Articles Posted in Wrongful Death Lawyer

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A recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada held that a car insurance policy’s definition of “bodily injury” included emotional injuries and could thus be applied to emotional distress claims.

In Brewington v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co., the plaintiff filed a complaint against State Farm for breach of contract, arguing that State Farm breached its insurance policy by denying her coverage for her negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. State Farm argued that it did not breach the insurance policy because emotional distress does not qualify as a “bodily injury” and did not arise “in the accident” as required under the policy.
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According to an article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, fatal car crashes in Southern Nevada have dropped significantly during the first half of 2014. Last month, Lt. Dave Jacoby said during a Southern Nevada Traffic Safety Committee meeting that fatal vehicle crashes have dropped by nearly 20% as compared with the same point in 2013. Additionally, drunken driving arrests have fallen by about 25%, and fatal car accidents involving drunken drivers have decreased to just eleven alcohol-related fatalities, as compared with fifteen in 2013.

As reported in a study done by the Nevada Strategic Highway Safety Plan, 363 people lost their lives and 816 were seriously injured in impaired-driving crashes on Nevada roadways between 2008 and 2012. Male drivers aged 26 to 35 were involved in most impaired driving fatalities and serious injuries, followed by young male drivers aged 21 to 25. The highest proportion of impaired driving fatalities and serious injuries occurred during weekends. The study also found that 69% of fatalities and 83% of serious injuries occurred on urban roadways as opposed to rural ones.
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The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled, according to a recent unpublished opinion, that a district court incorrectly entered summary judgment in favor of a defendant mechanic in a case that alleged that the mechanic was negligent in his repairs of a truck that later struck and killed a man after the truck’s parking brake failed.

In Pennington v. Ed’s Tire Service, Inc., the defendant mechanic had performed maintenance work on a truck owned by the Bureau of Land Management, including repairs related to the truck’s parking brake and parking brake cable. Soon thereafter, the truck was stopped on downward sloping ground when the parking brake failed. The truck rolled forward and hit and killed Thaddius Shelton, who was working at the property at the time.
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After three opinions from the Nevada Supreme Court, a case involving a motor vehicle accident that resulted in multiple deaths and injuries finally appears to have come to a close, but not without setting some significant precedents.

In Bahena v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the plaintiffs were family members and friends who were traveling together in a single vehicle when the left rear tire of the vehicle, manufactured by Goodyear, separated from the vehicle. The event caused the vehicle to roll over multiple times, killing three people, and injuring seven other passengers. The injuries included a closed-head injury to a teenage boy, sending him into a persistent vegetative state.
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In May 2013, 25-year-old Vanessa White prematurely gave birth to two twin daughters at Summerlin Hospital in Las Vegas. White was ill both before and during her pregnancy, but the hospital ruled out the possibility that White was suffering from tuberculosis. White continued to visit her premature daughters at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after her discharge from the hospital. One twin died on June 1. White died one month later, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis through an autopsy. White’s other twin daughter was then diagnosed with tuberculosis, and died on August 1.

Tuberculosis is a potentially fatal condition caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. According to an interim report from the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), a latent TB infection (LTBI) indicates that an individual is infected, but does not currently have the active disease and therefore is not contagious. A person with LTBI may not have symptoms, but is at risk of their LBTI progressing to the more serious form of tuberculosis: TB disease. TB disease is an active disease, and can cause symptoms including unexplained weight loss, fever, cough, night sweats, and shortness of breath. The most serious form of the condition is infectious TB disease, which is TB disease of the lungs or larynx. It can be transmitted from person to person.
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When a car accident causes a fatality, it can be uncomfortable to place blame on the deceased. But in a wrongful death lawsuit claiming another person negligently caused a motor vehicle-related death, juries are asked to assess the comparative negligence of the victim as part of its liability determination.

In Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department v. Yeghiazarian, the Nevada Supreme Court clarified what evidence a jury may hear to assist them in their comparative negligence assessment. In Yeghiazarian, Raymond Yeghiazarian attempted to take a left turn at a permissive green light in his vehicle. At the same time, Officer Wicks, a Las Vegas police officer, was traveling toward Raymond on the opposite side of the road. Officer Wicks did not have his cruiser lights activated, but was traveling at a rate between 58 and 74 miles per hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone. Raymond apparently did not realize how quickly Officer Wicks was approaching, and was unable to clear the intersection in enough time to avoid collision with the cruiser. The collision caused Raymond to suffer severe internal injuries and trauma to his brain stem, and sent him into a coma. He died three weeks later.

Raymond’s family brought a negligence lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). To suggest that Raymond may have been intoxicated at the time of the accident, the LVMPD wanted to offer evidence at trial that, according to a blood sample drawn from him several hours after the crash, Raymond had a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .049%. If the jury accepted that suggestion, it could have used it to find a greater degree of comparative negligence on Raymond’s part, and thus proportionately reduced any award of damages to Raymond’s estate and family.
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The Las Vegas Sun reports that a $1.5 million settlement has been offered by the Metro Police to Stanley Gibson’s wife. Gibson was fatally shot by a police officer back in December 2011.

Sheriff Doug Gillepsie emailed the members of Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee to ask for their support in his recommendation of the settlement. He wrote that the police had a “tentative agreement with the family pending your approval”.

