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Bedsores and Other Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

As our population grows older the prevalence of nursing home neglect unfortunately seems set to rise as well. A nursing home that is understaffed, lacks adequate training protocols, or doesn’t provide proper management and supervision can leave residents with insufficient care. Under Nevada law neglect is defined as a failure “to provide food, shelter, clothing or services within the scope of the person’s responsibility or obligation, which are necessary to maintain the physical or mental health of the older person.” NRS 41.1395(4)(c).

Family and friends who visit residents of nursing homes can protect their loved ones from neglect by watching for these common signs:

  • Bedsores. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, can result if a person is left in a single position in a bed or chair for a long period of time. The sores can be painful at first and can lead to more serious problems, like damage to underlying tissues. A nursing home should have procedures in place to prevent bedsores.
  • Unexplained injuries. A nursing homes should follow strict procedures to document injuries to residents. An undocumented injury should be treated as a warning sign that the staff is not doing an adequate job of watching over the residents. Of course, a resident may fall or injure themselves while a staff member isn’t looking. But if the injury goes unnoticed and undocumented, broader problems may be at work.
  • Malnutrition or dehydration. Nursing home residents often lack the ability to take care of their own food or water intake. Inadequate food or hydration may result in visible signs or may be revealed in a routine blood test.
  • Lack of bathing or cleaning. Nursing home residents typically need considerable help keeping themselves, their clothes, and their living spaces clean. Common problems with incontinence make sanitation especially important in nursing homes. A home that doesn’t take care to keep its residents reasonably clean may be committing neglect.

Nursing home neglect is a serious problem that isn’t necessarily easy to discover. Facilities that aren’t well run may try to mask inadequate procedures in various ways. Family members and friends of residents need to pay attention to details and trust their instincts if they think something is wrong. A medical exam by an outside physician may be needed to establish that something isn’t being handled well.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. We have a long tradition of providing authentically caring service to clients who are faced with difficult circumstances. If you have questions about potential neglect at a nursing home, 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.

Accidents with Food Delivery Drivers: Who Pays?

Like so many professions, food delivery is undergoing a rapid evolution. These days a food delivery driver might be doing the conventional work for a pizza chain or a single restaurant, but he or she could also be working for an Internet-based service like GrubHub. Because delivery workers drive for their jobs, they have a certain risk of being in accidents. For someone who gets into an accident with such a driver, the question of liability can raise interesting issues.

Who is liable?

There are a few related components to the question of who is liable when a delivery driver gets into an accident. The first question to ask is whether the driver was “on the clock” at the time of the accident. A driver who is out making a delivery or driving back to the restaurant to pick up more food probably is being compensated for that time. But the employer may argue that people working outside of those boundaries was driving on personal time. For example, accidents during normal commutes typically fall on the side of personal time.

A second question that can be a factor in these cases is whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor of the employer. From a legal standpoint this distinction shouldn’t really matter as far as the plaintiff is concerned, but it can add a layer of complexity to the case. Businesses are increasingly trying to shift obligations onto their workers by categorizing them as contractors. Part of this trend has been to make contractors more responsible for their mistakes. The reality is that an injured plaintiff should be able to overcome the employer’s attempt to hide behind a contract, but it may require a bit of extra work. For most cases where these issues arise, the question of ultimate liability may be resolved between the employer and contractor without the injured plaintiff’s involvement.

A third component to the analysis can be the ownership of the vehicle involved in the crash. The owner of a vehicle used for business purposes has an obligation to maintain it in good working condition. If the driver also owns the car the driver may bear special responsibility if the accident was the result of a mechanical failure. One thing to note is that the employer will look for strategies like this to shift blame away from itself.

Insurance for food delivery drivers

Every driver in Nevada is required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance that protects other people in the event that the driver causes an accident. The minimum coverage limits ($25,000 per bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury to more than one person, and $20,000 of property damage) are quite low. On the one hand this makes policies affordable for people who work in low-wage jobs, like food delivery. On the other hand it can leave injured people under-covered in the event that an accident causes serious harm.

The good news for people injured in this type of accident is that a driver who is working at the time of the accident should be covered by the employer’s insurance. If the employer’s insurance is inadequate to cover the full value of the plaintiff’s damages, the employer probably has other resources that the plaintiff can pursue to get compensation.

