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Liability for Accidents Involving Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who are injured in accidents face unique risks. Injuries to the fetus from seatbelts and steering wheels are responsible for four out of five fetal deaths that are trauma-related. Even injuries that don’t directly affect the fetus can complicate pregnancy. If an accident leads to litigation, pregnancy-related injuries can have important consequences for the liable party.

Pregnancy and damages

In a personal injury case a plaintiff can seek compensation for all of the costs that are associated with the injury caused by the defendant. Pregnancy-related injuries are no different. The defendant must compensate the plaintiff for pregnancy-related complications to the extent the defendant is responsible for causing them. Among these damages can be the cost of recovering from emotional trauma.

Nevada law also permits plaintiffs to recover for injuries to an unborn fetus. In White v. Yup, 85 Nev. 527 (1969), the Nevada Supreme Court adopted the rule that a plaintiff may sue for damages on behalf of an unborn fetus, including for wrongful death. As a threshold matter the fetus must have been viable at the time of the accident. If the child is stillborn following the accident and the plaintiff can establish that the accident caused the still birth, wrongful death may be the appropriate cause of action. In such cases the plaintiff can recover medical and funeral costs. In some cases punitive damages may also be awarded, but under Nevada’s wrongful death statute a plaintiff may not recover damages for pain and suffering. NRS 41.085(5)(b).

Pregnant women are at higher risk of accidents

The special dangers of injury during pregnancy make it especially important for pregnant women to take precautions. One study found that women were 42% more likely to get into a car crash during their second trimester than they were during the three years prior to getting pregnant. Paying attention to seatbelt positioning, seat adjustments, and other precautions can reduce some, but not all, of the risk of injury.

Just because a pregnant woman faces higher risks doesn’t mean that she bears responsibility in the event that she’s injured by another person’s negligence. Although in accident cases an injured person’s comparative negligence can be a factor in determining a defendant’s liability, the mere fact that the plaintiff was pregnant at the time of the accident is not going to be enough. On the other hand, if the plaintiff was suffering from particularly severe morning sickness there may be an argument that she should not have attempted to drive.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured in an accident call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

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.

Chain Reaction Auto Accidents in Nevada

In a chain reaction accident a single event leads to a string of occurrences. A typical case involves a car ramming into the back of the car in front, causing the leading car to smash into the car in front of it. Chain reactions can also involve pedestrians or cyclists who happen to be near the first event in the chain. Here is an example from last year, in which a vehicle crossing a center line caused a series of collisions involving four cars.

What causes chain reaction crashes?

Chain reaction accidents tend to be the result of a bad mix of factors. Examining the cause of a given crash can be difficult, because in many cases the factors contributing to the “chain” are difficult to separate. But these are some of the common causes:

  • Distracted driving. Someone who is busy looking at their phone, adjusting the radio, or chatting with a passenger may not see the vehicle in front of them slow down in time to apply the brakes. Many chain reaction crashes are caused by rear-endings that are a consequence of distracted driving.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while tired. Alcohol and drugs slow responsiveness and can have similar consequences o being distracted. Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Road conditions. Wet or dirty road conditions can multiply stopping distances in unpredictable ways. Drivers who don’t slow down in response to unsafe conditions increase the risk of a crash. Because impacted vehicles are also subject to the slippery conditions they are more likely to become part of an accident chain.

The legal consequences of chain reaction accidents

Although the scale of a chain reaction accident can feel larger than one involving only two vehicles, the same basic rules apply. The police should be contacted, help provided to anyone who has been injured, and so forth. All the drivers involved in the accident should exchange insurance information, photos should be taken, and witnesses asked to provide their contact information.

If a chain reaction accident leads to a personal injury lawsuit the central question typically will be whether the defendant in the case was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Although the driver of the first vehicle in the chain may have been negligent, it’s possible that other people involved in the accident also were negligent. Each person’s state of mind at the time of the accident, and their response to it, will need to be examined to determine if the first driver is truly at fault for the entire chain of events, or if an intervening act of negligence also contributed.

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. Whenever someone has been involved in a car accident we always recommend that they contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected. This can be especially important in complex cases such as chain reaction accidents, where sorting through all the facts can be challenging. 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.

Illegal Urban Racing and Personal Injury

Whether due to movies like the Fast and Furious franchise, similar television shows, or video games, so-called street racing occasionally rears its ugly head in cities around the United States. During such races a driver is likely to exceed the speed limit, ignore traffic signals and signs, and place pedestrians and other drivers in significant danger. That is why street racing is illegal in Nevada and elsewhere. Someone who has been injured by someone who is competing in an illegal street race should consult with an attorney.

