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Liability for Fires Caused by Household Chemicals

Improperly stored flammable materials can cause disasters. A backyard shed full of old gas cans or aerosol sprays could be a ticking time bomb, just waiting for an errant spark to set off a serious fire. When household chemicals cause a house fire, the effects can reach far beyond just the place where the fire starts. In some cases, not taking proper care of household chemicals can be grounds for liability for the damages that ensue from a fire.

A homeowner’s obligations to care for flammable materials

Outside of the context of deliberately set fires—the crime of arson—most lawsuits arising from fires are grounded in a theory of negligence. In simplified terms, a claim of negligence asserts that the defendant failed to comply with a legal duty, and as a consequence the plaintiff suffered an injury. A plaintiff must be able to show that all of the damages he or she claims were the result of the defendant’s negligent behaviors. A key question in any negligence case is what legal duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff. Everyone owes a general obligation to others to take reasonable steps to avoid creating risks of harm. This rule doesn’t mean that a homeowner can’t keep hazardous materials on hand. Keeping gasoline stored in a proper container in a garage or shed does not, in itself, create a problem. But keeping gasoline in an improper container may be a different matter. For example, someone who stores gas in an old milk jug may be allowing fumes to build up in the space that create an unreasonable risk of fire.

What liability can a fire create?

When a person’s negligence leads to a fire, the potential liability that person may bear can be quite broad. Specifically, liability may extend to every consequence of the fire. This can include:
  • Property damage caused by the fire, including damage to neighboring properties and the personal assets that are burned.
  • Personal injuries and deaths suffered by people who are caught in the fire.
  • The costs associated with fighting the fire.
These risks typically are on top of the responsible person’s private struggles in the aftermath of the fire. Someone who has flammable materials around doesn’t necessarily need to be reminded of the potential liability to others to know they need to take precautions to prevent fire. But when someone decides to ignore a private risk of fire, they often are also ignoring the risks that many others may bear.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

If you have been injured by a fire caused by another person’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney to begin assessing your legal options. 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. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our website.

Contracting Hepatitis A in Public Venues

Since the introduction of the hepatitis A vaccine in the mid-1990s the disease has seen a significant decline in the United States. But in recent years significant outbreaks have raised concerns that the disease is once again on the rise. An outbreak in San Diego recently caused 20 deaths and 592 cases. Several sources of hepatitis A have been identified, including the feces of infected persons, eating contaminated food imported from overseas, and drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis A is a serious illness that can take several months to resolve. Because it is a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective in treating it. Sufferers can endure a range of symptoms, from fever and fatigue to pain and even, in some cases, death. Preventing the disease’s spread requires a combination of strategies, including:
  • Adequate personal hygiene.
  • Compliance with water safety regulations, including chlorination standards for municipal water supplies.
  • Properly cooking food.
  • Sufficient cleaning of facilities like public toilets and other public spaces.
Contracting hepatitis A from a venue that has failed to take adequate care to keep its facilities clean could give rise to a personal injury lawsuit to help the patient cover the cost of treatment and other consequences of the disease. Places that are open to the public—restaurants, shopping malls, grocery stores, and so forth—owe a special duty of care to their visitors to maintain their facilities in a manner that ensures that they are safe for use. Regulatory regimes, enforced by government agencies rather than individual civil lawsuits, further impose sanitation requirements that are designed to minimize the spread of communicable diseases. A key challenge for a plaintiff in a case like this is going to be the issue of evidence. An expert’s analysis likely will be necessary to trace the source of the disease to a specific place. The hepatitis A virus can survive for months outside the body, making it possible that direct evidence of the presence of the disease at a location can be recovered. In some cases, an outbreak involving multiple patients might be traced through their distinct stories to a single location. Potential plaintiffs can examine the facts of their case with their doctor and an attorney to determine if a case can be made. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury cases in the Las Vegas area. If you have contracted hepatitis A and would like to examine your legal options for pursuing compensation, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Suing After Being Injured at a Concert

