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Hit-and-Run Cases in Nevada

Hit-and-run accidents have been growing more common. Even a relatively simple incident, where someone causes minor property damage and flees the scene, can cause headaches for victims. But more serious consequences are unfortunately growing more common as well. Pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by a vehicle rarely have the presence of mind to remember details about the vehicle that struck them. Nevada is near the top of the nation for hit-and-run deaths, a sobering statistic that should make Nevadans especially wary when they hit the road.

What is a “hit and run” accident in Nevada?

A hit and run accident can implicate several distinct rules in Nevada law. A driver who is involved in an accident in Nevada has several legal obligations. First, drivers have an affirmative duty to provide reasonable assistance to others who have been injured in the accident. The type of care that’s “reasonable” will depend on the circumstances. Calling for emergency care, making an effort to stabilize an injury, or taking someone to a hospital may all be examples of reasonable assistance. A second obligation drivers have is to provide one-another with identifying information: their names, addresses, and registration information.

A hit-and-run accident involves someone disregarding the obligation to give assistance and provide information. Doing so is a crime. If the accident only resulted in property damage, leaving the scene is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and the addition of demerit points to the driver’s license. Fleeing the scene of an accident that involves personal injury or death is a more serious crime, punishable as a felony with a jail sentence of up to twenty years, a larger fine, and the possibility of having one’s license suspended or revoked.

How to catch a hit-and-run criminal

The victim of a hit-and-run accident should report the incident to the police. One hopes that witnesses or footage from a nearby surveillance camera might give the police clues to track down the offending driver. Police have a number of investigatory tools at their disposal. For example, garages are required to maintain records of repairs made to cars that appear to have been involved in crashes. These records can be used with other information to establish the liability of the driver who is attempting to evade responsibility.

If police identify the perpetrator of a hit-and-run accident they may pursue criminal charges against him or her. The victim may also wish to separately file a civil lawsuit against the driver. This may be necessary to trigger coverage under the driver’s insurance policy, and in any event may be necessary to recover for the full cost of the injuries caused by the hit-and-run. In the civil lawsuit, the fact that the driver committed a hit-and-run offense will add powerful weight to the plaintiff’s case, especially if the defendant has been convicted in a criminal proceeding.

If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, talk to an attorney

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients who have been involved in car accidents. In a hit-and-run case it can be especially important to have an experienced attorney helping to coordinate with police investigators and develop a comprehensive case for pursuing compensation. If you have been injured in a hit-and-run and you would like to discuss your legal options, call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Cyclists Face Significant “Dooring” Risk from Parked Cars

Riding along side parked cars is one of the riskier circumstances a cyclist can encounter on the road. “Dooring” happens when a driver or driver-side passenger swings open his or her door in front of an unsuspecting cyclist. The cyclist faced with a sudden obstruction may have no ability to stop or change course before hitting the door. The results can be catastrophic for the cyclist, who can be thrown over the top of the bicycle and land hard on his or her head or shoulders.

Mitigating the risk of dooring has become a focus for members of the cycling community in recent years. New cyclists are often counseled by more experienced riders to watch for people sitting in parked cars, and if possible to allow plenty of room for parked cars even if no one appears to be sitting in them. Driver education programs are also underway. For example, the Dutch Reach Project is working to train drivers to open their doors with their right hands. This simple change forces the body to turn, allowing for an oncoming cyclist to enter the driver’s peripheral vision. The practice is taught as a matter of course in the Netherlands.

For the cyclist who has been injured in a dooring accident, a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills and other costs associated with the injuries may be warranted. Cycling accidents raise a number of specific legal issues that attorneys may examine as part of their initial review of the case. These issues can include:

  • Assumption of risk. Over the years defendants in cases involving cyclist injuries have had some success arguing that the cyclist assumed the risk of injury by choosing to ride a bike in a dangerous circumstance. Assumption of risk is predicated upon the idea that the rider knew about the risk of being doored and continued to ride anyway. The argument may go that the rider had the option of taking the entire lane but was unsafely hugging the edge of the roadway, where the risk of being doored was greater.
  • Comparative negligence. Another common defense in auto accidents is the argument that the plaintiff bears at least some of the responsibility for the accident. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence rule, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff’s negligence was at least 50% at fault, the plaintiff will not be able to recover anything. For example, the cyclist might have been riding in a negligent manner if he or she was trying to send a text message on a cell phone at the time of the accident.
  • Time and circumstances. Any auto accident case needs to be evaluated in light of all the facts surrounding the accident. Was the accident during the day or at night? Was the cyclist using a light or other safety equipment that the driver might have seen and ignored? What traffic conditions were present at the time of the accident? Questions like these may shape how the case proceeds.

