Monthly Archives: April 2019

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Drinking and Self-Driving Cars

As the technologies in self-driving cars reach maturity it seems almost inevitable that there will come a time when actively driving a car will feel optional. For some it will be tempting to think of a self-driving car like a taxi. But thus far, the safety record of self-driving cars has left open doubts about how much drivers can rely on them without keeping an eye on what’s going on around the car. An important issue related to this is whether it will be safe to operate a self-driving car after drinking enough alcohol to be over the legal limit.

The legal framework for self-driving cars is still in its infancy. Given the enormous complexity of a self-driving car’s technologies, lawmakers probably will be slow to allow fully autonomous vehicles to hit the roads. Nevertheless, many states, including Nevada, have adopted preliminary rules that provide guidance for driver-operators and the manufacturers of self-driving vehicles. There are two key reasons why “drunk operating” is not a legal option:

  1. There is no exception for drunk driving and driverless cars. Being behind the wheel of a self-driving car is still driving, even though the operator isn’t touching any controls and may even be ignoring the roadway. Although in theory operating a self-driving car may be a safer alternative to driving drunk, it is still not legal. Operating a self-driving car while drunk is a crime and can lead to accidents and injury liability.
  2. Safety mechanisms rely on an alert driver. Under existing law, a self-driving vehicle in Nevada must include a safety system that will turn control of the vehicle over to the operator in the event that the car’s systems cease to function as expected. This means that the operator always needs to be ready to take control. Many of the accidents involving self-driving cars have featured situations where the driver was not paying attention to the road. A driver who is reading a book or sleeping can’t do anything in the event that the car’s sensors fail to detect a pedestrian. A drunk operator’s reaction times will be even slower than those fo a sober operator.

The fact that an operator of a self-driving vehicle was drunk at the time of an accident will be a major factor in any ensuing litigation brought by someone who was injured in the accident. The operator may attempt to lay the blame on inadequacies in the car’s design, and perhaps the plaintiff will want to pursue action there as well. But the operator is still responsible for causing the accident, even if he or she wasn’t actively controlling the car at the time.

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident involving a self-driving car, do not let the fact that the car was autonomous distract you from the human operator’s responsibility for the car. Accidents where the self-driving car is at fault will present new and interesting questions for lawyers to resolve. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients seek compensation for injuries caused by car accidents. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Broken Hips After Slip-and-Fall Accidents

A broken hip is a devastating injury. Recovery of full strength and motion can take as long as a year, during which the patient may endure multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and significant mobility limitations. Elderly patients are especially prone to hip fractures. When a slip-and-fall accident leads to a broken hip, a lawsuit against the responsible party may be warranted.

Slip-and-fall accidents in Nevada

Slip-and-fall accidents fall within the scope of premises liability, a legal standard that holds property owners and other responsible parties (like tenants) responsible to varying degrees for injuries that occur on their property. The rules governing a situation depend on the location of the injury and its specific cause.

  • Homeowners and residential tenants owe a duty to visitors to take reasonable steps to ensure that visitors are not injured by hazards on their properties. The reasonableness of the steps taken by a homeowner to address a hazard will vary by the facts of the case. For example, a homeowner may or may not be required to warn visitors if a walkway is slippery during rainy weather.
  • Businesses that are open to the public are held to a higher standard of care than homeowners are. They are required to keep their premises reasonably safe for use. Unlike a homeowner, a business needs to take affirmative steps to ensure that its facilities are free of hazards. Textbook slip-and-fall cases usually involve things like poorly maintained stairs, a failure to clean up a spill, or inadequate safety precautions around dangerous conditions like broken floor tiles.

Damages recoverable for broken hips

A plaintiff who has suffered a broken hip in a slip-and-fall accident that resulted from the defendant’s negligence often can recover compensation for the damages associated with the injury. Damages include medical expenses, lost wages, transportation costs, short- and long-term modifications to a home, and physical therapy. Damages can also include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other “personal” consequences of the injury.

Someone injured in a slip-and-fall accident has two years to file a lawsuit in Nevada. Victims of someone’s negligence shouldn’t wait anywhere that long to consult with an attorney. Quite often there are important pieces of evidence, essential witnesses, and time-sensitive strategies that need to be addressed as soon as possible following the accident.

