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Seeking Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident in Nevada

Nevada law imposes significant penalties on those who drive drunk, and for good reason. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 30 people die every day in the United States in crashes related to drunk driving. Many more than that are injured by drunk drivers every day. The consequences can be devastating for those who are injured and for their families.

Drunk driving is a crime, punishable in Nevada by a jail term of up to 6 months and a fine for first time offenders. Someone who kills another person as a consequence of drunk driving faces significantly harsher penalties. For the victim of a drunk driving crash, a criminal prosecution may offer solace in some regard, but it won’t necessarily pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and other damages associated with injuries.

Even if state prosecutors are pressing charges against a drunk driver, an injured victim (or the victim’s family, if the victim has died or is incapacitated) can sue in civil court for financial compensation. Such a lawsuit probably will seek recovery from the drunk driver’s insurance company, but more than likely will also seek to recover additional damages from the driver personally.

A drunk driver can be sued in civil court regardless of whether prosecutors will press charges, and regardless of whether the drunk driver is found guilty. Criminal courts have higher standards for conviction than the standards applied in civil courts for purposes of determining liability. A criminal conviction of a defendant is conclusive evidence of civil liability in Nevada. NRS 41.133. If a defendant has been convicted of a drunk driving offense, the questions in the civil case may turn to the extent of the damages for which the defendant should be held responsible.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in auto accident cases. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your options. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Are You Unhappy with Your Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorney-client relationship is one of the most intimate non-family relationships one can have. An attorney is ethically bound to provide zealous, passionate representation to every client. The client, meanwhile, is entitled to ask questions and raise concerns. Sometimes a client finds that an attorney isn’t providing the kind of service that the client expects or isn’t getting the results the client believes are possible. In those cases, it can make sense for the client to find a new attorney.

Reasons why a client might want to switch

Someone who is in the midst of pursuing a legal claim for a personal injury can be under a lot of pressure, whether from the costs related to the injury, its effect on their personal life, or the impacts on the client’s job. It is important that the relationship with the attorney not also be a source of problems. Clients may want to move on from an attorney who is adding to stress by being rude, belligerent, or intimidating.

Clients may also want to move on from an attorney that they believe has committed an ethical violation. An ethical violation might involve a breach of the attorney-client confidential relationship, whether in court or in the course of negotiating a settlement. A violation might also involve a mishandling of funds, or a conflict of interest such as a simultaneous relationship with a party who is adverse to the client.

Reasons not to switch

The most important reason for a client to stick with the attorney they start with is to avoid lengthy delays and potentially undermining their case. A new attorney will need to come up to speed on everything that has happened, potentially taking significant time to re-analyze issues that the previous attorney had already studied. The court may allow for a short delay while the new attorney gets up to speed, but a judge probably won’t allow a plaintiff to inconvenience the defense for very long.

A less clear case but one that deserves attention is where the client simply feels that the attorney isn’t getting as much as the client believes is possible to achieve out of the case. Clients rarely have the training and knowledge required to fully evaluate the merits of a case or the kinds of damages that are achievable in court or through settlements. Leaving an attorney for another one solely because that attorney tells you what you want to hear may not be a good strategy. In fact, the attorney who promises the moon probably is overselling the case.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. We strive to provide personal, caring service to each and every client, regardless of the size of the case. If you have been injured and would like to speak to an attorney about your legal options, call us today for a free consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Infertility Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Infertility can be a shocking side effect of many types of personal injury. Whether as a consequence of direct physical injury, or due to necessary courses of treatment, infertility may be a significant contributing factor in a person’s post-injury recovery. Someone who was planning to have children and no longer can, or who must now go through expensive fertility treatments to do so, may have the option of adding those issues to a list of demands in litigation.

Infertility as a form of damages

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured plaintiff demands compensation for the damages associated with the injury that can be attributed to the defendant’s bad behavior. Plaintiffs typically base their claims on a range of well understood things like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. A lawsuit may also seek recovery for so-called noneconomic damages, like a plaintiff’s suffering. Infertility can be a factor in both types of damages.

This is because infertility can have elements that are relatively easy or relatively difficult to quantify. On the one hand are cases where an injury forces the plaintiff to undergo expensive fertility treatments or psychological therapy to overcome emotional trauma specifically stemming from loss of fertility. The costs of such treatments have clear sources. On the other hand, the plaintiff’s emotional suffering may have an abstract dimension as well. The costs of losing the ability to have a child can in many ways be more abstract than concrete.

