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Liability for Fires Caused by Household Chemicals

Improperly stored flammable materials can cause disasters. A backyard shed full of old gas cans or aerosol sprays could be a ticking time bomb, just waiting for an errant spark to set off a serious fire. When household chemicals cause a house fire, the effects can reach far beyond just the place where the fire starts. In some cases, not taking proper care of household chemicals can be grounds for liability for the damages that ensue from a fire.

A homeowner’s obligations to care for flammable materials

Outside of the context of deliberately set fires—the crime of arson—most lawsuits arising from fires are grounded in a theory of negligence. In simplified terms, a claim of negligence asserts that the defendant failed to comply with a legal duty, and as a consequence the plaintiff suffered an injury. A plaintiff must be able to show that all of the damages he or she claims were the result of the defendant’s negligent behaviors. A key question in any negligence case is what legal duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff. Everyone owes a general obligation to others to take reasonable steps to avoid creating risks of harm. This rule doesn’t mean that a homeowner can’t keep hazardous materials on hand. Keeping gasoline stored in a proper container in a garage or shed does not, in itself, create a problem. But keeping gasoline in an improper container may be a different matter. For example, someone who stores gas in an old milk jug may be allowing fumes to build up in the space that create an unreasonable risk of fire.

What liability can a fire create?

When a person’s negligence leads to a fire, the potential liability that person may bear can be quite broad. Specifically, liability may extend to every consequence of the fire. This can include:
  • Property damage caused by the fire, including damage to neighboring properties and the personal assets that are burned.
  • Personal injuries and deaths suffered by people who are caught in the fire.
  • The costs associated with fighting the fire.
These risks typically are on top of the responsible person’s private struggles in the aftermath of the fire. Someone who has flammable materials around doesn’t necessarily need to be reminded of the potential liability to others to know they need to take precautions to prevent fire. But when someone decides to ignore a private risk of fire, they often are also ignoring the risks that many others may bear.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

If you have been injured by a fire caused by another person’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney to begin assessing your legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our website.

Who Is Responsible for Injuries Caused by Fireworks?

Every year around the Fourth of July we hear stories about people being injured by fireworks. Some injuries result from foolish stunts, others from poor judgment, often involving alcohol. A report issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that children under the age of 15 accounted for nearly a third of fireworks-related injuries that were treated in emergency rooms in 2016. Young people in general (those 24 or younger) seem to be the most at-risk group for injury. The range of potential injury from fireworks extends from minor burns to loss of fingers, damaged eyes and ears, and in rare cases, death. Serious injuries that involve significant medical costs and other consequences, like impacts on a person’s ability to work, may give rise to a personal injury lawsuit. There are several components that may be relevant to a fireworks-related injury:
  • The negligence of the injured person. The extent to which the individual who was injured contributed to the injury will be a key question in any fireworks-related case. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant’s liability can be reduced by a percentage of fault that the fact-finder in the case (the jury or the judge) determines should be attributed to the plaintiff. For example, in a lawsuit against a store that sold defective fireworks, if the plaintiff knew about the defect, acknowledged its hazards, and used the fireworks anyway, that may reduce the defendant’s liability.
  • The source of the injury. Fireworks injuries can arise in a number of ways. The first variety that many will think of is the case of someone hand-holding an explosive firework despite the obvious danger of doing so. But other types of injury can arise due to defects in the manufacture of a product, such as a fuse that is too short or burns too fast, or inclusion of materials that burn at an especially unsafe temperature.
  • Did the defendant assume responsibility? In cases where a child is injured by a firework an adult may have assumed responsibility for keeping the child safe. An adult’s negligent supervision might involve giving a small child an unsafe product, encouraging unsafe behavior, and so on.
  • The chain of manufacture and distribution of a defective product. In cases where a person is injured by a product that might have been inherently unsafe, a products liability case may be warranted. In a products liability case the plaintiff may have a claim against anyone involved in the product’s manufacture or sale. Many fireworks are imported from overseas, making the original manufacturer difficult to pursue in litigation. But the store that sold the defective product can also be liable.
Every fireworks-related injury has unique facts and circumstances that a personal injury attorney should examine. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Contracting Hepatitis A in Public Venues

