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Severe Allergic Reactions to Employer-Provided Meals

Although free food is a nice benefit for employees, providing food invites the relatively rare but potentially significant risk that an employee could suffer an allergic reaction. This is especially so if the allergen is not disclosed on the food’s packaging. Food provided in the workplace raises potential challenges for the employee who is injured and requires medical care. There are several dimensions that must be taken into account, such as whether the food was provided during working hours or was given to the employee to eat on personal time. These questions are important because they can determine if the employee’s illness or injury is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation law requires employers to insure their employees against injuries or illnesses that arise out of or in the course of employment. If food is provided to an employee during working hours or in connection with a work-related event, such as a meeting, the question of the injury’s work-relatedness likely will be answered in favor of coverage by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage has good and bad elements for an employee. On the one hand, it is a form of no-fault insurance that will cover medical costs, replace wages, and provide other benefits that vary according to the nature of the employee’s illness and other factors. On the other hand, an employee is barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for most injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation. This is true even if the employer was negligent—for example, if another employee switched the warning labels on food so the injured employee did not know about the presence of an allergen. Workers’ compensation law may not restrict an employee’s ability to sue the service or restaurant that provided the food. If in the above example the negligent act that led to a mislabeling of food was committed by the outside service, the employee may have a good case that they have failed to take reasonable precautions to notify customers about the presence of potential allergens in their food. Restaurants take pains to track common allergens, like nuts, so when they fail to do so it is often a sign of negligence and actionable by someone who gets injured as a consequence. Cases involving businesses and employment are always more complicated than they might seem. Someone who is faced with complications from an allergic reaction to workplace food should consult with an attorney to better understand how the law can help them. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case, contact us at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.

What to Do if Your Neighbor Keeps an Unsafe Dog

Dangerous dogs can threaten more than just physical injuries. They can also be a significant source of anxiety and stress. When a neighbor’s dog is known to have vicious and aggressive tendencies it can make living nearby unpleasant and even hazardous. In some cases steps can be taken to address the presence of a dangerous animal in your neighborhood.

The goal is to prevent bites before they happen

When thinking about what to do about a threatening animal it’s important to remember that the goal is to improve the safety of people around the dog. Dogs may be extremely vocal and excitable when they are behind fences or tied up, but pose little risk to people or other animals in other contexts. But other dogs may be undisciplined or highly territorial. The legal rules around dog ownership try to strike a balance between acceptable dog behavior within the boundaries of a homeowner’s property and unacceptable risks to public health. In Las Vegas all dogs older than four months must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. Homeowners are allowed to keep their dogs off leash provided that they are confined to the dog owner’s property by a fence or other sufficiently tall and robust barrier. Absent specific rules, like an HOA’s bylaws, a dog that occasionally barks at passers-by from behind a sturdy fence probably doesn’t present a legally actionable problem

When are legal steps against a neighbor’s dog appropriate?

When a polite conversation isn’t enough to get a neighbor to address problems with a dog, there may be cause for threatening legal action in some situations. Some of the circumstances that might justify a legal response include:
  • The dog behaves aggressively and barks constantly from your neighbor’s yard while you are in your own yard, making your property unpleasant and potentially unsafe.
  • The dog routinely makes loud noises at unreasonable times, like late at night.
  • The dog has a history of behaving menacingly or biting on at least two occasions within an 18 month period, such that it qualifies as a “vicious” animal within the meaning of Chapter 7.16 of the Las Vegas Municipal Code.
Depending on the nature of the issue a homeowner could pursue several courses of action beyond speaking with the dog’s owner about the problem. Speaking with the local animal control agency may be a good first step. If the dog owner doesn’t take steps to fix a dangerous circumstance, a formal demand from an attorney may do the trick. At worst, such a demand creates an unambiguous record that the dog’s owner is on notice about the dog’s bad behavior. The next step might be to ask a court to order the dog’s owner to make changes to improve public safety or address a problem like excessive noise.

