Monthly Archives: May 2019

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Why Attorneys Might Turn Down a Personal Injury Case

Someone who is searching for an attorney to represent them in a personal injury case may be surprised when, after an initial consultation, the attorney turns down the case. Despite the reputation of personal injury attorneys as people willing to take any case, the reality is that most attorneys have a process for evaluating cases. The evaluation process needs to take into account the interests of the law firm, but more importantly it needs to account for the interests of the client. Sometimes the client is better off working with a different firm. There’s no hiding that law firms are businesses, and attorneys naturally do their work in part because they need to earn a living. Naturally there are firms that only accept cases that are worth a certain amount to the firm. But money matters rarely are the sole reason why a law firm turns away a potential client. Other reasons include these:
  • Lack of merit. From time to time a potential client will come to a law firm with questions about a circumstance that, after a closer look, turns out to not meet minimum standards for filing a lawsuit. A client in this circumstance often has a real grievance, but for one or more technical reasons the lawsuit isn’t going to work. A firm’s ethical obligation is to tell the client why the case probably won’t succeed. In extreme cases, attorneys can be disciplined or disbarred for filing frivolous lawsuits.
  • Conflicts of interest. From time to time a client will come to a firm with a case that turns out to raise conflicts with other clients of the firm. For example, if a firm represents a moving company on unrelated matters and is approached by a person who was hit by a truck owned by the moving company, the firm will face a conflict of interest problem if it decides to take the injured person’s case. In some circumstances a firm may be able to take the case despite a conflict of interest, but in others it’s more appropriate for the firm to turn down the work.
  • Lack of necessary expertise. A firm that doesn’t have the right skills to appropriately handle the client’s case should turn the case down. Oftentimes a firm can recommend another firm that might be able handle the case.
  • Insufficient resources. A firm should not take a case that it can’t devote the necessary time and resources to. Some firms take every case with the expectation of following a cookie-cutter approach that might save the firm some money but ultimately doesn’t give the client the best possible representation. Other firms overload their attorneys, with a similar result. A firm should recognize when it is spread too thin to take on new work and caution potential clients that they may be better off finding representation elsewhere.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We are happy to discuss the issues related to your injury to determine if our firm is the right one for you. Please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Getting Help for a Loved One’s Substance Abuse

Addiction and substance abuse is a common problem. Whether the problem lies with alcohol, painkillers and other prescription medications, or completely illegal “street drugs,” a person struggling with addiction often needs the help of loved ones to bring the problem under control. Helping someone recover from addiction isn’t just good for their health. It also protects them from making mistakes that could cost them their job or lead to lawsuits.

Addiction can lead to many problems

The specific nature of addiction depends on many factors. These include the particular psychology of the individual and the particular qualities of the substance to which they are addicted. But many types of addiction share common features, such as these:
  • Health effects. Even legal substances with addictive qualities, like alcohol, can have serious adverse health consequences for people who abuse them.
  • Social problems. An addict can have difficulty with relationships, including those with friends and family, as well as at work. The problems can be directly associated with using the substance, or they can be the result of symptoms, like lack of adequate sleep, impacted memory, and so forth. In extreme cases an addict can commit crimes to feed their habit.
  • Bad judgment. For many types of addicts, the normalization of substance abuse in their lives leads to bad choices, like a decision to drive under the influence or use a substance at work.

Getting help

Intervening in a loved one’s addiction isn’t always easy to do alone. Fortunately, there are several resources available for people need help developing an intervention strategy. In addition to online resources dedicated to the addict’s specific condition, substance abuse hotlines offer a good first step to finding answers to personal questions. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a federal agency offering substance abuse assistance. The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health offers support at the state level. Getting help can also involve looking into addiction recovery programs. Such programs vary in quality, professionalism, and cost. Figuring out which one will be the right fit for your loved one can take a lot of work, which the addict may not be willing or able to do alone. In some situations, it is important to intervene directly to prevent a catastrophic problem. Perhaps the most common scenario where this is important is if someone has had too much to drink but insists on driving. Taking away such a person’s keys can be a first step in a broader move to help that person break their habit of abusing alcohol. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is proud of its long history of providing caring, personalized service to each client. We help clients address legal challenges with solutions that address the whole picture. If you have questions about an injury you or a loved one has suffered as a consequence of substance abuse, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Is Eating While Driving Negligence?

