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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.

Road Rage Accidents in Nevada

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.

The Enforceability of Liability Waivers Under Nevada Law

The Enforceability of Liability Waivers Under Nevada Law
All sorts of businesses ask their clients to sign liability waivers before taking part in risky recreational activities. From bicycle tours to whitewater rafting and skydiving, companies protect themselves against lawsuits by asking their customers to give up at least part of their legal right to sue in exchange for participation. When someone who has signed a liability waiver gets injured during the covered activity, the enforceability of the waiver can be a significant barrier to recovering compensation through the courts.

What a liability waiver can cover

Liability waivers are a type of contract between the person waiving their right to sue and the person the waiver protects. Because they’re contracts, the specific language of waivers matters a great deal. Most of the time a company that asks for a liability waiver will have a form that provides the maximum waiver permitted by law. An enforceable liability waiver has several traits. First, it must be easy to understand. If it is written in incomprehensible legalese, so that ordinary people can easily misread it, a court will be more likely to throw it out. Second, its terms must be visible. Placing a waiver in fine print or hidden in a strange place, like on the back of a page, may render it unenforceable. Finally, a waiver can only limit a business’s liability for ordinary negligence.

A waiver cannot cover gross negligence or willful misconduct

A business cannot escape liability for the behavior of its employees and agents that is grossly negligent. Gross negligence is a legal standard that describes especially careless behavior in the face of a legal duty to show care toward another person. A skydiving operation might commit gross negligence by failing to follow proper procedures when packing parachutes. A waiver also can’t cover liability for willful misconduct. If an employee or agent of a business deliberately tries to hurt someone, the waiver alone won’t protect the business from liability (though other defenses may apply).

The person signing the waiver must understand the risk

The enforceability of liability waivers is predicated on an underlying idea that the person signing the waiver understands the risks they are about to undertake. In legal terms, the person signing the waiver assumes the risk of the activity. To assume a risk, a person must voluntarily expose themselves to the risk, and must have actual knowledge of the risk. If a person who signs a liability waiver doesn’t fully appreciate the risks involved in an activity, there’s a possibility that the waiver isn’t valid, because the person signing didn’t know what was being waived. See Renaud v. 200 Convention Ctr., 102 Nev. 500 (1986).

GGRM can answer your questions about liability waivers

In an ideal world we would all have a lawyer at our side to help us understand important contracts like liability waivers before we sign them. But the fact is that we all sign waivers with the hope that everything goes well. If you have been injured during an activity that was covered by a liability waiver and you have questions about how it may affect your legal options, the lawyers at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez are happy to offer guidance. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.

The Types Of Negligence Recognized In Nevada

The Types Of Negligence Recognized In Nevada
Negligence is a commonly used legal standard in many kinds of lawsuits, including personal injury cases. For non-lawyers who are researching their legal options, negligence can be a confusing topic. That is in part because negligence has several variants with their own rules. In this piece we look at the types of negligence that can be found in Nevada civil lawsuits.

“Ordinary” negligence

The most common type of negligence is sometimes called “ordinary” negligence. All other forms of negligence to some degree refer back to the elements of ordinary negligence. A plaintiff who brings suit under a claim of ordinary negligence must show the following elements:
  • The defendant acted negligently by “failing to exercise that degree of care which an ordinarily careful and prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.” J.I. 4.03.
  • The plaintiff suffered an injury or property damage.
  • The defendant’s negligence was a proximate or legal cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
  • The plaintiff’s injuries resulted in damages that can be compensated through a legal process (in other words, the plaintiff’s injuries can be reduced to a dollar value).
The element of proximate or legal cause can be the lynchpin of a negligence case. In formal terms, a proximate cause produced the injury “in the natural and continuous sequence.” Nev. J.I. 4.04. Proximate cause is sometimes referred to as a “but for” test: but for the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff would not have been injured. Legal arguments around proximate cause often focus on intervening causes that might have disrupted the “natural and continuous sequence” between the defendant’s negligence and the plaintiff’s injury. A legal cause is simply a cause that was “a substantial factor in bringing about the injury.” Nev. J.I. 4.04A. A legal cause argument is used in place of the proximate cause test when the plaintiff’s injury may have had two causes, and either of those causes would’ve caused the injury by itself. Wyeth v. Rowatt, 126 Nev. 446, 464-65 (2010).

Other forms of negligence

There are several other kinds of negligence that you may run across. A lawsuit may claim more than one type of negligence, hoping to prevail on the most serious one.
  • Gross negligence is a variety of negligence that can apply where a defendant has acted especially badly. What differentiates gross negligence from ordinary negligence is the degree to which the defendant has acted without care. Nev. J.I. 6.21. The Nevada Supreme Court has described it as an “indifference to present legal duty . . . [an] utter forgetfulness of legal obligations so far as other persons may be affected.” Hart v. Kline, 61 Nev. 96 (1941).
  • Negligence per se is a special variety of negligence that arises in cases where the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury by violating a statute that was designed to protect a class of persons to which the plaintiff belongs. Barnes v. Delta Lines, 99 Nev. 688, 690 (1983). An example of a negligence per se situation might be a car accident caused by someone running a red light.
  • Comparative negligence is a legal defense that a defendant uses to reduce the amount of damages they owe by the extent to which the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the injury. A jury will assign the plaintiff’s negligence a percentage of responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence statute, NRS 41.141, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, he or she cannot recover anything.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer about negligence

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have deep experience with negligence cases of every stripe. If you have questions about how negligence might fit into a dispute, we are happy to help. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.