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How Getting Hurt While Drunk May Affect a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Quite often the focus of discussions surrounding drinking and injuries is on the injuries caused by the drunk person. Alcohol abuse can lead to serious consequences, especially for drivers. But a drunk person can be injured in contexts other than where he or she was driving. The injured person may be hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim because of the stigmas associated with excessive drinking. But the fact that someone was drunk does not excuse the bad behavior of others.

A plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense

Personal injury lawsuits typically seek to prove that the defendant behaved negligently and, as a consequence, caused the plaintiff’s injury. Whether the defendant behaved negligently requires a close look at the circumstances of the injury itself. What obligations did the defendant owe to the plaintiff at the time? How did the defendant fail to meet those standards? Questions like these primarily focus on the defendant, not the plaintiff. If the plaintiff was drunk at the time the defendant caused the injury it is possible that the defendant will want to use the plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant can ask a court to reduce the amount the defendant is responsible for by a percentage that the court attributes to the fault of the plaintiff in causing the accident. If the court finds that the plaintiff was more than fifty percent at fault, the plaintiff won’t be allowed to recover anything from the defendant.

Examples

A key question in any comparative negligence case is the extent to which the plaintiff’s behavior really factored into the injury. Sometimes a plaintiff’s drunkenness isn’t relevant. Here are some examples where that might prove to be the case:
  • The defendant was lawfully crossing the street when the defendant ran a red light and struck the plaintiff.
  • The defendant, a grocery store, left a puddle of cooking oil on the floor of an aisle and the plaintiff slipped on it.
  • The defendant’s dog wasn’t leashed and attacked the plaintiff.
The more the plaintiff’s alcohol use factors into the injury, the more difficult it will be to avoid at least a portion of the liability being placed on the plaintiff. Here are some cases where the plaintiff’s drunkenness might matter:
  • The defendant, a shopping mall, failed to block off a section of floor that was under repair and visibly unsafe, and the plaintiff stumbled into it.
  • The plaintiff unexpectedly stumbled into the street and was struck by the defendant driver.
  • The plaintiff fell after climbing onto a ladder that the defendant had left standing against a wall.
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are happy to help people who have been injured resolve questions about whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate for their case. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Las Vegas Window Washers Face Significant Injury Risk

Highrise window washers quite literally step into thin air to do their work. Hanging from the side of buildings, often hundreds of feet in the air, they help to keep Las Vegas sparkling for its visitors. The approach to safety varies from company to company and building to building, depending on the sort of infrastructure incorporated into the building and the approach taken by the window washer. Everything from a scaffold to harness points built into the side of buildings may be used to keep washers safe. Working at such heights involves significant risk of serious injury or death. People who work in the window washing business need to have a clear understanding of their legal rights so that if they are injured they can take the right course of action to protect themselves. Here are some principles to consider:
  • Make sure your employer has workers’ compensation coverage. Every employer in Nevada is required to cover its employees with workers’ compensation coverage. People who are hired as “independent contractors” generally also have access to their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. A Nevada employer’s coverage can be verified online. A key question is whether the employer’s coverage is adequate for the sort of risks that employees must face. It’s best to understand these questions before heading up to the top of a skyscraper.
  • Be mindful of safety. All employers are required to maintain their workplaces in safe condition for employees under state and federal occupational safety and health rules (the familiar OSHA standards). These laws are enforced by regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. An employee who has safety concerns that aren’t being addressed by the employer should consider reporting them to authorities. This is especially true of professions like window washing, where inadequate safety measures can turn an otherwise low-risk job into something highly perilous.
  • Understand who is responsible. Window washers often rely on the safety equipment already present at project sites. Things like hydraulic systems, winches, ropes, harnesses, and scaffolds may all be provided by the owner of the building that is being cleaned. When an equipment failure leads to injury it’s important to know if the building owner or operator may have some share of the blame.
  • Be prepared to refuse the job. Working in high winds or with defective equipment dramatically increases the risks window washers face .A scrupulous employer should take such risks very seriously and keep workers off the job until conditions improve. If a manager is insisting that workers should ignore the risks and work anyway, the correct course may be to refuse to work. Under OSHA rules an employer cannot force an employee to continue to work under conditions that are known to be unreasonably dangerous.
Window washers who feel that they are faced with abnormally dangerous working conditions or who have suffered injuries and need help navigating their workers’ compensation claims should consider talking to an attorney about their legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Cyclists Face Significant “Dooring” Risk from Parked Cars

