Monthly Archives: October 2018

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Asking Employers for Evidence of a Workplace Injury

Nevada law provides that workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries and diseases that arise out of and in the course of employment. The worker making a claim bears responsibility for proving that the injury was work-related. In some cases this burden is relatively easy to meet, but in others it can present challenges. Quite often the employer has important evidence that the worker will need to establish and defend a claim. One source of challenge for injured workers is the financial incentives of employers and insurers to deny claims or limit their scope. Their efforts to do this get much easier if the worker does not have adequate evidence that the injury or disease arose out of and in the course of employment. If an injury’s relationship to the job is clear from the basic facts, the evidence involved may be relatively straightforward. For example, a warehouse employee who is on the clock and injured when a palette falls off a forklift may face few questions about the work-relatedness of the injury. But other circumstances have given injured workers more difficulty. Here are a few examples:
  • Workers who are injured during breaks.
  • Injuries suffered while traveling, especially if the travel involves an element of personal time.
  • Diseases that are slow to develop, like cancer or hearing loss.
Cases that involve “unconventional” facts require an especially careful approach to evidence. The employer can be a critically important source of vital details that support a claim. A workers’ compensation attorney helps clients get all the relevant information from employers, preferably as soon as possible following the injury to ensure that facts are still fresh. If the employer isn’t forthcoming with details, an attorney can help the client take more aggressive steps to force the issue. And if the employer has deliberately hidden or destroyed vital evidence, the attorney can ensure that such bad faith efforts do not succeed. Each case involves unique evidence requirements. Here are a few examples of the kind of evidence an employer may have that the worker will need:
  • Evidence of the cause of the injury, to show that the injury happened at work. (Note that because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, evidence of responsibility for the injury is not relevant.)
  • Testimony from other employees or managers attesting to the facts of the injury.
  • Documentation related to the injury, especially in cases involving diseases where the employer has conducted some analysis that may serve to show the underlying cause.
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in Las Vegas pursue their workers’ compensation claims. We can help you work with your employer to get the facts you need to ensure that your claim is accepted. Call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

How Defendants May Use Bankruptcy to Avoid Paying Judgments

Defendants in personal injury lawsuits can end up owing the plaintiff a significant amount of compensation, whether as part of a settlement or as a consequence of a court judgment. In simplified terms, the successful plaintiff becomes a creditor of the defendant. One concerns that successful plaintiffs may have is that defendants may seek to reduce or eliminate their debt obligation by discharging it through personal bankruptcy. There are several kinds of bankruptcy, which are named after the applicable chapter of Title 11 of the U.S. Code, also referred to as the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. For individuals, the two forms of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. The mechanisms and requirements of these two forms of bankruptcy are quite different.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for debtors who lack the income necessary to pay at least some of their debts. If the debtor is already barely staying afloat when the judgment comes down, Chapter 7 might be available. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy forces the debtor to sell off or surrender property for which there isn’t an exemption. The debtor uses the resulting proceeds to pay off as much of the debts as possible, leaving only a small, exempted amount for the debtor’s own use. After the debtor has paid what he or she can, the rest of the debts are discharged. At the end of the process if a creditor cannot be paid because there is nothing left, the creditor may be out of luck.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the option available for people who do not satisfy the debt-to-income requirements of Chapter 7. Chapter 13 is more favorable to plaintiffs because it does not result in debts being discharged for good. Instead, the Chapter 13 debtor is required to adopt a repayment plan that is compatible with the debtor’s income. A Chapter 13 repayment plan is overseen by the bankruptcy court and a trustee, and may last up to five years.
Both types of personal bankruptcy involve all of the debtor’s credit obligations, meaning the plaintiff’s award gets thrown in with other forms of debt, like mortgages and car payments. One consequence of this is that the successful plaintiff may end up behind other, higher priority creditors in the process. For example, if a mortgage lender has a lien on the debtor’s home, the home’s value may be out of the plaintiff’s reach. A personal injury plaintiff is a sympathetic creditor and may receive some discretionary priority from a bankruptcy court, but the law of secured debt can limit the size of the potential asset pool available to pay all creditors. Plaintiffs in drunk driving cases should note that bankruptcy law prohibits bankruptcy courts from discharging debts associated with injuries caused by drunk drivers. Such debts are on a list of nondischargable debt that also covers student loans, most taxes, and government debts. Bankruptcy is designed to ensure that the debtor does not come out of the process with nothing. The idea is that debtors get another chance to “start again.” For a personal injury plaintiff this can feel unfair, especially in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case where the debt ends up wiped away. As a consequence, plaintiffs’ attorneys need to anticipate the ability of the defendant to pay as part of their legal strategy. For example, it may make strategic sense to enter into a settlement with provision for securing the debt voluntarily, so it is harder to discharge through bankruptcy. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for over 45 years. If you have questions about your personal injury case, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Failing Knee Replacements Leading to More Lawsuits

