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How Much Is My Pain & Suffering From An Accident Worth?

Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney

Anyone injured in a car accident may want to know how much their pain and suffering is worth. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Generally, how much pain and suffering is worth varies from case to case and depends on how much juries have awarded in similar cases.

Unlike medical bills and income or wage loss, pain and suffering cannot be calculated with a simple mathematical formula. Nevada law leaves the amount awarded for pain and suffering up to a jury to decide.

What is Pain & Suffering?

One of the damages that the victim of a car accident or slip and fall claim can get compensated for is “pain and suffering.” This form of damages refers to the pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma. “Pain and suffering” damages is generally referred to as “non-economic” damages, because it is not compensating an individual for an amount of money they actually spent or lost, such as medical bills and lost wages. Rather, “non-economic” damages are less concrete and based on subjective evaluation of what an injured person had to go through because of a car accident, slip and fall, or other type of injury-producing events.

In Nevada, “non-economic” or “pain and suffering” damages also include “lost enjoyment of life.” Damages for “lost enjoyment of life” are also called “hedonic” damages. The Nevada Supreme Court explained hedonic damages as follows:

The term “hedonic” is derived from the Greek language and refers to the pleasures of life. Hedonic damages are therefore monetary remedies awarded to compensate injured persons for their noneconomic loss of life’s pleasures or the loss of enjoyment of life.

— Banks ex rel. Banks v. Sunrise Hosp., 120 Nev. 822, 835–36, 102 P.3d 52, 61 (2004)

Citing another court, the Nevada Supreme Court distinguished between “pain and suffering” and “lost enjoyment of life” as follows:

An award for pain and suffering compensates the injured person for the physical discomfort and the emotional response to the sensation of pain caused by the injury itself. Separate damages are given for mental anguish where the evidence shows, for example, that the injured person suffered shock, fright, emotional upset, and/or humiliation as the result of the defendant’s negligence.
On the other hand, damages for “loss of enjoyment of life” compensate for the limitations, resulting from the defendant’s negligence, on the injured person’s ability to participate in and derive pleasure from the normal activities of daily life, or for the individual’s inability to pursue his talents, recreational interests, hobbies, or avocations.

— Banks ex rel. Banks v. Sunrise Hosp., 120 Nev. 822, 835–36, 102 P.3d 52, 61 (2004)

Just because “pain and suffering” is not considered concrete does not make it less important. Often times in personal injury cases, “pain and suffering” forms the biggest or most important part of a victim’s damages. For example, an injured victim may have to endure decades of daily pain because they cannot undergo a procedure that will eliminate that pain. For that person, the medical bills may be low, but the pain and suffering award could be high. Essentially, the “pain and suffering” component of personal injury damages is about how an accident and the ensuing injuries affected someone’s life.

Who Decides The Award for Pain & Suffering?

In all cases tried before a jury, the jury is considered the fact finder. That is, the jury and not the judge gets to decide the extent of the injuries and other damages a car accident victim has suffered. Juries gets to decide the amount of medical bills the victim needs to be compensated for, along with lost income and other lost out of pocket expenses. In addition, juries gets to decide how much to award an injured victim for their pain and suffering.

When a personal injury case, like a car accident or slip and fall claim, goes to trial, a jury gets an instruction from a judge on what factors to consider. The following are sample jury instructions that may be given by judge at the end of a trial:

NEVADA JURY INSTRUCTION 5.1:

Measure of Damages

In determining the amount of losses, if any, suffered by the plaintiff as a [proximate] [legal] result of the accident in question, you will take into consideration the nature, extent and duration of the [injuries] [damage] you believe from the evidence plaintiff has sustained, and you will decide upon a sum of money sufficient to reasonably and fairly compensate plaintiff for the following items:

