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Did You Get Knocked Out at Work?

Workplace head injuries caused by a blow to the head can result in loss of consciousness due to damaged blood vessels and lack of oxygen.

Knocked Unconscious by a Blow to the Head

A hard impact to the head can cause a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Depending on the severity of the blow, the victim may suffer dizziness, headache, blurred vision, or complete loss of consciousness that may last from a few seconds to a few minutes. In some cases, victims suffer mild symptoms and recover quickly, while others may incur serious medical problems like cerebral bleeding, brain damage, and even death.

How an Impact Affects the Brain

The brain consists of three parts: the right hemisphere, the left hemisphere, and the brain stem at the base of the skull. When a blow to the head knocks out the right and left hemispheres at once, or impacts the brain stem, the victim may lose consciousness. However, when only one hemisphere is affected, the other one can compensate to keep the victim awake. Brain activity can be affected by a blow to the head that causes a blood vessel to burst or oxygen deprivation to parts of the brain.

Although a concussion is a mild form of TBI, not all concussions cause unconsciousness. A concussion may result in milder symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, disorientation, vision problems, and balance issues. Approximately 90% of diagnosed concussion patients do not lose consciousness. Many workplace accidents result in head trauma. In most cases, a person who suffers a mild concussion recovers from the injury with bed rest and medication within a few months.

When a blow to the head causes severe damage to the brain, the victim may be unconscious for days, weeks, or longer. If there is swelling on the brain or internal bleeding, surgery may be required. Severe TBIs can have long-term effects including:

  • Physical limitations
  • Behavioral and mood changes
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Amnesia and/or memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

Many workplace head injuries are the result of falls from ladders and platforms, slippery floors, damaged carpeting, and stairs with worn tread or loose handrails. When workplace accidents result in head injuries, they are usually covered under worker’s compensation claims. However, if someone else’s negligence is responsible for injuries, a workers comp lawyer may also file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the injured worker.

The High Cost of Slip & Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of injury for Americans, resulting in average costs of $30,000 to $40,000 for medical expenses per accident.

Slip and Falls Are Common and Costly

Each year, approximately eight million Americans suffer slip and fall accidents, and at least one million victims suffer injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital emergency room. Whether falls happen in the workplace, in the home, or outdoors, costs related to medical treatments are significant. Average costs for slip and fall accidents range from $30,000 to $40,000 per fall. If injuries are severe, medical costs can rise to as much as $48,000 or more.

Slip and fall accidents are common among all age groups. Depending on the victim’s age, overall health, and severity of the fall, injuries can vary from mild to severe. Common injuries include:

  • Bruises and lacerations
  • Fractured and broken bones
  • Spinal and disc injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Concussions and brain injuries
  • Organ damage and internal bleeding

Falls among elderly adults over the age of 65 account for the largest number of severe injuries and deaths. In nursing homes and long-term care facilities, more than 60% of residents suffer at least one fall each year. Although falls among the elderly account for most fall-related deaths, most non-fatal falls are among workers and young people. Slip and fall accidents are the second-most common cause of non-fatal injuries for children, teenagers, and young adults.

Workplace Slip and Falls

Workplace slip and falls account for a large percentage of both non-fatal and fatal injuries. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports show that falls are the leading cause of death for construction workers, and the most frequent cause of non-fatal injuries for healthcare, retail, industrial, and factory workers. In the United States, medical expenses and workers’ compensation costs associated with occupational fall injuries amount to about $70 billion each year.

Pursuing Settlements and Claims

In many cases, slip and fall accidents outside of the workplace result in settlements. A slip and fall attorney often negotiates a settlement for damages with an insurance company, rather than filing a personal injury lawsuit in court. Depending on the severity of injuries, the average slip and fall settlement is between $15,000 and $45,000 and usually includes costs of medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost income. 

Too Old to Drive

Traffic accident reports show elderly drivers are responsible for 14% of traffic deaths and 17% of pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicles.

Aging Behind the Wheel

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, elderly drivers only account for approximately 9% of the country’s population, but account for at least 14% of fatal car crashes and 17% of pedestrian fatalities. In 2016, over 200,000 elderly drivers ages 65 and older were seriously injured and over 3,500 were killed in motor vehicle accidents.

