Monthly Archives: March 2016

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What’s the Leading Cause of Occupational Disability & How Can You Reduce Your Risk

Lower back pain can be mildly annoying, or it can worsen to severely debilitating if you don’t do anything about it. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 17 % of low back pain cases turn into work disability cases, lasting one to six months, while 7% turn into cases, lasting six months or longer. With these statistics, it’s not surprising for the Department of Labor to cite lower back pain as the leading cause of occupational disability.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can lower your risk for lower back pain (and occupational disability) by making these lifestyle changes:

  • Lose weight – Extra pounds around the waist pull the pelvis forward, resulting in additional stress on the lower back. To alleviate existing back pain or to prevent future cases, eat a healthy diet and perform regular exercise. You’ll not only lose pounds, you’ll also strengthen your core, which strengthens your lower back.
  • Ditch smoking – According to a study published in Human Brain Mapping, smokers are three times as likely to get lower back pain compared to non-smokers. But quitting is not easy, so ask a healthcare professional for suggestions on how you can stop smoking.
  • Reduce stress – This is easier said than done, given how everyday life can be full of stress. Deadlines, expenses, emergencies, and commitments can put a strain on your mental well-being which can manifest physically, sometimes into lower back pain and other ailments. You can’t remove stress completely but you can lessen it by learning different techniques like meditation.
  • Seek help – Don’t procrastinate when it comes to your health. Many cases of back pain are treatable, or manageable, if addressed in the early stages. There’s no quick and easy fix for back pain, but if your case is still mild, you’ll have time to look for doctors who you’re comfortable with. Your relationship with your doctor affects your healing process more than you realize, so choose those you can trust.

These are all preventive measures. But what if you're already suffering from lower back pain bad enough to warrant a claim for occupational disability? Then beyond arming yourself with good medical care, you also need good legal advice to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez at 702 to know what steps you need to take. Our accident injury lawyers will be happy to assist you.

Steps to Take After Being Injured on the Job Offer

Employees Seek to Reduce Worker’s Compensation Costs

Business is often about the bottom line, and reducing costs is always a priority. Nevada business owners are working to reduce the costs of workers' compensation insurance as one of these budget cuts. Understand how these options can affect you and your insurance claim.

Reductions at the State Level

Nevada business budgets just got some good news, as workers' compensation insurance rates are set to drop with the biggest decrease in loss cost rates since 2010. The state Division of Insurance reiterates this is good news for employers, cutting costs in workers' compensation insurance rates.

A filing with the National Council of Compensation Insurance calls for an average decrease of 5.5 percent. The filing brought by Acting Insurance Commissioner Amy Parks applies to workers' compensation voluntary insurance loss costs. This is a significant decrease not seen since 2010, when filing decreased loss costs was an average of 7.6 percent. In addition to the loss cost decrease, a proposed average decrease of 4.2 percent for workers' compensation insurance assigned-risk rates was also approved.

This rate reduction is attributed to favorable changes experienced by employers through the process of both loss experience and loss development. Predictions suggest workers' compensation claims will not grow over time.

Effects on the Employee

While lower costs may have a positive effect by allowing businesses to use insurance funds elsewhere - they may also have adverse effects for employees. By planning for a lower level of compensation claims, employers may not be as prepared to handle and respond to the claims that do occur. It's important to understand your rights in a claim and ensure you are getting all the benefits to which you are entitled.

Protect your claim and yourself by knowing what to expect. Recognized as one of the Best Law Firms in Nevada by US News and World Report, Greenman, Goldberg, Raby & Martinez has developed an easy checklist to make sure your claim is processed correctly and you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. Download and print the checklist here.

Tips to Follow When in An Accident in a Rental Car

A traffic accident is always an unexpected and traumatic experience, but it's even more stressful if the crash happens when you're driving a rental car. Understanding what to do in this situation can minimize your stress level over the short and long term.