For over four decades the Las Vegas law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in accident and personal injury cases. We can help cyclists who have been injured in accidents examine their legal options and seek compensation for their injuries. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Avoiding Auto Insurance Fraud Charges in Nevada

Claims under auto insurance policies run the gamut from repairs for damage to the vehicle to medical bills. Although many such claims are legitimate, statistics suggest that drivers are increasingly committing fraud against their insurers. Defrauding an insurer not only risks one’s insurance. It is also a category D felony, punishable in Nevada by up to four years of imprisonment as well as fines and other financial restitution.

What qualifies as auto insurance fraud in Nevada?

To be prosecuted for the crime of insurance fraud an individual must have knowingly and willingly taken steps to deceive an insurer. In simplified terms, fraud involves making statements that the person submitting the statement knows are false or misleading, or that conceal or omit facts that may be material. A consumer can commit fraud in an application for insurance, in a claim, or by helping someone else commit a deception. Accepting benefits that one is not actually entitled to is another form of insurance fraud.

As a criminal matter, the individual’s intent is a key requirement for the state to prosecute for insurance fraud. Someone who makes a claim based on mistaken information might not be committing criminal fraud. Making a mistake is not enough to qualify as criminal fraud, so long as the insurer is notified of the mistake once it is discovered.

The criminal question may not be the only one to ask in a given situation. The insured person also needs to understand if the insurance policy has specific rules and requirements for inadvertent errors or omissions. Even if the insured can’t be prosecuted for criminal fraud, the insurer may still refuse to honor the policy in circumstances where it feels the insured is not fulfilling his or her contractual obligations.

How does an insured person avoid committing insurance fraud?

Some people deliberately try to trick their insurers in various ways. Most people understand that purposefully lying to collect on insurance policies, for example by staging accidents, is illegal and likely to end badly. But ordinary people can sometimes be tempted to make fraudulent statements to an insurer.

The key thing to bear in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that there is no benefit to making false statements or leaving out important details. Insurers are in the business of finding reasons to deny claims, and insured people should assume that the insurer will thoroughly examine every claim to verify that it is valid. One may be tempted to leave out a detail that might give the insurer a grounds for denying the claim (for example, a driver omitting that she was unlawfully using her cell phone in an accident in which she was not primarily at fault) or adding a small additional component to a claim (such as claiming damages for things that aren’t related to an accident). These are temptations to avoid. Even if the statements don’t rise to the level of criminal fraud, the insurer can deny claims and cancel policies if it thinks it is being manipulated. After being in an accident no one wants to be left without the backing of an insurer.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident, personal injury, and workers’ compensation cases. For a free attorney consultation about your situation call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Keeping Kids Safe While Riding in a Boat

In some ways, the pleasure of riding in a boat can bring out the kid in all of us. Children are naturally drawn to water and riding in a boat is undeniably fun. Owners and operators of boats who plan to take children aboard still need to think carefully about how to best keep their little passengers safe during the trip. Here are a few basic principles:

  1. Comply with floatation device requirements.

In Nevada every boat must carry life jackets that comply with U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) guidelines for personal flotation devices (PFDs). There are a number of specific rules for PFDs.

  • Every boat must carry at least one life jacket per passenger. Larger vessels (16 feet or larger) must carry additional floatation equipment. When considering whether sufficient PFDs are on board, take into account the size requirements of different passengers. Children and infants have very different sizing and fit requirements when compared to adults.
  • Children under 13 years of age are required to wear a PFD at all times while a vessel is underway unless the child is fully confined inside the boat. A child may not need to wear a life jacket while below deck on a sail boat, but would need to wear one on a power boat with only a partial enclosure.
  • Life jackets need to be in good condition. If a life jacket has a damaged buckle or frayed material it should be replaced.
  • Life jackets must be legibly marked with the applicable USCG approval number.
  • PFDs must be accessible, which means that it is being worn or can be reached and is ready to wear. A life jacket that’s kept in a box, especially if the box is locked, doesn’t meet this requirement.
  1. Know your passengers.

Take a moment to find out how much experience your young passengers have with boats. Children who have never ridden on a boat before probably don’t know what to expect if, for example, the boat hits waves while under power. Know whether your passengers can swim so that you can anticipate the kind of intervention that might be required in an emergency.

