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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.

Car Accidents During Heavy Rain

Nevada is a land of extremes. Along with hot, dry weather, the state also experiences tremendous thunder storms that bring with them exceptionally heavy rain. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, rain and wet pavement combined account nation-wide for about 26% of vehicle crashes, 25% of crash injuries, and 21% of crash fatalities. About half of weather-related injuries on the road are caused by rain. Heavy rain dramatically increases the risks of driving. In a sudden downpour visibility can rapidly drop to almost nothing, obscuring cars and other obstacles in front of the vehicle. Heavy rain also covers the roadway in a layer of water that can dramatically reduce vehicles’ contact with the road, leading to hydroplaning and loss of control. These factors are considerably more dangerous on busy roads like those in the Las Vegas area, because drivers can react to heavy rain in unpredictable ways. Few drivers are accustomed to driving in downpours. The unfamiliar conditions and relative lack of consistent safety principles turns other drivers into additional hazards. Drivers may brake suddenly, which increases the chance of hydroplaning and may force following drivers to do likewise. Alternatively, drivers may not take the danger seriously, perhaps because they are overconfident about their vehicles’ ability to handle the wet conditions. Drivers who find themselves in heavy rain should take several precautions:
  • Slow down. Rather than waiting for the cars in front to slow, it’s best to be among the drivers to reduce speed. Pay attention to the following distance of the car behind and tap the brakes if necessary to get the other car’s driver to back off.
  • Turn on lights. A car without lights on can vanish in a downpour.
  • Try to maintain a safe following distance. Water on the roadway dramatically increases stopping distance. Giving the car in front an extra cushion is an important way of avoiding accidents.
  • If necessary, stop. If rain is so heavy that visibility is completely gone, one should assume that the roadway is also heavy with water. Stopping completely may be the best course. If doing so, turning on hazard lights is a good extra precaution.
In the event of an accident during heavy rains, the important thing is to stay safe.
  • Oncoming traffic will pose an ongoing hazard until traffic patterns have adjusted to accommodate for the accident.
  • Emergency personnel may arrive more slowly due to the weather.
  • If vehicles are stopped in an area that is flooded or may become flooded (meaning more than 6 to 10 inches of water), it may be necessary to leave the vehicle to avoid being caught in a flash flood.
Anyone who has been seriously injured in a car crash should talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in auto accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident during heavy rains, please give us a call today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Personal Breathalyzer Devices Can Save Lives

Personal breathalyzers have come down in price to the point where most drivers who can afford to go out drinking can also afford to carry one. Given the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol—from serious criminal penalties to the possibility of a crash with significant potential legal and health consequences—carrying and using a personal breathalyzer can be a meaningful safety precaution. Breathalyzers work by estimating the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a person’s blood from a breath sample. There are two common types of breathalyzer with varying degrees of accuracy. The type most commonly incorporated into consumer-grade devices uses semiconductor sensors to measure BAC. These devices are relatively cheap to produce but can result in false positives due to other chemicals in or on a person’s body. For example, someone on a low-fat diet can see a false positive due to natural chemicals produced by the body as it burns fat. Law enforcement uses breathalyzers that incorporate fuel cell sensors, which are more expensive than semiconductor sensors but also significantly more accurate. For law enforcement accuracy is crucial: breathalyzer test results can be essential evidence if a driver needs to be prosecuted for a DUI. A consumer may not need the professional level of accuracy for personal use, but some people may want the extra reliability that comes with devices based on fuel cell technology. Although breathalyzers can give a good picture of whether someone is over the legal BAC limit, they are not perfect. Only a blood test, taken in a clinical setting, can give the most direct and reliable reading. Breathalyzers can give false or skewed readings for a range of reasons:
  • Picking up chemicals other than alcohol from beverages (medicines, naturally occurring chemicals from body processes, etc.)
  • Glitches and electrical problems, which can be caused by issues like low batteries
  • Deterioration from being left in hot cars all the time
  • Mistakes made by users who don’t know how to get accurate readings
Nonetheless, a personal breathalyzer can be a great way for drivers to ensure that they are safely under the legal maximum and can drive. Too often drivers leave dinner parties or bars convinced that they are sober enough to drive when in reality they are well above the legal limit. Terrible consequences can result: high fines, suspended or revoked drivers’ licenses, and serious legal liability for causing an accident while under the influence of alcohol. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. We are here to answer your questions about auto accidents involving drunk drivers. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Accidents Involving Uninsured Motorists in Nevada

Accidents Involving Uninsured Motorists in Nevada
Like every state, Nevada requires all motorists who use its roadways to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. The DMV monitors the insurance coverage of Nevada-registered vehicles and imposes penalties, including fines and suspended registrations, upon drivers who fail to comply with minimum requirements. Unfortunately, not everyone complies with the law, and accidents with uninsured motorists do happen. When the uninsured driver is at fault, people injured in the accident may face greater challenges in seeking compensation for their injuries.

