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Injuries from Unsecured Firearms

Responsible gun owners know that they need to keep their firearms and ammunition stored in a safe, secure place. Modern gun safe technology makes it possible for a homeowner to get quick access to a weapon in the event of a home invasion, while still keeping the gun safely out of reach the rest of the time. But gun owners don’t always do the responsible thing. A gun may be left out where someone could find it and get injured by it.

Although very small children are a highly vulnerable group when it comes to unsecured firearms, they are not the only at-risk population. Older children may also see a gun as a kind of toy, or worse may see it as a way to intimidate someone else. People with mental illness or cognitive problems may also be prone to mishandling a gun. Even someone who is familiar with gun safety might not know the particular characteristics of a weapon (such as a hair trigger) and accidentally discharge it.

When the improper storage of a gun leads to an injury or death, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate. A Nevada personal injury lawsuit typically rests on the question of the defendant’s negligence. For negligence to apply, the defendant must have breached a duty of care that he or she owed to the defendant. Importantly, although gun safety courses emphasize the importance of keeping guns locked up, Nevada law does not require gun owners to keep their guns in safes. As a result, one of the first hurdles a plaintiff must overcome is the extent to which the gun owner’s behavior failed to meet a reasonable standard of safety.

Because Nevada doesn’t have a clear-cut rule about storing firearms, each case needs to be examined carefully to determine the extent to which the defendant is responsible for injuries resulting from an accidental use of a gun. The broad consensus among gun safety experts that a gun should be stored in a safe provides a good baseline rule but may not be helpful in some situations. Some questions that may arise include:

  • Did the gun owner take reasonable care to ensure that the gun was safely out of reach of others, even if it wasn’t locked up?
  • Did the gun owner leave the gun loaded when it was irresponsible to do so?
  • How foreseeable was it that the gun could be accessed by someone other than the owner, such as a small child?

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by another person’s negligent storage of a firearm, we would be happy to help you explore your options for seeking compensation. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Protecting Your Private Health Information

Keeping medical information private is an important concern. Unauthorized disclosures of health information can have serious consequences for patients. These consequences range from damaged relationships with friends and family to disrupted careers. Individuals may have good reason for keeping their treatment for an illness, like a sexually transmitted disease or drug addiction, out of view from unsupportive family members. Employers who inadvertently learn about a job candidate’s health situation might decide to hire someone else. To protect patients from consequences like these, health privacy laws provide robust tools for them to protect their privacy rights.

The Privacy Rule under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) restricts disclosures of individually identifiable health information by certain covered entities. These include most health care providers, providers of insurance and other forms of health benefits, and intermediary organizations that process health data for other businesses. The law protects information in a patient’s medical file, as well as the content of communications (whether oral, telephonic, or electronic), and billing information, among other things. Covered entities are required to adopt policies to protect information that falls within the law’s scope. Under HIPAA, disclosures may only be made under certain limited circumstances, primarily related to the patient’s care or to facilitate bill payments.

Someone who has had their HIPAA rights violated can file complaints against the offending organization with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. HIPAA protects patients who file complaints from retaliation. Note that although this administrative process may result in an examination of the offender’s practices, HIPAA doesn’t provide for a private cause of action, so the affected patient cannot sue a health care provider for HIPAA violations.

Note that the scope of “covered entities” under HIPAA does not capture employers unless they are also administering a health plan, such as administering a workers’ compensation program. Employers may end up with the health information of a job candidate or employee outside of the health plan context. For example, an employee may disclose a health condition to a manager to let the manager know about a job limitation the employee has. An employee may disclose a pregnancy in anticipation of filing a Family Medical Leave Act claim. Or a candidate may submit information through the pre-employment screening process, including the results of drug tests. Each of these circumstances may fall under a different set of standards than HIPAA. In general, employers are restricted in how they can use health information when making job-related decisions and may be subject to a claim of unlawful discrimination in some circumstances.