How to React At the Scene of a Rental Car Accident

There are a number of steps you should take immediately after a traffic accident, and they're the same whether you're behind the wheel of a rental car or your own vehicle:
  1. Check for injuries and call 911 if emergency medical care is needed.
  2. Get photos of the accident scene and damaged vehicles.
  3. Move your vehicle off the roadway as soon as it's safe to do so.
  4. Exchange insurance, license and contact information with the other driver.
  5. Get the name, address and phone number of any eye witnesses.
  6. Write down the make, model, year and tag number of the other vehicle.
  7. Note the exact location of the accident, as well as the weather and road conditions.
  8. Note the names and badge numbers of police officers who respond.
  9. When talking to the police, the other driver or anyone else at the scene, don't admit fault even if you feel responsible.

What to Do After a Rental Car Collision

Once you're safely away from the scene, take these additional steps as soon as possible:
  • Notify the car rental company about the accident. Review the details of any extra insurance you've purchased, such as a collision damage waiver (CDW) or supplemental liability (SLI).
  • Call your insurance agent to report the incident. If you have a personal vehicle with first-party insurance coverage, your policy should cover a rental car accident up to the same limits with the same deductible.
  • Contact your credit card company. Most major credit cards provide insurance when the card is used for car rental charges. Get the specifics of the coverage for damages and/or liability, and whether it pays other costs, like your deductible.
  • File an accident report with the Nevada DMV. If the collision resulted in injuries or over $750 in damages, an accident report must be filed within 10 days.
There are other circumstances where you may be held liable for property damage and injuries resulting from a rental car accident:
  • If you turned down optional CDW and SLI insurance from the rental company, and you're relying on coverage from your credit card because you don't own and insure a personal vehicle, you may be liable if you're deemed at fault.
  • Receiving a citation from police at the scene of the accident for speeding, recklessness or driving under the influence may void the CDW and SLI insurance you've purchased.
Our helpful checklist has additional tips on what to do after a car accident. If you've been involved in an accident with a rental car and need expert legal advice, contact us at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby and Martinez or call 702-388-4476.   New Call-to-action

What is an Expert Witness

If you have ever watched Law & Order or any of the other courtroom shows, you've seen the prosecutors and defense attorneys call expert witnesses to the stand. Your lawyer may choose to call an expert witness in your own personal injury case. So, what is an expert witness, and what relevance do they have to legal proceedings?

Role of an Expert Witness

Expert Witness

Unlike most witnesses, an expert witness has no direct involvement in a case. They are called on to give an educated opinion on a specific element of a case based on the information they are given.

A witness is qualified as an "expert" when they have extensive knowledge or experience in a particular area outside what a layman would normally be expected to know. Their testimony provides clarification on aspects of the case that may be in dispute or cannot be resolved by the facts.

Characteristics of Expert Evidence

  • Lay witnesses are restricted to testimony of facts regarding what they have seen and heard. They're prohibited from offering opinions or interpretations concerning those facts. Expert witnesses, on the other hand, are called for the express purpose of giving opinions.
  • Expert evidence is used to give the court additional information needed to reach a fair and equitable resolution. For example, a mechanic may testify about possible causes of automotive failure.
  • As with all parties who appear in court, an expert witness has a duty to remain truthful and impartial. Their appearance is for the purpose of testimony only. They do not search for evidence, give advice or advocate a case in any manner.

How is an Expert Witness Compensated?

Expert witnesses are paid for their services regardless of the case's outcome. Most are compensated on an hourly basis for studying the facts of the case, forming an opinion, preparing a report and testifying. In some cases, expert witnesses may receive a flat fee for their service. Compensation is not given for the opinion itself and whether or not it helps the side engaging the expert witness.

A case can be difficult to resolve based solely on the facts. Expert witnesses provide valuable assistance that help shed light on the circumstances and lead to a just resolution.

Not sure if you have a case? Call our office at 702-388-4476 today and arrange for a free consultation.