Nevada law on street racing

Driving or organizing “an unauthorized speed contest on a public highway” is a crime in Nevada, punishable by a fine, mandatory community service, and prison time. NRS 684B.653. By definition, driving in such a race is a form of reckless driving. A first-time offender may be fined up to $1,000, ordered to serve up to 99 hours of community service, and jailed for up to 6 months. The penalties go up for repeat offenders. Offenders can also have their drivers’ licenses suspended and their cars impounded. Note that these penalties are in addition to penalties for broken traffic laws, refusing to stop for police, and so forth.

A street racer faces significantly more serious penalties if he or she causes serious injury or death to another person in the course of a race. In such cases the driver may be imprisoned for up to six years and fined up to $5,000.

Criminal prosecution of illegal racers may not fully compensate victims

When someone is prosecuted for any crime the prosecution may ask the court to order the defendant to make restitution payments to the victims of the crime as part of the sentencing process. Such restitution can only be ordered for economic damages suffered by the victim: medical bills, lost earnings, and so forth. By law, criminal courts don’t get involved with so-called noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

The criminal justice system may or may not protect the injured victim in other ways. The prosecution is not within the victim’s control. It may take a long time and ultimately may fail for reasons having to do with the high requirements for conviction.

People who are injured by illegal racers therefore have a strong incentive to pursue civil lawsuits to recover complete compensation for their injuries. Even if the criminal prosecution is ongoing, it can be worthwhile to also pursue a civil action. And if the criminal prosecution has concluded with a conviction, the conviction can be used in the civil case to prove the defendant’s liability.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured by a driver who was involved in an illegal street race, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Using a Cell Phone to Record Details of an Accident

Cell phone cameras are valuable tools for gathering evidence after an accident. The first priority after an accident should be to call police and emergency services, stabilize any injuries, and get clear of hazards like burning vehicles. Once those essential steps are taken, and provided that circumstances allow for it, taking photos or even video can help attorneys, insurance companies, and police investigators analyze the accident.

What sort of photo evidence is useful?

The short answer to this question is: all of it. A photograph can reveal things that our minds don’t process in the moment. While we’re focused on the damage to a car we may not see an important detail that is outside the focus of our vision. A photograph may capture this detail and make it available later.

There are limitless possibilities about what may be important to photograph at the scene. Here are some important examples

  • All visible damage to the vehicles involved.
  • Roadway conditions, like debris, skid marks, or spilled oil or other chemicals that might have contributed to the crash.
  • The scene of the accident, including the location of traffic signs and signals, the address, weather.
  • Personal injuries, but note that before taking pictures of an injured person it’s important to first get their consent.

Moving around the scene to capture photos from many angles is important for building up a complete record of the scene. One area where this can be important is if the two drivers involved in the crash have different recollections of how the crash occurred. Having photos from various angles of damage to the vehicles may help investigators determine what actually happened.

Be mindful of the photos as evidence

Once photos of the scene are on your phone it’s important to take steps to preserve them. Getting them downloaded to a computer or uploaded to cloud storage should be a priority. It’s very important to preserve the photos in their original format: editing a photo may raise doubts about its authenticity later on.

Also take care before putting accident photos onto social media sites. The best approach is to avoid making any statements about an accident online, but this can be especially true of photos, which may have unintended consequences, such as offending the privacy rights of an injured individual.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients who have been injured in auto accidents recover compensation. If you have been injured in an accident please call us for a free, no obligation attorney consultation. Reach out to us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

How Not Wearing a Seatbelt Can Affect Accident Lawsuits

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of 40. Over half of the people killed in crashes were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident. As in every state, Nevada law requires drivers and passengers in most motor vehicles to use seat belts. Children under the age of six who also weigh less than 60 pounds are required to be restrained in safety seats, ideally in the back seat. Failing to follow these rules can lead to devastating injuries in the event of an accident.

Although Nevada law requires passengers and drivers to wear seat belts, it also limits how a failure to wear a seat belt can be used in a civil lawsuit. Under NRS 484D.495(4), a violation of the seatbelt requirements “may not be considered as negligence or as causation in any civil action or as negligent or reckless driving.” In practical terms, what does this mean?

  • Not wearing a seatbelt is not a form of contributory negligence. In a personal injury lawsuit the defendant may want to argue that the plaintiff contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries by committing an independent act of negligence. Contributory negligence typically involves some breach of a legal duty, like not using a hand-held cell phone while driving. NRS 484D.495(4) specifically prevents defendants from raising this argument in cases where a plaintiff has been injured in an accident in which the defendant was at fault but the plaintiff’s injuries were made worse by the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt is not an intervening cause of injury. One of the hurdles for bringing a successful personal injury lawsuit is the requirement that the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If the defendant can argue that the injuries were caused by something other than the defendant’s actions, the defendant can’t be held liable. For example, a plaintiff’s car might have suffered a major mechanical problem during the accident that was more to blame for the plaintiff’s specific injuries. But the fact that the plaintiff wasn’t wearing a seatbelt can’t be used in this way.