  1. Talk about boat safety.

Children should be taught how to respond in the event of an emergency on the water. In a real emergency, such as if the boat flips over or the child falls overboard, an adult may not be able to reach the child right away. Especially on boats that are prone to tipping (canoes, sail boats) it’s important to teach children to stay with the boat in the event of a capsize. Have a plan if the child falls overboard. Ideally, the child has spent time in the water wearing a lifejacket, so he or she knows what to expect.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a boating accident we are happy to discuss your case with you. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Towing a Trailer Legally and Safely in Nevada

Towing a Trailer Legally and Safely in Nevada

With summer in full swing Nevada’s roads are full of vehicles towing trailers. Drivers who tow trailers behind their vehicles need to be mindful of state laws governing safety and installation requirements. Failure to comply with the law can create a dangerous situation that leads to property damage, personal injuries, and expensive litigation.

Nevada’s minimum requirements for trailers

Nevada law has a number of rules that drivers must follow when towing trailers on roads in the state.

  • Reflectors and lighting. All trailers in the state must have two red tail lamps on the back. The lamps must be bright enough to be visible for at least 500 feet to the rear. Trailers also must have stop lamps that are activated when brakes are applied. Stop lamps need to be bright enough when activated to be visible during the day. Most trailers built in the last 50 years are required to have turn signal lights. Rear red reflectors are also required, either separately or as part of the rear lights. NRS 484.551, NRS 484.555, NRS 484.557, NRS 474.553.
  • Trailers that weigh 1,500 pounds or more and were built after July 1, 1975, are required to be equipped with service brakes on all wheels. The brakes must be able to stop the trailer for at least 15 minutes should the trailer be disconnected from the vehicle. NRS 484.593.
  • Wide loads. Trailers over 80 inches wide must comply with additional lighting and reflector requirements. NRS 484.561.
  • Safety chains. Trailers must be installed with safety chains connected to their towing vehicles to prevent runaways.
  • In Nevada trailers are separately titled and registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Managing risks involving a trailer

The state does not impose special insurance requirements for trailers. However, it’s a good idea to check with your liability carrier to confirm that your policy covers damage caused by a trailer. Drivers can get into trouble towing trailers in a number of ways:

  • Jackknifing, fishtailing, and other loss of control. Driver error can lead to a trailer going out of control. Understanding how to respond to these situations is essential to being a responsible trailer owner. Know the maximum safe speed at which your vehicle to can safely tow your trailer, taking into account how its behavior can change depending on its load and road conditions. Proper maintenance, including keeping tires adequately inflated, is also an important part of maintaining control.
  • A properly installed trailer shouldn’t break away from the towing vehicle, but mistakes happen. A breakaway at slow speeds may be a manageable problem, but at highway speeds or on steep grades it can create a serious hazard. This is especially true of old trailers that don’t have braking systems that are required in new equipment. Safety chains hopefully prevent the worst-case scenarios, but the best solution is to avoid breakaways by double checking all connections before getting underway. Failing to do so could be a form of negligence that creates serious legal liability.
  • Drivers who lack experience working with trailers often have a hard time controlling them, especially when backing up. Drivers who will operate trailers regularly can benefit from specialized training courses. If a driver who lacks experience will operate the towing vehicle, take care to keep speeds under control and avoid complex situations as much as possible.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury and accident law firm. If you have questions about an accident involving a trailer, call us today for a free attorney consultation. Reach us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Accidents During Ridesharing Trips

Accidents During Ridesharing Trips

With ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft becoming ever more common, the likelihood of being involved in an accident with one of their drivers rises as well. For someone who is injured in an accident involving a rideshare driver—whether the injured person is the passenger, a pedestrian, or in another vehicle—the involvement of the ridesharing company can have consequences for the resulting legal dispute.

Ridesharing and insurance

Ridesharing companies typically provide coverage for their drivers under commercial insurance policies similar to what conventional taxi companies carry. Nevada law requires ridesharing drivers to be covered under personal or commercial policies with limits that vary based on where the driver is in the ridesharing process (NRS 690B.400 et. seq.):

  • While waiting for a passenger (Phase 1): While a driver is cruising around with the ridesharing app active waiting for a passenger to request a ride, his or her liability insurance policy must cover at least $50,000 per injury, per person; $100,000 bodily injury per accident; and $25,000 in property damage.
  • While on the way to pick up the passenger (Phase 2) and while carrying the passenger (Phase 3): Once the driver is matched to a passenger, and until the passenger leaves the vehicle, the driver must be covered for not less than $1.5 million of liability per accident.