  1. The reasonable medical expenses plaintiff has necessarily incurred as a result of the [accident] [incident] [and the medical expenses which you believe the plaintiff will be reasonably certain to incur in the future as a result of the [accident] [incident]];
  2. Plaintiff’s loss of earnings from the date of the accident [incident] to the present [and any loss of earnings or earning capacity which you believe the plaintiff will be reasonably certain to experience in the future as a result of the injury(ies) sustained in the [accident] [incident]];
  3. The reasonable value of household services performed by another, which, except for the injury(ies), plaintiff would ordinarily have performed, which you believe the plaintiff incurred as a result of the injury(ies) sustained in the [accident][incident], from the date of the [accident][incident] to the present, and the loss of such services which you believe the plaintiff will be reasonably certain to experience in the future as a result of the injury(ies) sustained in the [accident][incident];
  4. The physical and mental pain, suffering, anguish, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life endured by the plaintiff from the date of the [accident] [incident] to the present; and

The physical and mental pain, suffering, anguish, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life which you believe plaintiff will be reasonably certain to experience in the future as a result of the [accident] [incident].

Nevada Jury Instruction 5.2:

Pain and Suffering:  No Definite Standard

No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of pain and suffering damages.  Nor is the opinion of any witness required as to the amount of such reasonable compensation. You must use your judgment to decide upon a reasonable amount based on the evidence and your common sense.

How to Prove Pain & Suffering

To prove pain and suffering, one has to start with the injury. Some injuries are worse than others, and some injuries, while they seem bad at first blush, don’t entail as much pain as others. For example, a fracture or broken bone is bad, but not all fractures are equally painful. The opposite is true too. There are injuries that don’t seem bad, like a “soft tissue” injury, but can entail a lot of pain. Medical records and doctor’s testimonies help show to a jury how an injury can cause pain and limitations on an injured person’s life.

The next step is to be able to explain how much pain or problems the injury is causing the injured victim. To prove pain and suffering, the accident victim’s testimony is crucial. Because there is no objective test or measure for pain and suffering, a jury has to rely on the testimony of the accident victim as to the amount of pain and suffering he or she is going through. If the accident victim is not believable, the jury will likely award less to that victim.

To help buttress the accident victim’s testimony, it is very helpful to have the victim’s family, friends, and co-workers testify about what they have observed the victim go through. For example, some people with severe back pain can’t sit or stand for prolonged periods of time. Those around them may testify how the injured person can’t seem to find a comfortable position or has to stand up after a few minutes sitting down. Friends and family can also testify as to how the pain and other symptoms affect their injured victim’s mood and how the victim goes out less or does less activities. The essence of these testimonies is to show how an accident and the ensuing injuries affected the quality of someone’s life.

If you or a loved one are having difficulties dealing with injuries and the pain resulting from a car accident or other types of accident, the personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can help. In our combined 50+ years of experience, our award-winning accident lawyers have helped thousands of injured victims in Nevada to get the treatment they need and the compensation they deserve. To better serve our clients, we have offices at four different locations – Downtown Las Vegas, Summerlin, Henderson, and Reno.

Nevada Car Accident Laws & What You Need To Know

Accident & Injury Attorney

Being involved in a car accident can be traumatizing and the aftermath can make decision-making difficult. However, there are certain things required of you as a party involved in a motor vehicle collision in Nevada. Knowing the obligations can ensure you take the appropriate steps after being involved in a car accident.

Nevada Car Accident Legal Duties

The five legal duties of anyone who is part of a collision in Nevada include the following:

  • Stop immediately or as soon as it is safe to exchange contract and insurance information.
  • Move yourself and your vehicle out of the way of any traffic.
  • Provide aid to anyone who has been injured in the accident.
  • Notify law enforcement officials.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone has been hurt.
  • Report the accident to the DMV for serious accidents unless the police have already done so.

These duties apply to car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. They also pertain to accidents that involve pedestrians or those associated with commercial vehicles.

Fleeing the motor vehicle collision scene may lead to being charged with a hit and run in Nevada. This article will delve into the most important things to be aware of related to Nevada car accident laws.

What To Do After A Nevada Vehicle Accident

A few steps need to be taken after a motor vehicle collision. First, stop and exchange your information with other motorists. This includes the other driver’s address and phone number and the make, year, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle. Sections 484E.010, 484E.020, and 484E.030 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) requires drivers to stop at the scene of a crash involving injury or death:

NRS 484E.010. Duty to stop at scene of crash involving death or personal injury; penalty.
1.  The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash on a highway or on premises to which the public has access resulting in bodily injury to or the death of a person shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close thereto as possible, and shall forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the crash until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of NRS 484E.030.
2.  Every such stop must be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
3.  A person failing to comply with the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years and by a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000. A person failing to comply with the provisions of subsection 1 commits a separate offense under this section for the bodily injury to or the death of each person that results from a crash with regard to which the person failed to comply with the provisions of subsection 1.
4.  A sentence imposed pursuant to subsection 3 may not be suspended nor may probation be granted.