Any situation involving a crowd heightens the risk of certain kinds of accidents, like falls. Concerts can create a variety of hazards, from spilled drinks and drunk patrons to crowd surfers and a show’s pyrotechnics. Someone who is seriously injured at a show may have several options for seeking compensation. When considering whether to file a lawsuit, a key question is who bears responsibility for the injury. Every injury needs to be examined according to its unique facts and circumstances. Injuries at concerts often can be traced to several potentially liable parties:
  • The venue. Businesses that are open to the public owe their patrons a high duty of care with respect to safety. If the venue failed to take reasonable steps to keep its premises safe, and the plaintiff was injured as a consequence, it might be an appropriate defendant. Injuries from damaged infrastructure, like a broken floor, are clear-cut examples where the venue’s premises liability likely will apply. Liability may also stick if the venue’s staff failed to take reasonable steps to assist the injured patron.
  • The concert promoter or organizer. When the show itself caused the injury, the plaintiff may have a case against the company that organized it. Examples of this sort of injury might include injuries from negligently operated effects, or objects being thrown into the crowd.
  • Other patrons. Some injuries at concerts are caused by another concertgoer. Someone who acts aggressively in a crowd can knock other people down. The challenge in such cases can be to identify the individual who caused the injury. In some cases, the venue may bear responsibility for intervening to stop dangerous behavior by patrons, especially if those behaviors were foreseeable.
In many cases it may be appropriate for the plaintiff to pursue litigation against more than one defendant. The plaintiff may not have all the necessary facts to know for certain who bears liability for the injury and will need the power of subpoena to build a complete picture. Perhaps one party has inadequate insurance or other resources to cover the full scope of the plaintiff’s injuries. Because of the potential liability involved for concert-related injuries, venues or promoters may be quick to offer a settlement. People who are dealing with serious injuries may be tempted to take these offers without giving full consideration to how they will limit their legal options and, ultimately, the amount of compensation that can be recovered. Before accepting a settlement it’s important to speak to a personal injury attorney. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured at a concert we are happy to provide a free attorney consultation about your case. Call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Suing for Slip-and-Fall Accidents in Las Vegas

A serious fall can have lasting consequences for the injured person, including disability and even death. When a fall happens as a consequence of another person’s negligence, the injured person has the option of suing for compensation. There are several considerations for someone who has been injured in a fall and is considering a lawsuit. In a slip and fall case, the key question is usually whether the defendant behaved negligently. At the core of negligence is the idea that the defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff and breached that duty in some way. If the defendant didn’t owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, the defendant, by definition, did not commit an act of negligence. The specific legal obligation of an individual or business to take care to prevent another person’s injury varies:
  • An ordinary person owes only a reasonable duty of care toward others. For example, a homeowner owes a reasonable duty of care to keep his or her property safe for guests. If a known hazard exists on the property, such as a trench dug for construction, the homeowner has a duty to take reasonable steps to warn guests of the hazard.
  • A business that is open to the public owes a special duty of care to keep its premises safe. This rule has been interpreted to require a business such as a grocery store, restaurant, or hotel to take reasonable steps to monitor its facilities and resolve problems like spills, damaged equipment, or other issues that could cause a fall.
  • Special rules apply to common carriers—planes, busses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. A common carrier owes the highest duty of care toward its passengers.
A defendant in a slip-and-fall case may raise several common defenses. These include:
  • Open and obvious. This defense is used when a hazard would have been readily obvious to any reasonable person. It might apply in a case where a trip hazard was roped off with colorful warning tape.
  • Assumption of risk, which can apply in cases where the plaintiff knew about the risk of injury and went ahead with an activity anyway. An example where a defendant would raise assumption of risk might be if an ice rink patron slips and falls on the ice.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have suffered a serious injury as a consequence of a fall and you would like to speak to an attorney about your options, please contact us today for a free attorney consultation.  Call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Suing for Injuries Caused by Moving Walkways

