The attorney-client relationship is one of the most intimate non-family relationships one can have. An attorney is ethically bound to provide zealous, passionate representation to every client. The client, meanwhile, is entitled to ask questions and raise concerns. Sometimes a client finds that an attorney isn’t providing the kind of service that the client expects or isn’t getting the results the client believes are possible. In those cases, it can make sense for the client to find a new attorney.
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- Accident Lawyer
- Personal Injury
- Personal Injury Lawyer Las Vegas
- Product Liability
- Social Security Disability
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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.
Few personal injury cases go to trial. When they do, there are often close questions of fact or disagreements about narrow points of legal interpretation that prevent pretrial settlement. At the conclusion of a trial in which the plaintiff has prevailed, the jury will award the plaintiff compensation. From time to time a losing defendant will attempt to appeal the verdict of the jury in hopes of reducing or eliminating its liability at a higher court.
What can justify an appeal?Either party to a civil case may appeal to a higher court if it feels that the trial court failed to correctly decide a particular issue. For a losing defendant, there are several common arguments that might be raised by a defendant upon appeal, including these:
- Technical problems with jury instructions.
- A misinterpretation of the law by the presiding judge.
- Incorrect application of evidentiary rules.
- Improper admission of an expert’s testimony.
What happens when a case is appealed?While a valid appeal is pending the plaintiff may not receive anything from the defendant under the trial court’s decision. So long as there’s a chance that the trial court’s judgment could be overturned, it isn’t considered “final” and therefore is not binding on the defendant. This can lead to additional hardship for the plaintiff, a fact that the courts will try to take into consideration as they schedule hearings. Cost is a frustrating component of being faced with an appeal. An appeal often raises new and difficult legal questions that must be closely analyzed by the attorneys involved, adding to the cost of litigation for both sides. A goal of every trial lawyer is to ensure that appeals aren’t a serious threat, because the ultimate compensation that goes to the client will be chipped away by the fees that will have to be paid to an appellate lawyer. On the other hand, protecting a trial court’s judgment is usually worth the investment. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury, auto accident, and workers compensation cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.
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.
When someone is injured in an accident the first priority is always to ensure that the injury is promptly treated. As the aftermath of an accident unfolds, a potentially huge array of important information can be generated and recorded. Things like photos of the scene, the identities of witnesses, and specific conditions of the drivers and their vehicles can all play important roles in any ensuing litigation. If one side of the litigation deliberately or negligently destroys or loses track of evidence (what the legal community calls “spoliation” of evidence) the consequences for that side of the case can be significant.
Intentional versus negligent spoliation of evidenceSpoliation of evidence falls within a spectrum. At the most serious end are acts to deliberately destroy evidence that might serve to help the other side or hurt your own. For example, if a driver potentially caused an accident while distracted by his cell phone, he would commit spoliation if he threw away the phone to eliminate the possibility of it being investigated for evidence of his use at the time of the accident. In such cases the party that has committed the willful act of spoliation will be subject to a rebuttable presumption that the evidence so destroyed would have been adverse to the party. In short, the plaintiff in the case could rely on the defendant’s missing cell phone to prove that he was using it, even though the phone itself was not available. NRS 47.250. At the less extreme end of the spectrum lies negligent destruction of evidence. In the cell phone example, if the defendant simply lost his cell phone, perhaps because it fell out of his pocket on the bus leaving the accident, he might argue that the loss of the phone wasn’t deliberate. Courts have leeway to hold negligent spoliation against the party that caused it, but absent proof of intent there may be more leniency given depending on the circumstances.
What sort of evidence should you preserve?Spoliation of evidence works in both directions in a trial. The plaintiff and the defendant each have an obligation to take steps to ensure that evidence doesn’t get lost or destroyed before it can be analyzed and made a part of the litigation. Any evidence that could be used to tell the story of the accident and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff could be subject to spoliation. In addition to the cell phone example cited above, there are many other kinds of evidence that could be germane, such as these:
- Photos taken after the accident.
- Damaged cars themselves, especially if the damage tells a story and is repaired without at least first being photographed and documented.
- Notes taken after an accident, especially if they include the names and contact information of witnesses who otherwise are unknown.
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.
Owners of businesses, especially when the business is dependent upon the owner’s involvement, often stand to lose a lot when an injury forces them to stop working. A sole proprietor may lose more than just a salary; the business may lose clients or may be forced to close, depriving the entrepreneur of potential long-term growth. In a personal injury lawsuit the value of lost business can become an important component of the plaintiff’s damages claim. The value of lost business is a category of economic damages. Economic damages are available to plaintiffs in every type of personal injury lawsuit. One reason this is true is that economic damages can be calculated with a certain degree of accuracy, ensuring that the defendant is not unfairly made responsible for financial consequences that are beyond the scope of the injury he or she caused. A key problem for plaintiffs who wish to recover compensation for lost business is that the damages must be proven with sufficient reliability to be used by the court in assessing the plaintiff’s final damages award. Estimating lost future earnings can be especially tricky. There are a number of considerations that might go into this analysis, including:
- The business’s history. The business’s earnings history is of central importance in determining how much revenue was potentially lost as a consequence of the plaintiff’s injury. A longer track record makes historical data more useful. Newer businesses may need to rely on third-party projections to calculate lost earnings.