A defective joint replacement can cause severe pain and lead to additional surgeries and recovery time. It can also cause or worsen trip-and-fall accidents. In recent years patients who have received certain knee replacements have been pursuing products liability claims against the replacements’ manufacturers. There are several types of knee replacement, all of which involve the surgical installation of hardware to replace or supplement the knee’s natural structures. In a total knee replacement, the most common type, the surfaces of both the thigh and shin bones are replaced using implants that are attached to the bones themselves. Implants are often attached to the bone using a specialized glue called bone cements. Patients who have had knee replacement surgery can suffer a range of potential complications after surgery. Some complications are typical of medical procedures in general: infections, challenges with healing, slow restoration of movement, and so on. But some types of complication are specific to way implants are made or designed. Implant problems can also arise from improper installation by the surgeon. Surgical mistakes can include misalignment of the implants, among other things. An example of lawsuits against implant manufacturer DePuy. Plaintiffs have sued DePuy for problems with its Attune knee replacement hardware. Some patients have experienced loosening of the bone cement intended to keep the hardware in place. As the cement loosens, patients experience pain and instability in the affected knee, and can require additional surgery to correct the problem. Nevadans who have suffered complications from a defective knee replacement may have a legal claim against the manufacturer of the implant for products liability. In some cases the patient may also have a claim against the surgeon who performed the operation. Quite often plaintiffs can benefit from pooling their resources in a class action. As one might expect, medical cases involve complicated facts that need to be analyzed by an attorney to determine the best course for the client. If you are suffering with complications from a defective knee replacement consider consulting with an attorney to understand your legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury, products liability, and medical malpractice cases. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Suing a Neighbor for Nuisance in Nevada

In a perfect world conflicts between neighbors would get resolved without needing to resort to the legal system. But sometimes a neighbor’s bad behavior forces a homeowner to do more than just make a friendly request. When a neighbor’s actions are severe enough, the legal theory of nuisance can be a source of potential relief. Under Nevada law a number of things can give rise to a nuisance claim. NRS 40.140 provides that the following things constitute actionable nuisance:
  1. Anything injurious to health, or indecent and offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property. This broad category can apply to many types of situation. It would probably apply to a neighbor who regularly burns trash, sending dirty smoke into adjacent lots. It could also apply to a neighbor who constantly parks a vehicle where it prevents access to another person’s property.
  2. A building or place used in connection with the manufacture, storage, or sale of a controlled substances. There are two dimensions to Nevada’s “drug house” law. It can apply to any place where illegal substances are made, sold or given away. This law could be applied to stop a neighbor from throwing parties where illegal drugs are routinely made available to guests. The law also provides mechanisms for stopping the manufacture of illegal drugs. An obvious example would be the case of a basement “meth lab” that is venting toxic fumes into neighboring properties.
  3. A building or place regularly and continuously used by members of a criminal gang to engage in or facilitate criminal activity.
To bring an action for nuisance the plaintiff must be able to prove two elements. First, the nuisance must be causing damages, either to the plaintiff’s property itself (such as reducing its value, or causing physical harm) or to the plaintiff’s enjoyment of his or her property. Second, the nuisance must be of a kind that the court system can resolve. What this means is that the plaintiff must offer a solution to the problem that the court can provide, such as by ordering the defendant to stop doing the activity causing the nuisance. In some cases the plaintiff may also recover cash compensation where the nuisance has caused physical damage to property, but the chief aim of a nuisance claim is to end the problematic behavior. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury and other disputes. We would be happy to discuss your potential nuisance claim with you. For a free attorney consultation about your case, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