The problems of proof

To receive compensation for any type of damages a plaintiff in a personal injury case must be able to prove the damages with reasonable certainty. Infertility is an example of an injury that raises challenges of proof for a plaintiff. There are several reasons why this can be so, including these:

  • Causation. A plaintiff’s fertility problems may have more than one cause. In cases where a clear line can’t be drawn between the plaintiff’s infertility and the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff will need additional resources, such as the testimony of a medical expert. Likewise, a defendant likely will try to raise doubts about whether the plaintiff has proven the case, for example by asking for evidence that the plaintiff had no fertility problems prior to the injury.
  • Emotional harm is harder to prove. For plaintiffs who seek damages for suffering of any kind, issues of proof can raise extra challenges. Infertility may raise especially difficult questions, as plaintiffs may need to “prove” their interest in having children and how infertility has affected them. A plaintiff’s attorney can take steps to protect the client from overzealous defense lawyers, but ultimately the client will need to decide whether pursuing these sorts of damages is worth the emotional cost.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and auto accident litigation. We are proud of our firm’s long history of providing clients with complete, personal service.  For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Funeral Home Negligence in Nevada

Funeral homes play an important role in helping families grieve for the loss of a loved one. The scope of their duties can extend well beyond just providing a space for holding memorial services, including services relating to the preparation and storage of remains, cremation, and advice regarding statutory requirements. A funeral home is subject to regulation by the Nevada Board of Funeral & Cemetery Services. In the midst of a challenging emotional time, a funeral home’s negligence can cause significant disruptions, both emotionally and financially, to a family.

Examples of funeral home negligence have been in the news lately. They cover a broad range of sometimes shocking behaviors by funeral homes that through inattention or outright fraud have created emotionally devastating circumstances for their clients. Examples have included homes that have mishandled the remains of deceased clients, such as not keeping them properly stored so that they begin to decompose. Other funeral homes have been caught storing bodies that they claimed were cremated. Still others have been discovered trying to cover up serious mistakes, like burying someone in the wrong plot.

A family that discovers wrongdoing like this can be left with deep feelings of anguish, in addition to potentially facing additional costs associated with correcting problems caused by the funeral home. In some circumstances a family that is dealing with such trauma can sue to recover compensation for the costs associated with a family’s suffering, therapy, and recovery.

Many funeral homes will ask their clients to sign contracts that contain some form of liability waiver for routine problems that can arise during the mortuary process. For example, contracts for a cremation may specify that a funeral home is not responsible for removing personal property like rings before cremation begins. It’s important for families to review these contracts with care and understand what their obligations are to avoid small but painful misunderstandings.

No contract can waive a funeral home’s liability for gross negligence or willful misconduct. In serious cases, such as the examples involving “lost” bodies, a family should not feel intimidated by a contract’s terms. Personal injury attorneys can review the facts of the case, including the terms of a contract, to help families understand their options.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide compassionate, caring service to each of our clients. We have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases for over four decades. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

How Much is Your Lost Career Worth?

A serious injury can have devastating consequences for a person’s work life. Someone who can’t continue a promising career because of a serious injury is often forced to start again, either to develop new skills or perhaps to quit work altogether. In the course of developing the claims that go into a personal injury lawsuit, and in the course of negotiating a settlement, the plaintiff needs to have a good basis for calculating the value of the injury’s impacts on the plaintiff’s work and career.

Fairness dictates that plaintiffs must have a reliable basis for the damages they claim in a lawsuit. Among other things, a plaintiff must support a claim of damages with evidence, which may include financial records and other historical information, as well as expert testimony from an accountant who specializes in helping litigants calculate damages. Accountants will take into consideration a number of factors to arrive at a reasonable estimate of a plaintiff’s lost earning potential. These include:

  • The plaintiff’s age. The younger a plaintiff was at the time of an injury, the longer into the future a serious injury must be projected.
  • The plaintiff’s work history. Any projection of future earnings must be based in part on past performance.
  • The injury’s prognosis. If a plaintiff is expected to make a full or partial recovery, based on a physician’s diagnosis, that will be an important consideration in determining how much the defendant should be expected to pay.
  • Other compensation the plaintiff will receive. Typically, a plaintiff’s compensation from a defendant will be offset by other forms of compensation, like disability insurance. Such insurance rarely covers the entire scope of a plaintiff’s losses, so a plaintiff can seek to “top up” from the defendant.
  • Statistical averages. Every plaintiff is unique, but when an injury derails a career it is often helpful to reference the average career arc of other people in similar lines of work. For example, someone who is injured early in a career should be granted recovery for a reasonably foreseeable progression of promotions, job changes, and other things that could be expected to impact earnings potential over time if an injury hadn’t intervened.
  • Discounts for projected setbacks. In addition to using projected progress, an accountant also needs to allow for the possibility of negative events that could impact a plaintiff’s career over time. Things like the likelihood of future illness and even projections of changes to a plaintiff’s industry could be included as factors.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Accounting for the Anguish of a Child After an Accident

A major auto accident or other event that causes significant personal injuries can be traumatic for everyone involved. Children can be especially affected. A child can suffer a variety of psychological effects. These effects can have long-term consequences, especially if the child suffers a traumatic injury, witnesses another person being injured, or, in perhaps the most tragic cases, loses a parent in the accident. In a personal injury lawsuit following such a traumatic event, the child (or the child’s representative) can seek compensation for the child’s suffering.

