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When Can a Plaintiff Seek Punitive Damages in Civil Litigation?

When Can a Plaintiff Seek Punitive Damages in Civil Litigation?

In most civil litigation the plaintiff’s primary goal is often to recover compensation for the financial costs caused by the defendant’s bad behavior. Seeking reimbursement for “economic damages,” like past and future medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, is a standard part of a personal injury lawsuit. Plaintiffs often also ask for “noneconomic damages” to recover for injuries that aren’t as easily quantified: pain, suffering, and emotional distress are a few examples. In cases where a defendant has behaved especially badly, plaintiffs can sometimes ask for another category of damages: punitive damages. But what are punitive damages, and when can they be sought?

What are punitive damages?

Lawsuits can serve two distinct purposes. On the one hand, they help a plaintiff who has suffered harm to become whole again. On the other hand, they serve as a deterrent against bad behavior. Punitive damages fall squarely within this second purpose. As the name implies, punitive damages are intended to punish bad behavior by tacking on an additional financial cost on top of the economic and noneconomic damages to which the plaintiff is already entitled. The goal is to deter the defendant and others like it from doing especially bad things in the future.

Punitive damages are not available in every case. Some causes of action that are defined by statute explicitly cap them or prohibit them altogether. For example, a lawsuit against government agencies or their employees cannot recover punitive damages. NRS 41.035. In most other cases punitive damages are limited by statute: $300,000 if compensatory damages are less than $100,000, or three times compensatory damages if they exceed $100,000. NRS 42.005. These caps don’t apply in cases involving products liability, bad faith by an insurer, housing discrimination, defamation, or injuries caused by hazardous materials. These exceptions offer insight into the types of behavior that the law seeks to discourage through punitive damages.

When can punitive damages be sought?

Absent a statute that explicitly provides that punitive damages may be sought, a plaintiff may seek them in cases where the defendant’s behavior that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was especially objectionable. In legal terms, punitive damages may be awarded where public policy dictates that the defendant should be used as negative example to others. Whether something violates public policy is often a question answered by a mix of judicial precedent (previous cases that have acknowledged a principle that has a policy, rather than legal, character), legislative history, and generally applicable mores.

As a technical matter, punitive damages can’t be awarded unless the plaintiff has already been awarded compensatory damages. City of Reno v. Silver State Flying Serv., Inc., 84 Nev. 170, 180 (1968). In other words, they are calculated after the plaintiff’s other forms of recovery have been decided. Because punitive damages have a public policy basis, they are not always awarded to the plaintiff. The plaintiff has already been compensated, so it can be unfair or undesirable for the plaintiff to also receive a windfall that in many cases should be used for public good. Courts will sometimes order a defendant to pay punitive damages into a particular state fund or a charitable organization that goes to relieving the kind of harm that the defendant caused. For example, an insurance company that acted in bad faith may be required to contribute its punitive damages into an organization that assists consumers with insurance disputes.

GGRM works with clients in the Las Vegas area

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other cases. If you have questions about a legal dispute in Nevada call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in Nevada

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in Nevada

It’s extremely dangerous to leave children for any significant amount of time in a hot car. Even on cloudy days the sun’s heat can rapidly raise temperatures inside a car to unsafe levels. Each year an average of 37 children die from heat-related injuries after being left in hot cars. More suffer from heat stroke and other complications, which at a young age can have lasting consequences. Because of the risks, many states, including Nevada, have adopted laws that provide for criminal penalties for responsible adults who leave children unattended in cars.

Nevada’s unattended child law

Nevada’s “hot car” law was passed in 2005. It provides for criminal penalties for people who violate the law. It applies to parents, guardians, or other people who are responsible for a child who is seven years old or younger. It is a crime to knowingly and intentionally leave such a child unsupervised in a vehicle where “conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child.” It is also unlawful to leave a child under the age of eight unattended in a car if it is running or if the keys are in the ignition.

The parameters of this law are in fact quite narrowly constructed. Whether someone can be criminally prosecuted for violating the law will depend on the state’s ability to prove a number of things:

  • Intent. It isn’t enough that a parent or other responsible adult accidentally leaves a child in a hot car. The decision to leave the child in the car must be knowing and intentional. This gives an otherwise liable adult a potentially strong excuse that he or she simply forgot that the child was in the car. This brand of forgetfulness is more common than one would expect.
  • Conditions were unsafe. This piece of the puzzle may be relatively straightforward: the outside temperature was over 100 degrees, the car was parked in the sun, and all the windows were rolled up. But if the car was parked under a large shade structure, perhaps the child was not particularly at risk. Note that risk involves more than just heat. Leaving a child unattended could increase chances of other kinds of injury and could expose the child to kidnappers.
  • The child was unsupervised. If the responsible adult left the child in the car but was standing a short distance away within visual contact, a crime probably wasn’t committed at least with respect to the hot car law. However, the adult who ignores the risks of the hot car may have broken other laws, such as negligent supervision or child endangerment.

