Monthly Archives: February 2019

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What Relaxed Asbestos Rules Might Mean

Asbestos is the name given to a collection of naturally occurring minerals that have properties useful in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. Among other things, asbestos is an effective fire retardant. The risks to human health posed by asbestos have been understood as far back as the early 1900s, and today we know that it can cause long-term problems, including cancer. In the 1970s authorities in the United States began a concerted effort to ban its use in certain products, especially drywall. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos, while allowing existing uses to continue, and adopted regulations governing the inspection of buildings for potential asbestos hazards. In June 2018 the EPA announced a proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) addressing asbestos use. The SNUR was proposed due to a regulatory gap in existing law, which leaves a range of potential asbestos uses unregulated. The SNUR makes clear that the uses it is aiming at were in use as late as 1991, but are no longer in use today. The explanation is that manufacturers have voluntarily avoided these unregulated uses in large part to avoid potential liability for incorporating a carcinogen into their products. The SNUR aimed to bring these out-of-use but unregulated applications for asbestos into a framework to give the EPA mechanisms to evaluate and regulate them. Among other things, the SNUR proposes to ban the use of asbestos in clothing and a range of construction products. Critics of the SNUR have raised two chief concerns. The first is that the SNUR does not address all potential new, unregulated uses of asbestos, leaving in place significant regulatory gaps. The second concern is that the SNUR’s proposed examination procedure would stop the EPA from considering historical data when evaluating proposed new uses. This means that the deep scientific background in the risks posed by asbestos will not be included in future product evaluations. The new rule also narrows the definition of “asbestos” to potentially leave dangerous compounds beyond the reach of regulators. How the proposed rules may affect public health remains to be seen. The fact that the SNUR addresses currently unregulated uses should give some comfort that manufacturers are already deterred from those uses by other legal standards, including state products liability laws. The risk of liability for widespread cancers and other diseases related to asbestos exposure serves as a powerful deterrent even without EPA action. Still, if new uses for asbestos are approved under the process proposed in the SNUR they could lead to a higher incidence of asbestos in our environment. It seems that ordinary people, especially those who work around old construction, will need to continue to be mindful of the potential risks of asbestos exposure. Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm with over four decades of experience in products liability litigation. We can help clients who have been injured by exposure to asbestos seek recovery from responsible parties. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

How Much Does Expert Testimony Cost in Personal Injury Cases?

In civil litigation expert witnesses can be an essential source of information for litigants, judges, and juries. The role of an expert witness is to “assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue.” Common examples that come up in personal injury cases include testimony from an engineer about the design of a defective product, from a physician about a complex medical condition, or from an accountant about complicated damages questions. To qualify as an expert a person must have specialized training and expertise, and as such they typically charge a high price for their services. Just how much an expert witness may “cost” will depend on the individual expert and how much work they must do in support of the litigation. The Expert Institute (a witness clearing house) offers a “calculator” tool that presents national averages and, sometimes, state-specific information about how much experts in different fields typically demand. Their approach divides fees into three components: the initial review fee, the deposition fee, and the court fee. This can be a helpful way to examine how costs work:
  • Initial reviews. For an expert witness’s testimony to hold up under adversarial scrutiny it needs to be based on a rigorous analysis using well-established, objective standards. The initial review phase of an expert witness engagement typically involves providing the witness with information about the case and answering questions to help them assess the facts. At this phase a witness may reach a conclusion that isn’t helpful to the case—after all, the expert is there to provide a neutral opinion, even though a party to the litigation is paying for his or her services with a particular goal in mind. The complexity of an initial review can be very high in cases where the expert needs to conduct research or physical exams.
  • Depositions. Expert witnesses don’t necessarily need to testify in person in a courtroom. A deposition is essentially a formal pretrial questions-and-answers session where the witness responds to questions (interrogatories) by attorneys for both sides in the litigation. Preparing for a deposition can require the witness to prepare exhibits, compile references, and so forth. Depositions can be as short as a couple hours to as long as several days, depending on the complexity of the case and the topics at issue.
  • Court fee. Few personal injury cases actually go to trial, so it’s unlikely that an expert witness will need to personally appear in court. Still, when they do experts are entitled to charge a higher than normal fee.
According to the Expert Institute, the range of hourly fees varies dramatically according to the type of expert. Hourly rates range from about $190 for an initial review by a nursing expert to over $1,000 for medical specialists. Cases that involve really complex medical issues often generate high expert fees. For plaintiffs the important thing to remember is that personal injury attorneys will include the fees they expect to pay expert witnesses into their assessments of the case. When a plaintiff prevails in a case (whether in settlement or at trial) the witnesses will be compensated by the law firm from the compensation award. A plaintiff facing a case that will require expert testimony needs to ask their attorney early on how witnesses will be paid. Attorneys can structure engagements in a number of ways. Clients may be required to pay expenses, which often includes witness fees, if the litigation doesn’t go well or the client decides to drop the suit. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. Our experience helps us evaluate the need for expert testimony so we can give clients a fair assessment of the potential costs and final recovery they should expect. To receive a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