Seeking compensation for a child’s suffering

A child’s psychological trauma can be accounted for in a number of ways by a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. As a preliminary matter, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove a causal connection between the defendant’s negligence, or other wrongdoing, and the child’s trauma. Causation may seem like a fairly simple issue, but in some cases it can raise challenging evidentiary questions. Testimony from a child’s psychiatric and pediatric doctors, family members, and other caregivers may be needed to develop a reliable picture of how the accident caused the child’s difficulties.

To recover any kind of damages they must be capable of being reduced to a dollar value and must be proven. Psychological harm may have two components: one concrete, one abstract. Concrete, or in legal terms economic damages, are those that have a clear cash value. These might include the costs associated with a child’s therapy. Once the question of causation is answered, proving economic damages may involve providing invoices and other records for past expenses, and potentially the assistance of an accountant or medical professional who can provide an estimate of potential future costs of a similar kind.

Abstract or noneconomic damages seek recovery for things like suffering and pain. Noneconomic damages can be significantly greater than economic damages in some cases. Plaintiffs’ attorneys use established methods for determining how much value to place on noneconomic damages. In a case that goes before a jury, the jury will ultimately determine the amount of noneconomic damages that will be awarded.

In some cases the amount of economic and noneconomic damages that a plaintiff can recover may be limited by statute. For example, in a professional negligence case (such as a medical malpractice case against a doctor or hospital) the maximum noneconomic damages that can be recovered is $350,000.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. If your child has suffered serious psychological trauma as a consequence of being in an accident, we can help you examine your options for recovering just compensation. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Can an Accident Witness Sue for Psychological Trauma?

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

The practical challenges of psychological injury

Someone who has suffered a mental health setback can require specialized care, potentially including medication, potentially for a long time. This kind of treatment can be very expensive but may be required to sustain the person’s long-term physical health. Getting compensated for these costs is important.

There are several reasons why a psychological injury may pose challenges for an injured plaintiff in a personal injury case. The first is diagnosis. Psychological injuries can be difficult to identify, let alone treat. In the immediate aftermath of an accident the victim’s physical injuries likely will give rise to significant costs and hardship. The victim may not even be aware of the psychological damage that he or she has suffered until sometime later.

Another potential problem for plaintiffs is proof. A plaintiff must be able to prove damages with reasonable certainty in order to recover compensation for them. Psychological injuries can give rise to a “battle of the experts” in the courtroom, as the defense tries to discredit or undermine the plaintiff’s claims related to these “unobservable” injuries.

Psychological harm and insurance

In accidents covered by insurance, like car crashes, a key question is whether the at-fault person’s insurance policy will cover treatment for mental health consequences of the accident. Many general liability policies are drafted to cover “bodily injury,” which they very specifically define to exclude psychological injury such as mental anguish, suffering, or specific conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Although an insurance company has a legal obligation to provide coverage for injuries that fall within the scope of its policies, it will closely scrutinize claims and deny anything that falls outside the policy.

This limitation has important consequences for people who hope to recover full compensation for their injuries from the at-fault party’s insurance policy. The injured plaintiff may need to pursue compensation from other sources, such as the personal assets of the at-fault individual.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We can help you examine your legal options to recover compensation for psychological injuries. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Gross Negligence in Nevada Personal Injury Cases

A personal injury lawsuit usually involves making a claim of negligence against a defendant. For negligence to apply, the defendant must have breached a legal duty of care owed to the plaintiff. Many legal duties require a person to act reasonably with respect to some hazard: a driver is expected to take reasonable care to drive safely, a homeowner is expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries to guests. In an ordinary personal injury case, the reasonableness standard can lead to close calls, requiring careful argumentation and a close analysis of the facts of the injury.

Sometimes a personal injury results from behavior that is well beyond what anyone could term “reasonable.” In such cases a plaintiff can pursue a claim of gross negligence, which is distinguished from ordinary negligence by the availability of punitive damages to a successful plaintiff.

In many respects a gross negligence case is no different from an ordinary negligence case. The plaintiff still has the burden of proving each of the elements of negligence in order to prevail. The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care, as determined by statute, regulation, or legal precedent. The defendant must have breached that duty of care, and as a consequence of that breach the plaintiff must have suffered a harm that can be compensated through the legal process.

