accidents should sue for damages

For someone who has been hurt by another person’s drunk boating the best course is often to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and other costs. An injured plaintiff can recover against a drunk boater by showing that the boater operated the boat in a negligent or reckless manner, and the bad behavior caused the plaintiff’s injury. The fact that the operator of the boat was under the influence of alcohol can be powerful evidence of negligence or recklessness. This is true even if the boater has not been prosecuted for, or convicted of, a criminal offense.

That said, it can be easier to pursue a civil case if the drunk boater responsible for a civil plaintiff’s injuries has also been convicted in a criminal court. In Nevada a criminal conviction conclusive evidence of civil liability for the damages the defendant’s criminal activity caused. NRS 41.133. Although this rule simplifies one piece of the effort to recover compensation through a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff must still make a good legal case.

GGRM represents personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a boating accident and would like to understand your options for seeking recovery, we are here to help. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Landlord Obligations to Control Pests

Landlord Obligations to Control Pests

Some natural pests seem to be a permanent feature of urban life. Back-yard rats, nibbling bed bugs, and the occasional poisonous spider are all things a tenant can encounter, especially in homes with plenty of nearby habitat for insects and animals. Sometimes pests can get out of hand, making life miserable for the tenant and in some cases creating potential health hazards. Landlords in Nevada have an obligation to address pests in some situations.

Sources of landlord obligations to control pests

There are two places for a tenant to look for a landlord’s obligations regarding pest control. The first is the rental agreement. Landlords who know that their properties are prone to pest problems will probably seek to shift onto the tenant the burden of pest control. That makes sense. A tenant can do all sorts of things that invite pests: piling up garbage, bringing home bed bugs from a hotel, or leaving piles of material outside where spiders and rats are likely to find homes. A smart landlord adds a provision to every rental agreement that makes the tenant responsible for the consequences of everyday living and messy habits, even if those things don’t rise to the level of irresponsible behavior.

State law provides a backdrop to rental agreements and prevents landlords from passing on every kind of pest problem to their tenants. Nevada landlords have an obligation to provide tenants with habitable premises. To meet the statutory standards of “habitable” the premises must be maintained in good repair. Among the landlord’s obligations is a duty to keep building grounds and other areas that are under the landlord’s control “clean, sanitary and reasonably free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, insects and vermin.” NRS 118A.290.

A landlord’s obligations to control pests are subject to limits

The landlord’s obligation with regard to cleanliness is only with respect to the areas that are under the landlord’s control at the time the tenant moves in. For example, if after moving in the tenant discovers a rat-infested pile of garbage under the kitchen sink, the landlord has an obligation to clean it up. Likewise, if the landlord does nothing to address an infestation of black widows in common areas, and the tenant gets bitten, the landlord may be responsible.

By law, tenants are responsible for the consequences of their own deliberate or negligent acts or omissions. NRS 118A.355(2)(a). A tenant who moves in with luggage full of bed bugs can’t hold the landlord responsible for the resulting inconvenience. And if a tenant knows that a back yard is infested with scorpions but walks around barefoot every night, the landlord is probably not responsible if the tenant gets stung.

These are some steps tenants can take to protect themselves from pest problems and potential conflicts with their landlords:

  • Read the rental agreement to understand who is responsible for pest control.
  • Carefully inspect the premises before moving in and notify the landlord of any pest problems right away.
  • Assume that the landlord is not responsible for controlling pests unless they are coming from areas under the landlord’s control. If the rental agreement shifts responsibility for pest control onto the tenant, budget for the expense.

In serious cases, talk to a Las Vegas attorney

When a landlord neglects its obligation to control pests and creates real problems for its tenants, tenants may have the option of breaking the lease. Before doing this it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney to determine if other options are available. In some cases a landlord can be convinced to resolve a problem without resorting to breaking the lease or filing a lawsuit. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide personal, attentive service to clients in the Las Vegas area. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

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