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 and your options for filing a lawsuit. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Suing After Discovering Hidden Injuries Following an Accident

Victims of car accidents are often surprised to discover significant injuries well after the accident. In the rush to treat immediately obvious problems like cuts or broken bones, less obvious wounds can go undetected. Being injured isn’t normal, so people who are hurt often don’t realize that the symptoms they are experiencing are caused by something they don’t expect. Doctors may not have the right tools to discover “hidden” injuries, or they may not detect signs that ordinarily would justify further testing.

A personal injury lawsuit following an accident aims to get the injured plaintiff compensation for the damages resulting from his or her injuries. Damages can include medical costs, lost wages, and the cash value of personal consequences like pain. Ideally the plaintiff’s initial lawsuit claims the full scope of damages associated with the accident. But what if the lawsuit is already pending, or has already settled, when the plaintiff discovers a new injury?

While the litigation is ongoing a plaintiff may amend his or her complaint to add new claims that are relevant to the case. Adding claims may delay resolution of the case, as evidence related to the new injury gets exchanged. But at this point the door is still open to recover full compensation from the person who is at fault.

If the litigation has already ended, getting compensation for the newly discovered injuries can be more difficult. Most personal injury cases settle. As part of a settlement agreement plaintiffs typically are asked to sign releases that prevent them from pursuing further litigation for claims arising out of the accident. Under normal circumstances, such waivers prevent the plaintiff from “reopening” a case against the original defendant or his or her insurance company.

Even if a release was signed as part of a settlement the plaintiff may have options. In rare cases the plaintiff might get a court to throw out the settlement, if the defendant committed fraud or didn’t negotiate in good faith. The plaintiff may also have the option of suing other defendants. A doctor who failed to diagnose a significant injury may be liable for professional negligence. Perhaps the injury was caused by a defective product. Or perhaps the original lawsuit left out potentially liable parties that could be sued.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. Reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Safely Traveling with Child Car Seats

The need for child car seats can be a frustrating part of traveling as a parent. The seats are bulky, often heavy, and can be difficult to install in unfamiliar vehicles. Flying with a car seat involves making the sometimes unclear choice between treating the seat as checked luggage or hoping to take the seat onto the plane. Parents always want to ensure that their kids are safe, even if it means extra work. Here are a few tips for safely traveling with a car seat.

  • Using a car seat on the plane can improve a child’s safety.

Airlines usually have no problem with parents installing car seats onto a child’s seat on the plane. Follow the same process for installing the seat on the plane as you would in a car (rear- or forward-facing, and so on). Children who are in car seats on planes will be better protected if the plane has problems or experiences significant turbulence. Kids often sleep better in car seats too.

  • Try to avoid checking your car seat.

There are some who argue that once a car seat has been checked as luggage it should be treated as “crashed” and thrown away. Putting a seat inside a bag can offer some protection, but if the bag isn’t hard-sided a luggage handler probably will treat it like any other luggage, and it may get crushed or dropped. A seat that’s left unprotected may suffer damage to buckles or other exposed parts. Gate checking a seat may improve the chances that it will be treated with care, but even then parents will have no way to be sure that the seat hasn’t been damaged.

  • Always inspect a checked car seat for damage.

Car seats are carefully engineered to meet strict standards. If a component is loose or broken, the seat’s effectiveness in a crash will be compromised. If checking a car seat can’t be avoided, it’s a good idea to remove its cloth cover and inspect the underlying components for damage. For example, make sure that foam padding is still in good condition and properly attached to the seat’s frame. If damage has occurred, it may be necessary to replace the seat.

If a car seat is damaged on a flight and a child later suffers an injury as a consequence of the damage, parents may in some cases have a valid legal claim. Such cases face significant hurdles: airlines build damage waivers into their contracts that limit how much responsibility they have for damaged luggage, and parents may bear responsibility for using a seat that they know is damaged. An attorney can help parents sort out their options.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and products liability cases. If your child has been injured by a damaged car seat, please contact is today for a free attorney consultation. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Interesting Product Recalls from 2018

Consumer product recalls often offer interesting insights into the concerns manufacturers have about the risk of injury posed by their products. Recalls happen when a flaw in a product’s design or manufacture creates an unacceptable danger. Examining them reveals the sort of injuries that may give rise to products liability lawsuits.

