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How Much is Your Lost Career Worth?

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.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your injury. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

How Divorce Can Affect a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Life doesn’t stand still for litigation. A personal injury lawsuit is often just one component of a larger, complicated set of issues facing the injured person, the people who caused the injury, and their families. Among the challenges that litigants sometimes face is a concurrent divorce. Divorce can have a number of effects on a lawsuit and how a prevailing plaintiff collects compensation afterward.

When the plaintiff is getting divorced . . .

A legal cause of action can be thought of as an asset little different from a car or an expensive piece of jewelry. A case that’s pursued to its end could be worth a substantial sum, even after major expenses are paid. Quite often a plaintiff will receive compensation for things like lost future earnings, future medical expenses, or home upgrades to accommodate a disability. Because a lawsuit can be worth a substantial sum, it can become a source of contention in a divorce proceeding. Depending on the law that applies to the marriage and externalities like prenuptial agreements, the uninjured spouse may be entitled to a significant portion of a future judgment award or settlement. Nevada is a community property state, which among other things means that a married couple will have equal rights to the assets of the marriage, including a legal claim. In some cases, the spouse may demand to be represented in settlement negotiations, complicating the process.

When the defendant is getting divorced . . .

In certain ways a defendant’s divorce proceedings present an inverted set of issues to those raised by a plaintiff’s divorce. After a personal injury case settles or gets resolved through a trial, the defendant may owe the plaintiff a substantial debt. Nevada’s community property rule applies here as well, in most situations making both spouses “own” the liability and debts associated with the litigation. A typical case settles without going to trial, allowing the parties in the suit to negotiate important details like how the defendant’s payments to the plaintiff will be structured. If the defendant is going through a divorce, one goal of the plaintiff’s lawyers will be to ensure that the divorce doesn’t distract from the plaintiff’s ability to get compensated for his or her injuries. Attorneys can take steps to ensure that disagreements between divorcing spouses remain the couple’s problem and don’t also become a problem for the injured plaintiff.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We work closely with each client to address the full scope of a case, including issues of divorce and other family matters that may affect a case’s outcome. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Proving Causation in Challenging Personal Injury Cases

In every personal injury case the plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions (or inactions) was the legal (or “proximate”) cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Causation is always an issue, even if it is relatively simple. Not every case is as straightforward as “A struck B and B was hurt.” When connecting the dots from the defendant’s negligence to the plaintiff’s injury is not easy, the plaintiff’s attorneys must focus on establishing a strong case for causation. Tracing the consequences of a defendant’s negligence can be difficult for a number of reasons. That is because causation is complicated by a number of related factors:
  • Time. When time passes between a defendant’s negligent action and the resulting injury, showing causation can be more difficult. This is partly because important evidence can be lost to time, as physical evidence can be destroyed, memories can fade, and important witnesses cease to be available (for example, if a key employee of a business defendant is no longer working there).
  • Intervening causes. For a defendant to be held liable for an injury there must not be an intervening act of negligence that could also have caused the injury. Sometimes the plaintiff’s own negligence may have contributed to some or all of the damages suffered by the plaintiff. Other times another person’s wrongful actions were the real cause of the injury, but that person hasn’t been identified. The more time that has passed, the more likely the defendant will argue for intervening causes.
  • Scientific proof. Causation can require a highly technical analysis. The analysis may be of mechanical evidence, such as the failure of a product’s components. Or it may be medical, as in cases involving cancer or other illnesses that are slow to develop. When specialized knowledge is required to prove causation, the plaintiff’s team must make provision for it in their case if they hope to prevail.
Plaintiffs faced with complex causation challenges can overcome them using several approaches. The first is simply the process of uncovering evidence through discovery. In discovery both sides in the litigation ask for documents and conduct interviews (depositions) of individuals with knowledge about the facts of the case. Discovery often uncovers important facts that can be useful for establishing causation where it might otherwise remain hidden. In many cases an expert witness can help the plaintiff provide technical analysis of the causal elements related to an injury. Experts are often invaluable in assisting judges and juries as they examine issues that require more than a commonsense understanding of the facts. Experts are hired by the plaintiff’s attorneys and their fees are typically taken out of the final award, but because their input can be decisive, they are often worth the expense. Proving causation is at the core of a personal injury attorney’s practice. Experienced attorneys know how to use the tools at their disposal to craft winning arguments. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our site.