The GGRM Law Firm understands dog bite litigation

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have extensive experience with dog bite cases. We offer free attorney consultations to anyone with questions about how to handle a dog that poses a threat or has attacked someone. To schedule an appointment call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Nevada Supreme Court Awards Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits to Widow of Former Reno Police Officer

If an employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, the employee’s surviving family members are entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. But it’s not always easy for family members to obtain the benefits they deserve—especially if there are disputes over liability or the value of the claim. In fact, one case involving workers’ compensation death benefits for a widow of a former police officer recently made its way to the Nevada Supreme Court. Here’s what you should know about this important case: An Overview of Laura DeMaranville vs. Employers Insurance Company of Nevada and City of Reno

Daniel DeMaranville served as a police officer for 21 years before retiring from the force in 1990 and becoming a security officer for a private company. In 2012, Daniel died from cardiac arrest shortly after undergoing gallbladder removal surgery.

After his death, Daniel’s wife, Laura DeMaranville, filed a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. The claim was denied by both the City of Reno and Employers Insurance Company of Nevada (EICON), the company that provided workers’ compensation coverage to the city at the time Daniel was employed. Both parties argued that there was no evidence that Daniel’s death was caused by heart disease.

The denial was appealed, and an appeals officer reversed this decision. The appeals officer found:

  • There was evidence that occupational heart disease was the cause of death.
  • The City of Reno was liable since they were self-insured at the time of Daniel’s death. EICON was not liable since they no longer insured the city at the time of Daniel’s death.
  • Benefits should be calculated using the income Daniel earned as a security officer at the time of his death.
This decision was appealed to the district court, who agreed with the appeals officer’s first two conclusions, but disagreed with the method used to calculate benefits. The district court ruled that benefits should be calculated using the income Daniel earned from the City of Reno at the time of his death. Since he was not employed with the city at this time, he was not earning an income, which means benefits would equal $0. At this point, Laura appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court’s ruling addressed three questions: • Did a compensable injury cause Daniel’s death? • Who is responsible for compensating Daniel’s family? • How should the death benefits be calculated?

Did a compensable injury cause Daniel’s death?

Both Daniel’s surgeon and a cardiologist specialist agreed that heart disease caused Daniel’s death. Based on this evidence, the Supreme Court ruled that it was clear that heart disease was the cause of Daniel’s death.

By law, heart disease is considered an occupational disease if it is diagnosed in a police officer who has served for more than five years. This is true even if the heart disease is not diagnosed until after the police officer has retired. Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to benefits since Daniel’s occupational heart disease was covered by the workers’ compensation system.

Who is responsible for compensating Daniel’s family?

The Supreme Court ruled that the lower courts were wrong to conclude that the City of Reno was liable for the workers’ compensation claim. Daniel’s heart disease was related to his work as a police officer. EICON was the city’s insurer the last time that Daniel was employed as a police officer. It doesn’t matter that EICON no longer insured the city at the time of Daniel’s death—the company did provide coverage when Daniel was employed and exposed to the risk of heart disease. Therefore, the court found that under the “last injurious exposure rule,” EICON was liable for compensating Daniel’s family.

How should the death benefits be calculated?

The Supreme Court also disagreed with the method used by the lower court to calculate the workers’ compensation death benefits. The law states that a spouse can recover two-thirds of the victim’s average monthly wage for the rest of their life. The law also states that the average monthly wage should be calculated by looking at the victim’s income during the 12-week period ending on the date which the injury occurred. In this case, the court found that the date which the injury occurred was the last day that Daniel was exposed to the risk of occupational heart disease, which was his last day as a police officer. Therefore, the court ruled that the benefits should be calculated using the income Daniel earned as a police officer.

Final Thoughts

This is a complex case, but it answers a lot of questions regarding occupational disease benefits, death benefits, and liability for fatal work-related illnesses. If your loved one has suffered a fatal work-related injury or illness, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible.

The GGRM Law Firm Represents Victims Suffering From Occupational Diseases

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have decades of experience representing clients who have been diagnosed with occupational diseases in the Las Vegas area. Our attorneys have the legal expertise and resources that you need to win the benefits you deserve. Schedule a free consultation about your case by calling 702-388-4476 or filling out the form on this contact page.

 

What Obligations Does an Employer Have to Help an Injured Employee?