Manufacturers often voluntarily recall their products that have proven dangerous. Sometimes these recalls are triggered by lawsuits bringing risks to the manufacturers’ attention, while in other situations the problem is discovered through the manufacturer’s internal testing procedures, or through investigations by regulators. Sometimes regulators sue manufacturers to force recalls for violations of safety standards or other compliance problems. Regulators maintain lists of recalled products on their websites. Two examples are the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In 2018 there were plenty of product recalls to watch. The recalls ran the gamut:

  • Many products designed for children were recalled for choking hazards, such as this jacket with a zipper that could become detached.
  • Numerous high-profile lettuce recalls due to coli and other contaminants disrupted supplies enough to force many restaurants to stop serving lettuce altogether.
  • Major home appliances like this water heater are often recalled for problems with minor parts that can be replaced with a minor, manufacturer-provided repair.
  • An elevator model was recalled due to the alarming possibility that it could “fall unexpectedly to the bottom of the elevator shaft and abruptly stop.”
  • Nearly 1.4 million units of this printer power supply were recalled due to a fire hazard.

Manufacturers issue recalls to prevent injuries to their customers. Besides not wanting to hurt people, these companies also want to avoid expensive products liability litigation. Issuing a recall doesn’t absolve a business of its products liability obligations, but it may reduce the chance that someone will be seriously injured and sue.

Consumers should take recall notices seriously. A consumer who knows about a recall and is injured while using the product anyway should still consider filing a lawsuit, but may have a more difficult legal case to make. Even in such cases, products liability law provides consumers with powerful tools for pursing compensation from manufacturers who sell defective goods.

If you have been injured by a defective or improperly designed product you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in products liability cases for over 45 years. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

How Medical History Can Shape a Workers’ Comp Claim

Nevada’s workers’ compensation insurance system is designed to ensure that everyone who works for an employer in the state is protected in the event of an injury on the job. Benefits are provided to qualified workers without regard to fault: an injury is covered regardless of whether the worker, the employer, or someone else can be blamed for causing it. The lack of a fault analysis doesn’t stop insurers from looking for ways to deny or limit an injured worker’s coverage. One way they may try to do that is by arguing that the injury existed prior to the work-related event that gave rise to the claim.

To be covered by workers’ compensation insurance an injury must “arise out of or in the course of employment.” Generally speaking this means that if a worker is injured while doing work-related activities, especially if the worker is “on the clock” and getting paid for the time that covers the injury event, the injury will be covered. In some types of injury, the cause may have arisen at work, but the scope of the injury only became clear later. Cancer arising after exposure to carcinogens at the workplace is a good example of a work-related illness that may be slow to develop and that would require the worker to establish a causal link to the employer in order to receive coverage.

Causation can become a barrier to coverage if the source of a particular injury can be traced to something that is not work-related. If a claim is for an injury that could be described as a “pre-existing condition” the insurer may refuse to cover it. For example, a worker who hurt his knee while skiing may have a more difficult time getting coverage for an injury to the same knee while on the job. The insurer’s argument will be that the injury did not “arise out of or in the course of employment” but was in fact the personal problem of the worker.

For a worker in such a circumstance the important thing is to document the ways in which an existing condition was made worse by the accident at work. Being clear with doctors about the details of the injury is important at every stage. So is keeping a record. In the case of the skier, if a doctor was consulted after the skiing accident the doctor will have records related to the scope and severity of the injury at that time. The accident at work may have worsened the condition in ways that can be medically measured, and to that extent the worker may be entitled to coverage.

If an insurer denies a claim that has a legitimate basis in a work-related injury the worker may need to consult with an attorney to make a successful appeal. An attorney can help the client organize facts, complete paperwork, and anticipate common insurer arguments. The attorney can also help the client navigate the medical examination process that will be used to determine the scope of coverage.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. We can help you understand how your preexisting conditions may affect your coverage for a work-related injury. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

A Homeowner’s Liability Toward “Odd-Jobs” Workers

Every homeowner can use a helping hand from time to time on projects around the house. Mowing lawns, fixing a leaky faucet, or patching a hole in a wall are all examples of work that the so-called gig economy has started to fill in. A homeowner can save time and potentially save a lot of money by hiring people on an impromptu, cash basis to do this sort of work. But whenever someone does work for pay there’s an added element of risk that homeowners need to think about. Although a homeowner may be justified in concluding that a risk is worth taking, it’s still worth understanding what the risks are so they can be minimized. There are several types of risk associated with hiring casual laborers to do work around the house:

