Monthly Archives: June 2018

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Cancer and Disability Rights in Nevada

Cancer and Disability Rights
Cancer affects every part of patients’ lives, including their careers. The rigors of treatment can force someone to take time off and often hurts job performance. In the midst of a battle with cancer, a patient may need to take advantage of rights and protections for people with disabilities, including the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The ADA prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of disability

The ADA protects cancer patients who work for an employer with at least 15 employees from being unfairly treated by their employers as a consequence of their illness. Cancer and its treatment will likely qualify a patient as disabled for ADA purposes. The law’s definition of “disability” captures any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. It also covers people with a history of such impairments (for example, cancer survivors) and someone who is perceived to have such impairments (for example, an employee who has lost his or her hair while undergoing chemotherapy treatments). Under the ADA an employer cannot take an adverse employment action solely on the basis of a worker’s disability. Instead an employer must take steps to provide a worker with reasonable accommodations that allow the worker to continue employment. Reasonable accommodations might include a changed work schedule, temporary or permanent reassignment to a less demanding role, or physical changes to the workplace to make the employee more comfortable, such as providing a chair where before the employee was asked to stand. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 clarifies the ADA’s scope of “disability” to include anything that limits basic bodily functions. It also expressly provides that a condition’s impairments cannot be judged in light of mitigating treatments. For example, a cancer patient who is taking anti-nausea medication may still require accommodations to deal with nausea.

The FMLA offers options for cancer patients and their families

The FMLA protects patients who need to take time off work for treatment by prohibiting employers from firing them. It also protects employees who need to take time off to care for a loved one. An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, cannot lose any employer-provided health insurance coverage while on leave, and must be allowed to return to the same position once leave has ended. Compared to the ADA the applicability of the FMLA is somewhat narrower. It only applies to employers with at least 50 employees, and an employee must have been employed for at least 12 months to be eligible. Note that unpaid leave may qualify as a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA only after an employee has exhausted his or her FMLA leave. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides a useful explanation of leave under the ADA here.

GGRM is here to help employees in the Las Vegas area

At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we know how difficult it can be to face workplace discrimination while also fighting cancer. Our experienced attorneys shoulder the burden of working out disputes with your employer so you can focus on healing. For a free attorney consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

The Law and Accidents Involving Fireworks

The Law and Accidents Involving Fireworks
Every year in the months around the Fourth of July we hear about people being injured in accidents involving fireworks. The underlying cause of these accidents often involves an element of recklessness on the part of the injured person. Someone who hand-holds an explosive while its fuse runs out is asking for trouble. But sometimes fireworks can be involved in accidents that are less clearly the fault of the person who gets injured. In these cases an injured person may have the option of suing for compensation. Here are some possible causes of action:
  • Negligence

The most common cause of action in personal injury cases is negligence. In a nutshell, a negligence case asks whether the defendant failed to comply with a legal obligation toward the plaintiff, and as a consequence of that failure the plaintiff was injured. Someone who is lighting off fireworks arguably owes nearby people a duty to light them in a way that will not put bystanders at undue risk of harm. The boundary of this duty quickly becomes clear the more reckless the defendant was. For example, if the defendant thought it would be funny to light a firecracker on someone’s head, and the person suffered hearing loss, this would be a clear case of negligence and probably would qualify as gross negligence due to the particular disregard the defendant showed for the plaintiff’s safety. A defendant can be liable for accidentally causing someone harm as well. For example, a defendant will probably be liable for injuries that result after the defendant throws an explosive into the air with the idea that it will pop overhead, only to have it sail into a crowd by mistake. Negligence claims can be easier to establish if the responsible person was also committing a crime doing the activity that caused the plaintiff’s injury. Here in Clark County use of fireworks is only permitted from June 28 through midnight on July 4, and only products that labeled “safe and sane” list are permitted. Fireworks that explode or fire into the air are generally illegal for consumers to use within the county. Potential plaintiffs may also be violating the law if they are participating in a use of illegal fireworks—an attorney can advise how this may affect a civil case.
  • Products Liability

Everyone understands that fireworks involve a degree of risk. Even a relatively low-risk device like a sparkler can cause minor burns. That probably means that in ordinary use a properly designed and manufactured firework doesn’t create limitless liability for the business that makes or sells it. But a firework can be defectively designed or made in such a way that it is much more dangerous than a consumer will know to anticipate. For example, an unpredictably fast fuse may give users too little time to get out of the way before the firework detonates. In such cases chances are good that other people have been similarly injured and can group their cases together in a class action.