Anyone who spends a lot of time driving, or who has to squeeze meals into a commute as part of a busy schedule, often ends up eating while driving. Like so many bad driving habits, the risks associated with eating can be easy to dismiss for someone who hasn’t experienced the consequences of those risks. At the same time, eating and driving isn’t necessarily unlawful, but it can lead to negligent behavior in some cases.

Eating can be a big distraction

Eating while driving is on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) list of dangerous driver distractions. The NHTSA offers three types of distraction that drivers can experience:
  • Visual distractions draw the driver’s eyes away from the road.
  • Manual distractions require the driver to do something with his or her hands other than controlling the vehicle.
  • Cognitive distractions involve mental processes that aren’t related to driving.
Eating while driving potentially involves the first two items, and could involve the third as well. Glancing down at a bag of chips could be enough to make a driver not see the stopped car out ahead. Eating a burger requires using hands that might otherwise be on the steering wheel. And if the burger falls apart and drops a big mess into the driver’s lap, the driver may suddenly be worried about how to clean up and not about what’s happening outside the car.

Distracted driving is not, by itself, unlawful, but . . .

Prohibiting distracted driving isn’t practical, but that doesn’t mean that a distracted driver can’t be held responsible if his or her distraction leads to an accident. The NHTSA’s statistics show that distracted driving is a common cause of accidents. Nevada’s prohibition of cell phone use by drivers is an example of a specific case where lawmakers have found a way to address a source of distraction. But eating while driving is a different case. Eating while driving is common. Its potential for distraction falls on a spectrum, from relatively minimal distraction to the extreme case of being burned by spilled coffee. Being distracted by food can lead a driver to make other mistakes that do qualify as negligence. Every driver owes other drivers and pedestrians a basic obligation to pay reasonable attention to the roadway. Failing to do so may be negligence, regardless of its underlying cause. Failing to comply with traffic laws, by swerving into an adjacent lane or running a stop sign, is negligence per se, meaning the fact that the defendant broke those specific rules creates a presumption that the driver was behaving negligently. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in accident cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Legal Options Following the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse in an accident is among the most stressful life events. The surviving spouse endures significant emotional harm, and often has to deal with significant financial challenges as well. In cases where the spouse’s death was the result of another person’s negligence or happened at work, the survivor should consult with an attorney to understand their legal options for pursuing compensation that will ease the practical consequences of his or her loss.

Suing for wrongful death claim in Nevada

When a spouse’s death was caused by another person’s negligence the survivor may have the option of suing for damages under the legal concept of wrongful death. Wrongful death is a cause of action that can only be brought by the heirs or legal representatives (typically, estate attorneys) of a person who died as a consequence of a negligent act. Negligence is the backbone of many personal injury cases. It applies when the defendant owed a duty of care toward the deceased person and failed to meet that duty of care, and as a consequence of that failure caused the injuries that led to the deceased person’s death. Duties of care are defined by law, either in statutes or in the long tradition of court cases. An auto accident often involves an act of negligence. For example, a person who runs a red light has committed negligence by failing to obey traffic laws. A plaintiff in a wrongful death case can sue for damages that aren’t available in an ordinary personal injury case. Among other things, the plaintiff can pursue compensation for grief, loss of companionship, and loss of comfort. They can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased spouse. If the deceased spouse was also a major source of income for the family, the plaintiff can also pursue compensation for that loss of income.

Death at work

Potential plaintiffs should bear in mind that a death at work involves a different set of rules from other cases of negligence. A Nevada employer that is compliant with state laws will have workers’ compensation insurance to protect itself in the event that a worker dies on the job. Among other things, the rules around workers’ compensation prohibit most lawsuits against employers who are compliant with insurance requirements. Instead, the surviving spouse needs to apply for death benefits through the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. Just because the workers’ comp system protects employers doesn’t mean that there is no longer an option of filing a wrongful death claim against other parties who may bear responsibility. A personal injury attorney can examine the facts of the case to determine the extent to which the workers’ compensation bar against lawsuits applies. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients seek compensation for personal injuries. Our practice is centered on providing caring, compassionate service to every client. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Bedsores and Other Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

