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Illegal Urban Racing and Personal Injury

Whether due to movies like the Fast and Furious franchise, similar television shows, or video games, so-called street racing occasionally rears its ugly head in cities around the United States. During such races a driver is likely to exceed the speed limit, ignore traffic signals and signs, and place pedestrians and other drivers in significant danger. That is why street racing is illegal in Nevada and elsewhere. Someone who has been injured by someone who is competing in an illegal street race should consult with an attorney.

Nevada law on street racing

Driving or organizing “an unauthorized speed contest on a public highway” is a crime in Nevada, punishable by a fine, mandatory community service, and prison time. NRS 684B.653. By definition, driving in such a race is a form of reckless driving. A first-time offender may be fined up to $1,000, ordered to serve up to 99 hours of community service, and jailed for up to 6 months. The penalties go up for repeat offenders. Offenders can also have their drivers’ licenses suspended and their cars impounded. Note that these penalties are in addition to penalties for broken traffic laws, refusing to stop for police, and so forth.

A street racer faces significantly more serious penalties if he or she causes serious injury or death to another person in the course of a race. In such cases the driver may be imprisoned for up to six years and fined up to $5,000.

Criminal prosecution of illegal racers may not fully compensate victims

When someone is prosecuted for any crime the prosecution may ask the court to order the defendant to make restitution payments to the victims of the crime as part of the sentencing process. Such restitution can only be ordered for economic damages suffered by the victim: medical bills, lost earnings, and so forth. By law, criminal courts don’t get involved with so-called noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

The criminal justice system may or may not protect the injured victim in other ways. The prosecution is not within the victim’s control. It may take a long time and ultimately may fail for reasons having to do with the high requirements for conviction.

People who are injured by illegal racers therefore have a strong incentive to pursue civil lawsuits to recover complete compensation for their injuries. Even if the criminal prosecution is ongoing, it can be worthwhile to also pursue a civil action. And if the criminal prosecution has concluded with a conviction, the conviction can be used in the civil case to prove the defendant’s liability.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured by a driver who was involved in an illegal street race, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

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.

Restraining Orders in Nevada

Restraining Orders in Nevada

Restraining orders (in technical terms, “protective orders”) are a means for people who feel threatened, stalked, or harassed to get the help of law enforcement to prevent the threatening person from continuing his or her bad behavior. A valid protective order is issued by a court and becomes a binding prohibition against doing the acts proscribed by the order. If the person subject to the order (the so-called “adverse party”) violates it, he or she can be subject to criminal penalties. The process for obtaining a protective order is fairly straightforward, but as with any legal topic there are specific steps an applicant must follow.

What can protective order do?

The purpose of protective orders is to require someone to stop threatening or harassing the applicant. Each protective order is customized to the specific needs of the applicant. Generally speaking, they may include restrictions as to the following:

  • Limits on where the adverse party may go: A protective order can order the adverse party to stay a certain distance away from the applicant’s home, school, business, or place of employment. Where necessary and appropriate it can also name specific other locations, such as the homes of the applicant’s other family members.
  • Limits on who the adverse party may interact with: A protective order often will specifically require the adverse party to stop the bad behavior that prompted the applicant to request the order to begin with. That may involve ordering the adverse party to stop behaving in a harassing, threatening, or intimidating way toward the applicant or toward another person (such as a member of the applicant’s family). It may also include a bar against contacting the applicant or others.
  • Any other restrictions necessary to protect the applicant. The scope of what can be included in a protective order is limited only by the needs of the applicant to feel safe.

What is required to receive a protective order?

To obtain a protective order the applicant must submit a request to a court. The request must specify that the applicant reasonably believes that:

  • he or she is the victim of a crime of stalking (defined in NRS 200.575[1]), harassment (defined in NRS 200.571), or sexual assault (NRS 200.366[1]), or
  • his or her child has been the victim of a crime that is defined by the state as “harmful to minors,” such as nonaccidental physical or mental injury to a child, or sexual abuse. NRS 33.400.

A protection order may be temporary (with effect for 30 days) or extended (expiring no later than one year from its issuance date). The advantage of temporary protective orders is that they can be issued without involving the adverse party in the process. Although a court may require a hearing before issuing a temporary protective order, it is not a requirement and is often contrary to the purpose of a protective order. On the other hand, a court cannot issue an extended protective order without the adverse party being given notice and an opportunity to be heard.

The Nevada Supreme Court has issued a helpful, detailed guide to protection orders for the public.

GGRM is here to help victims of crime

At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we are proud of our firm’s long-standing commitment to providing compassionate, personal service to each of our clients. If you have questions about how a protective order could help you escape a dangerous situation our team is here to help. For a free, confidential attorney consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

Can the Victim of a Crime File a Civil Lawsuit for Damages?

Can the Victim of a Crime File a Civil Lawsuit for Damages?

Allegedly criminal activity that causes personal injury and property damage can leave its victims with substantial costs. Authorities pursue convictions against perpetrators of violent or destructive crimes through the criminal justice system, which is designed to improve public safety and punish bad behavior. The criminal justice system is not always going to succeed in compensating the victim of a crime for financial losses. Instead, the victim may wish to pursue a civil lawsuit against the accused.

Civil lawsuits offer numerous advantages for crime victims

The criminal justice system offers victims a number of important benefits. The government pays the costs of prosecution, using its own prosecutors and other legal resources, and the authority of law enforcement agencies is brought to bear. A criminal court can order convicted defendants to pay restitution to victims as part of its sentencing process. But in some cases a civil lawsuit offers victims significant advantages, such as:

  • Personalized strategy. Prosecutors have a range of concerns beyond the needs of victims, and often make deals with criminal defendants to shorten trials and save government resources. In a civil trial the attorneys representing the victim have only one goal: to serve the interest of their clients. Having control over a case empowers victims to pursue the compensation they know they deserve.
  • Broader scope of damages. A criminal court cannot award victims damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or other costs that are not easily quantified. Such damages are available in civil trials.
  • Lower standard of proof. A criminal conviction can only be reached if the prosecution proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard that often allows criminal defendants to escape convictions due to technicalities or clever argumentation by the defense. Civil causes of action require lower standards of proof. A plaintiff typically need only show that the defendant was liable by a preponderance of the evidence, that is, the plaintiff’s assertions are likely to be true. Perhaps the most famous example of these standards in action is the criminal and civil trials of O.J. Simpson for the murder of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. Although his attorney’s famous line about the glove, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” worked in the criminal context by creating reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, the victims’ estates successfully pursued a $25 million civil lawsuit against Simpson using the same facts.

Conviction is not required to pursue a civil case

Partly because the criminal process can take a long time and has an uncertain outcome, a civil lawsuit can be brought even when conviction is uncertain. In Nevada a criminal conviction is conclusive evidence of civil liability. NRS 41.133. Bear in mind that a plaintiff must still prove damages in a civil suit, and the defendant may still raise significant defenses even after being convicted. For example, a defendant convicted of a felony DUI could raise the argument of comparative negligence against an injured passenger to reduce the passenger’s compensation. Cromer v. Wilson, 126 Nev. 106 (2010).

The decision of whether to pursue a civil lawsuit requires careful consultation with an attorney. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have been the victim of a crime call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.