Riding along side parked cars is one of the riskier circumstances a cyclist can encounter on the road. “Dooring” happens when a driver or driver-side passenger swings open his or her door in front of an unsuspecting cyclist. The cyclist faced with a sudden obstruction may have no ability to stop or change course before hitting the door. The results can be catastrophic for the cyclist, who can be thrown over the top of the bicycle and land hard on his or her head or shoulders. Mitigating the risk of dooring has become a focus for members of the cycling community in recent years. New cyclists are often counseled by more experienced riders to watch for people sitting in parked cars, and if possible to allow plenty of room for parked cars even if no one appears to be sitting in them. Driver education programs are also underway. For example, the Dutch Reach Project is working to train drivers to open their doors with their right hands. This simple change forces the body to turn, allowing for an oncoming cyclist to enter the driver’s peripheral vision. The practice is taught as a matter of course in the Netherlands. For the cyclist who has been injured in a dooring accident, a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills and other costs associated with the injuries may be warranted. Cycling accidents raise a number of specific legal issues that attorneys may examine as part of their initial review of the case. These issues can include:
  • Assumption of risk. Over the years defendants in cases involving cyclist injuries have had some success arguing that the cyclist assumed the risk of injury by choosing to ride a bike in a dangerous circumstance. Assumption of risk is predicated upon the idea that the rider knew about the risk of being doored and continued to ride anyway. The argument may go that the rider had the option of taking the entire lane but was unsafely hugging the edge of the roadway, where the risk of being doored was greater.
  • Comparative negligence. Another common defense in auto accidents is the argument that the plaintiff bears at least some of the responsibility for the accident. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence rule, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff’s negligence was at least 50% at fault, the plaintiff will not be able to recover anything. For example, the cyclist might have been riding in a negligent manner if he or she was trying to send a text message on a cell phone at the time of the accident.
  • Time and circumstances. Any auto accident case needs to be evaluated in light of all the facts surrounding the accident. Was the accident during the day or at night? Was the cyclist using a light or other safety equipment that the driver might have seen and ignored? What traffic conditions were present at the time of the accident? Questions like these may shape how the case proceeds.
For over four decades the Las Vegas law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in accident and personal injury cases. We can help cyclists who have been injured in accidents examine their legal options and seek compensation for their injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Road Rage Accidents in Nevada

Violent and aggressive behavior by drivers is a significant source of risk on the roadways. Something about being behind the wheel disarms some drivers’ normal social filters, making them prone to extreme anger and frustration that can lead to accidents. “Road rage” is a pop culture term applied to this phenomenon. In legal terms, when someone’s road rage pushes them into aggressive driving behavior that causes harm to others it can give rise to a lawsuit.

What causes road rage?

An analysis published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that incidents of road rage may be overreported in the media, giving the impression that it is a more serious problem than it is. But for the victims of a serious accident caused by an aggressive driver, the only statistic that matters is that they are among the people who will be counted in that year’s accident figures. The NHTSA’s report offers a valuable insight into the causes of road rage. It lists the following contributing factors that can lead to aggressive driving, which includes speeding, weaving through traffic, running traffic signals, and tailgating:
  • Traffic delays.
  • Running late.
  • Disregard for others.
  • Habitual or clinical behavior.
  • Disregard for the law.

Road rage may lead to gross negligence

In personal injury lawsuits associated with traffic accidents the key question is typically whether the at-fault driver was driving in a negligent way when the accident occurred. Some forms of negligent driving are established by traffic laws. For example, speeding can be negligence per se, which places the burden on the defendant to prove that despite breaking the law his or her behavior was not negligent under the circumstances. In a road rage incident the at-fault driver may have driven especially aggressively out of anger or frustration. If doing so was especially reckless and completely disregarded the potential danger to others, the driver may be liable for gross negligence. Gross negligence can entitle plaintiffs to additional compensation. An example of gross negligence might involve deliberately running a red light into cross traffic.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients who have been injured in car accidents. Someone injured in a road rage incident may be dealing with fear and anxiety in addition to the pain and inconvenience of recovering from an injury. We give each client personal, caring attention to ensure that their needs are addressed. If you have been injured in an accident call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Invokana Side Effects Leading to Lawsuits by Diabetics