When a health privacy violation leads to serious consequences, it can be helpful to talk to an attorney about your options for seeking compensation. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in cases involving personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other matters. If you think your health privacy rights have been violated, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation.  Call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Seeking Compensation for a Surgeon’s Mistakes

A surgery patient places tremendous trust in the doctors and other medical professionals who complete the operation. Most patients lack the necessary training to understand what’s happening during a surgery. If the patient is sedated or put under general anesthesia, he or she may not know what happened during the surgery. When something goes wrong with a surgery, the patient may feel powerless to recover compensation from the physician, the hospital, or other responsible parties. But there are legal tools available to help patients recover compensation when mistakes lead to serious complications.

In Nevada, surgical mistakes typically fall under the professional negligence cause of action. Nevada’s law of professional negligence specifically contemplates errors made by health care professionals. It therefore can apply not only to the lead surgeon, but also to other professionals who caused, or may have caused, errors during a surgery. This may include assistants, nurses, anesthesiologists, or other licensed medical professionals. If the individual or individuals who bear fault isn’t clear to the patient, for example because the error was made while the patient was unconscious, it may be appropriate to bring everyone involved in the surgery into the case to determine who bears responsibility.

The basic rule of a professional negligence case is that the plaintiff must prove that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by the defendant’s failure to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced professionals. Proving the elements of professional negligence can be a challenge. Among other things, a plaintiff must submit a sworn affidavit of a qualified professional who can confirm that, in the opinion of that professional, the defendant acted negligently.

To get an expert’s opinion in support of a plaintiff’s case, and to make the case more generally, the plaintiff’s attorneys typically need to first gather extensive information about the plaintiff’s injury, the surgery, and surrounding facts. Sometimes this requires difficult work of forcing a hospital or clinic to disclose records that may be adverse to their own position. Getting records like surgery videos is an important step in developing a case. Depositions of the people involved likely will also be required.

In dealing with a professional negligence case, a plaintiff can gain significant benefits from working with a law firm that treats the client with respect and compassion. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in professional negligence cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Accounting for the Anguish of a Child After an Accident

A major auto accident or other event that causes significant personal injuries can be traumatic for everyone involved. Children can be especially affected. A child can suffer a variety of psychological effects. These effects can have long-term consequences, especially if the child suffers a traumatic injury, witnesses another person being injured, or, in perhaps the most tragic cases, loses a parent in the accident. In a personal injury lawsuit following such a traumatic event, the child (or the child’s representative) can seek compensation for the child’s suffering.

Seeking compensation for a child’s suffering

A child’s psychological trauma can be accounted for in a number of ways by a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. As a preliminary matter, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove a causal connection between the defendant’s negligence, or other wrongdoing, and the child’s trauma. Causation may seem like a fairly simple issue, but in some cases it can raise challenging evidentiary questions. Testimony from a child’s psychiatric and pediatric doctors, family members, and other caregivers may be needed to develop a reliable picture of how the accident caused the child’s difficulties.

To recover any kind of damages they must be capable of being reduced to a dollar value and must be proven. Psychological harm may have two components: one concrete, one abstract. Concrete, or in legal terms economic damages, are those that have a clear cash value. These might include the costs associated with a child’s therapy. Once the question of causation is answered, proving economic damages may involve providing invoices and other records for past expenses, and potentially the assistance of an accountant or medical professional who can provide an estimate of potential future costs of a similar kind.

Abstract or noneconomic damages seek recovery for things like suffering and pain. Noneconomic damages can be significantly greater than economic damages in some cases. Plaintiffs’ attorneys use established methods for determining how much value to place on noneconomic damages. In a case that goes before a jury, the jury will ultimately determine the amount of noneconomic damages that will be awarded.

