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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.

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.

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.

Suing After Discovering Hidden Injuries Following an Accident

Victims of car accidents are often surprised to discover significant injuries well after the accident. In the rush to treat immediately obvious problems like cuts or broken bones, less obvious wounds can go undetected. Being injured isn’t normal, so people who are hurt often don’t realize that the symptoms they are experiencing are caused by something they don’t expect. Doctors may not have the right tools to discover “hidden” injuries, or they may not detect signs that ordinarily would justify further testing.

A personal injury lawsuit following an accident aims to get the injured plaintiff compensation for the damages resulting from his or her injuries. Damages can include medical costs, lost wages, and the cash value of personal consequences like pain. Ideally the plaintiff’s initial lawsuit claims the full scope of damages associated with the accident. But what if the lawsuit is already pending, or has already settled, when the plaintiff discovers a new injury?

While the litigation is ongoing a plaintiff may amend his or her complaint to add new claims that are relevant to the case. Adding claims may delay resolution of the case, as evidence related to the new injury gets exchanged. But at this point the door is still open to recover full compensation from the person who is at fault.

If the litigation has already ended, getting compensation for the newly discovered injuries can be more difficult. Most personal injury cases settle. As part of a settlement agreement plaintiffs typically are asked to sign releases that prevent them from pursuing further litigation for claims arising out of the accident. Under normal circumstances, such waivers prevent the plaintiff from “reopening” a case against the original defendant or his or her insurance company.

Even if a release was signed as part of a settlement the plaintiff may have options. In rare cases the plaintiff might get a court to throw out the settlement, if the defendant committed fraud or didn’t negotiate in good faith. The plaintiff may also have the option of suing other defendants. A doctor who failed to diagnose a significant injury may be liable for professional negligence. Perhaps the injury was caused by a defective product. Or perhaps the original lawsuit left out potentially liable parties that could be sued.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. 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.

Suing for Psychological Harm After an Accident

An accident that results in serious physical injuries often does considerably more harm than what may be outwardly visible. People who have been in an accident can suffer a broad range of psychological effects from the accident. Some effects stem directly from the accident itself, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others can be a consequence of living with the limitations that come with a serious injury, or from side effects of treatment. Depression, emotional imbalances, and struggles with interpersonal relationships are just a few examples of the kind of psychological harm an accident can cause.

Accident victims may have the option of pursuing damages for their psychological suffering as part of their lawsuit to recover compensation for other costs associated with their injuries. In a personal injury lawsuit, damages typically fall within one of two categories. Economic damages cover concrete costs that have been or are reasonably expected to be incurred by the injured plaintiff as a consequence of the defendant’s negligence. Economic damages include things like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages capture the more abstract categories of harm for which a straightforward “invoice” isn’t readily available. Compensation for pain and suffering is an example of noneconomic damages.

A psychological injury may have components of each type of damages. To the extent that the plaintiff’s psychological harm can be established as a medical problem, its associated costs may be regarded as a form of economic damages. If the psychological harm is less a matter of medical diagnosis and more a question of subjective opinion, it may be more likely to fall within the scope of noneconomic damages, as a form of “suffering.”

The distinction between economic and noneconomic damages is important in part because Nevada caps the amount a plaintiff can recover for certain types of damages. For example, in Nevada a plaintiff cannot recover more than $350,000 for pain and suffering damages. If a damages cap applies to a specific category of damages it’s important for the plaintiff’s attorney to ensure that damages are not miscategorized to the client’s detriment.

Proving psychological harm can be a challenge in any personal injury case. Psychological problems are often difficult to diagnose. Among other things, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the psychological harm was caused by the defendant’s negligence and not another cause. For example, a plaintiff who had an existing alcohol problem before the accident may have a hard time arguing that the accident triggered a more serious alcohol dependency. To prove psychological harm, the testimony of a psychiatrist can assist the court’s analysis. Testimony from friends and family about how the accident affected the plaintiff can also be valuable.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases. We take care to ensure that each client is given the attention they deserve. In pursuing our clients’ interests we take into account every aspect of their wellbeing, including the kinds of psychological effects that the accident may have had. For a free attorney consultation about your case, please call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Suing for Loss of Consortium in Nevada

Loss of consortium is a kind of damages that sometimes gets added to a plaintiff’s claim in personal injury lawsuits. It seeks to compensate the plaintiff for the basket of losses associated with a serious injury to a spouse or domestic partner. By adding loss of consortium to the claims in a lawsuit the plaintiff can recover compensation for injuries that might otherwise go uncaptured in the scope of other types of damages. In Nevada loss of consortium has several important features:

  • Who can claim loss of consortium?

Loss of consortium is available only to the spouse or domestic partner of the individual who has been seriously injured or killed. The important thing to note here is that important categories of people aren’t able to claim loss of consortium: children and other dependents, people in committed but legally unrecognized relationships (including people who are engaged to be married but as-yet unmarried), and so forth cannot make a claim for this type of loss.

  • What sort of losses are accounted for in loss of consortium?

The definition of “consortium” is simply the intangible interests that the plaintiff has in the welfare of his or her spouse or domestic partner. Because the term is vaguely defined, it leaves open the possibility of a plaintiff pursuing compensation for circumstances that are unique to his or her family. Common types of loss that are included within loss of consortium include loss of companionship, mutual assistance, sexual relations, and emotional support.

  • How is loss of consortium proved?