Pursuing civil action

Whether or not a crime was committed, parents of a child who is injured in a hot car may wish to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim against other adults who were responsible at the time of the incident. If the responsible adult was violating a law at the time of the event a plaintiff will have a relatively easy road to making a successful claim. A criminal conviction creates a presumption of liability in the civil context.

Why would someone wish to pursue a civil case in these cases? One reason is that criminal prosecution, even if it is successful, cannot grant the scope of damages that is available in civil trials. When a child is injured or killed a parent’s pain and suffering can be a significant component of damages, but pain and suffering is only available through a civil trial.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has prided itself on providing compassionate, personalized services to clients in personal injury cases. If your child has suffered an injury in a hot car and you would like to discuss your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Hit-and-Run Accidents in Nevada

Hit-and-Run Accidents in Nevada

Like anyone who is injured in an accident, victims of hit-and-run incidents should do what they can to seek compensation from the person who caused the accident. Unfortunately, in a hit-and-run situation the victim rarely has the presence of mind to capture information about the perpetrator. Especially when there isn’t another witness who can help identify the person responsible, recovering compensation can feel like a long shot. But there are steps victims can take to give themselves a chance.

Nevada law requires drivers who are involved in an accident to give other involved drivers their name, address, registration and insurance information. Drivers are also required to provide aid to people who are injured. Failing to do these things is the definition of “hit and run” in Nevada. A hit and run can involve property damage (i.e., a driver runs into a parked car), personal injury, or a combination. Hit-and-run accidents can also be caused by people on bicycles.

  1. Gather as much information as you can.

In the immediate aftermath of an accident it can be difficult to remember to look for details about an at-fault driver’s car. Part of that is an assumption many of us have that a driver will do the right thing and stop. But victims and witnesses should do their best to remember as much about the accident and the at-fault person as possible. Taking written notes or recording an oral description can provide important evidence later on. Ideally the driver’s license plate information can be recorded, but absent that, information about the car’s make and model and whatever details can be remembered about the driver can all be helpful to police as they try to track down the hit-and-run suspect. If the accident was witnessed by bystanders it’s important to get their contact information as well. Taking photos of the scene and making other “hard” forms of evidence are all good ideas.

  1. Report the incident to the police.

Once any emergency medical treatment has been obtained the first important step for a victim to take is to report a hit-and-run accident to police. Provide as many details as possible about the accident. The police will ask for an accident report to be completed. Sometimes a police investigation can track down a hit-and-run driver who tries to get damage to his or her vehicle repaired.

  1. Report the incident to your insurance company.

Drivers who have insurance policies that include uninsured motorist coverage can often recover something from their policy for a hit and run. The insurance company will be on the alert for fraud, so all the details that were gathered at the scene of the accident will play an important role in bolstering the legitimacy of the claim.

What if the hit-and-run perpetrator is caught?

If the police track down the person who caused the hit-and-run accident they may pursue criminal charges. Hopefully the investigator also lets victims know about the person so the victims have the option of pursuing a civil case as well. Because hit-and-run is a crime, it can be an especially powerful fact in a civil case for damages.

People who commit hit and run violations aren’t necessarily penniless. The urge to flee from responsibility could have many sources besides a driver’s inability to pay for damages. Perhaps the driver was drunk or just in a hurry to get to something important. If the perpetrator can be identified, it’s even more important to talk to an attorney about options for pursuing a lawsuit to recover compensation.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

Towing a Trailer Legally and Safely in Nevada

Towing a Trailer Legally and Safely in Nevada

With summer in full swing Nevada’s roads are full of vehicles towing trailers. Drivers who tow trailers behind their vehicles need to be mindful of state laws governing safety and installation requirements. Failure to comply with the law can create a dangerous situation that leads to property damage, personal injuries, and expensive litigation.

Nevada’s minimum requirements for trailers

Nevada law has a number of rules that drivers must follow when towing trailers on roads in the state.

