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Can Witnesses be Forced to Testify in Personal Injury Cases?

The viability of a personal injury lawsuit can sometimes hinge on the testimony of witnesses. Witnesses can provide essential information about an injury and related matters, such as the extent of the plaintiff’s damages. Some witnesses are willing to provide testimony and information without being compelled to do so. But others may be reluctant. Perhaps the witness is a friend of the defendant’s and doesn’t want to testify to facts that will help the plaintiff. Or perhaps the witness is an employee of a company that is being sued and wants to protect a career. In many cases such witnesses can be required to testify through the use of subpoenas.

What is a subpoena?

The subpoena power is a significant resource that only becomes available once a lawsuit has been filed. Its purpose is to give the parties to litigation a means to gather evidence related to the case even against the objection of individuals who have it. Subpoenas may demand testimony (a subpoena ad testificandum) or production of documents or other materials (a subpoena duces tecum). A court may charge someone with contempt if they fail to comply with a valid subpoena. Under Nevada law contempt is punishable by a fine of up to $500, imprisonment for up to 25 days, or both, as well as reimbursement of legal fees and other expenses of the party that originally sought the subpoena.

The mechanics of subpoenas in Nevada state civil courts are governed by Rule 45 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure. To be valid a subpoena must comply with all of the requirements of Rule 45 and other related rules. A subpoena must be served upon the party being compelled to appear. Service must be in person and, with a few exceptions, must be accompanied by compensation for the witness’s mileage and a day’s fees.

Can someone avoid a subpoena?

There are a few ways someone can avoid responding to a subpoena. Many of the exceptions relate to the validity of the subpoena itself:

  • Avoiding service of process. One reason people hire professionals to serve process is that some people take pains to avoid it, thereby frustrating efforts to make the subpoena valid and binding. Process servers use creative methods to deliver documents to people who try to hide from service.
  • Undue burden. A respondent is not required to comply with a subpoena that creates an undue burden. This abstract concept is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but might include things like interrupting necessary medical care. An attorney who issues and serves a subpoena that creates an undue burden or unreasonable expense upon the person being served can be subject to sanction by the court.
  • Reasonable time. The subpoena must allow the respondent a reasonable time to appear.
  • Reasonable place. A subpoena cannot order someone to travel more than 100 miles from the respondent’s home or business, unless it is to the place where the trial is held.
  • Protected information. Subpoenas may be quashed or modified if they require someone to disclose trade secrets, confidential business information, or compels an opinion by an expert who has not been retained by a party as a paid witness.

Experienced personal injury attorneys are used to using subpoenas to gather information that pertains to their cases. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Safely Riding Bikes with Kids

Teaching kids how to ride bikes safely is a great way to encourage them to develop life-long healthy habits. Putting children on bikes also involves a significant responsibility. Preventing accidents and injuries should be a top priority. Children can be at greater risk than adults for bicycling accidents. They don’t always ride in a straight line, may not have sufficient skill to respond to changing conditions, and may be easily distracted. Bearing in mind that many accidents can be prevented even by the people who are not legally at fault, here are a few tips for keeping kids safe on bikes.

  1. Check for mechanical problems. Kids’ bikes go through a lot. They get dropped, left outside for long periods, and so on. Before going for a ride in public places it’s a good idea to always check for mechanical problems, especially with brakes and any point of contact between the bike, the rider, and the road (such as seats, handlebars, wheels). A quick tightening of a loose nut may prevent an accident.
  2. Make children wear helmets. Nevada law doesn’t require cyclists to wear helmets. Although not wearing a helmet won’t result in a citation, it could result in a serious or even fatal head injury. Bear in mind that helmets do not prevent every kind of head injury, they only reduce the likelihood of severe trauma.
  3. Teach traffic safety. Bicycles are not regulated in the same way as cars in Nevada, but they are subject to traffic rules. Kids who will ride in public need to have a basic working knowledge of what signs mean. It’s especially important that kids know when they must stop. They also need to know to stay within designated lanes and when it is ok to leave them. When riding on roads, cyclists are required to stay within designated bike lanes if they are present, unless roadway conditions in the bike lane makes it unsafe to do so.

If a child is injured while riding a bike and someone else was at fault, there may be an option of suing for compensation for the child’s injuries. The facts of the accident will be vitally important for determining the outcome of the case. After an accident it is important to gather as much information as possible about the event, including the time of day, the location, details about the people involved, and so on. Of course, this is easier said than done when a child has been injured and needs medical help.

