Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What are the Recent Law Changes on Jury Selection in Nevada?

The Nevada high court recently changed the way Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers conduct their trials in Nevada. In the past, each judge had different rules when it came time to picking a jury in personal injury trials. This meant different results, based upon which judge you had for your case. Considering there are over 20 different trial judges in Las Vegas, this was like spinning the roulette wheel of judges!

In a recent case, the Nevada Supreme Court made two major announcements in personal injury trials. See Khoury v. Seastrand. 132 Nev. Ad. Op. 52 (2016). The first ruling by the high court, is that specific dollar amounts CAN be used during jury selection to uncover potential bias regarding verdict amounts. Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers were sometimes blocked in ferreting out biased jurors. If your Lawyer wants to strike a potential juror because they don’t believe in people making claims for injuries, they can now put out hypothetical numbers and see if jurors have a personal problem with making a large award to an injured person. It is important that your accident Lawyer will have to make sure to create a record to explain exactly why the potential juror is being dismissed.   

The second major change in jury trials relates to medical liens. In most personal injury cases, doctors treat injured people on a lien. Our high court decided that LIENS can be admitted in trial to show bias. But, in a footnote, the court was careful to point out that when admitting evidence of liens to show bias: 

"[We] caution that this holding may not be used as a 'backdoor' by parties to question a treatment provider about whether and to what amount it would write-down the amount of the medical lien in the event that the plaintiff loses his or her lawsuit. Such evidence could be used by the jury to diminish the damage award and would thus invoke the collateral source rule."

Defense attorneys wanted the Nevada court to adopt a California law allowing evidence of medical insurance, write-down evidence and the sale of liens by providers, to try and show the "reasonable value" of the bills. This argument was rejected by the Nevada Supreme Court. Defense attorneys are also prohibited from asking a doctor if they will write off the lien if the injured party loses their case.

Defense attorneys are now limited to asking the doctor on the stand if getting paid for their medical services depends on the outcome of the trial. The defense try to argue that the doctor is biased and their testimony disregarded by the jury. Your experienced Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer will make sure that the jury hears testimony from the treating doctors that the patient’s injuries were caused by the accident at issue.

Next time, we will talk about expert witnesses in Las Vegas Personal Injury cases.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Is a “Physical” Injury Required to Make a Personal Injury Claim in Las Vegas?

Today’s blog deals with the issue of whether a “physical” injury is needed to make a personal injury claim. While at first blush, this may seem like a silly question, the answer may surprise you. Your Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer will tell you that a “physical” injury is not always necessary in asserting a Las Vegas personal injury claim. A recent decision from our state’s high court explores this issue. 

You may remember the outbreak of hepatitis C that struck the Las Vegas Valley a few years ago, when a medical facility was accused of re-using syringes and vials. This was the Sadler v. Pacificare of Nev., Inc.,130 Nev. Ad. Op. 98 (2014). To make things easier, we’ll just call it the “Hepatitis C” case. In the Hepatitis C case, patients who had been treated at the medical facility were scared that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C. Through their Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer, they wanted the at fault medical facility to pay for their diagnostic testing and monitoring.  

It was claimed by their Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer,  that although the initial test results came back negative, they would have to be re-tested in the future. They alleged that hepatitis C can sometimes take time to progress, to give a positive test result. Since the tests were negative, the defense argued that there was no evidence that they were currently “injured”. As a result, the medical facility’s lawyers tried to dismiss the victims’ claims for negligence. 

Any first year law student and Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer worth their salt, knows the elements needed to make a claim for negligence: (1) defendant (at fault party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured party); (2) the defendant breached their the duty of care; (3) the breach was the cause of plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages/injuries. So, in the Hepatitis C case, the issue before the court, was the plaintiff actually “injured”?

The trial court determined that since the plaintiff hadn’t proved they suffered any “injuries”, they dismissed the lawsuit. On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court differed. They split “injuries” in two and said, you don’t need to have a “physical” injury. Instead, a “legal” injury was enough to bring a claim for negligence. The court reasoned that if someone was knocked down by someone’s negligence and the “injured” person went to the hospital, to make sure they hadn’t suffered any internal injuries, the at fault party would still be responsible for diagnostic testing, even if it turned out that they hadn’t suffered any injury. If you have any doubts as to whether you have a viable personal injury claim, consult your local Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case. 

Next time, we will talk about jury selection and whether medical liens come into trial.