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Suing for Injuries from Rear-Ending Accidents

Getting rear-ended by another driver can cause major, life-altering injuries. Sometimes the nature of these injuries isn’t obvious until days or even weeks after the accident, when symptoms suddenly arise. Common injuries from rear-ending accidents include head trauma (concussions, skull fractures), neck and spine injuries (whiplash, herniated discs), and soft-tissue damage (injuries to nerves, muscular problems). Ideally the insurance of the at-fault driver will automatically cover the costs associated with such injuries, but in reality the injured person often needs to file a lawsuit to recover full compensation.

Insurance versus lawsuits

The reason a lawsuit may be necessary in a rear-ending case has to do how insurance works. In Nevada the minimum liability insurance that all nonprofessional drivers are required to carry is $25,000 per injured person per accident. Needless to say, $25,000 is unlikely to cover all the costs associated with a serious injury. For a person dealing with major medical bills, an inability to work, or other significant financial consequences, suing the at-fault driver may be necessary to get more.

Drivers who are involved in rear-ending accidents should take care to not fall into the trap of a quick settlement offer by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Settlement offers are usually made to limit an insurer’s exposure to risk. They rarely take into account the full scope of the consequences being suffered by the injured person. The injured person may feel that accepting the quick cash is necessary to cover immediate financial needs, but by taking it they may be leaving significant value on the table.

Documenting damages from rear-ending accidents

As with any car accident, someone who has been rear-ended should try to keep good records about details of the accident and its aftermath. Take pictures of the accident scene, write down notes about what happened, and look for potential witnesses who may be of help developing a legal case should it be necessary. Even if no injuries are apparent immediately after the accident, it is important to be examined by a doctor to verify that there are no hidden injuries, such as neck and spine displacement, that could become a problem later.

Seeking medical attention quickly also can be important for establishing the causal relationship between soft-tissue injuries and the accident. A defendant in rear-end cases may try to raise doubts about the link between the accident and an injury that was not immediately apparent at the time of the accident. A medical exam results in concrete records that can be important in any personal injury lawsuit.

GGRM is a Las Vegas auto accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and auto accident cases. If you have been injured in a rear-ending accident in Nevada, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Seeking Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident in Nevada

Nevada law imposes significant penalties on those who drive drunk, and for good reason. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 30 people die every day in the United States in crashes related to drunk driving. Many more than that are injured by drunk drivers every day. The consequences can be devastating for those who are injured and for their families.

Drunk driving is a crime, punishable in Nevada by a jail term of up to 6 months and a fine for first time offenders. Someone who kills another person as a consequence of drunk driving faces significantly harsher penalties. For the victim of a drunk driving crash, a criminal prosecution may offer solace in some regard, but it won’t necessarily pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and other damages associated with injuries.

Even if state prosecutors are pressing charges against a drunk driver, an injured victim (or the victim’s family, if the victim has died or is incapacitated) can sue in civil court for financial compensation. Such a lawsuit probably will seek recovery from the drunk driver’s insurance company, but more than likely will also seek to recover additional damages from the driver personally.

A drunk driver can be sued in civil court regardless of whether prosecutors will press charges, and regardless of whether the drunk driver is found guilty. Criminal courts have higher standards for conviction than the standards applied in civil courts for purposes of determining liability. A criminal conviction of a defendant is conclusive evidence of civil liability in Nevada. NRS 41.133. If a defendant has been convicted of a drunk driving offense, the questions in the civil case may turn to the extent of the damages for which the defendant should be held responsible.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in auto accident cases. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your options. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Infertility Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Infertility can be a shocking side effect of many types of personal injury. Whether as a consequence of direct physical injury, or due to necessary courses of treatment, infertility may be a significant contributing factor in a person’s post-injury recovery. Someone who was planning to have children and no longer can, or who must now go through expensive fertility treatments to do so, may have the option of adding those issues to a list of demands in litigation.

Infertility as a form of damages

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured plaintiff demands compensation for the damages associated with the injury that can be attributed to the defendant’s bad behavior. Plaintiffs typically base their claims on a range of well understood things like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. A lawsuit may also seek recovery for so-called noneconomic damages, like a plaintiff’s suffering. Infertility can be a factor in both types of damages.