Nev.Rev.Stat. 484E.010

NRS 484E.020. Duty to stop at scene of crash involving damage to vehicle or property; duty to move vehicle under certain circumstances.  The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall:
1.  Immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash; and
2.  If the driver’s vehicle is creating a hazard or obstructing traffic and can be moved safely, move the vehicle or cause the vehicle to be moved out of the traffic lanes of the roadway to a safe location that does not create a hazard or obstruct traffic and, if applicable, safely fulfill the requirements of NRS 484E.030.

NRS 484E.020

NRS 484E.030. Duty to give information and render aid.
1.  The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall:
(a) Give his or her name, address and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving, and shall upon request and if available exhibit his or her license to operate a motor vehicle to any person injured in such crash or to the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in such crash;
(b) Give such information and upon request manually surrender such license to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash; and
(c) Render to any person injured in such crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.
2.  If no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such crash after fulfilling all other requirements of subsection 1 and NRS 484E.010, insofar as possible on his or her part to be performed, shall forthwith report such crash to the nearest office of a police authority or of the Nevada Highway Patrol and submit thereto the information specified in subsection 1.

NRS 484E.030

Next, the cars should be moved out of traffic as soon as it is safe. Finally, if anyone has been injured, they should be assisted. This includes things like calling an ambulance or physician if needed for injuries related to the vehicle collision.

If you have an accident with an unoccupied vehicle, you must leave your name and information or find the owner. Leaving a business card and a written note is an easy way to meet the requirements. A driver who hits an unoccupied vehicle must also notify law enforcement. These requirements are set forth in NRS § 484.040 and NRS § 484E.050:

NRS 484E.040. Duty upon damaging unattended vehicle or other property.
1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, the driver of any vehicle which is involved in a crash with any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately stop and shall then and there locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle or other property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or other property or shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on such vehicle or property a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and of the owner of the vehicle doing the striking.
2.  If the vehicle of a driver involved in a crash pursuant to subsection 1 is creating a hazard or obstructing traffic and can be moved safely, the driver shall, before meeting the requirements of subsection 1, move the vehicle or cause the vehicle to be moved out of the traffic lanes of the roadway to a safe location that does not create a hazard or obstruct traffic and minimizes interference with the free movement of traffic.

NRS 484E.040

NRS 484E.050. Immediate notice to police officer of crash involving unattended vehicle or other property.
1.  The driver of a vehicle which is involved in a crash with any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of such crash to the nearest office of a police authority or of the Nevada Highway Patrol.
2.  Whenever the driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of giving an immediate notice of a crash as required in subsection 1 and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the crash capable of doing so, such occupant shall make or cause to be given the notice not given by the driver.

NRS 484E.050

While not required, it’s also a good idea to get the contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident. These people can provide testimony about who was at fault. You can also use your phone to take photos documenting the scene or take notes about what occurred.

It’s important not to state that you have no injuries. If you have a soft-tissue injury, this may not be obvious right away. You also should not apologize to anyone or admit the collision was your fault. This is considered an admission of guilt and insurance companies will deny your claims for doing so.

As mentioned above, you must notify the policy if you are in a collision that leads to injuries or death. You can call 911, 311, or *647 will put you in contact with the Nevada Highway Patrol. If you are too injured to call the police or an officer is on the scene, there is no need to call.

A Traffic Accident Report will need to be turned in within 10 days if anyone was injured or killed in the accident or damages of $750 or more are done to a vehicle or other property.

Car Crash Personal Injury Claims

Nevada is an at-fault state so you can file a claim with the insurance company of the driver who was at fault and/or with your insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. The settlement that is agreed upon will ideally cover all of the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Loss of benefits and funeral expenses in wrongful death cases

Even if you are partially at fault, you may be entitled to monetary damages. This is because Nevada modified comparative negligence laws allow a defendant to win a case as long as the other party was 50% or more at blame. This law is codified in NRS § 41.141.

