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Does Bad Weather Excuse Bad Driving?

Everyone who has driven in heavy rain probably has noticed a perplexing tendency of some drivers to simply ignore the weather. Racing along at “dry weather” speeds during rain ignores the loss of traction and reduced visibility that comes with rain. When an accident occurs during bad weather, people who are injured in the crash may wonder how the weather’s role in the accident might factor into the at-fault driver’s liability. The answer to that question will depend on a number of considerations. As a general principle, Nevada drivers owe certain legal duties. The first of these is to obey traffic laws. The second is more abstract: a driver is obligated to drive in a safe manner, with the goal of avoiding accidents and injuries. In truth, even traffic laws are subject to a certain amount of interpretation once rain starts falling. Nevada law requires drivers to use their windshield wipers when driving in rain or snow. But it doesn’t necessarily require drivers to slow to a crawl. Speed limits generally are set according to what is deemed a safe maximum speed on a roadway in dry, daylight conditions. When roadway conditions change, the posted speed limit may no longer be appropriate. If the at-fault driver was breaking the speed limit at the time of the accident that does provide the plaintiff with a strong case for negligence, but it can be a closer call if the defendant was driving at or below the posted limit but was still moving too fast under the conditions. A driver’s general duty to operate a vehicle in a safe manner leads to more close questions that must be answered in light of the facts of the accident and the events leading up to it. The Nevada Department of Transportation’s rainy day driving safety tips provide a potential reference for evaluating whether someone was operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner. For example, someone who doesn’t adjust following distance to allow for longer stopping times might be driving in a negligent manner. Of course, the DOT’s list is not legally binding. Every accident needs to be evaluated according to its own merits. Far from excusing irresponsible driving, bad weather imposes additional obligations on drivers. The facts of the weather at the time of the accident will be important components of an injured person’s claims against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your accident. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Liability for Fires Caused by Household Chemicals

Improperly stored flammable materials can cause disasters. A backyard shed full of old gas cans or aerosol sprays could be a ticking time bomb, just waiting for an errant spark to set off a serious fire. When household chemicals cause a house fire, the effects can reach far beyond just the place where the fire starts. In some cases, not taking proper care of household chemicals can be grounds for liability for the damages that ensue from a fire.

A homeowner’s obligations to care for flammable materials

Outside of the context of deliberately set fires—the crime of arson—most lawsuits arising from fires are grounded in a theory of negligence. In simplified terms, a claim of negligence asserts that the defendant failed to comply with a legal duty, and as a consequence the plaintiff suffered an injury. A plaintiff must be able to show that all of the damages he or she claims were the result of the defendant’s negligent behaviors. A key question in any negligence case is what legal duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff. Everyone owes a general obligation to others to take reasonable steps to avoid creating risks of harm. This rule doesn’t mean that a homeowner can’t keep hazardous materials on hand. Keeping gasoline stored in a proper container in a garage or shed does not, in itself, create a problem. But keeping gasoline in an improper container may be a different matter. For example, someone who stores gas in an old milk jug may be allowing fumes to build up in the space that create an unreasonable risk of fire.

What liability can a fire create?

When a person’s negligence leads to a fire, the potential liability that person may bear can be quite broad. Specifically, liability may extend to every consequence of the fire. This can include:
  • Property damage caused by the fire, including damage to neighboring properties and the personal assets that are burned.
  • Personal injuries and deaths suffered by people who are caught in the fire.
  • The costs associated with fighting the fire.
These risks typically are on top of the responsible person’s private struggles in the aftermath of the fire. Someone who has flammable materials around doesn’t necessarily need to be reminded of the potential liability to others to know they need to take precautions to prevent fire. But when someone decides to ignore a private risk of fire, they often are also ignoring the risks that many others may bear.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

If you have been injured by a fire caused by another person’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney to begin assessing your legal options. 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. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our website.

Who Is Responsible for Injuries Caused by Fireworks?