As our population grows older the prevalence of nursing home neglect unfortunately seems set to rise as well. A nursing home that is understaffed, lacks adequate training protocols, or doesn’t provide proper management and supervision can leave residents with insufficient care. Under Nevada law neglect is defined as a failure “to provide food, shelter, clothing or services within the scope of the person’s responsibility or obligation, which are necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of the older person.” NRS 41.1395(4)(c). Family and friends who visit residents of nursing homes can protect their loved ones from neglect by watching for these common signs:
  • Bedsores. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, can result if a person is left in a single position in a bed or chair for a long period of time. The sores can be painful at first and can lead to more serious problems, like damage to underlying tissues. A nursing home should have procedures in place to prevent bedsores.
  • Unexplained injuries. A nursing homes should follow strict procedures to document injuries to residents. An undocumented injury should be treated as a warning sign that the staff is not doing an adequate job of watching over the residents. Of course, a resident may fall or injure themselves while a staff member isn’t looking. But if the injury goes unnoticed and undocumented, broader problems may be at work.
  • Malnutrition or dehydration. Nursing home residents often lack the ability to take care of their own food or water intake. Inadequate food or hydration may result in visible signs or may be revealed in a routine blood test.
  • Lack of bathing or cleaning. Nursing home residents typically need considerable help keeping themselves, their clothes, and their living spaces clean. Common problems with incontinence make sanitation especially important in nursing homes. A home that doesn’t take care to keep its residents reasonably clean may be committing neglect.
Nursing home neglect is a serious problem that isn’t necessarily easy to discover. Facilities that aren’t well run may try to mask inadequate procedures in various ways. Family members and friends of residents need to pay attention to details and trust their instincts if they think something is wrong. A medical exam by an outside physician may be needed to establish that something isn’t being handled well. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. We have a long tradition of providing authentically caring service to clients who are faced with difficult circumstances. If you have questions about potential neglect at a nursing home, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Accidents with Food Delivery Drivers: Who Pays?

Like so many professions, food delivery is undergoing a rapid evolution. These days a food delivery driver might be doing the conventional work for a pizza chain or a single restaurant, but he or she could also be working for an Internet-based service like GrubHub. Because delivery workers drive for their jobs, they have a certain risk of being in accidents. For someone who gets into an accident with such a driver, the question of liability can raise interesting issues.

Who is liable?

There are a few related components to the question of who is liable when a delivery driver gets into an accident. The first question to ask is whether the driver was “on the clock” at the time of the accident. A driver who is out making a delivery or driving back to the restaurant to pick up more food probably is being compensated for that time. But the employer may argue that people working outside of those boundaries was driving on personal time. For example, accidents during normal commutes typically fall on the side of personal time. A second question that can be a factor in these cases is whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor of the employer. From a legal standpoint this distinction shouldn’t really matter as far as the plaintiff is concerned, but it can add a layer of complexity to the case. Businesses are increasingly trying to shift obligations onto their workers by categorizing them as contractors. Part of this trend has been to make contractors more responsible for their mistakes. The reality is that an injured plaintiff should be able to overcome the employer’s attempt to hide behind a contract, but it may require a bit of extra work. For most cases where these issues arise, the question of ultimate liability may be resolved between the employer and contractor without the injured plaintiff’s involvement. A third component to the analysis can be the ownership of the vehicle involved in the crash. The owner of a vehicle used for business purposes has an obligation to maintain it in good working condition. If the driver also owns the car the driver may bear special responsibility if the accident was the result of a mechanical failure. One thing to note is that the employer will look for strategies like this to shift blame away from itself.

Insurance for food delivery drivers

Every driver in Nevada is required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance that protects other people in the event that the driver causes an accident. The minimum coverage limits ($25,000 per bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury to more than one person, and $20,000 of property damage) are quite low. On the one hand this makes policies affordable for people who work in low-wage jobs, like food delivery. On the other hand it can leave injured people under-covered in the event that an accident causes serious harm. The good news for people injured in this type of accident is that a driver who is working at the time of the accident should be covered by the employer’s insurance. If the employer’s insurance is inadequate to cover the full value of the plaintiff’s damages, the employer probably has other resources that the plaintiff can pursue to get compensation.

GGRM is here to help victims of car accidents in Las Vegas

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in accident cases. If you have been injured in an accident with a food delivery driver we can help you examine your legal options and begin the process of recovering compensation. 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.

