Recovering Damages for Injuries to your Pet in a Car Accident



You can Recover Damages for Injuries Suffered by Your Pet in a Car Accident


Jared: Hi, I'm Jared Richards. I'm one of the partners here at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked whether they can be reimbursed or compensated for injuries to their pet in a motor vehicle accident. The answer is yes. Yes, you can. Now the question is really what type of injuries can you be compensated for. Now the law looks at a pet as property. The legal term is chattel. You don't get emotional damages for loss of property, loss of chattel, but you do get compensated for the actual damage done. If the pet was killed, then you would be reimbursed the value of the pet. If the pet is injured, you'd be reimbursed the value of the medical bills for the dog. Yes, you can be compensated.  However, even though that dog may have been like your child, you're not going to receive emotional damages for the loss of the dog.


pet, car accident, Las Vegas, Nevada


Now you may be able to wrap in emotional damages into your other injuries and a jury, quite frankly, might think about the loss of the pet while deciding that, but as a technical matter, emotional damages for loss of pet is a no go. Brian, looks like you have a question.


Brian: If you nurse your own dog back to health, will you be able to claim any damages?


Jared: That's an interesting question. I suppose yeah, maybe. The amount of time that you spent nursing and if you had to go out of pocket for anything additional if there are any special medicines or other equipment needed to give care, then yes, I suppose you could. It would be a more difficult claim. It's a lot easier claim just to say here's my vet bill. Pay the vet bill. If you have any more questions, give us a call.

Can You Recover Damages from a Car Accident if You are Speeding?



Speeding Won't Necessarily Preclude You from Recovering Damages in a Car Accident


Jared: Hi, I'm Jared Richards. I'm one of the partners here at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked if they could be held responsible for a motor vehicle accident if they were speeding but it was the other person who pulled out in front of them when our reader had the right of way. The answer is that's an interesting question. Most of the time I think most people would look and say the person who pulled out of a driveway, out of a parking lot or changed lanes without looking is primarily responsible. But, if you're speeding, then you might have contributed to that because it is possible that the person who was pulling out really had no idea that you were there. You might have had to have been speeding 100 miles an hour, but ...

The real question that you have to ask is if this were to go to a jury, if you just go to random eight people on the street and you were to tell them all the facts, who would they find more at fault. I think most of the time they're going to find at fault the person who was cutting off the other person, the person who pulled out. They may find some amount of negligence on the part of the person who was speeding. Let's say that the person who was speeding has a $100 claim, was 20% at fault because he was speeding. Then any sort of award or settlement would probably be reduced by 20%, the amount that person was at fault.

Most of the time, it's the person who pulled out and cut off the other person. There was a reverse case of that several years ago where somebody ran a red light but the police were speeding. The person who ran the red light was injured and sued the police for speeding. Although I think most people would tend to agree that the person who ran the red light is more at fault, the Supreme Court actually sent the case back down and said, "No no no no no, judge. You can't just decide that the cops are not at fault. They were speeding, so you need to at least let the jury decide who is more at fault." The answer is it's not a clear cut, but use common sense, and usually common sense can accurately guide you. Looks like Brian has a question.


Brian: What happens if a jury thinks that each party's equally at fault?


Jared: If each part is equally at fault, then the jury's going to cut the judgment in half, or the judge will cut the judgment in half and give half to the injured party. Now if it turns out that the injured party is more at fault than the other side, then the injured party gets nothing. You don't get anything if you're the primary person at fault. If it's equal or if you're lesser at fault, then you'll get something but it is going to be decreased by the percentage of your fault. Thanks. Call me if you have any questions, or watch our other videos. We're here to help. Thanks.

Can a Spouse that Cares for an Injured Partner be Compensated for Her Time?



Will a Spouse be Compensated for her Time in Caring for her Injured Partner?


Jared: Hi. I'm Jared Richards. I'm one of the partners here at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked, can my spouse who cared for me while I was injured get compensated for her time and for the amount that she has to take off of work? The answer is, yes. In law whenever we tell the court we want to recover some sort of money we have legal theory, we give the legal theory name. This legal theory's name is loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is a claim made by the spouse of an injured party.