How an Attorney Can Help Your Workers’ Comp Case

People often make workers’ compensation claims without talking to an attorney about their rights. This can be the right approach for relatively minor injuries that can be resolved with one or two visits to a doctor and don’t raise disability or other long-term issues. But in many cases proceeding without an attorney’s help can be a serious mistake. An attorney can help a workers’ compensation claim in a number of important ways:
  • Gathering all the facts. Someone who doesn’t handle workers’ compensation claims all the time may not know what information can be important over the lifetime of a claim. An attorney works with the client to gather all the important facts of the injury or disease, with special focus on documenting information in such a way that it can be used in any future appeals process. Evidence is always important but can be especially critical if there are potential grounds for denying the claim, such as questions about whether or not the injury was truly work related.
  • Managing the insurer relationship. Workers’ compensation insurers would much rather deny every claim if they could. Their adjusters are hired to find every excuse to discourage, discredit, or deny claims. Having an attorney on the case does more than just help keep an eye on the insurer. It also can discourage the insurer from using wrongful methods that an attorney will catch. For example, insurers sometimes don’t provide clear notice of deadlines or required next steps. An attorney can ensure that such errors don’t leave the client without options or give the insurer an inappropriate opportunity to make the claims process more difficult.
  • Keeping an eye on the medical examination process. Someone who has been seriously injured at work will need to submit to one or more medical evaluations by a physician selected by the insurer. The doctors who make these evaluations often have conflicting interests: to win repeat business from the insurer, an evaluator may have an incentive to scale back an initial diagnosis to something that will cost the insurer less. Patients can request that their attorney be present for most types of evaluation exams. The attorney’s job in these cases is to verify that the doctor is following prescribed procedures, and to ensure that the client can protect his or her interests during the exam.
These are just a few of the reasons for working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to resolve your claim. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients get the most from their workers’ compensation claims. If you would like to speak to an attorney about your case, please call us today for a free, confidential consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

The Role of Medicare In Personal Injury Cases

It should come as no surprise that lawsuits for personal injury rarely result in financial compensation for the injured plaintiff before injury-related costs have started piling up. After all, seeking medical attention is the first priority. Even in the common circumstance where settlement negotiations avoid drawn-out litigation, medical bills can begin piling up. For injured plaintiffs who are insured through Medicare, the government program may cover some or all of the treatment for an injury. In turn, Medicare becomes financially involved in the personal injury case. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for individuals who are 65 years of age or older, or who have qualifying disabilities. Like any insurer, Medicare has rules in place to prevent fraud and other forms of insurance abuse. Many of these rules focus on health care providers who get paid by Medicare, but patients also have important obligations.
  • Medicare is entitled to reimbursement out of personal injury awards.

The chief goal of personal injury lawsuits is to ensure that a victim of another person’s wrongful actions (negligence, deliberate malicious acts, illegal behavior, and so on) does not bear the financial cost of his or her injuries. The true cost of an injury can include lost wages and other important components, but quite often medical costs form the single largest piece of the financial puzzle. Insurers, including Medicare, will cover personal injuries that are the subject of lawsuits. But because the insurer, rather than the injured plaintiff, bears the costs of the injury, the insurer is entitled to seek reimbursement for its expenses. Federal law provides that Medicare must receive reimbursement before the plaintiff or other claimants can take any compensation from a settlement or judgment award.
  • Medicare receives an automatic lien on awards.

The legal mechanism that ensures Medicare is reimbursed is called a judgment lien. By law Medicare automatically receives a first lien on any award granted to the insured plaintiff. These liens have a couple important features. First, a Medicare lien takes seniority over all other liens, meaning that until the lien is removed (following full reimbursement) no one else, including the plaintiff, can be paid from the compensation award. Second, there isn’t much room for negotiation when it comes to Medicare liens: what the program is owed is usually what it must be paid. There is an exception for plaintiffs who are represented by an attorney. In those cases liens can be reduced by one-third, to ensure that the plaintiff’s final compensation will cover the plaintiff’s legal fees.
  • Medicare must be notified of a case’s resolution.

Any time Medicare has covered expenses related to a personal injury lawsuit the insured plaintiff must notify it when a settlement or judgment is obtained. The notice is due within 60 days and can be submitted electronically. Failing to provide notice on time results in significant fines. After receiving notice Medicare prepares a report detailing the charges that are subject to its lien. It’s common for plaintiffs to go through a process to ensure that the lien accurately reflects only costs that were related to the injury. Once a final accounting is completed, Medicare should be paid promptly.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We can help you navigate all aspects of your personal injury case, including dealing with Medicare liens. For a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Suing for Sexually Transmitted Disease

Contracting a sexually transmitted disease from a partner can be a disturbing and even devastating event. In some situations someone who has been infected by a partner may wish to pursue legal action to recover compensation for the cost of medical treatment. The merits of a lawsuit related to an STD will depend on the facts of the situation.