  • Reflectors and lighting. All trailers in the state must have two red tail lamps on the back. The lamps must be bright enough to be visible for at least 500 feet to the rear. Trailers also must have stop lamps that are activated when brakes are applied. Stop lamps need to be bright enough when activated to be visible during the day. Most trailers built in the last 50 years are required to have turn signal lights. Rear red reflectors are also required, either separately or as part of the rear lights. NRS 484.551, NRS 484.555, NRS 484.557, NRS 474.553.
  • Trailers that weigh 1,500 pounds or more and were built after July 1, 1975, are required to be equipped with service brakes on all wheels. The brakes must be able to stop the trailer for at least 15 minutes should the trailer be disconnected from the vehicle. NRS 484.593.
  • Wide loads. Trailers over 80 inches wide must comply with additional lighting and reflector requirements. NRS 484.561.
  • Safety chains. Trailers must be installed with safety chains connected to their towing vehicles to prevent runaways.
  • In Nevada trailers are separately titled and registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Managing risks involving a trailer

The state does not impose special insurance requirements for trailers. However, it’s a good idea to check with your liability carrier to confirm that your policy covers damage caused by a trailer. Drivers can get into trouble towing trailers in a number of ways:

  • Jackknifing, fishtailing, and other loss of control. Driver error can lead to a trailer going out of control. Understanding how to respond to these situations is essential to being a responsible trailer owner. Know the maximum safe speed at which your vehicle to can safely tow your trailer, taking into account how its behavior can change depending on its load and road conditions. Proper maintenance, including keeping tires adequately inflated, is also an important part of maintaining control.
  • A properly installed trailer shouldn’t break away from the towing vehicle, but mistakes happen. A breakaway at slow speeds may be a manageable problem, but at highway speeds or on steep grades it can create a serious hazard. This is especially true of old trailers that don’t have braking systems that are required in new equipment. Safety chains hopefully prevent the worst-case scenarios, but the best solution is to avoid breakaways by double checking all connections before getting underway. Failing to do so could be a form of negligence that creates serious legal liability.
  • Drivers who lack experience working with trailers often have a hard time controlling them, especially when backing up. Drivers who will operate trailers regularly can benefit from specialized training courses. If a driver who lacks experience will operate the towing vehicle, take care to keep speeds under control and avoid complex situations as much as possible.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury and accident law firm. If you have questions about an accident involving a trailer, call us today for a free attorney consultation. Reach us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Pros and Cons of Contingency Fee Arrangements

Pros and Cons of Contingency Fee Arrangements

In a contingency fee arrangement a law firm agrees to represent a client with the understanding that the firm will be compensated for its work, in whole or in part, out of the client’s award at the end of the case. The details of contingency fees vary depending on the nature of the case, the client’s preferences, and applicable rules. Whether a contingency fee arrangement is the right choice for the client depends on the client’s needs and goals.

Why would attorneys work on a contingency basis?

Clients can sometimes wonder why a law firm would agree to work on a case “for free” with payment dependent on a successful outcome. Firms need to pay their employees and office expenses. In many cases they also hire consultants and expert witnesses to build a strong case. As a consequence, a firm bears the risk that the final compensation in the case won’t cover its expenses.

Despite these risks, law firms work on contingency because it is still a good business arrangement and, more importantly, it allows attorneys to fulfill their role as public servants. Many potential clients lack the resources to pay fees in a conventional arrangement. By working on contingency a firm can serve a much wider population than would otherwise be possible. A firm that works on contingency isn’t concerned about the client’s ability to pay. Instead, it can focus on the merits of the case and work diligently to help the client recover compensation.

Are there downsides for clients in contingency fee arrangements?

A contingency fee agreement offers clients a range of benefits. These include:

  • Access to an attorney for clients who lack financial resources to pay fees out of pocket.
  • A clear understanding of how an attorney’s fees will be paid and what costs the client may need to bear as the case proceeds.
  • Unmistakable alignment of interests between the client and attorney, both of whom want to maximize financial recovery.

A firm that works on contingency sometimes needs to protect itself from losses when a case appears to be unwinnable. One downside a client may find in contingency arrangements is that firms are unwilling or unable to meet the client’s demands that the client would otherwise pay for. Such circumstances are relatively rare and hopefully are clear from the beginning of the relationship so the client and firm can determine early on whether they are a good fit.

Call us to learn more about how contingency fees work

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area. We often work on a contingency basis to help clients recover compensation in cases involving personal injury, workers’ compensation disputes, and other matters. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

When Is Fear an Actionable Personal Injury?

