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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.

Legal Options Following the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse in an accident is among the most stressful life events. The surviving spouse endures significant emotional harm, and often has to deal with significant financial challenges as well. In cases where the spouse’s death was the result of another person’s negligence or happened at work, the survivor should consult with an attorney to understand their legal options for pursuing compensation that will ease the practical consequences of his or her loss.

Suing for wrongful death claim in Nevada

When a spouse’s death was caused by another person’s negligence the survivor may have the option of suing for damages under the legal concept of wrongful death. Wrongful death is a cause of action that can only be brought by the heirs or legal representatives (typically, estate attorneys) of a person who died as a consequence of a negligent act. Negligence is the backbone of many personal injury cases. It applies when the defendant owed a duty of care toward the deceased person and failed to meet that duty of care, and as a consequence of that failure caused the injuries that led to the deceased person’s death. Duties of care are defined by law, either in statutes or in the long tradition of court cases. An auto accident often involves an act of negligence. For example, a person who runs a red light has committed negligence by failing to obey traffic laws. A plaintiff in a wrongful death case can sue for damages that aren’t available in an ordinary personal injury case. Among other things, the plaintiff can pursue compensation for grief, loss of companionship, and loss of comfort. They can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased spouse. If the deceased spouse was also a major source of income for the family, the plaintiff can also pursue compensation for that loss of income.

Death at work

Potential plaintiffs should bear in mind that a death at work involves a different set of rules from other cases of negligence. A Nevada employer that is compliant with state laws will have workers’ compensation insurance to protect itself in the event that a worker dies on the job. Among other things, the rules around workers’ compensation prohibit most lawsuits against employers who are compliant with insurance requirements. Instead, the surviving spouse needs to apply for death benefits through the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. Just because the workers’ comp system protects employers doesn’t mean that there is no longer an option of filing a wrongful death claim against other parties who may bear responsibility. A personal injury attorney can examine the facts of the case to determine the extent to which the workers’ compensation bar against lawsuits applies. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients seek compensation for personal injuries. Our practice is centered on providing caring, compassionate service to every client. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Who Can Collect on Wrongful Death Claims?

When a person dies due to another person’s negligence the legal system offers a number of responses. Any time someone causes another person’s death there will be a criminal investigation, which may result in prosecution by the state. Depending on the facts of the tragedy, the responsible person might be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. The criminal prosecution may result in jail time for the defendant. In some circumstances the criminal court may also order the defendant to pay financial restitution to the deceased person’s estate.

The criminal justice system does not fully compensate victims

The criminal justice system’s ability to compensate victims is limited in a number of important ways. Criminal courts are constrained in the kinds of financial compensation they are allowed to grant to victims of crime. Convicted criminals can be ordered to pay restitution for economic damages, which includes things like medical costs, funeral expenses, and lost earnings. But a criminal court cannot order the defendant to pay compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, or the emotional and life-altering harms suffered by the victim’s family. Criminal prosecutions may fail to serve the interests of victims in other ways. Prosecutors may prefer to save resources and reach a plea deal that leaves out restitution altogether. The prosecution may take a long time. And due to the high standards required for conviction, the defendant may be acquitted.

Wrongful death offers family members a path to compensation

A civil claim for wrongful death is often an appropriate remedy for qualified plaintiffs who want financial compensation from the person responsible for causing another person’s death. A claim for wrongful death can seek compensation for a range of harms related to the death. In addition to economic losses associated with the deceased’s injuries, plaintiffs can also pursue compensation for their grief, loss of support, loss of companionship, and the pain and suffering of the deceased. These categories often capture significant losses. Nevada law provides that only certain people have standing to bring a wrongful death claim. Two categories of people have standing. The first category is the deceased person’s personal representative. This typically means an estate lawyer or executor. The second category covers the deceased person’s legal heirs. These are the people identified in a will or, if there was no will, by applying default rules. Wrongful death lawsuits can unwittingly give rise to conflicts among heirs and personal representatives, each of whom may have valid claims. This can be especially problematic if the defendant’s resources are limited. Ideally everyone involved in the lawsuit will agree upon the suit’s goals and how any financial awards will be allocated among them. If the plaintiffs have significant disagreements, especially if there is a significant potential recovery available, the parties may need to hire separate attorneys and negotiate a coordinated strategy amongst themselves.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has been committed to giving our clients the personal, caring attention they deserve. We represent clients in cases involving personal injury, including wrongful death. We work closely with clients to relieve them of the burden of protecting their interests and defending the legacy of their loved ones. For a free attorney consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or contact us through our website.