Theories of recovery for an STD

Because an STD is a type of personal injury, one must look first at whether negligence is an appropriate cause of action. Negligence involves a failure to exercise a degree of care that would be exercised under similar circumstances by a careful and prudent person. Someone who is aware that they have a sexually transmittable disease but does not disclose it to a partner may be committing an act of negligence. Given the right facts the infected person’s behavior could be so outrageous that it could justify a claim of gross negligence. Factors that might contribute to this analysis are the seriousness of the illness, the individual’s awareness of its transmissibility, and the particular facts surrounding the case. If the defendant intentionally infected the plaintiff with an STD a claim of civil battery may be warranted. To successfully sue for battery the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant acted with willful intent to cause the harm. Proving the defendant’s intent can be a challenge. Bear in mind that battery is also a crime.

Challenges related to bringing suit for STDs

Filing a civil lawsuit in connection with an STD is often not an easy choice to make, even if it is clearly supported by the facts. There are a number of reasons why this is true, including:
  • Privacy and embarrassment. One can expect every detail of the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant to be scrutinized by lawyers and the court. Because the facts of an STD’s transmission invariably involve highly personal details, many potential plaintiffs prefer to not pursue a case.
  • Problems of proof. Proving that a partner was the source of an STD can require piecing together a complicated and invasive set of facts. Plaintiffs who have had multiple sexual partners can expect that fact to become a focus of the defense, as it tries to shift the possibility of blame to other sources.
  • Proving damages. Lawsuits involving transmission of STDs usually relate to cases of incurable illnesses that have long-term health consequences. A disease that affects a person’s long-term health probably will involve substantial medical bills that can justify going to the expense of litigation. If the disease could be cured with conventional antibiotics simply may not have enough measurable damages to warrant filing suit. In some cases the plaintiff may have suffered severe mental anguish as a consequence of the STD, and that suffering may offer an independent form of injury that could justify litigation.

Talk to a personal injury lawyer about your situation

A personal injury attorney can help clarify the potential merits of a lawsuit. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has a long history of helping injured clients recover compensation. We pride ourselves on our caring, considerate approach to each case. For a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

Car Customization and Liability Risk

Customizing cars is a hobby almost as old as the automobile itself. The popularity of cable TV shows about custom shops, the availability of consumer aftermarket components, and the deep roots of American car culture combine to make custom cars an increasingly common sight on the road. Although customization is fun, its fans should take a moment to think about how it can affect their legal liability. There are a number of considerations worth bearing in mind.
  • Know your insurer’s position on customization.
If a custom modification causes an accident an insurer may not be willing to cover the resulting damages unless the insurance policy specifically allows for the custom work. Insurers like to know the details about the vehicles they insure. The vehicle identification number (VIN) provided to the insurer tells it much more than just the make and model of the car: it helps the insurer know exactly what the vehicle is equipped with and how much the vehicle is worth. A customization may alter the vehicle’s value but can also alter its performance. For example, installing an engine enhancer that increases horsepower could make the car more dangerous to drive. An insurer needs to know the kind of risk it is taking on so it can appropriately price its policies.
  • Installing aftermarket parts may complicate products liability protections.
When a consumer is injured as a consequence of design or manufacturing defects in a product the consumer can have the option to sue the manufacturer under a products liability theory. Changes to the stock configuration of the vehicle can free the manufacturer from responsibility. Instead, the manufacturer or installer of the custom part might be responsible. But determining who is at fault in such cases can be tricky, especially if the nature of the problem that caused the accident is difficult to determine.
  • Direct responsibility for unsafe modifications.
A hobbyist who does his or her own customization work often assumes the risk that some part of the work wasn’t completed correctly. Making changes to a car in a way that renders the car unsafe could expose the hobbyist to liability for any resulting injuries. Absent insurance that specifically covers it, the hobbyist could be left bearing all of the cost of the ensuing litigation and compensation to injured parties.

