Category: car accident injuries

Award of Attorney’s Fees in Personal Injury Litigation

Award Of Attorney’s Fees In Personal Injury Litigation

A common question experienced personal injury and car accident attorneys typically hear from clients is can we get the at-fault party to pay our clients’ attorney’s fees. The answer is usually no, but there are a few exceptions.

The general rule regarding awarding attorney’s fees is called the “American rule,” where each side is responsible for their attorney’s fees, regardless who wins. This rule applies in Nevada as well. Unless an exception applies, a personal injury victim who files a lawsuit and wins will not be able to recover attorney’s fees from the at fault party.

In personal injury cases, exceptions to the American rule are usually found in statutes or court rules. The following are some of those exceptions that allow a winning party in a personal injury lawsuit to seek an award of attorney’s fees and costs.

Cases Less than $20,0000

A plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit who wins $20,000.00 or less may recover their attorney’s fees from the losing party. This is permitted under Section 18.010(2)(a) of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). The purpose of this rule is to allow plaintiffs in small lawsuits the opportunity to be made whole or to be fully compensated. See Northern Nevada Homes, LLC v. GL Construction, Inc., 134 Nev. 498, 422 P.3d 1234 (2018). Often times, the cost of litigation and attorneys deter those with minor injuries or smaller claims from filing lawsuits. This in turn motivates insurance companies to deny or force small cases into litigation, in hopes that some attorneys or litigants will stop pursuing their case. This happens particularly in low property damage car accidents or minor impact soft tissue or MIST injury cases.

Mandatory Arbitration

In Nevada, all personal injury cases valued at $50,000.00 or less generally proceed under the Court Annexed Mandatory Arbitration program. The prevailing party in cases in the arbitration program can ask the arbitrator to award attorney’s fees up to $3,000.00. This rule is set forth under Rule 16(E) of the Nevada Rules of Alternate Dispute Resolution.

Short Trial

Personal injury cases in the Court Annexed Mandatory Arbitration Program can end up in a short trial. Any party to a mandatory arbitration case can request a short trial within thirty (30) days of an arbitrator’s decision. In addition to the offer of judgment rule below or NRS 18.010 discussed above, Rule 27 of the Short Trial Rules permits and award of attorney’s fees up to $3,000 to the prevailing party.

Prevailing Party Wins An Award Higher Than Offer of Judgment

One of the most common way to obtain an award of attorney’s fees in a personal injury case is by issuing an offer of judgment and, if the offer is not accepted, winning an award higher than the offer of judgment. This is allowed under Rule 68 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure.

To invoke this rule, the prevailing party must have first issued an offer of judgment at least 21 days before trial. In the offer, a party states they are willing to settle the entire case or certain claims for a specific amount. The offer must be reasonable and in good faith in both timing and amount. See Beattie v. Thomas, 99 Nev. 579, 588-89, 668 P.2d 268, 274 (1983). This means that the offer made was reasonable in amount and based on the information available at the time that offer was made.

The other party to whom the offer of judgment is issued has fourteen (14) days to accept the offer. If the offer is not accepted within that time, the offer is considered rejected. If the party that issued the offer then wins an amount higher than what they offered to settle the case for, that party can ask for an award of attorney’s fees.

Under the recent Nevada Supreme Court decision in Capriati Construction Corp., Inc. v. Yahyavi, 137 Nev. Adv.Op. 69, 498 P.3d 226 (Nov. 2021), a trial court may now award a personal injury attorney’s full contingency fee. The Court reasoned that permitting award of a personal injury attorney’s full contingency fee promotes the public policy behind the offer of judgment rule.

The public policy behind Rule 68 or the offer of judgment rule is to promote settlements. The purpose of Rule 68 was to punish parties who fail to accept a reasonable offer of judgment. Permitting the award of an attorney’s full contingency fee fulfills that purpose.

If you or a loved one are facing a lawsuit for injuries you sustained as a result of a car accident in Las Vegas, the experienced accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can assist you. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, we can advise and guide you through the process and obtain the best results possible.

