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Can A Car Owner Be Responsible For A Car Accident Involving Their Car?

Can A Vehicle Owner Responsible If Someone Gets Into An Accident In Their Car?


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Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney

Can A Vehicle Owner Responsible If Someone Gets Into An Accident In Their Car?

The owner of a vehicle can be responsible in some cases if they permitted someone to driver their car and that person gets into a car accident. This concept is called negligent entrustment. In essence under this concept, if an owner permits a person they know is unfit to operate a vehicle and that person causes a crash, the owner is responsible. Negligent entrustment can also apply when an owner knew or had a reason to know that unfit driver was using their vehicle and failed to stop it.

Who Can Be Responsible For Negligent Entrustment?

One of the leading cases on negligent entrustment in Nevada is the case of Zugel by Zugel v. Miller, 100 Nev. 525, 688 P.2d 310 (1984). In that case, a 13-year old purchased a motorcycle with the permission of his parents. The parents claimed they told their son not to drive the motorcycle on the public streets. But the son did, with a friend of his as a passenger. The son ran a stop sign and caused an accident. The passenger made a claim against the teenage driver and his parents. The parents disclaimed responsibility for negligent entrustment.

 

The Nevada Supreme Court disagreed with the parents. What swayed the Court was the son’s testimony that his parents knew he routinely rode his motorcycle on public streets. As stated by the Court, “[f]rom this fact alone the jury could have inferred that respondents possessed knowledge of their son’s activities of driving the motorcycle on public roadways.”

Under this theory of liability, the entrusting person need not have known that the motor vehicle was going to be driven on a public roadway. In fact, a parent who entrusts his child with a motor vehicle may be found liable under a theory of negligent entrustment even when the parent expressly instructs the child not to use the vehicle on a public roadway.

Nevada Supreme Court

The doctrine of negligent entrustment does not apply unless the person that gave permission is the owner of the vehicle. For example, in Mills v. Continental Parking Corp., 86 Nev. 724, 475 P.2d 673 (Nev. 1970), a parking attendant gave keys to a car’s owner who was allegedly obviously drunk. The drunk car owner then hit and killed a pedestrian. The Court held that the parking attendant cannot be held responsible for returning the keys to the owner, even though the owner was drunk. The Court reasoned, essentially, that the parking attendant had an obligation to return to the keys; otherwise, the attendant can be liable for conversion.

 

In Las Vegas, tourists too get into car accidents in rental vehicles. The question arises in those situations as to whether the rental car company can be responsible for a renter is an unfit driver. Under N.R.S. 483.610, a rental car company is required to check driver’s licenses, unless the renter comes from a country or state that does not require driver’s licenses. This statute further requires the rental company to visually inspect the license and compare the driver’s signature with that on the license. Attorneys for insurance companies and the rental companies have argued that this statute does not require rental car companies to verify that a driver has a valid driver’s license or is fit to drive a car.

What does it mean to be unfit or incompetent driver?

Not everyone who negligently causes a car accident is an unfit or incompetent driver. To answer the question of what is an unfit or incompetent driver, we have to look at the laws that says who can’t or shouldn’t drive. The easiest and least disputable is a drunk driver. The law says that a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs shouldn’t be driving and penalizes drunk drivers. A car owner who lets a driver they know to be drunk or otherwise impaired to driver their car is responsible for negligent entrustment.

An owner who permits an unlicensed person to drive their vehicle may also be responsible for negligent entrustment. In Zugel v. Zugel, the Court found the parents liable even though their son had driven the motorcycle a number of times. Why? Because the law said that the son, who had no driver’s license, was not legally competent to drive.

There may be other situations where a vehicle owner is responsible for a car accident caused by a driver they lent the car to. To find out if negligent entrustment applies in your case, it is best to speak to a car accident attorney who has experience pursuing claims for negligent entrustment.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident and want to know who is responsible for paying for your injuries, speak to an experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates. Our skilled Las Vegas accident attorneys will answer your questions and conduct any needed research and investigation to ensure full compensation for our clients.

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How To Obtain Video Of My Car Accident In Las Vegas

How To Obtain Video of My Car Accident In Las Vegas?


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car accident attorney Las Vegas

How To Obtain Video of My Car Accident In Las Vegas?

