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Is Lead Poisoning Still with Us?

It’s tempting to think of lead poisoning as a problem that’s largely of a bygone era, when paint in old buildings caused widespread problems for children. But the truth is that the problem is still ongoing and may even be getting worse. Lead poisoning can have serious, long-lasting effects, especially on growing children. Someone who is affected by lead poisoning may have grounds for filing a lawsuit.

The sources and risks of lead poisoning

Despite regulatory efforts to reduce or eliminate lead from historical sources like lead and other construction materials, it remains present in a wide variety of items. A huge variety of products have been found to contain lead, from ceramic tile to cosmetics. Many products that are imported from overseas, including toys and food products, may contain significantly higher doses of lead than would be allowed under U.S. regulations. Part of the challenge of lead poisoning comes from the fact that even very small amounts in a person’s blood stream can be extremely toxic. It can cause a wide range of serious medical problems. In children lead poisoning can be especially serious, leading to developmental problems, cognitive issues, pain, and even seizures. Adults may experience high blood pressure, mood disorders, and memory problems, among other things.

Liability for lead poisoning

For someone who has been affected by lead poisoning and wants to pursue legal action to recover compensation for its related costs, a preliminary challenge is often to identify the source of the lead. Exposure to even small amounts of lead can cause significant problems. Tracing the source can require extensive, expert analysis of the environment where the affected person lives. The presence of lead paint in an old rental property might offer a clear-cut case. But finding the lead in, say, a particular toy may require considerably more work. The theories that a plaintiff might use to recover compensation for lead poisoning will vary according to the lead’s source. A tenant who lives in a building with undisclosed lead paint might have a good case for premises liability against the landlord. The parents of a child poisoned by a toy could have a strong case of products liability against the manufacturer, importer, and marketer of the toy. In each case, the plaintiff can seek compensation for medical treatment as well as remedial care to help the affected individual improve their quality of life.

GGRM handles lead poisoning litigation in Las Vegas

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in cases involving personal injury, premises liability, and products liability. If you or a loved one has suffered from lead poisoning, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your legal options. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Can Fitness Trackers Cause Injuries?

Devices that track personal health and activity statistics have become all the rage. Fitbits, Apple watches, cell phone apps, and other devices all can keep track of an astonishing amount of information about their users. Everything from a person’s heart rate and step counts to sleep patterns and minutes spent exercising. Every fitness tracker device is intended to help users keep tabs on their activity and, in theory, move more. Fitness trackers aren’t without their critics. Several types of potential harm have been pointed out, with varying degrees of substance behind them:
  • Potentially harmful radiation. The science is unsettled on whether cell phones and other similar devices can cause cancer. Some doctors recommend limiting cell phone use in case a connection between the radiation phones produce and certain kinds of brain cancer. Fitness trackers operate at a lower energy level than cell phones, but they can still release a constant stream of low-frequency energy that could theoretically pose a health risk. Only time will tell if such fears are warranted.
  • Over-exercise. Fitness trackers push their users to meet goals based around a general standard that might not be appropriate for every user. People who push themselves to meet the goals set by their trackers may be putting themselves at risk, especially if they have undiagnosed conditions like heart disease that could make exercising dangerous.
  • Anxiety and other mental health. Some people are reporting serious bouts of anxiety and obsessiveness caused by their trackers. Someone who fails to meet the goals set by their tracker might feel stress that affects other parts of their life. People who are prone to problems like eating disorders or depression may develop significant complications as a result of using a fitness tracker.
It’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. A doctor might also help a patient evaluate whether a fitness tracker is the right solution for them. For most people a fitness tracker is probably a good tool, but taking some precautions is probably a good idea. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured we would be happy to provide you with a free attorney consultation about your legal options. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Injuries Caused by Broken Equipment at Work

Workplace equipment can endure a lot of heavy abuse, especially in industries like construction or transportation. That equipment can break down and become a danger to employees is one reason that responsible employers incorporate routine maintenance checks into their risk management programs. But broken or badly maintained equipment can still end up in use, and workers can be injured as a consequence.

Equipment maintenance and the law

Nevada employers have an affirmative duty to maintain their work environments in a condition that is safe for employees. Under the standards set by Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), NRS 618 et seq., and its related regulations, employers with at least eleven employees are required to adopt formal safety programs, which among other things should address potential hazards like wear and tear on dangerous equipment. OSHA is a regulatory program enforced by the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations (DIR). Although employees can make complaints to the DIR about safety problems at work, they are not able to take direct legal action themselves against their employers for safety violations. The DIR may respond to complaints by pursuing investigations into safety violations, which may result in fines and, in extreme cases, litigation.