Invokana (canagliflozin) is a prescription drug often prescribed to individuals with type 2 diabetes to control high blood sugar. It works by increasing the rate at which the kidneys remove sugars from the bloodstream. High blood sugar is linked to a wide range of serious health consequences, including blindness, loss of limbs, and kidney failure. Like many medications, Invokana has a range of known side effects, ranging from common complications with needing to urinate more often to a range of more serious problems. In 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that Invokana use increases the risk of leg and foot amputations among patients who are taking the drug. Patients have occasionally experienced other severe side effects, including heart attacks, kidney failures, and strokes. As a result, a significant number of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of the drug, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson. The key question in many prescription drug products liability cases is whether the drug’s manufacturer knew about risks that it didn’t’ adequately disclose to consumers. Essentially, the law imposes harsh penalties upon companies that try to hide unfavorable facts about their products in order to sell higher volumes. The lawsuits filed against Janssen and Johnson & Johnson have followed this template. Patients who suffer serious side effects from Invokana can face life-altering consequences. Losing a toe or limb is undoubtedly a devastating result. So too are the costs associated with hospitalization, numerous medical appointments, and additional medications necessary to treat pain and other symptoms. In some cases someone who has suffered these consequences may have the option to sue for compensation. Whether a patient should file a lawsuit or join one of the class action suits already underway is a highly personal and potentially complicated question. People who have suffered as a consequence of prescription drug side effects need to be cautious about falling prey to “litigation shops” that ball together huge numbers of clients in hopes of enormous pay days. Those types of law firms rarely provide anything resembling personal attention to their clients. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and products liability cases. We can help people who have been injured by Invokana use examine their legal options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Cognitive Bias in Medical Diagnoses

Cognitive bias is a common characteristic of human psychology. The idea is that people like to be right, and will sometimes perceive information in a way that confirms their existing ideas about the state of things, when the objective truth may be something different. Cognitive bias can influence behavior in all sorts of circumstances, many of which pose little risk of harm. But when a medical diagnosis is made in reliance on perceptions that are clouded by cognitive bias the outcome for patients can be life threatening. Cognitive bias in the medical profession is a known problem. The bias itself can come from many sources. A doctor may have a disposition against diagnosing serious illnesses and will prefer to diagnose milder alternatives: interpreting heart failure as indigestion. Or a doctor may concentrate on a specialty that unwittingly blocks out alternatives: a heart surgeon who recommends a pace maker for a patient with an endocrine imbalance. People who tend to think in biased ways can learn to overcome them. Members of the medical profession have a high ethical obligation to recognize their own biases and adapt their diagnostic approaches to account for them. But to actively address a bias it’s first necessary to know about it and understand how it works. That can be difficult even for people who have a profound need to do it. As a consequence, cognitive bias can introduce significant inaccuracies into medical diagnoses. At the point of treatment a patient should be on guard against signs that a particular approach is being taken not because it is the right one but because it is the one that the doctor prefers out of what may be an unconscious motive. Patients also need to be careful about avoiding cognitive biases of their own: it may be tempting to prefer the heartburn diagnosis, but if it means ignoring a blocked artery the risk of death quickly increases. If a medical diagnosis leads to a patient’s serious injury or death the patient or the patient’s next of kin may have the option of suing for professional negligence. To prevail a professional negligence lawsuit must prove that the treating doctor failed to use reasonable care ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care. NRS 41A.015. In the course of litigation it may be revealed that the misdiagnosis arose from bad judgement that might be traced back to an instance of cognitive bias. Expert testimony can be used to establish the extent to which the misdiagnosis was far enough out of the norm to constitute negligence. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in professional negligence cases. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a consequence of medical misdiagnosis, please call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.

