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When Should a Personal Injury Plaintiff Appeal?

In rare circumstances a personal injury case may go all the way to trial, with a judge or jury making critical decisions about the liability of the defendant and determining how much the defendant should pay in compensation to the plaintiff. Cases fail to settle before trial for a variety of reasons, a common one being unreconcilable differences about key facts or interpretations of law that lead the two sides to very different ideas about how much the plaintiff’s claims are worth. After a trial is over and a jury reaches a decision, there are times when a plaintiff may want to file an appeal.

What an appeal can and can’t do

The party that files the appeal—the appellant—may be the defendant or the plaintiff. Nevada’s Rules of Appellate Procedure govern when and how appeals may be pursued. In an appeal the appellant asks the higher court to change part or all of the lower court’s decision, potentially throwing out the decision of the trial court and in some cases even ordering that the case be retried. Trial courts generally examine the decisions of lower courts for legal errors that could have influenced the outcome of the case. A key feature of appeals is that they are not retrials of the entire case. The appeals court will examine the evidence presented at the trial court, but will not allow either party to introduce new evidence. In other words, the case will be decided based on the facts that were established at trial. If a problem was allowed to remain on the record at the trial level, the appeals court may not have leeway to consider alternative evidence.

When is an appeal the right step?

The decision to appeal can be a complex and difficult one, in part because appeals must be made within a fairly short time following the final decision of the trial court. Appeals may require the expertise of a new attorney, one who is familiar with appellate practice. And of course, appeals can cost more money. There are cases where a plaintiff may wish to file an appeal anyway, because the stakes are high enough that pursuing a case to its fullest is worth the risks. Here are some scenarios where the plaintiff may want to appeal:
  • Improper instructions were given to a jury, which reached a key decision in reliance upon them.
  • The trial judge made errors in allowing or disallowing critical evidence.
  • There is evidence that the jury or judge was unlawfully biased against the plaintiff.

Work with an experienced Nevada personal injury attorney

Ideally a personal injury case won’t need to go as far as an appeal. If it happens it’s important that every part of the case leading up to the appeal has been handled competently. That’s another good reason for working with a law firm with deep experience handling personal injury cases. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Infertility Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Infertility can be a shocking side effect of many types of personal injury. Whether as a consequence of direct physical injury, or due to necessary courses of treatment, infertility may be a significant contributing factor in a person’s post-injury recovery. Someone who was planning to have children and no longer can, or who must now go through expensive fertility treatments to do so, may have the option of adding those issues to a list of demands in litigation.

Infertility as a form of damages

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured plaintiff demands compensation for the damages associated with the injury that can be attributed to the defendant’s bad behavior. Plaintiffs typically base their claims on a range of well understood things like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. A lawsuit may also seek recovery for so-called noneconomic damages, like a plaintiff’s suffering. Infertility can be a factor in both types of damages. This is because infertility can have elements that are relatively easy or relatively difficult to quantify. On the one hand are cases where an injury forces the plaintiff to undergo expensive fertility treatments or psychological therapy to overcome emotional trauma specifically stemming from loss of fertility. The costs of such treatments have clear sources. On the other hand, the plaintiff’s emotional suffering may have an abstract dimension as well. The costs of losing the ability to have a child can in many ways be more abstract than concrete.

The problems of proof

To receive compensation for any type of damages a plaintiff in a personal injury case must be able to prove the damages with reasonable certainty. Infertility is an example of an injury that raises challenges of proof for a plaintiff. There are several reasons why this can be so, including these:
  • Causation. A plaintiff’s fertility problems may have more than one cause. In cases where a clear line can’t be drawn between the plaintiff’s infertility and the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff will need additional resources, such as the testimony of a medical expert. Likewise, a defendant likely will try to raise doubts about whether the plaintiff has proven the case, for example by asking for evidence that the plaintiff had no fertility problems prior to the injury.
  • Emotional harm is harder to prove. For plaintiffs who seek damages for suffering of any kind, issues of proof can raise extra challenges. Infertility may raise especially difficult questions, as plaintiffs may need to “prove” their interest in having children and how infertility has affected them. A plaintiff’s attorney can take steps to protect the client from overzealous defense lawyers, but ultimately the client will need to decide whether pursuing these sorts of damages is worth the emotional cost.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and auto accident litigation. We are proud of our firm’s long history of providing clients with complete, personal service.  For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