To recover loss of consortium damages they must be proved with sufficient specificity to enable the fact finder in the case to place a value upon them. In a sense the proof requirement imposes limits that are not present in the open-ended definition of “consortium.” For example, the plaintiff who claims loss of consortium on grounds that the injury has affected sexual relations will need to testify about the couple’s sexual relationship. Needing to explore these details in an adversarial proceeding is one reason why some plaintiffs opt to not pursue loss of consortium damages.

  • What is the relationship of loss of consortium claims to the underlying injury?

To sue for loss of consortium in Nevada a plaintiff’s spouse or domestic partner must also be suing to recover compensation for his or her injuries. Loss of consortium is a derivative claim that cannot stand on its own without a personal injury lawsuit for it to be derived from and made a part of. Depending on the facts of the case, the spouses may be represented by the same attorney.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injuries. We are passionate about helping clients recover full compensation for their injuries and will explore the pros and cons of a loss of consortium claim with clients in appropriate cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

The category of damages called “pain and suffering” can sometimes be the eye-catching part of a personal injury trial’s outcome. For example, a recent case awarded a plaintiff $10 million for pain and suffering in connection with a severe injury suffered by a teenager on a homeowner association’s badly maintained swing set. Someone who has been injured and is considering filing a lawsuit should take a moment to understand what pain and suffering damages are and what their limitations rae.

The categories of damages in Nevada civil litigation

Civil trial damages are divided into three categories:

  1. Economic (or compensatory) damages can be thought of as the consequences of the defendant’s wrong actions that can be reduced to a firm dollar figure without resorting to abstraction. Past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damage are examples of economic damages. The scope of economic damages can itself be a controversy at trial. For example, a person’s future earnings are contingent on many factors, like the person’s age, years to retirement, and career path.
  2. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases where the defendant has acted especially badly. The aim of punitive damages is to make an example out of the defendant to deter others from behaving in the same way.
  3. Noneconomic damages tend to be difficult or impossible to quantify using commonly accepted formulas. Examples of noneconomic damages include humiliation, anxiety, grief, and loss of enjoyment. Pain and suffering are just two closely related variations of noneconomic damages.

The types of damages that a plaintiff can seek in a case depend on the nature of the claim, the parties involved in the case, and other factors. Economic damages tend to be available in almost every case that isn’t simply barred on other grounds. But noneconomic damages can be subject to caps or even prohibited altogether. Such restrictions are usually contained in statutes that are designed to limit the liability risk of certain activities. For example, Nevada law limits noneconomic damages in professional negligence cases (e.g., medical malpractice) to $350,000. NRS 41A.035.

How are pain and suffering damages calculated?

A plaintiff’s claim for pain and suffering, or other forms of noneconomic damages, must be fair and reasonable and may not exceed any applicable statutory cap. Like all damages, pain and suffering also must be proven with evidence. The greater a showing the plaintiff can make of the tribulations suffered due to the defendant’s wrongful actions, the greater the potential damages award. Unlike a plaintiff’s medical bills, pain and suffering isn’t so much a matter of math as one of reasoned argument.

Proving pain and suffering requires a careful collection of hard evidence, like photos and medical records. Documentation of the plaintiff’s medical condition, such as x-rays, can be especially persuasive. Oral testimony can also be vitally important. The plaintiff’s family members, friends, occupational therapists, and others can help to paint a picture of how the plaintiff’s life has changed after the incident.

GGRM is an experienced personal injury law firm in Las Vegas

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident and would like to speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Seeking Compensation for Child Care After an Injury

Parents and other guardians of children can find that caring for a child after a serious injury is significantly harder than it was before the injury occurred. Routine tasks like lifting, driving, doing laundry, or cooking may no longer be possible while recovering from the injury. As a consequence, it may be necessary to hire outside help. Plaintiffs in this circumstance sometimes wonder if they can include the cost of child care in their personal injury lawsuit claims.

Nevada law allows plaintiffs in personal injury cases to include “replacement services” in the scope of the damages that are demanded in a lawsuit. Replacement services essentially covers things that the injured person used to do for themselves, but now must hire an outside person to do. This includes cooking and cleaning, and also includes taking care of children.

Replacement services are a form of economic damage, because they can be tied to real-world numbers. The actual cost of hiring a nanny or housekeeper, hiring a driver to take the kids to school, or hiring someone to cook can be proven with actual invoices or, if the plaintiff hasn’t been able to afford such services before the lawsuit begins, with reference to estimates or averages taken from services available in the plaintiff’s community.

As with other forms of damage, the cost of replacement services must be proven with reasonable certainty to be recoverable. Making a full accounting of the cost of child care will require consideration of a range of factors that include the anticipated likelihood of the plaintiff’s recovery to resume providing child care, and the age of the children involved (i.e., how long replacement services will be needed).

Although parents may seek to recover the highest possible compensation for child care services, courts may place some limits on what can be recovered. For example, a court may consider it unreasonable to provide plaintiffs with sufficient compensation to allow for a full-time, professional caregiver if the plaintiff’s circumstances would allow for a less expensive alternative. If prior to the injury the plaintiff shared child care responsibilities with another adult, the defendant may only be held liable for replacing the plaintiff’s services alone.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for personal injuries. We are proud of our long history of providing caring, thoughtful service to each client. We work hard to take every part of a client’s life into consideration as we develop our cases. Please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Understanding the Components of a Personal Injury Settlement

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.