Steps To Take After a Car Accident Offer

What You Should Know About Suing Subcontractors and Independent Contractors in Workplace Accidents

Workplace injury lawsuit

Some businesses rely on the services of subcontractors or independent contractors to perform essential and nonessential functions of a business. For example, a business may outsource janitorial services or the administration of payroll. Oftentimes, a subcontractor or independent contractor is brought into a business to make repairs on the building or equipment necessary for the day-to-day operations of the business. If an employee of the business suffers a workplace injury due to the conduct of the subcontractor or independent contractor, can the employee sue the independent contractor or subcontractor personally for personal injury damages? This post will review what every employee should know about suing subcontractors and independent contractors in workplace accidents.

Statutory Protections for the Employer and the Employee

Workers' compensation systems were established by states to provide protection to injured workers in the event the employee was injured on the job. Simultaneously, workers' compensation laws shield employers who purchase workers' compensation insurance from personal injury lawsuits and personal liability if an employee suffers an on the job injury. The employee’s exclusive remedy when he or she is injured on the job is to seek workers' compensation benefits.

The protection from additional lawsuits to the employer is so great, that as long as the employer has an active workers' compensation policy, the employer's policy also applies to coworkers. In many instances, Nevada courts have found that subcontractors and independent contractors are coworkers, shielding them from personal liability in personal injury lawsuits involving a workplace accident between an employee and a subcontractor or independent contractor. This is true even if the injury was caused by the subcontractor or independent contractor's own negligence.

The minimal exception to this protection for coworkers is actions involving a coworker who intentionally causes the injury to the injured worker. In those circumstances, the injured worker may sue the coworker personally, under negligence theories and other related personal injury causes of action. This additional cause of action is separate and in addition to any rights the injured worker may have to workers' compensation benefits.

Recent Nevada Supreme Court Decision on Suing Contractors

Last summer, the Nevada Supreme Court determined that an employee of a mining company could bring a personal injury lawsuit against an employee of an independent contractor who was hired by the mining company to perform repairs of a specialized tire on the mining company job site. The Supreme Court found the lawsuit could go forward because the independent contractor was hired to perform a specialized repair that the injured worker's employer was unable to perform with its own workforce. In the D&D Tires, Inc. v. Ouellette lawsuit, the employee of the specialty tire company was not considered a coworker of the injured worker, so the injured worker was able to sue the employee of the independent contract personally for his negligence in causing the injured worker's injuries.

In reaching their decision, the Supreme Court applied the "normal work test" first established in Richards v. Republic Silver State Disposal Inc., and the standard used by the Court to determine whether the independent contractor was at the mining company to perform work in the same trade, business, profession, or occupation as the employer of the injured worker. The Court found that the independent contractor was not performing work in the same trade, business, profession or occupation, but instead the work of a specialty tire repair service. Thus, the personal injury lawsuit against the tire specialty repair company employee could continue.

Contact A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

A Las Vegas, Nevada workers' compensation attorney helps injured workers receive compensation and medical care when the employee is injured on the job or by a third party, like a subcontractor or independent contractor. If you have questions about your workplace injury, contact the law offices of Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, and Martinez at (702) 388-4476. Proudly serving the city of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada, schedule your free consultation today.

Steps to Take After Being Injured on the Job Offer

How the ADAAA Might Help with Returning to Work Following A Workplace Injury

Returning to Work After Injured

Once the injured worker starts feeling better, there will come a time his or her doctor will certify the injured worker is able to return to work. This certification often looks like a note on a doctor’s prescription pad, whereby the medical doctor states the injured worker is able to return to work effective a certain date with or without restrictions or conditions. The note will specify if a restriction or condition is present. Let's examine additional protections afforded injured workers when they are able to return to work with a restriction or condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).

ADAAA Statutory Framework

At the outset, the main distinguishing factor when an injured worker seeks to return to his or her pre-injury job with a restriction is that the applicable law changes from workers' compensation laws to federal discrimination statutes, like the ADAAA. Generally, the ADAAA applies to employers of 15 or more employees and prohibits them from discriminating and retaliating against an employee because of their real or perceived disability. The employee must be disabled under the ADAAA, which means he or she has or is perceived to have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities.