In many car accident cases our personal injury law firm has handled in Las Vegas, our clients have asked us to obtain video of their car accident. Most of the time, that video does not exist. “What about the traffic cameras we see on the street,” they would ask. And we would have to answer that those do not record. Until recently.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cameras in Las Vegas. They are visible on traffic lights at intersections. Those cameras are operated by the Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST), a division of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), in conjunction with the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). FAST is responsible for managing traffic control devices in the Las Vegas Valley, including freeway ramp meters and traffic signals at intersections. They also operate those digital freeway signs. The traffic cameras assist FAST in monitoring and coordinating traffic. That is, they program how long the red, green, and yellow signals last, based on the traffic flow in that area.
NDOT and FAST allow drivers to view the videos captured by these cameras. You can view them here live. Although legislators on occasion would consider using these traffic camera videos to issue citations for running red lights, nothing came of it. These cameras were solely there to assist FAST in its traffic management duties.

Traffic cameras are an opportunity for drivers to make travel decisions based on road conditions. Knowing if there is congestion, an incident blocking the freeway, extreme weather or other condition can help you decide to forego travel or detour the area, making for an easier commute and safer roadways.

Nevada Department of Transportation

Unfortunately, recording the videos would require heavy investment in computer servers. So, until recently, FAST did not record and save the traffic camera videos. Now, as recently reported by KTNV, a Las Vegas company has partnered with FAST and NDOT to record and store the videos and/or screenshots. That company, National Traffic Video is operated by a well known accident and forensic engineering firm, American Bio Engineers.

While actual videos of accidents are routinely captured, videos and screenshots depicting the immediate aftermath or vehicle rest positions can provide vital information about how the impact occurred.

American Bio Engineers

As noted on their website, the videos or, if those are not available, screenshots can provide useful information for those involved in car accidents in Las Vegas. American Bio Engineers provide the video or screenshots for a fee, and this is how they say they manage to undertake this venture.
KTNV recently reported that the videos provided by National Traffic Video was used by crash investigators to show what happened in a tragic crash that killed a 1 year old boy.
Before these traffic camera videos were available, Las Vegas accident attorneys and law enforcement crash investigators had to hope that surveillance cameras from nearby businesses would capture a crash. Of course, such videos were not available for car accidents on the freeways. Most of the time, nearby businesses didn’t catch a crash or didn’t have the right angle on the streets.
When videos weren’t available, car accident attorneys and crash investigators in Las Vegas had to rely on accident reconstruction. Car accident attorneys, such as ourselves, had to hire companies like American Bio Engineers to reconstruct an accident based on information obtained by investigating police officers. Such information includes length of skid marks, point of impact, and location of debris. Not all of the information, however, may be included in a traffic crash report, if there is such a report.
The videos or screenshots provided by American Bio Engineers can assist in resolving car accident claims where there is a question of who caused the crash. These videos could also be helpful in cases where the severity of the impact may be at issue.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident in Las Vegas and want to know how to obtain video or other evidence of a car wreck, speak to an experienced car accident attorney at D.R. Patti & Associates. We will retain American Bio Engineer and take other steps to secure the necessary information about your car accident. We check with nearby businesses that may have captured the car accident from a different angle and also speak with known witnesses. Having successfully represented thousands of car accident victims in Las Vegas, we know how to win your case. Give us a call today.

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

Car in hit and run crash

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?

car accident attorney Las Vegas

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?

Car Accident Attorney Las Vegas

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.

The Right Way To Handle Injury Claims From Multiple Car Accidents

Las Vegas personal injury attorneys

Some people are just unlucky. Through no fault of their own, they are injured in multiple car accidents in a short amount of time. We had a client who was in four crashes in 14 months, and he wasn’t cited in any of them. We had another client who was in three crashes in 3 months, two of them a week apart. Again, in none of them was she cited by the police as at fault. Those are the extreme examples, but sadly, it’s not uncommon to see someone become a victim to multiple car accidents.

What is also unfortunately, we have also seen personal injury claims from multiple car accidents handled incorrectly. Clients have come to us after being dropped by another Las Vegas car accident attorney or feeling that they are not receiving the fair value of their injury claim. In those cases, we learn that the clients’ prior attorney had treated each crash as a separate injury claim, even though the crashes combined to produce the clients’ injury. That is, the prior attorney sent out separate demands to the insurance company for each accident. Then each insurance company offered an amount far below the value of the claim, arguing that only a portion of the injuries was caused by that accident. The other insurance company on the second accident did the same. In cases where we get the case early enough, we were able to fix the case and obtain a much higher compensation for the clients.