Bad equipment and workers’ compensation

Workers who are injured by inadequately maintained equipment can be surprised to learn that their only recourse for recovery may be workers’ compensation. Nevada’s workers’ compensation system has several features that come into play. First, it is an exclusive remedy, which bars most personal injury lawsuits against employers who comply with their workers’ comp obligations. Second, it is no-fault insurance, which means that an injured employee will be covered for any injury arising in the course of employment, regardless of who is to blame. An exception to the exclusive remedy exists for an employer’s intentional acts that are intended to cause harm to an employee. If, for example, an agent of the employer (a manager, for example) deliberately sabotages a piece of equipment knowing that it creates a hazard for employees, an injured employee can pursue direct litigation against the employer and the employee who caused the injury. Note that even if an employer has behaved irresponsibly, for example by requiring workers to use equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained, the most likely recourse remains workers’ compensation. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. If you have been injured on the job, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your situation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

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.

Falling Furniture Can Seriously Injure Small Children

In recent years a series of recalls has brought to light the serious risk that furniture can pose to small children. Ikea has issued recalls for its Malm series of low-cost dressers, which the company says pose an unreasonable risk of toppling over if a child climbs on them. The recalls came after the eighth child was killed by a dresser in the Malm line falling on top of them.

Take steps to make your home more safe

Everyone, not just parents of small children, should give some consideration to the potential risks of furniture tipping over in their homes. The recalled Ikea dresser is only one example of “tippy” furniture. Another common source of serious injuries is modern TV sets. Modern televisions are quite large, and though they tend to be lighter than obsolete tube-based units they can still cause serious harm if they tip over onto someone. Fortunately there are simple steps that people can take to make their homes more safe. Securing tippy furniture doesn’t necessarily require making every piece of furniture impossible to move. The key is to ensure that if the furniture does tip over the anchor breaks the fall. Here are some suggestions:
  • Secure furniture and other heavy objects to anchor points, such as shelves that are firmly secured to walls or by using drywall anchors that are rated to handle the weight of the anchored object.
  • Mount flat-screen televisions on the wall instead of using tabletop stands.
  • Make sure to repair damaged furniture, especially if the damage could make the furniture more likely to fall over.
  • Supervise small children who might be prone to climbing bookshelves or open drawers. If necessary, put up gates to restrict access to dangerous rooms.

Pay attention to recalls

One reason the Ikea case is significant is the sheer number of the affected dressers. Because they are inexpensive the dressers are very common, meaning they frequently show up for sale on Craigslist and other informal channels. Even if they are available for free, consumers should not bring these dangerous items into their homes. If a product poses an unreasonable risk to consumers the manufacturer and marketers of the product may be subject to a products liability lawsuit. Retailers like Ikea try to avoid this liability by issuing recalls, which do not absolve the company of responsibility but can serve to mitigate the company’s risk. Customers who know about a recall but choose to ignore it may be considered to have assumed the risk of injury, and therefore may have difficulty recovering compensation from a company like Ikea if a recalled piece of furniture causes serious injury. People who keep furniture that poses known risks around their homes may also increase their risk of facing a lawsuit by a guest who is injured by the dangerous furniture. Homeowners can bear legal liability for injuries that occur within the home. Even if a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will assume some of the costs associated with defending against such a claim, this is not a position anyone should want to be in.

Have you been injured by falling furniture?

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in Las Vegas pursue products liability and personal injury claims. If you have been injured by furniture falling over and you would like to explore pursuing compensation from a manufacturer or other responsible person, we are happy to talk through your options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Hernia Mesh Litigation Update