In some cases the amount of economic and noneconomic damages that a plaintiff can recover may be limited by statute. For example, in a professional negligence case (such as a medical malpractice case against a doctor or hospital) the maximum noneconomic damages that can be recovered is $350,000.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. If your child has suffered serious psychological trauma as a consequence of being in an accident, we can help you examine your options for recovering just compensation. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

A Landlord’s Liability for Slip-and-Fall Injuries

Some renters struggle to get much in the way of service from their landlords. For one reason or another, some landlords simply refuse to take responsibility for maintenance problems that are unquestionably their obligation to resolve. Landlords who behave this way are banking on tenants and visitors lacking the resources to take real action to force the landlord to act. But when a tenant or visitor to a property gets injured in a slip-and-fall accident, the landlord’s inattention to maintenance can become a source of liability.

In Nevada a landlord has a responsibility to exercise reasonable care to not cause visitors to its property to face an unreasonable risk of harm. A landlord who violates this obligation and, as a consequence, causes someone’s injury can be held liable for negligence. There are several factors that play into the landlord’s obligation to address maintenance problems that pose potential hazards:

  • How likely is the problem to cause an injury? The more likely a given problem is to cause an injury, the more unreasonable it becomes for the landlord to disregard it. A broken stair, damaged hallway tiling, or carpeting that is frayed are examples of problems that arguably create a likelihood of injury.
  • Did the landlord have notice of the problem? In some cases, holding a defendant liable for problems that it wasn’t aware of, and therefore couldn’t fix, may be unfair. On the other hand, if a landlord knows about a hazard and doesn’t take steps to fix it, the chance of liability goes up. For potential plaintiffs, delving into questions of notice can be an important part of the evidence-gathering process. The landlord may have received numerous complaints about a trip hazard and done nothing. In some cases, such as if the problem has persisted for a long time, the landlord may be deemed to have had notice even if it hadn’t received independent reports.
  • Did the landlord create the problem? Liability is more likely to adhere to a landlord who creates an unsafe condition and doesn’t correct it.
  • Was the hazard in a location under the landlord’s control? An important element of any premises liability case involving landlords is whether the hazard that caused the injury was in a common area or within a tenant’s exclusive premises, such as in an apartment’s bathroom. If the landlord does not control the location of the hazard and doesn’t have notice about it, liability may rest with the tenant rather than the landlord. A closer question arises if the landlord had notice of the problem and didn’t correct it despite having a contractual obligation to do so.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have fallen at a rental property and the landlord or the landlord’s insurer is refusing to offer assistance, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Hot Water Heater Burns and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Hot water heaters go bad. It’s a fact of life for homeowners. But hot water heaters can also go wrong. A unit can easily be set to heat water to a dangerously hot temperature, or it can suffer a mechanical failure that causes excessive heat to build up. In either scenario, people in the home can suffer serious burn injuries. In cases where a burn victim faces significant medical costs or endures other consequences, such as scarring or lost work time, a lawsuit may be called for to recover compensation.

People who grew up in the 1980s probably remember these public safety announcements featuring Tweety Bird.  Tweety’s point, that hot water can burn in less than three seconds, applies not just to small children but also to older adults. Children and the elderly both have relatively thin skin that is especially prone to burns. Burn injuries can be extremely painful, slow to heal, and may lead to significant health complications, especially if they cover a significant area of the body.

In examining the merits of a lawsuit, it is important to understand the facts of the specific burn injury and the water heater that caused it. There are several potential defendants in these cases:

  • The homeowner and the homeowner’s insurance carrier. If a visitor to a home is serious burned by hot water, it may be appropriate to file suit against the homeowner and the homeowner’s liability insurance policy. In such cases the insurer may honor a claim without the need for a lawsuit, but an insurer may reject a claim if its policy disclaims responsibility for unsafe water temperatures.
  • The installer. If burns are caused by a newly installed water heater that was set up with temperatures set dangerously high, the contractor who did the installation may been negligent and therefore was at fault.
  • The manufacturer and seller of the water heater. In some cases, a water heater malfunctions, causing it to heat water well beyond what its thermostat settings indicate. In such cases a products liability case may be warranted. A plaintiff who brings a Nevada products liability claim must prove that the water heater had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous. For the plaintiff, this may require working with an expert witness who can examine the water heater and determine the specific source of the problem.

