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Falls from Ladders: Who Is Liable?

Falls are significant cause of injury and death, both at home and at work. Ladders are involved in many of these injuries. Falling from a height increases the likelihood of severe injuries, from broken bones to concussions, paralysis, and death. As such, using a ladder should be thought of as an inherently risky activity that requires special precautions. Of course, there are several scenarios where a fall from a ladder could occur. Each presents different legal issues:
  • When the ladder is used improperly by the injured person.
A common source of falls from ladders is a simple lack of care by the people who use them. Climbing a ladder that is obviously unstable, carrying something heavy or awkward while climbing, leaning a ladder at an unsafe angle, or standing the ladder on another object like a table, are all examples of cases where the user has contributed in some way to an accident. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. Even if someone else bears some of the fault for the accident, in litigation that person likely will argue that the injured plaintiff bears at least a portion of the fault. The amount the plaintiff can recover from a defendant can be reduced by the amount of his or her comparative fault. If the plaintiff is found to bear 50% or more of the fault, then the defendant will pay nothing.
  • When the ladder is defective.
Ladders need to be designed and manufactured to be safe for foreseeable uses by consumers. When a ladder has a defect that makes it unsafe, and a person is injured as a result, a products liability lawsuit may be warranted. In a products liability suit the plaintiff can seek compensation not only from the manufacturer of the ladder but also the businesses in the chain of distribution that brought the unsafe product to market. Note that the defect in the ladder might not be in the ladder itself but in how it is sold or documented. A so-called marketing defect lawsuit could be justified if, for example, a ladder’s instructions fail to mention a key safety step that users must take to ensure the ladder’s stability.
  • When someone other than the injured person causes the fall.
In some cases a fall from a ladder isn’t caused by the ladder or the person who falls, but by a third party’s negligence. This might arise if a person knowingly set up a ladder in an unsafe way and assured the injured person that it was safe to climb. Or it could happen if someone knocks into the ladder out of lack of necessary attention.
  • Falls from ladders at work.
Most work-related injuries fall under a completely different legal standard from other types of injury. With few exceptions, injuries from a fall at work are covered by Nevada’s workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation covers all injuries arising out of or in the course of employment. As a no-fault form of insurance, it will apply regardless of the underlying cause of the injury. Compliant employers are shielded from most lawsuits that arise in the course of their employees’ work.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

Regardless of the circumstances of a fall from a ladder, it’s worthwhile talking to a personal injury attorney to determine if there are arguments to be made for seeking compensation from potentially at-fault parties. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. Call us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury at 702-388-4476 or reach out to us through our contacts page.

Does Workers’ Comp Cover Opioid Addiction Recovery?

As awareness has grown about the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States, many patients are seeking alternatives to opioids to treat their pain. But opioids are still considered by many physicians to be a worthwhile and effective method, and they continue to prescribe them. Like other types of medication, opioid pain medications can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits for someone who was injured on the job. When an employee receiving opioids as part of a workers’ compensation program becomes addicted to the drug, the employee can face a difficult road to recovery. Patients who develop dependencies can end up resorting to illegal methods to obtain pills, or slide into using other forms of opioids, like heroin. Many addicts end up struggling to hold on to their jobs and find their addictions interfering with their personal lives as well. When an employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits becomes addicted to the treatment medication, questions can arise as to whether the benefits should also cover services to help the patient recover from the addiction. The same question could be asked about injuries resulting from the addiction, including death or other complications from an overdose. This is a relatively new area of workers’ compensation law. Employers and insurers will undoubtedly try to distance themselves from providing coverage for complications which they will argue are beyond the scope of the employee’s workplace injury. But in some circumstances the employee may have a good argument that benefits should apply. A 2011 case in Pennsylvania looked at this issue in the context of a patient’s death by overdose. In that case, the patient’s prescription refills for an opioid patch to treat pain related to back injury had been denied further coverage by the insurer, but the patient’s sister, a physician, had provided a prescription anyway. Shortly after filling the prescription he received from his sister, the patient died of an overdose. In the case, the court held that the employer was responsible for paying the patient’s death benefits, despite the insurer’s decision to deny continued coverage for the medication J.D. Landscaping v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Heffernan), No. 1866 C.D. 2010 (Penn. 2011). Of course, Pennsylvania cases are not precedent in Nevada. But the Heffernan case shows that employees can in some circumstances may be able to establish a claim for benefits related to opioid addiction. One may assume that an employer’s responsibility may cease if the patient has violated the law—for example, by obtaining drugs through fraud or on the black market. But if an injury and its treatment also causes addiction, and the patient’s physician works with the patient to develop an addiction recovery program, it is worth pursuing coverage for that program even in the face of an initial denial of coverage. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. We strive to help every client achieve a complete recovery from their injuries. To schedule a free, confidential attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case After a Child’s Death