This is because infertility can have elements that are relatively easy or relatively difficult to quantify. On the one hand are cases where an injury forces the plaintiff to undergo expensive fertility treatments or psychological therapy to overcome emotional trauma specifically stemming from loss of fertility. The costs of such treatments have clear sources. On the other hand, the plaintiff’s emotional suffering may have an abstract dimension as well. The costs of losing the ability to have a child can in many ways be more abstract than concrete.

The problems of proof

To receive compensation for any type of damages a plaintiff in a personal injury case must be able to prove the damages with reasonable certainty. Infertility is an example of an injury that raises challenges of proof for a plaintiff. There are several reasons why this can be so, including these:

  • Causation. A plaintiff’s fertility problems may have more than one cause. In cases where a clear line can’t be drawn between the plaintiff’s infertility and the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff will need additional resources, such as the testimony of a medical expert. Likewise, a defendant likely will try to raise doubts about whether the plaintiff has proven the case, for example by asking for evidence that the plaintiff had no fertility problems prior to the injury.
  • Emotional harm is harder to prove. For plaintiffs who seek damages for suffering of any kind, issues of proof can raise extra challenges. Infertility may raise especially difficult questions, as plaintiffs may need to “prove” their interest in having children and how infertility has affected them. A plaintiff’s attorney can take steps to protect the client from overzealous defense lawyers, but ultimately the client will need to decide whether pursuing these sorts of damages is worth the emotional cost.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and auto accident litigation. We are proud of our firm’s long history of providing clients with complete, personal service.  For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How Much is Your Lost Career Worth?

A serious injury can have devastating consequences for a person’s work life. Someone who can’t continue a promising career because of a serious injury is often forced to start again, either to develop new skills or perhaps to quit work altogether. In the course of developing the claims that go into a personal injury lawsuit, and in the course of negotiating a settlement, the plaintiff needs to have a good basis for calculating the value of the injury’s impacts on the plaintiff’s work and career.

Fairness dictates that plaintiffs must have a reliable basis for the damages they claim in a lawsuit. Among other things, a plaintiff must support a claim of damages with evidence, which may include financial records and other historical information, as well as expert testimony from an accountant who specializes in helping litigants calculate damages. Accountants will take into consideration a number of factors to arrive at a reasonable estimate of a plaintiff’s lost earning potential. These include:

  • The plaintiff’s age. The younger a plaintiff was at the time of an injury, the longer into the future a serious injury must be projected.
  • The plaintiff’s work history. Any projection of future earnings must be based in part on past performance.
  • The injury’s prognosis. If a plaintiff is expected to make a full or partial recovery, based on a physician’s diagnosis, that will be an important consideration in determining how much the defendant should be expected to pay.
  • Other compensation the plaintiff will receive. Typically, a plaintiff’s compensation from a defendant will be offset by other forms of compensation, like disability insurance. Such insurance rarely covers the entire scope of a plaintiff’s losses, so a plaintiff can seek to “top up” from the defendant.
  • Statistical averages. Every plaintiff is unique, but when an injury derails a career it is often helpful to reference the average career arc of other people in similar lines of work. For example, someone who is injured early in a career should be granted recovery for a reasonably foreseeable progression of promotions, job changes, and other things that could be expected to impact earnings potential over time if an injury hadn’t intervened.
  • Discounts for projected setbacks. In addition to using projected progress, an accountant also needs to allow for the possibility of negative events that could impact a plaintiff’s career over time. Things like the likelihood of future illness and even projections of changes to a plaintiff’s industry could be included as factors.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

How Divorce Can Affect a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Life doesn’t stand still for litigation. A personal injury lawsuit is often just one component of a larger, complicated set of issues facing the injured person, the people who caused the injury, and their families. Among the challenges that litigants sometimes face is a concurrent divorce. Divorce can have a number of effects on a lawsuit and how a prevailing plaintiff collects compensation afterward.

When the plaintiff is getting divorced . . .