In any ensuing litigation the central question probably will be whether the person responsible for the accident was negligent. If the child was riding recklessly—for example, by running a red light into oncoming traffic—that may offer a partial or complete defense.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury firm about your case

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about an accident involving a child on a bicycle, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Using a Cell Phone to Record Details of an Accident

Cell phone cameras are valuable tools for gathering evidence after an accident. The first priority after an accident should be to call police and emergency services, stabilize any injuries, and get clear of hazards like burning vehicles. Once those essential steps are taken, and provided that circumstances allow for it, taking photos or even video can help attorneys, insurance companies, and police investigators analyze the accident.

What sort of photo evidence is useful?

The short answer to this question is: all of it. A photograph can reveal things that our minds don’t process in the moment. While we’re focused on the damage to a car we may not see an important detail that is outside the focus of our vision. A photograph may capture this detail and make it available later.

There are limitless possibilities about what may be important to photograph at the scene. Here are some important examples

  • All visible damage to the vehicles involved.
  • Roadway conditions, like debris, skid marks, or spilled oil or other chemicals that might have contributed to the crash.
  • The scene of the accident, including the location of traffic signs and signals, the address, weather.
  • Personal injuries, but note that before taking pictures of an injured person it’s important to first get their consent.

Moving around the scene to capture photos from many angles is important for building up a complete record of the scene. One area where this can be important is if the two drivers involved in the crash have different recollections of how the crash occurred. Having photos from various angles of damage to the vehicles may help investigators determine what actually happened.

Be mindful of the photos as evidence

Once photos of the scene are on your phone it’s important to take steps to preserve them. Getting them downloaded to a computer or uploaded to cloud storage should be a priority. It’s very important to preserve the photos in their original format: editing a photo may raise doubts about its authenticity later on.

Also take care before putting accident photos onto social media sites. The best approach is to avoid making any statements about an accident online, but this can be especially true of photos, which may have unintended consequences, such as offending the privacy rights of an injured individual.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients who have been injured in auto accidents recover compensation. If you have been injured in an accident please call us for a free, no obligation attorney consultation. Reach out to us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How to Choose a Nevada Personal Injury Law Firm

After being injured in an accident, choosing the right attorney can feel like picking from a hat. There are dozens of personal injury law firms in the Las Vegas area alone. Anyone who has driven through Las Vegas has seen the barrage of billboards from lawyers looking for clients. A similar barrage is found across the media spectrum, from radio and television to the Internet. In the face of this flood of information (and misinformation) it is important to refocus on the things that really matter when it comes to choosing an attorney.

  1. Personal service. Some law firms have adopted a “high volume” approach to litigation. Such firms hope to make more money for their partners by adopting a standardized, impersonal process for each client. At GGRM we believe that a quality law firm treats each client with the respect and attention they deserve. Someone who is dealing with a serious injury probably has a wide range of related problems that are adding to the stress of being hurt. To really serve the client’s interests an attorney has to take time to tailor legal strategies around the personal needs of the client. That means taking the time to get to know the client, treating the client like a person and not like a number.
  2. Experience. The difference between a relatively junior attorney and one with experience can be enormous. Mastering the procedural components of litigation is only part of the process of becoming a competent attorney. A seasoned litigator knows how to craft arguments that anticipate the other side’s strategies and frame the debate in a favorable light.
  3. Resources. Personal injury litigation can sometimes require sophisticated outside resources, like expert witnesses. It also requires a quality team of professionals within the firm, such as experienced paralegals. A common misconception is that only the largest firms have access to these resources. The truth is that even small firms can have a deep pool of resources available to support a client’s case. Part of developing those resources comes through a firm’s experience, but it also comes from a willingness to invest in the case.
  4. Fee structure. Law firms charge clients in a variety of ways. A typical personal injury case is taken on contingency, which means the firm doesn’t get paid until it has reached a favorable outcome for the client. Not all contingency fee arrangements are created equal. Some firms try to pass on costs to clients regardless of the outcome of the case, and many firms charge exceptionally high fees even for cases that are fairly straightforward. An ethical firm not only explains in detail how its contingency fee arrangements work, but also works hard to keep its costs under control.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are proud of our long-standing tradition of providing high quality, personalized service to our clients. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Challenges to Suing a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy for Personal Injury

Someone who suffers an injury at a private home may be entitled to coverage under the homeowner’s insurance policy. Insurers are experts at denying claims and will frequently look for reasons why an injury did not qualify under the homeowner’s insurance policy. Policies are written to provide insurers with numerous ways of escaping liability. As a consequence the insurer may need to be sued, often along with the homeowner. In doing so the injured plaintiff can face a number of challenges. Here are two examples.

