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Personal Injury Basics for Equestrians

Properly cared-for horses are not especially dangerous animals, but they can still cause injuries. A rider may fall from the saddle, a horse may kick or bite. When someone is injured during equestrian activities it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from the person responsible. This is especially true if the injury is very serious, involving high medical costs or even death. Quite often such cases will need to be taken to court to compel an insurer to cover the injured person’s costs.

There are several potential scenarios involving horses where personal injury could create legal liability. Here are a few examples.

  • Dangerous animals. A horse’s owner needs to understand the animal’s personality. Horses can have a wide range of quirks, like fear of loud noises or children. Sometimes a horse’s behavior goes beyond typical skittishness and makes the animal dangerous to be around without appropriate precautions. The owner of such an animal needs to take reasonable care to ensure that other people are not harmed by the horse. That may include warning people who are around it and ensuring that the horse is kept where it isn’t likely to cause harm.
  • Improperly maintained equipment. Although not directly related to the behavior of the horse, badly maintained equipment could cause an injury. A saddle’s buckle might break under strain, throwing the rider. A noncommercial owner of equipment, such as someone who allows a friend to ride a horse, is not expected to take special care to ensure that every piece of equipment is in perfect condition. But if the owner knew or should have known about an equipment defect, liability may apply.
  • Irresponsible behavior. Equestrians develop good habits to keep their horses calm and content. Someone who doesn’t follow good practices around a horse risks spooking it into behaving erratically. In some situations the bad behavior may rise to negligence or worse. Setting a trap, even as a joke, is an extreme example. Bad behavior swings both ways. If the injured rider was drunk or behaving in a dangerous way (for example, trying to stand up on the saddle) the rider may be found to have behaved negligent as well, regardless of how others behaved at the time.
  • Inadequate supervision of minors. Children don’t necessarily know how to behave around horses. A horse owner who allows a child to ride a horse needs to take special precautions to make sure the child rides safely and doesn’t fall from the saddle.

It goes without saying that the facts of any injury need to be evaluated by experienced professionals to determine if a legal case can be made. To a certain degree someone who rides horses assumes risk of injury, but that doesn’t always relieve others of responsibility for creating dangerous conditions. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a horse and would like to understand your options for seeking recovery, we are here to help. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Alternative Medicine and Professional Negligence

“Alternative medicine” is a term encompassing a loosely defined collection of medical and pseudo-medical approaches to solving health problems. It includes familiar treatments like chiropractic and acupuncture, as well as more obscure approaches using healing crystals and herbs. Therapies are labeled as “alternative” if they are not used by mainstream medical professionals. One reason a treatment can be labeled alternative is because its clinical effectiveness isn’t settled. Someone who is injured by an alternative medicine professional’s negligence may have legal recourse to recover compensation.

Nevada’s professional negligence statute covers some kinds of alternative medicine

Nevada law allows lawsuits against providers of health care for damages arising from an injury or death caused by the provider’s professional negligence (what used to be called “medical malpractice”). The definition of “provider of health care” captures some kinds of alternative medicine practitioners, but not all. It includes:

  • licensed physicians, optometrists, dentists, and other conventional health care providers
  • licensed psychologists
  • chiropractors
  • doctors of Oriental medicine licensed pursuant to NRS Chapter 634A to practice acupuncture, herbal medicine, and other practices regulated by the State Board of Oriental Medicine.

Provided that a health care provider falls within these categories, a professional negligence suit is the appropriate remedy for injuries they cause. Professional negligence claims are subject to special rules, such as a requirement that the plaintiff obtain an affidavit signed by another professional in the same or similar profession as the defendant who attests to the defendant’s negligence. Professional negligence lawsuits are subject to a cap on noneconomic damages.

Alternative medicine outside the scope of professional negligence

Some practitioners of alternative medicine practices are not recognized as “providers of health care” within the scope of Nevada’s professional negligence statute. In practice this may mean that injuries caused by such practitioners fall within conventional negligence. Because professional negligence statutes are designed to protect health care professionals from some kinds of liability, it’s to a plaintiff’s advantage if the defendant isn’t covered. The professional negligence statute’s damages cap and other technical requirements won’t apply.

Patients who are considering using the services of an alternative medicine practitioners should use caution. The practitioner’s insurance should be scrutinized with care. Patients should not sign contracts with liability waiver language without first understanding the risks involved in a procedure. A treatment involving healing crystals may involve little inherent risk, but a treatment using herbs or chemicals that fall outside recognized norms may cause serious injury. Some practitioners may be committing fraud, violating licensing laws, or exposing their patients to dangerous situations.