Since the introduction of the hepatitis A vaccine in the mid-1990s the disease has seen a significant decline in the United States. But in recent years significant outbreaks have raised concerns that the disease is once again on the rise. An outbreak in San Diego recently caused 20 deaths and 592 cases. Several sources of hepatitis A have been identified, including the feces of infected persons, eating contaminated food imported from overseas, and drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis A is a serious illness that can take several months to resolve. Because it is a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective in treating it. Sufferers can endure a range of symptoms, from fever and fatigue to pain and even, in some cases, death. Preventing the disease’s spread requires a combination of strategies, including:
  • Adequate personal hygiene.
  • Compliance with water safety regulations, including chlorination standards for municipal water supplies.
  • Properly cooking food.
  • Sufficient cleaning of facilities like public toilets and other public spaces.
Contracting hepatitis A from a venue that has failed to take adequate care to keep its facilities clean could give rise to a personal injury lawsuit to help the patient cover the cost of treatment and other consequences of the disease. Places that are open to the public—restaurants, shopping malls, grocery stores, and so forth—owe a special duty of care to their visitors to maintain their facilities in a manner that ensures that they are safe for use. Regulatory regimes, enforced by government agencies rather than individual civil lawsuits, further impose sanitation requirements that are designed to minimize the spread of communicable diseases. A key challenge for a plaintiff in a case like this is going to be the issue of evidence. An expert’s analysis likely will be necessary to trace the source of the disease to a specific place. The hepatitis A virus can survive for months outside the body, making it possible that direct evidence of the presence of the disease at a location can be recovered. In some cases, an outbreak involving multiple patients might be traced through their distinct stories to a single location. Potential plaintiffs can examine the facts of their case with their doctor and an attorney to determine if a case can be made. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury cases in the Las Vegas area. If you have contracted hepatitis A and would like to examine your legal options for pursuing compensation, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Falls from Ladders: Who Is Liable?

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

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

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

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Case After a Child’s Death

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

Common Sources of Infant Head Injuries

It’s commonly understood that an infant’s skull, and therefore the infant’s brain as well, is extremely delicate for the first year to year and a half of life. Before the skull fully knits together and hardens, an infant’s brain is vulnerable to serious injury that can have life-long consequences. For the infant and his or her parents, such injuries create lasting challenges and heartache. There are several sources of infant head injuries, many, but not all, related to falls:
  • Parental mistake. A clumsy mistake while holding an infant can lead to terrible injuries. That’s why parents need to take special care when lifting and holding their infants. Parents can make a variety of other mistakes, like leaving a child on a bed without adequately ensuring that the child can’t roll off or trying to sit a child in a seat that isn’t appropriate.
  • Professional caregiver negligence. Many parents rely on professional or semi-professional caregivers, like nannies or day care providers, to look after infants. When an infant is injured in a caregiver’s care, parents may have the option of suing the caregiver to recover compensation. Licensed and insured day care centers will have coverage for such lawsuits and likely will have greater resources to pay an award than an individual who is working as a nanny.
  • Negligence by a nurse or doctor. Nurses and doctors who work with infants are specially trained to prevent injuries. When an injury does occur, the professional who causes it may have committed professional negligence. A professional negligence claim must be supported by the sworn affidavit of a professional in a similar line of work as the defendant, who confirms his or her independent opinion that the defendant did not use reasonable care ordinarily used in similar circumstances by other similarly trained and experienced professionals. This affidavit requirement imposes an extra hurdle on parents who might want to sue a doctor, nurse, or hospital.
  • Car accidents. Unfortunately, even with advances in child safety seats car crashes can still lead to serious brain trauma in infants. In some cases, the injured infant wasn’t properly secured in the seat, while in others the seat was defective, improperly installed, or inappropriate for the age or weight of the child. Each of these scenarios will involve different legal issues, such as whether the car seat manufacturer bears liability for selling a defective product. If the accident was caused by another driver, that driver may use problems with an infant’s car seat as a partial defense against liability.
A serious brain injury to an infant is a terrible event to face as a parent. It can be helpful to work with a caring and respectful attorney to explore legal options for recovering compensation for medical bills and suffering. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. Call us today for a free attorney consultation about your case at 702-388-4476 or reach out to us through our contacts page.