Evidence is important to proving a vehicle accident lawsuit. Take photos, go to a doctor for injuries, and document everything that happened during the accident. Nevada’s statute of limitations for car accident claims is typically two years after a collision so it’s important to work with a personal injury attorney quickly to get the money you deserve.

If you or a family member have been injured in a crash in Las Vegas, Summerlin, Henderson, Reno and its surrounding areas, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates can help. In our combined 50+ years of experience, we have recovered more than $250 million for our clients. You can read about some of our successful cases here. Call us now and see how we can help.

Is It Worth Getting A Lawyer For A Minor Car Accident?

Should I Get A Lawyer For A Minor Car Accident?

The simple answer is yes. It’s even more important to hire a personal injury lawyer for a “minor” car accident than it is for a major car accident. Why? It’s because insurance companies tend to aggressively fight “minor” car accident claims. Auto insurers tend to argue that car accidents with little damage to the car can’t injure the persons inside the car. To a person who is not represented by an attorney, an insurance company may make extremely low offers, if any. Many times, an insurance company may not even offer anything without a lawsuit. Thus, those injured in what could be considered a “minor” car accident need the help of a skilled trial attorney with extensive personal injury experience to prove their case and obtain maximum compensation. The car accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates have litigated, settled, and won cases involving so-called “minor” impacts.

What is considered a “minor” car accident?

Generally, a “minor” car accident is where the damage is not extensive. While there is no fixed set threshold amount for property damage to be considered minor, damage that costs less than a couple of thousand dollars to fix will tend to be viewed as a minor crash. Usually, auto insurers look at whether the crash involved low speed. What is considered low speed? Generally, insurance companies will argue that speeds less than 10 mph, even sometimes less than 15 or 20 mph, won’t be enough to cause injuries. These are but myths spread by insurance companies to deter otherwise legitimate claims.

Of course, not all damage to a car can be seen at first glance. Just a visual assessment of the damage to a car may not reveal how bad an impact was. A lot of damage, even serious ones, can be hidden. Damage that is usually not visible until the car is torn down include frame damage and damage to the reinforcement bar that is behind the bumper.

Minor Impact Soft Tissue Injuries

In Nevada, low property damage equates to low offers and a take it or leave it attitude from insurance companies.  Such cases have often been categorized as MIST cases—Minor Impact Soft Tissue injury cases. Insurance companies equate minor property damage with low impact, as part of their “delay, deny, defend” strategy. They developed this strategy in the mid-1990s as a way to increase their profits. By taking a hardline approach, insurance companies made the car accident cases with less property damage more expensive and more time-consuming to fight. They take this approach regardless of whether the accident victim is an eggshell plaintiff or how other extenuating circumstances. An eggshell plaintiff is someone who is more susceptible to injury. The insurance company’s goal is to deter MIST or claims for personal injuries based on low property damages.

Can A “Minor” Accident Cause Injuries?

Even low speed crashes can cause injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, and spinal injuries. In fact, according to authors Croft and Freeman, there is little correlation between vehicle damage and the extent of injury. A low speed crash can still produce about 10-10 g of acceleration on a person’s head.

The amount of property damage is just but one factor to consider in assessing whether someone can be injured in a car accident. Other factors to consider are the type of vehicle, the age of the claimant, that person’s position at the time of impact, and whether that person is predisposed to injury. For example, a 70 year old woman with degeneration in her spine will respond differently to a low speed crash than an 18 year old. Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, a defendant is liable for “any physical injury they cause, no matter how unforeseeable, once they inflict harm on a plaintiff’s body.” Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1192 (9th Cir. 2002). Thus, denying that someone can be injured based solely on property damage ignores the uniqueness of each individual.

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 trial 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.

 

Understanding Nevada Personal Injury Damage Caps

Understanding Nevada Personal Injury Damage Caps

Generally, Nevada has no law that places a damage cap on the amount a person can recover in car repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and similar damages in most personal injury cases. However, exceptions exist for medical malpractice cases and government employees found negligent while carrying out their duties.