A Landlord’s Liability for Slip-and-Fall Injuries

Some renters struggle to get much in the way of service from their landlords. For one reason or another, some landlords simply refuse to take responsibility for maintenance problems that are unquestionably their obligation to resolve. Landlords who behave this way are banking on tenants and visitors lacking the resources to take real action to force the landlord to act. But when a tenant or visitor to a property gets injured in a slip-and-fall accident, the landlord’s inattention to maintenance can become a source of liability. In Nevada a landlord has a responsibility to exercise reasonable care to not cause visitors to its property to face an unreasonable risk of harm. A landlord who violates this obligation and, as a consequence, causes someone’s injury can be held liable for negligence. There are several factors that play into the landlord’s obligation to address maintenance problems that pose potential hazards:
  • How likely is the problem to cause an injury? The more likely a given problem is to cause an injury, the more unreasonable it becomes for the landlord to disregard it. A broken stair, damaged hallway tiling, or carpeting that is frayed are examples of problems that arguably create a likelihood of injury.
  • Did the landlord have notice of the problem? In some cases, holding a defendant liable for problems that it wasn’t aware of, and therefore couldn’t fix, may be unfair. On the other hand, if a landlord knows about a hazard and doesn’t take steps to fix it, the chance of liability goes up. For potential plaintiffs, delving into questions of notice can be an important part of the evidence-gathering process. The landlord may have received numerous complaints about a trip hazard and done nothing. In some cases, such as if the problem has persisted for a long time, the landlord may be deemed to have had notice even if it hadn’t received independent reports.
  • Did the landlord create the problem? Liability is more likely to adhere to a landlord who creates an unsafe condition and doesn’t correct it.
  • Was the hazard in a location under the landlord’s control? An important element of any premises liability case involving landlords is whether the hazard that caused the injury was in a common area or within a tenant’s exclusive premises, such as in an apartment’s bathroom. If the landlord does not control the location of the hazard and doesn’t have notice about it, liability may rest with the tenant rather than the landlord. A closer question arises if the landlord had notice of the problem and didn’t correct it despite having a contractual obligation to do so.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have fallen at a rental property and the landlord or the landlord’s insurer is refusing to offer assistance, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your case. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

What to do if an Insurer Denies Your Personal Injury Claim

Insurance companies are in the risk management business. They help their clients manage risk by taking responsibility for keeping costs under control in the event that a claim is made against a policy. In turn, an insurer’s claims adjusters work hard to make sure that claims are valid and not, in the opinion of the adjuster, overbroad or outside the scope of the policy. In some cases, an insurance company takes an aggressive approach, denying claims in hopes that the injured person doesn’t appeal the decision or sue. Fortunately, there are options for people who find themselves in this circumstance.

Insurance companies have a legal obligation to be honest

When someone makes a claim against an insurance policy, the insurer has a legal obligation to conduct an honest assessment of the claim and pay for damages that are covered under the policy. The assessment process needs to be concluded and payments made within a reasonable time. At the same time, insurers also have an obligation to protect their clients, the policyholders, against claims that are invalid, unsupported by the facts, or fraudulent. An insurer that acts in bad faith can be sued. An insurer acts in bad faith if it tries underhanded methods of delaying or avoiding its obligations under a policy. Imposing huge volumes of paperwork, making a lowball offer, or misleading people about a policy question are all examples of potential bad faith. A claim of bad faith may be brought by the policyholder, such as an at-fault driver in an auto accident who is not getting the coverage that a policy promises, or by a beneficiary of the policy, such as someone who has made a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. Between honest dealing and unambiguous bad faith is a large grey zone where a lot of confusion and conflict can arise. An insurer may in good faith believe that the facts of an injury place it outside the scope of a policy. An adjuster may in good faith review the costs associated with an injury and conclude that they are significantly lower than what the injured person has claimed. A lack of bad faith doesn’t mean that the insurance company escapes responsibility, but it does mean that the injured person may need to take more aggressive steps to protect his or her interests.

Contesting denied claims

When a claim is denied or only partly honored, the beneficiary should consult with an attorney to determine next steps. An insurance company is unlikely to put aside a claims denial without a rigorous consideration of the issues underlying the claim. Those issues may be purely legal, such as a conflict over interpretation of policy language. They may be purely factual, such as questions about how an accident occurred or the extent to which the policyholder is at fault. Or they may involve a mixture of legal and factual issues. The appropriate solution for the problem of a denied claim will depend on the particular policies of the insurer and the nature of the dispute. Some insurers may offer an in-house appeals process to help reduce the risk of litigation. But many insurers will need to be sued to bring them to the negotiating table. Once there, an insurer will have an adversarial position and will need to be countered with strong legal arguments.