When Is Fear an Actionable Personal Injury?

Deliberately trying to scare someone can be an innocent joke. But sometimes causing someone fear can be a serious matter, causing lasting psychological harm that requires professional help. In some situations a person who has intentionally caused another person to suffer fear may be liable for resulting damages.

A common cause of action against someone who has emotionally abused another person is intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). In Nevada a plaintiff must prove four things to recover for IIED:

  1. The defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous;
  2. The defendant intended to cause emotional distress, or recklessly disregarded the damage he or she was doing;
  3. The plaintiff actually suffered extreme or severe emotional distress; and
  4. The defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s distress.

Miller v. Jones, 114 Nev. 1291, 1299-1300 (1998). These elements raise a number of significant preliminary challenges for anyone who wishes to recover compensation from a defendant for IIED:

  • Intent. Proving that a defendant intended to cause emotional harm can turn into a contest of subjective impressions, where the defense argues that the plaintiff simply misunderstood or misconstrued what was happening. An experienced personal injury attorney knows to dig deeper, to find evidence that can independently verify that the defendant deliberately (or at the very least, recklessly) traumatized the plaintiff.
  • Extreme and outrageous conduct. Determining whether conduct was “extreme” is a role for juries and judges. These are subjective questions that will rely on the fact-finder’s ability to evaluate the defendant’s behavior in light of social norms. As such, the plaintiff needs to describe the defendant’s conduct in detail, preferably with corroborating evidence.
  • Proof of extreme or severe emotional distress. A plaintiff must show evidence that he or she experienced real emotional trauma. This can be shown by medical records from a physician or psychiatrist, but proof of such isn’t required in most cases. The plaintiff normally must provide more than the plaintiff’s own testimony. Nevada courts have adopted a sliding scale approach that moderates evidence requirements in relation to the outrageousness of the defendant’s behavior: “the less extreme the outrage, the more appropriate it is to require evidence of physical injury or illness from the emotional distress.” Nelson v. City of Las Vegas, 99 Nev. 548, 555 (1983).
  • Causation. The defendant’s actions must have been the legal cause of the plaintiff’s distress. Showing causation is sometimes a straightforward component of the facts surrounding the defendant’s wrongful actions. In cases where the plaintiff’s emotional state could have been caused by a range of factors other than the defendant’s actions, such as existing mental health problems or other significant sources of stress, the defendant may have a case that his or her extreme conduct was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

If you have suffered emotional harm as a consequence of someone’s harassment or aggressive behavior, an attorney can help you seek legal protection and recover financial compensation. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. For a confidential, no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Plastic Surgery Malpractice in Nevada

Plastic Surgery Malpractice in Nevada

A plastic surgeon’s mistakes can have terrible consequences for a patient. Whether a surgery was conducted to repair a cosmetic problem introduced by a health crisis (scars from another surgery, an injury from an accident) or purely elective, a botched operation can lead to pain, disfigurement, further surgeries, and unanticipated medical bills. Someone who has been injured due to the negligence of a plastic surgeon may have the option of filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for these and other costs associated with the surgeon’s mistakes.

Building a claim of professional negligence against a plastic surgeon

One of the common causes of action for patients who are injured by doctors is professional negligence. A professional negligence claim is grounded in an assertion that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by a plastic surgeon’s failure to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced surgeons. NRS 41A.015, NRS 41A.100. A failure to use reasonable care might involve a procedural oversight during an operation, a lack of consideration for a specific health condition of the patient, or a failure to use generally accepted methods.

Nevada law provides a few specific situations where the plaintiff enjoys a presumption that the defendant doctor was negligent, largely where the plaintiff’s injury couldn’t have been caused but for the surgeon’s negligence. This exception will apply if the surgeon operates on the wrong limb, leaves objects inside the plaintiff’s body, or injures a part of the body other than the part that was operated upon. NRS 41A.100(1).

A professional negligence claim also must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit of a medical professional who concurs with the plaintiff’s medical assertions regarding the defendant’s negligence. NRS 41A.071. The professional who provides the affidavit must be in a similar line of work as the defendant, and must base his or her opinion on a detailed review of the facts of the plaintiff’s injury. The affidavit requirement fulfills important functions: it reduces the likelihood of frivolous claims while providing courts with an independent verification of the scientific or technical basis of claims. It also makes the initial process of filing a claim more expensive, because the independent expert must be compensated for the time they take to review the case and draft a response.