Call a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to discuss your fireworks-related injury

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident involving fireworks and you have questions about how a lawsuit can help you recover compensation, call us today for a free consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Inspection Liability for Nevada Fire Departments

Inspection Liability for Nevada Fire Departments
In the aftermath of a structure fire people who have lost property, suffered injuries, or lost loved ones will sometimes pursue lawsuits against anyone who might bear responsibility for the fire. In circumstances where a building was not compliant with state or local fire regulations, injured parties may wonder if a fire department’s failure to make adequate inspections could make it legally liable for some of the damages caused by the fire.

Las Vegas building inspection process

The Clark County and Las Vegas fire codes provide several points when a fire inspection is required:
  • Prior to and during construction. Before construction begins the plans for a new building are reviewed by county inspectors for compliance with fire safety guidelines. During construction fire inspections are routinely completed to ensure that the structure is code compliant.
  • As part of business licensing. A wide range of businesses must carry special permits in connection with their general business license. Businesses that involve combustible materials, like gas stations or auto repair shops, are a few examples. Restaurants, bars, and warehouses must also comply with various requirements, like adequate evacuation routes and signage. Special events are also required to obtain fire safety permits.
  • Annual renewals. Holders of permits and licenses with annual renewal requirements must have their premises inspected as part of the renewal process.

Nevada law shields inspectors and their departments from liability

The obligation to comply with fire codes ultimately rests with the property’s owner and operator. As a practical matter that makes sense: the people who routinely maintain a building are in the best position to ensure that it is safe, while an inspector can verify that a structure is safe only on the day of the inspection. Nevada has codified the common law “public duty doctrine,” NRS 41.033, which shields state and local inspectors and their employers from liability for failing to inspect a property or failing to discover a hazard, regardless of whether an inspection was made. In normal circumstances this shield prevents a lawsuit even if there is an affirmative obligation to inspect. A plaintiff may be able to go forward with a lawsuit involving an inspection agency only if the agency had actual knowledge of a deficiency and did not take action to correct it, such as by granting a business or construction permit despite a failed inspection. Courts have held that a government agency may be held liable despite NRS 41.033 if the defect was so obvious that anyone with knowledge of the applicable code would have recognized it. Davenport v. County of Clark, 111 Nev. 467 (1995). The knowledge exception is fairly narrow: the plaintiff must prove actual knowledge. It’s not enough to argue that the agency had implied knowledge (i.e., the hazard could be inferred from other facts) or constructive notice of the hazard. The inspector or agency needed to be aware of the specific hazard at issue, and did nothing to prevent it.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

In most circumstances involving structure fires an injured person’s best option for recovering compensation will be to pursue a lawsuit against the building’s owner and operator, as well as their insurers, rather than a government entity. But given the right facts an agency with an inspection duty could be implicated in a fire. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Nevada Employer Accommodations for Lactating Mothers

Nevada Employer Accommodations for Lactating Mothers
Going back to work after having a baby is one of the most challenging parts of being a new mom. Feelings of guilt and sadness can combine with exhaustion to make working a real challenge. Lactation adds a practical challenge for working moms, especially when there aren’t good places to pump. New mothers in Nevada should know that state law requires employers to provide certain accommodations for women who are lactating. The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (the Act) went into effect in 2017. The Act has two important components relevant to new moms. First, it requires employers to provide accommodations for matters related to pregnancy and childbirth, including lactation. Second, it protects pregnant women and women who have recently given birth from discrimination based on those accommodations.