Employers in Nevada have a number of obligations related to injured employees. One way to break down the obligations is to look at each of them according to when they arise. Some obligations arise as soon as the employee starts work. Others arise in the immediate response to an injury. And still others apply in the aftermath of the injury, when the employer’s assistance with the employee’s workers’ compensation claim can be the difference between an accepted or denied claim.
  1. Pre-injury obligations.
Most Nevada employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance that protects their employees in the event they are injured on the job. Not carrying insurance is a significant violation of law, subjecting the company to potential criminal prosecution, regulatory actions, and fines. Few employers want to risk losing their business over a failure to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. But from time to time an employer operates without it in hopes of saving some money, putting employees at risk. Under state and federal workplace safety laws (commonly known as OSHA) employers over a certain size have a general duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees, as well as specific obligations relating to particular hazards such as electrical or chemical work. Although OSHA rules do not provide for a private cause of action, they do provide an important baseline of safety that protects employees from working in substandard conditions.
  1. Obligations in the immediate aftermath of an injury.
When an employee suffers an injury in Nevada the employer has an obligation to assist the injured employee with obtaining emergency medical treatment. That might include calling 911, and might also include administering emergency care such as CPR, performing triage on a wound, and so forth. Many employers are taking steps to train their staff in emergency first aid, in part because such programs can help them lower workers’ compensation costs.
  1. Obligations as the employee recovers.
The recovery phase of a serious injury is where things can get quite complex. There are a range of obligations that employers have with respect to employees who have been injured on the job:
  • They may not take adverse employment actions against them based solely on their having suffered or reported an injury.
  • They must keep good records of the incident and report it to the state.
  • They are required to cooperate with any investigation that arises due to the employee’s workers’ compensation claim, such as if the insurance adjuster has questions about whether the injury was work-related.
  • They must comply with laws governing an injured employee’s options for returning to work, including offering light duty where appropriate.
  • They must make reasonable accommodations for an employee who has suffered a disability.
As one might expect, the above list only glosses over the surface of what might be involved in a given case. Quite often the injured employee can benefit from the assistance of an attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation cases. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. If you have been injured at work and you have questions about how to get the coverage you deserve, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Hit by Debris from a Truck in Nevada

Trucks carrying gravel, construction debris, and other loose material are supposed to have covers that keep their cargoes safely under control. But accidents still happen, and some operators are more careful than others when they load their vehicles. Many of us have had our windshields cracked by a loose rock falling out of a truck. But sometimes falling debris can cause much more significant problems, including accidents that result in personal injuries. In such cases, an injured person may have a legal claim against the operator of the truck.

The rules governing cargo securement

A general principle that applies to all drivers on the road is that a driver has a legal obligation to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. Anyone who puts cargo on a vehicle must take reasonable steps to ensure that the cargo is safely secured against falling into the roadway or otherwise creating unsafe conditions. This is true for all drivers. For example, it applies to someone who loads a mattress onto the top of a car to bring home. Commercial cargo carriers are subject to a broad range of rules with a variety of sources. Federal law regulates many kinds of commercial vehicles that fall within the scope of interstate commerce—a broad concept that captures many types of businesses, such as those using interstate highways. Federal cargo securement rules impose specific requirements for certain types of cargo. Nevada state law may have rules that go further than the federal standards for a given type of cargo.

Suing a trucking company

Almost by definition, debris falling off a truck is a sign that the person who loaded the truck, the driver, or the business that owns the truck has failed to comply with cargo securement rules. Ideally the driver of the truck sees the accident and pulls over to render assistance and provide insurance information. Sometimes a driver may not see that debris has fallen from the back of the truck and might need to be tracked down by other means. Commercial trucking firms are required to carry significantly more insurance than ordinary drivers. Someone who has been injured in a cargo-related accident should be able to rely upon the trucking company’s insurance coverage to provide at least partial compensation for injuries. But there are cases where the insurance company refuses to provide full coverage, or where the company’s insurance limits aren’t sufficient to cover the full cost of an injury. A lawsuit may be necessary. In cases where a trucking company or its agents have failed to comply with applicable cargo securement rules, the fact of noncompliance can be an important component in litigation. As a rule, when a civil defendant was violating a law or regulation at the time of an accident, and that violation was a cause of the accident itself, the plaintiff can use the violation to establish that the defendant has committed negligence per se. This standard shifts the burden of proof to the defendant, who now must show that its negligent behavior was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In cases involving loose cargo, such a case may be difficult for the defense to prove. Instead, it likely will be forced to settle on favorable terms.

The GGRM Law Firm represents auto accident victims

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in auto accident cases for over four decades. If you have been injured as a result of debris falling from a truck, contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.