Failure to Use Seat Belt Increase Deaths from Car Crashes

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Failure to Use Seat Belt Increased Deaths from Car Crashes

According to the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), car crash deaths have increased despite the Covid Pandemic. Contributing to this increase is the failure to use seat belts. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) reported the number of deaths of non-seat-belted drivers and passengers in Nevada increased by 20 percent from 2019 to 2020.

A recent crash highlighted how failure to use seat belts have contributed to more crash deaths. On a Thursday morning in September, two cars crashed into each other at the intersection of Flamingo and Lindell, and one of the drivers was thrown out of their car and died. The driver that died was not wearing a seatbelt. According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, this was the 92nd crash-related death in Metro’s jurisdiction.

In May, a crash in North Las Vegas left one person dead and two others with critical injuries. The person who died and one of those critically injured weren’t wearing their seat belts.

Statistics from OTS showed that seat belt use in Nevada fell from 93.2% in 2010 to 89.4% in 2016. Nationally in 2020, only 90.03 percent of vehicle occupants used seat belts. Users of rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have also a tendency to not use seat belts.

Nationally, 22,215 were killed in car crashes in 2019, and 47% of them were not wearing seat belts. In Nevada, 22.3% of those killed were not using seat belts. From 2014 through 2018, Nevada saw 337 unbelted occupants die in crashes. A large number of deaths from crashes involving pickup trucks and SUVs involve occupants not wearing seat belts. Also, a greater number of crash deaths at night involve occupants without seat belts.

What are Nevada’s Seat Belt Laws?

Nevada law requires all passenger cars to be equipped with at least two shoulder-harness seat belts for front seat occupants. Nevada law also requires all occupants of passenger cars to be wear seatbelts. Under NRS 484D.495, the maximum penalty for not wearing a seat belt is a traffic ticket for a non-moving violation and a mere $25, with no Nevada demerit points. This $25 penalty has remained the same amount for decades, despite other changes to the statute.

Also in Nevada, law enforcement can’t stop vehicles merely because the occupants are not wearing a seatbelt. Traffic citations can be issued for non-seatbelt use only if a vehicle is stopped for other legitimate reasons. Such a law is called “secondary enforcement” seat belt law.

Nevada’s seatbelt statute also prohibits defendants and their insurance companies from arguing that not wearing the seatbelt as contributory negligence.

AHAS, amongst others, have argued that Nevada’s seat belt laws are not enough to save lives. They advocate for adopting laws that better enforce seat belt requirements.

How Does Nevada’s Seat Belt Laws Compare with Those of Other States?

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have what’s called primary seat belt law. This means that law enforcement can stop and cite vehicle occupants for non-seat belt use. Some states issue citations if only the front seat occupants are not wearing seat belts; others issue citations for both front and back seat occupants. In its recent report, AHAS has given Nevada poor grades for its seat belt laws.

The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety estimates that if the state were to adopt a primary seat belt law, the state could save at least 9 lives, 125 serious injuries, and $25 million in costs.

Buckle Up and Save Your Life

By now, it should be common sense that using seat belts saves lives and prevent greater injuries. Seat belts can help prevent car occupants from being thrown out of their cars on impact. Being ejected from a vehicle in a crash is nearly always deadly. By using seat belts, a car crash doesn’t have to produce devastating results. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that buckling up can reduce the risk of fatality in a passenger car by 45% and by 60% in a light truck.
Let’s dispel the excuses for not wearing seat belts:

  • I’m not driving that far, just down the street.” You don’t have to drive far to be the victim of a crash. A crash can happen on the road just in front of your house.
  • “I’m just driving in the parking lot.” Crashes happen in parking lots too. A lot. After decades of experience, we’ve seen far too many parking lot accidents.
  • The airbags will save me.” Airbags do not work like seat belts. They are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts, not replace them. Without a seat belt, a driver could be thrown into a rapidly opening air bag. Such force could injure or even kill you.
  • Seat belts are uncomfortable.” Being injured or dead is more uncomfortable.
  • I’m a safe driver.” While you may be a safe driver, others you share the road with may not be. The best defense against distracted drivers or drunk drivers is to wear your seat belt.