  • Premises liability. In Nevada homeowner have a general duty of care to ensure that their homes and properties are in safe condition for lawful visitors. The homeowner’s obligation extends to keeping the home in reasonably safe condition and warning visitors of known hazards. If a visitor is injured by an unsafe condition they may have the option of suing the homeowner to recover compensation for the injury.
  • The posture of homeowner’s insurance. One of the key questions a homeowner should ask is whether his or her insurance will cover injuries to laborers who do work around the home. The answer is usually something like “Yes, but . . .” The limits of coverage provided by a policy can help the homeowner evaluate the scope of personal risk for a given type of job. For example, a policy may disclaim responsibility for injuries caused by unlicensed work on the home’s electrical system. Or it may limit damages that are available for individuals who are paid for their work, who the insurer assumes (rightly or wrongly) are providing their own insurance coverage.
  • The facts of the job. Hiring someone to paint a wall is probably less risky than asking someone to repair a roof or fix a gas-fired appliance. Measuring the potential harm that can come from a given project—fire, electric shock, falls—is always a good idea. If the risks are substantial it may be worth the cost to hire a contractor that carries its own insurance. Bear in mind, though, that even simple jobs can result in accidents and injuries: painting a wall can be enough to throw out a back or sprain an elbow.
  • Licensing and permitting requirements. One reason a homeowner will hire out work on a casual basis is to avoid the hassle and cost of getting permits and licenses that are required for certain kinds of work. If work is completed without legally required approvals it can create headaches when the home is sold, expose the homeowner to fees, and may invalidate insurance coverage in some cases. A licensed contractor helps homeowners comply with their legal obligations.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Suing for Psychological Harm After an Accident

An accident that results in serious physical injuries often does considerably more harm than what may be outwardly visible. People who have been in an accident can suffer a broad range of psychological effects from the accident. Some effects stem directly from the accident itself, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others can be a consequence of living with the limitations that come with a serious injury, or from side effects of treatment. Depression, emotional imbalances, and struggles with interpersonal relationships are just a few examples of the kind of psychological harm an accident can cause.

Accident victims may have the option of pursuing damages for their psychological suffering as part of their lawsuit to recover compensation for other costs associated with their injuries. In a personal injury lawsuit, damages typically fall within one of two categories. Economic damages cover concrete costs that have been or are reasonably expected to be incurred by the injured plaintiff as a consequence of the defendant’s negligence. Economic damages include things like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages capture the more abstract categories of harm for which a straightforward “invoice” isn’t readily available. Compensation for pain and suffering is an example of noneconomic damages.

A psychological injury may have components of each type of damages. To the extent that the plaintiff’s psychological harm can be established as a medical problem, its associated costs may be regarded as a form of economic damages. If the psychological harm is less a matter of medical diagnosis and more a question of subjective opinion, it may be more likely to fall within the scope of noneconomic damages, as a form of “suffering.”

The distinction between economic and noneconomic damages is important in part because Nevada caps the amount a plaintiff can recover for certain types of damages. For example, in Nevada a plaintiff cannot recover more than $350,000 for pain and suffering damages. If a damages cap applies to a specific category of damages it’s important for the plaintiff’s attorney to ensure that damages are not miscategorized to the client’s detriment.

Proving psychological harm can be a challenge in any personal injury case. Psychological problems are often difficult to diagnose. Among other things, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the psychological harm was caused by the defendant’s negligence and not another cause. For example, a plaintiff who had an existing alcohol problem before the accident may have a hard time arguing that the accident triggered a more serious alcohol dependency. To prove psychological harm, the testimony of a psychiatrist can assist the court’s analysis. Testimony from friends and family about how the accident affected the plaintiff can also be valuable.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases. We take care to ensure that each client is given the attention they deserve. In pursuing our clients’ interests we take into account every aspect of their wellbeing, including the kinds of psychological effects that the accident may have had. For a free attorney consultation about your case, please call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Avoiding Unethical Lawyers in Nevada

For many people, suffering an injury is the first time in their lives when they need to talk to a lawyer. Driving through Las Vegas it’s hard to miss the billboards from attorneys who promise quick results and huge payouts for injured clients. For every “billboard” law firm there are dozens of others vying for new clients. Adding to the confusion are outfits that prey on the desperate circumstances of people who have been injured by offering pre-settlement loans, sometimes at high interest rates. All of this, combined with the stress and challenges of recovering from an injury, can be confusing. Having the help of an ethical law firm is essential for clients who are trying to make sense of it all.