How Emergency Situations Alter Liability in Nevada

Almost by definition, emergencies like large fires, floods, and hurricanes break down the ordinary course of things. In an emergency people can find themselves well outside their familiar boundaries, placed in situations that are radically unfamiliar and potentially frightening. As a consequence, people facing an emergency can end up doing things that cause harm to themselves or others. Once the emergency is over, someone who was injured by another person’s negligence may have the option of pursuing a personal injury claim.

Taking actions that are reasonable under the circumstances

A personal injury lawsuit needs to put forward a legally sound claim to recover compensation for an injured plaintiff. There are numerous causes of action that might underpin a personal injury lawsuit, with negligence being the most common. Broadly speaking, in a negligence suit the plaintiff’s aim is to show that the defendant breached a legal duty toward the plaintiff, and as a consequence the plaintiff was injured. In an emergency situation there are a number of factors that may determine the applicable parameters for evaluating whether the defendant behaved negligently. An ordinary person with no special training probably owes others only a duty to avoid causing harm to others by taking actions that are reasonable under the circumstances. The key question here is whether an ordinary person facing a similar situation as the defendant at the time of the alleged negligence would have behaved in a similar way. This standard offers defendants with a strong case if their negligent behavior happened in response to an emergency. For example:
  • While fleeing a rapidly moving wild fire the defendant was driving well over the speed limit and struck the plaintiff, who was walking down the middle of the road and obscured by heavy smoke. Under these circumstances, the defendant may have been acting reasonably to be driving quickly.
  • After a major car accident the defendant pushed the plaintiff to the ground to get him away from a burning car.

Negligence of professionals

The parameters of negligence can shift in some situations if the defendant has specialized training or is acting a professional capacity. Licensed professionals, like doctors, and members of the first responder community typically fall under specialized laws that generally make it more difficult to sue them for personal injuries that are caused during emergencies. For example, doctors, emergency medical staff (such as ambulance crews), and paramedics are shielded from suits based on ordinary negligence for injuries they cause while providing emergency assistance. A professional may nonetheless still be held liable for an injury if the professional acted recklessly—that is, without regard to the injured person’s safety. For example, a doctor arrives on the scene of an accident and renders emergency assistance to a seriously injured person. In the course of providing care, the doctor ignores basic principles of first aid and roughly moves the person, making the injuries substantially worse. Someone who has been injured in an emergency situation should speak to a personal injury attorney to better understand the available legal options. 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 Intervening in a Fight Between Dogs