- Contingent profits. Although the plaintiff would like to argue that the business was going to grow exponentially and be wildly successful, fairness dictates that the damages award factor in a reasonable probability that the business would not always maximize its profits. This can be especially important for cases where the plaintiff seeks compensation for long-term lost profits.
- Other sources of recovery. If the business also carried insurance against the possibility of the plaintiff’s injury the amount the insurance paid will probably reduce the amount the defendant is liable for.
In a more perfect world, someone who is injured in an accident or by some act of negligence would always know what caused the injuries. But we don’t always see things coming. A car crash can be caused by a chain of events that is largely invisible at the point of collision. A product could become defective at any point in its commercial lifecycle, from its design to the point where it’s sold to the customer. When the cause of an injury isn’t clear, but it’s clear that someone was responsible for it, the injured person may need to sue multiple defendants.
The purpose of suing multiple defendantsWhen an injured plaintiff doesn’t know who should bear responsibility for an injury, suing everyone who may be at fault isn’t a mere fishing expedition. It’s good strategy. Quite often someone recovering from an injury is faced with mounting medical costs, lost work time, and pain. During such a crisis it’s important to take an aggressive position, even if potentially blameless defendants get temporarily caught up in the controversy. Suing several defendants at once has a number of advantages:
- Each defendant will pursue its own interests, which among other things encourages them to shift blame onto each other or identify other potential at-fault parties (through a so-called impleader).
- Each defendant will need to put forward evidence and testimony, shedding light on details that were hidden from the plaintiff at the beginning of the case.
- As the facts of the injury become clear it may turn out that more than one defendant bears some degree of responsibility, spreading out the liability and potentially improving the chances of collecting on a judgment.
Be aggressive, but be ethicalIt’s important for both the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyers that a personal injury lawsuit not be frivolous or merely harassing. Suing someone just to intimidate them into a settlement, by threatening high legal costs and an endless stream of paperwork, is unethical and unlawful. So is suing someone without having reasonable grounds for doing so. Courts are unkind to plaintiffs who attempt to abuse the judicial system. For the plaintiff, a court that determines that a suit was an abuse of process may order the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s legal costs. NRS 18.010((2)(b). The plaintiff’s attorney can also be subjected to sanctions, ranging from fines to potential disbarment (in extreme cases). NRCP Rule 11.
GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firmFor more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.
Many personal injury cases never go to trial. For defendants, reaching a negotiated settlement can be preferable to the risk and expense of a drawn-out court battle. For the injured plaintiff, settlements can have a number of benefits as well.
What is a settlement?Before getting into the question of whether it’s a good idea to settle, it’s helpful to understand what a settlement is. Settlements only take place after a law suit has been started—that is, the plaintiff has filed a complaint against the defendant, making certain assertions about the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries. A defendant typically hires an attorney to respond to the complaint, and the parties begin to assemble their case. The American legal system is designed to encourage the parties involved in civil litigation to reach settlements. A settlement saves the limited resources of the court system by avoiding all the complex work that goes into a courtroom trial. For that reason, courts will encourage the parties in a lawsuit to explore settlement. For some issues, the law requires a good faith effort by both sides to come to a pre-trial agreement. The court involved in the case oversees the settlement negotiation process. In fact, the negotiation of a settlement can itself be fairly complicated, especially if one side is not acting in good faith. Settlement negotiations can take place in front of a professional mediator, who helps the two sides come to common ground. When the parties reach an agreement the court must approve it before it is finalized. In doing so, the court also closes the litigation case on the terms agreed upon by the parties.
Why settle?There are a number of good reasons for an injured plaintiff to settle a case before it goes to trial:
- Certainty and control. A trial always involves the risk that the judge or jury will not find in the plaintiff’s favor. A settlement eliminates that possibility, while giving the plaintiff a greater say in the details of the final outcome.
- Faster results. Court procedures can take months or even years, especially if the defendant appeals the decision of the trial court. A settlement can result in the plaintiff getting compensated more quickly.
- Lower costs. Although a personal injury plaintiff’s attorneys typically work on contingency (that is, we don’t get paid until the plaintiff gets paid), attorneys are still entitled to recover for expenses incurred in preparation for trial. Compared to a settlement negotiation, a trial involves many more hours of lawyer work and can require expensive developmental work like expert testimony. In a settlement the plaintiff can receive a larger share of the final payout.
Potential reasons to reject a settlementSome plaintiffs may want to push through to trial. Here are some examples:
- The defendant’s settlement offer is low relative to the amount the plaintiff believes is owed.
- The plaintiff wants the defendant’s bad behavior to be exposed. A trial is a public event, whereas a settlement’s terms may be confidential. Of course, a plaintiff may want the details that would come out during trial to be kept confidential as well
- Bad faith or dishonesty by the defendant makes settlement undesirable.