Patient Advocates as Witnesses in Professional Negligence Lawsuits

People who are hospitalized with serious illnesses and injuries often can benefit from having an advocate—a family member, friend, or even a paid professional—who looks out for the patient’s interests. Advocate can help to improve patient care in a number of ways. They serve as intermediaries between hospital staff and the patient, helping to resolve confusion and answer questions that the patient may not be able to answer. They help the patient evaluate treatment options. And they keep an eye on how well the patient is being treated. If a patient is injured during a hospital stay the advocate may also become an important witness in any ensuing litigation against the hospital or its doctors for professional negligence (a.k.a. medical malpractice). An advocate need not have medical training to offer essential insights into events leading to the patient’s injury. This is especially true if the patient is not capable of testifying to the facts of the case, for example because the patient has severe dementia. For a patient advocate the focus of time in the hospital should naturally be on ensuring that the patient is getting the best care possible. Anticipating litigation isn’t the advocate’s job. But there are things advocates routinely do that can help attorneys should the need arise. Keeping good notes is a valuable step. Notes can record the treatment options that have been offered, diagnoses, medications, and so on. They can also include the names of the people involved in the patient’s care. Some of these details will be reflected in the hospital’s formal logs, but other details may slip through and only be available in the advocate’s notes. If litigation becomes necessary the advocate’s role as a witness likely will focus on the facts surrounding the patient’s care. The advocate who has served as the patient’s eyes, ears, and voice during the treatment process now serves, in a sense, as the patient’s memory.  Who made decisions, and when? How did staff respond to emergencies? What questions were asked? Having access to answers like these from a witness who is not tied to the hospital or other defendants can be extremely valuable in developing a case. An advocate isn’t going to be asked to give opinions about medical matters. A professional negligence claim often rests on failures by defendants to follow established protocols. The claims need to be backed up with affidavits and testimony from experts who are qualified to speak about the defendant’s specific field of practice. The advocate may be asked to help an expert witness analyze the case to determine if negligence has happened. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We are happy to answer your questions about potential professional negligence in a hospital setting. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Personal Injuries at Sporting Venues

There are a number of sources of personal injury at major sporting venues like stadiums and basketball arenas. Like any other public venue, sporting arenas can have physical problems that make them unsafe: wet floors, broken railings, inappropriately locked doors, and so on. Spectators can be injured by balls or other equipment flying into the stands. Spectators can also end up hurting each other, whether deliberately (in fights) or by accident. These circumstances each require a separate legal analysis, but all may offer injured people the option of suing for compensation.
  • Premises liability. Any business that is open to the public is required to take reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injuries to visitors. In the context of a sports venue, this generally means making sure that the facility is well maintained. This includes having a process in place to address common hazards. For example, spectators can be expected to spill drinks. A stadium should be routinely checking for water on floors that are likely to be slippery if they get wet. Similarly, venues should maintain their stairways and address broken infrastructure, even if it means shutting down a portion of the venue while the repairs are underway. Someone who is injured by a condition that should’ve been anticipated—for example, slipping on a wet floor—may have legal recourse against the owner or operator of the facility under a theory of premises liability.
  • Injuries to spectators. Major sports venues print liability waivers on the backs of their tickets. These waivers typically provide that spectators assume the risk of injury by sitting close to the action. The waivers are intended to discourage people from suing if they are hit by a stray baseball or hockey puck, or a basketball player falls over them and hurts them. Under Nevada law the enforceability of a liability waiver will depend on the facts of the injury. An ordinary situation, such as a tipped basketball flying into the stands, may be the sort of thing that a waiver would cover. But if a player deliberately flings a ball into the stands, perhaps with the intent to hurt a heckler, the waiver probably would not apply.
  • Injuries caused by other spectators. Some injuries at sports venues are caused not (or at least partially not) by the venue’s negligence but by actions of other patrons. In these cases it can be appropriate to sue the individual who caused the injury. For example, a spectator who drops an object from a high deck might be liable for injuries to people who are struck down below. Such cases may also implicate the venue, if the venue hasn’t taken reasonable precautions against the injury. Large stadiums often build netting under their upper decks to prevent objects as well as people from falling.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured at a sports venue, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Suing Corporate Defendants for Personal Injury in Nevada

When a business is responsible for causing a personal injury, the injured person often needs to sue a legal entity—a corporation, limited liability company, or other business type—either on its own or in addition to individuals who may bear liability. For someone outside the legal field the idea of suing a corporation may sound daunting. It’s common to hear people speak of corporations as huge, powerful organizations that ordinary people can’t hope to defeat. The truth is often quite different.

What are business entities?