In employment settings, the prohibited discrimination may include a failure on the part of the employer to make a reasonable accommodation to the known physical limitation of the returning injured worker. The employer, after engaging in the interactive process with the employee, can deny a request to return to work with a condition if the condition results in undue hardship for the employer.

How Do I Engage In The Interactive Process With My Pre-Injury Employer?

Returning to the scenario mentioned above, let's refer to the doctor's note. The note, dated February 8, 2016, may read "Jane Doe is able to return to work effective March 1, 2016. She may not lift any objects over 15 pounds." The note under the ADAAA can be considered a request for a reasonable accommodation and trigger the application of the ADAAA to the injured worker's request to return to work. If the disability is a result of an on-the-job injury, it’s not much of a stretch to prove that the injured worker's employer had actual knowledge of the injured worker's disability. If the employer is still unsure, the doctor's note provides them with both notice of the injured worker's disability and then affirmatively requests the reasonable accommodation. The employer must then determine if they can put the injured worker back to work with the conditions or if the request would result in undue hardship. The injured worker must be able to still perform the essential functions of the position, with or without, a disability. This back-and-forth analysis is the interactive process. Failing to engage in it may open the employer up to a disability discrimination action under the ADAAA.

Another request for a reasonable accommodation an injured worker wishing to return to pre-injury work may make to his or her employer, is requesting a transfer to another part of the company where the restriction is not an issue or reduced hours. As long as the employer engages in the interactive process, they are covered. Failure to properly consider the request opens the employer up to additional liability.

Are you trying to return to work following a work related injury, but your employer won't talk with you?

Disability discrimination claims are another vehicle for redress when an employee has been injured on the job and he or she is unable to return to their prior position when medically cleared to return to work. The ADAAA is a complex law and does not apply to all situations. The law specifically excludes federal government employees, Native American Tribes, and certain non-profit organizations. Nevada also has its own employment discrimination statutes that may be applicable in these circumstances. Contact the law offices of Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, and Martinez in Las Vegas, Nevada at (702) 388-4476 to schedule your free consultation and talk with an experienced workers' comp attorney.

Steps to Take After Being Injured on the Job Offer

Down The Rabbit Hole: Getting Paid “All Appropriate Benefits”

Winning a workers' compensation case can sometimes feel like an ironic display of triumph over a situation that is partly or totally still unresolved. The walk out of the hearing room is simply the starting point to actually getting your claim paid – or going down the rabbit hole, to borrow a phrase from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. This post will examine how you get paid "all appropriate benefits" following a determination hearing that you are, in fact, eligible for worker's compensation benefits.

What Does the Phrase "All Appropriate Benefits" Mean?

Workers' Compensation Claim

After success at the workers' compensation hearing, the injured worker needs to make specific requests for compensation (current and unpaid wages) and medical care and treatment benefits. Additionally, an affirmative request for mileage reimbursement will also need to be made by the injured worker to the insurer. Forms are completed, the requisite proof is attached, and the insurer processes the request – ultimately requesting more information, denying the request, or paying the injured worker "all appropriate benefits." Easy, right? In reality, the answer is no. The process is cumbersome and to an inexperienced person, may get confusing fast. Not following proper procedures results in delayed payments or denied claims, even though the injured worker is technically eligible for "all appropriate benefits" and the employer has been ordered to make "all appropriate benefits" payments.

No Response From The Insurer

If the insurer fails to respond to your written request for benefits within 30 days from submission of your claim, the injured worker may file an appeal with the Hearings Division or a complaint with the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations. In both instances, the injured worker brings the appeal or complaint forward on the ground that the insurer failed to respond or violated the law by not responding to the injured worker's request.

Seek Legal Representation For Your Workers' Compensation Case

The law office of Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, and Martinez located in Las Vegas, Nevada is your one stop place for workers' compensation legal representation. With over 45 years of experience helping people in Southern Nevada receive compensation for work related injuries, let Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, and Martinez fight for you! The process is difficult and there is no need for you to travel alone. Schedule your free consultation today or call us at (702) 388-4476. It matters to us.

Steps to Take After Being Injured on the Job Offer