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Suing for Slip-and-Fall Accidents in Las Vegas

A serious fall can have lasting consequences for the injured person, including disability and even death. When a fall happens as a consequence of another person’s negligence, the injured person has the option of suing for compensation. There are several considerations for someone who has been injured in a fall and is considering a lawsuit. In a slip and fall case, the key question is usually whether the defendant behaved negligently. At the core of negligence is the idea that the defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff and breached that duty in some way. If the defendant didn’t owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, the defendant, by definition, did not commit an act of negligence. The specific legal obligation of an individual or business to take care to prevent another person’s injury varies:
  • An ordinary person owes only a reasonable duty of care toward others. For example, a homeowner owes a reasonable duty of care to keep his or her property safe for guests. If a known hazard exists on the property, such as a trench dug for construction, the homeowner has a duty to take reasonable steps to warn guests of the hazard.
  • A business that is open to the public owes a special duty of care to keep its premises safe. This rule has been interpreted to require a business such as a grocery store, restaurant, or hotel to take reasonable steps to monitor its facilities and resolve problems like spills, damaged equipment, or other issues that could cause a fall.
  • Special rules apply to common carriers—planes, busses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. A common carrier owes the highest duty of care toward its passengers.
A defendant in a slip-and-fall case may raise several common defenses. These include:
  • Open and obvious. This defense is used when a hazard would have been readily obvious to any reasonable person. It might apply in a case where a trip hazard was roped off with colorful warning tape.
  • Assumption of risk, which can apply in cases where the plaintiff knew about the risk of injury and went ahead with an activity anyway. An example where a defendant would raise assumption of risk might be if an ice rink patron slips and falls on the ice.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have suffered a serious injury as a consequence of a fall and you would like to speak to an attorney about your options, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation.  Call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Can an Accident Witness Sue for Psychological Trauma?

Bodily injuries resulting from an accident are rightfully given a lot of attention in the accident’s aftermath. Spinal injuries, broken limbs, and disfigurement are undeniably serious and highly visible. But the psychological consequences of an accident can be quite serious, too, and they may not be obvious to anyone outside of the small circle of the accident victim’s close friends and family. In any lawsuit following an accident involving serious personal injury, psychological harm needs to be factored into the compensation sought by the plaintiff.

The practical challenges of psychological injury

Someone who has suffered a mental health setback can require specialized care, potentially including medication, potentially for a long time. This kind of treatment can be very expensive but may be required to sustain the person’s long-term physical health. Getting compensated for these costs is important. There are several reasons why a psychological injury may pose challenges for an injured plaintiff in a personal injury case. The first is diagnosis. Psychological injuries can be difficult to identify, let alone treat. In the immediate aftermath of an accident the victim’s physical injuries likely will give rise to significant costs and hardship. The victim may not even be aware of the psychological damage that he or she has suffered until sometime later. Another potential problem for plaintiffs is proof. A plaintiff must be able to prove damages with reasonable certainty in order to recover compensation for them. Psychological injuries can give rise to a “battle of the experts” in the courtroom, as the defense tries to discredit or undermine the plaintiff’s claims related to these “unobservable” injuries.

Psychological harm and insurance

In accidents covered by insurance, like car crashes, a key question is whether the at-fault person’s insurance policy will cover treatment for mental health consequences of the accident. Many general liability policies are drafted to cover “bodily injury,” which they very specifically define to exclude psychological injury such as mental anguish, suffering, or specific conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Although an insurance company has a legal obligation to provide coverage for injuries that fall within the scope of its policies, it will closely scrutinize claims and deny anything that falls outside the policy. This limitation has important consequences for people who hope to recover full compensation for their injuries from the at-fault party’s insurance policy. The injured plaintiff may need to pursue compensation from other sources, such as the personal assets of the at-fault individual. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We can help you examine your legal options to recover compensation for psychological injuries. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Negligent Dog Owners Create Risks of Injury

A dog attack can leave the victim with permanent injuries and facing a long, painful road to recovery. Bite victims often experience psychological as well as physical trauma. Bites can also become infected and leave lasting scars. Given all these risks, it’s important for dog owners to take precautions to prevent their dogs from injuring others.

A Nevada dog owner’s legal responsibilities

Most dog attacks are preventable. They happen when a responsible person fails to take necessary steps to keep the dog under control. A person with responsibility for a dog has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from posing a threat of harm to other people and their property. Legal responsibility extends not only to the dog’s owner, but also to others who are entrusted with the dog’s care, such as a dog walker or sitter. Most of the specific rules governing dog ownership are covered in local ordinances. Las Vegas requires dogs to be licensed, vaccinated against rabies, and kept on leashes except when contained on the owner’s property or at authorized leash-free locations, like dog parks. Failing to comply with leashing or vaccination requirements may be negligence per se, allowing someone who is injured as a consequence of such a violation to shift the burden of proving negligence from the plaintiff to the defendant dog owner. A dog owner’s specific obligations to control the dog increase if the dog is known to have aggressive tendencies. Every dog is capable of biting, but not every dog responds to strangers with violence. Once a dog’s tendency to behave aggressively is known, the owner needs to take special steps to meet his or her obligation to take reasonable care. For example, if a homeowner keeps an aggressive dog in a yard all day, the homeowner must make sure that the dog can’t escape the yard.

