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Safely Riding Bikes with Kids

Teaching kids how to ride bikes safely is a great way to encourage them to develop life-long healthy habits. Putting children on bikes also involves a significant responsibility. Preventing accidents and injuries should be a top priority. Children can be at greater risk than adults for bicycling accidents. They don’t always ride in a straight line, may not have sufficient skill to respond to changing conditions, and may be easily distracted. Bearing in mind that many accidents can be prevented even by the people who are not legally at fault, here are a few tips for keeping kids safe on bikes.

  1. Check for mechanical problems. Kids’ bikes go through a lot. They get dropped, left outside for long periods, and so on. Before going for a ride in public places it’s a good idea to always check for mechanical problems, especially with brakes and any point of contact between the bike, the rider, and the road (such as seats, handlebars, wheels). A quick tightening of a loose nut may prevent an accident.
  2. Make children wear helmets. Nevada law doesn’t require cyclists to wear helmets. Although not wearing a helmet won’t result in a citation, it could result in a serious or even fatal head injury. Bear in mind that helmets do not prevent every kind of head injury, they only reduce the likelihood of severe trauma.
  3. Teach traffic safety. Bicycles are not regulated in the same way as cars in Nevada, but they are subject to traffic rules. Kids who will ride in public need to have a basic working knowledge of what signs mean. It’s especially important that kids know when they must stop. They also need to know to stay within designated lanes and when it is ok to leave them. When riding on roads, cyclists are required to stay within designated bike lanes if they are present, unless roadway conditions in the bike lane makes it unsafe to do so.

If a child is injured while riding a bike and someone else was at fault, there may be an option of suing for compensation for the child’s injuries. The facts of the accident will be vitally important for determining the outcome of the case. After an accident it is important to gather as much information as possible about the event, including the time of day, the location, details about the people involved, and so on. Of course, this is easier said than done when a child has been injured and needs medical help.

In any ensuing litigation the central question probably will be whether the person responsible for the accident was negligent. If the child was riding recklessly—for example, by running a red light into oncoming traffic—that may offer a partial or complete defense.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury firm about your case

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about an accident involving a child on a bicycle, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Using a Cell Phone to Record Details of an Accident

Cell phone cameras are valuable tools for gathering evidence after an accident. The first priority after an accident should be to call police and emergency services, stabilize any injuries, and get clear of hazards like burning vehicles. Once those essential steps are taken, and provided that circumstances allow for it, taking photos or even video can help attorneys, insurance companies, and police investigators analyze the accident.

What sort of photo evidence is useful?

The short answer to this question is: all of it. A photograph can reveal things that our minds don’t process in the moment. While we’re focused on the damage to a car we may not see an important detail that is outside the focus of our vision. A photograph may capture this detail and make it available later.

There are limitless possibilities about what may be important to photograph at the scene. Here are some important examples

  • All visible damage to the vehicles involved.
  • Roadway conditions, like debris, skid marks, or spilled oil or other chemicals that might have contributed to the crash.
  • The scene of the accident, including the location of traffic signs and signals, the address, weather.
  • Personal injuries, but note that before taking pictures of an injured person it’s important to first get their consent.

Moving around the scene to capture photos from many angles is important for building up a complete record of the scene. One area where this can be important is if the two drivers involved in the crash have different recollections of how the crash occurred. Having photos from various angles of damage to the vehicles may help investigators determine what actually happened.

Be mindful of the photos as evidence

Once photos of the scene are on your phone it’s important to take steps to preserve them. Getting them downloaded to a computer or uploaded to cloud storage should be a priority. It’s very important to preserve the photos in their original format: editing a photo may raise doubts about its authenticity later on.

Also take care before putting accident photos onto social media sites. The best approach is to avoid making any statements about an accident online, but this can be especially true of photos, which may have unintended consequences, such as offending the privacy rights of an injured individual.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients who have been injured in auto accidents recover compensation. If you have been injured in an accident please call us for a free, no obligation attorney consultation. Reach out to us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Avoiding Auto Insurance Fraud Charges in Nevada

Claims under auto insurance policies run the gamut from repairs for damage to the vehicle to medical bills. Although many such claims are legitimate, statistics suggest that drivers are increasingly committing fraud against their insurers. Defrauding an insurer not only risks one’s insurance. It is also a category D felony, punishable in Nevada by up to four years of imprisonment as well as fines and other financial restitution.

What qualifies as auto insurance fraud in Nevada?

