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What to Do if a Child Is Injured at School

When a child suffers a significant injury at school, parents have the option of suing for compensation to help pay for medical bills and other expenses associated with the injury. The type of lawsuit that may be appropriate will depend on the specific facts of the case. In most cases, there are some general principles that will matter for parents in this circumstance.

Public versus private school

The option to sue a school for a student’s injuries exists regardless of whether the school is public or private. However, there are important distinctions between the two. As a subdivision of state government, a public school district is subject to the damages limits imposed by Nevada’s governmental entity liability laws. A plaintiff seeking damages in a negligence lawsuit against a school district cannot recover more than $100,000 in compensation. This damages limit doesn’t apply in cases involving deliberate acts.

A private school does not have the same statutory protection as a public school, meaning the potential damages that a plaintiff could recover are substantially more. A private school may have required parents to sign waivers or other limitations of liability that could limit the amount a plaintiff could recover. Such waivers should not discourage parents from exploring legal options. Many waivers can be overcome by plaintiffs.

Potential causes of action against schools

Lawsuits for personal injury typically are grounded in a claim of negligence. Negligence involves the defendant’s failure to take a legally required degree of care toward the plaintiff. It can apply to a wide variety of circumstances. As a general rule, Nevada schools owe their students a high duty of care to prevent injuries and ensure safety. An act of negligence could give rise to a lawsuit in cases such as these:

  • Negligent maintenance of playground equipment or school infrastructure leading to injuries from slip-and-fall accidents, cuts from sharp edges, and so forth.
  • Negligent food safety practices leading to foodborne illnesses.
  • Negligent hiring of individuals who pose a foreseeable safety risk.
  • Negligent supervision of students leading to injuries from fights or other issues.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. If your child has been injured at school we can help you examine your legal options and develop a strategy to seek compensation. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Lane Departure Warning Systems Can Prevent Accidents

Lane departure warning systems are among the new innovations auto manufacturers are building into their cars to help drivers avoid accidents. The systems use sensors built into the car to detect a lane and sound an alarm if the driver veers out of the lane. Some systems will even take partial control of the vehicle to keep the car moving in a straight line. For drivers who are distracted or tired, this feature can be a significant safety enhancement.

Lane departure systems raise interesting legal questions that can become important in the event that a vehicle equipped with such a system gets into an accident. Here are some potential issues that can arise:

  • The system doesn’t work as intended. Perhaps the most interesting question for drivers is how reliable a safety feature like lane detection really is. Will the car always know what a lane is? If the car can impede steering in some way, could that create its own safety hazards? For someone who is injured in an accident where a safety system may not have worked correctly, a products liability case against the manufacturer of the car or its safety system may be an appropriate remedy.
  • A driver disregards warning signals. How much liability does a driver have if a lane departure system provides an audible warning, but the driver ignores it? Drivers may have a good argument that having an optional safety system does not create an explicit legal obligation to pay attention to it. However, disregarding a car’s warnings may provide one important piece of evidence that a driver was not paying attention at the time of the accident. As such, ignoring the lane departure system may form at least part of a foundation for a claim of negligence against the driver.
  • The system was turned off at the time of the accident. Lane departure systems are typically equipped with a switch to turn them off. Some drivers don’t like to hear alarms every time they change lanes. Some don’t the idea of the car taking control. And as already mentioned, just because an optional system is onboard doesn’t mean that the driver has an obligation to use it. That a system is disabled could be a factor in an accident if a driver is used to having it on, but for whatever reason it has been turned off and the driver isn’t aware of it. In such cases, the driver may be relying on the system to drive in an irresponsible way, such as texting while driving with the expectation that the system offers a degree of extra safety. In a sense, this kind of driver may actually be less safe as a consequence of placing too much reliance on a safety feature.

When an accident involves complex questions of technology, it’s important to have an experienced accident attorney at your side. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and 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.

Using Cell Phone Memory as Evidence in an Accident Lawsuit

Cell phones are constantly gathering and sending data. Last year a Princeton study determined that some phones even track their users’ location if GPS and location tracking is manually disabled. An individual’s every screen view, not to mention texting or other forms of deliberate use, can be recorded in a phone’s memory. After an accident, all of this data can sometimes offer insights into the causes and responsibility for the accident.