Every personal injury is unique. Determining which strategy is the right one for your case is best done with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and products liability cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Between Family Members

Popular ideas about lawsuits are often informed by television dramas. To dial up the tension, a TV show will paint litigation as a high stress battleground, where animosity fuels the legal strategy of both sides and leaves no possibility of friendship or understanding in its wake. Of course, litigation can also be expensive, especially for the losing side. For these and other reasons, few people want to sue their parents or their siblings even if there is a clear-cut case to be made for their liability for a serious injury. Despite these misgivings, there can be cases where litigation offers the best outcome for everyone involved.

The most likely scenario that could justify a lawsuit between family members is if the at-fault person’s insurance carrier has refused to pay compensation that it is obligated to pay under a policy. In such cases the real defendant may be the insurance company rather than the family member, though it may be necessary to include the family member as a defendant to take full advantage of the insurance policy’s provisions or for other reasons. Such suits may arise after auto accidents or in accidents that should be covered by a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. In such cases it can be helpful if the insurer is also obligated to cover the co-defendant’s legal fees.

If an insurer isn’t involved, the issue of whether to sue can become significantly more complex. The challenge for a family in this situation is the balancing act between the short- and long-term needs of the injured person and the financial wellbeing of the at-fault defendant. Filing a lawsuit may clearly be in the injured plaintiff’s best interests, where the only deterrent is the family relationship. The question then becomes whether the strain of a lawsuit is worth taking on in exchange for getting just compensation for a serious injury.

Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Every family faces different circumstances, and every injury involves unique challenges. The key for someone who is faced with this decision is to get advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. Free consultations are the norm in personal injury practice, giving potential plaintiffs an opportunity to explore their legal options without cost. Any attorney who is focused on the client’s wellbeing will understand the complex emotional and interpersonal consequences that would come with filing a lawsuit.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We have nurtured a reputation for providing caring, compassionate advice to our clients. We take the time to get to know you and understand the full scope of your concerns before recommending a strategy that we think will best help you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Suing for Slip-and-Fall Accidents in Las Vegas

A serious fall can have lasting consequences for the injured person, including disability and even death. When a fall happens as a consequence of another person’s negligence, the injured person has the option of suing for compensation. There are several considerations for someone who has been injured in a fall and is considering a lawsuit.

In a slip and fall case, the key question is usually whether the defendant behaved negligently. At the core of negligence is the idea that the defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff and breached that duty in some way. If the defendant didn’t owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, the defendant, by definition, did not commit an act of negligence.

The specific legal obligation of an individual or business to take care to prevent another person’s injury varies:

  • An ordinary person owes only a reasonable duty of care toward others. For example, a homeowner owes a reasonable duty of care to keep his or her property safe for guests. If a known hazard exists on the property, such as a trench dug for construction, the homeowner has a duty to take reasonable steps to warn guests of the hazard.
  • A business that is open to the public owes a special duty of care to keep its premises safe. This rule has been interpreted to require a business such as a grocery store, restaurant, or hotel to take reasonable steps to monitor its facilities and resolve problems like spills, damaged equipment, or other issues that could cause a fall.
  • Special rules apply to common carriers—planes, busses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. A common carrier owes the highest duty of care toward its passengers.

A defendant in a slip-and-fall case may raise several common defenses. These include:

  • Open and obvious. This defense is used when a hazard would have been readily obvious to any reasonable person. It might apply in a case where a trip hazard was roped off with colorful warning tape.
  • Assumption of risk, which can apply in cases where the plaintiff knew about the risk of injury and went ahead with an activity anyway. An example where a defendant would raise assumption of risk might be if an ice rink patron slips and falls on the ice.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have suffered a serious injury as a consequence of a fall and you would like to speak to an attorney about your options, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation.  Call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Can an Accident Witness Sue for Psychological Trauma?

Bodily injuries resulting from an accident are rightfully given a lot of attention in the accident’s aftermath. Spinal injuries, broken limbs, and disfigurement are undeniably serious and highly visible. But the psychological consequences of an accident can be quite serious, too, and they may not be obvious to anyone outside of the small circle of the accident victim’s close friends and family. In any lawsuit following an accident involving serious personal injury, psychological harm needs to be factored into the compensation sought by the plaintiff.