Water Features Pose Significant Risk to Children

Las Vegas is home to some of the most iconic urban water features in the country. Especially at night, when the water is lit up, big fountains can be an impressive show. Of course, the big fountains aren’t the only water features one can find in and around Las Vegas. More modest fountains and other water features, like a koi pond, are everywhere. Small children, who are attracted to water, can suffer serious injuries, including death, if they fall into a water feature and aren’t rescued in time.

Premises liability for water features

Homeowners and businesses alike owe certain obligations to guests to maintain their properties in reasonably safe condition. For a business that maintains a water feature that is accessible to the public, reasonable steps to keep the water feature safe might include:
  • Active, 24-hour video monitoring.
  • Maintaining fences and other barriers to prevent access.
  • Having personnel on site with training to respond to a drowning emergency.
Note that liability for a water feature can extend even to places that are not accessible to the public. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, a property owner can be held liable for injuries suffered by a child who trespasses onto a property in order to gain access to a water feature, like a pool or private fountain. Property owners are required to take active steps to ensure that a child who trespasses onto their property to use an “attractive” feature is protected from injury, such as by ensuring that a barrier is in place or by covering the water feature when not in use.

What role does a parent’s supervision play?

Parents of small children should always keep a close eye on their kids when they are around water. This is true for all children, but especially those who don’t know how to swim or keep themselves safe in the water. Always bear in mind that water features that aren’t intended for human use probably have slippery bottoms, making rescues more difficult. Parents who allow their children to wander off to a water feature without adequate oversight may face a defense of contributory negligence in any ensuing personal injury case. The defense may argue that the parents disregarded the potential danger to their child and therefore should be at least partially responsible for the child’s resulting injuries. Additional facts, like warning signs or evidence that the parent was aware of the risk but ignored it, could work in the defense’s favor.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury a litigation. Our practice focuses on providing caring service to each and every client. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Can a Dog Bite Victim be Blamed?

Many dog attacks feel like they happened out of the blue, when a seemingly docile animal suddenly turns aggressive. Sometimes the facts of a dog bite lend themselves to the argument that the bite victim caused the dog’s aggression or failed to act appropriately when a dog began showing signs of agitation. Such arguments in the legal context are called contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence under Nevada law

When a defendant in a personal injury case raises the contributory negligence defense, his or her goal is to transfer at least some of the blame for the plaintiff’s injury back onto the plaintiff. Contributory negligence can apply even if the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injury. It asserts that the plaintiff was also negligent in some way, and as a consequence of the plaintiff’s negligence the plaintiff’s injury occurred, or was made worse than otherwise would have been the case had the plaintiff not acted negligently. Negligence is a legal standard that applies when someone owes another person a legal duty of care and fails to meet that duty in some way. For example, a legal standard might state that individuals have an obligation to behave reasonably around dogs so as to prevent injuries to themselves and others. Nevada applies a modified contributory negligence rule. Under it, a plaintiff’s recovery against the defendant will be reduced by a percentage of fault that is assigned by a court to the plaintiff’s negligence. If the plaintiff is judged to have been 50% or more responsible for the injury, then the defendant will not be held liable for any damages.

What constitutes contributory negligence in a dog bite case?

Every dog bite case is different. A host of important facts can determine the course of the case. Those facts might include the sex and breed of the dog, the location of the event, whether or not the defendant (typically but not always the dog’s owner) was in breach of dog safety laws at the time, and so forth. Given all the variables it is difficult to describe for certain when contributory negligence might apply. In general contributory negligence may arise in a dog bite case where the plaintiff did something to provoke the dog. Typically a provocative act is something more than just acting in self defense. In other words, a person who responds to a dog barking aggressively at them by waving a stick at the dog might simply be protecting themselves, but someone who teases the dog or actively begins to attack it might be inviting aggressive behavior. Likewise, if the plaintiff disregards a “Beware of Dog” sign, or is committing an unrelated wrongful act, like trespassing, a contributory negligence defense might be more likely to apply.