A legal cause of action can be thought of as an asset little different from a car or an expensive piece of jewelry. A case that’s pursued to its end could be worth a substantial sum, even after major expenses are paid. Quite often a plaintiff will receive compensation for things like lost future earnings, future medical expenses, or home upgrades to accommodate a disability.

Because a lawsuit can be worth a substantial sum, it can become a source of contention in a divorce proceeding. Depending on the law that applies to the marriage and externalities like prenuptial agreements, the uninjured spouse may be entitled to a significant portion of a future judgment award or settlement. Nevada is a community property state, which among other things means that a married couple will have equal rights to the assets of the marriage, including a legal claim. In some cases, the spouse may demand to be represented in settlement negotiations, complicating the process.

When the defendant is getting divorced . . .

In certain ways a defendant’s divorce proceedings present an inverted set of issues to those raised by a plaintiff’s divorce. After a personal injury case settles or gets resolved through a trial, the defendant may owe the plaintiff a substantial debt. Nevada’s community property rule applies here as well, in most situations making both spouses “own” the liability and debts associated with the litigation.

A typical case settles without going to trial, allowing the parties in the suit to negotiate important details like how the defendant’s payments to the plaintiff will be structured. If the defendant is going through a divorce, one goal of the plaintiff’s lawyers will be to ensure that the divorce doesn’t distract from the plaintiff’s ability to get compensated for his or her injuries. Attorneys can take steps to ensure that disagreements between divorcing spouses remain the couple’s problem and don’t also become a problem for the injured plaintiff.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

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. We work closely with each client to address the full scope of a case, including issues of divorce and other family matters that may affect a case’s outcome. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Approaches for Calculating Lost Earnings in a Personal Injury Case

Lost earnings can be among the most important components of the compensation a plaintiff can pursue in a personal injury case. Besides providing the plaintiff with the means to pay for the costs associated with medical care and recovery, a defendant should also be held responsible for the injury’s effect on the plaintiff’s ability to work, in both the short and long term. Although calculating lost earnings sounds like a fairly simple idea, in practice it involves a number of complex considerations that in some cases can require the advice and analysis of an expert.

Personal injury cases seek a specific amount of compensation, which must be calculated in a way that is reasonable, fair, and based on provable facts. When a plaintiff sues for lost earnings, several factors must be taken into account:

  • The plaintiff’s earnings history. The simplest source of information about the plaintiff’s lost earnings is, of course, the plaintiff’s earning history in the period before the injury. For a plaintiff with a steady, full-time job, using earning history may be an appropriate way to arrive at a complete picture. Less clear are cases where the plaintiff’s income history is uneven or inconsistent. For example, a plaintiff who writes novels for a living may only earn a paycheck every two years, and the paychecks may have varied significantly from year-to-year.
  • The prognosis of the injury. In many cases the key component of lost earnings is an estimate of the injury’s long-term consequences for the plaintiff’s career. The defendant’s liability will be limited by the extent to which the plaintiff is expected to recover and resume work.
  • The plaintiff’s expected career arc. The longer an injury is expected to affect a plaintiff’s ability to work, the more complex the estimate of lost wages becomes. This analysis may involve several components, including the plaintiff’s age relative to expected retirement and the average career arc of others in similar jobs. Note that a plaintiff may not be able to recover for unusual, contingent career plans. For example, though a novelist might reasonably seek recovery based on the performance of previous works, it probably is inappropriate to argue that a future work would be a best seller.
  • Other forms of compensation. A plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation from a defendant may be reduced by other forms of compensation that are available to the plaintiff, including disability insurance.

Proving lost wages often requires the expert testimony of an accountant. Accountants who specialize in estimating lost earnings use established methods to analyze factors like those in the above list. Expert testimony helps the plaintiff arrive at a reliable estimate of lost earnings and gives the defendant a reliable means of reaching a fair settlement.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We work closely with each client to pursue the full scope of compensation for the consequences of their injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Accounting for the Anguish of a Child After an Accident

A major auto accident or other event that causes significant personal injuries can be traumatic for everyone involved. Children can be especially affected. A child can suffer a variety of psychological effects. These effects can have long-term consequences, especially if the child suffers a traumatic injury, witnesses another person being injured, or, in perhaps the most tragic cases, loses a parent in the accident. In a personal injury lawsuit following such a traumatic event, the child (or the child’s representative) can seek compensation for the child’s suffering.