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for lactating mothers

Under Section 5 of the Act a Nevada employer may not refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation upon the employee’s request for any condition relating to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition (explicitly including lactation), unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the business of the employer. There are several features worth noting about this rule:
  1. The employee must request the accommodation. An employer is not obligated to preemptively create a solution, though of course many employers do.
  2. The employer is required to enter into a dialogue. The employer and employee “must engage in a timely, good faith and interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation for the employee.”
  3. The accommodation must be “reasonable.” The Act explains that an accommodation may include a change in the work environment or methods of working to allow the employee to have employment opportunities equal to those available to other employees. The Act gives several examples of what a “reasonable accommodation” might be, including revising break schedules, providing an area other than a bathroom for expressing breast milk, or providing a modified work schedule. If the employee asks for a reasonable accommodation and the employer refuses, it becomes the employer’s responsibility to prove that providing the accommodation would be an “undue hardship” for the employer. This might involve showing that the accommodation is too expensive or could affect the employer’s operations.

Discriminating against lactating employees is unlawful

The Act provides that the following acts by an employer are unlawful:
  1. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodation for lactation, unless the accommodation would be an undue burden.
  2. Using the fact of the employee’s lactation, or an employee’s refusal to accept accommodations offered by the employer, to take an adverse employment action, such as reducing pay, imposing a difficult new schedule, or changing the job in a negative way.
  3. Denying an employment opportunity on the basis that the employee refused an accommodation or is lactating.
  4. Requiring an employee to take leave.
  5. Requiring an employee to accept an accommodation she didn’t request or chooses not to accept.
These protections are broad and significant. Importantly, they allow an employee the flexibility to decline an offered accommodation and enter into a dialogue with the employer about alternatives. The employer cannot coerce an employee to accept a solution that isn’t acceptable to her.

Talk to an attorney if you have questions

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide personalized, caring guidance to clients in the Las Vegas area. If you are a new or expecting mother we are happy to explain how Nevada law protects you. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Firefighters Should Take Care When Posting on Social Media

Firefighters Should Take Care When Posting on Social Media
Social media use is getting some firefighters into professional trouble. A Boston firefighter was placed on leave last year after posting racially charged, violent material on Facebook. His incendiary posts raise questions about his fitness to serve the public and expose his department to public criticism. They are just one example of mistakes a firefighter can make when posting online.

Employers can fire employees for social media use

Employees in every industry are finding out the hard way that employers are able to fire them for what they post on social media, even in channels that they believe are private. Unless a firefighter is working under a contract, chances are good that his or her employment is “at-will.” That means that an employer often can fire an employee at any time, with or without cause. In the right situation a firefighter’s social media posts may give the department “cause” to terminate the employment relationship. Bear in mind that even though employers can show interest in an employee’s social media accounts, they cannot require employees to disclose their login credentials as a condition of employment. NRS 613.135. This arguably prevents employers from requiring their employees to give them access to their private social media feeds (i.e., as “friends” on Facebook). However, a firefighter could voluntarily accept a connection with a manager or other colleagues and effectively waive any expectation of privacy. Firefighters should know that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides that employees cannot be fired in retaliation for using social media to organize and discuss job-related issues. Complaints about job conditions, including issues with managers, enjoy greater leeway than other kinds of potentially unacceptable content. But care should be taken to keep such posts professional.

Kinds of posts that should be avoided

There are many kinds of social media posts that could get a firefighter into trouble. Many of them are simply common sense. Here are some examples:
  • Posts that breach confidentiality obligations. Firefighters have confidentiality obligations with regard to members of the public as well as internal department matters. For example, posting photos of a fire scene is potentially actionable, especially if the photos include members of the public.
  • Posts that show evidence of illegal or discouraged activity. It almost goes without saying that a firefighter should not post photos of himself or herself doing something illegal, like using prohibited drugs. Even posting material that expresses a positive opinion of such things can create problems. In Nevada firefighters need to be especially cautious now that recreational marijuana has been decriminalized: even though marijuana use is no longer a state criminal offense, its use by firefighters is still subject to employer restrictions.
  • Posts that violate department policy. Firefighters should be familiar with the policies that govern their social media use. For example, most fire departments prohibit unapproved use of official uniforms and insignia for unofficial purposes.
  • Posts that may be offensive. As public servants firefighters have an obligation to avoid making racially or sexually inappropriate comments on social media and elsewhere. Whether content is offensive isn’t necessarily up to the firefighter. Assume that content will be judged by a wide audience, and that it may reflect poorly upon the employer even though it is not posted in an official capacity.