Coverage limits may not fully compensate the plaintiff

The first challenge can simply be the coverage limits built into the policy. It should be no surprise that a homeowner’s policy is deliberately designed to limit the financial exposure of the insurer to risk. Policies do this in part by placing strict caps on how much the insurer will pay out for different events. The details of these caps can draw fine distinctions between who qualifies for coverage, how much coverage will be given to specific types of injuries, and so on.

A policy will always specify how much the insurer will pay for a given injury (normally some factor of $100,000). Many policies include “umbrella” provisions that add an extra catch-all value on top of the itemized coverage. The insurer will not pay more than the maximum amount of coverage. The first challenge for plaintiffs is often that the amount available under the homeowner’s policy is simply not enough to cover all the costs associated with an injury. A policy with a coverage limit of $100,000 per incident and a $500,000 umbrella provision will not make a plaintiff whole if the plaintiff is facing $1 million in damages.

Plaintiffs may not be covered in some situations

A second challenge can arise if the plaintiff is not within the scope of coverage. Some policies may distinguish between full-time residents, guests, and contractors. It may also disclaim responsibility for specific types of injury. As a hypothetical example, a policy might specify that the insurer does not cover accidental electrocution of someone who is working on electrical systems without the appropriate professional license.

One area where this “category” problem can be important is cases where the injured person was performing services for the homeowner at the time of the injury. Many homeowners’ insurance policies disclaim responsibility for injuries to contractors, with the idea being that the contractors will already have their own insurance. If a neighbor is injured while helping a landowner clear brush, the insurer may look for ways to characterize the neighbor as a contractor. One way it might succeed in doing that is if the neighbor was being compensated in some way for the work. For example, if the neighbor is helping out as a way to repay the landowner for lending the neighbor a tractor, that might be enough to place the neighbor outside the coverage scope.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

Being injured at another person’s home raises a lot of difficult questions, not least of which can be how to preserve the relationship with the homeowner despite being in a legal dispute. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation. We work with clients to examine the complete picture of each case to ensure that the client’s personal and financial interests are protected. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Avoiding Auto Insurance Fraud Charges in Nevada

Claims under auto insurance policies run the gamut from repairs for damage to the vehicle to medical bills. Although many such claims are legitimate, statistics suggest that drivers are increasingly committing fraud against their insurers. Defrauding an insurer not only risks one’s insurance. It is also a category D felony, punishable in Nevada by up to four years of imprisonment as well as fines and other financial restitution.

What qualifies as auto insurance fraud in Nevada?

To be prosecuted for the crime of insurance fraud an individual must have knowingly and willingly taken steps to deceive an insurer. In simplified terms, fraud involves making statements that the person submitting the statement knows are false or misleading, or that conceal or omit facts that may be material. A consumer can commit fraud in an application for insurance, in a claim, or by helping someone else commit a deception. Accepting benefits that one is not actually entitled to is another form of insurance fraud.

As a criminal matter, the individual’s intent is a key requirement for the state to prosecute for insurance fraud. Someone who makes a claim based on mistaken information might not be committing criminal fraud. Making a mistake is not enough to qualify as criminal fraud, so long as the insurer is notified of the mistake once it is discovered.

The criminal question may not be the only one to ask in a given situation. The insured person also needs to understand if the insurance policy has specific rules and requirements for inadvertent errors or omissions. Even if the insured can’t be prosecuted for criminal fraud, the insurer may still refuse to honor the policy in circumstances where it feels the insured is not fulfilling his or her contractual obligations.

How does an insured person avoid committing insurance fraud?

Some people deliberately try to trick their insurers in various ways. Most people understand that purposefully lying to collect on insurance policies, for example by staging accidents, is illegal and likely to end badly. But ordinary people can sometimes be tempted to make fraudulent statements to an insurer.