Seeking compensation for a child’s suffering

A child’s psychological trauma can be accounted for in a number of ways by a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. As a preliminary matter, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove a causal connection between the defendant’s negligence, or other wrongdoing, and the child’s trauma. Causation may seem like a fairly simple issue, but in some cases it can raise challenging evidentiary questions. Testimony from a child’s psychiatric and pediatric doctors, family members, and other caregivers may be needed to develop a reliable picture of how the accident caused the child’s difficulties.

To recover any kind of damages they must be capable of being reduced to a dollar value and must be proven. Psychological harm may have two components: one concrete, one abstract. Concrete, or in legal terms economic damages, are those that have a clear cash value. These might include the costs associated with a child’s therapy. Once the question of causation is answered, proving economic damages may involve providing invoices and other records for past expenses, and potentially the assistance of an accountant or medical professional who can provide an estimate of potential future costs of a similar kind.

Abstract or noneconomic damages seek recovery for things like suffering and pain. Noneconomic damages can be significantly greater than economic damages in some cases. Plaintiffs’ attorneys use established methods for determining how much value to place on noneconomic damages. In a case that goes before a jury, the jury will ultimately determine the amount of noneconomic damages that will be awarded.

In some cases the amount of economic and noneconomic damages that a plaintiff can recover may be limited by statute. For example, in a professional negligence case (such as a medical malpractice case against a doctor or hospital) the maximum noneconomic damages that can be recovered is $350,000.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury and auto accident cases for over 45 years. If your child has suffered serious psychological trauma as a consequence of being in an accident, we can help you examine your options for recovering just compensation. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Between Family Members

Popular ideas about lawsuits are often informed by television dramas. To dial up the tension, a TV show will paint litigation as a high stress battleground, where animosity fuels the legal strategy of both sides and leaves no possibility of friendship or understanding in its wake. Of course, litigation can also be expensive, especially for the losing side. For these and other reasons, few people want to sue their parents or their siblings even if there is a clear-cut case to be made for their liability for a serious injury. Despite these misgivings, there can be cases where litigation offers the best outcome for everyone involved.

The most likely scenario that could justify a lawsuit between family members is if the at-fault person’s insurance carrier has refused to pay compensation that it is obligated to pay under a policy. In such cases the real defendant may be the insurance company rather than the family member, though it may be necessary to include the family member as a defendant to take full advantage of the insurance policy’s provisions or for other reasons. Such suits may arise after auto accidents or in accidents that should be covered by a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. In such cases it can be helpful if the insurer is also obligated to cover the co-defendant’s legal fees.

If an insurer isn’t involved, the issue of whether to sue can become significantly more complex. The challenge for a family in this situation is the balancing act between the short- and long-term needs of the injured person and the financial wellbeing of the at-fault defendant. Filing a lawsuit may clearly be in the injured plaintiff’s best interests, where the only deterrent is the family relationship. The question then becomes whether the strain of a lawsuit is worth taking on in exchange for getting just compensation for a serious injury.

Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Every family faces different circumstances, and every injury involves unique challenges. The key for someone who is faced with this decision is to get advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. Free consultations are the norm in personal injury practice, giving potential plaintiffs an opportunity to explore their legal options without cost. Any attorney who is focused on the client’s wellbeing will understand the complex emotional and interpersonal consequences that would come with filing a lawsuit.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We have nurtured a reputation for providing caring, compassionate advice to our clients. We take the time to get to know you and understand the full scope of your concerns before recommending a strategy that we think will best help you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Can an Accident Witness Sue for Psychological Trauma?