To be prosecuted for the crime of insurance fraud an individual must have knowingly and willingly taken steps to deceive an insurer. In simplified terms, fraud involves making statements that the person submitting the statement knows are false or misleading, or that conceal or omit facts that may be material. A consumer can commit fraud in an application for insurance, in a claim, or by helping someone else commit a deception. Accepting benefits that one is not actually entitled to is another form of insurance fraud.

As a criminal matter, the individual’s intent is a key requirement for the state to prosecute for insurance fraud. Someone who makes a claim based on mistaken information might not be committing criminal fraud. Making a mistake is not enough to qualify as criminal fraud, so long as the insurer is notified of the mistake once it is discovered.

The criminal question may not be the only one to ask in a given situation. The insured person also needs to understand if the insurance policy has specific rules and requirements for inadvertent errors or omissions. Even if the insured can’t be prosecuted for criminal fraud, the insurer may still refuse to honor the policy in circumstances where it feels the insured is not fulfilling his or her contractual obligations.

How does an insured person avoid committing insurance fraud?

Some people deliberately try to trick their insurers in various ways. Most people understand that purposefully lying to collect on insurance policies, for example by staging accidents, is illegal and likely to end badly. But ordinary people can sometimes be tempted to make fraudulent statements to an insurer.

The key thing to bear in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that there is no benefit to making false statements or leaving out important details. Insurers are in the business of finding reasons to deny claims, and insured people should assume that the insurer will thoroughly examine every claim to verify that it is valid. One may be tempted to leave out a detail that might give the insurer a grounds for denying the claim (for example, a driver omitting that she was unlawfully using her cell phone in an accident in which she was not primarily at fault) or adding a small additional component to a claim (such as claiming damages for things that aren’t related to an accident). These are temptations to avoid. Even if the statements don’t rise to the level of criminal fraud, the insurer can deny claims and cancel policies if it thinks it is being manipulated. After being in an accident no one wants to be left without the backing of an insurer.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident, personal injury, and workers’ compensation cases. For a free attorney consultation about your situation call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

How Not Wearing a Seatbelt Can Affect Accident Lawsuits

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of 40. Over half of the people killed in crashes were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident. As in every state, Nevada law requires drivers and passengers in most motor vehicles to use seat belts. Children under the age of six who also weigh less than 60 pounds are required to be restrained in safety seats, ideally in the back seat. Failing to follow these rules can lead to devastating injuries in the event of an accident.

Although Nevada law requires passengers and drivers to wear seat belts, it also limits how a failure to wear a seat belt can be used in a civil lawsuit. Under NRS 484D.495(4), a violation of the seatbelt requirements “may not be considered as negligence or as causation in any civil action or as negligent or reckless driving.” In practical terms, what does this mean?

  • Not wearing a seatbelt is not a form of contributory negligence. In a personal injury lawsuit the defendant may want to argue that the plaintiff contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries by committing an independent act of negligence. Contributory negligence typically involves some breach of a legal duty, like not using a hand-held cell phone while driving. NRS 484D.495(4) specifically prevents defendants from raising this argument in cases where a plaintiff has been injured in an accident in which the defendant was at fault but the plaintiff’s injuries were made worse by the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt is not an intervening cause of injury. One of the hurdles for bringing a successful personal injury lawsuit is the requirement that the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If the defendant can argue that the injuries were caused by something other than the defendant’s actions, the defendant can’t be held liable. For example, a plaintiff’s car might have suffered a major mechanical problem during the accident that was more to blame for the plaintiff’s specific injuries. But the fact that the plaintiff wasn’t wearing a seatbelt can’t be used in this way.

These rules offer a legal shield for people who were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of an accident in which they were injured. A defendant who was responsible for the accident cannot reduce or eliminate liability by using the mere fact that the plaintiff wasn’t wearing a seatbelt to raise two standard and powerful defenses.

The short takeaway is that people who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their accident should not be deterred from pursuing legal action. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in auto accident 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.

What Kinds of Emergency Care Are Hospitals Required to Provide?

After an accident an injured person may be rushed to the nearest hospital without much consideration for questions like insurance coverage or ability to pay for care. Just an ambulance ride can be very expensive, not to mention the costs associated with treatment in an emergency room. Once at the hospital, patients or their loved ones may have questions about how much care a hospital is obligated to provide, regardless of ability to pay.

One of the challenges of answering this question comes from the variety of medical facilities in Nevada. Medical facilities run the gamut from local clinics with limited physician staffing to full-scale, 24-hour hospitals. Facilities are licensed and regulated according to the type of services they provide. This piece focuses on hospitals and the statutory rules that govern them.