In the aftermath of an accident the people involved in the incident typically turn to their insurance companies for help resolving issues of fault and compensation. In a minor accident, such as one involving damages that don’t exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, questions of evidence may not arise. The two insurers may simply resolve the case following a routine process.

A more complex accident case, however, may hinge on a close analysis of the facts surrounding the case. This can be especially important if the accident involved significant personal injuries, where the amount of potential liability is large. In such cases, both sides have a substantial incentive to uncover evidence that is favorable to their position. Cell phone data can be one source of such evidence. Here are some examples:

  • Phone data that shows that the individual was texting or using data functions, like a web browser, at the time of the accident.
  • Data that contradicts testimony. For example, if a defendant is suspected of having been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident, but there is no police toxicology report in evidence, the defendant’s phone may reveal that the defendant visited a pot dispensary shortly before the accident.
  • Data to prove concrete details about the accident itself. An individual may have taken video or photographs in the lead-up to the accident, or afterward. If those records don’t support the individual’s case, the individual may unlawfully try to delete them.

Getting ahold of cell phone evidence can be a challenge. Evidence can be subject to a subpoena, a court order that requires a party to provide the evidence to the other side even against objections. Some forms of data are not readily accessible to users and may require additional technical steps that require the help of outside consultants. If an individual has tried to delete information, the information may need to be recovered using special software. If the evidence can be used to prove a key component of a case, these efforts are worth the customary expense.

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 accident cases. We are happy to provide free attorney consultations to individuals who have been injured in an accident. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

The Risks of Unproven Dietary Supplements

The dietary supplements industry has seen rapid growth over the last decade. Supplements are available in virtually every grocery store, with many more available online. The industry pays significant sums to promote products, often making wild claims about the health benefits customers will experience. But many dietary supplements aren’t subject to the kinds of regulations that protect consumers. Especially when a supplement claims to have drug-like efficacy, consumers need to be careful about consuming a product that may not work, or worse, may cause significant health problems.

The regulatory process for dietary supplements

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration enforces regulations related to dietary supplements. These regulations are distinct from those that apply to other kinds of food, and importantly, they do not come close to the standards used to regulate medicinal drugs. This despite the claims of many supplement manufacturers that their products have profound medical benefits, like enhanced brain function or improved sexual performance. The FDA’s regulatory authority has two prongs:

  • Selling adulterated products is prohibited. Adulteration simply means using a substitute ingredient for the one that is claimed on the label. The substitute typically is of lower quality than the ingredient that is described. A simple example would be if a business claims that its products’ ingredients are 100% organic, but in fact they include non-organic materials.
  • Selling misbranded products is prohibited. This rule is important, because brand information is key to determining the source of, and therefore the responsibility for a product’s safety.

Applicable rules place the burden on manufacturers and marketers to test the safety of their products within the parameters of applicable food safety laws. There is no independent process of review that applies to all products. Some companies have gone to great lengths to devise showy “testing” procedures that in fact are grounded in arbitrary measures and not in a rigorous and studiously neutral scientific process.

The potential health risks of dietary supplements

One hopes that at worst a supplement simply doesn’t do anything other than drain one’s wallet. But organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society have raised the possibility of serious complications arising from their use. These complications can include:

  • Unforeseen interactions with medications, such as reduced effectiveness of birth control pills.
  • Potential complications for women who are pregnant or nursing.
  • Dangerous overdoses of certain vitamins or minerals, especially when taken in conjunction with other foods.
  • Lack of disclosure of allergens, especially from businesses operating behind the relative anonymity of websites.

Someone who suffers serious side effects from a supplement should stop taking the supplement and consult with a doctor. In severe cases, pursuing compensation through a lawsuit may be appropriate. A lawsuit may be especially appropriate if the manufacturer or seller of the product has failed to disclose a significant danger associated with the supplement, but there may be other circumstances where a lawsuit makes sense.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in products liability and personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured by a dietary supplement and you would like to discuss your legal options, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

When Should Injured Workers Hire an Attorney?

Someone who gets injured at work and needs to file a workers’ compensation claim hopefully can rely on the system working smoothly to provide complete care and other benefits. One hopes that injured workers have access to good advice through their employers or a third-party claims administrator, and that everyone involved will try hard to ensure that the worker receives all the benefits that are owed under state law. Unfortunately, this isn’t always how things go. Like every kind of insurance, workers’ compensation often raises conflicts of interest, disputes about medical diagnoses or treatment plans, and other problems that a worker who isn’t represented by an attorney may struggle to overcome.