The Fiscal Affairs Committee meets again in a few weeks on October 28. It is a joint city-county group and oversees the budget of the Metro Police. The agenda for the next meeting has not been released at this time.

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Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has taken the Stanley Gibson case to a grand jury. Many expect the grand jury to return a “true bill” for an indictment against Metropolitan Las Vegas police officer Jesus Arevalo who fatally shot Las Vegas’ disabled veteran, Stanley Gibson. If the grand jury does return a “true bill,” it will be the first indictment, in almost 20 years, against a Las Vegas police officer for an on-duty shooting.

Gibson was in his car in the parking lot of a Las Vegas apartment complex when his car was blocked in by two police cars. Gibson, believed to have been lost, did not get out of his car when requested by the police. That’s when the Las Vegas police came up with an ingenious plan to get Gibson out of his car – while one office used a beanbag shotgun to shoot out one of Gibson’s car windows, another officer would dose the car’s interior with pepper spray. Officer Arevalo was selected to shoot the beanbag shotgun. However, when Arevalo shot into Gibson’s car, he shot an AR-15 rifle … seven times.

Under Nevada law, if a police officer has a reasonable belief that the target poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to either the police or another person, a police officer can legal shoot. An unarmed person can be shot if the police can prove that a reasonable person in the same situation would have done so. Though there is a video of the fatal shooting, the Las Vegas police department has taken a stance of “justifiable shooting.”

According to Andre Lagomarsino, the Las Vegas attorney representing Gibson’s mother, Celestine Gibson, Wolfson taking the case to the grand jury is just the first step to ensure Arevalo is “criminally charged.” In May, Lagomarsino filed a $20 million federal lawsuit against the Las Vegas police, Arevalo, and two of his supervisors for Gibson’s death. This previous January, Lagomarsino settled the Trevon Cole case for $1.7 million. Cole, an unarmed small-time marijuana dealer, was killed by a Las Vegas police officer during a botched drug raid in June 2010. Lagomarsio represented the Cole family.
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Following several controversial shootings and a five-month review, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has implemented a new “Use of Force Policy” in an effort to reduce officer-related shootings. According to Sheriff Doug Gillespie, the new policy should also make the Las Vegas community safer.

The goal of the new “Use of Force” Policy is to “respect the value of every human life.” LVMPD officers are now advised to deescalate potentially dangerous situations before they rise to the level where force is considered or needed. Officer tools which cannot be used unless the officer perceives an imminent physical threat to either the officer or others within the area include Tasers and low-lethality shotguns. Furthermore, deadly force has been clarified as “a measure to be employed in the most extreme circumstances.”

Over a five week period, the LVMPD trained almost 3 thousand employees, including LVMPD officers, corrections officers and civilian staff, on the new “Use of Force” Policy. The training included talks from LVMPD officers previously involved in a deadly use-of-force situation who spoke on their experience and how it impacted their lives. The LVMPD plans to include “Use of Force” policy in new LVMPD training and also as part of the briefing LVMPD officers receive each week.

The five-month review was conducted by the LVMPD Office of Internal Oversight, and included recent findings by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court, input from department employees and the ACLU, and a review of industry standards. The LVMPD expects additional recommendations on how to use force when the Community Oriented Policing Services (COP) completes its investigation. The COP program was created by the U.S. Justice Department as a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. As a component of the Justice Department, the mission of the COP office is to advance community policing in jurisdictions of all sizes across the country. The LVMPD was the first law enforcement agency in the country to partner with COP.

In 2011, the LVMPD was engaged in 18 officer-involved shootings, 12 of which resulted in a fatality. In the first six months of 2012, the LVMPD has been involved in five officer-related shootings, which is the lowest number of officer-related shootings for a six month period in the last 10 years.
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The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has cleared Las Vegas school bus driver, Leslie Rice, of criminal wrongdoing in the death of a Las Vegas school girl. According to the LVMPD report, the incident, which took the life of 11-year old Kaylee Derks, was an unfortunate accident.

In March, Rice was substituting for another school bus driver. As he drove a group of students home, he safely dropped Kaylee off in front of her northwest valley neighborhood. As the bus made a wide right turn to avoid the cars parked on the street, Kaylee stepped off the curb into the path of the bus. The rear wheels of the bus crushed the student as the bus continued a few feet before stopping. Kaylee was dead by the time the ambulances arrived.

Rice, whose driving record contained no previous accidents, passed a drug and alcohol test at the scene.

A witness at the scene surmised that Rice may have been looking left as he made his right turn; that Kaylee ran into the street without noticing the bus, or the parents at the scene should have done more to protect the children getting off the bus. Parents in the neighborhood have described the bus stop as chaotic and dangerous because parents pick up their children on both sides of the street. Though there have been complaints about the bus stop, the Clark County School District said the number of complaints was not unusual. The School District also explained that due to the district’s policy of not having bus stops on private streets, the bus stop where Kaylee got off could not be moved. Though the bus stop was not moved, after Kaylee’s death, the district changed its bus route so drivers would not enter the northwest valley neighborhood.

Under Nevada law, when a school bus accident, which includes personal injury, vehicle accidents, and deaths, occurs, the bus driver, bus company, school district, or other third parties can be responsible. Because of the complicated process of obtaining a proper bus accident investigation and reconstruction, it is important that you contact a Las Vegas attorney experienced in personal injury and wrongful death if you wish to pursue compensation.
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