The practical challenges of psychological injury

Someone who has suffered a mental health setback can require specialized care, potentially including medication, potentially for a long time. This kind of treatment can be very expensive but may be required to sustain the person’s long-term physical health. Getting compensated for these costs is important.

There are several reasons why a psychological injury may pose challenges for an injured plaintiff in a personal injury case. The first is diagnosis. Psychological injuries can be difficult to identify, let alone treat. In the immediate aftermath of an accident the victim’s physical injuries likely will give rise to significant costs and hardship. The victim may not even be aware of the psychological damage that he or she has suffered until sometime later.

Another potential problem for plaintiffs is proof. A plaintiff must be able to prove damages with reasonable certainty in order to recover compensation for them. Psychological injuries can give rise to a “battle of the experts” in the courtroom, as the defense tries to discredit or undermine the plaintiff’s claims related to these “unobservable” injuries.

Psychological harm and insurance

In accidents covered by insurance, like car crashes, a key question is whether the at-fault person’s insurance policy will cover treatment for mental health consequences of the accident. Many general liability policies are drafted to cover “bodily injury,” which they very specifically define to exclude psychological injury such as mental anguish, suffering, or specific conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Although an insurance company has a legal obligation to provide coverage for injuries that fall within the scope of its policies, it will closely scrutinize claims and deny anything that falls outside the policy.

This limitation has important consequences for people who hope to recover full compensation for their injuries from the at-fault party’s insurance policy. The injured plaintiff may need to pursue compensation from other sources, such as the personal assets of the at-fault individual.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We can help you examine your legal options to recover compensation for psychological injuries. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Negligent Dog Owners Create Risks of Injury

A dog attack can leave the victim with permanent injuries and facing a long, painful road to recovery. Bite victims often experience psychological as well as physical trauma. Bites can also become infected and leave lasting scars. Given all these risks, it’s important for dog owners to take precautions to prevent their dogs from injuring others.

A Nevada dog owner’s legal responsibilities

Most dog attacks are preventable. They happen when a responsible person fails to take necessary steps to keep the dog under control. A person with responsibility for a dog has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from posing a threat of harm to other people and their property. Legal responsibility extends not only to the dog’s owner, but also to others who are entrusted with the dog’s care, such as a dog walker or sitter.

Most of the specific rules governing dog ownership are covered in local ordinances. Las Vegas requires dogs to be licensed, vaccinated against rabies, and kept on leashes except when contained on the owner’s property or at authorized leash-free locations, like dog parks. Failing to comply with leashing or vaccination requirements may be negligence per se, allowing someone who is injured as a consequence of such a violation to shift the burden of proving negligence from the plaintiff to the defendant dog owner.

A dog owner’s specific obligations to control the dog increase if the dog is known to have aggressive tendencies. Every dog is capable of biting, but not every dog responds to strangers with violence. Once a dog’s tendency to behave aggressively is known, the owner needs to take special steps to meet his or her obligation to take reasonable care. For example, if a homeowner keeps an aggressive dog in a yard all day, the homeowner must make sure that the dog can’t escape the yard.

Suing a dog’s owner for negligence

In the aftermath of being attacked by a dog the first priority should be to get medical care. But it’s important to take steps, if possible, to gather facts about the dog and its owner. The owner’s name and contact information should be obtained whenever possible. The victim and other witnesses to the attack should take notes about the circumstances that led to the attack: the time of day, whether the dog was leashed, the dog’s behavior prior to the attack, and so forth.

Many dog bite cases are clear-cut. A dog owner walking an aggressive dog off leash in a city park shouldn’t be surprised if the dog ends up hurting someone. But some cases require a closer look at the facts, including the dog’s history, the behavior of the victim and the dog’s caretaker at the time of the incident, and so forth.

A personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite litigation can help an injured person recover compensation. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in dog bite cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

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