The law caps damages against a public employee to $10,000. In addition, Nevada does have caps on damages in two specific situations. There is a $350,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering as well as limits to punitive damages. This cap is $300,000 if the damages total less than $100,000 or three times the amount of damages if the damages are over $100,000.

Do Nevada Injury Cases Have an Economic Damages Cap?

The short answer is no. There isn’t a cap on what someone can try to recover for the purposes of economic damages. Economic damage awards consider past and future costs for expenses like lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, occupational and physical therapy, property damage, and short and long-term care.

You may also hear economic damages called special damages or pecuniary damages. Along with non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, economic damages are part of the compensatory damages in a personal injury case in Nevada

Are There Caps on Pain and Suffering Damages?

No, although an exception is made in medical malpractice cases. Recovery of non-economic damages is allowed in personal injury cases. These may also be called general damages. However, these damages can be hard to attach a dollar amount to. They can include compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of function of a limb or another body party

No caps exist except in claims of medical malpractice, which we explain below.

Do Caps Exist for Pain and Suffering in a Medical Malpractice Case?

There are caps on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case. The cap exists at $350,000 and is in place no matter how many people are liable for an injury. This cap was created in 2004 as a part of the Keep Our Doctors in Nevada ballot initiative. It applies to any cases related to the negligence of healthcare providers, like nurses, doctors, and hospitals.

What Punitive Damage Caps Exist in Nevada?

In most personal injury cases in Nevada, medical malpractice and otherwise, the cap on punitive damages is as follows:

  • $300,000 if the compensatory damages provided to the individual equal less than $100,000.
  • If the damages are more than $100,000, the cap is set at three times the amount of an individual’s damages in a lawsuit.

However, there are some exceptions here, too. For example, there will be no caps in the following situations:

  • Cases where a car or other vehicle accident has been caused by a driver who chose to consume drugs, alcohol, or both.
  • When a defective product was distributed, manufactured, or sold in Nevada.
  • Situations that involve a violation of state civil defamation laws.
  • Cases that show an insurer acted in bad faith concerning its requirement to provide insurance coverage.
  • Situations where injuries or damages were created through the disposal, emission, or spilling of hazardous, toxic, or radioactive waste or substances.
  • Specific violations of a federal or state law about the prohibition of discriminatory housing practices.

In each of these situations, no cap is applied to the punitive damages allowed in a Nevada personal injury case.

Experienced Representation Can Help You Win Your Case

Suppose you have been injured in an accident or as a result of using a dangerous product, a hotel accident, or a slip and fall accident. You will need the help of an experienced car accident and personal injury attorney in Nevada. This expert can help you determine your options and help you get the compensation you should obtain for your injuries. Reach out to use to learn more and receive a free consultation.

Wrist Injuries From Car Accidents

Car accidents, even minor car crashes, can cause wrist injuries, and even minor wrist pain can be a sign of a more severe injury. The wrist injury can occur when drivers or passengers use their hands to brace themselves for the impact from the car crash. Wrist injuries could range from sprains and strains to fractures.

Signs and symptoms of a wrist injury can include pain, swelling, numbness, tenderness, and/or inability to straighten or flex the wrist. Wrist injuries could present with minimal pain or symptoms and because of this, may go untreated or undiagnosed for sometime. People could assume mild wrist pain is a minor sprain and not seek treatment or x-rays. Also, many people may not realize that a car accident can tear ligaments or break bones in the wrist.  However, those mild symptoms could result from an unrecognized wrist fracture or severe ligament tear.

Common types of wrist injuries from car accidents include:

Strains and/or Sprains: The bones in the wrist are connected by ligaments, and these ligaments can be pulled, torn or partially torn during a car accident. Sprains can range from mild to severe, depending on the amount of damage. Even a sprain can result in permanent damage and wrist instability if left untreated. Physicians rate the severity of wrist sprains as follows:

  • Grade 1 sprain (mild). The ligaments are stretched, but not torn.
  • Grade 2 sprain (moderate). The ligaments are partially torn. This type of injury may involve some loss of function.
  • Grade 3 sprain (severe). The ligament is completely torn or the ligament is pulled off of its attachment to bone. These are significant injuries that require medical or surgical care. If the ligament tears away from the bone, it may take a small chip of bone with it. This is called an avulsion fracture.