The key thing to bear in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that there is no benefit to making false statements or leaving out important details. Insurers are in the business of finding reasons to deny claims, and insured people should assume that the insurer will thoroughly examine every claim to verify that it is valid. One may be tempted to leave out a detail that might give the insurer a grounds for denying the claim (for example, a driver omitting that she was unlawfully using her cell phone in an accident in which she was not primarily at fault) or adding a small additional component to a claim (such as claiming damages for things that aren’t related to an accident). These are temptations to avoid. Even if the statements don’t rise to the level of criminal fraud, the insurer can deny claims and cancel policies if it thinks it is being manipulated. After being in an accident no one wants to be left without the backing of an insurer.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident, personal injury, and workers’ compensation cases. For a free attorney consultation about your situation call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Suing for Childhood Sexual Abuse in Nevada

The results of various studies suggest that victims of childhood sexual abuse rarely see justice done to their attackers. The reasons for this are as sad as they are complex. Very young victims may not understand that they have been abused, may be afraid of speaking up, or may simply lack the vocabulary to express what has happened. Abusers may be otherwise trusted friends or family members who escape discovery by carefully maintaining a veneer of respectability. But when victims grow up they do not need to accept what happened to them when they were young without fighting back.

Nevada is one of many states that has adopted a special statute of limitations for civil lawsuits brought against perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse. Statutes of limitations set strict deadlines by which a lawsuit must be filed to be valid. For many civil causes of action, like negligence, Nevada’s statute of limitations is two years from the time the plaintiff knew about his or her injury.

In recognition of the special nature of childhood sexual abuse, Nevada has extended the statute of limitations that applies to causes of action that arise from it. Under NRS 11.215, a victim of childhood sexual abuse must file a civil suit within the later of twenty years of reaching the age of 18, or within 20 years of discovering that an injury, such as psychological trauma, was caused by the abuse. This latter provision provides recourse for individuals who only recall their abuse through the assistance of a therapist.

Nevada law defines “sexual abuse” broadly. In addition to the sort of behavior that need not be described, it includes behavior that is done “with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of [the] person.” NRS 201.230(1)(a). The laws governing sexual abuse are criminal statutes, meaning that the perpetrator may be prosecuted and sent to prison for an extended period if convicted. Unfortunately, in many instances the lack of evidence makes criminal prosecution less likely.

Even if prosecutors do not pursue a case the victim of childhood sexual assault should consider filing a civil lawsuit. Quite often the victim has suffered a range of long-term psychological consequences following the abuse, for which they should be compensated. To recover damages in civil court a victim of sexual abuse must be able to show by clear and convincing evidence that the abuse occurred.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation. We understand that childhood sexual abuse is a complex and difficult topic. Our firm is committed to providing every client with personal, caring attention. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Should Injured Workers Bring an Attorney to their Medical Exams?

After being injured at work it’s important to follow the steps for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Ideally an employer’s workers’ comp insurer will pick up the costs of the employee’s medical care from the first visit to a doctor until the injury has healed. In reality, though, insurers work hard to limit their exposure to costs related to covered injuries. One way they try to do this is by arguing that the injury is not as significant as the employee claims. This risk can be mitigated by having an attorney present during medical exams.

After receiving a claim for benefits an insurer has the right to require the injured worker to submit to an independent medical examination, or IME. The formal purpose of the IME is to ensure that the insurer is basing its coverage decisions on a reliable and supposedly neutral diagnosis by a physician other than one with which the patient may already have a relationship. In reality insurers often request an IME because they disagree with an initial diagnosis, or have doubts about whether an injury is related to the worker’s job.

The state maintains an official list of physicians who are authorized to perform examinations of work-related injuries. Insurers are very familiar with the doctors on this list. They know who has a history of providing insurer-favorable diagnoses and will steer unwary patients to those doctors whenever possible. When a worker is told to attend an IME, the insurer may provide a limited list of doctors to choose from for the examination. The worker is required to attend the IME, but has the right to request a second opinion from another state-approved doctor if the outcome of that initial exam is not satisfactory.

The IME is potentially one of many “independent” examinations that the patient will undergo over the course of a workers’ comp claim. For example, if the injury results in a permanent partial disability the extent of the disability will need to be evaluated by a physician who is specifically trained in how to do this.

The extent to which a patient needs to have an attorney present at a medical exam will depend on the nature of the injury and the extent to which facts about the injury are in dispute. An attorney can help the patient decide whether having an attorney or other witness on-hand is advisable, but as a general rule it is better to have a witness along than to go alone. The witness can take notes about the examination and may provide important testimony in the event that the results of the exam need to be disputed in a later proceeding. Note that some physicians may claim to have a rule prohibiting others from attending these exams. This should raise concerns that the exam may not be fair, and should be disputed.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured workers get the coverage they deserve. If you have been injured at work, our experienced injury attorneys are standing by to offer advice about your case. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Medicaid and Personal Injury Lawsuits in Nevada

In the course of a personal injury lawsuit the aim is always to get the injured person the care they need and financial compensation for the costs associated with the injury. In the course of every case a client works with attorneys to make decisions that can have long-term consequences. Clients who are Medicaid recipients often face a crucial choice between pursuing financial compensation and staying eligible for Medicaid.