Suing a dog’s owner for negligence

In the aftermath of being attacked by a dog the first priority should be to get medical care. But it’s important to take steps, if possible, to gather facts about the dog and its owner. The owner’s name and contact information should be obtained whenever possible. The victim and other witnesses to the attack should take notes about the circumstances that led to the attack: the time of day, whether the dog was leashed, the dog’s behavior prior to the attack, and so forth. Many dog bite cases are clear-cut. A dog owner walking an aggressive dog off leash in a city park shouldn’t be surprised if the dog ends up hurting someone. But some cases require a closer look at the facts, including the dog’s history, the behavior of the victim and the dog’s caretaker at the time of the incident, and so forth. A personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite litigation can help an injured person recover compensation. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in dog bite cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Gross Negligence in Nevada Personal Injury Cases

A personal injury lawsuit usually involves making a claim of negligence against a defendant. For negligence to apply, the defendant must have breached a legal duty of care owed to the plaintiff. Many legal duties require a person to act reasonably with respect to some hazard: a driver is expected to take reasonable care to drive safely, a homeowner is expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries to guests. In an ordinary personal injury case, the reasonableness standard can lead to close calls, requiring careful argumentation and a close analysis of the facts of the injury. Sometimes a personal injury results from behavior that is well beyond what anyone could term “reasonable.” In such cases a plaintiff can pursue a claim of gross negligence, which is distinguished from ordinary negligence by the availability of punitive damages to a successful plaintiff. In many respects a gross negligence case is no different from an ordinary negligence case. The plaintiff still has the burden of proving each of the elements of negligence in order to prevail. The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care, as determined by statute, regulation, or legal precedent. The defendant must have breached that duty of care, and as a consequence of that breach the plaintiff must have suffered a harm that can be compensated through the legal process. A claim of gross negligence must be supported by an additional set of facts laid on top of the ordinary negligence case. In 1941’s Hart v. Kline case, the Nevada Supreme Court explained gross negligence as “an act or omission respecting legal duty of an aggravated character as distinguished from a mere failure to exercise ordinary care. It is very great negligence, or the absence of slight diligence, or the want of even scant care.” In essence, gross negligence is behavior that falls just below an intentional act to hurt someone. This is an important distinction for plaintiffs, who don’t need to prove the intent of the defendant. Instead, they need only show that the defendant’s behavior reflected an indifference toward the potential risks posed to others. A plaintiff in a gross negligence case can seek compensation for damages related to the injury, such as medical bills and consideration for pain. The prevailing plaintiff can also ask the court to grant punitive damages. Punitive damages may be granted in cases where the court determines that the defendant’s actions were so wrongful that the defendant should be required to pay what is effectively a punishment. Punitive damages are intended to send a signal to the rest of the world, to deter the behavior that led to the plaintiff’s injury. Note that statutes sometimes limit the availability of punitive damages, or limit how large a punitive damages award can be. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. If you have been injured by someone’s gross negligence, 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.

How Fault is Determined in Nevada Auto Accidents

Determining fault is a key component of deciding who pays for injuries and property damage that result in a car crash. Deciding who is at fault requires an analysis of the facts surrounding the accident: who was involved, what were they doing at the time of the accident, where did the accident occur, and so forth. As in many states, Nevada applies rules of negligence to determine who is at fault in an accident.

Accidents typically happen due to negligence

Like many personal injury cases, a car accident often happens because at least one driver was acting negligently. In Nevada every driver has a duty to operate his or her vehicle in a careful manner. This duty is owed to other drivers and their passengers, as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else who happens to be on or near the roadway. For negligence to apply, the duty to drive with care must have been breached, and as a consequence of the breach the plaintiff suffered an injury. In some accidents, determining fault is a fairly straightforward matter. If a driver who was involved in the accident was breaking a law or regulation at the time of the accident, that driver may be said to have been committing negligence per se. This moves the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defense and makes a successful outcome for the plaintiff significantly more likely. Examples of this sort of behavior might include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, running a red light, or speeding.

Is it true that everyone involved in a crash is at least partially to blame?