From personal experience, the car accident lawyers of D.R. Patti & Associates know what it’s like to lose a loved one from a crash. We stood by a grieving mother who lost her 18 year old daughter in a single vehicle accident. There were six occupants in the car, and only our client’s 18 year old daughter died. Why? Because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car on impact. We too have lost loved ones from car crashes. One of our attorneys lost a family member who was thrown out of his car during a crash; that family member also wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

If you or a loved did become a victim of an unfortunate collision, the personal injury law firm of D.R. Patti & Associates can help. Our top-rated car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have over 50 years of combined experience in car claims in Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin, and Reno, Nevada. We know Nevada personal injury law and have the skills to get you the compensation you deserve.

How Much Can I Get For My Car Accident?

How much a car accident victim can get from a personal injury settlement is not an easy question to answer. This is also a different than asking how much your car accident claim can settle for. How much a personal injury claim settles for depends on the injuries, the medical treatment, and how much insurance policy is available. How much the accident victim can get takes into account how much the claim can settle for, how much medical bills have to be paid out of the settlement, and how much the attorney’s fees and costs are.

Settlement Value Of A Car Accident Claim

The settlement value of a car accident claim depends primarily on the nature of the injuries and how much money is available. Of course, the more severe and permanent the injuries are, the higher the value of the case. However, regardless of how severe the injuries are, the amount of money or insurance policy the defendant has will limit how much the case could settle for.

Also, no two people’s cases are alike. While people can have similar injuries, everyone heals differently. Injuries can also affect people differently.  The injured victim of a car accident can claim for their medical bills, their pain and suffering, lost enjoyment of life, and any wage or income loss. In the legal field, we call these items “damages.”

Because the settlement value of a case depends on a person’s injuries, how long they heal or whether those injuries are permanent, an experienced car accident lawyer cannot know from the beginning of a case how much the case could settle for. The more common injuries from a car accident are neck and back pain that are initially diagnosed as a soft tissue injury, usually a sprain or strain. Some neck injuries may require surgery. Doctors generally can’t tell at the beginning if a neck sprain or strain may turn out worse and require surgery. Imaging, such as MRIs, may be necessary. Doctors also may require pain management and even epidural steroid injections. Other tests, such as nerve conduction studies, may be needed. All of these tests and treatment take time.

Once a car accident victim is fully healed or has reached maximum medical improvement, then the attorneys can begin the process of settling the case. A car accident victim shouldn’t settle their case until they know the full extent of their injuries.

How Much Does The Injured Victim Get Out of A Car Accident Settlement

When a client has reached maximum medical improvement, then the settlement value of his or her claim can be evaluated. After determining the settlement value, we can then estimate how much the client’s share is of the potential settlement. To do that, we would have to deduct the medical bills that have to be paid back, the attorney’s fees, and the costs that have to be reimbursed to the attorneys.

Remember, personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. That means, car accident attorneys like D.R. Patti & Associates don’t get paid unless they recover monies for the client. In a typical contingency fee case, the lawyer’s fee is a percentage of the total settlement. That percentage usually increases if the case goes into litigation.

Is Hiring An Attorney For A Car Accident Worth It?

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If you were injured in a car accident, you may be wondering whether it’s worth hiring a car accident attorney. You may be worried that you can’t afford an attorney or that the attorney’s fees may reduce your share of any settlement. Or you may be looking at all the billboards of personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas and wondering whether an accident attorney will really care about you and your case. Or you may be thinking, making a claim seems so simple since the other person was clearly at fault that you don’t need an attorney to handle your claim.

There could be many reasons why you may be concerned about hiring an injury lawyer, but whatever those are, it is usually best to consult with an attorney before settling your car accident case. You may discover it’s not about whether you need an attorney but whether you can find the right accident lawyer for you and your case. You may also discover that the at fault party’s insurance company does not have your best interests at heart and that your claim is not as simple as you think it is.

Why Hire An Injury Attorney For Your Car Accident?

A good personal injury attorney will have the knowledge, skill, and experience to value your case and to get maximum recovery as possible. Doing a Google search for how to handle your personal injury case is no substitute for experience, because each injury and each accident are as unique as each individual. Meaning, there is no one foolproof formula to handle a car accident claim. A seasoned car accident lawyer knows what facts to look for and to highlight, as well as how to deal with facts that the insurance company uses to low ball your accident claim.

If you suffered serious injuries or have permanent lifelong damages from a car accident, you may find that the automobile policy limits of the person who caused the accident is not enough to fully compensate you. Most of the time, the automobile insurance policy limits for the at fault driver will not be sufficient to compensate someone with serious permanent injuries. In Nevada, drivers are only required to carry car insurance policies of a minimum of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident.

If you are seriously injured, you would want to definitely hire an attorney who will conduct the research and investigation to find other sources for recovery. For example, sometimes there may be more than one person at fault or who contributed to a car accident. There are times when the design of a roadway contributed to the crash. A good car accident lawyer knows their first obligation is to their client and to perform the due diligence necessary to provide maximum recovery for their client.

What About The Cost Of An Attorney?

The cost of a personal injury lawyer should not be a concern. Personal injury and automobile accident cases is one of the few areas of law where the lawyer does not get paid up front. A car accident lawyer doesn’t get paid at all they are not successful in obtaining a settlement or an award for their clients. This type of fee arrangement is called a contingency fee.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call and speak to one of our Las Vegas car accident attorneys. All personal injury consultations are free. D.R. Patti & Associates has a combined 50+ years of experience in all forms of injury cases.

DO YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY IN A FENDER BENDER?

Do YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY AFTER A FENDER-BENDER?


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do you need an attorney after a fender-bender?

Even if you can’t see any damage, or it appears to be to a small scratch, there may be minor damage underneath that has gone unnoticed. Not all vehicle damage is apparent right away. It is not unusual to drive away from a crash and then, one or two days later, notice that your car is having mechanical problems.
This is also true with respect to injuries, as some soft-tissue injuries it may take a while to show symptoms. Remember, not all injuries are obvious. Some injuries, like whiplash and brain injuries, may not be obvious for several hours or even days.
Usually, after a traumatic event like a car accident adrenaline also called epinephrine, is known as the “fight or flight” hormone. After a frightening or dangerous event, adrenaline floods a person’s bloodstream. This hormone masks the pain that people feel from their injuries. More importantly, many car crash victims may have a head injury. Sudden back-and-forth motion usually causes whiplash, and sudden loud noises (like a crash) can cause a more serious traumatic brain injury. Medical Care:  Don’t refuse medical care at the scene. You could be seriously injured and not realize it. Refusing or delaying medical treatment after an accident can result in your claim being denied. You’ll be giving the insurance company a reason to argue your injuries weren’t caused by the crash. We advise all car accident victims to see a doctor right away if they have been involved in any type of collision

WHAT ARE SOFT-TISSUE INJURIES?

What may seem like a bruise or stiffness after an accident may, in fact, be something much more serious. The result can be pain, swelling, and bruising. Soft-tissue injuries are classified as the following:

  • Lacerations
  • Tendonitis
  • Stress injuries
  • Strains
  • Muscle Contusions (bruises)

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION

If you aren’t taken directly to the hospital from the scene, have a medical evaluation as soon as possible, preferably the same day. See your doctor or go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care center. If you don’t seek medical attention after the accident, the insurance company may try to use this to their advantage and claim that you did not actually sustain your injuries in the accident
If you or a loved one are facing a lawsuit for injuries you sustained as a result of a car accident in Las Vegas, the experienced Accident Attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can assist you. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, we can advise and guide you through the process and obtain the best results possible.

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Common Mistakes In Car Accident Claims

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The car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have over a combined total of 50 years of experience. In that time, we have seen some car accident victims harm their personal injury case. While often times these mistakes do not destroy a case, these mistakes can cause difficulties in negotiating adequate settlements.

Ignoring Medical Advice Or Appointments

One of the most, if not the most, contested aspect of any car accident claim is the injury.

Insurance companies and defense attorneys typically challenge whether an accident caused the victim’s injuries. Also, a car accident victim must prove their injuries, and generally, Nevada law requires medical evidence of those injuries. Ignoring medical advice or missing doctor appointments can cause problems in car accident claims.

Auto insurance companies tend to argue that a person who is truly hurt, that person seeks medical treatment and that a person who does not seek medical treatment is a person who is not truly hurt. The foregoing is a faulty syllogism, as there are many reasons why an injured person may not seek medical treatment or may have gaps in their treatment. Nevertheless, accident victims must be prepared to respond to such arguments.

In our experience, we’ve also seen injured victims who want to stop going to a doctor not because they are no longer in pain, but because they don’t think the doctor can do anything else. So, those accident victims simply decide to live with the pain and other symptoms. However, these injured persons fail to realize that it takes a medical professional to determine whether injuries are permanent. If the accident claim goes into litigation, a medical professional has to testify to that. An injured victim’s testimony that they continue to be in pain may not be enough.

Not Repairing A Car After A Crash

In other articles, we have discussed the typical argument of insurance companies that car crashes involving minor damages do not cause injury. Insurance companies’ arguments usually go something like this: since the crash did not cause that much damage to the car, it could not have caused the injuries complained of. Of course, this argument ignores that cars and people are not comparable to each other. Nevertheless, insurance companies routinely rely on the extent of damage to the car to contest a person’s injuries.

Unfortunately, some people unwittingly help car insurance companies by choosing not to repair a car following a crash. Generally, in the immediate days after a car accident, the applicable auto insurer will obtain a preliminary property damage estimate. This estimate is usually based on an inspection of the exterior of the car and does not include hidden damage.

Car accidents can cause hidden damage, or damage to the car that is not visible until the car is taken apart. As one car repair shop wrote, “[d]uring a rear-end collision, even a minor bump can cause damage to the frame behind the bumper.” A common property damage that is not seen on initial visual inspection is damage to the reinforcement bar that is hidden behind the bumper and bumper absorber. When a car is repaired, a registered repair facility will usually write a supplement to include an estimate for replacing a damaged reinforcement bar. However, if the car is not repaired, the damage to the reinforcement usually cannot be seen.

Posting On Social Media

As discussed in another article, insurance companies now increasingly rely on social media to find things they can use against an accident victim. To some extent, perusing social media has replaced surveillance videos. Insurance companies can use people’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social media posts, particularly photos, to argue that someone is not as injured as they claim.

If a person is laughing, smiling, or looking like they have a good time, insurance companies and their defense attorneys will argue that person cannot be injured. Of course, this argument ignores the fact that a person who has pain or other symptoms can still laugh, smile, or look like they are having a good time occasionally and for brief periods of time. But the more a person has social media posts like this, the more that person provides ammunition to the insurance companies against their own case.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, call the experienced Las Vegas personal Injury Attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates. We’ve successfully handled many different types of accidents and injuries, and we’ve done so while providing personalized treatment to our clients. Our golden rule is to treat our clients the way we want to be treated.

Injured In A Hit & Run? What Can You Do And What Can We Do For You

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Hit and Run Accident Attorney Las Vegas

According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit and run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads. It found that an average of 682,000 hit and run crashes occurred each year since 2006. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 737,100 hit-and-run crashes occurred in 2017. In 2016, hit and run crashes resulted in an estimated 2,049 fatalities, a 60% increase since 2009.

A hit-and-run crash can leave injured victims with medical bills piling up and unable to earn income to pay those bills. Some people think they may have no options if they were injured in a hit and run car accident. That is not necessarily so. In our combined 50+ years of experience as car accident attorneys in Las Vegas, we have successfully recovered compensation for those who initially thought they had no options.

Locating The Fleeing Driver

There are ways to search for the hit-and-run driver. Of course, if a witness was able to jot down or take a photo of the license plate, we can conduct a search for the owner of the vehicle. If the police were called to the scene and given the license plate of the fleeing vehicle, the policy usually will contact the registered owner of the vehicle.

Locating the registered owner of the fleeing vehicle can lead to the applicable car insurance policy. Even if the registered owner was not the fleeing driver, the owner’s insurance on the vehicle may apply and provide protection to the hit-and-run victim. In most cases, the liability insurance policy on the car is the primary policy that applies.

In addition, the registered car owner may also be responsible for the negligence of the hit-and-run driver under the doctrine of negligent entrustment, which is a form of negligence. As described by the Nevada Supreme Court, “[u]nder this doctrine, a person who knowingly entrusts a vehicle to an inexperienced or incompetent person, such as a minor child unlicensed to drive a motor vehicle, may be found liable for damages resulting thereby.” Zugel by Zugel v. Miller, 100 Nev. 525, 527, 688 P.2d 310, 312 (1984).

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage

Even if the fleeing driver or the registered owner cannot be located, the injured victim’s own uninsured motorist (UM) policy would generally apply. UM insurance generally applies when you are injured in a car accident and the person who caused it has no insurance. It also applies where the person who caused the crash cannot be found. When the fleeing driver cannot be located, the UM policy of the injured victim applies if  there is physical contact between the fleeing vehicle and the injured victim or the victim’s vehicle. The insured is also obligated to report the accident to the applicable police department, sheriff’s office, or to the Nevada Highway Patrol. These rules governing when UM policies apply to hit-and-run crashes are set forth in NRS § 690B.020(2)(f).

In Nevada, drivers are not required to purchase UM coverage. However, car insurance companies must offer their insured the opportunity to purchase insurance specifically covering hit-and-run accidents. See Nev.Rev.Stat. § 690B.020. The limits of the insurance offered must be at least equivalent to the Nevada minimum liability limit of $25,000 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. Insureds can purchase higher UM/UIM limits for their protection, up to an amount equal to their liability insurance limits.

What Can You Do If You Are Injured In A Hit-And-Run Crash?

  • Call 9-1-1 and report the car accident. As mentioned above, your car insurance company will likely require you to obtain a police report of the hit-and-run crash.
  • Speak to any witnesses on the scene and see if anyone noted the license plate of the fleeing vehicle. Make sure to get contact information for all witnesses. Ask the witnesses if they can stay to provide a statement to the police.
  • If you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. Usually, when you call 9-1-1 and report that you are injured, an ambulance will be dispatched to the accident scene.
  • Call the experienced and award-winning Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates. We can hire private investigators to search for the hit-and-run driver, if the police cannot locate them. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin the search and investigation. Our experience as Las Vegas personal injury attorneys have taught us that locating the fleeing driver as soon as possible is important in order to preserve evidence, such as damage to that driver’s vehicle.

Will Prior Accidents Affect My Car Accident Claim?

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Prior car accidents or other types of accidents may affect your car accident claim. First, insurance companies may blame prior accidents for a victim’s injuries. The more recent those accidents are, the more likely the insurance company will use those prior accidents against the victim. Second, auto insurers may use those prior accidents to test a victim’s credibility. Under the guise of needing to know more information about those prior accidents, insurers will seek more information from the victim about those accidents. Then, they will use any discrepancy – regardless of how small – against the victim. Thus, it is important to tell your car accident attorney your accident history so they can be prepared to deal with these tactics from insurance companies.

How will insurance companies learn about my prior accidents?

Insurance companies generally run a background check on the claimant in the ISO ClaimSearch database. This database contains detailed records of auto and property insurance claims and payments. Insurers claim they use the database to detect fraud. But they also use information from the database to challenge the cause of a car accident victim’s injuries. An ISO search will reveal the date, insurance company, claim number and possibly the injuries reported.

Why is my prior accidents relevant to my current injuries?

An issue in most personal injury lawsuit is whether the accident caused the victim’s injuries. This is because one of the elements of a negligence claim that a personal injury plaintiff has to prove is causation. Unless an injury is obviously and indisputably caused by a crash, insurance companies will typically question whether a victim’s injuries are related to the accident. An example of an injury that could be unquestionably crash-related would be a broken bone, as doctors would be able to tell from an x-ray if a fracture is fresh or not. However, the most common type of injuries from a car accident are not as clear cut.

One of the most common type of injury from a car accident is a neck pain. Neck pain from a car accident is usually diagnosed as sprain or strain, which can colloquially be called whiplash. There’s generally no definitive objective test from sprain or strain. Meaning, an x-ray or MRI will not definitively show sprain or strain. An MRI may show loss of cervical lordosis or the normal curve of the neck. This curvature loss may evidence muscle spasms, but it also could be from other factors, such as aging or repetitive motions. Doctors generally wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the x-ray whether the curvature loss is from the accident, unless they can compare the x-ray to one taken immediately before the accident.

Also, pain is the usual primary symptom of accident injuries. However, there is no objective test for pain. Doctors routinely rely on their patients reporting whether they have pain and when the pain started. So, if insurance companies and their defense attorneys can show you had the neck pain before the car accident, then they can attack the opinion of the accident victim’s doctors.

Prior accidents can be a goldmine for the insurance company. What better way to show prior neck pain than go back to any prior accidents the victim may have had. Again, neck pain is a common injury from a car accident. Thus, there is a good chance if the victim was in a prior crash, the victim would have had neck pain. Then, the insurance company will likely claim the victim’s neck injury pre-existed the crash.

Of course, it’s also likely that a person can be injured in an accident that occurred years before and fully heal from those injuries. And the person’s medical records prior to the current car accident may prove that. That is why a car accident lawyer needs to know a client’s accident history. The accident attorney would need to obtain the client’s pre-accident medical records or the medical records from prior accidents. With our combined 50+ years of experience as personal injury attorneys, we know what the insurance company is looking for and we know how to beat their game. We obtain the necessary evidence to prove our client’s case even before the insurance company even asks. That’s how we have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Las Vegas and had prior accidents, you should hire an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney. Personal injury cases where the accident victim had multiple prior accidents can get complicated and may even result in a personal injury lawsuit. The accident victim will need a personal injury attorney who has successfully handled many cases like yours, even through litigation and trial. The personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have represented many car accident victims who’ve had prior accidents. It’s actually quite common, since accidents can and do happen far too frequently. So call and speak to one of our Las Vegas car accident lawyers today.

What Is Whiplash?

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Whiplash From Car Accidents

Whiplash is a non-medical term that refers to a neck or upper back injury from violent or forceful rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. The whipping motion overstretches the joints, muscles and ligaments of the neck and back beyond their normal range of motion. The most common cause of whiplash injuries is car accidents, but there are other causes, such as falling and blows to the head.

Is Whiplash Serious?

Whiplash may also be called a neck sprain, strain, or soft tissue injuries. These terms may give the impression that this condition is not serious, but it can be. While most people recover from whiplash, the condition may lead to chronic neck pain or even surgical intervention for some people. Older people, and those who already have neck problems such as arthritis, may experience more serious whiplash than a younger person. As people age, muscles and ligaments lose their flexibility and strength and thus, are more sensitive to the whipping movements.

By some counts, more than a million Americans suffer injuries from whiplash each year. Many recover, although it may take awhile — weeks, even months. But about half of those affected continue to have neck pain a year or more later, and about 10% may end up with chronic pain that interferes with work and everyday life.

Harvard Health Publishing

Symptoms of whiplash include pain to the neck and back, pain radiating to the shoulders and arms, “pins and needles” sensation down the arms or fingers, stiffness, headaches, ringing in the ears (i.e., tinnitus). Other symptoms could include memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or depression. An accident victim can develop these symptoms immediately after the crash or even days later. However, just because the symptoms develop later or does not appear to be severe doesn’t mean the condition is not severe. Even though symptoms may develop late, the condition may still become chronic.

Common Treatment of Whiplash

Typically, whiplash is treated with chiropractic treatment, range of motion exercises, physical therapy, cervical traction, pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants. When whiplash symptoms persist, doctors may order CT or MRI scans of the spine. While these radiological studies may assist doctors in trying to identify the source of the pain, it’s not always the case. As reported by Harvard Health, “[S]ome people with persistent pain have perfectly normal imaging test results, while others whose imaging tests show abnormalities are pain-free. So it’s not as straightforward as one might think to link an imaging abnormality to symptoms, let alone to whiplash trauma.”

Whiplash and Low Speed Accidents

Whiplash can occur even from low speed car accidents. In fact, Harvard Health reports that whiplash injuries often occur during low-speed collisions.

Whiplash injuries often occur during low-speed collisions, but low speeds can translate into a lot of force. For example, if you are sitting in a stationary car that’s hit from behind by a car moving at just 10 miles per hour, the force from the collision can briefly put 9 Gs of force on your neck (a G is the gravitational “pull” of the earth). It’s not difficult to imagine how one or more structures of your neck could be injured under these circumstances.

Harvard Health Publishing

However, insurance companies and defense attorneys dispute the idea that low speed crashes can cause whiplash. Often times, insurance companies equate low property damage to low speed to no injuries. Studies published in medical journals, however, have shown this argument to be a myth.

If you or a loved one have suffered soft tissue injuries from a car accident or a fall, call and speak to an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney. If you call D.R. Patti & Associates, you will regularly speak to and meet with a skilled Las Vegas accident attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies‘ “delay, deny, defend” strategies.

Accident At Work? You May Have A Personal Injury Claim

Personal Injury Accident At Work

Where you hurt while working?

People injured in an accident while working will generally have a claim for worker’s compensation. What many don’t realize is that they may also have a personal injury claim. There are important differences between a personal injury claim and a worker’s compensation claim. One of those important differences provides an important benefit to an accident victim who presents a personal injury claim and could amount to thousands of dollars.

Differences Between Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury Law

Worker’s compensation laws arose over a century ago to provide a faster way to provide compensation to injured workers. Traditionally, the law did not distinguish between injuries at work and injuries from any other accident. Before legislatures enacted these laws, people injured at work could only receive compensation from their employer for those injuries if they showed their employer was negligent. Employers can try to escape responsibility by showing that the employee was also negligent. In some states, if the employee had any negligent, the employee couldn’t recover anything, not even for their medical bills.

Because of these harsh results and other reasons, legislatures passed laws that allowed an employee to recover against an employer for his or her work-related injury without having to show the employer’s negligence. To provide this new benefit to employees, however, legislatures required a trade-off. In exchange for not having to prove fault, legislatures prohibited employees from bringing personal injury lawsuits against the employers, with few exceptions. Nevada’s worker’s compensation statute, for example, makes worker’s compensation the “exclusive remedy” against an employer for on-the-job injuries. Another trade-off is the loss of the right to obtain compensation for pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life. So, under worker’s compensation laws, an employee can get compensated for medical bills and wage loss. However, the injured employee can’t get compensation for the pain and suffering he or she endured. Nevada’s worker’s compensation statutes can be found in Chapter 616A, 616B, 616C, and 616D of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

An employee may have both a worker’s compensation and personal injury claim, however, if the work-related accident was caused by someone other than an employer. That is, if an employee was in an accident while on the clock and the accident was caused by a third-person, the employee can make a worker’s compensation claim and also a claim for personal injuries against the person who caused the accident. The worker’s compensation claim will cover the medical bills and wage loss, while the personal injury claim will cover the pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life. Also, if the third party who caused the accident acted recklessly, intentionally, or with malice, the injured employee may have a claim for punitive damages.

Examples of Personal Injury Claims From On-The-Job Accidents

  • A person running an errand for work gets into a car accident and is injured. That person will have both a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury claim. The car accident injury claim will be against the person who caused the accident and their insurance company. The experienced Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have recovered millions of dollars for accident victims in this situation.

NOTABLE SETTLEMENT

Our client, a master painter, suffered a career-ending injury during a car accident in Las Vegas. While driving from one job site to another, his truck was rear-ended by an SUV. The at-fault driver’s insurance company gave our client a difficult time, because of a prior back injury. Nevertheless, shortly after filing suit, we were able to obtain about a million dollars in total settlement.

  • A person is injured at work while using defective product, such as a ladder, electric saw, or even a washing machine.

NOTABLE SETTLEMENT

A hotel employee’s was amputated while using a commercial washing machine at work. During their investigation, the accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates discovered that the employer had hired an outside company to repair the washing machine on multiple occasions. The outside company failed to properly repair the machine, which allowed the employee to unknowingly disable the machine’s safety features. After suing both the repair company and the washing machine manufacturer, D.R. Patti & Associates was able to obtain a multi-million dollar settlement for our client’s product liability and personal injury claims.

  • An employee, as part of their job, is visiting a construction site that is not owned by the employer and is injured due to the negligence of someone at the construction site.
  • An employee is shopping on behalf of her employer and slips and falls at the store. The employee may have a premises liability claim.

In their combined 50+ years of experience, our accident attorneys have handled the simplest to the most complex accident cases. In that time, the Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates have been able to obtain millions of dollars for work-related accident injuries caused by negligent third-parties. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident while on-the-job and want to know if you also have a personal injury claim, give us a call.