How an attorney facilitates workers’ comp claims

The role of a workers’ compensation attorney is to protect the client’s interests and ensure that all the benefits to which the worker is entitled are properly paid. Within the scope of that work there are a number of important things an attorney can do for the client:

  • Ensure that claims paperwork is completed correctly and on time.
  • Monitor the medical evaluation process to verify that the client isn’t railroaded into accepting an incorrect or incomplete diagnosis.
  • Raise and resolve concerns with how coverage is being provided.
  • Keep track of important records that may be vital if the claims process needs to be taken into a dispute resolution proceeding or litigation.
  • Advise the client on when and how to dispute insurer decisions.

When should you hire an attorney?

Whether an individual needs the help of an attorney is really a question that needs to be answered after taking stock of all the facts of the individual’s case. It never hurts to reach out to an attorney who offers free consultations to determine if representation is necessary. Broadly speaking, the help of an attorney is more important if complicating factors are present. Some examples of these include:

  • Severe injuries. An attorney’s help can make a huge difference for someone who has suffered a serious injury that will involve significant health care expenses, long periods off work, or some form of disability. Such injuries cost workers a lot of time, money, and stress. Ensuring that workers’ compensation benefits cover everything the worker needs takes planning and close oversight. In part this is because high-cost claims often end up in disputes as insurers look for ways to limit their financial exposure.
  • Wrongfully denied claims. Someone who feels they’ve had their claim wrongfully turned down may need to file an appeal. Although an attorney isn’t necessarily required to make an appeal, the chances of an appeal succeeding gets significantly better if an attorney is involved, especially if the attorney has been involved from early in the process.
  • Medical disputes. Many types of injury are subject to a wide variety of medical diagnoses. A strained back could be diagnosed as a muscular problem or as a slipped disc. A headache might be diagnosed as a concussion or as a more severe type of head trauma. Insurers know this and will use the medical examination process to find ways to restrict their exposure. An attorney can make sure the client knows how to exercise important rights like the option for seeking a second opinion.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. We provide personal, caring service to each and every client. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Workers’ Comp for Employees of Temporary Staffing Firms

The number of temporary staffing firms is constantly growing as businesses look for ways to manage employee costs by outsourcing work to temporary staff. Temporary workers are found in virtually every industry, including dangerous professions like construction, transportation, and health care. Like other employers in Nevada, a temporary staffing firm is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that protects its staff members in the event that they are injured while working at a client site.

Understanding when workers’ compensation applies

Nevada’s workers’ compensation system provides that employees are insured against injuries that arise out of or in the course of employment. Generally speaking “the course of employment” captures any time for which an employee is compensated. A worker often is also covered during times when they are doing something that the employer has asked them to do. Personal time is not within the scope of workers’ compensation. Critically, a normal commute usually is not covered. However, because a temporary worker is often asked to commute to a location other than their firm’s office, those trips may be covered for some workers.

Workers’ compensation is a kind of no-fault insurance. This means that the insurer is not allowed to base its coverage decisions on who was responsible for causing the worker’s injury. It’s important to remember that a temporary worker is employed by the staffing firm, not the client at whose site the work is done. The temp worker therefore falls under the staffing firm’s workers’ compensation coverage.

Staffing firms often face workers’ compensation challenges

The inherent complexity of a staffing firm’s risk profile means they can have a hard time finding insurance. Many firms get insured through a professional employer organization, or PEO. A PEO is essentially a service company that takes on components of an employer’s human resources functions, such as payroll and insurance administration. A PEO may offer temporary staffing firms with a way to secure workers’ compensation coverage under a plan that groups together all of the PEO’s clients.

The presence of a PEO in the chain of authority can add a layer of administrative challenges to a worker who is injured on the job. Ideally a claim process goes smoothly and with adequate support from the insurer to resolve technical hiccups without interrupting the injured worker’s treatment. But if administration of the claim is handled by a PEO, the worker may have no relationship with the individuals handling the claim and may need additional help to resolve problems.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in workers compensation cases for over 45 years. We can help temporary workers get the workers’ compensation coverage to which they are entitled. For a free attorney consultation about your claim, call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

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.