GGRM is a Las Vegas medical malpractice law firm

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide personal, attentive service to clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured by an alternative medicine treatment and you would like to speak to an attorney about your legal options, please contact us for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

The category of damages called “pain and suffering” can sometimes be the eye-catching part of a personal injury trial’s outcome. For example, a recent case awarded a plaintiff $10 million for pain and suffering in connection with a severe injury suffered by a teenager on a homeowner association’s badly maintained swing set. Someone who has been injured and is considering filing a lawsuit should take a moment to understand what pain and suffering damages are and what their limitations rae.

The categories of damages in Nevada civil litigation

Civil trial damages are divided into three categories:

  1. Economic (or compensatory) damages can be thought of as the consequences of the defendant’s wrong actions that can be reduced to a firm dollar figure without resorting to abstraction. Past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damage are examples of economic damages. The scope of economic damages can itself be a controversy at trial. For example, a person’s future earnings are contingent on many factors, like the person’s age, years to retirement, and career path.
  2. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases where the defendant has acted especially badly. The aim of punitive damages is to make an example out of the defendant to deter others from behaving in the same way.
  3. Noneconomic damages tend to be difficult or impossible to quantify using commonly accepted formulas. Examples of noneconomic damages include humiliation, anxiety, grief, and loss of enjoyment. Pain and suffering are just two closely related variations of noneconomic damages.

The types of damages that a plaintiff can seek in a case depend on the nature of the claim, the parties involved in the case, and other factors. Economic damages tend to be available in almost every case that isn’t simply barred on other grounds. But noneconomic damages can be subject to caps or even prohibited altogether. Such restrictions are usually contained in statutes that are designed to limit the liability risk of certain activities. For example, Nevada law limits noneconomic damages in professional negligence cases (e.g., medical malpractice) to $350,000. NRS 41A.035.

How are pain and suffering damages calculated?

A plaintiff’s claim for pain and suffering, or other forms of noneconomic damages, must be fair and reasonable and may not exceed any applicable statutory cap. Like all damages, pain and suffering also must be proven with evidence. The greater a showing the plaintiff can make of the tribulations suffered due to the defendant’s wrongful actions, the greater the potential damages award. Unlike a plaintiff’s medical bills, pain and suffering isn’t so much a matter of math as one of reasoned argument.

Proving pain and suffering requires a careful collection of hard evidence, like photos and medical records. Documentation of the plaintiff’s medical condition, such as x-rays, can be especially persuasive. Oral testimony can also be vitally important. The plaintiff’s family members, friends, occupational therapists, and others can help to paint a picture of how the plaintiff’s life has changed after the incident.

GGRM is an experienced personal injury law firm in Las Vegas

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident and would like to speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Can a Bicyclist Injured by a Pothole Sue?

Riding a bicycle on city streets exposes the rider to many kinds of hazard. Distracted drivers, pedestrians walking dogs, roadway debris, and even other cyclists can all pose dangers. Issues with the surface of the road, like potholes and cracked pavement, can be especially dangerous. But if a cyclist is injured by a fall caused by a pothole, can the person or entity responsible for maintaining the road be sued?

Nevada’s recreational use statute limits suits against private landowners

Under NRS 41.510, someone who is injured on private property while engaged in a recreational activity, including riding bicycles, cannot sue the property’s owner, lessee, or occupant for injuries caused by the inadequate maintenance of the property. A private property owner has no obligation to keep roadways safe for use as cycling paths. Nor is the owner required to post warning signs or take other steps, like applying bright paint around hazards. This is true even if the owner has given express permission to the person using the road, unless the rider paid the owner a fee for access.

An exception to this rule will apply if the owner has maliciously or deliberately created an unsafe condition or done nothing to remedy a known, serious hazard. For example, if the owner of a property digs a trench across a roadway but doesn’t take steps to cover the trench or provide warnings, a cyclist who falls into the trench probably has a good cause of action despite Nevada’s recreational use statute.

Limitations on recovering from state and local government agencies

The state of Nevada has waived the sovereign immunity of the state and its political subdivisions, theoretically allowing individuals to bring lawsuits to recover for damages caused by a government agency’s negligence. NRS 41.031. However, state law has limited when government agencies or the employees can be held responsible for civil damages. For example, government agencies are shielded from liability for failing to inspect roadways for potential hazards. NRS 41.033.