Moving walkways are a popular feature of big venues that want to offer their visitors an alternative to walking long distances. Although they are usually safe, they can sometimes cause slip-and-fall accidents. When someone falls on a moving walkway, the continuing motion of the track can aggravate injuries and make it more difficult for others to assist the fallen person. A few cases over the years have reported articles of clothing and even fingers and toes being caught in the end of a moving walkway. Such cases can lead to significant injury or even death. Someone injured on a moving walkway may have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the owner or operator of the walkway. Moving walkways invariably are found in public spaces. A business or other venue that is open to the public has a relatively high duty of care to maintain its facilities in reasonably safe condition. Emergency stop switches, railings, and walkway beds all need to be maintained to ensure that someone can use them safely and reliably. This extends to changing circumstances, such as if someone spills liquid that makes the walkway slippery, provided that the defendant had notice about the problem, or should have followed reasonable practices to discover it (such as through a routine inspection schedule). If a venue fails to properly maintain its moving walkways, and as a consequence someone is injured, the injured person may have a cause of action under a theory of premises liability. A premises liability claim can be brought against the owner of the venue as well as anyone who is responsible for its actual operation, such as a leaseholder or management company. A moving walkway may be perfectly well maintained but still cause injuries if someone is tripped by it as they get on or off. Falls may also happen if two riders collide. Whether a venue is responsible for injuries of this kind will depend on the facts of the case. In the case of a collision, if an individual caused an injury by pushing the plaintiff out of the way, the “pusher” may bear liability. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured plaintiffs in the Las Vegas area seek compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured by a moving walkway and would like to explore your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.  

Understanding the Legal Risks of Private Pool Parties

Homeowners who have pools in their backyards are right to view their pools as great places for entertaining guests. A pool party is fun for everyone. At the same time, a pool always poses certain risks. In a party context, the danger of the pool can be made more significant. Homeowners who plan to hold pool parties should think about a few issues before the party starts.
  • Premises liability. By themselves, pools and their surrounding infrastructure (walkways, platforms, ladders, and so forth) implicate the legal principle of premises liability. A homeowner owes a visitor a general duty to keep the home and its surrounding property reasonably safe for the visitor. If the homeowner is aware of a dangerous condition, such as a damaged step that could cause cuts or trips, the homeowner needs to warn guests about the condition. Homeowners who plan to host parties should take a moment to make sure there are no hazards that could make the pool area unsafe.
  • Know your insurance coverage. Pool owners know that a pool makes a homeowner’s insurance policy more expensive. It’s important for the homeowner to know about the scope of coverage in the applicable insurance policy. If the policy contains specific limits, the party may need to be designed around those limits. Perhaps the policy will not cover injuries to children who are left unsupervised, or it won’t cover injuries suffered by people who have been drinking alcohol. Coverage limits may also be important to consider: a drowning could cost the homeowner a significantly greater sum than the default limits of the policy. For a party that’s usually large, such as a wedding, taking out special event insurance might be a good idea.
  • Alcohol and pools can be a bad mix. If a party will include drinking, there are a number of special risks that a pool can create. Pool decks can be slippery, and people who have been drinking may be more likely to slip and fall. A person who is especially drunk may have trouble swimming, or in rare cases may suffer a health crisis such as a heart attack. In some cases it may be appropriate to ask people who have been drinking heavily to not use the pool.
  • Supervise children. In a party setting it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on in a pool. A child may get into trouble and not be seen until it’s too late. In circumstances where there are a lot of distractions it may be appropriate to designate someone to be an impromptu “life guard” or to ask the kids to get out of the pool.
Someone who is injured at a pool party probably has recourse to the homeowner’s insurance policy, and may need to sue the homeowner as well to recover full compensation for the injury. 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. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Broken Hips After Slip-and-Fall Accidents

A broken hip is a devastating injury. Recovery of full strength and motion can take as long as a year, during which the patient may endure multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and significant mobility limitations. Elderly patients are especially prone to hip fractures. When a slip-and-fall accident leads to a broken hip, a lawsuit against the responsible party may be warranted.