Avoiding an unethical lawyer can be a simple matter of instinct. Sometimes an attorney will offer something that sounds too good to be true. But it’s always a good idea to do a little research and analysis before working with an attorney, especially if the attorney isn’t one that was recommended by a trusted friend. There are a number of ways to examine whether an attorney is ethical:

  • A clean bar profile. A simple step is to search for the attorney on the Nevada State Bar Association’s website. Every licensed attorney’s status and disciplinary history is available on the site for the public to examine. If an attorney has been censured by the bar for unethical behavior, that should serve as a red flag.
  • Willingness to provide free, substantive consultations. Free initial consultations are a staple of personal injury practice. An initial consultation serves numerous purposes, the most important being to help the client get a feel for the options available for their case. A consultation also helps both the client and the law firm decide if the firm is the right fit for what the client needs. An attorney who doesn’t provide free consultations may be a good lawyer who simply has a different business model, but for many injured clients the free initial consultation is key part of their process of evaluating a potential attorney. Clients shouldn’t have to pay for this step.
  • Clarity about process or fees. An ethical attorney will be up-front with new clients about how the case will be handled by the firm and how the firm will be paid. The attorney should provide a clear, written statement of how fees and expenses will be paid. If the client will be asked to assume certain costs, such as the fees for expert witnesses, that should be stated at the outset of the engagement. A lawyer who draws in clients with promises of low fees and huge awards, but who springs inflated expenses on the client at the end of the process, is not acting in an ethical manner.
  • Putting the client first. An attorney’s obligation is to provide rigorous, passionate representation of the whole client. Among other things, this means that the relationship between the attorney needs to be about more than just money. The attorney needs to be a careful, thoughtful listener. Many law firms operate as “litigation shops,” which try to earn money for their partners by doing high volume, low quality work. Clients of these types of firms may have difficulty getting personal attention from their attorneys, who are busy chasing down new clients rather than serving the needs of their existing ones.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. We are proud of our long tradition of thoughtful, caring service to each and every client. If you have been injured and you have questions about how to pursue a case, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Suing for Loss of Consortium in Nevada

Loss of consortium is a kind of damages that sometimes gets added to a plaintiff’s claim in personal injury lawsuits. It seeks to compensate the plaintiff for the basket of losses associated with a serious injury to a spouse or domestic partner. By adding loss of consortium to the claims in a lawsuit the plaintiff can recover compensation for injuries that might otherwise go uncaptured in the scope of other types of damages. In Nevada loss of consortium has several important features:

  • Who can claim loss of consortium?

Loss of consortium is available only to the spouse or domestic partner of the individual who has been seriously injured or killed. The important thing to note here is that important categories of people aren’t able to claim loss of consortium: children and other dependents, people in committed but legally unrecognized relationships (including people who are engaged to be married but as-yet unmarried), and so forth cannot make a claim for this type of loss.

  • What sort of losses are accounted for in loss of consortium?

The definition of “consortium” is simply the intangible interests that the plaintiff has in the welfare of his or her spouse or domestic partner. Because the term is vaguely defined, it leaves open the possibility of a plaintiff pursuing compensation for circumstances that are unique to his or her family. Common types of loss that are included within loss of consortium include loss of companionship, mutual assistance, sexual relations, and emotional support.

  • How is loss of consortium proved?

To recover loss of consortium damages they must be proved with sufficient specificity to enable the fact finder in the case to place a value upon them. In a sense the proof requirement imposes limits that are not present in the open-ended definition of “consortium.” For example, the plaintiff who claims loss of consortium on grounds that the injury has affected sexual relations will need to testify about the couple’s sexual relationship. Needing to explore these details in an adversarial proceeding is one reason why some plaintiffs opt to not pursue loss of consortium damages.

  • What is the relationship of loss of consortium claims to the underlying injury?

To sue for loss of consortium in Nevada a plaintiff’s spouse or domestic partner must also be suing to recover compensation for his or her injuries. Loss of consortium is a derivative claim that cannot stand on its own without a personal injury lawsuit for it to be derived from and made a part of. Depending on the facts of the case, the spouses may be represented by the same attorney.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injuries. We are passionate about helping clients recover full compensation for their injuries and will explore the pros and cons of a loss of consortium claim with clients in appropriate cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.