Potholes can develop rapidly, especially on heavily used roadways. The agency responsible for the roadway’s maintenance may not discover the hole in time to do anything about it. However, once an agency has actual notice of a hazard, the shield against liability no longer applies. This rule gives cyclists an added incentive to call cities or counties to report roadway problems.

Cyclists should note that in lawsuits against both government agencies and private landowners the most that can be recovered in a lawsuit is $100,000. NRS 41.035. Damages can only be calculated based on the plaintiff’s actual costs (medical bills, lost earnings, etc.). An important lesson to take from this limitation is that cyclists need to make sure their personal health insurance policies cover cycling injuries, which can pile up medical bills well in excess of $100,000.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The attorneys at the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez are experienced in handling personal injury and accident cases. If you have been injured in a bicycling accident we would be happy to talk to you about your options. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Liability for Accidents Involving Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who are injured in accidents face unique risks. Injuries to the fetus from seatbelts and steering wheels are responsible for four out of five fetal deaths that are trauma-related. Even injuries that don’t directly affect the fetus can complicate pregnancy. If an accident leads to litigation, pregnancy-related injuries can have important consequences for the liable party.

Pregnancy and damages

In a personal injury case a plaintiff can seek compensation for all of the costs that are associated with the injury caused by the defendant. Pregnancy-related injuries are no different. The defendant must compensate the plaintiff for pregnancy-related complications to the extent the defendant is responsible for causing them. Among these damages can be the cost of recovering from emotional trauma.

Nevada law also permits plaintiffs to recover for injuries to an unborn fetus. In White v. Yup, 85 Nev. 527 (1969), the Nevada Supreme Court adopted the rule that a plaintiff may sue for damages on behalf of an unborn fetus, including for wrongful death. As a threshold matter the fetus must have been viable at the time of the accident. If the child is stillborn following the accident and the plaintiff can establish that the accident caused the still birth, wrongful death may be the appropriate cause of action. In such cases the plaintiff can recover medical and funeral costs. In some cases punitive damages may also be awarded, but under Nevada’s wrongful death statute a plaintiff may not recover damages for pain and suffering. NRS 41.085(5)(b).

Pregnant women are at higher risk of accidents

The special dangers of injury during pregnancy make it especially important for pregnant women to take precautions. One study found that women were 42% more likely to get into a car crash during their second trimester than they were during the three years prior to getting pregnant. Paying attention to seatbelt positioning, seat adjustments, and other precautions can reduce some, but not all, of the risk of injury.

Just because a pregnant woman faces higher risks doesn’t mean that she bears responsibility in the event that she’s injured by another person’s negligence. Although in accident cases an injured person’s comparative negligence can be a factor in determining a defendant’s liability, the mere fact that the plaintiff was pregnant at the time of the accident is not going to be enough. On the other hand, if the plaintiff was suffering from particularly severe morning sickness there may be an argument that she should not have attempted to drive.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured in an accident call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Can a Nevada Workers’ Comp Claim be Reopened?

In an ideal world every injury would have a predictable, consistent path to recovery, or at the very least a clearly defined range of potential harms. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. An injury can be misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed at preliminary medical appointments, or its treatment can lead to unexpected complications that require additional medical care or expensive drugs that weren’t part of the original plan. For someone who is receiving care under a workers’ compensation claim, these kinds of complications can require a claim to be reopened.

“Reopening” a workers’ compensation claim can be necessary if an insurer has formally indicated that its financial obligations with respect to it have been fulfilled—that is, the claim has been closed. Closing claims is one of the ways insurers manage the predictability of their costs: by closing a claim, the insurer knows with certainty how much it had to pay, and how much it needs to pass on to the employer. Reopening a claim therefore necessarily involves a degree of paperwork.

Nevada law sets out specific procedures for when and how a workers’ compensation claim may be reopened. The specific procedure depends on how long the claim has been closed. For claims that have been closed less than one year, the insurer is only required to reopen the claim if:

  1. Medical evidence demonstrates that an objective change in the claimant’s medical condition has taken place.
  2. There is clear and convincing evidence that the claimant’s change in circumstances was primarily caused by the injury covered by the original claim.

A claim must be reopened within one year of being closed if the claimant wasn’t forced off of work for at least five days, and didn’t receive benefits for permanent partial disability. In other words, for relatively minor injuries workers have a shorter timeframe to reopen their claims.

To reopen a claim that has been closed for a year or more, the claimant must show three things:

  1. A change of circumstances (complications during recovery, discovery of previously undiagnosed problems, and so on) warrants an increase or rearrangement of compensation.
  2. The primary cause of the change of circumstances was the injury covered by the original claim.
  3. The claimant’s doctor has provided a certificate attesting to the change of circumstances.