Every year around the Fourth of July we hear stories about people being injured by fireworks. Some injuries result from foolish stunts, others from poor judgment, often involving alcohol. A report issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that children under the age of 15 accounted for nearly a third of fireworks-related injuries that were treated in emergency rooms in 2016. Young people in general (those 24 or younger) seem to be the most at-risk group for injury. The range of potential injury from fireworks extends from minor burns to loss of fingers, damaged eyes and ears, and in rare cases, death. Serious injuries that involve significant medical costs and other consequences, like impacts on a person’s ability to work, may give rise to a personal injury lawsuit. There are several components that may be relevant to a fireworks-related injury:
  • The negligence of the injured person. The extent to which the individual who was injured contributed to the injury will be a key question in any fireworks-related case. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant’s liability can be reduced by a percentage of fault that the fact-finder in the case (the jury or the judge) determines should be attributed to the plaintiff. For example, in a lawsuit against a store that sold defective fireworks, if the plaintiff knew about the defect, acknowledged its hazards, and used the fireworks anyway, that may reduce the defendant’s liability.
  • The source of the injury. Fireworks injuries can arise in a number of ways. The first variety that many will think of is the case of someone hand-holding an explosive firework despite the obvious danger of doing so. But other types of injury can arise due to defects in the manufacture of a product, such as a fuse that is too short or burns too fast, or inclusion of materials that burn at an especially unsafe temperature.
  • Did the defendant assume responsibility? In cases where a child is injured by a firework an adult may have assumed responsibility for keeping the child safe. An adult’s negligent supervision might involve giving a small child an unsafe product, encouraging unsafe behavior, and so on.
  • The chain of manufacture and distribution of a defective product. In cases where a person is injured by a product that might have been inherently unsafe, a products liability case may be warranted. In a products liability case the plaintiff may have a claim against anyone involved in the product’s manufacture or sale. Many fireworks are imported from overseas, making the original manufacturer difficult to pursue in litigation. But the store that sold the defective product can also be liable.
Every fireworks-related injury has unique facts and circumstances that a personal injury attorney should examine. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Contracting Hepatitis A in Public Venues

Since the introduction of the hepatitis A vaccine in the mid-1990s the disease has seen a significant decline in the United States. But in recent years significant outbreaks have raised concerns that the disease is once again on the rise. An outbreak in San Diego recently caused 20 deaths and 592 cases. Several sources of hepatitis A have been identified, including the feces of infected persons, eating contaminated food imported from overseas, and drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis A is a serious illness that can take several months to resolve. Because it is a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective in treating it. Sufferers can endure a range of symptoms, from fever and fatigue to pain and even, in some cases, death. Preventing the disease’s spread requires a combination of strategies, including:
  • Adequate personal hygiene.
  • Compliance with water safety regulations, including chlorination standards for municipal water supplies.
  • Properly cooking food.
  • Sufficient cleaning of facilities like public toilets and other public spaces.
Contracting hepatitis A from a venue that has failed to take adequate care to keep its facilities clean could give rise to a personal injury lawsuit to help the patient cover the cost of treatment and other consequences of the disease. Places that are open to the public—restaurants, shopping malls, grocery stores, and so forth—owe a special duty of care to their visitors to maintain their facilities in a manner that ensures that they are safe for use. Regulatory regimes, enforced by government agencies rather than individual civil lawsuits, further impose sanitation requirements that are designed to minimize the spread of communicable diseases. A key challenge for a plaintiff in a case like this is going to be the issue of evidence. An expert’s analysis likely will be necessary to trace the source of the disease to a specific place. The hepatitis A virus can survive for months outside the body, making it possible that direct evidence of the presence of the disease at a location can be recovered. In some cases, an outbreak involving multiple patients might be traced through their distinct stories to a single location. Potential plaintiffs can examine the facts of their case with their doctor and an attorney to determine if a case can be made. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury cases in the Las Vegas area. If you have contracted hepatitis A and would like to examine your legal options for pursuing compensation, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Falls from Ladders: Who Is Liable?