Loss of consortium includes the pain and suffering of the spouse from changes in the marital relationship and also for the loss of probable support or anything that that spouse is out of pocket. If that spouse had to pay money, if that spouse had to stay home from work, if that spouse had to hire a maid or somebody to come in and help around the house, that spouse is entitled to be reimbursed for that. If the spouse has suffered from loss of marital relationship, and that means a lot of different things.

Injuries can do different things to different people. People think loss of marital relationship just means their relationship in the bedroom and it does include that, but it also means that the injured spouse is now irritable. The injured spouse is not able to cope with stress in the same way that he used to. All of those things can have a negative effect on their relationship. The law does protect the spouse that has to make adjustments in her life to deal with that.

It looks like Brian has a question.


Brian: Do folks have to be married to claim loss of consortium?


Jared: Generally yes. In the state of Nevada loss of consortium will apply to spouses. For example, there's been case law on whether or not it applies to children because clearly children are affected as well. The Nevada Supreme Court has decided that it's going to limit it to spouses. There is a legal theory that I suppose might work but I've never tested it. There's a doctrine in California that says that people ... It's almost like a common law partner, often people who live together and hold themselves out as spouses can inherit from each other. It's called the Mycroft Doctrine.

Maybe a judge would be sympathetic and allow the Mycroft Doctrine to bleed over to the loss of consortium but it's all something that I wouldn't necessarily rely on. Maybe a judge would be sympathetic. It would be nice if they would. But otherwise, no. I think that the safest route is that they're married. That's the sure fire way under the law. Anyway, if you have any more questions, give us a call. We're happy to help any way we can. Thanks.


When Should You Receive Treatment for Injuries Resulting from an Accident?



Is it Better to get Treatment Before or After Your Personal Injury Settlement?


Hi, I'm Jared Richards. I'm one of the partners at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked a question of: Besides the initial doctor evaluation, when should I receive treatment for my injuries? Before or after I get my settlement? There are a couple of things to think about when answering this question. The short answer is get treatment now. Now it can get more complicated than that, but here are a couple things to look at.

First of all, the purpose other settlement is to make sure that your medical bills are taken care of, that any other expenses that you're out of pocket for are taken care of, and that to the extent that you've experienced pain or suffering or, quite frankly, the scales of justice are unequal, that the other side pays money to try to equalize the scales of justice.

Now with that in mind, it's difficult to convince the defendant, specifically an insurance company, to pay you for things that haven't happened yet. You may have the initial doctor visit and he may say that you're injured, but if you don't seek treatment for that, the initial reaction of the insurance company, and quite frankly, often a jury, is going to be that you're not really injured, you're not really all that hurt. Sitting at home in silence in pain is never a good choice because it's bad for the case because it's more difficult to settle for what the case is really worth. It's also bad for you because there's no reason for you to sit at home and be in pain.

Now the object of treatment is twofold. The first and primary goal is to get you better. You need to see the doctors that are going to treat you will and that are going to get you the care that you really, truly deserve and need. There is a secondary reason to get treatment, and that's evidence-based. Because we need to document what your injuries actually were and what you had to do to get better. Juries and insurance adjusters find that relevant, and it is relevant. Make sure when you get injured to go see a doctor. Go see them that day. That's the best. Then listen to your doctor and do the treatment that your doctors recommend. Do all the treatment that your doctors recommend. At the point where you feel like you don't need the treatment anymore, just don't by yourself decide you don't need any more treatment. Go to your doctor and think about it. Because sometimes even though you're feeling better, it's still beneficial to go a little bit longer to make sure that you don't relapse, to make sure that your muscles, your tendons, everything else are strengthened so that you don't have further injury.

The short answer is make sure that you go and get your treatment before the settlement. Now there are sometimes where you don't have insurance and it's difficult to find anybody who will give you treatment until you have the settlement. Most of the time, there are doctors out there who will still treat you even though you don't have the money yet. Because they care and because they know that it's a difficult predicament for you. There are times when you do need to wait until after the settlement to get the treatment because you need to have the money in order to do the treatment, but usually you can find doctors who are willing to treat you now and then wait to get paid later. Again, the short answer is don't wait to get treatment. Go get it now. Thanks, and if you have any more questions, give us a call.