Obligations to Preserve Evidence After an Accident in Nevada

When someone is injured in an accident the first priority is always to ensure that the injury is promptly treated. As the aftermath of an accident unfolds, a potentially huge array of important information can be generated and recorded. Things like photos of the scene, the identities of witnesses, and specific conditions of the drivers and their vehicles can all play important roles in any ensuing litigation. If one side of the litigation deliberately or negligently destroys or loses track of evidence (what the legal community calls “spoliation” of evidence) the consequences for that side of the case can be significant.

Intentional versus negligent spoliation of evidence

Spoliation of evidence falls within a spectrum. At the most serious end are acts to deliberately destroy evidence that might serve to help the other side or hurt your own. For example, if a driver potentially caused an accident while distracted by his cell phone, he would commit spoliation if he threw away the phone to eliminate the possibility of it being investigated for evidence of his use at the time of the accident. In such cases the party that has committed the willful act of spoliation will be subject to a rebuttable presumption that the evidence so destroyed would have been adverse to the party. In short, the plaintiff in the case could rely on the defendant’s missing cell phone to prove that he was using it, even though the phone itself was not available. NRS 47.250. At the less extreme end of the spectrum lies negligent destruction of evidence. In the cell phone example, if the defendant simply lost his cell phone, perhaps because it fell out of his pocket on the bus leaving the accident, he might argue that the loss of the phone wasn’t deliberate. Courts have leeway to hold negligent spoliation against the party that caused it, but absent proof of intent there may be more leniency given depending on the circumstances.

What sort of evidence should you preserve?

Spoliation of evidence works in both directions in a trial. The plaintiff and the defendant each have an obligation to take steps to ensure that evidence doesn’t get lost or destroyed before it can be analyzed and made a part of the litigation. Any evidence that could be used to tell the story of the accident and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff could be subject to spoliation. In addition to the cell phone example cited above, there are many other kinds of evidence that could be germane, such as these:
  • Photos taken after the accident.
  • Damaged cars themselves, especially if the damage tells a story and is repaired without at least first being photographed and documented.
  • Notes taken after an accident, especially if they include the names and contact information of witnesses who otherwise are unknown.
When a defendant causes spoliation of evidence the plaintiff can gain a significant advantage. Someone who has been injured in an accident and feels that important evidence has been lost or destroyed should not give up hope of recovering compensation. An attorney can examine the facts of the case to determine whether a claim of spoliation is likely to succeed. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. We are happy to provide free attorney consultations to help injured individuals examine their legal options. Call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Understanding the Legal Risks of Private Pool Parties

Homeowners who have pools in their backyards are right to view their pools as great places for entertaining guests. A pool party is fun for everyone. At the same time, a pool always poses certain risks. In a party context, the danger of the pool can be made more significant. Homeowners who plan to hold pool parties should think about a few issues before the party starts.
  • Premises liability. By themselves, pools and their surrounding infrastructure (walkways, platforms, ladders, and so forth) implicate the legal principle of premises liability. A homeowner owes a visitor a general duty to keep the home and its surrounding property reasonably safe for the visitor. If the homeowner is aware of a dangerous condition, such as a damaged step that could cause cuts or trips, the homeowner needs to warn guests about the condition. Homeowners who plan to host parties should take a moment to make sure there are no hazards that could make the pool area unsafe.
  • Know your insurance coverage. Pool owners know that a pool makes a homeowner’s insurance policy more expensive. It’s important for the homeowner to know about the scope of coverage in the applicable insurance policy. If the policy contains specific limits, the party may need to be designed around those limits. Perhaps the policy will not cover injuries to children who are left unsupervised, or it won’t cover injuries suffered by people who have been drinking alcohol. Coverage limits may also be important to consider: a drowning could cost the homeowner a significantly greater sum than the default limits of the policy. For a party that’s usually large, such as a wedding, taking out special event insurance might be a good idea.
  • Alcohol and pools can be a bad mix. If a party will include drinking, there are a number of special risks that a pool can create. Pool decks can be slippery, and people who have been drinking may be more likely to slip and fall. A person who is especially drunk may have trouble swimming, or in rare cases may suffer a health crisis such as a heart attack. In some cases it may be appropriate to ask people who have been drinking heavily to not use the pool.
  • Supervise children. In a party setting it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in a pool. A child may get into trouble and not be seen until it’s too late. In circumstances where there are a lot of distractions it may be appropriate to designate someone to be an impromptu “life guard” or to ask the kids to get out of the pool.
Someone who is injured at a pool party probably has recourse to the homeowner’s insurance policy, and may need to sue the homeowner as well to recover full compensation for the injury. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Accounting for Changing Circumstances During a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In the course of recovering from an injury one hopes that the process follows a fairly predictable, linear path. For some injuries, the initial diagnosis leads to a straightforward treatment plan that proceeds without setbacks until the patient is fully recovered. But for many patients, setbacks are a frustrating reality of the recovery process. When a significant change takes place during the course of a lawsuit it may be possible to update the damages claimed in the suit to account for those changes.