GGRM is here to help victims of car accidents in Las Vegas

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in accident cases. If you have been injured in an accident with a food delivery driver we can help you examine your legal options and begin the process of recovering compensation. Reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Obligations to Preserve Evidence After an Accident in Nevada

When someone is injured in an accident the first priority is always to ensure that the injury is promptly treated. As the aftermath of an accident unfolds, a potentially huge array of important information can be generated and recorded. Things like photos of the scene, the identities of witnesses, and specific conditions of the drivers and their vehicles can all play important roles in any ensuing litigation. If one side of the litigation deliberately or negligently destroys or loses track of evidence (what the legal community calls “spoliation” of evidence) the consequences for that side of the case can be significant.

Intentional versus negligent spoliation of evidence

Spoliation of evidence falls within a spectrum. At the most serious end are acts to deliberately destroy evidence that might serve to help the other side or hurt your own. For example, if a driver potentially caused an accident while distracted by his cell phone, he would commit spoliation if he threw away the phone to eliminate the possibility of it being investigated for evidence of his use at the time of the accident. In such cases the party that has committed the willful act of spoliation will be subject to a rebuttable presumption that the evidence so destroyed would have been adverse to the party. In short, the plaintiff in the case could rely on the defendant’s missing cell phone to prove that he was using it, even though the phone itself was not available. NRS 47.250.

At the less extreme end of the spectrum lies negligent destruction of evidence. In the cell phone example, if the defendant simply lost his cell phone, perhaps because it fell out of his pocket on the bus leaving the accident, he might argue that the loss of the phone wasn’t deliberate. Courts have leeway to hold negligent spoliation against the party that caused it, but absent proof of intent there may be more leniency given depending on the circumstances.

What sort of evidence should you preserve?

Spoliation of evidence works in both directions in a trial. The plaintiff and the defendant each have an obligation to take steps to ensure that evidence doesn’t get lost or destroyed before it can be analyzed and made a part of the litigation. Any evidence that could be used to tell the story of the accident and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff could be subject to spoliation. In addition to the cell phone example cited above, there are many other kinds of evidence that could be germane, such as these:

  • Photos taken after the accident.
  • Damaged cars themselves, especially if the damage tells a story and is repaired without at least first being photographed and documented.
  • Notes taken after an accident, especially if they include the names and contact information of witnesses who otherwise are unknown.

When a defendant causes spoliation of evidence the plaintiff can gain a significant advantage. Someone who has been injured in an accident and feels that important evidence has been lost or destroyed should not give up hope of recovering compensation. An attorney can examine the facts of the case to determine whether a claim of spoliation is likely to succeed.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. We are happy to provide free attorney consultations to help injured individuals examine their legal options. Call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Understanding the Legal Risks of Private Pool Parties

Homeowners who have pools in their backyards are right to view their pools as great places for entertaining guests. A pool party is fun for everyone. At the same time, a pool always poses certain risks. In a party context, the danger of the pool can be made more significant. Homeowners who plan to hold pool parties should think about a few issues before the party starts.

  • Premises liability. By themselves, pools and their surrounding infrastructure (walkways, platforms, ladders, and so forth) implicate the legal principle of premises liability. A homeowner owes a visitor a general duty to keep the home and its surrounding property reasonably safe for the visitor. If the homeowner is aware of a dangerous condition, such as a damaged step that could cause cuts or trips, the homeowner needs to warn guests about the condition. Homeowners who plan to host parties should take a moment to make sure there are no hazards that could make the pool area unsafe.
  • Know your insurance coverage. Pool owners know that a pool makes a homeowner’s insurance policy more expensive. It’s important for the homeowner to know about the scope of coverage in the applicable insurance policy. If the policy contains specific limits, the party may need to be designed around those limits. Perhaps the policy will not cover injuries to children who are left unsupervised, or it won’t cover injuries suffered by people who have been drinking alcohol. Coverage limits may also be important to consider: a drowning could cost the homeowner a significantly greater sum than the default limits of the policy. For a party that’s usually large, such as a wedding, taking out special event insurance might be a good idea.
  • Alcohol and pools can be a bad mix. If a party will include drinking, there are a number of special risks that a pool can create. Pool decks can be slippery, and people who have been drinking may be more likely to slip and fall. A person who is especially drunk may have trouble swimming, or in rare cases may suffer a health crisis such as a heart attack. In some cases it may be appropriate to ask people who have been drinking heavily to not use the pool.
  • Supervise children. In a party setting it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in a pool. A child may get into trouble and not be seen until it’s too late. In circumstances where there are a lot of distractions it may be appropriate to designate someone to be an impromptu “life guard” or to ask the kids to get out of the pool.