GGRM can help you resolve your insurance disputes

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. If you are struggling to recover what you are owed in a personal injury claims dispute, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We may be able to help you reach a better settlement. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Suing for Fires Caused by Electric Utility Equipment

Investigations into the cause of last year’s devastating Camp Fire in and around Paradise, California, have focused on equipment owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), a large utility company. The fire, the deadliest in California’s history, may have been started after the failure of a hook supporting components of a 100-year old transposition tower. The hook may have broken due to unusually high winds. In previous wind events, PG&E had shut off power to lines that it believed were at risk of wind damage, but in this case they chose leave the power running. Although the Camp Fire took place in California, it carries important lessons for residents of Nevada who could face a similar disaster. When human error causes a major disaster, litigation often follows. Claims for property damage, loss of life, and impacts to health are all common. Litigation relating to a large fire caused by a utility’s equipment invariably involves a complex mix of parties: the utility itself, its insurers, government, individuals, and businesses of every size may all take part. In the midst of the flurry of legal activity that goes on, an individual who has suffered losses needs to focus on protecting his or her best interests against the competing voices. The fact that electrical lines can cause fires is well understood. Depending on local conditions, a fire can have widespread, severe effects. As a consequence, utilities have an obligation to continuously inspect and maintain their lines. Lines need to be built and maintained to account for foreseeable weather conditions, like high winds or ice storms. Every utility expends significant effort to inspect its lines for potential problems. Despite those efforts, problems can go undetected or, worse, detected problems can be left unaddressed until it’s too late. A lawsuit against a utility for fire-related damages typically asserts that the utility has committed one or more acts of negligence by failing to comply with its obligation to keep its equipment in reasonably safe condition. There are a number of challenges that such a suit will need to overcome:
  • Establishing that the utility’s negligence was the legal cause of the fire itself.
  • Proving that the damages claimed in the lawsuit were the result of the negligence and not due to an intervening cause, such as a lack of adequate fire exits in a building.
  • Collecting on a successful judgement or settlement award against a large number of competing claimants.
An individual who has suffered significant losses in a fire caused by a utility’s negligence should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. The utility will likely offer quick settlement payments to individuals in the hopes that they will accept the quick cash instead of pursuing the full amount of what they are owed. Whether this first offer should be accepted needs to be weighed in light of the case’s full potential. For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in personal injury, wrongful death, and other similar cases. If you or a loved one has suffered significant injuries in a fire, call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Personal Injury Cases

The category of damages called “pain and suffering” can sometimes be the eye-catching part of a personal injury trial’s outcome. For example, a recent case awarded a plaintiff $10 million for pain and suffering in connection with a severe injury suffered by a teenager on a homeowner association’s badly maintained swing set. Someone who has been injured and is considering filing a lawsuit should take a moment to understand what pain and suffering damages are and what their limitations rae.

The categories of damages in Nevada civil litigation

Civil trial damages are divided into three categories:
  1. Economic (or compensatory) damages can be thought of as the consequences of the defendant’s wrong actions that can be reduced to a firm dollar figure without resorting to abstraction. Past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damage are examples of economic damages. The scope of economic damages can itself be a controversy at trial. For example, a person’s future earnings are contingent on many factors, like the person’s age, years to retirement, and career path.
  2. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in cases where the defendant has acted especially badly. The aim of punitive damages is to make an example out of the defendant to deter others from behaving in the same way.
  3. Noneconomic damages tend to be difficult or impossible to quantify using commonly accepted formulas. Examples of noneconomic damages include humiliation, anxiety, grief, and loss of enjoyment. Pain and suffering are just two closely related variations of noneconomic damages.
The types of damages that a plaintiff can seek in a case depend on the nature of the claim, the parties involved in the case, and other factors. Economic damages tend to be available in almost every case that isn’t simply barred on other grounds. But noneconomic damages can be subject to caps or even prohibited altogether. Such restrictions are usually contained in statutes that are designed to limit the liability risk of certain activities. For example, Nevada law limits noneconomic damages in professional negligence cases (e.g., medical malpractice) to $350,000. NRS 41A.035.

How are pain and suffering damages calculated?