Amending complaints to account for fresh information

A lawsuit is started by filing a complaint with the appropriate court. In a complaint, the plaintiff describes the basic facts of the case and makes claims against the defendant for damages. At the preliminary stage, damages can be based on a rough estimate of all the monetary and nonmonetary costs associated with the injury: past and anticipated medical bills, lost wages, pain, and so on. For a period of time while a case is pending, claims for damages can be updated as the plaintiff uncovers details that change the scope of appropriate damages. For a case that gets resolved through settlement negotiations, a plaintiff can use the claims in a complaint as leverage to improve the negotiated outcome. The key is that a defendant is not obligated to pay, and won’t agree to pay, costs that the plaintiff hasn’t proved with sufficient reliability to make it clear that the defendant will be held liable for it if the case were to go all the way to trial.

Proving new damages

To get compensation for any kind of damages a plaintiff must be able to prove their value and that they were caused by the defendant’s wrongful action. Causation can create interesting challenges for plaintiffs who find that their injuries are getting worse over time. The defendant may argue that an intervening cause, such as the plaintiff’s own lack of care with regard to the injury or mistakes by the plaintiff’s doctor, has made the injury worse and therefore the defendant should not be held responsible for the worsened condition. The issue of causation often requires support from the plaintiff’s treating physician. A doctor can testify about the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and how their prognosis has changed over time. For complex cases, expert witnesses may be needed to help the court understand how an injury could grow worse over time while still being traceable to the defendant’s negligence. The potential for changes is one of many good reasons for working with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Suing for Burn Injuries in Nevada

Serious burns can have devastating and long-term consequences. For someone who has been burned in an accident and sues for compensation, it’s important to make a complete accounting of the damages associated with the burn. Doing so requires a thorough understanding of the burn’s medical prognosis and its impacts on the plaintiff’s life.

The types of burns

There are several causes of burns, any of which could be part of a personal injury case. Thermal burns are the type most people probably think of when they think of burns. They’re caused by exposure to heat, whether from touching a hot surface, being exposed to hot steam or liquids, or being burned by fire. Car accidents involving fire often can lead to burn injuries. Other types of burns include those caused by corrosive chemicals, especially to sensitive areas of the body like the eyes and respiratory system, and electrical burns resulting from high voltage shocks. Burns fall within one of three tiers of severity:
  • A first-degree burn is relatively mild and rarely leads to long-term consequences. A mild sunburn is a good example of a first-degree burn.
  • Second-degree burns have penetrated deeper into the skin and can lead to painful blistering and other problems.
  • Third-degree burns have penetrated the entire skin and may damage underlying tissues. Third-degree burns are extremely serious and potentially life-threatening, as they can result in destroyed nerve endings and other problems for which there is no remedy.
In addition to the tier system, burns are also categorized according to their location and the overall coverage of the body. A victim of a structure fire may have extensive burns over a large portion of his or her body. The more significant the burn coverage is and the deeper the burns have penetrated the skin, the more serious the burn.

Suing for damages after a burn injury

Burn victims often need to seek special forms of compensation in their personal injury lawsuits. A burn can involve a lifetime of lingering pain and discomfort, disfigurement, and a long road of physical therapy and other medical treatments. In settlement negotiations or at trial, the victim’s attorneys must account for all of these consequences. Doing so requires approaching the issue from several angles:
  • A calculation of past and anticipated future medical costs.
  • Consultation with burn experts to evaluate the anticipated long-term effects of the injury.
  • Gathering evidence about the burn’s impacts on the plaintiff’s day-to-day life, such as the way the burn will affect the plaintiff’s emotional and psychological health, career prospects, and personal relationships.
Experienced personal injury attorneys understand that a burn victim is enduring an especially difficult process that needs to be handled with care and compassion. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We can help you or your loved one seek just compensation for burn injuries. Please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.