Medicaid is a need-based program that offers health insurance coverage to individuals who might not otherwise be able to afford it. In Nevada a household with an annual income that is up to 138% of the federal poverty level may qualify for the program. The federal poverty level varies according to the number of individuals in a household. For a family of four in 2018 a household making up to $33,383 annually may qualify for Medicaid coverage. Note that the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, extends coverage to children in households with annual incomes up to 200% of the poverty guideline.

A financial award resulting from a lawsuit, whether obtained through settlement negotiations or as the result of a trial, is a financial asset of the prevailing plaintiff. This is true even if a significant portion of the award will go toward outstanding debts. Medicaid recipients are required to report the change in their available resources to the Department of Health and Human Services by the fifth day of the month following the finalization of the award. Quite often these awards exceed the qualifying threshold for Medicaid, meaning a plaintiff must choose between continuing to qualify for Medicaid or accepting the award.

However, there are alternatives to losing Medicaid coverage:

  • For relatively small awards a plaintiff may have the option of simply spending enough money within the month to stay below the qualifying maximum.
  • Recipients of larger awards may have the option of forming a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a separate legal entity that is created to own assets for the benefit of a person who receives needs-based assistance, like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Assets placed in the trust can only be used for specific purposes that Medicaid doesn’t cover. Special needs trusts are subject to complex rules and need to be crafted by an attorney.
  • Plaintiffs can use awards to pay off debts owed under caregivers’ service contracts provided that the contracts are properly drafted. There can be a range of consequences for doing things this way, which a lawyer can help the plaintiff understand.

Medicaid recipients who have been injured in an accident should not hesitate to talk to a personal injury attorney. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation. If you would like to speak to an attorney about your injury, call us today for a free consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Suing for Invasion of Privacy in Nevada

Privacy is a broad concept that reaches into every part of our lives. Physical privacy—that is, the ability to be alone and unobserved—is just one component of a larger picture. In our technological age privacy also comes into play with respect to photos and videos. People also expect privacy with respect to certain personal information, like details of their medical history.

Having one’s privacy violated can be a traumatic experience. The victim of an invasion of privacy may suffer a range of consequences, from psychological disturbance to real and lasting personal and professional consequences. In some situations a lawsuit may be appropriate to seek compensation for the serious consequences that can follow an invasion of privacy.

In legal terms, “privacy” is a complex topic with several specific categories, each with their own set of rules. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Intrusion upon seclusion. The law provides a general protection for each individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy is a complicated question, due in part to the history of judicial precedent covering this question. There are some clear cases where a person can reasonably expect privacy: inside a stall in a public restroom, inside one’s own home, inside a tent at a campground. As with many abstract concepts, this notion of privacy has fuzzy edges that require careful analysis. In general, a lawsuit based on intrusion upon seclusion requires that the defendant have acted intentionally. A neighbor who happens to glance through a window that faces onto the street may not be intruding upon seclusion, but if he climbed a fence to peek through the window the case would probably be different.
  • Appropriation of likeness or identity. Nevada law prohibits anyone from using a photo or film of an individual, or an individual’s name, for commercial purposes without the individual’s prior consent. The law provides an exception for newsworthy items. For example, an evening news show is allowed to display a photo of individuals present at a car crash without first getting their consent.
  • Public disclosure of private facts. One of the important categories of privacy covers all the information that each person accumulates about himself or herself that one expects will remain private. Financial information, medical records, family photos, and even a personal diary can all be examples of this sort of information. This cause of action requires that the defendant have disclosed the information to the public in a way that a reasonable person would find offensive. Unlike the previous cause of action, there is no newsworthiness exception to disclosure of this kind of information.

Someone who feels that their privacy has been violated should consider consulting with an attorney. Before filing a lawsuit there are a number of important questions that need to be considered, such as the extent to which the victim’s harm can be quantified, whether the invasion of privacy is ongoing, and the motivations of the potential defendant.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. If you have questions about your privacy case, please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.