A truism says that in an accident there’s always an element of blame shared between everyone involved. The assumption is that even an injured bystander might have done things differently to prevent the accident or at least reduce the harm done. For legal purposes, the reality is that some accidents are entirely the fault of one driver. But there are cases were blame can be spread around, least to a degree. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. This standard says that a court can reduce a plaintiff’s recovery from the defendant by the extent to which the plaintiff’s negligent actions contributed to causing the accident or the resulting damages. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault, the defendant can walk away without owing anything. As an example, if both the defendant and the plaintiff were speeding at the time of the accident, a jury may conclude that the plaintiff’s breaking the speed limit contributed 5% to the cause of the crash. In any auto accident case involving serious personal injury, it’s important to consult with an attorney even if an insurance company appears to be handling the case the right way. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. Reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your accident. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

What to do if an Insurer Denies Your Personal Injury Claim

Insurance companies are in the risk management business. They help their clients manage risk by taking responsibility for keeping costs under control in the event that a claim is made against a policy. In turn, an insurer’s claims adjusters work hard to make sure that claims are valid and not, in the opinion of the adjuster, overbroad or outside the scope of the policy. In some cases, an insurance company takes an aggressive approach, denying claims in hopes that the injured person doesn’t appeal the decision or sue. Fortunately, there are options for people who find themselves in this circumstance.

Insurance companies have a legal obligation to be honest

When someone makes a claim against an insurance policy, the insurer has a legal obligation to conduct an honest assessment of the claim and pay for damages that are covered under the policy. The assessment process needs to be concluded and payments made within a reasonable time. At the same time, insurers also have an obligation to protect their clients, the policyholders, against claims that are invalid, unsupported by the facts, or fraudulent. An insurer that acts in bad faith can be sued. An insurer acts in bad faith if it tries underhanded methods of delaying or avoiding its obligations under a policy. Imposing huge volumes of paperwork, making a lowball offer, or misleading people about a policy question are all examples of potential bad faith. A claim of bad faith may be brought by the policyholder, such as an at-fault driver in an auto accident who is not getting the coverage that a policy promises, or by a beneficiary of the policy, such as someone who has made a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. Between honest dealing and unambiguous bad faith is a large grey zone where a lot of confusion and conflict can arise. An insurer may in good faith believe that the facts of an injury place it outside the scope of a policy. An adjuster may in good faith review the costs associated with an injury and conclude that they are significantly lower than what the injured person has claimed. A lack of bad faith doesn’t mean that the insurance company escapes responsibility, but it does mean that the injured person may need to take more aggressive steps to protect his or her interests.

Contesting denied claims

When a claim is denied or only partly honored, the beneficiary should consult with an attorney to determine next steps. An insurance company is unlikely to put aside a claims denial without a rigorous consideration of the issues underlying the claim. Those issues may be purely legal, such as a conflict over interpretation of policy language. They may be purely factual, such as questions about how an accident occurred or the extent to which the policyholder is at fault. Or they may involve a mixture of legal and factual issues. The appropriate solution for the problem of a denied claim will depend on the particular policies of the insurer and the nature of the dispute. Some insurers may offer an in-house appeals process to help reduce the risk of litigation. But many insurers will need to be sued to bring them to the negotiating table. Once there, an insurer will have an adversarial position and will need to be countered with strong legal arguments.

GGRM can help you resolve your insurance disputes

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. If you are struggling to recover what you are owed in a personal injury claims dispute, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We may be able to help you reach a better settlement. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

What Compensation is Available to a Car Accident Victim in Nevada?

Being in an auto accident often triggers a complicated chain of consequences. The insurance companies for the drivers involved in the accident typically will have a certain idea of what they are willing to cover and what they will contest. The drivers themselves may disagree about important facts. If someone has suffered a serious injury, medical recovery and the injury’s short- and long-term impacts on the person’s life may take center stage. In the midst of this complexity, it can be helpful for a person to understand what sort of compensation can be obtained by filing a lawsuit.

Insurance versus litigation

It’s important to note that not every auto accident leads to a lawsuit. One of the important rationales for requiring every driver in Nevada to have insurance is to provide a straightforward way to resolve questions of fault and financial liability after an accident. For relatively simple cases, where the only significant damage in a crash is to personal property (i.e., the cars involved), it may make sense to simply let the insurance claims process run its normal course. Insurance companies prefer to resolve cases without litigation. For the insurer, this approach is cheaper and allows them to stay in control. A quick settlement offer is one way an insurer will try to manage its risk related to an accident. But in cases involving personal injury, the potential plaintiff needs to be careful about accepting a “deal” that is heavily lopsided in favor of the insurer. Litigation can rebalance the distribution of power between the injured individual and the insurance companies involved in the case. Especially if the insurer for the at-fault driver is trying to escape liability for certain claims, filing a lawsuit can force it to negotiate in a fairer way. A lawsuit may also be required if there are complicated facts about the case that need to be hashed out through the litigation process. For example, if there is a serious dispute about whether the injured plaintiff bears some responsibility for the crash, it may be necessary to conduct discovery in a litigation setting.