Nevada state law also requires provision of emergency care

Under NRS 439B.410 a Nevada hospital is required to provide emergency services to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Hospitals are also prohibited from transferring patients to other facilities as a consequence of the patient’s insurance status. Emergency care includes:

  • Screening the patient to identify any emergency medical condition, which is defined as the presence of acute symptoms that could result in serious jeopardy to the patient’s health, serious impairment of the patient’s bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of an organ or body part.
  • Provision of care, including surgery, to relieve or eliminate the emergency medical condition.

Nevada law requires that patients who are admitted on an emergency basis are provided with an appropriate place within the hospital (a bed, chair, etc.) within 30 minutes of arrival at the hospital. NRS 450B.790. Note, however, that hospitals can’t be sued for breaching this rule.

Federal law places specific requirements on hospitals that accept Medicare

Federal law requires any hospital that accepts Medicare to provide emergency services to patients regardless of whether the patient is eligible for Medicare or otherwise has the ability to pay for services. 42 CFR § 489.24. The obligation to provide basic emergency services arises whenever a person presents themselves on hospital grounds and requests care or appears to be in need of medical care. This includes arriving by ambulance. Medicare hospitals must:

  • Provide initial screening exams to evaluate the patient’s condition.
  • If an emergency medical condition exists, provide stabilizing treatment and, if determined to be necessary, admit the person as an in-patient or transfer the patient to a hospital that can provide appropriate treatment.

These services must be provided without delaying to first find out if the patient has insurance or the ability to pay, but hospitals are allowed to ask such questions in the course of registering the patient.

Hospitals can still charge for emergency services

Even though a hospital is required to provide emergency services regardless of a patient’s apparent ability to pay, the hospital can and will bill for the services it provides. This can come as a shock to patients who seek care and later get huge bills in the mail for ambulance rides, surgeries, and so on. Bills can be especially high for patients who are not insured, or who have been treated by a facility that is not within their insurer’s network.

People faced with significant bills can often negotiate them down. In general, hospitals would rather get paid something rather than hand over a large bill to a collection agency with little hope of seeing a dime. If the emergency that led to the hospital visit arose as a consequence of an accident, the hospital may accept a lien against the anticipated settlement with the person responsible for the injury. A personal injury lawyer can help sort out these options.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. If you have questions about how to handle the aftermath of an emergency room visit, we may be able to help. Call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Train Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Over the last decade a number of tragic train accidents have drawn significant media coverage and raised questions about train safety. Although traveling by train is still overall considered to be safe, an accident—from a common slip and fall to a major crash—is always a possibility. Someone who has been injured in an accident involving a train may have the option of filing a lawsuit to recover compensation.

Trains are common carriers

The law categorizes passenger trains, along with public busses and airlines, as common carriers. As a general rule, common carriers owe passengers the highest duty of care. The operator of a train is required to use the utmost care and diligence to prevent passenger injuries. Courts have interpreted this standard to mean that even the slightest lapse in care could make a common carrier legally responsible for injuries that arise from the lapse.

Train operations have a long, rich history of disciplined processes and procedures designed in part to ensure the safety of passengers. Things like hand rails, properly maintained seats, and restrictions on where passengers can stand are all examples of steps train operators take to keep things safe. Operators also routinely inspect their tracks for problems that might cause a derailment or other serious incident.

When is a train operator liable?

Every incident where a train passenger is hurt can conceivably give rise to a lawsuit. The key questions a personal injury lawyer will analyze are: (1) whether the train operator has breached its duty of care toward the injured passenger, and (2) whether the operator’s breach of its duty caused the passenger’s injury. There is a wide variety of ways an operator might do this:

  • Failing to clean up a wet and slippery floor that causes a passenger to fall.
  • Improperly maintaining a door that shuts dangerously hard.
  • Failing to fix a problem with tracks, which might include damage to the track itself, debris, inadequate signs warning passenger vehicles about the track, and so on.

Someone who has been injured on a train and is dealing with significant medical bills or lost work time should contact an attorney to learn about their legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. If you have suffered an accident on a train please call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or by sending us a request through our site.

Biking in the Rain Increases Injury Risk

As bicycles become more popular as alternatives to cars people are more and more willing to ride in weather that would deter a casual rider. Rain in Nevada can come in dramatic bursts that can make roads unsafe even for drivers. While riding on the road during rainy weather it’s worthwhile keeping a few things in mind.