Dog owners quickly learn to pay attention to their dogs’ behaviors around other animals. Running into other dogs is a common occurrence, whether on walks or at dog parks. Quite often two dogs can encounter each other in a peaceful way, perhaps with some playful roughhousing thrown in. But sometimes an encounter goes wrong. Whether a dog is reactive to other animals can be unpredictable, even for dogs with well understood personalities. This means there’s a risk in every encounter that it could turn into a real fight, with the potential for serious injuries. For owners, the question becomes how to address these circumstances in a safe way. The first reaction many people have when they are near two dogs that are fighting is an adrenaline-filled rush of fear and concern. A human’s instinct is probably to rush straight into the fray to stop the encounter. The problem is that the human who attempts to grab at the fighting animals may end up with a serious bite. Perhaps the first thing to remember about fights between dogs is that they are typically, though not always, about the animals trying to establish a dominance relationship. When two “alpha” dogs meet, they may feel a need to settle who is the more dominant one by a show of force. Most dogs have a sense of self-preservation: they don’t want to be injured and will submit if the fight isn’t going their way. Unfortunately, some dogs don’t just back down, and some have a hidden viciousness that drives them to behave especially aggressively to establish themselves as boss. When a fight has escalated, it can be necessary to intervene. Here are some good ideas for handling a dog fight:
  • Don’t reach in to grab at the animals or their collars. This can lead to serious bites to hands and wrists.
  • The dogs aren’t paying attention to anything but each other, so yelling and stomping feet isn’t likely to do anything but add further stress to the situation for yourself and others.
  • If the owner of the other dog is present, try the wheelbarrow method, which involves lifting the hind legs of both dogs off the ground and pulling them away from each other. This can also be done with a leash looped under the dog’s belly. The key is to avoid the dog’s head.
  • If your on-leash dog gets into a fight, drop the leash to avoid the leash becoming a source of injuries to the animals.
The best way to handle dog fights is to prevent them from getting started. Recognizing when a dog is reaching badly to another animal is a key skill every dog owner must develop. For some animals it’s better to simply keep them away from other dogs except perhaps in controlled situations. For over 45t years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients recover damages for dog bite injuries. If you have questions about your legal options after being bitten by a dog in the Las Vegas area, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Suing a Hotel for Personal Injury in Las Vegas

For a lot of good reasons, hotels go the extra mile to ensure that their guests are safe and well cared for. This isn’t just important for protecting their reputations. It’s also an important way that they manage their legal risk. For someone who has been injured at a hotel, it may be possible to recover compensation from the hotel or its insurance policies for the costs associated with the injury.

A hotel’s liability is often a question of negligence

In most personal injury cases the key issues are whether the defendant behaved negligently, and whether that negligence caused the plaintiff’s injury. Negligence takes place if a person or business has a legal obligation to treat another person with a certain standard of care and fails to meet that standard. Standards of care are established in the long history of judicial decisions and, sometimes, in statutes. Hotels, motels, hostels, and so forth are subject to laws governing public accommodations. As a public accommodation a hotel has a high duty of care toward visitors. It must take all reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable injuries to guests. This duty extends to the entire publicly accessible property owned or operated by the hotel, including its parking lots, pool areas, gyms, and restaurants. The high standard of care makes hotels responsible for rapidly responding to dangerous conditions once the hotel (through its staff) is aware of them. Hotels also have an obligation to routinely inspect their property for potential hazards. For example, a guest using a hotel’s public restroom spills water on the floor. Here are two scenarios leading from this that could result in liability for the hotel:
  1. The guest promptly tells a member of the hotel’s staff about the spill, but the staff member doesn’t do anything about it. Shortly thereafter, someone slips and falls on the wet floor, suffering a serious injury. The inaction on the part of the staff member, acting as an agent of the hotel, may be sufficient to find liability.
  2. The guest doesn’t tell the hotel about the spill. The hotel doesn’t have a routine process for checking bathrooms, and two hours later someone falls and gets hurt. Here the key question is whether requiring the hotel to inspect the bathroom for things like spilled water is reasonable.

A hotel has limited obligations to prevent injuries caused by third parties

Another source of potential injury at hotels is not the hotel itself but other guests. Nevada law limits the liability of a hotel for injuries caused by people who are not employees of the hotel unless the act causing the injury was foreseeable and the hotel didn’t exercise due care to keep visitors safe or prevent the wrongful act of the perpetrator. The foreseeability requirement is a key component of this rule. A hotel that has a long history of rowdy fights in its bar probably has a higher duty of care to be prepared for such events in the future (i.e., by employing security) than a hotel with no such history.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases in Las Vegas. If you have been injured at a hotel and would like a free attorney consultation to discuss your case, please call us today. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Getting Injured While Visiting Las Vegas

Tens of millions of people come to Las Vegas every year to enjoy our city’s unique venues and experiences. The city has invested heavily in making sure that visitors have a fun, safe experience while they’re here. Still, accidents do happen, and some vacationers wind up with serious injuries that require medical care and may have long-term consequences. Especially for people who are from out of state, it can be helpful in such circumstances to work with a local law firm that knows Nevada personal injury law.