These rules offer a legal shield for people who were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of an accident in which they were injured. A defendant who was responsible for the accident cannot reduce or eliminate liability by using the mere fact that the plaintiff wasn’t wearing a seatbelt to raise two standard and powerful defenses.

The short takeaway is that people who were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their accident should not be deterred from pursuing legal action. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation in auto accident cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Biking in the Rain Increases Injury Risk

As bicycles become more popular as alternatives to cars people are more and more willing to ride in weather that would deter a casual rider. Rain in Nevada can come in dramatic bursts that can make roads unsafe even for drivers. While riding on the road during rainy weather it’s worthwhile keeping a few things in mind.

Tips for safely riding bicycles in the rain

Perhaps the best advice for cyclists who want to ride in the rain is: don’t. But sometimes it can’t be avoided, because there isn’t another mode of transportation available or the weather has turned without warning. When on the road in the rain, these safety tips can reduce the risk of an accident:

  • Take steps to be visible. In addition to having the legally required minimum front and rear reflectors, cyclists who ride in rain should also wear bright colors and ideally should have front and rear lights. It is almost impossible for a cyclist to be “too visible” on the road during wet weather.
  • Ride conservatively. Rain drastically reduces traction. Stopping distances will be significantly greater. Making aggressive turns on wet pavement can easily cause wheels to slide, leading to a crash.
  • If possible, take the lane. Nevada law allows cyclists to take an entire lane on multilane roads that do not have a separate, designated bike lane. It is significantly safer for a cyclist to take an entire lane than to try to hug the shoulder. Even if riding on a single lane road, cyclists are permitted to take the lane if the shoulder is full of debris or standing water.
  • Be prepared to wait out the storm. Riding in an especially heavy downpour is not worth the risk. If the roadway is inundated with water there may be no safe speed at which to ride.

The law and cycling in the rain

Nevada law treats bicycles like other vehicles for traffic purposes, meaning riders are required to obey all the rules of the road. There is no special rule that dictates how drivers must behave during rain, so it remains up to the rider to decide what is safe. In that respect, the rider takes a degree of personal responsibility when riding in the rain.

Riding in the rain will likely become an important issue in litigation if a bicyclist gets into an accident. Cases involving bike accidents have sometimes hinged on the cyclist’s assumption of the risk of injury. In a case where the rain played a factor in causing an accident one should anticipate the argument coming up. For example, if a cyclist rides into a deep puddle and falls in front of an oncoming car, the car’s driver probably will argue that the cyclist assumed the risk of injury or committed an act of contributory negligence by riding in conditions that were unsafe.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury firm about your bike accident

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and accident cases. If you have been injured while riding a bicycle in the Las Vegas area, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

What to Do After an Accident with a Semi-Truck

Accidents with large commercial vehicles like semi-trucks can be especially dangerous for people in passenger vehicles. The weight and size disparity between a truck and an ordinary car can leave the car badly mangled and the people inside severely injured. For the driver of the truck such accidents not only threaten personal injury but can also put a career at risk. After being in an accident with a commercial vehicle there are a number of steps a driver should take:

  • Get medical attention. Anytime someone is injured in an accident the first step is always to ensure that injuries are stabilized. If possible, tell nurses and doctors about the accident. The information gathered by medical professionals about the nature of the injury can become vital evidence in future litigation.
  • Get the truck driver’s details. Like any car accident, the drivers involved in a wreck involving a commercial vehicle should exchange contact information and share insurance details.
  • Get the name and contact information of the driver’s employer. In addition to finding out the name of the truck driver, it’s important to also find out the name of the driver’s employer and get as much information as possible about the employer. Chances are good that the driver’s insurance is carried by the employer, not the driver personally, and any lawsuit that follows the accident will probably name the employer as a defendant.
  • Report the accident. Nevada law requires parties involved in an accident to report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In crashes where police were involved in the initial post-accident response this report may not be required, as the police prepare the necessary paperwork as part of their process. The insurance companies of both drivers should also be contacted.
  • Consult with an accident attorney. Even if a driver’s insurance carrier will be pursuing legal action on behalf of the driver, it’s often important to have independent legal counsel. Insurance companies have an inherent conflict of interest whenever a claim arises: their profits depend on denying claims and aggressively seeking reimbursement for any costs they incur. Even if the insurer’s interests are aligned with the injured driver’s, the driver should have independent advice to protect against unlawful or dishonest behavior by the insurer.

Accidents involving commercial drivers typically open questions about the legal relationship of the truck driver with the business for which he or she was driving at the time of the accident. Truck drivers may fall into one of several categories:

  • Sole proprietors who operate the truck as a business and are personally liable for damages caused in an accident.
  • Independent contractors who are working for another business. Independent contractors may be treated as sole proprietors from a legal liability standpoint, but their liability will be subject to the terms of their relationship with the “client” business.
  • Employees of a trucking company.

Regardless of the legal form of the relationship between the truck driver and the trucking business, the injured plaintiff’s attorneys will probably seek compensation from the business as well as, or instead of, the truck’s driver. The business may have good arguments for why it is not responsible for the driver’s negligence, but in a typical situation a business is responsible for the wrongdoing of its agents, regardless of whether the agents are independent contractors or employees.

GGRM is a Las Vegas accident law firm

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 involving a commercial vehicle, please give us a call today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Safely Carrying Dogs in Cars

People love taking their dogs with them wherever they go, and dogs love it, too. But dogs moving around inside a car can be dangerously distracting for drivers and can lead to serious accidents. Dogs that aren’t adequately secure in a car can also suffer injuries in sudden stops or collisions. Dog owners should take a moment to think seriously about how they protect themselves and their dogs from injury. Here are a few tips:

  • Dogs should be restrained just like any other passenger. At a minimum, dogs should only ride in the back seat, but keeping them restrained is an even better policy. Like everything else in the car, a dog can be forcefully thrown toward the front of the vehicle in a collision, leading to serious injuries. Ideally a dog riding in a vehicle should be kept in a kennel. Far from being cruel, a familiar kennel can help keep a dog calm and contained. Retailers also sell harnesses one can use to essentially provide a dog with a seatbelt.
  • Never carry a dog in a truck bed. One of the most common sources of injury for dogs riding in vehicles is from falling out of truck beds. It is rarely sufficient to tie a dog to the truck with a leash. Dogs can still fall out and be strangled by the leash. If available, put the dog in the truck’s back seat.
  • Avoid letting the dog hang its head out of an open window. As fun as it is to watch a dog enjoy the breeze, a dog hanging its head out of an open window in a moving car is at substantially greater risk of suffering an injury from flying debris, obstructions like branches, and other vehicles. Dogs also sometimes fall or jump out of open windows.
  • Be mindful of the heat. Like small children, dogs can suffer serious heat-related injuries or even death if left inside a hot car. Nevada law prohibits leaving any pet in a parked or standing vehicle in extreme hot or cold weather unless there is a person at least 12 years of age in the car with the pet. Nevada law authorizes rescuers to use “any reasonable means necessary” to save a pet left in a hot car without incurring civil liability. This means that leaving a dog in a hot car could expose the owner to prosecution but also lead to a broken window or other damage to the car. The best solution, of course, is to avoid do this at all.

Driving with an unrestrained dog in the car probably increases the risk that the driver will be dangerously distracted. If an accident does occur and the dog owner is at fault, the fact that there was a dog loose in the car may become an important fact in determining liability. The driver may find that his or her insurance carrier is unsympathetic and unhelpful in such cases, potentially leaving the driver holding the bill.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area seek compensation for personal injuries. If you have questions about how driving with a dog may affect your legal liability, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Car Customization and Liability Risk in Nevada

Customizing cars is a hobby almost as old as the automobile itself. The popularity of cable TV shows about custom shops, the availability of consumer aftermarket components, and the deep roots of American car culture combine to make custom cars an increasingly common sight on the road. Although customization is fun, its fans should take a moment to think about how it can affect their legal liability. There are a number of considerations worth bearing in mind.

  • Know your insurer’s position on modifications.

If a custom modification causes an accident an insurer may not be willing to cover the resulting damages unless the insurance policy specifically allows for the custom work. Insurers like to know the details about the vehicles they insure. The vehicle identification number (VIN) provided to the insurer tells it much more than just the make and model of the car: it helps the insurer know exactly what the vehicle is equipped with and how much the vehicle is worth. A customization may alter the vehicle’s value but can also alter its performance. For example, installing an engine enhancer that increases horsepower could make the car more dangerous to drive. An insurer needs to know the kind of risk it is taking on so it can appropriately price its policies.

  • Installing aftermarket parts may complicate products liability protections.

When a consumer is injured as a consequence of design or manufacturing defects in a product the consumer can have the option to sue the manufacturer under a products liability theory. Changes to the stock configuration of the vehicle can free the manufacturer from responsibility. Instead, the manufacturer or installer of the custom part might be responsible. But determining who is at fault in such cases can be tricky, especially if the nature of the problem that caused the accident is difficult to determine.

  • Direct responsibility for unsafe modifications.

A hobbyist who does his or her own customization work often assumes the risk that some part of the work wasn’t completed correctly. Making changes to a car in a way that renders the car unsafe could expose the hobbyist to liability for any resulting injuries. Absent insurance that specifically covers it, the hobbyist could be left bearing all of the cost of the ensuing litigation and compensation to injured parties.

Ask an accident attorney about injuries from custom cars

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients injured in auto accidents in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have questions about an accident involving a customized car, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.