In recent years manufacturers of hernia meshes have come under legal scrutiny for complications arising from the implants. Hernia meshes function by adding support beneath and around weakened tissues that have allowed an organ to squeeze through, creating a painful hernia. They can be made from a range of substances, including synthetic fibers and animal tissues, and can have a few different forms. A properly functioning mesh can treat a hernia and prevent it from recurring. But some patients have discovered that their hernia meshes have not performed as advertised or have had design defects that may be responsible for a range of complications. Plaintiffs in lawsuits against Atrium (maker of the C-QUR mesh) and Ethicon (maker of the Physiomesh) have raised a range of complaints against the manufactures. The problems related to hernia meshes have included pain, infection, migration (implants moving from their original locations), physical collapse of the implant, bowel obstruction, and even damage to nearby tissues and organs. In many cases serious complications require additional surgery. Hernia mesh lawsuits often raise a number of specific claims that are common in products liability cases involving medical devices. Among other things, the lawsuits often argue that the manufacturers knew about the complications that were possible with their devices but didn’t disclose those risks to patients. Plaintiffs also may argue that the manufacturers failed to follow legally mandated safety processes to ensure that their products performed safely. Over the years the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received numerous complaints about complications from hernia mesh implants. Some products have even been recalled for safety reasons, forcing patients to endure new surgeries to replace the recalled mesh. For patients who have received hernia mesh implants there are a number of important steps to take:
  • Keep an eye on product recalls and news about your implant’s make and model.
  • Notify your doctor about any complications you experience as soon as possible so that any serious problems can be addressed quickly.
  • If you do suffer a serious complication, talk to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation for cases involving defective products. If you have questions about your legal options to seek compensation for problems associated with a hernia mesh, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Car Customization and Liability Risk in Nevada

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

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

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

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

Ask an accident attorney about injuries from custom cars

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

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats
Child car seats are not designed to last forever. Manufacturers label each of their car seats, as well as related equipment like bases for removable bassinets, with expiration dates past which the car seat should no longer be used. Manufacturers do this for a variety of important reasons. Parents should take expiration dates seriously.

Why do car seats expire?

If a seat were to fail in an accident the potential for catastrophic injury to the child would expose the manufacturer to expensive products liability lawsuits, not to mention a loss of confidence in the marketplace. For that reason, manufacturers of car seats put their products through extensive safety testing before selling them to the public. Manufacturers also pay close attention to how their products perform in the field and will be quick to issue recalls if something isn’t working as intended. That is why registering car seats is recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and every manufacturer. There isn’t a hard and fast rule governing when a car seat has reached its expiration date. Instead, manufacturers determine expirations based on their safety testing procedures and engineering standards. There are a number of reasons why a car seat is given an expiration date:
  • Safety standards are constantly changing, and older seats may no longer be compliant.
  • Materials and safety technology are constantly getting better.
  • Wear and tear can make straps, buckles, and safety padding more prone to breaking in an accident.
  • Manufacturers do not test seats for an indefinite time and will stop evaluating expired seats for faults that might otherwise trigger a recall.

The risks of using an expired car seat

For all the reasons above, using an expired car seat places the child at greater risk of injury. A buckle that’s worn out could snap open in a collision, potentially eliminating the seat’s protections altogether. The seat’s impact foam could be brittle and cracked underneath the external padding, making it less able to absorb shocks. The possibilities are endless. In the event of an accident an expired car seat that causes injuries could limit the parents’ ability to seek damages from the manufacturer on a products liability theory. In extreme circumstances where the responsible adult knew that the seat was defective but used it anyway, there may even be liability for the person who put the child in the seat. Using a seat that isn’t expired is one way to avoid making a tragic situation worse. This advice is especially important to keep in mind when considering whether to buy or accept a used car seat from someone else. Most thrift stores don’t take used car seats because the risks are too great, but they are often available for sale or for free through channels like Facebook and Craigslist. Used car seats may have hidden defects, may have been subject to a recall, or may be past their expiration. When it comes to safety equipment, it’s always better to buy new.

GGRM is a Las Vegas car accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in auto accident and products liability cases. Contact us if you have questions about how your car seat may affect your legal rights. For a confidential, no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Liability for Lending Power Tools

Liability for Lending Power Tools
Lending power tools to neighbors and friends isn’t normally something that one would expect to create legal risk. In some situations, however, someone who has lent power tools can face a lawsuit from someone who is injured by the tool. In many situations such claims can be meritless, but the tool’s lender can end up spending money and time defending against a lawsuit that might have been avoided. There are a few things to consider before lending tools.

How do tools create liability risk?

No matter their safety features, power tools are inherently dangerous. They can cause very serious injuries, like amputations, or even death. There are two principal ways a tool can cause such injuries: through improper use (i.e., attempting to hand-hold a board while cutting it with a circular saw) or as a consequence of inadequate maintenance. Liability for an injury caused by a power tool will always be a question of facts as well as law. The nature of the injury and the state of mind of the person who was using the tool at the time of the accident will be of central importance. Was the tool being used in an unreasonably dangerous way? Was the person using it under the influence of alcohol or drugs? If the person using it was a minor, was an adult providing adequate supervision? Amidst these questions a tool’s lender may wonder why anyone would think the lender could be at fault. One answer is that lawyers for an injured person may think of a lawsuit against the lender as a way to force the lender (or the lender’s insurance provider) to settle rather than endure the expense of trial. In other words, the risk isn’t so much that an injured plaintiff can “win” but that the cost of fighting the suit is great enough to force the defendant to pay something.

Avoid practices that assume responsibility for a tool’s performance

The most common way a defendant can end up with liability for an injury is to behave like a business when lending out tools. Asking for a payment in exchange for lending is the clearest way to do this. A plaintiff could also argue that other forms of consideration were given to the lender, such as an in-kind exchange of tools. A plaintiff may even argue that a jar of homemade jam given as a “thank you” gift was in fact a form of payment. If lending, the best course is to not accept any form of payment. A lender can create an impression of being in the tool-lending business in other ways. Taking out special insurance is an example. So is imposing nonfinancial requirements on the borrower, such as asking them to take out their own insurance.

If you’re going to lend tools, lend only well-maintained tools

A tool’s owner needs to make sure that the tool is free of dangerous defects before lending it out. Problems like a frayed power cord, loose blade guard, or improperly tightened mounting bolt could create heightened risk for anyone using the tool. Especially where the borrower doesn’t know about such dangers, the owner may be responsible if the fault causes injuries. There are a few other steps that a lender can take:
  • Be sure to include the tool’s instruction manual with the tool.
  • Avoid lending worn out equipment, such as saw blades or drill bits.
  • Never lend “customized” tools, such as those with replacement parts or pieces missing.
When it comes to dangerous equipment, it’s important to bear in mind that a friendship is not necessarily a shield against litigation. The cost of recovery can force an injured person to look for sources of compensation wherever they can be found. If you have been injured by a borrowed tool and you would like to explore your legal options, the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez can help. For a free attorney consultation call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Suing for Defective Medical Implants

Suing for Defective Medical Implants
The medical implant industry has seen enormous growth as technology has advanced. Some operations, like joint replacements, have become routine. But sometimes an implant fails to work as advertised, or it contains a significant defect that poses serious risks to the patient’s health. In recent years a number of problems with some hip implants have caused metal fragments to escape into patients’ bodies, leading to serious side effects and large lawsuits. In such cases, an injured patient may be able to recover under a products liability theory. In other cases, where the individual surgeon improperly installed an implant, the patient may be able to recover under a professional negligence theory.

Products liability for medical implants

In an ordinary products liability case the plaintiff must show that the defendant—in the case of medical implants, most likely the manufacturer—negligently designed the product. The difficulty of a plain negligence claim is that the burden rests upon the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent. That can be especially difficult in cases involving highly technical products like medical devices. If the plaintiff can meet the requirements for a strict products liability claim, the burden shifts to the manufacturer to prove that its product was not defective. A strict liability case requires the plaintiff to make a preliminary showing of five things:
  1. The defendant was the manufacturer or marketer of the product.
  2. The product was defective.
  3. The product’s defect existed when it left the defendant’s possession (in other words, it wasn’t damaged by the surgeon when it was installed).
  4. The plaintiff used the product in a way that was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant.
  5. The defect caused the plaintiff’s damages.
For medical implants, many of these elements will be fairly straightforward. The most challenging one to prove will be the product’s defectiveness. That’s in no small part because the implant is inside the plaintiff’s body. Things can get easier if the implant was removed and the defect discovered after removal. In some cases the product’s defect may come to light as many other patients begin to suffer similar problems.

Professional negligence cases against surgeons and others

In some situations the manufacturer of an implant is not responsible, or at least not solely responsible, for the patient’s injury. In cases were the installing surgeon failed to follow proper procedures or made mistakes, the patient may bring suit for professional negligence (more popularly referred to as “medical malpractice”). A professional negligence claim is based on the idea that the defendant doctor failed to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by a similarly trained and experienced professional. NRS 41A.015. Among other things, the plaintiff in such a case must provide the written affidavit of a doctor who practices in a similar field to the defendant, attesting to the defendant’s negligence.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

Injuries from medical implants can be painful and expensive. Working with a local law firm to resolve the issue is important for anyone suffering from implant problems. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented personal injury clients in the Las Vegas area. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.