Someone who is injured at a pool party probably has recourse to the homeowner’s insurance policy, and may need to sue the homeowner as well to recover full compensation for the injury. 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 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Accounting for Changing Circumstances During a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In the course of recovering from an injury one hopes that the process follows a fairly predictable, linear path. For some injuries, the initial diagnosis leads to a straightforward treatment plan that proceeds without setbacks until the patient is fully recovered. But for many patients, setbacks are a frustrating reality of the recovery process. When a significant change takes place during the course of a lawsuit it may be possible to update the damages claimed in the suit to account for those changes.

Amending complaints to account for fresh information

A lawsuit is started by filing a complaint with the appropriate court. In a complaint, the plaintiff describes the basic facts of the case and makes claims against the defendant for damages. At the preliminary stage, damages can be based on a rough estimate of all the monetary and nonmonetary costs associated with the injury: past and anticipated medical bills, lost wages, pain, and so on. For a period of time while a case is pending, claims for damages can be updated as the plaintiff uncovers details that change the scope of appropriate damages.

For a case that gets resolved through settlement negotiations, a plaintiff can use the claims in a complaint as leverage to improve the negotiated outcome. The key is that a defendant is not obligated to pay, and won’t agree to pay, costs that the plaintiff hasn’t proved with sufficient reliability to make it clear that the defendant will be held liable for it if the case were to go all the way to trial.

Proving new damages

To get compensation for any kind of damages a plaintiff must be able to prove their value and that they were caused by the defendant’s wrongful action. Causation can create interesting challenges for plaintiffs who find that their injuries are getting worse over time. The defendant may argue that an intervening cause, such as the plaintiff’s own lack of care with regard to the injury or mistakes by the plaintiff’s doctor, has made the injury worse and therefore the defendant should not be held responsible for the worsened condition.

The issue of causation often requires support from the plaintiff’s treating physician. A doctor can testify about the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and how their prognosis has changed over time. For complex cases, expert witnesses may be needed to help the court understand how an injury could grow worse over time while still being traceable to the defendant’s negligence.

The potential for changes is one of many good reasons for working with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Suing for Burn Injuries in Nevada

Serious burns can have devastating and long-term consequences. For someone who has been burned in an accident and sues for compensation, it’s important to make a complete accounting of the damages associated with the burn. Doing so requires a thorough understanding of the burn’s medical prognosis and its impacts on the plaintiff’s life.

The types of burns

There are several causes of burns, any of which could be part of a personal injury case. Thermal burns are the type most people probably think of when they think of burns. They’re caused by exposure to heat, whether from touching a hot surface, being exposed to hot steam or liquids, or being burned by fire. Car accidents involving fire often can lead to burn injuries. Other types of burns include those caused by corrosive chemicals, especially to sensitive areas of the body like the eyes and respiratory system, and electrical burns resulting from high voltage shocks.

Burns fall within one of three tiers of severity:

  • A first-degree burn is relatively mild and rarely leads to long-term consequences. A mild sunburn is a good example of a first-degree burn.
  • Second-degree burns have penetrated deeper into the skin and can lead to painful blistering and other problems.
  • Third-degree burns have penetrated the entire skin and may damage underlying tissues. Third-degree burns are extremely serious and potentially life-threatening, as they can result in destroyed nerve endings and other problems for which there is no remedy.

In addition to the tier system, burns are also categorized according to their location and the overall coverage of the body. A victim of a structure fire may have extensive burns over a large portion of his or her body. The more significant the burn coverage is and the deeper the burns have penetrated the skin, the more serious the burn.

Suing for damages after a burn injury

Burn victims often need to seek special forms of compensation in their personal injury lawsuits. A burn can involve a lifetime of lingering pain and discomfort, disfigurement, and a long road of physical therapy and other medical treatments. In settlement negotiations or at trial, the victim’s attorneys must account for all of these consequences. Doing so requires approaching the issue from several angles:

  • A calculation of past and anticipated future medical costs.
  • Consultation with burn experts to evaluate the anticipated long-term effects of the injury.
  • Gathering evidence about the burn’s impacts on the plaintiff’s day-to-day life, such as the way the burn will affect the plaintiff’s emotional and psychological health, career prospects, and personal relationships.

Experienced personal injury attorneys understand that a burn victim is enduring an especially difficult process that needs to be handled with care and compassion. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We can help you or your loved one seek just compensation for burn injuries. Please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Legal Liability Issues for Motorcyclists

Everyone who rides a motorcycle is aware of the risks riders face when they hit the road. In some sense, the risks are part of the thrill that draws people to motorcycles in the first place. But motorcyclists may not be as aware of the special legal risks that come with riding motorcycles.