Bodily injuries resulting from an accident are rightfully given a lot of attention in the accident’s aftermath. Spinal injuries, broken limbs, and disfigurement are undeniably serious and highly visible. But the psychological consequences of an accident can be quite serious, too, and they may not be obvious to anyone outside of the small circle of the accident victim’s close friends and family. In any lawsuit following an accident involving serious personal injury, psychological harm needs to be factored into the compensation sought by the plaintiff.

The practical challenges of psychological injury

Someone who has suffered a mental health setback can require specialized care, potentially including medication, potentially for a long time. This kind of treatment can be very expensive but may be required to sustain the person’s long-term physical health. Getting compensated for these costs is important.

There are several reasons why a psychological injury may pose challenges for an injured plaintiff in a personal injury case. The first is diagnosis. Psychological injuries can be difficult to identify, let alone treat. In the immediate aftermath of an accident the victim’s physical injuries likely will give rise to significant costs and hardship. The victim may not even be aware of the psychological damage that he or she has suffered until sometime later.

Another potential problem for plaintiffs is proof. A plaintiff must be able to prove damages with reasonable certainty in order to recover compensation for them. Psychological injuries can give rise to a “battle of the experts” in the courtroom, as the defense tries to discredit or undermine the plaintiff’s claims related to these “unobservable” injuries.

Psychological harm and insurance

In accidents covered by insurance, like car crashes, a key question is whether the at-fault person’s insurance policy will cover treatment for mental health consequences of the accident. Many general liability policies are drafted to cover “bodily injury,” which they very specifically define to exclude psychological injury such as mental anguish, suffering, or specific conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Although an insurance company has a legal obligation to provide coverage for injuries that fall within the scope of its policies, it will closely scrutinize claims and deny anything that falls outside the policy.

This limitation has important consequences for people who hope to recover full compensation for their injuries from the at-fault party’s insurance policy. The injured plaintiff may need to pursue compensation from other sources, such as the personal assets of the at-fault individual.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. We can help you examine your legal options to recover compensation for psychological injuries. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Gross Negligence in Nevada Personal Injury Cases

A personal injury lawsuit usually involves making a claim of negligence against a defendant. For negligence to apply, the defendant must have breached a legal duty of care owed to the plaintiff. Many legal duties require a person to act reasonably with respect to some hazard: a driver is expected to take reasonable care to drive safely, a homeowner is expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries to guests. In an ordinary personal injury case, the reasonableness standard can lead to close calls, requiring careful argumentation and a close analysis of the facts of the injury.

Sometimes a personal injury results from behavior that is well beyond what anyone could term “reasonable.” In such cases a plaintiff can pursue a claim of gross negligence, which is distinguished from ordinary negligence by the availability of punitive damages to a successful plaintiff.

In many respects a gross negligence case is no different from an ordinary negligence case. The plaintiff still has the burden of proving each of the elements of negligence in order to prevail. The defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty of care, as determined by statute, regulation, or legal precedent. The defendant must have breached that duty of care, and as a consequence of that breach the plaintiff must have suffered a harm that can be compensated through the legal process.

A claim of gross negligence must be supported by an additional set of facts laid on top of the ordinary negligence case. In 1941’s Hart v. Kline case, the Nevada Supreme Court explained gross negligence as “an act or omission respecting legal duty of an aggravated character as distinguished from a mere failure to exercise ordinary care. It is very great negligence, or the absence of slight diligence, or the want of even scant care.”

In essence, gross negligence is behavior that falls just below an intentional act to hurt someone. This is an important distinction for plaintiffs, who don’t need to prove the intent of the defendant. Instead, they need only show that the defendant’s behavior reflected an indifference toward the potential risks posed to others.

A plaintiff in a gross negligence case can seek compensation for damages related to the injury, such as medical bills and consideration for pain. The prevailing plaintiff can also ask the court to grant punitive damages. Punitive damages may be granted in cases where the court determines that the defendant’s actions were so wrongful that the defendant should be required to pay what is effectively a punishment. Punitive damages are intended to send a signal to the rest of the world, to deter the behavior that led to the plaintiff’s injury. Note that statutes sometimes limit the availability of punitive damages, or limit how large a punitive damages award can be.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. If you have been injured by someone’s gross negligence, 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.