A recent report by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows that fatality rates for drivers between 75 and 85 are equivalent to fatality rates for teenage drivers with little driving experience. When elderly drivers pass the age of 85, the risks of causing deadly car accidents jumps significantly. At age 85, crash fatality rates rise four times higher than rates for teen drivers with unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, ignoring traffic signals, and driving while impaired on alcohol or drugs

There are daily news reports of elderly drivers crashing through store windows or crowds of people because the driver accidentally hits the gas pedal instead of the brakes. This highlights many challenges that aging drivers face when it’s time to get off the road. After driving for most of his or her adult life, an aging driver may be reluctant to hand over the car keys. However, older drivers often have poor driving skills, slower reflexes, and impaired vision and hearing. For many elderly drivers, the loss of driving privileges represents a loss of independence they are not yet willing to give up.

Talking About Safety with Aging Drivers

AAA studies on aging drivers show only 17% talk to doctors or family members about driving safety, even if they feel unsafe behind the wheel. AAA recommends that families begin discussions about driving safety with elderly loved ones before seeing “red flags” like dents and scratches on the car and worsening health conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and rheumatoid arthritis that may impact driving skills. Car accident lawyers often encounter injuries caused by drivers taking prescription medications that impair decision-making skills, judgment, and coordination. AAA recommends early discussions on aging and driving safety to prevent car accidents and ensure an easier transition for elderly friends and family members.

Top 12 Christmas Injuries

Each year, thousands of people sustain Christmas injuries while putting up  Christmas trees and holiday decorations, climbing ladders to install outdoor lights, cooking holiday meals, and taking decorations down after Christmas.

The 12 Mishaps of Christmas

Christmas typically means spending time with family and friends, decorating the Christmas tree, installing decorations and lights, wrapping presents, and enjoying a holiday meal. However, for some people, Christmas turns into a trip to the hospital emergency room to treat serious injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 134,281 people visited local hospitals for Christmas accidents and injuries between 2008 and 2017. Over half of 14,126 injuries in 2017 were related to putting up or taking down Christmas decorations. The 12 most common Christmas mishaps include:

1. Decorations and Ornaments

Decorating for the holidays is a leading cause of Christmas injuries seen by Henderson’s best accident attorneys. Falls from rooftops, outdoor ladders, step stools, and unstable chairs while decorating for Christmas results in bruises, abrasions, facial lacerations, fractured and broken bones, back and neck injuries, and head trauma.

2. Holiday Lights

Putting up holiday lights accounts for falls, cuts from broken glass, burns, and electric shocks. One in 40 people suffer electrical shock due to badly wired Christmas lights, overloaded sockets, and extension cords. For safety, holiday lighting should always be unplugged at night or when watering the Christmas tree.

3. House Fires

Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 160 house fires that start with Christmas trees. About 50% involve faulty lighting or electrical equipment, while 25% involve a heating source or candles placed too close to the tree. Christmas tree fires cause an average of 14 injuries, two deaths, and $10 million in property damages every year in December and January.

4. Chimney Fires

Christmas is the perfect time for a roaring fire in the fireplace to keep everyone warm and provide a holiday atmosphere. Before Christmas arrives, it’s important to have the fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional to prevent chimney fires that can spread to the rest of the house very quickly.

5. Holiday Cooking

During the Christmas holidays, the kitchen can be a dangerous place due to boiling water, hot food, sharp knives, and too much activity in the kitchen. Cooking fires on stoves and grills, skin burns from hot oil, and lacerations from chopping and preparing food put many people in the hospital. One in ten children suffers serious injuries related to Christmas cooking mishaps.

6. Food Poisoning

Food poisoning during the holidays puts many people in the hospital each year. The National Health Service has strict safety recommendations about cooking a turkey safely. Undercooked turkey accounts for a high percentage of food poisoning cases every Christmas where people fall ill with salmonella poisoning, often a life-threatening injury for small children and frail, sick, or elderly adults.

7. Alcohol

Christmas festivities like office parties and family gatherings commonly include alcohol to celebrate the occasion. The holiday period between Christmas and New Year’s accounts for a high rate of drunk driving accidents in Nevada. The best accident lawyers have seen a significant rise in traffic injuries and fatalities during the holidays.

8. Christmas Presents

Many Christmas presents and holiday decorations pose choking hazards for small children and pets. Novelty decorations such as stuffed reindeer, snowmen, elves, and Santas are not required to comply with toy safety standards. Stuffed toys or animals, fun gadgets, and novelty gifts should be kept away from small children.