What if You are Injured and Cannot Afford an Attorney? A Video about Contingency Fees



A Contingency Fee Arrangement is a Good Option if You Cannot Afford an Attorney


Jared: Hi, I'm Jared Richards. I'm one of the partners here at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked: What are my options if I'm injured by somebody else's negligence but I can't afford to hire an attorney? You have pretty good options, especially when it comes to personal injury. Now you'll find that most personal injury attorneys are willing to and often exclusively do this, that they're willing to take cases on what they call a contingency fee. Now a contingency fee means that essentially the attorney, he is willing to represent you, he's willing to pursue a claim for you in exchange for a percentage of whatever it is that he collects.

Now when you hire an attorney and you pay them hourly or you pay them a flat fee, you are accepting the risk of the attorney's fees because let's say the attorney fails. Let's say that you don't actually make any sort of recovery. You don't make any money on the claim. If you've paid the attorney directly, then you've accepted the risk. Most attorneys are willing to work hourly. Now in most cases, though, individuals that get hurt don't have the kind of money that they would need to hire an attorney hourly, so that's why personal injury attorneys generally are willing to do it the other way around.

Now when you hire an attorney on contingency you have to understand that they're going to get their percentage whether they settle quickly or whether this goes all the way through trial. The percentages will often change. It will often increase depending on how into the litigation you go. The reason that they do that, the reason that they take a large percentage, often a third if the case settles even outside of court, is because the attorney at that point is taking on the risk of the attorney's fees. Because if the attorney doesn't get anything, then he walks away having earned nothing but having done the work.

When we're talking about hourly or contingency, it all depends on who wants to take the risk of the attorney's work if the attorney were to fail. Does the client wanted to do that or does the client want the attorney to do that? In most personal injury attorney matters, most personal injury attorneys will take a contingency fee. Looks like Brian has a question.


Brian: What's a fair percentage for a contingency fee to be?


Jared: Fair? I would say that the industry standard tends to be a third if the case settles outside of litigation, and then 40% if it goes into litigation. Some people do different tiers. Some people would do a third if it settles outside, 40% if it settles after the lawsuit is filed, and then 45% if it goes all the way to the trial, and then 50% if it goes on appeal. Everybody is different, but I would say along those standards are industry standards. We tend to do a third if it settles before we have to file a lawsuit and 40% if we have to file a lawsuit. Anyway, if you have any more questions, please pick up the phone, give us a call, or send us an email, and we're happy to answer them.

Will Homeowner's Insurance Cover the Medical Bills of a Home Maintenance Injury?


How will homeowner's insurance help with a home maintenance injury?


Jared Richards: Hi, my name is Jared Richards. I'm one of the attorneys at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked, "I was injured at my friend's home while I was performing home maintenance for him. Can I make a claim against his Homeowner's Insurance to cover my medical bills?"

The answer is yes. Something to think about, and something to be aware of is that each insurance contract is different. Each contract specifies what it is that they cover, and what it is that they don't cover. Most contracts differentiate between people who are at a location for social reason or people that are there for professional reasons. If you're performing maintenance and you're getting paid for it, then you probably ... Quite frankly, you might fall under either category, but you could probably qualify for, "I was there working, providing maintenance," category.

We actually had a case a little while ago where somebody was injured in another person's garage, and just the peculiarities of that contract, they were able to get a recovery because they were getting paid for that maintenance. The key here is you need to look at the contract. You should call an attorney, and you should consult with them, read the contract, and see what category of person you are. Whether you are there for social reasons, there for professional reasons, and then what you're recover under that contract would be.

It looks like Brian has a question.


Brian: Would bartering be the same as being paid? "I will fix your house because you watched my dog last week," for example.