Being involved in multiple car accidents does not have to complicate personal injury claims, if handled appropriately in the beginning. We’re going to cover the do’s and don’ts in handling personal injury claims from multiple car accidents. The primary thing to remember is to focus, not on the number of crashes, but on the injury or injuries. If two or more car accidents caused injuries to separate body parts, then you have multiple injury claims. However, if two or more car accidents injured the same body part, then you’re really looking at one injury claim against multiple defendants. In that situation, the multiple defendants are likely jointly and severally liable for the injury to the same body part.

What Is Joint And Several Liability?

Joint and several liability is a legal concept that holds multiple defendants equally responsible for the same damages. When two or more defendants are joint and severally liable, any of the defendants can be responsible for the entirety of a victim’s damages. The reason behind this concept is to protect an innocent victim. Under joint and several liability, if one defendant becomes bankrupt, the innocent victim can go after the defendants for all of his or her damages.

Nevada applies joint and several liability to only a few situations. Those situations are listed in NRS § 41.141. What is not listed there is a situation involving an indivisible injury. Even though not listed there, joint and several liability still applies.

What Is An Indivisible Injury?

In the context of a personal injury claim, an indivisible injury is an injury to a body part caused by one accident and is then aggravated by another accident. The injury would be indivisible if medical professionals cannot separate the injury caused by the first accident from the second accident.

The Nevada Supreme Court expressly addressed the situation presented here: two motor vehicle collisions, occurring at separate times, and causing a single indivisible injury. In Kleitz v. Raskin, 103 Nev. 325, 738 P.2d 508 (1987), the plaintiff injured his back in an auto accident that occurred on December 23, 1981. About a month later, the plaintiff’s doctor recommended that plaintiff be hospitalized for his injury. On his way to the hospital, the plaintiff was injured in a second accident. The plaintiff then sued the people who caused both accidents. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that two defendants can be jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of damages attributable to the back injury under the following conditions. First, the plaintiff must establish that the second accident caused or aggravated plaintiff’s injuries. Then, the defendants must apportion plaintiff’s injury, and if they are unable to do so, both defendants are jointly and severally liable. The Court reasoned that, since the defendants caused the accidents, they should bear the burden of trying to separate or apportion the injuries. An innocent victim should not have to bear that burden.

Applying joint and several liability to situations involving indivisible injuries is well recognized at common law. In fact, the Nevada Supreme Court in the Kleitz case relied on a Washington state court decision involving a similar factual scenario. In Phenna v. Whalen, 28 Wash.App. 19, 621 P.2d 1304 (1980), a plaintiff in her sixties was injured while a passenger in a Metro bus that was involved in an accident. Along with aggravating a prior injury to her back, she also developed neck and upper back pain. About four months later, she was driving her own car and was struck by another car. Afterwards, the plaintiff returned to her doctor and complained that the second accident worsened her symptoms. Her doctor ultimately opined that her injuries from both accidents were permanent.

The Washington court had to deal with the question whether the plaintiff’s damages should be apportioned between the two defendants or hold both the defendants equally and jointly responsible. Analyzing a number of other cases, the Phenna court reached the conclusion that the Nevada Supreme Court would later adopt in Kleitz

Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Indivisible Injury From Multiple Car Accidents

  • DO tell your doctors about the accidents you’ve been injured in
  • DON’T treat with different doctors for each accident
  • DO see the same doctors after each accident
  • DO keep a pain journal so you can document your pain level before and after a crash. Of course, no one knows when they could end up being involved in another accident. But, if you keep a pain journal after the first accident, then you already have a record of your symptoms and their severity IF you do get into a second accident.
  • DON’T send out separate demands and try to apportion the damages yourself.
  • DO send one demand to the insurance companies for the people that caused the accident.
  • DON’T think you can get more money by making a separate claim for each accident or hiring a different attorney for each accident.
  • DO maximize the value of case by hiring the same Las Vegas personal injury lawyer for both accidents

What to Expect in a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?