9. Children’s Toys

Defective toys and toys with small parts that can be choking hazards can injure children. Parents should avoid buying toys from holiday pop-up shops or outdoor markets, because toys may be illegally imported without strict U.S. safety guidelines. The best accident attorneys in Henderson often see children injured by toys that are not age-appropriate.

10. Holiday Plants

Holiday house plants like Mistletoe, Holly, Christmas Cherry, and the Christmas Rose may seem festive, but they are highly poisonous. Their berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and cause hallucinations, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Poisonous holiday plants should be avoided in homes with children and pets.

11. Corrosive Batteries

Button batteries found in Christmas novelty items, musical holiday cards, children’s toys, and books, gadgets, and remote controls pose serious injury risks to children. Button batteries release corrosive acid that burns the intestines and causes internal bleeding. If a child or pet swallows a button battery, emergency medical treatment is essential. Lithium batteries can cause death within hours.

12. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

In many parts of the country, Christmas brings cold weather with snow and ice. Homes without central heat or furnaces often rely on space heaters, ovens, and gas appliances which release carbon monoxide into the air. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur within two hours in an enclosed environment.

Las Vegas Police Officer Injured in a Riot?

In Nevada, the Injured Police Officers Fund provides financial assistance to police officers and their families when an officer is injured or killed in the line of duty. This applies to expenses that are not covered by typical worker’s compensation policies.

LVMPD Employee Health and Welfare Trust

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Employee Health and Welfare Trust Plan does not cover work-related illnesses or injuries. However, Las Vegas police officers are entitled to file worker’s compensation claims. If an officer has signed the Health and Welfare Plan, conditional coverage is allowed while a worker’s comp claim is processing, though money received through worker’s compensation payments or settlements must be repaid to the plan.

Since police officers face dangerous workplace risks, Nevada makes it easier for officers to obtain benefits. However, not all job-related injuries are covered by worker’s compensation. If an officer files for worker’s comp benefits, he or she must abide by the plan’s third-party repayment agreement and third-party recovery rules.

The individual must:

  • Submit a completed and signed Third-Party Repayment Agreement
  • Submit a copy of the C-4 form
  • If a claim is approved, submit all information on payments and settlements
  • If a claim is denied, submit an official letter showing the denial of benefits
  • If a hearing is requested, submit a copy of the scheduled hearing date letter

Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit

In some cases, police officers must pursue civil lawsuits through a worker’s comp lawyer against a third party. Under Nevada law, third-party lawsuits are allowed when an employer is not responsible for a work-related injury. Third-party lawsuits can be handled in civil court.

Police officers are often injured in the line of duty during criminal arrests, drug raids, high-speed pursuits, street riots and protests, and domestic violence incidents. Third-party claims allow police officers and other Nevada employees to be compensated at a higher dollar amount than is allowed by the worker’s compensation system. Unlike worker’s compensation claims, third-party civil lawsuits have no limit to the amount of damages an employee can recover.

Workers’ compensation is generally the exclusive remedy to recover damages for work-related injuries. In some cases, however, filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court may be an option for Nevada workers who suffer work-related injuries that are caused by third parties or are not covered under worker’s compensation.

This Holiday Has the Most DUI Crashes (It’s Not What You Think)

Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to a spike in alcohol consumption and drunk drivers on the road.

Beware of Drunk Drivers on Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a four-day weekend, creating an opportunity for festive parties, family road trips, and activities with family and friends. Workers get extra days off, students are home for the holidays, and local bars are filled to capacity. The night before Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest drinking days of the year.

Thanksgiving Eve is synonymous with a significant spike in DUI accidents in Nevada and states across the country. Drunk driving rates are so high Thanksgiving Eve is referred to as “Blackout Wednesday,” “Drinksgiving,” and “Whiskey Wednesday.” These terms indicate a spike in alcohol sales and a night of heavy drinking. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Thanksgiving is one of the deadliest holidays of the year. More than 800 people died in drunk driving accidents during the Thanksgiving holiday period between 2013 and 2017. In 2018, 35% of fatal crashes were caused by drunk drivers. For many college students and young adults returning home, Thanksgiving Eve marks a rare opportunity to meet up with old friends in a local bar and catch up on the latest news. In 2019, Thanksgiving Eve accounted for 167% of normal daily revenue in local restaurants and bars.