Defenses to professional negligence

A plastic surgeon who is sued for professional negligence will likely raise a number of defenses that the plaintiff must overcome to recover compensation.

  • The surgeon’s skill was reasonable. The law’s allowance for professionals to use “reasonable” judgment when making health care decisions for their clients leaves them with wiggle room to avoid liability in close cases. It isn’t enough that other plastic surgeons wouldn’t do things the way the defendant does them. Nor is it enough that the surgeon doesn’t follow the latest and greatest practices across the board (unless the new practice is so much better for patients that continuing to use the old method is needlessly dangerous). The defendant’s actions must have had a degree of wrongfulness that takes them beyond the scope of what is “reasonable.” Proving this can require a careful analysis.
  • Intervening cause. Sometimes an injury from an operation isn’t obvious until sometime afterward. Any number of things could intervene to cause an injury or make one worse. A patient who doesn’t follow post-operation instructions may have contributed to an infection.
  • Assumption of risk and waivers. Plastic surgeons may ask their clients to waive certain rights or agree that they are assuming the risk that a surgery will not produce the results that the patients hope for. The enforceability of such waivers will need to be evaluated by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Talk to a Las Vegas attorney about your plastic surgery complications

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez help injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a plastic surgeon’s negligence and you would like to speak to an attorney about your legal options, please contact us for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers

Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers

A parent rightfully feels a mix of conflicting emotions when a teenager earns a driver’s license and begins driving alone. On the one hand it’s great that teens can get themselves around, giving them access to work opportunities and social events without needing their parents’ help. On the other hand, teenaged drivers are much more likely than older drivers to get into an accident, and car accidents are still a leading cause of serious injury and death among teenagers. Parents can take steps to improve their teenaged children’s safety on the road.

  1. Talk to your kids about safe driving habits.

Perhaps the most important thing parents can do to keep their kids safe is to talk about the importance of following safety rules. Reminding your teen that he or she is still learning how to drive well may induce an eye roll or two, but it may also spur second thoughts about making aggressive moves that cross the line into recklessness. Teaching kids about the importance of seat belt use should start well before they learn to drive, but as drivers it’s important to emphasize that both they and their passengers need to buckle up. Teenagers also need to be told about how to deal with fatigue and how to respond calmly to other aggressive drivers on the road.

  1. Establish and enforce ground rules.

Establishing rules and enforcing them can be effective ways to discourage bad behavior. Some rules should be applied to every teen driver. Drinking or using drugs and then driving is a serious mistake that increases the danger of accidents and puts the driver’s license at risk. Parents should go a step further and take steps to address what may be an early stage of a longer-term problem. Other rules may need to be tailored to a specific teen’s personality. For example, it’s often a good idea to prohibit a teenaged driver from carrying passengers for a period of time, to reduce distractions and potential peer pressure to do something foolish. Some teens may need to be limited in terms of the hours during which they are allowed to drive.

  1. Talk about costs.

Being up-front about the cost of driving—everything from the cost of cars and gas to the price of insurance and how it can change—can give teenagers an appreciation for the financial risks of accidents. Even if parents will pay some of these costs, teenagers should be asked to bear them in mind. The mechanics of insurance can be especially useful. Perhaps parents can only afford to pay premiums that are set when the teenager has a clean accident record. A teenager who knows this might be more careful about avoiding accidents than one who doesn’t connect his or her behavior with costs.

  1. Be prepared to take away driving privileges.

Although taking away a teenager’s driving privileges can be a hard step for parents as well as their affected kids, it can be a powerful way to send a message. Even if the law doesn’t step in to stop a teenager from making mistakes, parents should protect themselves and their children by taking away the keys when the teenager has shown a lack of respect for the risks involved in driving.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented accident clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have questions about how to manage your teenager’s risks behind the wheel, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Suing Student Organizations for Hazing Injuries

Suing Student Organizations for Hazing Injuries

Injuries during hazing events are unfortunately common problems on college campuses. Stunts designed to humiliate, traumatize, or injure recruits to fraternities and sororities can lead to severe long-term consequences. Alcohol poisoning, emotional distress, and physical injury are just a few of the common results of hazing practices. Someone who has been injured during a hazing event needn’t accept the injury in silence. Pursuing a lawsuit can not only help the injured student recover compensation for injuries, but also help future students avoid the same misfortune.