GGRM serves the Las Vegas firefighting community

Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is proud of its long history of service to the Las Vegas first-responder community. If you are a firefighter with questions about your social media use, please reach out to us. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

How Product Recalls Affect Manufacturer Liability

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

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

Nevada’s products liability law provides that anyone involved in the creation or marketing of a dangerously defective product may be held legally responsible for any injuries the defect causes. NRS 695E.090. This captures not only the product’s manufacturer, but also its designer, importer, distributor, and marketer. One reason for this broad scope is to ensure that injured consumers have the best opportunity to recover for their damages, without needing to target only one entity. It then falls to the parties involved in the defective product’s distribution chain to work out amongst themselves who is ultimately responsible. Businesses involved in making or marketing consumer goods typically carry insurance to cover products liability claims. An injured plaintiff can sue on two different theories:
  1. Negligence. The plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to ensure the product was reasonably safe.
  2. Strict products liability. If sufficient facts are available, the plaintiff can seek to shift the burden of proof to the defendant by showing that the defect was present in the product when it left the defendant’s possession, the plaintiff used the product in a foreseeable way, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injury. Nev. J.I. 7.02.
A product recall doesn’t absolve the parties in the chain of liability from responsibility. In fact, it can be a potentially powerful piece of evidence in a trial. The fact a product was recalled can be used to establish that the product was, in fact, defective. If marketers and distributors don’t pay attention to the recall they may be committing a serious act of negligence. To ensure fairness, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defect was present in the specific item that caused the injury. For example, a manufacturer of electric blankets issues a recall for a blanket due to a short in its power switch that creates a fire risk. If the plaintiff was injured by a fire caused by the same short, chances are good that a court will allow the fact of the recall to be presented to a jury. But if the plaintiff was injured by a different problem with the blanket (such as a short within the sheet itself), the recall probably isn’t relevant.

Ignoring a recall and assuming the risk of injury

Consumers who become aware of a product recall should comply with them to avoid injury. Failing to heed a recall is not just dangerous, but also potentially hands potential defendants a legal argument that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by continuing to use the product. The weight of an assumption of risk defense will depend on the facts. A plaintiff injured by a burning electric blanket may be assuming the risk of injury if she ignored multiple recall notices and a news story about the issue. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area in products liability cases. If you have been injured by a defective product and have questions about your legal options, our attorneys can help. To speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Liability for Electrical Repairs by Unlicensed Amateurs in Nevada

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

Contractors versus amateurs

Nevada law defines a contractor as a person who, in a “professional capacity,” performs any construction, alteration, or repair work, makes a bid to do such work, or claims to have the ability to do such work. NRS 624.020. People who fall within the definition of contractor must hold a license to bid upon or work on a household construction project, including any sort of electrical work. NRS 624.031(4) provides an important exception to contractor licensing requirements for work completed by the owner of a residential property that is for his or her own occupancy and not intended for sale or lease. Any sale or lease of the property within one year of the work creates a rebuttable presumption that the work was completed with the sale or lease in mind. To take advantage of the exception provided by NRS 624.031(4) a homeowner must apply to the State Contractors’ Board for approval. The State Contractors’ Board approval process requires the homeowner to submit an affidavit making certain legally binding representations. Among these are requirements that homeowners:
  • directly supervise the work, or do it themselves;
  • hire only licensed subcontractors, if any; and
  • provide workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment compensation, tax withholding, and other benefits for any unlicensed person hired to help with the work.
Failure to comply with these and other requirements will create a presumption that the homeowner has violated the statute. Under NRS 624.700 someone who is convicted of a violation can be subject to court and prosecution costs, and the cost of the Board’s investigation into the matter.