Suing for Dialysis Treatment Mistakes in Nevada

People who suffer from kidney problems often need to resort to dialysis treatment to preserve their health. Dialysis involves running the patient’s blood through a machine that replaces the filtering function ordinarily performed by the kidneys. Depending on the type of dialysis a patient receives, the process may be repeated anywhere from once or more per day to two or three times a week. In the course of treatment complications can arise that can lead to serious health problems or even death. In some cases the mistakes that lead to such complications can form the basis of a lawsuit for professional negligence.

What are the risks of dialysis?

There are three types of dialysis. The most common, hemodialysis, uses a machine outside the patient’s body. Peritoneal dialysis involves an implanted catheter that allows waste materials to be filtered through a membrane in the abdomen. A third type, continuous renal replacement therapy, is an in-patient procedure for patients with acute kidney failure. Each type of dialysis involves some form of surgery, to implant a catheter or other medical equipment that will allow blood or waste to be removed from the body. There are a range of common complications from dialysis treatment. Many complications are an unavoidable side effect of the treatment itself. For patients undergoing hemodialysis, problems like low blood pressure, anemia, and cramping are common. As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection at the entry site.

Potential mistakes during dialysis

Some complications from a procedure like dialysis may be unavoidable, but others are caused by mistakes by the medical professionals administering the treatment. For a mistake to serve as the basis of a lawsuit in Nevada the plaintiff must prove a number of things, including that the defendant failed to use the reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care. NRs 41A.015. In the case of dialysis, such mistakes might include:
  • Failure to operate the dialysis machine in accordance with manufacturer specifications or in accordance with physician instructions.
  • Improper sanitation procedures that result in infections.
  • Failure to adequately maintain equipment in safe operating condition.
  • Improper administration of medications.
  • Failure to adequately monitor the patient during the course of treatment.
Someone who is injured by a mistake like this may require immediate emergency medical attention. In addition to the costs of emergency care, the patient is likely to suffer both physically and emotionally. It is often a good idea to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following discovery of a significant medical error to determine if there is a case for seeking compensation for such injuries.

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 or a loved one has been injured due to mistakes during dialysis treatment 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.

Negligence in the Delivery Room

Mistakes made during the delivery of a newborn can be especially devastating for the long-term health of the child and the emotional wellbeing of the parents. The delivery process involves many steps during which mistakes may be made by doctors and other hospital staff:
  • Anesthesia administered to the mother during labor or in connection with a cesarean birth can lead to numerous complications that require immediate response.
  • Hospital staff handle the baby at various stages, including at the delivery itself and for post-delivery baths, weigh-ins, and so on.
  • Newborns may require special care after delivery to address common problems like fluid in the lungs (common after C-section births) or misshapen skulls. Children born early may require significantly more intervention.
In Nevada professional negligence is the most common cause of action for serious mistakes made in the delivery room. Professional negligence, defined and governed by NRS Chapter 41A, covers the kind of mistakes that one might ordinarily think of as “medical malpractice.” It can be brought against a licensed provider of health care, such as a doctor, for his or her failure “to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care.” NRS 41A.015. Among other things, a plaintiff in a professional negligence case needs to provide the court with an affidavit of an expert in the defendant’s field attesting to the negligence of the defendant. For example, if the defendant is an anesthesiologist who improperly administered pain medication to the mother and caused complications with the birth as a result, the plaintiff will need to find another anesthesiologist willing to analyze the facts of the case and provide sworn written testimony affirming that the defendant’s actions didn’t meet professional standards. Professionals throughout the medical field supplement their income by serving as expert witnesses in this capacity. Damages in professional negligence lawsuits can include reimbursement for costs associated with remedial medical care, which in some cases may go on for many years. Plaintiffs may also be able to recover compensation for other costs related to the injury, such as a parent’s lost earnings as a consequence of taking extended time off work to care for an injured child. Nevada law caps noneconomic damages, such as for a child’s pain and suffering or a parent’s emotional distress, at $350,000. NRS 41A.035. Parents should note that they have three years from the date of the injury, or one year from the injury’s discovery, to file a civil claim in Nevada for professional negligence. NRS 41A.097(2). In the most tragic circumstances, where a hospital’s negligence leads to the death of the infant, parents may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is still based on the negligence of the defendant, but unlike professional negligence a wrongful death claim is not subject to damages caps with respect to noneconomic damages like the plaintiff’s grief or the pain and suffering of the infant. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury and professional negligence cases. If you have suffered harm during the delivery of a child please feel free to reach out to us today for a no-cost attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Water Parks and Personal Injury

Water parks pose a range of potential risks for visitors. Wet surfaces are often slippery and can cause slip-and-fall accidents. Fast-moving water slides can cause users to collide with objects or each other. And water always poses a risk of drowning. The water park may bear legal responsibility for some injuries suffered by guests.