Tips for safely riding bicycles in the rain

Perhaps the best advice for cyclists who want to ride in the rain is: don’t. But sometimes it can’t be avoided, because there isn’t another mode of transportation available or the weather has turned without warning. When on the road in the rain, these safety tips can reduce the risk of an accident:

  • Take steps to be visible. In addition to having the legally required minimum front and rear reflectors, cyclists who ride in rain should also wear bright colors and ideally should have front and rear lights. It is almost impossible for a cyclist to be “too visible” on the road during wet weather.
  • Ride conservatively. Rain drastically reduces traction. Stopping distances will be significantly greater. Making aggressive turns on wet pavement can easily cause wheels to slide, leading to a crash.
  • If possible, take the lane. Nevada law allows cyclists to take an entire lane on multilane roads that do not have a separate, designated bike lane. It is significantly safer for a cyclist to take an entire lane than to try to hug the shoulder. Even if riding on a single lane road, cyclists are permitted to take the lane if the shoulder is full of debris or standing water.
  • Be prepared to wait out the storm. Riding in an especially heavy downpour is not worth the risk. If the roadway is inundated with water there may be no safe speed at which to ride.

The law and cycling in the rain

Nevada law treats bicycles like other vehicles for traffic purposes, meaning riders are required to obey all the rules of the road. There is no special rule that dictates how drivers must behave during rain, so it remains up to the rider to decide what is safe. In that respect, the rider takes a degree of personal responsibility when riding in the rain.

Riding in the rain will likely become an important issue in litigation if a bicyclist gets into an accident. Cases involving bike accidents have sometimes hinged on the cyclist’s assumption of the risk of injury. In a case where the rain played a factor in causing an accident one should anticipate the argument coming up. For example, if a cyclist rides into a deep puddle and falls in front of an oncoming car, the car’s driver probably will argue that the cyclist assumed the risk of injury or committed an act of contributory negligence by riding in conditions that were unsafe.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury firm about your bike accident

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and accident cases. If you have been injured while riding a bicycle in the Las Vegas area, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Car Accidents During Heavy Rain

Nevada is a land of extremes. Along with hot, dry weather, the state also experiences tremendous thunder storms that bring with them exceptionally heavy rain. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, rain and wet pavement combined account nation-wide for about 26% of vehicle crashes, 25% of crash injuries, and 21% of crash fatalities. About half of weather-related injuries on the road are caused by rain.

Heavy rain dramatically increases the risks of driving. In a sudden downpour visibility can rapidly drop to almost nothing, obscuring cars and other obstacles in front of the vehicle. Heavy rain also covers the roadway in a layer of water that can dramatically reduce vehicles’ contact with the road, leading to hydroplaning and loss of control.

These factors are considerably more dangerous on busy roads like those in the Las Vegas area, because drivers can react to heavy rain in unpredictable ways. Few drivers are accustomed to driving in downpours. The unfamiliar conditions and relative lack of consistent safety principles turns other drivers into additional hazards. Drivers may brake suddenly, which increases the chance of hydroplaning and may force following drivers to do likewise. Alternatively, drivers may not take the danger seriously, perhaps because they are overconfident about their vehicles’ ability to handle the wet conditions.

Drivers who find themselves in heavy rain should take several precautions:

  • Slow down. Rather than waiting for the cars in front to slow, it’s best to be among the drivers to reduce speed. Pay attention to the following distance of the car behind and tap the brakes if necessary to get the other car’s driver to back off.
  • Turn on lights. A car without lights on can vanish in a downpour.
  • Try to maintain a safe following distance. Water on the roadway dramatically increases stopping distance. Giving the car in front an extra cushion is an important way of avoiding accidents.
  • If necessary, stop. If rain is so heavy that visibility is completely gone, one should assume that the roadway is also heavy with water. Stopping completely may be the best course. If doing so, turning on hazard lights is a good extra precaution.

In the event of an accident during heavy rains, the important thing is to stay safe.

  • Oncoming traffic will pose an ongoing hazard until traffic patterns have adjusted to accommodate for the accident.
  • Emergency personnel may arrive more slowly due to the weather.
  • If vehicles are stopped in an area that is flooded or may become flooded (meaning more than 6 to 10 inches of water), it may be necessary to leave the vehicle to avoid being caught in a flash flood.