Falls are significant cause of injury and death, both at home and at work. Ladders are involved in many of these injuries. Falling from a height increases the likelihood of severe injuries, from broken bones to concussions, paralysis, and death. As such, using a ladder should be thought of as an inherently risky activity that requires special precautions. Of course, there are several scenarios where a fall from a ladder could occur. Each presents different legal issues:
  • When the ladder is used improperly by the injured person.
A common source of falls from ladders is a simple lack of care by the people who use them. Climbing a ladder that is obviously unstable, carrying something heavy or awkward while climbing, leaning a ladder at an unsafe angle, or standing the ladder on another object like a table, are all examples of cases where the user has contributed in some way to an accident. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. Even if someone else bears some of the fault for the accident, in litigation that person likely will argue that the injured plaintiff bears at least a portion of the fault. The amount the plaintiff can recover from a defendant can be reduced by the amount of his or her comparative fault. If the plaintiff is found to bear 50% or more of the fault, then the defendant will pay nothing.
  • When the ladder is defective.
Ladders need to be designed and manufactured to be safe for foreseeable uses by consumers. When a ladder has a defect that makes it unsafe, and a person is injured as a result, a products liability lawsuit may be warranted. In a products liability suit the plaintiff can seek compensation not only from the manufacturer of the ladder but also the businesses in the chain of distribution that brought the unsafe product to market. Note that the defect in the ladder might not be in the ladder itself but in how it is sold or documented. A so-called marketing defect lawsuit could be justified if, for example, a ladder’s instructions fail to mention a key safety step that users must take to ensure the ladder’s stability.
  • When someone other than the injured person causes the fall.
In some cases a fall from a ladder isn’t caused by the ladder or the person who falls, but by a third party’s negligence. This might arise if a person knowingly set up a ladder in an unsafe way and assured the injured person that it was safe to climb. Or it could happen if someone knocks into the ladder out of lack of necessary attention.
  • Falls from ladders at work.
Most work-related injuries fall under a completely different legal standard from other types of injury. With few exceptions, injuries from a fall at work are covered by Nevada’s workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation covers all injuries arising out of or in the course of employment. As a no-fault form of insurance, it will apply regardless of the underlying cause of the injury. Compliant employers are shielded from most lawsuits that arise in the course of their employees’ work.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

Regardless of the circumstances of a fall from a ladder, it’s worthwhile talking to a personal injury attorney to determine if there are arguments to be made for seeking compensation from potentially at-fault parties. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. Call us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury at 702-388-4476 or reach out to us through our contacts page.

Does Workers’ Comp Cover Opioid Addiction Recovery?

As awareness has grown about the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States, many patients are seeking alternatives to opioids to treat their pain. But opioids are still considered by many physicians to be a worthwhile and effective method, and they continue to prescribe them. Like other types of medication, opioid pain medications can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits for someone who was injured on the job. When an employee receiving opioids as part of a workers’ compensation program becomes addicted to the drug, the employee can face a difficult road to recovery. Patients who develop dependencies can end up resorting to illegal methods to obtain pills, or slide into using other forms of opioids, like heroin. Many addicts end up struggling to hold on to their jobs and find their addictions interfering with their personal lives as well. When an employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits becomes addicted to the treatment medication, questions can arise as to whether the benefits should also cover services to help the patient recover from the addiction. The same question could be asked about injuries resulting from the addiction, including death or other complications from an overdose. This is a relatively new area of workers’ compensation law. Employers and insurers will undoubtedly try to distance themselves from providing coverage for complications which they will argue are beyond the scope of the employee’s workplace injury. But in some circumstances the employee may have a good argument that benefits should apply. A 2011 case in Pennsylvania looked at this issue in the context of a patient’s death by overdose. In that case, the patient’s prescription refills for an opioid patch to treat pain related to back injury had been denied further coverage by the insurer, but the patient’s sister, a physician, had provided a prescription anyway. Shortly after filling the prescription he received from his sister, the patient died of an overdose. In the case, the court held that the employer was responsible for paying the patient’s death benefits, despite the insurer’s decision to deny continued coverage for the medication J.D. Landscaping v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Heffernan), No. 1866 C.D. 2010 (Penn. 2011). Of course, Pennsylvania cases are not precedent in Nevada. But the Heffernan case shows that employees can in some circumstances may be able to establish a claim for benefits related to opioid addiction. One may assume that an employer’s responsibility may cease if the patient has violated the law—for example, by obtaining drugs through fraud or on the black market. But if an injury and its treatment also causes addiction, and the patient’s physician works with the patient to develop an addiction recovery program, it is worth pursuing coverage for that program even in the face of an initial denial of coverage. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. We strive to help every client achieve a complete recovery from their injuries. To schedule a free, confidential attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case After a Child’s Death