NHTSA accident reports show that one in three drivers involved in car crashes are intoxicated, with a blood alcohol level well above legal limits of .08 BAC. On average, 51% of drivers pulled over for DUI during Thanksgiving admit to binge drinking. Although some holiday DUIs only result in fender-benders, many result in injuries and deaths to other motorists and pedestrians. In busy areas, car accident lawyers often see pedestrian injuries caused by impaired drivers ignoring traffic signals and failing to stop at crosswalks.

Motorists and pedestrians should be aware that Thanksgiving is a dangerous time of year for drunk drivers on the road. Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, an average of 45 drunk driving deaths occur per day. To prevent accidents and injuries, Nevada law enforcement urges people to report drivers who exhibit signs of drunk driving such as driving erratically, weaving between lanes, speeding, and disobeying traffic signals.

Can Passengers in Nevada Crashes Hire Their Own Car Accident Attorneys?

Passengers who are injured in car crashes may hire their own accident lawyer to recover compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Most car accidents involve at least one passenger who suffers serious injuries that may be compensable through insurance claims and legal actions. 

Passenger Injuries In a Car Crash

When a car accident happens, drivers are not the only people injured. The majority of car crashes result in passenger injuries as well, some that are serious or even fatal. Following a car accident, most injured drivers will file a claim against the auto insurance company to recover compensation for property damages and personal injuries. However, injured passengers may be entitled to compensation for their injuries sustained in the accident as well.

In a car accident, a driver may be held liable for the accident and all damages under Nevada comparative negligence laws. The Nevada comparative negligence rule establishes modified comparative fault in negligence cases. Nevada law permits accident victims to recover damages, even when they are partially to blame for the accident. However, the victim’s damages are reduced by the extent to which the victim is at fault.

Comparative negligence is unlikely to become a legal issue with an accident lawyer for a passenger since the passenger is not behind the wheel. An injured passenger’s legal rights are similar to the rights of an injured non-fault driver. Both may be compensated for medical care, financial losses, and pain and suffering when they file a personal injury lawsuit with a Nevada accident lawyer.

Filing an Injury Claim

Evaluating a car accident claim for a passenger is often more complex than a claim for a driver, especially if there is more than one driver involved. When two or more drivers are involved in a car crash, all may share liability for damages.

In such cases, an injured passenger may need to file claims with multiple insurance companies which can be a tedious and lengthy challenge. If an injury claim involves multiple drivers and shared fault, a Nevada accident lawyer can ensure that claims are submitted to all insurers in a timely manner. The accident lawyer can also negotiate with each insurer to obtain fair compensation. If a personal injury lawsuit is filed, it must be filed in court within Nevada’s statute of limitations which is two years from the date of injury.

Recovering Lost Future Wages for an Injured Child

If a child suffers traumatic injuries that impact future employment and earning capability, a legal claim may be filed to recover lost future wages.

Recovering Lost Future Income for Childhood Injuries

Injury cases involving children are often more complicated than those involving adults. Severe childhood injuries can impact the future quality of life for victims. Additionally, childhood injuries may result in a loss of future income due to long-term physical or mental impairment or disability.

As a child grows and develops normally, his or her future is based on performance and accomplishments. Economists often use a probability performance scale that considers a child’s education, socioeconomic background, family history, sex, race, and location to predict the child’s natural earning potential over the course of his or her lifetime.

When a child suffers a traumatic injury that affects physical and/or cognitive functions, his or her future accomplishments and earning potential may be dramatically changed. Children who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries often lose both physical and cognitive functions. Following an injury, a child may experience:

  • Inability to walk
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Difficulty processing or retaining information
  • Inability to think or learn new skills
  • Inability to concentrate on tasks
  • Loss of memory

Catastrophic injuries often lead to loss of motor skills and cognitive functions. Depending on the severity of injuries, an impairment may be temporary or permanent. Children who suffer catastrophic injuries often have life-long impairments. The loss of motor skills and cognitive functions play a major role in a child’s future ability to gain or retain employment and income, especially in industries that require physical labor or mental acuity.