The problem of collecting

In any car accident involving serious injury the adequacy of the at-fault driver’s insurance can be a central issue. The state’s minimum coverage requirements ($25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person per accident, $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident, and $20,000 for property damage in any one accident) are rarely enough to cover the cost of major medical treatment. The problem of adequate compensation becomes worse when dealing with an uninsured motorist. With no insurance company around to pick up the tab, the plaintiff has to go after the defendant’s personal assets. The trouble is that few drivers will let their insurance coverage lapse unless they can’t afford the premiums. In other words, an uninsured motorist is more likely than not to have few resources to compensate an injured plaintiff. In fact, if the defendant isn’t likely to have much in the way of resources to compensate the plaintiff, there may be little reason to sue.

Protect yourself against uninsured motorists

Perhaps the most important lesson to take away from a consideration of the uninsured motorist problem is that the best response to them is preparation. Auto insurance carriers are required by law to offer uninsured motorist protection. Such insurance typically protects a driver from medical bills associated with injuries caused in accidents where the at-fault driver was not lawfully insured. Another option in the insurance realm is coverage for events in which the at-fault driver’s insurance is inadequate to compensate for serious medical care. Because the state’s minimum insurance requirements are so low, drivers with the means to do so should strongly consider adding additional coverage to protect themselves and their passengers in the event of an accident.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have questions about how to protect yourself from an uninsured motorist, or if you have been in an accident and you’d like to talk through your legal options, please reach out to us today. For a free, confidential attorney consultation, call 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.

Potential Liability for Drivers of Self-Driving Cars

Potential Liability for Drivers of Self-Driving Cars
Over the next few years self-driving cars are going to become more common on Nevada’s roads as the technology improves and vehicles become affordable for a wider swath of consumers. The convenience of letting the car do most of the driving is undeniable, but as recent events have shown, autonomous vehicles aren’t perfect. Self-driving cars have been involved in a range of accidents, including slow-speed collisions and, recently, a fatal accident involving a pedestrian in Arizona. Such accidents will raise new and interesting legal questions for insurers, lawyers, and the courts to consider. Among the important questions that must be considered is the potential liability of a “driver” of a self-driving car that is involved in an accident.

Nevada law requires operators to stay attentive

The rules governing self-driving cars in Nevada are still in their infancy. Designed to allow developers to test the technology, the rules are far from fleshed out. Aside from a few skeletal rules, like insurance and licensing requirements, there is still a lot of work to be done that will be based, in large part, on the results of current experiments. One of the oddities about autonomous vehicles is that they don’t have “drivers” in the conventional sense. The person in the driver’s seat is neither a driver nor a passive passenger. Instead, he or she is deemed to be the car’s “operator,” with responsibilities for keeping an eye on what the car is doing. The concept of the operator is a new one with seemingly contradictory features. Even though Nevada law recognizes that an operator “is not required to actively drive an autonomous vehicle” (NRS 482A.200) an operator is still expected to be ready to take control in the event that the autonomous system fails (NRS 482A.080). Existing law places the onus on the designers of autonomous systems to ensure that the systems will “alert the human operator to take manual control of the autonomous vehicle if a failure of the autonomous technology has been detected and such failure affects the ability of the autonomous technology to operate safely the autonomous vehicle.” This relies upon the system to recognize its own failure and alert the operator in time to prevent an accident.

Scenarios of operator liability

Accidents where a self-driving car is at fault can be sorted into several categories, each with varying degrees of potential liability for the operator/driver:
  • Accidents while the operator is in full manual control. Obviously, if the operator is driving and the car’s autonomous system disabled, the fact that the car has the system onboard won’t be relevant to the analysis.
  • Accidents that occur after the autonomous system warns the operator to take control, but before the operator can do so. It seems inevitable that cases involving this situation will come up. Expecting operators to stay alert and aware of what’s happening around the car at all times seems unrealistic at best. Operators are likely to be looking at their phones, reading a book, or even dozing. Regardless, an operator who fails to react on time to a system warning may be committing negligence and may be liable in the same way as though he or she was distracted while driving a conventional car.
  • Accidents that occur while the autonomous system is in full control. As happened in the fatal crash in Arizona, an autonomous system may not recognize its own failures in time to prevent an accident. Again, the operator is supposed to be watching what’s happening, but if the system is active, is the operator really “in control?” The answer isn’t clear, and likely will depend on the specific facts of the accident and a range of technical questions about the system itself. In these cases, the designer of the autonomous system may be at least partly responsible for the accident.

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. We are closely monitoring the introduction of autonomous vehicles on Nevada’s roads. If you have questions about how a self-driving car may affect your liability, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.