Fractures. The wrist is composed of eight small bones that are fragile and can be easily fractured during a car accident. The most common wrist bone to be fractured is the radius, but one of the most commonly undiagnosed fracture is a fracture to the scaphoid bone.

Fractures of the scaphoid are often diagnosed late, and late diagnosis can result in a fracture that fails to heal (i.e., a non-union fracture). One medical article explains why scaphoid fractures are often diagnosed late:

Scaphoid fractures can escape early detection because in many cases they are subtle and the initial symptoms are minimal. Missed scaphoid fractures have a high risk of nonunion or malunion. Nonunion occurs in up to 12% of patients if an occult fracture is not detected and treated. Scaphoid nonunions are especially challenging to treat successfully, and if untreated, they can progress to carpal collapse and degenerative arthritis. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of an acute scaphoid fracture and the possible consequences of nonunion are critical to avoiding debilitating wrist problems.[1]

The fracture itself can disrupt blood flow to the area and contribute to the failure of the fracture to heal, i.e., non-union; thus, nonunion is more common with scaphoid fractures. A long standing non-union scaphoid fracture can lead to osteoarthritis or “scaphoid nonunion advanced collapse” (“SNAC”). Osteoarthritis is a painful disease process that can lead to decreased function and disability of the affected arm. Avascular necrosis, also known as bone death, is a common complication of a scaphoid fracture.

With long standing non-union or unhealed fractures, surgery may become necessary. Post-surgery, a patient may be required to wear a cast or splint for an average of 12 weeks up to 6 months or until the fracture is healed. During the post-surgery recovery period, a patient would usually be ordered to avoid the activities that may injure the wrist or prevent healing, such as lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling more than one pound of weight. Post-surgery recovery may also require treatment with a trained hand therapist, as maintaining full finger motion is important.

DO YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY IN A FENDER BENDER?

Do YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY AFTER A FENDER-BENDER?


Call For A Free Consultation

Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorneys

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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What is Negligence in a Personal Injury Case? (Part I)

Las Vegas Personal Injury And Car Accident Attorneys

Many lay people may use the term “negligence” without fully understanding how the law defines it and how it is applied. Generally, “negligence” refers to the failure to exercise the appropriate level of care. So when someone says “so and so was negligent,” they are really saying that person did not act in a way that others generally act. While a violation of the law can be negligence, negligence does not require there to be a violation of the law.

American common law recognizes that a person injured by the negligence of others is entitled to compensation. The underlying policy behind the concept of negligence is that certain conduct involves a risk of harm to others that is greater than what society is willing to accept. Because of that risk of harm, the law makes the negligent person responsible for the resulting harms.

To be legally recognized as a negligence claim, the following elements must be proved:

  1. Duty: the defendant owed the injured person a duty recognized by the law
  2. Breach: the defendant breached that duty
  3. Damages: the defendant’s breach of that duty legally or proximately caused injuries
  4. Causation: the injury caused by defendant’s breach was foreseeable

Each of the foregoing concepts continue to be litigated, depending on the circumstances or as society changes. This is particularly with the concept of duty, since duty, as defined, is one that the law recognizes. Some states may recognize a particular duty, but not in other states. For example, Nevada does not recognize “dram shop” laws. Dram shop laws are laws that make a business that sells alcohol to a person who is obviously drunk liable if that person injures another. For example, if after leaving a bar, a drunk driver hits and kills someone, the victim’s family may be able to hold the bar responsible. While a majority of other states have such law, Nevada generally does not. See Hamm v. Carson City Nugget, Inc., 85 Nev. 99, 450 P.2d 358 (1969).