Jared Richards: Maybe. It's really a tit for tat. You have received compensation, and now you're performing services for compensation, then maybe. It's one of those things, we'd have to get into the contract, and think about, and maybe do a little bit of case law research to make a decision on that.

Anyway, if you have an issue similar to this give us a call, and we'll see if we can help you out. Thanks.

May You Still Sue if You Did not Receive Treatment for the Injury Soon after the Accident?



Is a lawsuit still tenable if your injury was not treated soon after the accident?


Jared: Hi. I'm Jared Richards of Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked, "Is it possible to make a claim for injuries that were not evaluated after the injury?" The answer is, yes, it's possible. The general principle you look at is one, did the accident cause your injury? How can we prove that? If the accident caused the injury, then the accident caused the injury, that's fine.

Then, we go to how do we prove it? That's where it becomes a little more difficult. Unfortunately, the truth is if you get hurt and you stay at home and you suffer, it is more difficult for your attorney to prove that you were hurt. That's why it's always beneficial to go to a doctor immediately and get evaluated. Part of it because that's just what injured people do and part of it is an evidentiary issue. You need to preserve the evidence.

If however, you realize that six months after the accident, a year after the accident you are getting new symptoms that really can only be attributed to the accident or if you suffered in silence for a long time. The answer is, yes you can make a claim. It may be more difficult to get a jury or an insurance adjuster to believe that that injury is related to the accident.

This is where, if you do this one, most attorneys are going to want this to be a fairly serious injury. Just because of the difficulty of proving it. Two, you need to make sure that you are working with your doctors and that you are communicating with your doctors about what you think the cause is, so that your doctors could make an intelligent decision as to what they think the cause is, because ultimately you are going to be relying on your doctors.

The other thing that you are going to want to make sure that you do is if you've been suffering in silence, meaning that you haven't sought medical treatment. Make sure that if you told any friends, family, colleagues, employers about your injury, your pain. Make sure that you make a list of those, so your attorney can talk to those people, because sometimes those could actually prove that you were hurt, but you just didn't seek treatment. It looks like Brian has a question.


Brian: Was there any value in documenting your injury in like a diary that's dated over time?


Jared: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Again, part of what you need to do is when we go to a jury we need to prove to the jury that you were hurt. Although, it could seem somewhat self serving. It does help document on such and such day, you had troubles taking a shower by yourself. You use to go jogging, but ever since this date you weren't able to jog, because of the pain. It's actually a really good to document specifically what we'd call activities of daily living or duties under duress. Just things that you have to do, that you can't do anymore or you can't do very well. A journal is a very good way to document that.

May You Still Sue if You Signed a Release Waiver?


How Signing a Waiver Will not Foreclose Your Option to Sue


Jared: Hi, I'm Jared Richards. I'm one of the partners at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked, "If I sign a release form concerning possible injuries, is there anything I can do if I get hurt?" The answer is sometimes. A lot of times companies and doctors, for example, will make you sign waivers acknowledge that there are certain possibilities of danger. Now different courts handle these different ways. Quite frankly, different judges handle these differently. In general, just because you acknowledge that there's a possibility that you might be injured doesn't necessarily give the person who injures you license to act negligently. They still have a level of duty and care that they have to perform.

Now the fact that you've sign a waiver for potential injuries is never helpful, but what you need to do is take that waiver to your attorney, talk with him, and ask that attorney if this is something that you can get around. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't. It's a very case-specific thing, but the general principle is was the injury that you received foreseeable at the time that you signed that waiver. Is it something that that waiver really was meant to address, and is the injury the result of somebody else's negligence that happened after you signed the waiver? If so, then there's a chance you might be able to get around it.

Brian: A quick question. Is it different if an establishment posts a sign saying they're not responsible for an injury? Is that different than signing a waiver?

Jared: No, I don't know that a unilateral posting of a sign saying they're not responsible for a injury actually gets them out of anything. I would be pretty skeptical actually on that.

This all goes down to issues of fair play and notice. For example, if there's a sign that says wet floor, and it was noticeable and you saw it, then maybe the person's not responsible for that injury. If there's just a big sign on the establishment saying I'm not responsible for any injury, I'm not sure that I buy that. I'm not sure that saves them from anything.