Ask an accident attorney about injuries from custom cars

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients injured in auto accidents in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have questions about an accident involving a customized car, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Preventing Ongoing Injuries with an Injunction in Nevada

Injunctions are a special form of legal remedy that effectively orders someone to stop doing something wrongful, backed up with the threat of fines or even jail time for violating the order. Unlike other forms of litigation, where the plaintiff seeks financial compensation for injuries, an injunction often can be relatively quick and inexpensive. When someone is continuously behaving badly, asking a court to intervene can be an effective means of putting a stop to it.

What is required to obtain an injunction in Nevada

A civil injunction can be obtained by filing with state court a complaint that meets certain requirements. Under NRS 33.010, case law, and Nevada’s Rules of Civil Procedure, an injunction may be granted after the court’s consideration of the following factors:
  1. The plaintiff must show a reasonable probability of success on the merits with respect to the underlying legal dispute.
  2. The plaintiff must demonstrate that if the injunction is not issued it will suffer irreparable harm for which money damages will be inadequate.
  3. The injunction is appropriate in light of the relative hardships of the parties and the public’s interest in stopping the behavior of the defendant.
  4. The injunction’s purpose is to preserve or restore the status quo; that is to say, it works to put the plaintiff into the condition that existed without the wrongful behavior.
  5. Some types of injunction must be supported with a security bond to protect the defendant against the possibility of an improperly granted injunction.

The types of injunction

The term “injunction” actually covers a number of different types of relief that are available to plaintiffs depending on the kind of injury they are seeking to resolve, the duration of time the order should cover, and the nature of the legal posture of the parties.
  • Restraining (or protective) orders are issued to prevent people from threatening, harassing, or stalking others.
  • Preliminary injunctions are issued in connection with ongoing litigation to prevent an alleged wrong from continuing while the lawsuit is resolved.
  • Temporary injunctions are short-term court orders that can be obtained relatively easily and potentially without involving the other party.
  • Permanent injunctions, as the name suggests, are a lasting order to stop the bad behavior. A permanent injunction can only be obtained after a litigation process in which the defendant gets to present arguments against the injunction. Permanent injunctions can be accompanied by financial compensation in many situations.

When an injunction can be appropriate

An injunction can be a useful remedy to many kinds of disputes. A common use of injunctions is to stop threatening, abusive, or harassing behavior. They are also useful for stopping behavior that is doing damage to property or threatens health and safety. Each case will need to be evaluated on its merits. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area protect their legal rights for over 45 years. If you have questions about how an injunction might be useful in your situation, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Suing to Recover the Value of Lost Business

Owners of businesses, especially when the business is dependent upon the owner’s involvement, often stand to lose a lot when an injury forces them to stop working. A sole proprietor may lose more than just a salary; the business may lose clients or may be forced to close, depriving the entrepreneur of potential long-term growth. In a personal injury lawsuit the value of lost business can become an important component of the plaintiff’s damages claim. The value of lost business is a category of economic damages. Economic damages are available to plaintiffs in every type of personal injury lawsuit. One reason this is true is that economic damages can be calculated with a certain degree of accuracy, ensuring that the defendant is not unfairly made responsible for financial consequences that are beyond the scope of the injury he or she caused. A key problem for plaintiffs who wish to recover compensation for lost business is that the damages must be proven with sufficient reliability to be used by the court in assessing the plaintiff’s final damages award. Estimating lost future earnings can be especially tricky. There are a number of considerations that might go into this analysis, including:
  • The business’s history. The business’s earnings history is of central importance in determining how much revenue was potentially lost as a consequence of the plaintiff’s injury. A longer track record makes historical data more useful. Newer businesses may need to rely on third-party projections to calculate lost earnings.
  • Contingent profits. Although the plaintiff would like to argue that the business was going to grow exponentially and be wildly successful, fairness dictates that the damages award factor in a reasonable probability that the business would not always maximize its profits. This can be especially important for cases where the plaintiff seeks compensation for long-term lost profits.
  • Other sources of recovery. If the business also carried insurance against the possibility of the plaintiff’s injury the amount the insurance paid will probably reduce the amount the defendant is liable for.
In some cases establishing a firm measure of a business’s lost profits can require the assistance of an expert witness. Forensic accountants assist litigators with matters such as these, using well-established standards to develop theories of lost earnings that will stand up in court. Whether a given plaintiff needs the help of an expert witness will depend on the specific facts in the case. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation. If you have suffered a personal injury that has involved business losses and would like to explore your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.