Water parks owe a high duty of care to guests

Every business owes its visitors a special legal duty to keep its premises reasonably safe for use. That means that a water park has a special obligation to ensure that its facilities are safely maintained. A water park’s failure to address a safety problem may give rise to a premises liability claim. Examples might include broken equipment, unaddressed slip risks, inadequate sanitation, or repairs that do not adequately restore a feature to a safe condition. A facility’s violation of laws or regulations can improve the likelihood of a lawsuit’s success. Water facilities are subject to specific rules and regulations that govern their design and maintenance. For example, in Las Vegas the Southern Nevada Pool Code imposes requirements for any publicly accessible pool such as safely designed drainage, water quality standards, and proper surface care. Water parks are also required to have lifeguards regularly stationed where they can assist patrons in the event of an emergency. Lifeguards are required to hold certifications that qualify them to perform first aid and other life-saving procedures, as well as being able to rescue someone who has suffered an injury in the water.

Suing for wrongful death in drowning cases

Drowning is the worst-case scenario for a water park visitor. If someone should die from drowning at a water park and the park bears responsibility for the death, the person’s next-of-kin may have the option of suing for wrongful death. In a wrongful death suit the plaintiff can recover compensation for grief as well as other damages. The highly publicized case of the boy beheaded by a waterslide in Kansas City offers an example of probably the most extreme case of negligence by a water park. According to the prosecutor pursuing criminal action against the slide’s owners, the slide’s design made it inherently unsafe. One hopes that the Kansas City accident gives operators of water rides reason to pause before building extremely unsafe amusements, but given the competitive landscape one can expect businesses to continue to push the safety envelope.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury attorney about your case

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you or a loved one has been injured at a water park and you would like to find out what your legal options are, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Pool Lifeguards and Liability in Nevada

Lifeguards at pools are trained in various life-saving techniques so they can provide a rapid response in the event that a swimmer is injured in the pool. Like any trained safety professional, a lifeguard can make mistakes, sometimes with profoundly serious consequences for the person they are trying to save. In some cases a lifeguard may bear legal responsibility for his or her mistakes.

Nevada’s lifeguard requirements

To be employed as a lifeguard in Nevada one must first obtain a certification from one of several training programs in the state. The specific certification that is necessary to work in a venue is determined by the employer and local regulations. The certification programs all require applicants to demonstrate their strength as swimmers and mastery of basic first aid, including CPR. Some programs involve more training and tougher standards than others. For example, the American Lifeguard Association’s course covers detailed methods for rescuing people from water and has an especially high standard for swimming strength. Ongoing training is necessary to maintain a certification over time. In Las Vegas Section 4-302 of the Aquatic Facility Regulations of the Southern Nevada Health District require a lifeguard to be present during operating hours at pools that meet certain criteria. These criteria include:
  • Pools that allow unsupervised children under 14 years of age.
  • Any pool that will be used by a youth group.
  • Any pool that will be used for group athletic training or exercise programs.
  • Large pools (over 2000 square feet).
  • Pools with current, waterslides, diving boards.
  • Pools that charge an admission fee.

A lifeguard’s negligence

As certified professionals lifeguards owe a heightened duty of care to the people they supervise. In legal terms a lifeguard must take steps that a reasonable lifeguard would take under the circumstances to protect the safety of other swimmers. The “reasonable lifeguard” is a hypothetical person of similar experience and training, often constructed from testimony and objective professional standards. Significantly, a lifeguard has an affirmative obligation to help someone in trouble. A lifeguard or the lifeguard’s employer may be liable for injuries that a swimmer suffers under a range of circumstances. Here are a few:
  • The lifeguard fails to use his or her training to protect the swimmer from injury (for example, by failing to administer basic first aid to stabilize a broken limb).
  • The lifeguard was distracted and did not respond in a timely way to an emergency.
  • The employer hired someone who did not have the necessary certification.