Unlicensed work can create other problems

The chances aren’t high that the State Contractors’ Board will go after a homeowner for changing out a light switch. But doing work without the proper permit can create other problems for a homeowner. For example, when the homeowner goes to sell the house the buyer may insist that any work have been licensed, and any unlicensed work must be inspected by a professional before closing. If the buyer’s inspector discovers any problems the homeowner may need to do the work properly. In addition to the expense of hiring a licensed contractor, this sort of after-the-fact repair work can involve starting over again. Fire is the most serious concern when it comes to electrical work. If a home burns down due to unlicensed electrical work, a number of consequences are likely to follow. First, the home’s insurer will probably deny the homeowner’s claim for coverage, on grounds that the homeowner’s work was unlawful and therefore not covered by the policy. Second, the homeowner may be liable for negligence for any damages to others, such as harm to neighboring structures or personal injuries.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

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

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?

Who Bears Legal Responsibility for 3D-Printed Devices?
3D printing technology promises to revolutionize the way products are designed and made. At the industrial scale it allows manufacturers to build customized goods at a fraction of their historical cost. Affordable consumer-grade 3D printers give anyone with a computer unprecedented creative control over the design and construction of products. But if a 3D-printed item is unsafe and causes an injury, who bears responsibility? A 3D printer works by translating a digital model into a real object typically made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a common plastic used in all sorts of products. The printer builds up an object one thin layer at a time, allowing designs to incorporate complex elements like hinges or wheels. In theory a 3D printer can be used to create just about anything. Libraries of downloadable model files are available on the web, many of them for free. Many designs are simple toys or decorative objects. But other models are for useful objects. Instead of tossing out an old product with a broken part, the consumer could simply print a replacement part. Instead of running to the store to track down a specialized tool for solving a particular problem, the consumer could simply print one.

The potential risk of harm from 3D-printed objects

There probably is little harm if a model file for a cat figurine doesn’t print out correctly. But some products may involve real risk of personal injury. For example, a printed model of a safety fitting on a chainsaw may not have the same performance specifications of the original part, perhaps because the printer’s output material isn’t appropriate for the application or because the model itself isn’t precisely the right shape. If a consumer is injured by an improperly designed model the creator of the model might be legally liable for damages. Most likely such a case would need to be based on a theory of negligence. The injured person must show that the designer did not take reasonable care to ensure that the model would be safe in reasonably foreseeable applications. A designer might be responsible for warning consumers if the model needs to be made using a specific kind of material, especially if it is something other than ABS. A central challenge for a plaintiff in such cases will be proving the source of the defect in the 3D-printed object. The model designer likely will point out that he or she had nothing to do with the printing process itself, which could introduce flaws that aren’t inherent in the design. There may also be a good argument that the user of a 3D-printed object assumes the risk that it will not work the way an ordinary commercial product would.

Talk to a personal injury attorney if you have questions

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

The Role of Expert Testimony in Personal Injury Cases

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

Nevada’s standards for expert witnesses

The purpose of an expert witness is to allow the case’s trier of fact—the jury or judge—to reach an objective opinion about the significance of technical evidence presented at trial. To qualify as an expert witness in Nevada state court the individual and his or her testimony must meet three requirements (set out in NRS 50.275):
  1. Qualification. The witness must be qualified in the area of specialized knowledge to which the testimony pertains. Qualification may be established by a witness’s education or professional experience.
  2. Assistance. The witness’s expertise must be helpful to the triers of fact as they work to understand a piece of evidence or a disputed fact. Parties may object to specific elements of testimony if it only serves to confuse or distract from the main issue.
  3. Limited scope. The witness’s testimony must be limited only to the areas where the witness is qualified. For example, an engineer asked to offer an opinion about a defect in a ladder can’t also offer input on whether falling from a ladder could cause the defendant’s heart attack.
In some cases an expert’s testimony is a legally required component of a claim. For example, in a professional negligence case, where the defendant is a licensed professional such as a doctor, plaintiffs must submit a sworn affidavit signed by an expert witness who agrees that the defendant acted negligently.