Depositions in Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawsuits

Many clients are nervous, if not downright scared, of being in a deposition. Most people are never involved in a deposition until they get injured in an accident, and their accident case goes into litigation. Many don’t know what’s going to happen, what questions are going to be asked, and even if a judge is going to be there. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, the Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates know that preparing the client for a deposition includes explaining the process, answering the client’s questions, and letting them know there is nothing to be scared about. This blog demystifies the deposition in a Las Vegas personal injury case.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is an investigatory tool in lawsuit that the parties can use to learn and record a party or witness’ anticipated trial testimony. A good trial attorney will want to know what the other party knows and the evidence that party intends to use well before a trial. As explained in another blog about discovery during litigation, the law does not like surprises at trial. Trial attorneys also don’t like surprises. Also, when a person is represented by an attorney, the opposing party’s attorney cannot speak to that person without their attorney present. So, the law allows the other party to ask questions of the plaintiff with the plaintiff’s attorney present.

Trial attorneys use depositions to impeach a deponent at trial. Impeach means to call into question the truthfulness of a person. In other words, a trial attorney uses a deposition transcript to show that someone is lying or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That is impeachment.

Are Depositions Common In Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Only a fraction of all personal injury cases end up in litigation. Once a personal injury case does go into litigation, however, it is likely that depositions will be taken. Depositions generally occur even in Las Vegas car accident cases that go into the Mandatory Arbitration Program. Attorneys use depositions to conduct their investigation and to prepare for trial. Attorneys generally do not like going to trial without knowing what the parties and the witnesses will say. Attorneys cannot speak to the other party in the case without an attorney present. Nor can attorneys send an investigator or any one on their behalf to talk to the other party. That is unethical and prohibited by the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct. So, to find out what a party’s testimony will be, the opposing counsel will generally want to take that party’s deposition.

While an attorney can speak to witnesses who are not represented by an attorney, trial attorneys prefer to have the witnesses’ testimony recorded. By recording a witness’ testimony in a deposition prior to a trial, an attorney can use the transcript of the deposition to impeach the witness’ testimony.

Who Can Be Deposed?

Unlike some other tools of discovery which can only be used against another party, depositions can be taken pretty much of anybody, including the parties. The plaintiff (i.e., the person who brought the lawsuit) will more likely be deposed. The party who is sued is called the defendant. The plaintiff’s attorney may depose the defendant prior to the trial. This is particularly true if there is a dispute about who or what caused the accident or whether the defendant was negligent.

The doctors and other health care providers who treated the plaintiff can also be deposed. However, it’s more likely that only some of the doctors and witnesses will be deposed.
Witnesses to the accident can also be deposed. People who are close to the plaintiff and have information as to how the accident-related injuries affected plaintiff may also be deposed. This could include a plaintiff’s spouse or any adult residing with them.
If the plaintiff has lost income or wages, the plaintiff’s employer may also be deposed.
Lastly, the parties’ expert witnesses will also likely be deposed.

Who Else Will Be At A Deposition in A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The deponent and the attorneys for the parties in the lawsuit will, of course, be at the deposition. The party or witness who is being asked questions (i.e., the deponent) will, of course, be there. A court reporter will always be at the deposition, and sometimes, a videographer.

The court reporter types up all the questions and answers and will create a transcript. The person who is being asked questions in a deposition is called the “deponent.” The deponent will be given opportunity to review the transcript of the deposition and to correct any mistakes in the transcript. The deponent will usually be reminded that any changes he or she makes to the transcript may be used to impeach him or her at trial.

In some cases, a videographer may also be present during a deposition. Some trial attorneys prefer to play back clips from the video of the deposition to a jury in a personal injury trial. A video has more impact to a jury that reading a transcript.

A judge will not generally be present during a deposition. In Nevada, however, the attorneys may call the judge presiding over the case or the Discovery Commissioner during the deposition. This happens when the attorneys have a dispute that needs to be resolved before the deposition can continue.

While the parties to a lawsuit may also be present during the deposition, other witnesses who are expected to testify at trial cannot be present.

What Happens During A Deposition?

A deposition begins with the court reporter swearing in the deponent. The deponent takes an oath to tell the truth, and this is the same oath a person will take if they were to testify in trial. The attorney who set the deposition and will be asking the majority of the questions then gives his “admonitions.” That’s what attorneys call them, but they really are just the rules of the deposition. The following are some of the common admonitions:

  • Reminder to the deponent of his oath to tell the truth
  • Answer all questions verbally. The court reporter has difficulty recording gestures, such as nodding or shaking of the head.
  • Let the attorney finish his or her question completely before answering. Basically, don’t speak over each other.

If the deponent answers a question, the attorney will assume the deponent understood the question.

What Questions Will They Ask To A Personal Injury Plaintiff?