Negligence can give rise to the following common types of personal injury cases:

In car accident cases, negligence is often expressed as a driver’s failure to exercise ordinary care. Usually, duty and breach of duty are not an issue in Las Vegas car accident cases. It is quite well settled law that a driver owes a legally-recognized duty to other drivers and pedestrians to exercise care when driving. What is kind of care is often answered by looking at the traffic laws and rules of the road. Nevada’s traffic laws and rules of the road can be found in Chapters 484, 484A, 484B, and 484C of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

What could be issues in Las Vegas car accident cases are damages and causation, particularly if there is not a lot of visible property damage. We’ve already discussed in another blog how insurance companies use low property damage to argue that someone could not be injured. This tactic of insurance companies is so prevalent that there is a name for it – “Minor Impact Soft Tissue” or MIST cases. Don’t be fooled by these arguments. Of course, the insurance companies’ goal is to pay as little as possible, and they do so by equating visible property damage to a person. But a person is not a car, is not built with metal, and every person is unique. Read more on how experienced Las Vegas car accident attorneys deal with the insurance companies MIST arguments.

If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, contact the Las Vegas personal injury attorneys of D.R. Patti & Associates. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, our award-winning attorneys have handled many negligence cases arising from a variety of circumstances. We’ve handled the typical and less typical Las Vegas car accidents to commercial trucking accidents and have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Call us today.

SAFETY GROUP CALLS FOR RECALL OF HYUNDAI AND KIA CARS FOR FIRE HAZARDS

Las Vegas Product Defect Attorneys

Over 220 complaints of Kia and Hyundai cars spontaneously combusting has prompted the Center for Auto Safety, a non-profit consumer group, to call for the recall of about 3 million Kia and Hyundai vehicles. Previously, the Center had merely called for the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA) to conduct an investigation into an excessive number of Hyundai and Kia cars bursting into flames unrelated to any collision.

In a recent press release, the Center cites over 220 eerily similar incidents of Kia and Hyundai vehicles catching fire, without any collision involved, while someone was driving the car or even when the car is parked. The Center’s executive director, Jason Levine, said that the Center’s own investigation revealed “reports of almost one fire every single day” involving one of five models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
The Center is calling for recalls of all Kia Sorento, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, and Hyundai Santa Fe for model years 2011-2014, and Kia Sorenta model years 2010-2015. Such a recall would encompass about 2.9 million Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

Some of these models are already subject to recalls for engine-related defects. It is perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of these non-collision related fires, according to the Center. It has cited over a dozen instances where the non-collision fires occurred after repairs were performed under the engine-related recall.

Co-founded by Ralph Nader in 1970, the Center seeks to protect drivers by advocating for better automobile safety regulations and campaigning for the recall and/or investigation of unsafe vehicles. In its over 40-year history, the Center played a major role in numerous recalls, including the recall of millions of Firestone tires and of over 60 million defective airbags.

If you own any of the Kia and Hyundai models identified by the Center and have suffered injuries and or other damages as a result of a non-collision related fire, you may have a claim. Contact the experienced Las Vegas products liability attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates and see how we can assist you.

D.R. Patti & Associates Obtains Six-Figure Settlement in Las Vegas Scooter Accident

Las Vegas scooter accident settlement

From our extensive experience as personal injury attorneys, we have seen our fair share of unfortunate Las Vegas scooter accidents and the injuries and other damages they cause. Thankfully, we have been able to obtain compensation for Las Vegas scooter accident victims. Recently, we were able to obtain a six-figure settlement for two people riding an electric scooter who was struck and injured by a truck. Unfortunately, based on statistics, we know that this may not be the last Las Vegas scooter accident we see and work on.
In an unstable economy and averaging between 60 to 100 miles per gallon, mopeds and scooters have been the cheaper option for many people, particularly those on college campuses, and their popularity has been increasing.[1] The popularity of this economical mode of transportation is evident on the Las Vegas Strip all the way to downtown, with tourists opting for this cheaper way to see the sights and casino-hop. One study estimates that moped and scooter sales have increased by as much as 60% in recent years.[2]

Unfortunately, the increased use of mopeds and scooters has led to more accidents, crashes, injuries and even fatalities. A recent Florida study found the following to have been common factors in those accidents resulting in severe injuries and fatalities: lack of a helmet, the speed of the moped or scooter, the speed limit in the area of the accident, and the amount of traffic in the area.[3]