Talk to a personal injury attorney about pool accidents

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured by a lifeguard’s negligence we are happy to discuss your legal options with you. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Potential Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

As a population, residents in a nursing home are especially at risk for abuse. The families and loved ones of nursing home residents should understand the signs of abuse so they can take steps to stop it. In some cases, it may be appropriate to pursue legal action to recover compensation for the suffering the abuser has caused. Abuse in a nursing home can take many forms. Some forms are more visible than others, and repeat abusers will often try to mask their wrongdoing in various ways, making detection that much harder. Regardless of the form abuse takes, one of the tell-tale signs that abuse may be occurring is an institution’s unwillingness to provide straightforward answers to questions about the wellbeing of a resident. Another red flag is if the nursing home does not allow a resident to be alone with family members or other visitors. In practical terms the forms of abuse can be grouped into several categories:
  • Physical abuse involves an intentional infliction of pain or injury upon a person’s body. Included within the notion of physical abuse are behaviors that affect the person’s wellbeing, such as withholding food (for example, as a form of punishment), or deliberately withholding prescribed medications or administering incorrect medications. Physical abuse may be immediately visible, in the form of bruises, cuts, or broken bones. If a nursing home is unlawfully restraining a resident the resident may have bruises or other injuries on wrists and ankles.
  • Emotional abuse can be more difficult to detect, especially in a person who has difficulty communicating, as is often the case with advanced dementia patients. Emotional abuse includes bullying behavior (yelling, insulting, terrorizing) as well as purposeful neglect and isolation. Signs of emotional abuse often come from context, where the victim behaves in strange ways, such as by being unusually withdrawn or uncommunicative, or by adopting repetitive tics.
  • Neglect is a distinct category of abuse that applies in situations where a caregiver, such as a nursing home, has expressly agreed to assume responsibility for elements of a person’s wellbeing and has failed to perform those services. If a nursing home is failing to provide contracted-for services, such as food, laundry services, cleaning, or bathing, it may be committing acts of neglect. Unlike physical or emotional abuse, the nature of neglect often hinges on the specific language of the contract governing the resident’s stay in a nursing home.
Nevada’s elder abuse law, NRS 41.1395, applies to abuse of people who are 60 years of age or older, whether they live in a residential community or not. In some situations plaintiffs under the law can recover double damages and may also qualify for separate reimbursement of legal fees. Every personal injury case requires careful consideration of facts, and elder abuse is no different. What can set elder abuse apart, especially with an institution as the potential defendant, is the added layer (or layers) of resistance and lack of cooperation one can expect to encounter, especially if a nursing home is committing unlawful acts that could threaten its ability to attract new clients or put its licensure at risk. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in matters of personal injury. If your loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home and you would like to discuss your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Home Defense Rights in Nevada

Home Defense in Nevada
When a criminal breaks into your home, the last thing you’re likely to think about is the potential legal liability that could come with taking aggressive steps to defend yourself, your family, and your property. From time to time stories appear about a homeowner being charged with murder or sued for civil damages after shooting a trespasser. Nevadans can benefit from understanding how state law defines the rights of a person to use deadly force to defend their home from intruders.

Elements of “justified homicide” in Nevada

Nevada law provides that it is not a crime to use deadly force against persons who “manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter the occupied habitation or occupied vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.” NRS 200.120. The clear intention of this rule is that the use of firearms to protect one’s home is permitted, though other forms of deadly force, such as knives, will also be protected. It has two key elements that are worth noting.
  1. The behavior of the person being defended against must be “violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious.” The statute does not provide blanket authority for homeowners to shoot at someone who peacefully comes to the front door.
  2. The purpose of the trespass is a relevant fact. For example, if someone trespasses onto another person’s property to retrieve a mishandled ball or fetch a stray dog, the statute may not protect the homeowner who uses deadly force in the mistaken belief that they are under attack. On the other hand, a jury may conclude that the homeowner behaved reasonably under the circumstances—for example, if the person was behaving “surreptitiously” rather than announcing their presence in a responsible way.
Nevada’s “stand your ground” law, codified in NRS 200.120(2), applies to the home defense scenario insofar as a person is entitled to use deadly force in self defense provided that he or she is not the original aggressor. Going back to the example of the person coming to the front door in a peaceable way: a homeowner who initiates an aggressive exchange by threatening the visitor with a gun is not entitled to use deadly force if the visitor then draws a concealed weapon that she is lawfully carrying for self-defense purposes.