Any effort to reopen a claim must be grounded in an assertion that the reopened claim remains completely related to the original claim. That is to say, the ongoing circumstances of the worker’s condition must relate to a job-related injury. If circumstances that were unrelated to the original claim have since intervened, the insurer will deny the request to reopen the claim.

If an insurer denies a request to reopen a claim it may be necessary to sue. It is always a good idea to consult with an attorney before starting the process of reopening a claim to reduce the likelihood that a request will be denied and to have a plan for contesting a denial. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Common Construction Site Injuries

Construction workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the country. They and their employers need to take safety very seriously to keep injuries to a minimum. Ideally a safety program has a flawless record, but accidents can and do still happen. Some of the common sources of injury at construction sites include:

  • Injuries from equipment. Because of the powerful forces involved, accidents involving tools and heavy machinery can cause particularly serious injuries, like amputations. The risk of injury is greater if equipment isn’t properly maintained, or is modified to remove safety features.
  • Trip hazards are commonplace at construction sites. So are projects that are high off the ground. Falls from scaffolding, or into holes, are frequent events.
  • Injuries from vehicles. With heavy trucks, bulldozers, and other large vehicles moving around a job site, there’s always a risk that someone could be struck, run over, or crushed. A worker wearing hearing protection might not hear the warning signal of a backing truck. Vehicles might slip on loose or muddy ground.
  • Falling objects. Even a relatively small item dropped from significant height can pose a serious danger to people below. Hard hats help, but a hammer dropped on an unprotected shoulder can cause long-term problems.
  • Heat-related injuries. In Nevada we often experience weather that is hot enough to pose a significant health danger to people who are doing strenuous work outdoors. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other serious complications can result if workers aren’t provided with adequate hydration and opportunities to cool down.
  • Long-term diseases. Illnesses caused by exposure to dust, toxic substances, and carcinogens can be slow to develop and difficult to tie back to a particular job. For example, workers may be exposed to materials like asbestos during a demolition job. The consequence could be respiratory disease or even cancer.

A worker who is injured while on the job at a construction site is entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that coverage applies regardless of who was responsible for the injury. In most circumstances, an employer that has legally required workers’ compensation coverage is shielded from being sued for personal injuries. That doesn’t mean, however, that an injured worker doesn’t need the help of an attorney. A workers’ compensation claim can involve complicated nuances. Insurers often try to limit the scope of the coverage they will provide.

A workers’ compensation attorney acts as the workers’ advocate, protecting the worker’s interests in the face of potentially adversarial insurance adjusters. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. We are standing by to help workers who have been injured at construction sites in Las Vegas and surrounding areas. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Seeking Compensation for Child Care After an Injury

Parents and other guardians of children can find that caring for a child after a serious injury is significantly harder than it was before the injury occurred. Routine tasks like lifting, driving, doing laundry, or cooking may no longer be possible while recovering from the injury. As a consequence, it may be necessary to hire outside help. Plaintiffs in this circumstance sometimes wonder if they can include the cost of child care in their personal injury lawsuit claims.

Nevada law allows plaintiffs in personal injury cases to include “replacement services” in the scope of the damages that are demanded in a lawsuit. Replacement services essentially covers things that the injured person used to do for themselves, but now must hire an outside person to do. This includes cooking and cleaning, and also includes taking care of children.

Replacement services are a form of economic damage, because they can be tied to real-world numbers. The actual cost of hiring a nanny or housekeeper, hiring a driver to take the kids to school, or hiring someone to cook can be proven with actual invoices or, if the plaintiff hasn’t been able to afford such services before the lawsuit begins, with reference to estimates or averages taken from services available in the plaintiff’s community.

As with other forms of damage, the cost of replacement services must be proven with reasonable certainty to be recoverable. Making a full accounting of the cost of child care will require consideration of a range of factors that include the anticipated likelihood of the plaintiff’s recovery to resume providing child care, and the age of the children involved (i.e., how long replacement services will be needed).