GGRM is a Las Vegas dog bite injury law firm

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 dog bite cases. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite and you aren’t sure how contributory negligence might factor into your case, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

When Should a Personal Injury Plaintiff Appeal?

In rare circumstances a personal injury case may go all the way to trial, with a judge or jury making critical decisions about the liability of the defendant and determining how much the defendant should pay in compensation to the plaintiff. Cases fail to settle before trial for a variety of reasons, a common one being unreconcilable differences about key facts or interpretations of law that lead the two sides to very different ideas about how much the plaintiff’s claims are worth. After a trial is over and a jury reaches a decision, there are times when a plaintiff may want to file an appeal.

What an appeal can and can’t do

The party that files the appeal—the appellant—may be the defendant or the plaintiff. Nevada’s Rules of Appellate Procedure govern when and how appeals may be pursued. In an appeal the appellant asks the higher court to change part or all of the lower court’s decision, potentially throwing out the decision of the trial court and in some cases even ordering that the case be retried. Trial courts generally examine the decisions of lower courts for legal errors that could have influenced the outcome of the case. A key feature of appeals is that they are not retrials of the entire case. The appeals court will examine the evidence presented at the trial court, but will not allow either party to introduce new evidence. In other words, the case will be decided based on the facts that were established at trial. If a problem was allowed to remain on the record at the trial level, the appeals court may not have leeway to consider alternative evidence.

When is an appeal the right step?

The decision to appeal can be a complex and difficult one, in part because appeals must be made within a fairly short time following the final decision of the trial court. Appeals may require the expertise of a new attorney, one who is familiar with appellate practice. And of course, appeals can cost more money. There are cases where a plaintiff may wish to file an appeal anyway, because the stakes are high enough that pursuing a case to its fullest is worth the risks. Here are some scenarios where the plaintiff may want to appeal:
  • Improper instructions were given to a jury, which reached a key decision in reliance upon them.
  • The trial judge made errors in allowing or disallowing critical evidence.
  • There is evidence that the jury or judge was unlawfully biased against the plaintiff.

Work with an experienced Nevada personal injury attorney

Ideally a personal injury case won’t need to go as far as an appeal. If it happens it’s important that every part of the case leading up to the appeal has been handled competently. That’s another good reason for working with a law firm with deep experience handling personal injury cases. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Suing a Child Care Provider for Negligence in Nevada

Parents are right to expect safe and responsible practices by the daycare facilities where they leave their children. A properly licensed and legally compliant facility must follow numerous laws and regulations governing safety and staffing, all designed to reduce the chance that a child will suffer a serious injury. Ordinary bumps and scrapes might be expected, but when a child needs to be hospitalized after an injury, questions will arise about the extent to which the daycare is legally responsible. The short answer to such questions is usually, yes, the facility does bear responsibility. Responsible providers carry insurance to protect themselves, the children in their care, and their parents from suffering serious financial consequences in the event of a tragic accident. They also ensure that their staff are well qualified to take on the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the children in their care. There are numerous potential sources of injury to children at daycare facilities. Ideally, every facility takes steps to reduce or eliminate sources of risk, but financial constraints, inattention, or inadequate skill can leave hazards unresolved. Examples of sources of injury include:
  • Improperly maintained equipment
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Inattention to food allergies
  • Improper response to an injury
  • Negligent hiring practices
In extreme cases, a daycare’s employee may have committed neglect or abuse that could give rise to a criminal investigation. The more common cause of action for an individual plaintiff will probably be negligence. A daycare that fails to meet its statutory requirements, or that fails to take reasonable care to protect children from injury, may be said to have committed negligence. Each case needs to be evaluated according to its own facts. In some cases a daycare’s staff may be reluctant to explain what happened, or may tell stories that the child disagrees with. One challenge in such cases is overcoming the staff’s reluctance to be held responsible for its own mistakes. An experienced attorney knows how to overcome these issues. 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.