Compensation available to car crash victims

The goal of filing a personal injury lawsuit following an accident is to recover financial compensation for the damages done by the at-fault driver. Damages fall into three categories:
  • Economic damages are consequences with clearly defined financial parameters. They include the cost of property damage, including damage to a car and other personal property. They also include medical bills incurred by the plaintiff, both in the past and projected into the future, as well as lost wages and other career impacts.
  • Noneconomic damages capture abstract consequences that get reduced to a dollar value through negotiation or jury deliberation. The value of an injured person’s pain, loss of enjoyment, and disfigurement are examples of common noneconomic damages.
Insurance policies are designed with economic damages in mind, in large part because they are fairly predictable, making them relatively simple to build into the cost of a policy. Noneconomic damages are different. They often need to be considered in light of a broad range of facts. An insurance policy may simply not cover such damages at all, leaving the at-fault driver personally liable for such damages. A plaintiff who wishes to pursue such damages needs to do so through litigation.

GGRM is a Las Vegas auto accident law firm

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. We can help you examine your case and devise a strategy for recovering full compensation for your injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

The Role of the Employer’s Claims Advocate in Your Workers’ Comp Claim

A workers’ compensation claims advocate is a professional who specializes in helping employers manage their relationships with their workers’ comp insurance providers. Their most important role is to help the employer manage claims. For many employers, developing in-house expertise on claims processing is difficult or impractical, so they hire outside firms, often an insurance brokerage, to provide claims advocacy services. For the injured worker, a claims advocate can be a good resource and a significant help in the event that a claim is denied. At the same time, however, the employee needs to understand that the claims advocate’s job is to represent the employer, not the employee. A claims advocate works with his or her clients to help them manage the costs of their workers’ compensation program. The idea behind the role is to help employers avoid expensive litigation arising from denied or mishandled insurance claims. An advocate may provide a wide range of services, from training employees on risk management to helping resolve conflicts with insurers. A claims advocate typically has an insider’s perspective on how insurers operate, and can sometimes resolve issues in a way that avoids more costly forms of intervention. Employers often work with claims advocates as part of a broader investment in the welfare of their employees. As such, a claims advocate’s role is partly to help ensure that an injured employee gets the coverage they need. Employees can benefit from an advocate’s assistance in a number of distinct ways:
  • Ensuring that a claim satisfies legal and technical requirements.
  • Mediating between the injured employee, the employer, and the insurer to resolve disagreements.
  • Assisting the employer and employee to find solutions in the event that workers’ compensation won’t cover an injury.
On balance, services like these are of great benefit to an employee. But the employee always needs to remember that the advocate’s obligation is to the employer, not the employee. The advocate is there to help the employer save money by, among other things, reducing the risk of litigation. This motivation can result in a conflict of interest that may discourage the employee from pursuing the course that is in the employee’s best interest. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation law firm is a good way for an injured employee to ensure that the claims process is handled with the employee’s interests in mind. 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 Reasons Social Security Disability Benefits May Be Denied

Someone who endures a significant personal injury often relies on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to help make ends meet. It can come as a shock when SSDI benefits are denied. There are a number of reasons why someone might not qualify for SSDI, or lose that qualification due to lack of attention or other factors.
  • Income is too high. SSDI benefits are intended as a supplement for people who are unable to work enough to earn a living. An individual will be disqualified from SSDI payments if he or she earns $880 per month or more from working. This amount applies to 2019, and gets adjusted annually. SSDI benefits are reduced for individuals who earn at least $880. An individual who earns $1,220 per month or more will no longer qualify for any SSDI payments at all. Note that income from other sources, like investments or rental properties, does not count toward this limit.
  • Lack of technical compliance. Failing to provide required health information to the Social Security Administration, or failing to follow a doctor’s prescribed treatment program, may lead to disqualification for SSDI.
  • Disability sustained by substance abuse. If the SSA determines that an individual’s disability is caused by alcoholism or drug addiction, benefits may be denied. The idea behind this rule is to ensure that SSDI payments are not being used simply to feed an addiction that is the sole cause of a person’s inability to work. Someone who has an alcohol or drug dependency that isn’t related to the disability may still be able to draw benefits.
  • Non-qualifying medical condition. To qualify for SSDI benefits an individual must have a disabling medical condition that will prevent the individual from working for at least one year. For SSDI purposes, an injury is only disabling if it prevents an individual from performing any substantially gainful work activity.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. We help clients examine all their financial options to find the best path forward while they recover from their injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.