Slip-and-fall accidents in Nevada

Slip-and-fall accidents fall within the scope of premises liability, a legal standard that holds property owners and other responsible parties (like tenants) responsible to varying degrees for injuries that occur on their property. The rules governing a situation depend on the location of the injury and its specific cause.
  • Homeowners and residential tenants owe a duty to visitors to take reasonable steps to ensure that visitors are not injured by hazards on their properties. The reasonableness of the steps taken by a homeowner to address a hazard will vary by the facts of the case. For example, a homeowner may or may not be required to warn visitors if a walkway is slippery during rainy weather.
  • Businesses that are open to the public are held to a higher standard of care than homeowners are. They are required to keep their premises reasonably safe for use. Unlike a homeowner, a business needs to take affirmative steps to ensure that its facilities are free of hazards. Textbook slip-and-fall cases usually involve things like poorly maintained stairs, a failure to clean up a spill, or inadequate safety precautions around dangerous conditions like broken floor tiles.

Damages recoverable for broken hips

A plaintiff who has suffered a broken hip in a slip-and-fall accident that resulted from the defendant’s negligence often can recover compensation for the damages associated with the injury. Damages include medical expenses, lost wages, transportation costs, short- and long-term modifications to a home, and physical therapy. Damages can also include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other “personal” consequences of the injury. Someone injured in a slip-and-fall accident has two years to file a lawsuit in Nevada. Victims of someone’s negligence shouldn’t wait anywhere that long to consult with an attorney. Quite often there are important pieces of evidence, essential witnesses, and time-sensitive strategies that need to be addressed as soon as possible following the accident. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. Our attorneys are available for free consultations to discuss your injury and your options for filing a lawsuit. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

A Homeowner’s Liability Toward “Odd-Jobs” Workers

Every homeowner can use a helping hand from time to time on projects around the house. Mowing lawns, fixing a leaky faucet, or patching a hole in a wall are all examples of work that the so-called gig economy has started to fill in. A homeowner can save time and potentially save a lot of money by hiring people on an impromptu, cash basis to do this sort of work. But whenever someone does work for pay there’s an added element of risk that homeowners need to think about. Although a homeowner may be justified in concluding that a risk is worth taking, it’s still worth understanding what the risks are so they can be minimized. There are several types of risk associated with hiring casual laborers to do work around the house:
  • Premises liability. In Nevada homeowner have a general duty of care to ensure that their homes and properties are in safe condition for lawful visitors. The homeowner’s obligation extends to keeping the home in reasonably safe condition and warning visitors of known hazards. If a visitor is injured by an unsafe condition they may have the option of suing the homeowner to recover compensation for the injury.
  • The posture of homeowner’s insurance. One of the key questions a homeowner should ask is whether his or her insurance will cover injuries to laborers who do work around the home. The answer is usually something like “Yes, but . . .” The limits of coverage provided by a policy can help the homeowner evaluate the scope of personal risk for a given type of job. For example, a policy may disclaim responsibility for injuries caused by unlicensed work on the home’s electrical system. Or it may limit damages that are available for individuals who are paid for their work, who the insurer assumes (rightly or wrongly) are providing their own insurance coverage.
  • The facts of the job. Hiring someone to paint a wall is probably less risky than asking someone to repair a roof or fix a gas-fired appliance. Measuring the potential harm that can come from a given project—fire, electric shock, falls—is always a good idea. If the risks are substantial it may be worth the cost to hire a contractor that carries its own insurance. Bear in mind, though, that even simple jobs can result in accidents and injuries: painting a wall can be enough to throw out a back or sprain an elbow.
  • Licensing and permitting requirements. One reason a homeowner will hire out work on a casual basis is to avoid the hassle and cost of getting permits and licenses that are required for certain kinds of work. If work is completed without legally required approvals it can create headaches when the home is sold, expose the homeowner to fees, and may invalidate insurance coverage in some cases. A licensed contractor helps homeowners comply with their legal obligations.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

DIY Home Improvement and Injury Liability

Homeowners know that labor is typically a big part of the cost of home improvement projects. For many it’s enough that doing the work themselves is the better choice. Although doing your own construction work can be rewarding, it can also create potential legal liability.

