Monthly Archives: March 2019

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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.

Understanding the Components of a Personal Injury Settlement

For a variety of reasons, few personal injury cases ever go to trial in front of a judge and jury. Instead, the parties in the dispute resolve their differences by negotiation. When the litigants settle their dispute, they avoid the big investment of time and financial resources that is required for a full trial. The time element is often crucial: injured plaintiffs need compensation from defendants to pay bills, and defendants often want to end the dispute to avoid piling up legal fees.

Settlement negotiations usually take place after lawsuits are filed

Settlement agreements arise from litigation, which means that the injured plaintiff typically has already filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant. By filing a lawsuit the plaintiff ensures that if the defendant refuses to come to terms, the option of going to trial always exists. Sometimes a lawsuit needs to be filed to ensure that the relevant statute of limitations doesn’t expire while negotiations are ongoing. Other times a lawsuit is necessary just to bring the defendant to the negotiating table. One consequence of having litigation underway is that the court plays an important role as a kind of referee during the process. Courts strongly encourage cases to settle because it saves court resources for other, potentially more serious cases. But until a case settles the procedures of the court must be followed. Parties can still ask the court to require the other side to do certain things, such as disclose evidence.

The settlement agreement needs to protect the plaintiff’s interests

Negotiating a fair settlement is as much an art as a science. Settlements need to take into account many different components, including:
  • The facts of the events that caused the injury.
  • The expenses the plaintiff is facing as a consequence of the injury.
  • The defendant’s resources (insurance, cash and other liquid assets, anticipated income, and so on).
In a full trial issues like these get evaluated by the fact finder (the judge and/or jury). A settlement takes place without the benefit of this unbiased examination of facts. The parties need to come to grips with disagreements on their own. The calculation of damages is a good example of a subject that can involve difficult negotiation. Should the defendant agree to compensate the plaintiff for more than easily calculated costs, like prior medical bills? Or should the defendant also be put on the hook for less easily quantified amounts, like the plaintiff’s pain, anticipated future costs, and so forth? The settlement agreement itself is a binding contract, which the court must approve before terminating the litigation. The agreement itself typically provides for a range of things, including:
  • The total amount of compensation the defendant agrees to pay, often itemized.
  • A payment schedule (especially common if the defendant will pay from his or her personal resources).
  • A release of the defendant from liabilities that aren’t otherwise covered.
Negotiating settlements is at the heart of the work personal injury attorneys do. Having experienced representation is essential to getting the most from a negotiation. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Should You Sign an Insurer’s Damage Release Forms?

One of the ways an insurance company manages its risk of losses is to require insured people to sign damage release forms. A damage release provides that the insurer has satisfied its obligations with respect to a particular claim. The typical case where a release form is requested comes when an insurance company makes a payment which, in its view, satisfies its obligations toward the insured with respect to a claim. In a simple case, such as when the insured has made a claim for well-understood and easily quantified property damage, providing a release may have little downside. But in more complex cases, damages may only come to light over time. Cases involving personal injury are often like this, simply because recovery doesn’t always follow a predictable course. People who are dealing with complicated situations should be mindful of a couple important features of damage releases. The first is that a release may not be completely obvious. Although an insurer may risk being accused of bad faith or unfair tactics, it may nevertheless try to “hide” a damage release. It might do this by incorporating the release into a bigger document that it asks the insured to sign. Or it may make the release automatic upon the insured cashing a check. Reading everything the insurance company sends to you is critically important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A second important feature is that a valid damage release may prevent reopening a claim. The reason insurance companies ask for releases is to give them certainty that their obligation with respect to a claim is finished. There are perfectly valid reasons why insurers want to do this. It helps them close their financial books and keep tabs on their risk. But for the insured it can also create a significant problem if the initial claim didn’t capture the full scope of losses from an incident. By signing a damage release the insured may close—and lock—the door to getting additional coverage for a loss. A sympathetic agent at the insurer may have no option to reopen the claim once the release has been signed. In a case where the injured person is being helped by an attorney the best course of action is to let the attorney handle the insurance process. An experienced personal injury attorney has the training to understand the technicalities of insurance claims and can recognize when something isn’t right. Protecting clients from inadvertently signing away their rights to better coverage is just one small part of the bigger picture. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. Our attorneys are available for free consultations to discuss your injury, your insurance options, and the legal particulars of your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Dogs and Injuries to Small Children

Small children love playing with dogs. But not every dog has the temperament to tolerate rough play from a child, and sometimes a child can trigger defensive instincts even in a mild-mannered animal. Parents and caregivers who plan to have a dog around small children should take care to follow a few simple rules:
  • Supervise. Dogs shouldn’t be left alone with small children. A common mistake is to take for granted that an easy-going dog will stay that way when a child is doing things that may provoke it, like climbing on the dog’s back, grabbing at the dog’s face, ears, or eyes, or pulling on a tail.
  • Control the environment. A high-energy environment, with loud noises and lots of people running around, can overstimulate a dog and lead to accidents. Bear in mind that dogs can get physical when they play: they will run around, jump, use their front paws to push and grab, and so on. A small child can be injured by playful behavior just as much as aggressive behavior.
  • Teach. Even children who haven’t learned how to speak can learn how to interact with dogs. Teaching children to pet dogs with open handed, gentle movements can help them develop a better relationship with the dog, while also reducing the chances that they’ll do something to startle the dog.
  • Intervene. Watch closely for signs that the dog is distressed. Wide eyes, lowered ears, and of course growling are all signs that the dog needs to be separated from the child. The best course is usually to simply pick up the child.
If a child is injured by a dog, seek medical attention for the child right away. Children may not be able to communicate the extent of their injuries and can suffer broken bones more easily than an adult. Children have remarkable resilience, but parents should also watch for signs of psychological harm, like lingering fear of dogs, that might need to be addressed. Failing to take reasonable steps to keep a child safe from a dog could lead to legal liability for someone who has responsibility to keep the child safe. When a dog causes a child serious injuries that require medical intervention, the child’s parent or guardian may be forced to sue to recover compensation from the dog owner’s insurance policy or directly from the owner. To protect themselves and others, people who own dogs should verify that their insurance coverage will protect them in the event of a dog-related injury. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases, including injuries caused by dogs. If your child has been hurt by a dog and you are wondering about your legal options, please call us for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.