The sudden death of a child is broadly considered to be one of the most traumatic and stressful experiences that someone can endure. The pain of loss that parents go through is unspeakable. A family enduring this sort of loss probably can benefit from counseling and psychiatric care. When the child’s death was the result of another person’s negligence, pursuing a claim of wrongful death is one way a family can seek some compensation for all the impacts their loved one’s passing has caused. Wrongful death is a specialized legal remedy that is available to the immediate heirs—for most children, their parents—of someone who has died as a consequence of another person’s negligence. It has unique features when compared to other personal injury causes of action. For one, it is one of the few causes of action that can be brought by someone other than the injured person or his or her estate. Second, it allows plaintiffs to demand compensation for damages that usually aren’t available in other cases. It’s important to bear in mind that a wrongful death claim is built upon a conventional negligence claim. A plaintiff in a negligence case must prove that:
  • The defendant owed a duty of care, according to applicable legal standards.
  • The defendant breached the duty of care by doing something or failing to do something.
  • As a consequence of the defendant’s breach, a person was injured.
  • The person’s injuries can be quantified as damages that can be compensated through the legal process.
The types of negligence that might cause a child’s death vary considerably. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common causes of pediatric injury include auto accidents, suffocation, drowning, and poisoning. Negligence in auto accident cases can include things like the at-fault driver driving in violation of traffic laws, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Suffocation and drowning may result from a responsible person not exercising reasonable care to keep the child safe. In a wrongful death lawsuit the plaintiff can seek special types of damages. Among other things, the plaintiff can recover compensation of the plaintiff’s own grief and the costs of the plaintiff’s therapy and other treatments. The plaintiff can also seek compensation for the child’s pain and suffering in the time leading up to death. Each form of damages must be supported with sufficient evidence. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. We have worked hard to build a practice that is centered on caring, compassionate service to our clients. If you have suffered the loss of a child, please contact us for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals at Work

Dangerous chemicals are more common than one might expect. Many businesses work with them. From ordinary materials like the cleaning bleach or gasoline, to more exotic industrial chemicals, exposure can cause serious injuries or even diseases like cancer and respiratory failure. Employees who are injured by exposure to chemicals at work should file a workers’ compensation claim.

Workplace safety, chemicals, and liability

Most Nevada employers who handle dangerous materials are subject to a broad range of safety regulations under the Nevada Occupational Health and Safety Act, or OSHA. Nevada’s OSHA law is a variant of the federal OSHA standard, which provides most of the key rules governing workplace safety, including rules covering chemical hazards and toxic substances. OSHA is a regulatory regime that does not provide a private remedy for someone who is injured as a consequence of an employer’s failure to comply with its requirements. Employees who wish to raise concerns with Nevada’s oversight authority are protected by whistleblower laws from retaliation by the employer. Workers’ compensation is the sole remedy available to most people who are injured on the job. The workers’ compensation system strikes a bargain between employers and employees: in exchange for requiring all employers to carry insurance that will provide benefits for their employees who are injured at work, employers are shielded from liability for most types of workplace injuries. Workers’ comp is a no-fault form of insurance, which means that the insurer will not base its coverage decisions on the extent to which the employer or employee was at fault in the accident. This does not mean that fault has no effect on workers’ compensation: if the employer is failing to adhere to safety standards, its premiums will go up or it may lose coverage altogether and be forced to shut down until the problem is corrected. This, together with the employer’s interest in having a safe and healthy workforce, should provide employers with plenty of incentive to meet or exceed OSHA standards.

Considerations for making a workers’ compensation claim

An employee who is exposed to dangerous chemicals at work should report the incident to supervisors in writing. The employee should also keep keep a copy of the report and make notes about what happened, including when and where the accident occurred and the specific chemical that was involved. If the exposure caused an immediate injury that required medical attention, letting the treating physician know that the injury was work-related is an important part of the claims process. Records become crucially important when a chemical exposure leads to long-term illness. Especially if the exposure causes a problem like cancer, the employee may not be fully aware of the disease for a long time after the initial exposure. By making detailed reports and keeping records, the employee can make future claims easier to defend. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in workers’ compensation cases. We can help anyone who has suffered a workplace injury in Nevada pursue the benefits they deserve. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.