Anyone who has been seriously injured in a car crash should talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident during heavy rains, please give us a call today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Keeping Kids Safe While Riding in a Boat

In some ways, the pleasure of riding in a boat can bring out the kid in all of us. Children are naturally drawn to water and riding in a boat is undeniably fun. Owners and operators of boats who plan to take children aboard still need to think carefully about how to best keep their little passengers safe during the trip. Here are a few basic principles:

  1. Comply with floatation device requirements.

In Nevada every boat must carry life jackets that comply with U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) guidelines for personal flotation devices (PFDs). There are a number of specific rules for PFDs.

  • Every boat must carry at least one life jacket per passenger. Larger vessels (16 feet or larger) must carry additional floatation equipment. When considering whether sufficient PFDs are on board, take into account the size requirements of different passengers. Children and infants have very different sizing and fit requirements when compared to adults.
  • Children under 13 years of age are required to wear a PFD at all times while a vessel is underway unless the child is fully confined inside the boat. A child may not need to wear a life jacket while below deck on a sail boat, but would need to wear one on a power boat with only a partial enclosure.
  • Life jackets need to be in good condition. If a life jacket has a damaged buckle or frayed material it should be replaced.
  • Life jackets must be legibly marked with the applicable USCG approval number.
  • PFDs must be accessible, which means that it is being worn or can be reached and is ready to wear. A life jacket that’s kept in a box, especially if the box is locked, doesn’t meet this requirement.
  1. Know your passengers.

Take a moment to find out how much experience your young passengers have with boats. Children who have never ridden on a boat before probably don’t know what to expect if, for example, the boat hits waves while under power. Know whether your passengers can swim so that you can anticipate the kind of intervention that might be required in an emergency.

  1. Talk about boat safety.

Children should be taught how to respond in the event of an emergency on the water. In a real emergency, such as if the boat flips over or the child falls overboard, an adult may not be able to reach the child right away. Especially on boats that are prone to tipping (canoes, sail boats) it’s important to teach children to stay with the boat in the event of a capsize. Have a plan if the child falls overboard. Ideally, the child has spent time in the water wearing a lifejacket, so he or she knows what to expect.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a boating accident we are happy to discuss your case with you. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

What to Do After an Accident with a Semi-Truck

Accidents with large commercial vehicles like semi-trucks can be especially dangerous for people in passenger vehicles. The weight and size disparity between a truck and an ordinary car can leave the car badly mangled and the people inside severely injured. For the driver of the truck such accidents not only threaten personal injury but can also put a career at risk. After being in an accident with a commercial vehicle there are a number of steps a driver should take:

  • Get medical attention. Anytime someone is injured in an accident the first step is always to ensure that injuries are stabilized. If possible, tell nurses and doctors about the accident. The information gathered by medical professionals about the nature of the injury can become vital evidence in future litigation.
  • Get the truck driver’s details. Like any car accident, the drivers involved in a wreck involving a commercial vehicle should exchange contact information and share insurance details.
  • Get the name and contact information of the driver’s employer. In addition to finding out the name of the truck driver, it’s important to also find out the name of the driver’s employer and get as much information as possible about the employer. Chances are good that the driver’s insurance is carried by the employer, not the driver personally, and any lawsuit that follows the accident will probably name the employer as a defendant.
  • Report the accident. Nevada law requires parties involved in an accident to report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In crashes where police were involved in the initial post-accident response this report may not be required, as the police prepare the necessary paperwork as part of their process. The insurance companies of both drivers should also be contacted.
  • Consult with an accident attorney. Even if a driver’s insurance carrier will be pursuing legal action on behalf of the driver, it’s often important to have independent legal counsel. Insurance companies have an inherent conflict of interest whenever a claim arises: their profits depend on denying claims and aggressively seeking reimbursement for any costs they incur. Even if the insurer’s interests are aligned with the injured driver’s, the driver should have independent advice to protect against unlawful or dishonest behavior by the insurer.

Accidents involving commercial drivers typically open questions about the legal relationship of the truck driver with the business for which he or she was driving at the time of the accident. Truck drivers may fall into one of several categories:

  • Sole proprietors who operate the truck as a business and are personally liable for damages caused in an accident.
  • Independent contractors who are working for another business. Independent contractors may be treated as sole proprietors from a legal liability standpoint, but their liability will be subject to the terms of their relationship with the “client” business.
  • Employees of a trucking company.

Regardless of the legal form of the relationship between the truck driver and the trucking business, the injured plaintiff’s attorneys will probably seek compensation from the business as well as, or instead of, the truck’s driver. The business may have good arguments for why it is not responsible for the driver’s negligence, but in a typical situation a business is responsible for the wrongdoing of its agents, regardless of whether the agents are independent contractors or employees.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, please give us a call today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.