The sudden death of a child is broadly considered to be one of the most traumatic and stressful experiences that someone can endure. The pain of loss that parents go through is unspeakable. A family enduring this sort of loss probably can benefit from counseling and psychiatric care. When the child’s death was the result of another person’s negligence, pursuing a claim of wrongful death is one way a family can seek some compensation for all the impacts their loved one’s passing has caused. Wrongful death is a specialized legal remedy that is available to the immediate heirs—for most children, their parents—of someone who has died as a consequence of another person’s negligence. It has unique features when compared to other personal injury causes of action. For one, it is one of the few causes of action that can be brought by someone other than the injured person or his or her estate. Second, it allows plaintiffs to demand compensation for damages that usually aren’t available in other cases. It’s important to bear in mind that a wrongful death claim is built upon a conventional negligence claim. A plaintiff in a negligence case must prove that:
  • The defendant owed a duty of care, according to applicable legal standards.
  • The defendant breached the duty of care by doing something or failing to do something.
  • As a consequence of the defendant’s breach, a person was injured.
  • The person’s injuries can be quantified as damages that can be compensated through the legal process.
The types of negligence that might cause a child’s death vary considerably. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common causes of pediatric injury include auto accidents, suffocation, drowning, and poisoning. Negligence in auto accident cases can include things like the at-fault driver driving in violation of traffic laws, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Suffocation and drowning may result from a responsible person not exercising reasonable care to keep the child safe. In a wrongful death lawsuit the plaintiff can seek special types of damages. Among other things, the plaintiff can recover compensation of the plaintiff’s own grief and the costs of the plaintiff’s therapy and other treatments. The plaintiff can also seek compensation for the child’s pain and suffering in the time leading up to death. Each form of damages must be supported with sufficient evidence. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. We have worked hard to build a practice that is centered on caring, compassionate service to our clients. If you have suffered the loss of a child, please contact us for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals at Work

Dangerous chemicals are more common than one might expect. Many businesses work with them. From ordinary materials like the cleaning bleach or gasoline, to more exotic industrial chemicals, exposure can cause serious injuries or even diseases like cancer and respiratory failure. Employees who are injured by exposure to chemicals at work should file a workers’ compensation claim.

Workplace safety, chemicals, and liability

Most Nevada employers who handle dangerous materials are subject to a broad range of safety regulations under the Nevada Occupational Health and Safety Act, or OSHA. Nevada’s OSHA law is a variant of the federal OSHA standard, which provides most of the key rules governing workplace safety, including rules covering chemical hazards and toxic substances. OSHA is a regulatory regime that does not provide a private remedy for someone who is injured as a consequence of an employer’s failure to comply with its requirements. Employees who wish to raise concerns with Nevada’s oversight authority are protected by whistleblower laws from retaliation by the employer. Workers’ compensation is the sole remedy available to most people who are injured on the job. The workers’ compensation system strikes a bargain between employers and employees: in exchange for requiring all employers to carry insurance that will provide benefits for their employees who are injured at work, employers are shielded from liability for most types of workplace injuries. Workers’ comp is a no-fault form of insurance, which means that the insurer will not base its coverage decisions on the extent to which the employer or employee was at fault in the accident. This does not mean that fault has no effect on workers’ compensation: if the employer is failing to adhere to safety standards, its premiums will go up or it may lose coverage altogether and be forced to shut down until the problem is corrected. This, together with the employer’s interest in having a safe and healthy workforce, should provide employers with plenty of incentive to meet or exceed OSHA standards.

Considerations for making a workers’ compensation claim

An employee who is exposed to dangerous chemicals at work should report the incident to supervisors in writing. The employee should also keep keep a copy of the report and make notes about what happened, including when and where the accident occurred and the specific chemical that was involved. If the exposure caused an immediate injury that required medical attention, letting the treating physician know that the injury was work-related is an important part of the claims process. Records become crucially important when a chemical exposure leads to long-term illness. Especially if the exposure causes a problem like cancer, the employee may not be fully aware of the disease for a long time after the initial exposure. By making detailed reports and keeping records, the employee can make future claims easier to defend. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in workers’ compensation cases. We can help anyone who has suffered a workplace injury in Nevada pursue the benefits they deserve. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.