A claim of gross negligence must be supported by an additional set of facts laid on top of the ordinary negligence case. In 1941’s Hart v. Kline case, the Nevada Supreme Court explained gross negligence as “an act or omission respecting legal duty of an aggravated character as distinguished from a mere failure to exercise ordinary care. It is very great negligence, or the absence of slight diligence, or the want of even scant care.”

In essence, gross negligence is behavior that falls just below an intentional act to hurt someone. This is an important distinction for plaintiffs, who don’t need to prove the intent of the defendant. Instead, they need only show that the defendant’s behavior reflected an indifference toward the potential risks posed to others.

A plaintiff in a gross negligence case can seek compensation for damages related to the injury, such as medical bills and consideration for pain. The prevailing plaintiff can also ask the court to grant punitive damages. Punitive damages may be granted in cases where the court determines that the defendant’s actions were so wrongful that the defendant should be required to pay what is effectively a punishment. Punitive damages are intended to send a signal to the rest of the world, to deter the behavior that led to the plaintiff’s injury. Note that statutes sometimes limit the availability of punitive damages, or limit how large a punitive damages award can be.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. If you have been injured by someone’s gross negligence, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

How Fault is Determined in Nevada Auto Accidents

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

Accidents typically happen due to negligence

Like many personal injury cases, a car accident often happens because at least one driver was acting negligently. In Nevada every driver has a duty to operate his or her vehicle in a careful manner. This duty is owed to other drivers and their passengers, as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else who happens to be on or near the roadway. For negligence to apply, the duty to drive with care must have been breached, and as a consequence of the breach the plaintiff suffered an injury.

In some accidents, determining fault is a fairly straightforward matter. If a driver who was involved in the accident was breaking a law or regulation at the time of the accident, that driver may be said to have been committing negligence per se. This moves the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defense and makes a successful outcome for the plaintiff significantly more likely. Examples of this sort of behavior might include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, running a red light, or speeding.

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

A truism says that in an accident there’s always an element of blame shared between everyone involved. The assumption is that even an injured bystander might have done things differently to prevent the accident or at least reduce the harm done. For legal purposes, the reality is that some accidents are entirely the fault of one driver. But there are cases were blame can be spread around, least to a degree.

Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. This standard says that a court can reduce a plaintiff’s recovery from the defendant by the extent to which the plaintiff’s negligent actions contributed to causing the accident or the resulting damages. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault, the defendant can walk away without owing anything. As an example, if both the defendant and the plaintiff were speeding at the time of the accident, a jury may conclude that the plaintiff’s breaking the speed limit contributed 5% to the cause of the crash.

In any auto accident case involving serious personal injury, it’s important to consult with an attorney even if an insurance company appears to be handling the case the right way. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. Reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your accident. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

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

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

Insurance versus litigation

It’s important to note that not every auto accident leads to a lawsuit. One of the important rationales for requiring every driver in Nevada to have insurance is to provide a straightforward way to resolve questions of fault and financial liability after an accident. For relatively simple cases, where the only significant damage in a crash is to personal property (i.e., the cars involved), it may make sense to simply let the insurance claims process run its normal course.

Insurance companies prefer to resolve cases without litigation. For the insurer, this approach is cheaper and allows them to stay in control. A quick settlement offer is one way an insurer will try to manage its risk related to an accident. But in cases involving personal injury, the potential plaintiff needs to be careful about accepting a “deal” that is heavily lopsided in favor of the insurer.

Litigation can rebalance the distribution of power between the injured individual and the insurance companies involved in the case. Especially if the insurer for the at-fault driver is trying to escape liability for certain claims, filing a lawsuit can force it to negotiate in a fairer way. A lawsuit may also be required if there are complicated facts about the case that need to be hashed out through the litigation process. For example, if there is a serious dispute about whether the injured plaintiff bears some responsibility for the crash, it may be necessary to conduct discovery in a litigation setting.

Compensation available to car crash victims

The goal of filing a personal injury lawsuit following an accident is to recover financial compensation for the damages done by the at-fault driver. Damages fall into three categories:

  • Economic damages are consequences with clearly defined financial parameters. They include the cost of property damage, including damage to a car and other personal property. They also include medical bills incurred by the plaintiff, both in the past and projected into the future, as well as lost wages and other career impacts.
  • Noneconomic damages capture abstract consequences that get reduced to a dollar value through negotiation or jury deliberation. The value of an injured person’s pain, loss of enjoyment, and disfigurement are examples of common noneconomic damages.

Insurance policies are designed with economic damages in mind, in large part because they are fairly predictable, making them relatively simple to build into the cost of a policy. Noneconomic damages are different. They often need to be considered in light of a broad range of facts. An insurance policy may simply not cover such damages at all, leaving the at-fault driver personally liable for such damages. A plaintiff who wishes to pursue such damages needs to do so through litigation.

GGRM is a Las Vegas auto accident law firm

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