Problems with expert witness testimony

Ideally, an expert witness presents an unbiased, professional opinion. Because experts usually are compensated for their time, serving in the role can become a lucrative source of income for some professionals. The corrupting role money can play in shaping an expert’s opinion raises legitimate concerns about the reliability of testimony, especially if the witness serves the same role again and again for a given party. For example, a witness who gets paid by an insurance company to opine about the cause of appliance fires may be prone to questionable bias in favor of the insurer. Parties who oppose such witnesses need to be prepared to expose the expert’s bias through careful questioning and potentially by presenting counterbalancing testimony. In many cases two experts can legitimately disagree. A “battle of experts” can be the result, where the plaintiff’s expert supports one conclusion while the defendant’s expert expresses a different or even contradictory opinion. This is especially common in medical cases, where the science on a given topic is not well-settled. In cases like these the trier of fact can be faced with the difficult problem of needing to weigh the relative merits of each perspective.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

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

Suing an Estate for Personal Injury Damages in Nevada

Suing an Estate for Personal Injury Damages in Nevada
Someone who is seriously injured by another person’s negligent or reckless behavior is hopefully able to recover compensation. But if the responsible person dies before a case is resolved, the injured person may need to sue his or her estate. In some ways an estate is just like any other defendant, but lawsuits against estates involve some special issues. At the most basic level, after someone dies their assets are generally used to pay off the deceased person’s debts, with anything left over going to the person’s heirs. Past this basic framework, however, an estate can be quite complicated. Here are a few potential issues a plaintiff may face:
  • Probate. When a person dies with assets that aren’t held in a trust their assets are placed into the administrative process of a probate court. The probate process is intended to provide an orderly way for creditors of the deceased person to make claims against the assets in an estate. The estate’s personal representative, who may be a family member of the deceased or the deceased’s lawyer, is responsible for notifying creditors of the estate about when and where hearings will be held to resolve claims.
  • Trusts. A trust is a type of legal entity that some people use to shield assets from estate taxes and, potentially, creditor claims. A common form of trust, the revocable living trust, does not protect assets from creditors. But high net worth individuals often set up more supplicated vehicles, like spendthrift or “domestic asset protection” trusts, which provide a more airtight protection against creditor claims on property left in the trust for a period of time.
  • Tight deadlines. Public policy demands that estates be settled reasonably quickly. That means that deadlines for making claims against an estate can be quite tight. For example, unless otherwise permitted by the court a creditor who receives notice of an estate going into probate has only 90 days from the date of notice to file a claim. NRS 147.040.
  • Restrictions on continuing lawsuits. A plaintiff against a deceased defendant must comply with all of the rules that apply to a creditor in probate. What’s more, a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against someone who dies must show “good cause” for the lawsuit to continue against the estate in probate. NRS 147.100.
  • Other creditors. After someone dies there are often a range of creditors who will seek to claim a part of the deceased’s estate. Lenders for mortgages and education costs will have sophisticated help at their disposal to protect their interests. The injured plaintiff must have good representation to compete with these behemoths.
  • Fraudulent transfers. If the deceased person tried to shield assets from the injured plaintiff’s claim by giving them away—for example, by gifting a large chunk of money to a child—the plaintiff will need to bring the transferees of such assets into the case to seek recovery of the assets that, in legal terms, were fraudulently transferred (that is, transferred to avoid being subject to the plaintiff’s claim).
  • Out-of-state assets. Quite often someone who dies will own property outside of Nevada. Pursuing claims against those assets can involve working with local counsel in other states to ensure that local rules are satisfied.
Navigating these and other complex issues requires careful work by the lawyers who represent the injured plaintiff. Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients get compensation in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured and would like to explore your legal options, reach out to us today. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.