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Should You Join a Class Action Lawsuit?

We’ve all encountered plenty of advertising by law firms looking for potential plaintiffs in a wide variety of class action lawsuits. Asbestos-related illnesses, defective medical implants, and questionable auto brakes have all had their day in the advertising limelight. These lawsuits bring together many plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries into a “class” that collectively pursues its claims against a defendant. The aim is to take advantage of scale to go after defendants that have sophisticated legal defenses at their disposal. For the individuals who are the targets of this advertising the question is often whether joining the firm’s class action lawsuit is the right course of action. Unfortunately, many firms aren’t going to give potential clients a complete picture of their options.

Why you might want to join a class action suit

Despite the problems that we examine below, there are plenty of advantages to clients who are part of a class action. Each client needs to examine their own interests with care, because the general rule doesn’t always apply to the specific case. But for many clients, advantages like these are enough to warrant giving the class action route a serious look:
  • The possibility of recovering compensation for a claim that might otherwise be too small to litigate on its own.
  • Economies of scale achievable by grouping claims together. For example, each client’s recovery may be a bit greater thanks to shared costs (but be careful).
  • Having a seat at the table when the defendant dishes out compensation to the class may be the one opportunity for taking part, as defendants who are found liable in class actions can end up in bankruptcy or spinning off their troubled assets to make future litigation more difficult.
  • A cookie-cutter approach to members of the class may mean less investment of time on the part of each individual client, who typically fills out forms and may only have a small number of personal contacts with the firm handling the litigation.
The downsides of class action suits shouldn’t be ignored. By joining the class action an individual usually waives the right to sue on an individual basis, so the choice should be made only after some careful thought. Here are a few common problems for clients in class actions:
  • The individual client has no control over how the litigation is handled, including how it is resolved.
  • Class action suits can take a long time to resolve.
  • Members of a class rarely recover for any unique circumstances that distinguish them from other members of the class. For example, the case probably won’t compensate someone who has endured especially serious pain.
  • The law firm handling the class action may treat its clients like numbers.
Someone who is considering joining a class action lawsuit should think about consulting with an attorney other than the firm running the solicitation ads. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about joining a class action suit related to an injury you’ve suffered, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

What to Do if a Defendant Doesn’t Pay

Getting a favorable court judgment in a personal injury lawsuit, whether as a result of a full trial or through a settlement agreement, often is not the last challenge for injured plaintiffs. Collecting on the judgment can, in some circumstances, be a challenge as well. Some defendants aren’t able to pay the amount they owe, while others are willing to risk being held in contempt by withholding payment out of spite. In a negotiated settlement agreement, plaintiffs can require defendants to deposit funds into an escrow account as part of the settlement, but absent such an arrangement plaintiffs sometimes need to take extra steps to recover what they are owed. If a defendant doesn’t pay within a reasonable time it can put the plaintiff in an increasingly difficult financial position. The reason the plaintiff has brought suit in the first place is to recover compensation for the costs associated with the plaintiff’s injury. Many people who suffer injuries take on debts for their immediate medical needs. They also often have to take time off work, which can force them to miss payments on credit card bills, mortgages or rent, phone bills, and so on. Late fees and the threat of worse—damaged credit ratings, foreclosures—will continue to mount until the defendant makes the plaintiff whole. Unfortunately, this is a common problem. Personal injury lawyers help their clients pursue a range of avenues for collecting from unwilling defendants. There are a few mechanisms available:
  • Building collections into a settlement. As mentioned above, in some ways plaintiffs can protect themselves by reaching a settlement agreement with a defendant who may not be able or willing to pay on a judgment. Plaintiffs need not accept a settlement that doesn’t make adequate provision for the financial side of the deal. Settlements can provide for structured payment plans that can provide defendants with a practical way to pay down their liability, which can be especially attractive for defendants who must pay out of their personal assets (as opposed to an insurer).
  • Go after the defendant’s property with a writ of execution. The owner of a judgment can ask the court to issue what is called a writ of execution, which authorizes the plaintiff to take possession of certain specified property owned by the defendant, such as cash or investments. To enforce a writ of execution the plaintiff may need to hire a professional collection agent, who specializes in tracking down property that the defendant may not be willing to part with.
  • Garnish the defendant’s wages. If the defendant has a job the plaintiff can ask the court to order the defendant’s employer to withhold a portion of the defendant’s wages, up to a statutory maximum.
  • Place liens on the defendant’s property. Although a plaintiff may not be able to force a defendant to sell a primary residence to pay the value of a judgment, the plaintiff may be able to place a lien on the property so the defendant can’t sell without satisfying the judgment debt. Liens like this are typically junior to liens held by mortgage lenders, which means their primary purpose is to tie down the defendant’s assets while the debt is outstanding.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. We work closely with clients to help them recover what they are owed. If you have been injured and you have questions about your case, please reach out to us for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Settlement Versus Trial: Pros and Cons for Injured Plaintiffs

Settlement Versus Trial: Pros and Cons for Injured Plaintiffs
Many personal injury cases never go to trial. For defendants, reaching a negotiated settlement can be preferable to the risk and expense of a drawn-out court battle. For the injured plaintiff, settlements can have a number of benefits as well.