The limits of insurance

Probably the most significant source of potential risk for motorcyclists is inadequate insurance coverage. Like drivers of cars and other passenger vehicles, a motorcyclist in Nevada is required to carry a minimum level of insurance. The current minimums in Nevada are $25,000 of bodily injury per person, $50,000 of bodily injury per accident, and $20,000 of property damage. For someone on a minimal insurance plan, there are several important considerations:

  • A minimal insurance plan covers injuries and damage caused by the motorcyclist to others, that is to say, when the motorcyclist is at fault. It doesn’t necessarily cover the motorcyclist as well.
  • The minimum coverage amounts are quite low when compared to the significant risk of injury faced by motorcyclists.
  • Policies may have special rules governing passengers that motorcyclists will need to consider before they accept passengers.

Taking out an insurance policy that features higher coverage limits is a good idea. So is taking out additional policies to protect against the possibility of other drivers not having adequate coverage (so-called “underinsured motorist coverage”) can protect against being left without coverage after an accident. Motorcyclists also need to understand how their coverage will change if they are at fault in an accident. Will their policy cover their injuries as well as injuries to others? Will the policy provide for legal fees in such an event? If not, how will the motorcyclist plan for this sort of risk?

Lane splitting and fault in Nevada

Motorcycles are subject to all the usual laws of the road. A particularly important rule for motorcyclists in Nevada to understand is that Nevada law prohibits the practice of lane splitting. The technical definition of lane splitting is simply passing another vehicle within the same lane, or passing between two vehicles down the center of a lane. If a motorcycle gets into an accident while lane splitting the driver is more likely to be considered at fault.

Getting into an accident while violating a traffic rule gives rise to a claim of negligence per se. In such cases the other side of the dispute can make the driver who committed the violation responsible for proving that his or her violation of the rule wasn’t the cause of the accident. This burden can be difficult to overcome absent compelling facts that can show how other drivers involved in the accident also committed negligent acts.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been in an accident with a motorcyclist, or you are a motorcyclist and you’re wondering how to handle your legal case, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How a Plaintiff Gets Paid After a Personal Injury Settlement

The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to provide the plaintiff with the means to cover expenses associated with the injury as well as compensation for the negative consequences of the injury in the person’s daily life. Plaintiffs often assume that at the end of a successful lawsuit they’ll be handed a check. Although in most successful cases a defendant does make a payment as part of resolving the dispute, the mechanics behind the payment process are usually more complicated.

Personal injury lawsuits can resolve in the plaintiff’s favor in two ways: either as a negotiated settlement, or by a final judgment of a trial court. Most cases end in settlements, for a variety of reasons. Settlements provide both sides the opportunity to control how the plaintiff will be compensated. If the case goes to trial, the judge and jury take control of many aspects of the process.

Who, exactly, gets paid after a personal injury lawsuit?

Although the injured plaintiff is right to feel entitled to receiving money from the defendant who is responsible for his or her injury, the plaintiff is often not the only party who expects to be paid out of a settlement or judgment award. It’s common for plaintiffs to be one of several parties that have claims to the defendant’s payment:

  • The plaintiff’s insurer (or insurers) may have the right of subrogation, which means that it is entitled to be reimbursed for its expenses related to the injury out of the settlement or judgment. If the plaintiff has been covered by Medicare, it will need to be reimbursed before anyone else can receive money from the award.
  • Providers of medical care who have not otherwise been paid for their services may have issued liens that must be satisfied.
  • If the plaintiff’s law firm has handled the case on contingency, it will take the portion of the judgment award to which it is entitled to cover its expenses and pay its staff for the time they have put in on the case. The amount the firm is owed will have been set out in the firm’s engagement letter with the client, and should have been explained orally as well.

Alternative forms of payment

In settlement negotiations the plaintiff and defendant may choose between a number of approaches for facilitating the payment of the settlement amount to the plaintiff and others who are entitled to a share. In cases involving large sums, a structured settlement can be a superior approach both for the defendant who is faced with a significant financial burden and the plaintiff who can receive a variety of benefits. In a structured settlement the defendant purchases an annuity, with the plaintiff as beneficiary. The annuity pays the plaintiff at regular intervals over a specified period of time. The plaintiff often gets tax benefits from this approach, and the defendant’s overall costs may be lower.

Even if the defendant will pay a lump sum, the sum typically gets placed into a special account that is used to pay off other expenses before finally being distributed to the plaintiff. Management of this account is often handled by the plaintiff’s attorneys and can be subject to court oversight. The goal is always to get a payment to the plaintiff as soon as possible. Experienced personal injury attorneys work hard throughout the process to minimize delays at this phase of the case.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. Our attorneys are available to provide free consultations. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Drinking and Self-Driving Cars

As the technologies in self-driving cars reach maturity it seems almost inevitable that there will come a time when actively driving a car will feel optional. For some it will be tempting to think of a self-driving car like a taxi. But thus far, the safety record of self-driving cars has left open doubts about how much drivers can rely on them without keeping an eye on what’s going on around the car. An important issue related to this is whether it will be safe to operate a self-driving car after drinking enough alcohol to be over the legal limit.

The legal framework for self-driving cars is still in its infancy. Given the enormous complexity of a self-driving car’s technologies, lawmakers probably will be slow to allow fully autonomous vehicles to hit the roads. Nevertheless, many states, including Nevada, have adopted preliminary rules that provide guidance for driver-operators and the manufacturers of self-driving vehicles. There are two key reasons why “drunk operating” is not a legal option:

  1. There is no exception for drunk driving and driverless cars. Being behind the wheel of a self-driving car is still driving, even though the operator isn’t touching any controls and may even be ignoring the roadway. Although in theory operating a self-driving car may be a safer alternative to driving drunk, it is still not legal. Operating a self-driving car while drunk is a crime and can lead to accidents and injury liability.
  2. Safety mechanisms rely on an alert driver. Under existing law, a self-driving vehicle in Nevada must include a safety system that will turn control of the vehicle over to the operator in the event that the car’s systems cease to function as expected. This means that the operator always needs to be ready to take control. Many of the accidents involving self-driving cars have featured situations where the driver was not paying attention to the road. A driver who is reading a book or sleeping can’t do anything in the event that the car’s sensors fail to detect a pedestrian. A drunk operator’s reaction times will be even slower than those fo a sober operator.

The fact that an operator of a self-driving vehicle was drunk at the time of an accident will be a major factor in any ensuing litigation brought by someone who was injured in the accident. The operator may attempt to lay the blame on inadequacies in the car’s design, and perhaps the plaintiff will want to pursue action there as well. But the operator is still responsible for causing the accident, even if he or she wasn’t actively controlling the car at the time.

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident involving a self-driving car, do not let the fact that the car was autonomous distract you from the human operator’s responsibility for the car. Accidents where the self-driving car is at fault will present new and interesting questions for lawyers to resolve. For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients seek compensation for injuries caused by car accidents. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Broken Hips After Slip-and-Fall Accidents

A broken hip is a devastating injury. Recovery of full strength and motion can take as long as a year, during which the patient may endure multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and significant mobility limitations. Elderly patients are especially prone to hip fractures. When a slip-and-fall accident leads to a broken hip, a lawsuit against the responsible party may be warranted.

Slip-and-fall accidents in Nevada

Slip-and-fall accidents fall within the scope of premises liability, a legal standard that holds property owners and other responsible parties (like tenants) responsible to varying degrees for injuries that occur on their property. The rules governing a situation depend on the location of the injury and its specific cause.

  • Homeowners and residential tenants owe a duty to visitors to take reasonable steps to ensure that visitors are not injured by hazards on their properties. The reasonableness of the steps taken by a homeowner to address a hazard will vary by the facts of the case. For example, a homeowner may or may not be required to warn visitors if a walkway is slippery during rainy weather.
  • Businesses that are open to the public are held to a higher standard of care than homeowners are. They are required to keep their premises reasonably safe for use. Unlike a homeowner, a business needs to take affirmative steps to ensure that its facilities are free of hazards. Textbook slip-and-fall cases usually involve things like poorly maintained stairs, a failure to clean up a spill, or inadequate safety precautions around dangerous conditions like broken floor tiles.

Damages recoverable for broken hips

A plaintiff who has suffered a broken hip in a slip-and-fall accident that resulted from the defendant’s negligence often can recover compensation for the damages associated with the injury. Damages include medical expenses, lost wages, transportation costs, short- and long-term modifications to a home, and physical therapy. Damages can also include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other “personal” consequences of the injury.

Someone injured in a slip-and-fall accident has two years to file a lawsuit in Nevada. Victims of someone’s negligence shouldn’t wait anywhere that long to consult with an attorney. Quite often there are important pieces of evidence, essential witnesses, and time-sensitive strategies that need to be addressed as soon as possible following the accident.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. Our attorneys are available for free consultations to discuss your injury and your options for filing a lawsuit. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

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