The kinds of injuries visitors to Las Vegas may suffer

Las Vegas isn’t your typical city. The casinos, bright lights, and colorful entertainment culture can be dazzling to visitors from almost anywhere. Like any large city, Las Vegas has its share of accidents. Some of the more common ones are:
  • Injuries to pedestrians. In 2017, 78 pedestrians were killed after being struck by vehicles in Clark County. A significantly larger number suffered nonfatal injuries. The lesson for visitors is that crossing the road in Las Vegas requires extra care.
  • Injuries resulting from alcohol or drug use. Someone who has had too much to drink at a casino bar might stumble and fall, start a fight, or try to drive home. Because Nevada has decriminalized recreational marijuana, there may be an increased chance of encountering someone who is under the influence of pot while driving. Las Vegas is a pretty strict town when it comes to controlling drunk and rowdy behavior, but the fact remains that many people come to the city to have a wild time, and they can end up hurting themselves or others.
  • Falls and other accidents at hotels. Las Vegas’s economy is driven by its hotel industry, and as such the city’s hotels take great pains to be safe, enjoyable places to be. Injuries still do happen, whether caused by a clear act of negligence on the part of a staff member or a condition that the hotel should have addressed but didn’t.

The law of personal injury in Nevada

A Nevada personal injury lawsuit can help an injured person recover compensation for medical costs, lost earnings, and other consequences of the injury. In a typical personal injury case the injured plaintiff must establish that the defendant acted negligently, which caused the plaintiff’s injury. This standard applies to many common types of injury, including auto accidents and slip-and-fall injuries. Whether behavior is “negligent” depends on a range of factors that will vary according to the circumstances. Working with a local law firm can be an efficient way to resolve a personal injury dispute for people who live outside Las Vegas. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. Our extensive local knowledge and deep understanding of Nevada law can be a significant asset to anyone who needs representation in our city. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security is one of several potential sources of financial support for people who cannot work due to an injury or illness. As with any form of financial support from the government, Social Security disability benefits are subject to a range of restrictions and prerequisites. The benefits may also affect one’s ability to get financial support through other sources, so anyone considering applying for Social Security benefits should examine not just the rules for the program itself but also how it may play into a larger strategy of making ends meet while off work. Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits requires a number of specific elements. The first is that the applicant must have paid into the Social Security system by working in jobs that contribute to it. People who work in jobs that are exempt from Social Security will not qualify. Second, the applicant must be disabled in accordance with the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of the term. For Social Security purposes disability means:
  • The applicant is unable to do the work he or she did before the injury or illness due to limitations in the applicant’s physical or mental abilities.
  • The applicant’s condition makes switching to different work untenable.
  • The condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or is expected to result in the applicant’s death.
In addition to these prerequisites, a condition also must appear on the SSA’s list of impairments. Although this list is quite extensive, it may not capture every potential condition that could disrupt someone’s ability to work. This is especially important to keep in mind if a physician providing a diagnosis is doing so with a mixed set of incentives, as can be the case for physicians who conduct screening for insurers.