Calculating Loss of Future Income

When a child suffers a traumatic injury that impacts the long-term quality of life, parents may be able to file a legal claim to recover loss of future income. Cases that involve young children are more complex because it’s more difficult to determine education levels, career paths, and potential earning capacity. Young children have no employment history, so predicting a future loss of wages is speculative. Injury cases that involve teenagers are less complex as there may be evidence of a chosen career path that provides a baseline for determining future wages. 

If a teenager or young adult has already started a career path, loss of future income is easier to calculate. By comparing the victim’s earned income prior to the injury to the income (if any) earned after the injury, lost earnings from the date of the injury to the date of the trial or settlement can be calculated. In the case of a permanent or long-term injury, the loss of future earnings is calculated by projecting that loss into the future over the course of the victim’s expected work life. However, the calculation must take all wage increases, anticipated promotions or bonuses, and the present value of future losses into account.

When traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries in a child cause physical or mental problems that may impact future abilities, a personal injury lawyer may work with a child neurologist, a vocational expert, and an economist to determine the total impact on the victim’s life. A neurologist can determine the severity of a brain injury and its impact on physical or cognitive functions. A vocational expert can determine how sustained injuries affect employment possibilities and future earning potential. An economist can calculate future lost income based on these conclusions.

Filing a Nevada Injury Claim

In Nevada, a statute of limitations applies to all personal injury lawsuits. If the lawsuit involves injuries to a child, a claim must be filed by the child’s parent or guardian within two years from the date of injury, or the date the injury was realized. However, the statute of limitations is generally tolled until plaintiffs who are minor children reach the age of 18. Sort of a legal time out, tolling of the statute of limitations allows the child to file an injury claim up to two years after his or her 18th birthday.

Not all injury claims qualify for loss of future earnings. Specific circumstances must be present for a plaintiff to seek these types of damages. The plaintiff must have an injury that impacts potential employment and his or her ability to earn money in the future. If this applies, the plaintiff can claim a loss of earning capacity and seek compensation for future lost wages through a personal injury lawyer. When determining compensation, the court will consider the child victim’s age, occupation, skill, and overall life expectancy.

Some child injury cases are caused by the negligence of another person. If the negligence of another party is proven, compensation for losses related to medical expenses, disability benefits, pain and suffering, and lost future income may be awarded.

Work Injuries: The Dark Side of Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory

Tesla’s battery Gigafactory in Nevada is under fire for a high rate of routine worker injuries, at least three injuries each month.

Is Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory Safe for Workers?

Workers at Tesla’s battery factory in Reno are paying a high price for employment. A new USA Today report shows that Tesla’s Gigafactory workers suffer a high rate of on-the-job accidents. Reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show an average of at least three injuries each month.

In 2014, Nevada won a competition that allowed Tesla to build its battery Gigafactory in Reno. Tesla promised its Gigafactory would be the largest factory in the world, employing thousands of workers and generating $5 billion in capital investment. To secure the project, Reno officials promised lightning-fast construction permits and Nevada lawmakers rushed through the largest tax abatement package in state history.

Although Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory just opened in 2014, OSHA safety inspectors were on-site more than 90 times to investigate safety violations in the first three years of operation. OSHA found that some accidents and injuries, including grisly amputations, were never recorded by Tesla or reported to OSHA. Lane Dillon, a temporary worker, was hired at the Tesla factory to install battery racks. Several hours into his shift, part of his index finger was amputated when workers helping lift a heavy battery rack dropped it on his hand. Dillon’s injury was never reported to workplace safety inspectors as required by state and federal law.

Warehouse and factory workers make up a large percentage of severe injuries seen by Nevada’s best work injury lawyers. Jobs can be extremely dangerous due to requirements of heavy lifting, loading and unloading, climbing to second level platforms, and forklift operations. Tesla’s Gigafactory was built at a furious pace, because Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, promised investors that the factory would be turning out 5,000 Model 3 sedans every week by the end of 2017. Production actually began before construction was completed. In 2015, the Gigfactory employed 24 workers. By the end of 2017, there were 3,200 workers. Currently, there are over 7,000 workers.

OSHA officials blame fast construction and lack of safety controls for so many worker accidents and injuries at the Tesla Gigafactory. With 7,000 workers rushing to meet daily work demands, giant robot arms swinging through the air, and driverless forklifts moving constantly, it’s no wonder Nevada’s best injury lawyers are flooded with workplace injury claims.

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