Liability for hazards

In Nevada a homeowner has a general duty to take reasonable care to maintain the home in a condition that is safe for guests. If the homeowner is aware of a potentially dangerous condition, such as a broken bannister, the law requires that the homeowner notify guests of the hazard. For a project with clearly understood dangers notifying guests about them may be straightforward. For example, a homeowner who digs a big trench in the front yard can place warning signs around it to caution passersby about the hole. But doing major work on a home can create hazards that aren’t known to the homeowner until they become serious problems. Fixtures that aren’t properly installed can fall and injure guests. Unsafe electrical practices could lead to fire. Removing structural components could make the entire home unsafe. If someone is hurt by conditions like these, they will have good cause for suing the homeowner.

Insurance may not pay for DIY mistakes

A homeowner’s liability insurance will often cover risks for routine things like trip-and-fall accidents caused by the upturned edge of a rug. Where insurance might refuse to pay is if the homeowner has undertaken a do-it-yourself project that was not compliant with local rules, such as permitting requirements. Failing to use a licensed contractor for certain types of projects can also give an insurance company an excuse to not pay. This extends to significant parts of a home, including gas lines, plumbing, and electrical. If a homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover injuries caused by the homeowner’s negligence the homeowner may be faced with significant unmitigated costs. In practice this means that a homeowner needs to be cautious about taking on projects that involve high degrees of risk. It may be significantly cheaper to hire a professional than to attempt doing dangerous work yourself. Key questions the homeowner should ask before tackling a project are:
  • Does the work involve anything that could cause a fire?
  • Does the work involve tearing down structural components that may have a nonobvious role in the home’s engineering?
  • Can the project be finished in a reasonable period of time so that hazards don’t pose a risk for longer than necessary?
  • Does the homeowner anticipate vulnerable guests, like small children or people with health problems, being present during construction?

GGRM is a Las Vegas injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. If you have been injured in a home or if you have questions about how home projects may affect your liability, please contact is today for a free attorney consultation. Call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Personal Injuries at Sporting Venues

There are a number of sources of personal injury at major sporting venues like stadiums and basketball arenas. Like any other public venue, sporting arenas can have physical problems that make them unsafe: wet floors, broken railings, inappropriately locked doors, and so on. Spectators can be injured by balls or other equipment flying into the stands. Spectators can also end up hurting each other, whether deliberately (in fights) or by accident. These circumstances each require a separate legal analysis, but all may offer injured people the option of suing for compensation.
  • Premises liability. Any business that is open to the public is required to take reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injuries to visitors. In the context of a sports venue, this generally means making sure that the facility is well maintained. This includes having a process in place to address common hazards. For example, spectators can be expected to spill drinks. A stadium should be routinely checking for water on floors that are likely to be slippery if they get wet. Similarly, venues should maintain their stairways and address broken infrastructure, even if it means shutting down a portion of the venue while the repairs are underway. Someone who is injured by a condition that should’ve been anticipated—for example, slipping on a wet floor—may have legal recourse against the owner or operator of the facility under a theory of premises liability.
  • Injuries to spectators. Major sports venues print liability waivers on the backs of their tickets. These waivers typically provide that spectators assume the risk of injury by sitting close to the action. The waivers are intended to discourage people from suing if they are hit by a stray baseball or hockey puck, or a basketball player falls over them and hurts them. Under Nevada law the enforceability of a liability waiver will depend on the facts of the injury. An ordinary situation, such as a tipped basketball flying into the stands, may be the sort of thing that a waiver would cover. But if a player deliberately flings a ball into the stands, perhaps with the intent to hurt a heckler, the waiver probably would not apply.
  • Injuries caused by other spectators. Some injuries at sports venues are caused not (or at least partially not) by the venue’s negligence but by actions of other patrons. In these cases it can be appropriate to sue the individual who caused the injury. For example, a spectator who drops an object from a high deck might be liable for injuries to people who are struck down below. Such cases may also implicate the venue, if the venue hasn’t taken reasonable precautions against the injury. Large stadiums often build netting under their upper decks to prevent objects as well as people from falling.
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 at a sports venue, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.