A plaintiff’s claim for pain and suffering, or other forms of noneconomic damages, must be fair and reasonable and may not exceed any applicable statutory cap. Like all damages, pain and suffering also must be proven with evidence. The greater a showing the plaintiff can make of the tribulations suffered due to the defendant’s wrongful actions, the greater the potential damages award. Unlike a plaintiff’s medical bills, pain and suffering isn’t so much a matter of math as one of reasoned argument. Proving pain and suffering requires a careful collection of hard evidence, like photos and medical records. Documentation of the plaintiff’s medical condition, such as x-rays, can be especially persuasive. Oral testimony can also be vitally important. The plaintiff’s family members, friends, occupational therapists, and others can help to paint a picture of how the plaintiff’s life has changed after the incident.

GGRM is an experienced personal injury law firm in Las Vegas

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. If you have been injured in an accident and would like to speak to an attorney at no cost, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Seeking Compensation for Child Care After an Injury

Parents and other guardians of children can find that caring for a child after a serious injury is significantly harder than it was before the injury occurred. Routine tasks like lifting, driving, doing laundry, or cooking may no longer be possible while recovering from the injury. As a consequence, it may be necessary to hire outside help. Plaintiffs in this circumstance sometimes wonder if they can include the cost of child care in their personal injury lawsuit claims. Nevada law allows plaintiffs in personal injury cases to include “replacement services” in the scope of the damages that are demanded in a lawsuit. Replacement services essentially covers things that the injured person used to do for themselves, but now must hire an outside person to do. This includes cooking and cleaning, and also includes taking care of children. Replacement services are a form of economic damage, because they can be tied to real-world numbers. The actual cost of hiring a nanny or housekeeper, hiring a driver to take the kids to school, or hiring someone to cook can be proven with actual invoices or, if the plaintiff hasn’t been able to afford such services before the lawsuit begins, with reference to estimates or averages taken from services available in the plaintiff’s community. As with other forms of damage, the cost of replacement services must be proven with reasonable certainty to be recoverable. Making a full accounting of the cost of child care will require consideration of a range of factors that include the anticipated likelihood of the plaintiff’s recovery to resume providing child care, and the age of the children involved (i.e., how long replacement services will be needed). Although parents may seek to recover the highest possible compensation for child care services, courts may place some limits on what can be recovered. For example, a court may consider it unreasonable to provide plaintiffs with sufficient compensation to allow for a full-time, professional caregiver if the plaintiff’s circumstances would allow for a less expensive alternative. If prior to the injury the plaintiff shared child care responsibilities with another adult, the defendant may only be held liable for replacing the plaintiff’s services alone. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for personal injuries. We are proud of our long history of providing caring, thoughtful service to each client. We work hard to take every part of a client’s life into consideration as we develop our cases. Please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Hearing Loss

Significant hearing loss can have profound consequences, from a life-long reliance on hearing aids to loss of enjoyment in music, challenges holding conversations, and other problems. Hearing loss can also be accompanied by pain and uncomfortable auditory conditions, like tinnitus. A wide variety of accidents can cause hearing loss. It’s easy to imagine someone suffering ear damage in a car accident, for example: a blow to the head, or exposure to very loud sounds, could lead to long-term hearing problems. Because damaged hearing is a significant injury, it can be the basis of a personal injury lawsuit, or form part of a broader set of claims arising from a defendant’s negligent behavior. A claim for hearing loss will need to contend with similar issues as other forms of personal injury. Some of the common issues faced by a plaintiff in such cases include:
  • Causation. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions were the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injury. How difficult this question is to answer will depend on the facts of the case. If the plaintiff suffered hearing damage during a car accident the relationship between the defendant’s actions and the hearing damage may be relatively simple. Other cases may require expert testimony to establish how the defendant’s actions led to hearing loss.
  • Actual injury. One of the challenges of proving hearing loss can be a lack of base-line information. This is a common problem in workers ‘compensation cases and why police, fire fighters, and other first responders are required to get their hearing tested regularly. If an event causes a sudden reduction in hearing the plaintiff may be able to recover compensation only for the amount of hearing that was actually lost as a consequence of the event. If the plaintiff doesn’t have a medically accurate measure of his or her hearing before the event, establishing the amount of loss may be more difficult and, therefore, full compensation may be more difficult to obtain.
  • Quantifying the injury. A challenge in any personal injury case is determining the appropriate amount of compensation that the defendant is responsible for paying to the plaintiff. Hearing loss often requires a range of concrete costs, such as specialist medical care and expensive hearing aids. It can also cause long-term ear pain and headaches. For some plaintiffs, especially musicians, loss of hearing can impact earning potential. Accounting for all these damages is important for ensuring that plaintiffs get the most from their claims.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have suffered hearing loss as a consequence of another person’s negligence and you have questions about 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.

Dogs and Injuries to Small Children

Small children love playing with dogs. But not every dog has the temperament to tolerate rough play from a child, and sometimes a child can trigger defensive instincts even in a mild-mannered animal. Parents and caregivers who plan to have a dog around small children should take care to follow a few simple rules:
  • Supervise. Dogs shouldn’t be left alone with small children. A common mistake is to take for granted that an easy-going dog will stay that way when a child is doing things that may provoke it, like climbing on the dog’s back, grabbing at the dog’s face, ears, or eyes, or pulling on a tail.
  • Control the environment. A high-energy environment, with loud noises and lots of people running around, can overstimulate a dog and lead to accidents. Bear in mind that dogs can get physical when they play: they will run around, jump, use their front paws to push and grab, and so on. A small child can be injured by playful behavior just as much as aggressive behavior.
  • Teach. Even children who haven’t learned how to speak can learn how to interact with dogs. Teaching children to pet dogs with open handed, gentle movements can help them develop a better relationship with the dog, while also reducing the chances that they’ll do something to startle the dog.
  • Intervene. Watch closely for signs that the dog is distressed. Wide eyes, lowered ears, and of course growling are all signs that the dog needs to be separated from the child. The best course is usually to simply pick up the child.
If a child is injured by a dog, seek medical attention for the child right away. Children may not be able to communicate the extent of their injuries and can suffer broken bones more easily than an adult. Children have remarkable resilience, but parents should also watch for signs of psychological harm, like lingering fear of dogs, that might need to be addressed. Failing to take reasonable steps to keep a child safe from a dog could lead to legal liability for someone who has responsibility to keep the child safe. When a dog causes a child serious injuries that require medical intervention, the child’s parent or guardian may be forced to sue to recover compensation from the dog owner’s insurance policy or directly from the owner. To protect themselves and others, people who own dogs should verify that their insurance coverage will protect them in the event of a dog-related injury. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases, including injuries caused by dogs. If your child has been hurt by a dog and you are wondering about your legal options, please call us for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

How Getting Hurt While Drunk May Affect a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Quite often the focus of discussions surrounding drinking and injuries is on the injuries caused by the drunk person. Alcohol abuse can lead to serious consequences, especially for drivers. But a drunk person can be injured in contexts other than where he or she was driving. The injured person may be hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim because of the stigmas associated with excessive drinking. But the fact that someone was drunk does not excuse the bad behavior of others.

A plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense

Personal injury lawsuits typically seek to prove that the defendant behaved negligently and, as a consequence, caused the plaintiff’s injury. Whether the defendant behaved negligently requires a close look at the circumstances of the injury itself. What obligations did the defendant owe to the plaintiff at the time? How did the defendant fail to meet those standards? Questions like these primarily focus on the defendant, not the plaintiff. If the plaintiff was drunk at the time the defendant caused the injury it is possible that the defendant will want to use the plaintiff’s drunkenness as a defense. Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that a defendant can ask a court to reduce the amount the defendant is responsible for by a percentage that the court attributes to the fault of the plaintiff in causing the accident. If the court finds that the plaintiff was more than fifty percent at fault, the plaintiff won’t be allowed to recover anything from the defendant.

Examples

A key question in any comparative negligence case is the extent to which the plaintiff’s behavior really factored into the injury. Sometimes a plaintiff’s drunkenness isn’t relevant. Here are some examples where that might prove to be the case:
  • The defendant was lawfully crossing the street when the defendant ran a red light and struck the plaintiff.
  • The defendant, a grocery store, left a puddle of cooking oil on the floor of an aisle and the plaintiff slipped on it.
  • The defendant’s dog wasn’t leashed and attacked the plaintiff.
The more the plaintiff’s alcohol use factors into the injury, the more difficult it will be to avoid at least a portion of the liability being placed on the plaintiff. Here are some cases where the plaintiff’s drunkenness might matter:
  • The defendant, a shopping mall, failed to block off a section of floor that was under repair and visibly unsafe, and the plaintiff stumbled into it.
  • The plaintiff unexpectedly stumbled into the street and was struck by the defendant driver.
  • The plaintiff fell after climbing onto a ladder that the defendant had left standing against a wall.
The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented injured clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We are happy to help people who have been injured resolve questions about whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate for their case. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.