It is no surprise that the lack of a helmet has contributed to the more severe injuries and fatalities. In many of these tragic events, the operators of mopeds and scooters were not wearing helmets.[4]The Florida study revealed that only 17% involved in moped or scooter crashes wore helmets. In Nevada, while motorcyclists are required to wear helmets that meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, those driving mopeds 50 cc or under, with less than 2 horsepower and capable of no more than 30 mph are not.[5]

The Florida study also found a high correlation between the speed of the moped/scooter, the speed limit in the accident site, and the amount of traffic. The number of accidents and severity of injuries increased when the street had three (3) or more lanes of travel.[6]The number of accidents resulting in severe injuries or fatalities also increased when the scooter/moped was driving above 20 miles per hour and the speed limit in the area was over 30 miles per hour.[7]All of these factors make sense – mopeds and scooters traveling in a busier area with faster cars will have greater chance of being involved in an accident and a greater chance of causing severe injuries or deaths. Like motorcycles, mopeds and scooters are sometimes difficult for other drivers to see on the roads. Thus, car drivers, who are likely not anticipating them or looking out for them, will likely not watch out for moped and scooter drivers.

Moped and scooter drivers must watch out for themselves. The lessons from the Florida study: wear a helmet and avoid driving in high traffic areas. Be safe out there.

If you are a moped or scooter driver who is injured in a car accident, call the Las Vegas scooter accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates, or email us and see how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Drugged Driving: Alcohol Is Not the Only Cause of Las Vegas DUIs, Car Accidents, and Personal Injuries

Las Vegas impaired driving accidents

In our over 26 years of experience as Las Vegas personal injury attorneys, we have seen our fair share of car accidents caused by drivers who were impaired or high on drugs, both illegal and legal drugs. A while back ago, the Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates represented the families of two victims of a car accident caused by an individual who was under the influence of prescription drugs. The at fault party was so high she did not even realize she had hit another car and killed one of the victims. In another case, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers represented an individual who was rear-ended by a Porsche driving at 70 miles per hour at least. The police questioned the Porsche driver, who kept falling asleep, and ultimately the driver admitted to having taken Ambien, a sleeping pill, within 30 minutes before driving. In another case, a client was injured when her car was rear-ended; the person who rear-ended her apologized profusely and asked her not to call the police, saying that he was on new prescription pain medications and should not be driving.

It is no surprise that certain legal prescription medications can affect driving ability.  At this day and age, we should be familiar with the warnings that accompany many prescription drugs against the operating of machinery—including motor vehicles.  This means that certain medications, even when taken legally and according to doctor’s instructions, can cause car accidents.

Despite such warnings, driving under the influence of such medications, alone or in combination with alcohol, the number of people found to drugged driving remain relatively significant.  The 2007 National Roadside Surgery by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for medications, whether illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter.

A 2009 NHTSA study found that 18% of drivers who died as a result of a motor vehicle accident tested positive for at least one drug.  This represented an increase of 5% from the 13% in a 2005 NHTSA survey.
The number of people driving under the influence and not caught is even greater.  Results from a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that about 4.2%, or approximately 10.5 million people 12 years and older, self-reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.  For those 18 to 25 years old, the percentage is even greater, rising to 12.8%.

A problem with apprehending drugged drivers is that there is no test like a breathalyzer that can be performed, investigating law enforcement officers must look for other outward signs of drug impairment, such as by performing field sobriety tests.  Education of drivers against the dangers of driving while under the influence of medication, whether legal or illegal, should hopefully help curb these incidences.

Under Nevada law, drivers don’t have to “blow” the legal limit for drugs or alcohol to be impaired. Section 484C.110 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) prohibits driving under the influence of any combination of substances that renders the driver unfit to drive.  Such substances include properly prescribed pain medication.  The statute, NRS § 484C.110, provides in pertinent part as follows:

NRS 484C.110. Unlawful acts; affirmative defense; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone.
. . .

  1. It is unlawful for any person who:

(a) Is under the influence of a controlled substance;
(b) Is under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance; or
(c) Inhales, ingests, applies or otherwise uses any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle, to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access. The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection is or has been entitled to use that drug under the laws of this State is not a defense against any charge of violating this subsection.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Las Vegas that was caused by a driver under the influence of drugs then call and speak to a car accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates.