Monday, March 31, 2014

How Does Someone Prove Economic Losses in a Las Vegas, Nevada Accident Case?

When someone is involved in an accident, they are sometimes unable to return to work immediately. When this occurs, your treating doctor will write you an “off work” slip, which you can take to your employer. This will document your temporary inability to perform your work duties. If this happens and you are temporarily off work, then your lost wages will be part of your damages in your personal injury case. If you missed a few days or even a few weeks of work, then your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, may ask you to provide your most recent pay stub, to establish your lost wages. The head of your human resources department will also be asked to provide a letter concerning your hourly rate and how many days of work you missed. All of this information and documentation will be provided to the insurance company to establish your damages and before your case is resolved.

But what happens if you are in a very serious accident and unable to return to work permanently? To establish these future lost wages in Las Vegas, Nevada, certain additional documentation must be provided. First and foremost, your experienced personal injury attorney will hire an expert witness to establish your economic losses. Secondly, all of your relevant documents will need to be provided to prove you future lost wages. Instead of just a letter from the head of your human resources department, you may be asked to provide your tax returns, including both before and after the accident. Your tax returns will be used establish your earnings history prior to the accident. Your tax returns will also show how your income has dropped, due to your inability to work. 

When you can no longer perform the job you did, then you may have to undergo a vocational rehabilitation assessment as well. At this assessment, conducted by an expert, your other employment options will be explored. This usually happens when you had a very physical job prior to the accident, which you can now no longer perform due to your injuries.

Your W-2s will also be necessary, especially if you filed joint tax returns with your spouse. However, some clients ask if they can use their spouse’s income in establishing their wage loss claims. This is not permitted. However, if you are a homemaker or someone who works full time and then comes home and takes care of tasks at home, there are economic losses associated with those loses.

Most people don’t realize how much time is spent doing household tasks, such as cleaning their home, making dinner and doing the laundry. If your injuries are of a serious nature and you can no longer perform those tasks, then your experienced personal injury attorney will seek those additional loses for household services. Even if you are not a full time homemaker, you may have sustained household services losses. If you had to hire a housekeeper or other household assistance to perform you daily tasks, these documented expenses will also submitted to the insurance company for your claim.

Next time we will discuss what qualifies someone to be an expert in court in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

What Makes Las Vegas Slip and Fall Cases Special in Nevada?

In Las Vegas car accident cases, the at fault party is usually pretty clear. However, in slip in fall accidents, who is ultimately held responsible for a person’s injuries, is sometimes disputed. Traditionally, in Nevada, if a danger was “open and obvious”, then the owner of the property where someone fell, historically would not be liable for a person’s injuries after a fall. Additionally, if there was ‘no time’ for the property owner to find out about the danger, then the property owner usually was not held to be liable. An example is when a patron is walking, drops something, and causing the person walking behind them, to slip and fall. In the above example, the property owner would deny any culpability and it would be up to the judge and jury to assign blame. 

However, there are two well known exceptions to the traditional slip and fall rule just discussed. The first exception is often referred to as the recurrent risk approach. The recurrent risk approach was laid out in the Nevada Supreme Court case of Sprague v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 109 Nev. 247, 251 (1993). In Sprague, the Nevada Supreme Court held that whether the property owner had knowledge of "chronic hazard" of debris on floor in produce department, was an issue for the jury to decide. If it was proved at trial that there was in fact a recurrent risk, then the property owner would liable for the slip and fall victim’s injuries.

The second and more recent exception to the traditional slip and fall rule in Nevada, was carved out by the Nevada Supreme Court in 2012. It is called the negligent mode-of-operation liability theory (“NMOO”).   FGA, Inc. v. Giglio, 278 P. 3d 490 (2012) 128 Nev. Adv. Op. No 26.

In NMOO cases, if the property owner has a negligent mode of operating, then they are held liable for a slip and fall victim’s injuries. The Giglio court found that in a self-serve context, the NMOO liability theory applies. So, let’s say for example, Donald Lim is out to dinner at a self serve restaurant. While Donald is walking to his table, he slips and falls on food or liquid on the floor, which was dropped by another guest. Based upon the NMOO, your highly skilled Las Vegas slip and fall attorney will argue, it is foreseeable that the people carrying food or drinks will get food or drinks on the floor, causing people like Donald to fall.  Pursuant to the 2012 Giglio case on NMOO, Donald does not need to prove actual or constructive notice at the time of trial. It is foreseeable that people are going to fall.

In addition to Nevada law recognizing the NMOO concept, other states also recognize it.  Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., 802 So. 2d 315 (Fla. 2001) (if the evidence establishes a specific negligent mode of operation such that the premises owner could reasonably anticipate that dangerous conditions would arise as a result of its mode of operation, then whether the owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the specific foreign substance is not an issue).

Next time we will discuss special issues in economic losses in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What Do Car Repair Estimates Have to Do With Las Vegas Car Accident Cases?

When you are involved an auto accident, through no fault of your own, having your car repaired is second only to getting immediate medical care for the injuries you may have suffered. Your Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer will tell you that when you are selecting a company to repair you car, you have many options to choose from. 

After an accident, the ‘at fault’ driver’s insurance company may attempt to contact you and have you get your car or truck repaired at one of their facilities. This may seem like an easy option, but remember that the insurance company has only one person’s interests at heart: theirs. 

Based upon how most insurance companies operate, they will usually send you to a car repair facility that uses used car parts and non-certified repair personnel. The insurance company’s car repair shop will also just repair visible damage and typically not try to locate any hidden damage to the car’s frame or other latent parts of your vehicle. Since the insurance company’s car repair facility will likely put used parts on your car, the actual car repair bill will be much lower, saving the insurance company money.

The lower car repair estimate also has a second, added bonus for the insurance companies. Namely, that if the case goes to court, the insurance company will argue that damage to your car was so low, pointing to their low car repair estimate, that you could not have possibly injured in the car accident. Although this a false argument, some juries fall for this cause and effect story.

Do not let the insurance company fool you. Your Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer will tell you not to take your car to the insurance companies’ car repair shop. Instead, you can take your vehicle to the dealership or a car repair shop who will conduct a full inspection on your vehicle. They will replace damaged car parts with new parts and will not try to artificially deflate your car repair bill.

Next time we will discuss special issues in slip and fall cases in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

When The Available Insurance is Less Than Your Medical Bills, An Interpleader May be Required

What happens when the medical bills exceed the insurance funds available? If the medical providers are not willing to reduce their medical liens, then a legal proceeding, called an Interpleader is required. An Interpleader is a type of lawsuit. This lawsuit happens when the medical bills are higher than the available insurance. 

For example, let’s say Susie Singh has been involved in a serious auto accident. Susie is taken via ambulance to the hospital. Susie’s employer does not offer health insurance, therefore Susie does not have health insurance to cover the costs of the ambulance and hospital bills.

Susie’s ambulance and hospital bills are $16,000. The at fault driver has the minimum car insurance limits of $15,000. Susie also did not know about insuring herself, through UIM (underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage). So, the only available insurance is the at fault driver’s insurance of $15,000. 

In this example, the at fault driver’s insurance company accepts that its driver was responsible for the accident and agrees to pay its $15,000 policy limits. Susie’s medical bills are higher than the policy limits and the ambulance and hospital refuse to reduce their bills given Susie’s situation.  

The only option available to Susie’s Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, is to file a lawsuit, the Interpleader, asking the Court to resolve the parties’ disputes concerning the insurance funds. Susie’s personal injury lawyer will make every effort to avoid an Interpleader, since Susie will be responsible for the difference in the amount the Court awards to the medical providers and the actual amount of the bills. However, the amount will be reduced by the Court award, making the bills much less. In the vast majority of car accident cases, an Interpleader is not required and Susie’s personal injury attorney will be successful in resolving medical bills without the need to file an Interpleader lawsuit.

Next time we will discuss car repair estimates in Las Vegas car accident cases.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why is Getting Immediate Medical Care in a Las Vegas Car Accident or Slip and Fall Case Important?

No one wants to make a fuss after they have been injured in an accident, whether it is a car accident or a slip and fall accident. If you were in a slip and fall accident, you may have been embarrassed by falling in front of a group of strangers. In slip and fall cases, many times people’s legs slip out from under them, causing them to fall backwards. To make matters worse, they usually are falling on concrete or title, which is unforgiving to the head.

Hitting your head in car accident cases also happens. Due to some impacts, your head may have been thrown to the side, causing you to hit your head on the car window. Also, in rollover car accidents, head trauma is known to happen. Well know examples of people having sustained head injuries, yet not seeking timely medical care, are Sonny Bono and Liam Neeson’s wife, Natasha Richardson.

If you are injured in a car accident or related traumatic event, you need to seek immediate medical attention. The reason is twofold. First, if you are injured, getting care quickly will identify areas of injury and speed up your recovery. Through treatment, your healing process will be quicker and go more smoothly. Secondly, it will document your injuries. If you are injured in a car accident in Las Vegas, but never get any medical treatment whatsoever, it is just your word of your injuries.

Without any objective corroboration of your injuries from a licensed medical provider, no insurance company, no attorney and no jury will actually believe you were injured. Be smart. Get treatment if you need it. Your experienced Las Vegas Injury Lawyer will make sure that you get the immediate medical care you need at no upfront out of pocket cost to you.

Next time we will discuss what happens when the medical bills exceed the insurance funds available, and an Interpleader is required.