Ridesharing drivers can also buy additional ridesharing endorsements from their personal auto insurance providers. The main purpose of buying add-on coverage like this is to protect the driver from the coverage limitations of a typical ridesharing company’s policy. For example, a driver may want more than the minimum coverage during Phase 1 waiting. A ridesharing endorsement can also protect a driver from deductibles payable by the driver under the company’s commercial policy ($1,000 for Uber, $2,500 for Lyft).

Keeping track of details

A person injured in any car accident hopefully has an opportunity to collect essential information about the crash before the people involved leave the scene. Most of the important details are the same as for any car crash, and include:

  • Names and contact information for drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
  • Insurance policy information for everyone involved.
  • The name and contact information for the ridesharing company.

Winning the battle over fault

In any legal dispute following an accident, someone who has been injured may wish to sue both the individual driver as well as the ridesharing company. The ridesharing companies expect this and are insured to deal with it.

Insurance companies prefer to settle auto accident cases rather than take them all the way to trial. Settlement can give injured parties faster relief as well. But in an accident the insurance companies involved will try to shift the blame for the accident away from themselves. In the ridesharing context, that can mean the driver’s personal insurer and the company’s commercial insurer may end up arguing about who should pay.

GGRM is an auto accident law firm in Las Vegas

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients who have been injured in auto accidents. Although ridesharing has introduced novel problems onto Nevada’s roads, it hasn’t altered the basic legal framework of car accidents. If you have been injured in an accident involving a ridesharing driver, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.

Can a Bar Be Sued for Letting Someone Drive Away Drunk?

Can a Bar Be Sued for Letting Someone Drive Away Drunk?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes nationwide is more than $44 billion. The potentially catastrophic cost of car crashes—from property damage to severe injuries and even death—often leaves families with a pile of bills and long-term pain. To recover some compensation for these costs, families often sue the drunk driver and the driver’s insurer. In cases where the accident happened after the driver left a bar, families may wonder if they can also sue the bar for negligence.

Nevada limits the liability of people who serve alcohol

Generally speaking, the mere fact that a bar continued to serve a drunk patron may not be enough to establish that the bar bears legal responsibility for the consequences of the patron’s intoxication. Under NRS 41.1305, people who serve, sell, or otherwise furnish drinks in Nevada are shielded from civil liability for any damages that result from their patrons or guests consuming alcohol.

NRS 41.1305 creates a broad shield against liability. Note for example that it applies to “persons” who serve alcohol; the protection is not merely for bars, restaurants, and other places that hold a liquor license. Individuals who host parties at their homes, organizations that serve alcohol at events, and businesses that provide drinks to employees are all protected against liability.

The underage driver exception

NRS 41.1305 makes an exception for people who knowingly serve alcohol to someone who is underage (under 21). In that case, the server is liable not only for the damages caused by the underage driver but also for the injured plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, costs, and punitive damages.

Even when a bar serves an underage driver, establishing liability can be tricky. First, the statute’s liability provision applies only to people who “knowingly” serve an underage patron. A bar can’t disregard its obligation to verify the age of patrons who enter 21-and-over areas. NRS 202.030. But whether a convincing fake ID could get a bar off the hook for liability under NRS 41.1305 is another matter.

The statute also provides that, with respect to liability for underage drinking, persons who are licensed to sell or serve alcohol, together with their employees and agents, cannot be held liable for any act or failure to act during the course of business. An act or failure to act can’t be used to establish proximate cause. For example, a bar’s failure to carefully inspect a fake ID cannot be the proximate cause of a fatal car crash later caused by the underage person. The act or failure to act also can’t be used to support a claim of negligence per se, a theory that plaintiffs ordinarily could use to establish a defendant’s liability in cases where the defendant violated a law or regulation. These limitations make suing a bar difficult in Nevada.

Bear in mind that a bar that serves alcohol to minors risks losing its liquor license and paying hefty fines, regardless of whether or not it knew the customer was underage. Bars in Nevada have good reason to be vigilant about underage drinking, even if the law limits their liability for damages caused by drunk patrons.

GGRM understands drunk driving cases

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have been in an accident involving a drunk driver, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or request a call through our website.