The Role of Jury Selection in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Most personal injury lawsuits end with an out-of-court settlement. Settlements are often preferred by both sides, because they’re cheaper and faster than a full trial, among other things. When a case does go to trial it’s often because the stakes are high and the parties in the dispute are far apart on important legal or factual questions that frustrate their efforts to negotiate a settlement deal. In cases that go in front of a jury, the choice of jurors can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case.

The role of the jury in personal injury cases

The legal profession refers to judges and juries as the triers of fact. Their job is to evaluate the evidence each side in the case presents to reach decisions about the merits of arguments and the questions raised during the course of the trial. Well-established legal rules govern the job of the trier of fact, whether judge or jury. Many of the rules of trials, including evidentiary standards, are designed to protect and enhance the fairness and reliability of the fact-finding process. In a jury trial the judge can be thought of as part referee, part gatekeeper, and part assistant to the jury. The jury does the real work of determining whether the plaintiff has done enough to establish that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, and how much the defendant should be required to pay to make the plaintiff whole. Given their importance, choosing jurors is often a delicate and involved process that attorneys for both sides in the case will take very seriously.

What is jury selection?

In a civil trial the jury selection process can be fraught with challenges. As anyone who has been summoned to jury duty can attest, no one wants to be on the hook for sitting through a long and complicated trial. Potential jurors look for any excuse they can to get out of service. For courts and litigants alike, this presents a tough preliminary challenge: finding enough people to serve. It’s not enough to fill the jury with “live bodies.” The people on the jury also need to be appropriate for the case. Many individuals need to be disqualified for reasons beyond practical problems that would prevent them from serving. Relevant personal biases, potentially distorting backgrounds, or concerns about competence can all play a role in disqualifying jurors in a case. For litigants the jury selection process can be about finding jurors who may be predisposed to look favorably on their case. Finding the “right” juror is a highly sophisticated process that takes into account a wide variety of factors, from a person’s demographics to their responses to specific questions. In every case a judge will oversee the selection process to prevent abuses and distortions that aggressive attorneys might try to introduce at the selection stage.

GGRM is an experienced Nevada personal injury law firm

When it comes to selecting jurors, experience makes all the difference. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Train Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Over the last decade a number of tragic train accidents have drawn significant media coverage and raised questions about train safety. Although traveling by train is still overall considered to be safe, an accident—from a common slip and fall to a major crash—is always a possibility. Someone who has been injured in an accident involving a train may have the option of filing a lawsuit to recover compensation.

Trains are common carriers

The law categorizes passenger trains, along with public busses and airlines, as common carriers. As a general rule, common carriers owe passengers the highest duty of care. The operator of a train is required to use the utmost care and diligence to prevent passenger injuries. Courts have interpreted this standard to mean that even the slightest lapse in care could make a common carrier legally responsible for injuries that arise from the lapse. Train operations have a long, rich history of disciplined processes and procedures designed in part to ensure the safety of passengers. Things like hand rails, properly maintained seats, and restrictions on where passengers can stand are all examples of steps train operators take to keep things safe. Operators also routinely inspect their tracks for problems that might cause a derailment or other serious incident.

When is a train operator liable?

Every incident where a train passenger is hurt can conceivably give rise to a lawsuit. The key questions a personal injury lawyer will analyze are: (1) whether the train operator has breached its duty of care toward the injured passenger, and (2) whether the operator’s breach of its duty caused the passenger’s injury. There is a wide variety of ways an operator might do this:
  • Failing to clean up a wet and slippery floor that causes a passenger to fall.
  • Improperly maintaining a door that shuts dangerously hard.
  • Failing to fix a problem with tracks, which might include damage to the track itself, debris, inadequate signs warning passenger vehicles about the track, and so on.
Someone who has been injured on a train and is dealing with significant medical bills or lost work time should contact an attorney to learn about their legal options. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. If you have suffered an accident on a train please call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or by sending us a request through our site.

How Personal Injury Judgments Fare in Bankruptcy

When an injured plaintiff sues a defendant in civil court to recover compensation for personal injury, the plaintiff is hoping to obtain a favorable judgment. The judgment may come about after a trial, or it may be the result of a negotiated settlement. Either way, a court judgment orders the defendant to do (or not do) certain things. In a personal injury context, the judgment typically orders the defendant to pay the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s creditors (insurers, health care providers, and so on) a certain amount of money. Financially speaking, the defendant becomes a debtor to the prevailing plaintiff and others who have incurred expenses on the plaintiff’s behalf during treatment of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff, in turn, becomes one of the defendant’s creditors. This debtor-creditor relationship remains until the judgment is paid in full.

Judgment liens and other creditors

A successful plaintiff typically is not the defendant’s only creditor. Most people in the United States have multiple debt relationships: auto loans, mortgages, educational loans, credit card debt, utility bills, and so on. Not all debt is created equal. Debt can be categorized in a variety of ways, but one of the more important distinctions is between secured and unsecured debts:
  • Secured debt is tied to certain tangible collateral. Car and home loans take the car or home as collateral. Credit card companies can require a deposit of cash collateral from customers with no or low credit. Lenders in such arrangements have a straightforward remedy if the borrower fails to pay: they simply repossess the collateral property and sell it to recover the value of their loans.
  • Unsecured debt is not tied to specific property. Most credit card debt is unsecured. For a credit card company, the remedy is to keep piling on late fees and charging interest.
A civil judgment is often secured by what is called a judgment lien. A judgment lien allows the plaintiff to make a claim against the defendant’s valuable property and sources of income until the debt is paid. For example, the plaintiff can file a lien against the defendant’s home or car, ensuring that as a legal matter the home or car can’t be sold without first satisfying the debt.

The bankruptcy option

Defendants who face an unmanageable debt load will sometimes declare bankruptcy. In the most common form of personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7), a debtor is forced to sell or surrender nonexempt property to repay as much of his or her debts as possible. Creditors typically get paid in order of their priority, and here is where a plaintiff can get unpleasantly surprised. Unless the defendant has a substantial cash or liquid investment pool to draw upon, senior lenders (mortgage lenders, auto lenders, even credit card companies) may take all the defendant is required to pay before the plaintiff sees much, if anything. If a judgment lien has been attached to exempt property (for example, a defendant’s primary residence) the lien may be removed as a consequence of the bankruptcy process. Plaintiffs who face this possibility need legal representation in the defendant’s bankruptcy proceeding to ensure that every effort is made to prevent the defendant from escaping their obligation through bankruptcy. In some cases (drunk driving incidents, for example) the defendant cannot escape financial responsibility through bankruptcy. In other cases the plaintiff must argue the case, often in contention with large lending organizations.

Talk to a personal injury attorney about your case

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. We help plaintiffs through every phase of their civil litigation, from pretrial strategy to post-judgment collection. If you have questions about how you can collect on your civil judgment, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Flash Floods Pose Serious Danger to Backcountry Adventurers

In a climate as dry as Nevada’s it can be tempting to give little thought to the possibility of flooding while planning a backcountry trip. But floods can happen quickly, and for a variety of reasons. Flash floods are among the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States. With a good understanding of what causes flash floods and locations to avoid during conditions that cause them, hikers, campers, and off-roaders can protect themselves from potentially serious dangers.

What causes flash floods?

Flash floods can happen wherever the right mix of water supply and poor drainage combine to produce a significant buildup of water. In Nevada, the risk of flash floods is especially high in dry creek beds and washes. These natural pathways for water drainage can be hard to see sometimes, in part because they can be quite large. Campers sometimes get caught in flash floods after pitching tents in a wash—the relatively flat, clear ground seems like an ideal place to rest. A common cause of flash flooding is torrential rain from thunderstorms. Depending on how quickly a storm is moving, a thunderstorm can drop a lot of water in a concentrated spot over a very short time. Flash floods have also been known to be caused by melting snow and less common phenomena like broken dams and levees.

Protecting yourself from flood risk

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAH) has three straightforward points about flood safety:
  1. In the event of a flood, get to higher ground. For backcountry enthusiasts, a corollary to this rule is the idea that low ground in general is to be avoided as a place for camping. This is especially true if there are signs of storms anywhere on the horizon, but always bear in mind that storms can arise quickly and in the middle of the night.
  2. Do not drive or walk into flooded areas. Many of the deaths caused by flash floods occur because people make the mistake of driving their cars into a flooded area and get stuck. Flood waters can rise extremely fast and can carry huge objects like boulders and whole tress with them over long distances. A passenger car can be carried away in surprisingly shallow water.
  3. Stay informed. Before heading into the backcountry find out what the weather in the area will be doing during your trip. Pay attention to the chance of rain anywhere upstream of where you’ll be. Flood waters can travel a long distance in a short time.
With rare exceptions, everyone who is in the backcountry is responsible for their own safety. Unless a landowner is charging a fee for people to use the land for recreation, landowners (including government agencies) have no duty to keep property safe for recreational use. Among other things, that means that potential sites for flash floods aren’t likely to be highlighted with signs or other kinds of warning. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have questions about your legal options after suffering injuries during a flash flood, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Seeking Compensation for Child Abuse

A child who suffers emotional or physical abuse can endure both short- and long-term consequences, from injuries requiring medical care to lasting emotional and psychological trauma. In many cases child abuse is a crime. It can also be grounds for filing a civil lawsuit against the abuser to recover compensation for the child’s care. The nature of a lawsuit filed against an alleged child abuser will depend on a range of factors. These will include:
  • The identity of the abuser. Was the abuse by a parent or caregiver, or was the abuser someone outside the home?
  • The nature and severity of the abuse (physical versus purely emotional abuse, sexual versus nonsexual abuse).
  • The identity of the potential plaintiffs, which might include parents or legal guardians suing on behalf of their child, or the child suing directly.
A key question in any abuse trial will be the availability of physical evidence to prove that the abuse took place and that the defendant was responsible. In cases of physical abuse this might include testimony from medical professionals who treated the child immediately after abuse-related injuries. It might also include photographs and testimony from anyone who can confirm seeing visible signs of injury. Evidence of emotional abuse may have similar contours. In cases of emotional abuse, it can often be helpful to have evidence of the child’s psychological state before the abuse occurred as a way to show how much harm the abuse caused. When a child has been abused it is often vitally important to take steps to prevent the abuse from happening again. Plaintiffs can seek protective orders to restrict the abuser’s access to the child, and should consider reporting the incident to law enforcement and the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services. Parents are sometimes reluctant to seek help through these official channels for a variety of reasons, including fears that a governmental agency may seek to take the abused child away from the home. An attorney can help parents resolve these questions. The timing of a lawsuit that arises from child abuse is an important consideration for potential plaintiffs. Under Nevada law most types of personal injury cases must be filed with the court within two years of the injury. Nevada law provides an exception for plaintiffs who were minors at the time of the wrongful action. In such cases the two year period will only begin to run once the victim-plaintiff turns eighteen (in legal terms, the statute of limitations is “tolled” or paused). There is also a greater period of time granted for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Last year the Nevada legislature extended the statute of limitations for lawsuits arising from sexual abuse of a minor from ten to twenty years. NRS 11.215. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you or a loved one has suffered from child abuse and you would like to better understand your legal options, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

The Role of Personal History in Injury Cases

The backgrounds of the people involved in personal injury litigation can sometimes play a significant role in the case’s outcome. To guard against undue prejudice, courts typically won’t allow evidence or testimony about a party’s background unless it has some relevance to the case. But attorneys can find ways to make seemingly unrelated matters suddenly relevant again. For example, a decade-old conviction for fraud may not be relevant to whether a driver was responsible for a car accident, but it might be important for attacking the driver’s honesty if that is at issue. Here are a few examples of how personal history can play a role in a case.
  • Limiting the scope of potential damages. A longstanding principle in civil litigation is that the defendant “takes the plaintiff as-is.” This so-called “eggshell skull rule” generally means that the defendant is responsible for compensating the plaintiff for the full scope of the injuries for which the defendant is responsible, even if the nature of the injuries are significantly worse as a consequence of an existing infirmity in the plaintiff. At the same time, defendants are not responsible for compensating plaintiffs for injuries that already existed at the time of the accident. If the plaintiff was already dealing with a serious injury, the defendant likely will not be held responsible for the costs associated with that injury.
  • Supporting or undermining arguments. A party’s personal history can raise doubts about the merits of arguments that are not adequately supported by concrete evidence. It can also help to fill in gaps in evidence to strengthen an argument. For example, a driver who left a bar and got into an accident might argue that she “hardly drinks and never drives drunk.” The plaintiff might use the plaintiff’s history of DUI convictions, reputation for alcohol abuse, or confirmed habit of drinking and driving to show that the defendant isn’t telling the truth.
  • Creating or losing sympathy. Events in a person’s past can have effects on a case that are hard to quantify. Courts are often reluctant to allow evidence that serves little purpose other than to turn a jury’s opinion about a person, but as in the example of the fraud conviction, such evidence can be relevant for important reasons and have consequences beyond the narrow purpose for which it was introduced.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. Our team understands how to help clients get the most out of the facts of their case, and how to address potential problems that may be lurking in a client’s past. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.