A home defender’s fear must be “reasonable”

To lawfully use deadly force a person must show “that the circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person and that the person killing really acted under the influence of those fears.” NRS 200.130. The law provides two specific circumstances where home defenders have the benefit of a rebuttable presumption that their fear was reasonable:
  • The defender knew or reasonably believed that the person who was killed was entering unlawfully and with force, or attempting to do so; the defender knew or reasonably believed that the person who was killed was committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence; and the defender did not provoke the person who was killed. NRS 200.130(2).
  • While lawfully in his or her own residence or place of lodging, such as a hotel room, the defender uses deadly force against a person who is committing burglary or home invasion, or threatens use of a deadly weapon, and the defender knew or had reason to believe that such a crime was being committed. NRS 41.095.
Home defenders are immune from civil liability for injuries they cause to invaders unless the invader (or the invader’s estate) can overcome this presumption. NRS 41.095(1). In cases where a burglary was in progress and a homeowner used deadly force against the intruder, the legal picture is quite clear. The picture can be less clear in other situations.

Consult with a Las Vegas attorney after any self-defense situation

Anyone who uses force in self defense should be sure to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the event to ensure that relevant facts are recorded properly and to avoid costly mistakes. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served the Las Vegas community for over 45 years. If you would like to know more about Nevada’s home defense laws, call us for a free attorney consultation. We’re reachable at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Constitutional Protections for Police Involved in High-Speed Pursuits

Constitutional Protections for Police Involved in High-Speed Pursuits
High-speed chases create risk for everyone involved—the suspect, the officers in pursuit, and bystanders in other vehicles or on the roadside. To end a pursuit police often use various kinds of force against the suspect’s vehicle, such as the precision immobilization technique (a.k.a. the “PIT maneuver”) in which an officer attempts to spin the suspect’s vehicle. When a suspect or a bystander is injured during a pursuit, the doctrine of qualified immunity under the U.S. Constitution provides protections against civil liability for involved officers.

Qualified immunity and high-speed chases

Police officers involved in high-speed pursuits have substantial protection against civil liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity shields officers and other public officials from civil liability for injuries they cause during the course of their work so long as their actions don’t “violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). The Supreme Court has placed narrow limits to when an officer’s actions fall outside this protection:
  • “A clearly established right is one that is ‘sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violated that right.’” Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S. Ct. 305, 308 (2015), quoting Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. __ (2012).
  • “Put simply, qualified immunity protects ‘all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.’” Mullenix, 136 S. Ct. at 308, quoting Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986).

The Mullenix case illustrates how qualified immunity protects officers

The facts in the Mullenix case show the strength of qualified immunity. In that case the defendant officer was sued by the family of a suspect who died during a chase. The suspect was intoxicated and had threatened officers with a gun during the pursuit. The officer had used a rifle to shoot at the suspect’s car from an overpass before the suspect’s car could reach a spike-strip barrier just ahead, where other officers were waiting. Although the officer had announced an intention to shoot at the car to disable it, his shots instead hit the suspect, who died from his injuries. The plaintiffs sued the officer under federal civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In holding in favor of the officer’s qualified immunity, the Supreme Court focused on the facts of the case to conclude that the officer’s decision to use deadly force was reasonable under the circumstances. More to the point, the Court concluded that in light of the suspect’s dangerous behavior it could not conclude “that only someone ‘plainly incompetent’ or who ‘knowingly violate[s] the law’ would have perceived a sufficient threat and acted as Mullenix did.” Mullenix, 136 S. Ct. at 310. Under the Court’s ruling, the reasonableness and justification for the officer’s actions were evaluated in light of the specific circumstances of the event, not general principles. Importantly, the Court’s majority rejected the reasoning put forward by the dissenting justices that the officer’s actions were unreasonable in light of the availability of other tactics. Id.

Officers can protect themselves by preparing detailed reports

For officers, the lesson in Mullenix is that the facts of a given situation will be of paramount importance in any ensuing litigation. Whether an officer’s actions were reasonable or sank to the level of “incompetence” will be evaluated according to what the officer knew at the time about the suspect’s dangerousness. In a sense, the objective reasonableness of the officer’s actions will be determined by the officer’s subjective understanding of the events taking place in the moment. After any high speed chase that involved use of force, officers should take care to fully document the rationale for their course of action. Officers who have questions about how qualified immunity functions and how the law governs high speed chases should seek out an attorney. Police departments and unions offer legal advice, but it can sometimes be helpful to speak to an outside firm like Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez. We have helped clients in the Las Vegas first responder community protect themselves from lawsuits for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation call 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.