Although parents may seek to recover the highest possible compensation for child care services, courts may place some limits on what can be recovered. For example, a court may consider it unreasonable to provide plaintiffs with sufficient compensation to allow for a full-time, professional caregiver if the plaintiff’s circumstances would allow for a less expensive alternative. If prior to the injury the plaintiff shared child care responsibilities with another adult, the defendant may only be held liable for replacing the plaintiff’s services alone.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for personal injuries. We are proud of our long history of providing caring, thoughtful service to each client. We work hard to take every part of a client’s life into consideration as we develop our cases. Please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Hearing Loss

Significant hearing loss can have profound consequences, from a life-long reliance on hearing aids to loss of enjoyment in music, challenges holding conversations, and other problems. Hearing loss can also be accompanied by pain and uncomfortable auditory conditions, like tinnitus. A wide variety of accidents can cause hearing loss. It’s easy to imagine someone suffering ear damage in a car accident, for example: a blow to the head, or exposure to very loud sounds, could lead to long-term hearing problems.

Because damaged hearing is a significant injury, it can be the basis of a personal injury lawsuit, or form part of a broader set of claims arising from a defendant’s negligent behavior. A claim for hearing loss will need to contend with similar issues as other forms of personal injury. Some of the common issues faced by a plaintiff in such cases include:

  • Causation. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions were the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injury. How difficult this question is to answer will depend on the facts of the case. If the plaintiff suffered hearing damage during a car accident the relationship between the defendant’s actions and the hearing damage may be relatively simple. Other cases may require expert testimony to establish how the defendant’s actions led to hearing loss.
  • Actual injury. One of the challenges of proving hearing loss can be a lack of base-line information. This is a common problem in workers ‘compensation cases and why police, fire fighters, and other first responders are required to get their hearing tested regularly. If an event causes a sudden reduction in hearing the plaintiff may be able to recover compensation only for the amount of hearing that was actually lost as a consequence of the event. If the plaintiff doesn’t have a medically accurate measure of his or her hearing before the event, establishing the amount of loss may be more difficult and, therefore, full compensation may be more difficult to obtain.
  • Quantifying the injury. A challenge in any personal injury case is determining the appropriate amount of compensation that the defendant is responsible for paying to the plaintiff. Hearing loss often requires a range of concrete costs, such as specialist medical care and expensive hearing aids. It can also cause long-term ear pain and headaches. For some plaintiffs, especially musicians, loss of hearing can impact earning potential. Accounting for all these damages is important for ensuring that plaintiffs get the most from their claims.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have suffered hearing loss as a consequence of another person’s negligence and you have questions about your legal options, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

I Don’t Recall: Handling an Imperfect Memory in Litigation

The fallibility of memory has far-reaching influence on how the legal system works. It is one of the important justifications for statutes of limitation, which limit the amount of time someone has to file a lawsuit. It shapes rules governing how evidence is gathered and used. And it plays a significant role in shaping the burdens each party to litigation must bear as they work to establish the facts of the case.

Memory is almost always an issue in litigation. Oral testimony about events necessarily requires witnesses to remember events that happened months or even years before. Mistaken impressions can render a particular memory unreliable. For example, it’s easy to not see every detail of the roadway even in normal driving conditions, but someone who has been in an accident may be sure about important details that in fact were quite different than what memory retained: a light that she remembers being red was actually green, and so on. But intervening events can also shape memory. People telling their stories about events may embellish facts, and in time those embellishments could become part of the memory itself. People will also protect themselves from painful memories by unconsciously forgetting or changing details.

Everyone has a different aptitude for remembering things. At one end of the spectrum are people with the rare gift of remembering tiny details many years later. At the other end of the spectrum are people suffering from brain injury or disease, who might not be able to remember what happened to them just a short time earlier. Most people fall in the middle: they’re able to remember important facts, but they might not recall the small details that are critically important to the case. Because memory is so complicated and diverse, attorneys use a number of strategies to verify information, including these:

  • Giving witnesses access to records. If it’s helpful to a witness, lawyers can provide them with documents that are already in evidence, such as letters, notes, emails, and so on, to give them a reference that might help them remember important details. This process always requires care, because showing a witness a record can alter the witness’s memory. The adversarial context of litigation serves to limit the potential for distortion.
  • Finding corroborating evidence. If oral testimony raises inconsistencies it can be helpful to examine other sources of information to compare with what witnesses have said. As they say, a photograph is worth a thousand words.
  • Examining the witness. In some cases, especially those where the most important evidence is oral testimony, the witness may be asked many questions that are designed to test the witness’s overall reliability. Ultimately the power of oral testimony is determined by how reliable it appears to be. Attorneys may try to undermine the value of a given witness by demonstrating that the witness’s memory is highly faulty.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in cases involving personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other controversies. Our attorneys work with clients to determine how memory may play a role in their case, so that solutions can be found to potential challenges before they become problems. 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.