There are a lot of different legal forms a business can take. The simplest are sole proprietorships (owned by one person) and general partnerships (owned by more than one person). These forms of entity are the “default” whenever someone conducts business, regardless of whether they are organized in a meaningful way. The owner of a sole proprietorship, or the owners of a general partnership, are personally liable for the obligations of their business. For example, if a delivery service is operated as a sole proprietorship by the individual who owns it, the individual owner can be sued individually in the event that she causes an accident while working. In these “personal liability” forms of business, the owners’ personal assets are exposed to the risks of the business. Corporations and other “limited liability” forms of business entity, including limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, and specialized business forms like limited liability partnerships (LLPs), put a legal fiction between the owner and the business. These business forms require their organizers to file special paperwork with the Secretary of State, as well as compliance with numerous other rules. A properly organized corporation “owns” most kinds of liability that arise in the course of its business. Its owners typically aren’t personally responsible for the corporation’s debts.

How lawsuits against limited liability entities work

Suing a corporation or other limited liability business entity requires knowing at least the name of the entity. Organizations that do business in Nevada are required to be registered with the state, regardless of whether they are organized under Nevada law or under the laws of another state. As part of registration, a business must provide the Secretary of State with an agent for service of process, which may be an officer of the company or a business that serves the purpose for others. The agent for service of process provides individuals with the address where lawsuits can be properly served against the corporation. Among the challenges of suing a corporate defendant can be a lack of assets sufficient to cover a court judgment. In some cases it may be possible to reach beyond the corporation or other limited liability entity to sue its owners, a process called “piercing the corporate veil.” This process requires certain facts to be true, such as improper governance practices on the part of the corporate owner or personal involvement by the owner in wrongful activities. Identifying the owners of a business can itself be a challenge, as owners are often able to stay anonymous in public records, and a business may itself be owned by another business entity. In fact, large businesses often have complex structures that need to be pieced apart by a plaintiff’s attorney to find the proper entity to sue. A person who has been injured by a business should not let the “corporate” nature of the responsible party deter them from exploring a lawsuit. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. We are used to dealing with the complications of suing corporate defendants and can help you understand what may be involved in recovering compensation for your injuries. Call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Should You Carry Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Nevada?

Nevada law requires every driver to carry liability insurance to cover injuries and property damage. A driver who fails to comply with insurance laws is subject to penalties include fines and suspension of their license and vehicle registration. Uninsured drivers also create significant risk for other people on the road. They must bear the cost of damage they cause in an accident, and quite often an uninsured motorist can’t afford anything close to the cost of medical bills that can result from a serious crash. The result can be that the injured person ends up bearing most of the financial burden of an accident that was not his or her fault.

How uninsured motorist coverage works

Uninsured motorist coverage is one way to protect yourself from this situation. Such coverage kicks in whenever the other person in an accident lacks insurance and is also at fault. Someone who has uninsured motorist coverage can drive with less worry that other drivers aren’t complying with their legal obligations. Coverage limits are an important consideration for anyone who buys insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage needs to be robust enough to cover property damage (i.e., damage to your car) as well as the expenses that come from injuries to the driver and passengers. An insurance company can offer guidance about how much uninsured motorist coverage is appropriate for a given driver’s circumstances.

Also consider taking out underinsured motorist coverage

The question of coverage limits is vitally important in every auto accident case. This is true even if the at-fault driver has legally compliant insurance. The minimum coverage requirements under Nevada law are $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident, and $20,000 of property damage. In a major accident involving serious injuries, these limits may be inadequate to cover the full scope of costs. The responsible driver may need to be personally sued in hopes of seeking compensation for medical costs that can easily exceed $100,000 for complicated injuries like spinal or brain trauma. One solution is to take out underinsured motorist coverage. Like uninsured motorist coverage, this type of coverage only kicks in if the responsible driver’s policy isn’t sufficient to cover all the costs associated with the accident. One demographic of drivers that is likely to carry only the minimum level of insurance is young people. Young people are also more likely to cause accidents due to their lack of driving experience. Put in this light, underinsured motorist coverage looks like a good idea. Whether these add-on coverages make sense for a driver is often a question of cost. Because they are contingent, they should not be particularly expensive. Drivers with dependents should give special consideration to taking out these policies not only to protect themselves but also their children or other loved ones. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. To learn how we can be of help in your case, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.