In a deposition of a personal injury plaintiff, the topics usually covered are:

  • The plaintiff’ background – this includes the plaintiff’s employment and educational history, certain prior convictions, past addresses or living situations
  • How the accident happened, what led to it, and what happened immediately after the accident – In a car accident case, the defense attorney will usually want to know where the plaintiff was going to at the time of the crash and where the plaintiff came from. The defense attorney will also want to know whether the plaintiff spoke to the defendant at the scene and what they talked about.
  • The plaintiff’s injuries and medical treatment – Covering this topic is usually where the defendant’s attorney may get tricky. The defendant’s attorney will usually already have reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records. He or she may even have the medical records in front of him or her during the deposition. The attorney generally already knows what the medical records say. The defense attorney’s hope is that the plaintiff says something different than what the medical records say.
  • Any limitations in plaintiff’s activities – An aspect of plaintiff’s damages is lost enjoyment of life. So, the defense attorney wants to know what aspect of plaintiff’s life has been affected by the car accident injuries. Has the plaintiff stopped working out or going to the gym because of his/her injuries? Has the plaintiff been able to do household chores? Or has plaintiff had to pay others to do the chores plaintiff normally does?
  • Any pre-existing conditions or injuries – In many car accident cases involving injuries to the neck or back, the defense may argue that the neck or back injuries pre-existed the accident to some degree. So, in a deposition, the defense will ask the plaintiff if he or she has ever had the symptoms they are currently complaining about. The defense will also want to know the doctors or other healthcare providers the plaintiff has seen before the accident.
  • Any prior accidents or other personal injury or insurance claims – Insurance companies usually do a background check with the Insurance Services Office (“ISO”) database. This ISO database shows the insurance company whether a plaintiff has previously filed insurance claims. This includes any property or personal injury claim from a car accident, and could include homeowner’s insurance claims. In covering this topic, the defense attorney has two goals: (1) learn more about those prior claims and whether plaintiff’s injuries in those claims are similar to the present claim and (2) hopefully catch the plaintiff lying or failing to mention one of those prior claims.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident or other type of accident, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates. Our award-winning attorneys have handled many different types of car accident cases in Las Vegas and have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. While working on your case, we will keep you informed and be at your side throughout the process.

Liability Of Alcohol Sellers for Drunk Driving Accidents in Las Vegas

Las Vegas personal injury attorneys

Consider the following scenario: A patron, let’s call him Dana, enters a bar. He chooses to sit at the counter where there’s a video poker machine. Dana knows he will get free drinks as long as he is playing the game. The bar keeps serving him alcohol, even as he is staggering and slurring his words, because he is still putting money into the poker machine. Finally, the patron runs out of money. That’s when the patron decides to go home. He’s visibly drunk. He gets into his car. As he is driving home, he runs a red light and crashes into and kills Jo, a wife and mother just leaving her night shift.

Can Jo’s family sue the bar for continuing to serve alcohol to Dana even after he is obviously drunk? In Nevada, the answer is generally no. However, there are limited circumstances were a bar may be held responsible for a car accident in Las Vegas involving a drunk driver.

The laws governing whether sellers of alcohol can be held responsible when their customers get drunk and causes a car accident are called “dram shop laws.” While other states permit such liability, the Nevada Supreme Court has historically refused to recognize it. The Court refused to recognize an alcohol seller’s liability for a drunk driving accident even if the alcohol seller violated laws, such as by selling alcohol to a minor. See Yoscovitch v. Wasson, 645 P.2d 975, 976 (Nev. 1982) (holding that a motorcycle passenger injured due to a collision with an intoxicated minor driver has no claim against the convenience store that sold the alcohol to the minor); Van Cleave v. Kietz-Mill Minit Mart, 633 P.2d 1220, 1222 (Nev. 1981) (finding a convenience store was not liable for selling alcohol to a minor who later caused a drunk driving accident). In 1995, the Nevada legislature expressly prohibited it by enacting Section 41.1305 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS).

In 2007, the Nevada legislature carved an exception to the liability of sellers of alcohol. It permitted holding those who provide alcohol to underaged persons liable if those persons cause an alcohol-related injury or death. It should be noted that the above exception is not limited to sellers of alcohol. It includes those who provide alcohol to underaged persons for free. This encompasses those who provide alcohol to minors at parties or other events. It also encompasses those who permit alcohol to be served to underaged persons on their property.