Social Security disability and other sources of support

For people who have been disabled as a consequence of an injury, questions often arise as to how Social Security disability benefits may affect, and be affected by, workers’ compensation claims, personal injury settlements, and state disability benefits. There isn’t one answer to this question, which depends on the source of the alternative support and a range of other factors. For example, Social Security disability payments probably will not be affected by a personal injury settlement or favorable judgment. But they may be reduced if disability payments from a state program combine with the Social Security benefits to exceed eighty percent of the applicant’s former annual income. Note that other forms of Social Security payments, like supplemental income (SSI), are subject to different rules. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients find strategies for making ends meet after being injured. We provide personalized advice to each client to ensure that their full circumstances are taken into account as we explore legal solutions together. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Workers’ Compensation and Depression

Depression is a common side effect of injuries. It can arise as a consequence of the injured person’s changed circumstances—lost enjoyment, sleep problems, diminished career prospects—or it can be a side effect of medications. Like any mental illness, depression can be a difficult condition to reliably prove and document for legal purposes. This includes incorporating it into a workers’ compensation claim. A baseline requirement for an injury to be covered by workers’ compensation is that it must have arisen out of or in the course of the worker’s employment. When a person suffers mental health problems as a consequence of work-related events, establishing a causal link between work and the illness can take special care. In the case of depression, showing that it arose specifically because of work, or a work-related injury, may be challenging if the person also suffered depression for reasons having nothing to do with work. Someone with a history of depression may have a more difficult time getting coverage. The problem of proof is an advantage for insurers, who will require injured workers to undergo “independent” evaluations that are often conducted by professionals who have a financial interest in making diagnoses that are favorable to the insurer. Unlike a broken bone, depression can’t be found in a scan or observed in a person’s physical movements. Instead, it has to be evaluated by questioning the patient and potentially the patient’s family members, and may be interpreted according to an evaluator’s subjective opinions. The link between work and depression may be easier to establish if the worker suffering depression can point to a specific event that triggered it. If a physical injury at work leads to depression, that causal link may help. Depression that can be linked to a particular pain medication prescribed as part of a treatment plan may also be easier to link to work. Nevada law also has specific allowance for mental illness resulting from “extreme stress in times of danger” at work, which may apply if a worker suffers depression due to witnessing or suffering a particularly shocking circumstance on the job, such as a violent accident. Someone suffering from depression in connection with a work-related incident should not be discouraged from exploring a workers’ compensation claim to cover treatment costs. At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we have represented clients in workers’ compensation matters for more than 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your circumstances call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Chain Reaction Auto Accidents in Nevada

In a chain reaction accident a single event leads to a string of occurrences. A typical case involves a car ramming into the back of the car in front, causing the leading car to smash into the car in front of it. Chain reactions can also involve pedestrians or cyclists who happen to be near the first event in the chain. Here is an example from last year, in which a vehicle crossing a center line caused a series of collisions involving four cars.

What causes chain reaction crashes?

Chain reaction accidents tend to be the result of a bad mix of factors. Examining the cause of a given crash can be difficult, because in many cases the factors contributing to the “chain” are difficult to separate. But these are some of the common causes:
  • Distracted driving. Someone who is busy looking at their phone, adjusting the radio, or chatting with a passenger may not see the vehicle in front of them slow down in time to apply the brakes. Many chain reaction crashes are caused by rear-endings that are a consequence of distracted driving.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while tired. Alcohol and drugs slow responsiveness and can have similar consequences o being distracted. Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Road conditions. Wet or dirty road conditions can multiply stopping distances in unpredictable ways. Drivers who don’t slow down in response to unsafe conditions increase the risk of a crash. Because impacted vehicles are also subject to the slippery conditions they are more likely to become part of an accident chain.

The legal consequences of chain reaction accidents

Although the scale of a chain reaction accident can feel larger than one involving only two vehicles, the same basic rules apply. The police should be contacted, help provided to anyone who has been injured, and so forth. All the drivers involved in the accident should exchange insurance information, photos should be taken, and witnesses asked to provide their contact information. If a chain reaction accident leads to a personal injury lawsuit the central question typically will be whether the defendant in the case was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Although the driver of the first vehicle in the chain may have been negligent, it’s possible that other people involved in the accident also were negligent. Each person’s state of mind at the time of the accident, and their response to it, will need to be examined to determine if the first driver is truly at fault for the entire chain of events, or if an intervening act of negligence also contributed.

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. Whenever someone has been involved in a car accident we always recommend that they contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected. This can be especially important in complex cases such as chain reaction accidents, where sorting through all the facts can be challenging. 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.