What is a settlement?

Before getting into the question of whether it’s a good idea to settle, it’s helpful to understand what a settlement is. Settlements only take place after a law suit has been started—that is, the plaintiff has filed a complaint against the defendant, making certain assertions about the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries. A defendant typically hires an attorney to respond to the complaint, and the parties begin to assemble their case. The American legal system is designed to encourage the parties involved in civil litigation to reach settlements. A settlement saves the limited resources of the court system by avoiding all the complex work that goes into a courtroom trial. For that reason, courts will encourage the parties in a lawsuit to explore settlement. For some issues, the law requires a good faith effort by both sides to come to a pre-trial agreement. The court involved in the case oversees the settlement negotiation process. In fact, the negotiation of a settlement can itself be fairly complicated, especially if one side is not acting in good faith. Settlement negotiations can take place in front of a professional mediator, who helps the two sides come to common ground. When the parties reach an agreement the court must approve it before it is finalized. In doing so, the court also closes the litigation case on the terms agreed upon by the parties.

Why settle?

There are a number of good reasons for an injured plaintiff to settle a case before it goes to trial:
  • Certainty and control. A trial always involves the risk that the judge or jury will not find in the plaintiff’s favor. A settlement eliminates that possibility, while giving the plaintiff a greater say in the details of the final outcome.
  • Faster results. Court procedures can take months or even years, especially if the defendant appeals the decision of the trial court. A settlement can result in the plaintiff getting compensated more quickly.
  • Lower costs. Although a personal injury plaintiff’s attorneys typically work on contingency (that is, we don’t get paid until the plaintiff gets paid), attorneys are still entitled to recover for expenses incurred in preparation for trial. Compared to a settlement negotiation, a trial involves many more hours of lawyer work and can require expensive developmental work like expert testimony. In a settlement the plaintiff can receive a larger share of the final payout.

Potential reasons to reject a settlement

Some plaintiffs may want to push through to trial. Here are some examples:
  • The defendant’s settlement offer is low relative to the amount the plaintiff believes is owed.
  • The plaintiff wants the defendant’s bad behavior to be exposed. A trial is a public event, whereas a settlement’s terms may be confidential. Of course, a plaintiff may want the details that would come out during trial to be kept confidential as well
  • Bad faith or dishonesty by the defendant makes settlement undesirable.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area for more than 45 years. If you have been injured we are happy to review your case and discuss your legal options with you. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or request a call through our website.

How Mental Illness Affects Liability for Personal Injury

How Mental Illness Affects Liability for Personal Injury
People suffering from mental illness sometimes injure others. From the standpoint of criminal prosecution, a defendant’s mental illness can be a defense against conviction or alter sentencing. But when a mentally ill individual causes personal injury, the injured person may wish to pursue a civil lawsuit to seek compensation for the costs of recovery.

Mental health and negligence

A personal injury case usually focuses on whether the defendant acted negligently. For negligence to apply, the defendant must have owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care, and breached that duty by acting, or failing to act, as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Generally speaking, a mentally ill person is not freed from legal obligations solely because of mental illness. The standard for civil responsibility is lower than the standard for criminal liability. For example, a driver has a legal duty to drive in compliance with traffic laws. If mental illness causes a driver to run a red light or swerve into oncoming traffic, the question may be whether the person should have been driving at all. One reason for the reasonable person standard in negligence cases is to free civil trials from the complicated task of evaluating the specific defendant’s capacity to act, or not act, in compliance with his or her legal duty. Because it is an objective standard, the reasonable person rule may offer little help to a mentally ill defendant whose illness caused negligent behavior. Unlike a criminal trial, the defendant’s intent or lack of intent to behave a certain way usually doesn’t factor into the question of negligence.

Health professionals have no “duty to warn” in Nevada

When a potentially dangerous person causes injuries, questions may come up about whether other people who knew about the danger may bear some responsibility. Many states have laws governing the duty of health professionals to warn others about risks posed by a potentially violent, mentally ill patient. In some states, like California, psychotherapists are obligated to warn people who may be threatened by a patient. But Nevada has no such rule. Absent a rule requiring such disclosures, medical professionals are bound by strict confidentiality rules that prohibit them from disclosing a patient’s mental health condition. Without a patient’s consent, a health care provider in Nevada can only disclose records to a patient’s next-of-kin, or to state investigators in limited circumstances. NRS 629.061. Significantly, a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit can’t demand health records unless the patient (or the patient’s representative) first raises the issue of mental health. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, also restricts when a healthcare provider can breach a patient’s confidentiality rights.