Pushing Back Against Aggressive Insurance Claims Adjusters

Insurance companies are in the business of risk management, which means they go to great lengths to avoid paying more than they have to on a given claim. Claims adjusters are the foot soldiers of this process. They investigate the merits of claims and determine the amount that an insurer will pay. To improve their own performance ratings, some adjusters will use aggressive or even underhanded tactics to reduce their employers’ exposure. People who are faced with disputes with insurers may need to pursue litigation to overcome an adjuster’s strategies.

What does an insurance adjuster do?

A claims adjuster can be thought of as an investigator. They tend to have specific skills that qualify them to review evidence and determine the value that should be paid under the applicable insurance policy. Adjusters do a number of things on behalf of the insurer, including protecting it against fraudulent claims and acting as the insurer’s “eyes and ears” to evaluate the specific facts of the claim. An adjuster will often examine the physical evidence related to a claim, such as damage to an automobile or an individual’s physical injury. They may also conduct interviews with the parties and witnesses. Adjusters may also be directly involved in negotiating settlements with covered individuals, and will also be involved in any litigation that may ensue if the injured person disputes the insurer’s findings. Among other things, an adjuster may be the individual who pressures an injured person to accept a “quick cash” settlement after an accident.

Contesting an adjuster’s conclusions

Ultimately, an insurer has a legal obligation to treat each claim in good faith. Few adjusters will make it easy for an injured person to build a case of bad faith. When an adjuster’s conclusions don’t fit with the facts, the injured person needn’t accept inadequate coverage. Disputing a denied or under-compensated claim doesn’t necessarily require jumping straight to a lawsuit. The first step is often simply to reach out to the adjuster to discuss the rationale for the adjuster’s decision. In some cases, the adjuster may not have a complete set of information, or may have missed an important fact that could change how the insurer handles the case. In any dispute with an insurer, an injured individual who goes without legal assistance will be at a significant disadvantage. An adjuster’s job is to be an insurance expert. The role requires developing a sound basis for the insurer’s decisions. An individual who lacks the adjuster’s sophistication may do more harm than good while making arguments in favor of coverage. An attorney can help the claimant ask the right questions and present evidence in a manner that will give the claim a better chance of being approved. For over 40 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in personal injury, auto accident, and workers’ compensation cases. If you have been injured please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your case with an attorney. Our initial consultations are free. Call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How Social Media Use Can Endanger a Workers’ Comp Claim

A workers’ compensation claim can begin a complex and lengthy process. Especially when the injury is severe and involves high costs, an insurer’s claims adjusters will constantly search for ways to reduce their employers’ liability. Injured employees’ social media accounts are one way an insurer can investigate the merits of an employee’s claim. It’s important for the injured employee to keep their pending workers’ compensation claim in mind when they post to social media.

Insurers examine the merits of every claim

Bear in mind that an insurance adjuster’s job is to ensure that the insurer only pays for expenses that are rightfully covered under a policy. Adjusters are insurance experts. They know the cracks in a policy that might allow a claim to be partly or entirely denied. Adjusters therefore examine every claim to ensure that they tell an accurate story of the injury, its diagnosis, and how it is likely to be treated. Every insurer is vigilant against potential fraud. An employee who files a fraudulent claim will have the claim denied and may face other significant consequences, like a lost job and even criminal prosecution. Criminal fraud involves an intent to deceive the insurer, which may not be the case in many circumstances where an employee has made honest mistakes. But even an accusation of fraud can leave an injured employee without coverage.

Social media posts are a form of evidence

People who routinely use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can easily forget that their posts can reach a wide audience. Even if a user studiously controls their privacy choices, for example by not allowing “public” access, social media posts can become the focus of legal disputes, including administrative conflicts over denied workers’ compensation claims. What once was “private” may lose its privacy protection as a consequence of obligations in discovery or a subpoena. Social media posts can also reach coworkers and managers. Do not discount the possibility that a manager could alert an HR department about a social media post that they believe raises concerns. Cases of true fraud—where an employee is caught posting pictures of herself running a marathon two days after claiming to have a broken leg—are more common than one might expect. But social media can create hazards for injured employees in more subtle ways. Anything that contradicts the facts included in claim documents could create doubts in the mind of an insurance adjuster. In the social media world, which places a certain premium on keeping up appearances, a photograph or casual comment could cast doubt on the severity of an employee’s injury.

Call the GGRM Law Firm for help with your workers' comp claim

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. We offer free attorney consultations to new clients. To schedule an appointment call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.
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