Who to Sue in a Car Accident Caused by Road Conditions


Knowing Who to Sue in a Car Accident Caused by Bad Road Conditions


Hi. I'm Jared Richards, one of the partners at Clear Counsel Law Group. One of our readers has asked us who do we file claims against if there's an accident due to road conditions that are not weather related? By this I assume that they're referring to potholes or some obstacle in the road. The answer is you file a claim against the person who's responsible. If for example there's an obstacle in the road and we know who put it there, then that's who we would sue.

If it's an actual street condition, the street is poor or there's a stop sign that's missing, we would contact the city government or the county government, whoever it is that maintains the road, controls the road. Now something to be aware of, if you are suing a city government or a county government, anything that is the state level government, often there is a cap on how much you can recover. For example in Clark County, Nevada or all of Nevada, there is a cap of $100,000 per claim. That's something to be aware of when you're making a claim and selecting who it is that we want to make a claim against. So anyway, the short answer is try to figure out who's at fault and that's who you file a claim against.

Accident, car accident, Las Vegas, Metro, non-injury, investigation

Las Vegas Metro to Resume Investigating Non-Injury Accidents in January

In March of 2015, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department announced it would stop responding to car accidents where neither party was injured. This was quite an interesting change since Metro had been reporting to all car accidents for nearly forty years. Budget and staffing concerns were cited as the reason for the cut back, and citizens were left puzzled. Many clients raised concerns to our office: What happens if I don't feel injured right away but later realize I am? What if the person deserves a ticket? What if someone who hits me denies s/he were at fault and my insurance will not cover me?

These are just a small sample of the dozens of concerns that were raised. Personally, the concern that stuck me the most was a question of safety. A female client expressed concern to me that if she got in an accident after dark, she would not feel comfortable exchanging insurance with a complete stranger, leaving her vulnerable on the side of the road. This resonated with me. Particularly of concern was when a person who causes an accident and might face someone with “road rage,” which is quite rampant in Nevada. All of these concerns appeared likely to cause other problems for the citizens that the police may not have anticipated.


Accidents, car accident, las vegas, metro, investigation


I certainly can understand this non-response policy working well in smaller, slower paced cities but not in the Las Vegas Valley. Our city continually ranks high in the number of accidents, making a decreased police presence on the streets all the more concerning. If the thought of getting a ticket for causing a minor accident is not looming over people’s heads, drivers will probably take more risks and end up causing more accidents in the long run.

On the other hand, of course, we all want the police to be protecting the streets from murders, robbers, and kidnappers and not spending hours taking statements from victims of a paint-smudging minor collisions. I am sympathetic the the resource concerns of Metro.


Metro changes course with non-injury car accidents

As it turns out, public safety concerns outweighed this ill-fated policy. Starting January 2016, the policy will be officially reversed. Metro will again respond to any accident where they are called and prepare a report for the parties.

Clearly, there are other ways to save officers time in responding to accidents, specifically by reducing the number of accidents! It is clear that Las Vegas has too many, and the reasons are many and complicated. The roads need to be safer for our citizens, but getting there will not be easy. Perhaps if tickets were more expensive and more common, drivers would be more cautious and more motivated to be careful. There are many options for reducing the number of accidents on our roadways. Intersection cameras might be expensive at first, but are likely to pay off in the long run. Or perhaps, harsher penalties for those who drive under the influence. This, combined with the presence of ride shares like Uber and Lyft may help keep Las Vegas safer by making it easier for folks to get a ride home. Lowering speed limits, raising the age to start driving, adjusting the patterns at high-accident intersections, mandatory insurance increases with each accident, or even public ad campaigns reminding people how getting a little bit ahead on the roadway really does not save time in the long run.

These are just a few options for making our roads safer. However, all public safety measures come with a cost and it’s often hard to get the citizens on board for raising the funds needed, i.e. taxes…. But for now, it is a step in the right direction to put police back on the scene of even minor accidents, so these small inconveniences do not end up as big hassles later on.

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