The statute now reads as follows:

NRS § 41.1305. Liability of person who serves, sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages for damages caused as a result of consumption of alcoholic beverage: No liability if person served is 21 years of age or older; liability in certain circumstances if person served is under 21 years of age; exception to liability; damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

1.  A person who serves, sells or otherwise furnishes an alcoholic beverage to another person who is 21 years of age or older is not liable in a civil action for any damages caused by the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was served, sold or furnished as a result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage.

2.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who:

(a) Knowingly serves, sells or otherwise furnishes an alcoholic beverage to an underage person; or

(b) Knowingly allows an underage person to consume an alcoholic beverage on premises or in a conveyance belonging to the person or over which the person has control,

is liable in a civil action for any damages caused by the underage person as a result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage.

3.  The liability created pursuant to subsection 2 does not apply to a person who is licensed to serve, sell or furnish alcoholic beverages or to a person who is an employee or agent of such a person for any act or failure to act that occurs during the course of business or employment and any such act or failure to act may not be used to establish proximate cause in a civil action and does not constitute negligence per se.

4.  A person who prevails in an action brought pursuant to subsection 2 may recover the person’s actual damages, attorney’s fees and costs and any punitive damages that the facts may warrant.

5.  As used in this section, “underage person” means a person who is less than 21 years of age.

We know how devastating it could be to lose someone you love or be severely injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. We’ve seen clients go through the grieving process or endure the economic hardship of medical bills and losing a job because of injuries caused by a drunk driver. We also know the hardships personally. The car accident attorneysat D.R. Patti & Associates have also loved ones who have been victims of drunk drivers.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver or in a car accident in Las Vegas, the experienced car accident attorneys in Las Vegas at D.R. Patti & Associates can help you. With over 50 years of combined experience in personal injury cases, we know the law and have the skills to get you the compensation you deserve.

How Often Should I Be Able To Talk to My Car Accident Attorney?

Las Vegas personal injury lawyers

  • How long should I continue to receive treatment for my injuries?
  • When will I be able to get my car fixed?
  • Should I be using my health insurance for the doctors I’m seeing?
  • Can I claim time that I missed form work as part of my case?
  • What is happening on my case right now?
  • And of course, the biggest question for most clients….

    • When will I finally get some much-needed MONEY out of all this?!?!?

    Of course, there is a person who is perfectly qualified to answer any question a client might have – the attorney that was hired to give them legal advice!  The problem is actually being able to get that attorney on the phone.  Attorneys are well-known for being incredibly busy, and may not be able to answer a client’s call or return it right away.

    Paralegals can be a godsend in this regard.  While they do not possess law degrees, a sharp paralegal will know all the steps of the process, can provide updates on a clients’ cases, and answer most of the questions that clients have.  In fact, great paralegals can sometimes answer questions that even the lawyer may not have the answer to!

    However, as knowledgeable as paralegals may be, they are not the people ultimately “in charge” of the case.  They are also not the people with whom clients signed up to work their case.  While certain updates and questions can be fielded by paralegals, clients have an expectation that they should be able to speak with their lawyer directly when they really need to do so.  As well they should!

    In fact, there are rules in place that govern how attorneys are supposed to conduct themselves regarding client communication.  Nevada Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4(a) states:

    A lawyer shall:

    • Promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent is required by these Rules;
    • Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
    • Keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
    • Promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
    • Consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

    While all lawyers are expected to adhere to these rules, it is certainly true that some lawyers are better about communication than others.  Client stories about seeing their lawyer one time when they first signed up, then never seeing nor hearing from their attorney again, are unfortunately all too common.

    If you have had difficulty reaching the lawyer handling your case, let them know your frustration!  As a person injured in an accident, you deserve an experienced car accident attorney that will listen to you.  Call the office and tell them that you need to speak to your personal injury attorney.  If you leave a message and do not hear back in a couple of days, call again!  Quality Las Vegas car accident injury lawyers may not be able to respond to you right away, but they will respond soon enough to meet your needs.

    The Las Vegas car accidents attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates take pride not only in the fantastic results they achieve for their clients, but also their commitment to client communication.  Our Google reviews show a sampling of the tremendous experience other clients have had with our car accident-focused law firm.  If you or someone you know were injured in a car accident, please give us a call.  One of our Las Vegas car accident attorneys will be available to speak with you – not just today, but throughout your case.