For a variety of reasons, few personal injury cases ever go to trial in front of a judge and jury. Instead, the parties in the dispute resolve their differences by negotiation. When the litigants settle their dispute, they avoid the big investment of time and financial resources that is required for a full trial. The time element is often crucial: injured plaintiffs need compensation from defendants to pay bills, and defendants often want to end the dispute to avoid piling up legal fees.
Settlement negotiations usually take place after lawsuits are filed
Settlement agreements arise from litigation, which means that the injured plaintiff typically has already filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant. By filing a lawsuit the plaintiff ensures that if the defendant refuses to come to terms, the option of going to trial always exists. Sometimes a lawsuit needs to be filed to ensure that the relevant statute of limitations doesn’t expire while negotiations are ongoing. Other times a lawsuit is necessary just to bring the defendant to the negotiating table.
One consequence of having litigation underway is that the court plays an important role as a kind of referee during the process. Courts strongly encourage cases to settle because it saves court resources for other, potentially more serious cases. But until a case settles the procedures of the court must be followed. Parties can still ask the court to require the other side to do certain things, such as disclose evidence.
The settlement agreement needs to protect the plaintiff’s interests
Negotiating a fair settlement is as much an art as a science. Settlements need to take into account many different components, including:
- The facts of the events that caused the injury.
- The expenses the plaintiff is facing as a consequence of the injury.
- The defendant’s resources (insurance, cash and other liquid assets, anticipated income, and so on).
In a full trial issues like these get evaluated by the fact finder (the judge and/or jury). A settlement takes place without the benefit of this unbiased examination of facts. The parties need to come to grips with disagreements on their own. The calculation of damages is a good example of a subject that can involve difficult negotiation. Should the defendant agree to compensate the plaintiff for more than easily calculated costs, like prior medical bills? Or should the defendant also be put on the hook for less easily quantified amounts, like the plaintiff’s pain, anticipated future costs, and so forth?
The settlement agreement itself is a binding contract, which the court must approve before terminating the litigation. The agreement itself typically provides for a range of things, including:
- The total amount of compensation the defendant agrees to pay, often itemized.
- A payment schedule (especially common if the defendant will pay from his or her personal resources).
- A release of the defendant from liabilities that aren’t otherwise covered.
Negotiating settlements is at the heart of the work personal injury attorneys do. Having experienced representation is essential to getting the most from a negotiation. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.
One of the ways an insurance company manages its risk of losses is to require insured people to sign damage release forms. A damage release provides that the insurer has satisfied its obligations with respect to a particular claim. The typical case where a release form is requested comes when an insurance company makes a payment which, in its view, satisfies its obligations toward the insured with respect to a claim.
In a simple case, such as when the insured has made a claim for well-understood and easily quantified property damage, providing a release may have little downside. But in more complex cases, damages may only come to light over time. Cases involving personal injury are often like this, simply because recovery doesn’t always follow a predictable course. People who are dealing with complicated situations should be mindful of a couple important features of damage releases.
The first is that a release may not be completely obvious. Although an insurer may risk being accused of bad faith or unfair tactics, it may nevertheless try to “hide” a damage release. It might do this by incorporating the release into a bigger document that it asks the insured to sign. Or it may make the release automatic upon the insured cashing a check. Reading everything the insurance company sends to you is critically important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A second important feature is that a valid damage release may prevent reopening a claim. The reason insurance companies ask for releases is to give them certainty that their obligation with respect to a claim is finished. There are perfectly valid reasons why insurers want to do this. It helps them close their financial books and keep tabs on their risk. But for the insured it can also create a significant problem if the initial claim didn’t capture the full scope of losses from an incident. By signing a damage release the insured may close—and lock—the door to getting additional coverage for a loss. A sympathetic agent at the insurer may have no option to reopen the claim once the release has been signed.
In a case where the injured person is being helped by an attorney the best course of action is to let the attorney handle the insurance process. An experienced personal injury attorney has the training to understand the technicalities of insurance claims and can recognize when something isn’t right. Protecting clients from inadvertently signing away their rights to better coverage is just one small part of the bigger picture.
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, your insurance options, and the legal particulars of your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.
Small children love playing with dogs. But not every dog has the temperament to tolerate rough play from a child, and sometimes a child can trigger defensive instincts even in a mild-mannered animal. Parents and caregivers who plan to have a dog around small children should take care to follow a few simple rules:
- Supervise. Dogs shouldn’t be left alone with small children. A common mistake is to take for granted that an easy-going dog will stay that way when a child is doing things that may provoke it, like climbing on the dog’s back, grabbing at the dog’s face, ears, or eyes, or pulling on a tail.
- Control the environment. A high-energy environment, with loud noises and lots of people running around, can overstimulate a dog and lead to accidents. Bear in mind that dogs can get physical when they play: they will run around, jump, use their front paws to push and grab, and so on. A small child can be injured by playful behavior just as much as aggressive behavior.
- Teach. Even children who haven’t learned how to speak can learn how to interact with dogs. Teaching children to pet dogs with open handed, gentle movements can help them develop a better relationship with the dog, while also reducing the chances that they’ll do something to startle the dog.
- Intervene. Watch closely for signs that the dog is distressed. Wide eyes, lowered ears, and of course growling are all signs that the dog needs to be separated from the child. The best course is usually to simply pick up the child.
If a child is injured by a dog, seek medical attention for the child right away. Children may not be able to communicate the extent of their injuries and can suffer broken bones more easily than an adult. Children have remarkable resilience, but parents should also watch for signs of psychological harm, like lingering fear of dogs, that might need to be addressed.
Failing to take reasonable steps to keep a child safe from a dog could lead to legal liability for someone who has responsibility to keep the child safe. When a dog causes a child serious injuries that require medical intervention, the child’s parent or guardian may be forced to sue to recover compensation from the dog owner’s insurance policy or directly from the owner. To protect themselves and others, people who own dogs should verify that their insurance coverage will protect them in the event of a dog-related injury.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases, including injuries caused by dogs. If your child has been hurt by a dog and you are wondering about your legal options, please call us for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.
Homeowners know that labor is typically a big part of the cost of home improvement projects. For many it’s enough that doing the work themselves is the better choice. Although doing your own construction work can be rewarding, it can also create potential legal liability.
Liability for hazards
In Nevada a homeowner has a general duty to take reasonable care to maintain the home in a condition that is safe for guests. If the homeowner is aware of a potentially dangerous condition, such as a broken bannister, the law requires that the homeowner notify guests of the hazard. For a project with clearly understood dangers notifying guests about them may be straightforward. For example, a homeowner who digs a big trench in the front yard can place warning signs around it to caution passersby about the hole.
But doing major work on a home can create hazards that aren’t known to the homeowner until they become serious problems. Fixtures that aren’t properly installed can fall and injure guests. Unsafe electrical practices could lead to fire. Removing structural components could make the entire home unsafe. If someone is hurt by conditions like these, they will have good cause for suing the homeowner.
Insurance may not pay for DIY mistakes
A homeowner’s liability insurance will often cover risks for routine things like trip-and-fall accidents caused by the upturned edge of a rug. Where insurance might refuse to pay is if the homeowner has undertaken a do-it-yourself project that was not compliant with local rules, such as permitting requirements. Failing to use a licensed contractor for certain types of projects can also give an insurance company an excuse to not pay. This extends to significant parts of a home, including gas lines, plumbing, and electrical.
If a homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover injuries caused by the homeowner’s negligence the homeowner may be faced with significant unmitigated costs. In practice this means that a homeowner needs to be cautious about taking on projects that involve high degrees of risk. It may be significantly cheaper to hire a professional than to attempt doing dangerous work yourself. Key questions the homeowner should ask before tackling a project are:
- Does the work involve anything that could cause a fire?
- Does the work involve tearing down structural components that may have a nonobvious role in the home’s engineering?
- Can the project be finished in a reasonable period of time so that hazards don’t pose a risk for longer than necessary?
- Does the homeowner anticipate vulnerable guests, like small children or people with health problems, being present during construction?
GGRM is a Las Vegas injury law firm
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured in a home or if you have questions about how home projects may affect your liability, please contact is today for a free attorney consultation. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.
Quite often the focus of discussions surrounding drinking and injuries is on the injuries caused by the drunk person. Alcohol abuse can lead to serious consequences, especially for drivers. But a drunk person can be injured in contexts other than where he or she was driving. The injured person may be hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim because of the stigmas associated with excessive drinking. But the fact that someone was drunk does not excuse the bad behavior of others.
A plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense
Personal injury lawsuits typically seek to prove that the defendant behaved negligently and, as a consequence, caused the plaintiff’s injury. Whether the defendant behaved negligently requires a close look at the circumstances of the injury itself. What obligations did the defendant owe to the plaintiff at the time? How did the defendant fail to meet those standards? Questions like these primarily focus on the defendant, not the plaintiff.
If the plaintiff was drunk at the time the defendant caused the injury it is possible that the defendant will want to use the plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant can ask a court to reduce the amount the defendant is responsible for by a percentage that the court attributes to the fault of the plaintiff in causing the accident. If the court finds that the plaintiff was more than fifty percent at fault, the plaintiff won’t be allowed to recover anything from the defendant.
A key question in any comparative negligence case is the extent to which the plaintiff’s behavior really factored into the injury. Sometimes a plaintiff’s drunkenness isn’t relevant. Here are some examples where that might prove to be the case:
- The defendant was lawfully crossing the street when the defendant ran a red light and struck the plaintiff.
- The defendant, a grocery store, left a puddle of cooking oil on the floor of an aisle and the plaintiff slipped on it.
- The defendant’s dog wasn’t leashed and attacked the plaintiff.
The more the plaintiff’s alcohol use factors into the injury, the more difficult it will be to avoid at least a portion of the liability being placed on the plaintiff. Here are some cases where the plaintiff’s drunkenness might matter:
- The defendant, a shopping mall, failed to block off a section of floor that was under repair and visibly unsafe, and the plaintiff stumbled into it.
- The plaintiff unexpectedly stumbled into the street and was struck by the defendant driver.
- The plaintiff fell after climbing onto a ladder that the defendant had left standing against a wall.
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are happy to help people who have been injured resolve questions about whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate for their case. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.
Highrise window washers quite literally step into thin air to do their work. Hanging from the side of buildings, often hundreds of feet in the air, they help to keep Las Vegas sparkling for its visitors. The approach to safety varies from company to company and building to building, depending on the sort of infrastructure incorporated into the building and the approach taken by the window washer. Everything from a scaffold to harness points built into the side of buildings may be used to keep washers safe.
Working at such heights involves significant risk of serious injury or death. People who work in the window washing business need to have a clear understanding of their legal rights so that if they are injured they can take the right course of action to protect themselves. Here are some principles to consider:
- Make sure your employer has workers’ compensation coverage. Every employer in Nevada is required to cover its employees with workers’ compensation coverage. People who are hired as “independent contractors” generally also have access to their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. A Nevada employer’s coverage can be verified online. A key question is whether the employer’s coverage is adequate for the sort of risks that employees must face. It’s best to understand these questions before heading up to the top of a skyscraper.
- Be mindful of safety. All employers are required to maintain their workplaces in safe condition for employees under state and federal occupational safety and health rules (the familiar OSHA standards). These laws are enforced by regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. An employee who has safety concerns that aren’t being addressed by the employer should consider reporting them to authorities. This is especially true of professions like window washing, where inadequate safety measures can turn an otherwise low-risk job into something highly perilous.
- Understand who is responsible. Window washers often rely on the safety equipment already present at project sites. Things like hydraulic systems, winches, ropes, harnesses, and scaffolds may all be provided by the owner of the building that is being cleaned. When an equipment failure leads to injury it’s important to know if the building owner or operator may have some share of the blame.
- Be prepared to refuse the job. Working in high winds or with defective equipment dramatically increases the risks window washers face .A scrupulous employer should take such risks very seriously and keep workers off the job until conditions improve. If a manager is insisting that workers should ignore the risks and work anyway, the correct course may be to refuse to work. Under OSHA rules an employer cannot force an employee to continue to work under conditions that are known to be unreasonably dangerous.
Window washers who feel that they are faced with abnormally dangerous working conditions or who have suffered injuries and need help navigating their workers’ compensation claims should consider talking to an attorney about their legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.
Riding along side parked cars is one of the riskier circumstances a cyclist can encounter on the road. “Dooring” happens when a driver or driver-side passenger swings open his or her door in front of an unsuspecting cyclist. The cyclist faced with a sudden obstruction may have no ability to stop or change course before hitting the door. The results can be catastrophic for the cyclist, who can be thrown over the top of the bicycle and land hard on his or her head or shoulders.
Mitigating the risk of dooring has become a focus for members of the cycling community in recent years. New cyclists are often counseled by more experienced riders to watch for people sitting in parked cars, and if possible to allow plenty of room for parked cars even if no one appears to be sitting in them. Driver education programs are also underway. For example, the Dutch Reach Project is working to train drivers to open their doors with their right hands. This simple change forces the body to turn, allowing for an oncoming cyclist to enter the driver’s peripheral vision. The practice is taught as a matter of course in the Netherlands.
For the cyclist who has been injured in a dooring accident, a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills and other costs associated with the injuries may be warranted. Cycling accidents raise a number of specific legal issues that attorneys may examine as part of their initial review of the case. These issues can include:
- Assumption of risk. Over the years defendants in cases involving cyclist injuries have had some success arguing that the cyclist assumed the risk of injury by choosing to ride a bike in a dangerous circumstance. Assumption of risk is predicated upon the idea that the rider knew about the risk of being doored and continued to ride anyway. The argument may go that the rider had the option of taking the entire lane but was unsafely hugging the edge of the roadway, where the risk of being doored was greater.
- Comparative negligence. Another common defense in auto accidents is the argument that the plaintiff bears at least some of the responsibility for the accident. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence rule, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff’s negligence was at least 50% at fault, the plaintiff will not be able to recover anything. For example, the cyclist might have been riding in a negligent manner if he or she was trying to send a text message on a cell phone at the time of the accident.
- Time and circumstances. Any auto accident case needs to be evaluated in light of all the facts surrounding the accident. Was the accident during the day or at night? Was the cyclist using a light or other safety equipment that the driver might have seen and ignored? What traffic conditions were present at the time of the accident? Questions like these may shape how the case proceeds.
For over four decades the Las Vegas law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in accident and personal injury cases. We can help cyclists who have been injured in accidents examine their legal options and seek compensation for their injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.
Violent and aggressive behavior by drivers is a significant source of risk on the roadways. Something about being behind the wheel disarms some drivers’ normal social filters, making them prone to extreme anger and frustration that can lead to accidents. “Road rage” is a pop culture term applied to this phenomenon. In legal terms, when someone’s road rage pushes them into aggressive driving behavior that causes harm to others it can give rise to a lawsuit.
What causes road rage?
An analysis published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that incidents of road rage may be overreported in the media, giving the impression that it is a more serious problem than it is. But for the victims of a serious accident caused by an aggressive driver, the only statistic that matters is that they are among the people who will be counted in that year’s accident figures.
The NHTSA’s report offers a valuable insight into the causes of road rage. It lists the following contributing factors that can lead to aggressive driving, which includes speeding, weaving through traffic, running traffic signals, and tailgating:
- Traffic delays.
- Running late.
- Disregard for others.
- Habitual or clinical behavior.
- Disregard for the law.
Road rage may lead to gross negligence
In personal injury lawsuits associated with traffic accidents the key question is typically whether the at-fault driver was driving in a negligent way when the accident occurred. Some forms of negligent driving are established by traffic laws. For example, speeding can be negligence per se, which places the burden on the defendant to prove that despite breaking the law his or her behavior was not negligent under the circumstances.
In a road rage incident the at-fault driver may have driven especially aggressively out of anger or frustration. If doing so was especially reckless and completely disregarded the potential danger to others, the driver may be liable for gross negligence. Gross negligence can entitle plaintiffs to additional compensation. An example of gross negligence might involve deliberately running a red light into cross traffic.
GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients who have been injured in car accidents. Someone injured in a road rage incident may be dealing with fear and anxiety in addition to the pain and inconvenience of recovering from an injury. We give each client personal, caring attention to ensure that their needs are addressed. If you have been injured in an accident call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.
Invokana (canagliflozin) is a prescription drug often prescribed to individuals with type 2 diabetes to control high blood sugar. It works by increasing the rate at which the kidneys remove sugars from the bloodstream. High blood sugar is linked to a wide range of serious health consequences, including blindness, loss of limbs, and kidney failure. Like many medications, Invokana has a range of known side effects, ranging from common complications with needing to urinate more often to a range of more serious problems.
In 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that Invokana use increases the risk of leg and foot amputations among patients who are taking the drug. Patients have occasionally experienced other severe side effects, including heart attacks, kidney failures, and strokes. As a result, a significant number of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of the drug, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson.
The key question in many prescription drug products liability cases is whether the drug’s manufacturer knew about risks that it didn’t’ adequately disclose to consumers. Essentially, the law imposes harsh penalties upon companies that try to hide unfavorable facts about their products in order to sell higher volumes. The lawsuits filed against Janssen and Johnson & Johnson have followed this template.
Patients who suffer serious side effects from Invokana can face life-altering consequences. Losing a toe or limb is undoubtedly a devastating result. So too are the costs associated with hospitalization, numerous medical appointments, and additional medications necessary to treat pain and other symptoms. In some cases someone who has suffered these consequences may have the option to sue for compensation.
Whether a patient should file a lawsuit or join one of the class action suits already underway is a highly personal and potentially complicated question. People who have suffered as a consequence of prescription drug side effects need to be cautious about falling prey to “litigation shops” that ball together huge numbers of clients in hopes of enormous pay days. Those types of law firms rarely provide anything resembling personal attention to their clients.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and products liability cases. We can help people who have been injured by Invokana use examine their legal options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.
Cognitive bias is a common characteristic of human psychology. The idea is that people like to be right, and will sometimes perceive information in a way that confirms their existing ideas about the state of things, when the objective truth may be something different. Cognitive bias can influence behavior in all sorts of circumstances, many of which pose little risk of harm. But when a medical diagnosis is made in reliance on perceptions that are clouded by cognitive bias the outcome for patients can be life threatening.
Cognitive bias in the medical profession is a known problem. The bias itself can come from many sources. A doctor may have a disposition against diagnosing serious illnesses and will prefer to diagnose milder alternatives: interpreting heart failure as indigestion. Or a doctor may concentrate on a specialty that unwittingly blocks out alternatives: a heart surgeon who recommends a pace maker for a patient with an endocrine imbalance.
People who tend to think in biased ways can learn to overcome them. Members of the medical profession have a high ethical obligation to recognize their own biases and adapt their diagnostic approaches to account for them. But to actively address a bias it’s first necessary to know about it and understand how it works. That can be difficult even for people who have a profound need to do it.
As a consequence, cognitive bias can introduce significant inaccuracies into medical diagnoses. At the point of treatment a patient should be on guard against signs that a particular approach is being taken not because it is the right one but because it is the one that the doctor prefers out of what may be an unconscious motive. Patients also need to be careful about avoiding cognitive biases of their own: it may be tempting to prefer the heartburn diagnosis, but if it means ignoring a blocked artery the risk of death quickly increases.
If a medical diagnosis leads to a patient’s serious injury or death the patient or the patient’s next of kin may have the option of suing for professional negligence. To prevail a professional negligence lawsuit must prove that the treating doctor failed to use reasonable care ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care. NRS 41A.015. In the course of litigation it may be revealed that the misdiagnosis arose from bad judgement that might be traced back to an instance of cognitive bias. Expert testimony can be used to establish the extent to which the misdiagnosis was far enough out of the norm to constitute negligence.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in professional negligence cases. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a consequence of medical misdiagnosis, please call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.