Nevada treats hazing as a crime

Under NRS 200.605, hazing is a crime in Nevada. Hazing is defined as “an activity in which a person intentionally or recklessly endangers the physical health of another person for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with a student organization, academic association or athletic team at a high school, college or university in this state.” Its definition includes any sort of physical brutality and forced consumption of alcohol or other substances. “Forced” here is defined to mean that the victim’s participation was required for his or her participation in the organization.

The law provides an escalating series of penalties depending on the degree of harm suffered by the victim. If the victim did not suffer substantial bodily harm, the hazing is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a fine. In cases where the victim suffered substantial bodily harm the crime is elevated to a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine. Rather importantly, the statute bars defendants from raising the victim’s consent as a defense.

Bear in mind that NRS 200.605 is a criminal statute, which means that it requires state action against the individuals who perpetrate the crime. In a civil context the definitions of NRS 200.605 can provide helpful guidance for injured plaintiffs. If the defendant is prosecuted and convicted under NRS 200.605, that fact becomes conclusive evidence of the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries. NRS 41.133. The question in civil trial then turns to factual questions like how to calculate the plaintiff’s compensation. Even if the defendant has not been charged or convicted, a plaintiff can still recover damages.

Who to sue?

Someone who is injured in a hazing incident may have a cause of action against several potential defendants. The most obvious of these are the individuals who conducted the hazing. But it may also include the organization itself, especially if knew about the hazing rituals and offered tacit or implicit approval of them. In some cases the college or university where the events took place may also share a portion of responsibility. A campus that has received complaints about hazing incidents within an organization but hasn’t taken steps to prevent them may have committed negligence or worse.

One reason hazing can be so pernicious is that it is condoned or even encouraged by adults in positions of authority. If a coach, professor, or other college employee is present at an unlawful hazing event, that can become a significant fact in establishing the institutional nature of the hazing.

Consult with a personal injury law firm

An experienced personal injury law firm can help people who have been injured in a hazing incident recover compensation for their injuries. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you or a loved one has been injured in a hazing incident call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Legal Responses When a Pet Is Injured

Legal Responses When a Pet Is Injured

One side of pet ownership that many people don’t consider when they adopt a cat or dog is the possibility that the pet will need expensive medical care during its life. Especially hard to foresee are injuries caused by someone else’s wrongful action, such as failing to control an unsafe animal or committing a deliberate act of malice. When a pet is seriously injured, filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for the resulting costs may be warranted, but bear in mind that there are limits to what a plaintiff can recover in such cases.

Nevada’s pet injury law

Nevada law provides that someone who intentionally, willfully, recklessly, or negligently injures or kills another person’s domesticated dog or cat can be held liable only for specific types of damages. Damages that are available include medical costs associated with the injury, compensation for any loss in the pet’s fair market value, and reasonable attorney’s fees. Punitive damages, such as might be available against someone who has acted especially badly, are not permitted. Nor are noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. The total compensation anyone can receive in such cases is $5,000. NRS 41.740. Owners of pets that are especially valuable should consider insuring them, both to cover the cost of vet bills and to ensure that the owner’s investment is not suddenly lost.

There are several components of NRS 41.740 that are worth keeping in mind. First, it applies only to dogs and cats, and then only those animals that are “maintained in or near the household.” It does not apply to exotic pets or horses. Second, it sets a distinct limit on how much a person can recover, which in cases of valuable pets can leave an owner less than financially whole. Third, the law provides exceptions for injuries to pets in certain circumstances: government actions in defense of public health or animal welfare, actions taken to protect livestock, and actions taken in defense of oneself or another person.

Exploring other causes of action for pet injuries

Despite the limitations on how much a plaintiff can seek in compensation for the injury to the pet itself, plaintiffs may have other causes of action that warrant consideration. For example, if the defendant injured the plaintiff’s pet because the defendant knew that it would cause the plaintiff emotional harm, the plaintiff may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Generally speaking such a cause of action requires more than just feeling sad about the loss of a beloved pet: the plaintiff must have suffered a sufficiently severe reaction to warrant compensation.

Nevada provides additional protections for service animals. NRS 426.810 provides that the owner of a dog or other animal who allows their pet to injure or kill a service animal is guilty of a misdemeanor. Once convicted, a defendant in such a case must compensate the owner of the service animal for vet bills, replacement cost of the service animal, and other costs incurred by the owner as a consequence of losing the service animal’s help. For example, if the owner had to hire a person to provide the help that the service animal provided, the helper’s salary will be the defendant’s responsibility.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have questions about pursuing a lawsuit following an injury to your pet call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

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