Consult with a personal injury lawyer

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in cases involving personal injury. If you have been injured by someone who suffers from mental illness, our attorneys can answer your legal questions. 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.

Who is the “Reasonable Person” in Nevada Personal Injury Law?

Who is the “Reasonable Person” in Nevada Personal Injury Law?
Many personal injury cases hinge on the distinction legal rules draw between subjective and objective analysis of the facts surrounding the plaintiff’s injuries. Sometimes the subjective facts are central: did the defendant see the plaintiff before hitting her with his car, or not? But legal rules that are at the heart of personal injury cases in Nevada try to distance the analysis from the subjective recollections of the people involved, by asking instead whether their actions were the sort that a reasonable person would take under the circumstances. Lawyers spend a lot of time crafting arguments and assembling evidence to show what the “reasonable person” would do in a given situation.

The reasonable person is a kind of measuring stick

Many legal rules ask the question: “Was the action reasonable under the circumstances?” Notice that this question doesn’t ask if the action was reasonable in the opinion of the person who did it. Instead, the reasonableness standard asks judges and jurors to take a step back from the subjective experience of the people involved in the case to ask if an ordinary prudent person make the same choice, all things taken into account. The goal is to lend a degree of objectivity to the analysis in hopes of reaching a fairer outcome for everyone involved. In many personal injury cases that go to trial, the reasonable person standard can play a big role in the way jurors are instructed to assess the facts and circumstances of the case. Would a reasonably prudent person opt to have surgery under the circumstances? Would a reasonable person have reacted to an oncoming car by slamming on her brakes? Would a reasonable person have climbed a ladder knowing that it was broken?

Reasonableness is central to many legal rules

Whether something was reasonable comes up many times in a personal injury case. Here are a few examples:
  • Negligence. Personal injury lawsuits in Nevada focus on whether the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries by acting negligently. One of the elements of negligence asks whether the defendant took reasonable steps to protect the plaintiff from harm. A landowner who leaves an aggressive dog off leash because he believes leashes are cruel probably hasn’t acted reasonably to protect others from being bitten.
  • Mitigating damages. A plaintiff is required to have taken reasonable steps to mitigate the damages that resulted from the initial injury. A plaintiff who refuses all medical treatment because she’s terrified of hospitals won’t be compensated for her worsening condition, because she didn’t act the way a reasonable person would.
  • Expense reimbursement. A plaintiff’s costs associated with treatment, lost income, and attorneys fees must be reasonable to be recoverable. When it comes to costs, expert testimony is often required to show that medical bills weren’t inflated or the attorneys weren’t overbilling.

Experienced personal injury lawyers understand the reasonable person

The attorneys at GGRM have been navigating the complex rules of personal injury litigation for decades. Let our expertise help you get the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with an attorney call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Handles Botched Plastic Surgery

Patients should call a personal injury attorney if victimized in a botched plastic surgery. In addition to the shame and embarrassment of possibly being disfigured at the hands of a physician, patients endure months and possibly years of excruciating pain and suffering. In most cases, the only way to correct bad plastic surgery is through a series of new surgeries, which may not always completely fix the problem.

Some results of botched plastic surgery include:

  • Lifelong complications: although corrective surgeries can be performed, patients may be left scarred and in need of medication and therapy that can last a lifetime
  • Chronic pain: between silicon breast implant leaks to aggressive lipo, chronic pain may plague individuals for years
  • Loss of work: due to pain and suffering some victims of botched plastic surgery may lose their job or are unable to work
  • Ongoing therapy: both physical and mental therapy may be required in order to get past bad plastic surgery

Plastic Surgery Statistics from a Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury attorney who is experienced in dealing with botched plastic surgery cases knows that cosmetic surgeries are on the rise. With plastic surgery taking the spotlight in the media, more people are going under the knife to achieve that “perfect” appearance. There is also an increase in the number of bad surgeries being reported in the press.

Did you know?

  • Nearly 12 million people had plastic surgery in 2007—a 59% increase from 2000, and counting
  • Plastic surgery is gaining popularity in the middle class. The majority of plastic surgery patients, (60%) reported a household income of less than $90,000 a year (only 10% had an income of $90,000 or more)
  • Women are more likely to have plastic surgery than men. Only 10% of the surgeries were for men

Source: http://bad-plastic-surgery.whocanisue.com/

If you’ve been a victim of bad plastic surgery, contact a personal injury attorney at Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, Martinez Law Firm for a free consultation. Give us a call at 702-388-GGRM (4476).