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who pays medical bills after an accident

Who is going to pay my medical bills when I’m in a car accident?

  • Always give the hospital your Health insurance card
  • Do not give your car insurance information to the Hospital
  • Protect yourself by having your own Underinsured Motorist coverage
  • Keep all medical bills and insurance Explanations of Benefits sent to you in a file
  • You will need to return the Subrogation forms to your health insurance company
  • An attorney can navigate the sea of paperwork required when multiple insurance Policies exist

Laura Hunt AttorneyBeing in a serious automobile accident is one of the most traumatic things that will happen to most people in their lives. Panic, nervousness and fear set in and often people are confused, angry and uncertain as to what to do at the time. The prevailing thoughts from our clients are that when someone is in an accident that is not their fault, “everything will be taken care of and they will pay all my bills.”   Unfortunately, in the society we live in, and especially in the state of Nevada, this is absolutely not the case. Most of my clients are shocked to hear that drivers are only required by law to carry $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident on their vehicles. This means that each person who is injured in an accident  can only collect $15,000 for their injuries against the insurance company of the other driver. Of course, the other driver is still personally liable for any bills that you may have, but often people do not have those funds or they declare bankruptcy before it is ever paid or it can take years to get a legal judgment.

For this reason, it is extraordinarily important to be wise about your medical bills when you are involved in an accident.  If you find yourself at the hospital following an accident, always give your health insurance information, if you are one of the fortunate Americans to have such coverage, to the hospital. The hospital is required by state law to bill your health insurance before they bill anywhere else.  Nevada Law states as follows on this issue:

NRS 449.757  Limitations on efforts of hospitals to collect; date for accrual of interest; rate of interest; limitations on additional fees.

1.  When a person receives hospital care, the hospital must not proceed with any efforts to collect on any amount owed to the hospital for the hospital care from the responsible party, other than for any copayment or deductible, if the responsible party has health insurance or may be eligible for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or any other public program which may pay all or part of the bill, until the hospital has submitted a bill to the health insurance company or public program and the health insurance company or public program has made a determination concerning payment of the claim.

2.  Collection efforts may begin and interest may begin to accrue on any amount owed to the hospital for hospital care which remains unpaid by the responsible party not sooner than 30 days after the responsible party is sent a bill by mail stating the amount that he or she is responsible to pay which has been established after receiving a determination concerning payment of the claim by any insurer or public program and after applying any discounts. Interest must accrue at a rate which does not exceed the prime rate at the largest bank in Nevada as ascertained by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions on January 1 or July 1, as the case may be, immediately preceding the date on which the payment becomes due, plus 2 percent. The rate must be adjusted accordingly on each January 1 and July 1 thereafter until the payment is satisfied.

3.  Except for the interest authorized pursuant to subsection 2 and any court costs and attorney’s fees awarded by a court, no other fees may be charged concerning the amount that remains unpaid, including, without limitation, collection fees, other attorney’s fees or any other fees or costs.

(Added to NRS by 2007, 1497; A 2011, 1525)

NRS 449.758  Limitations on efforts of hospital to collect when hospital has contractual agreement with third party that provides health coverage for care provided; exception.

1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, if a hospital provides hospital care to a person who has a policy of health insurance issued by a third party that provides health coverage for care provided at that hospital and the hospital has a contractual agreement with the third party, the hospital shall proceed with any efforts to collect on any amount owed to the hospital for the hospital care in accordance with the provisions of NRS 449.757 and shall not collect or attempt to collect that amount from:

(a) Any proceeds or potential proceeds of a civil action brought by or on behalf of the patient, including, without limitation, any amount awarded for medical expenses; or

(b) An insurer other than a health insurer, including, without limitation, an insurer that provides coverage under a policy of casualty or property insurance.

2.  This section does not apply to:

(a) Amounts owed to the hospital under the policy of health insurance that are not collectible; or

(b) Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or any other public program which may pay all or part of the bill.

3.  This section does not limit any rights of a patient to contest an attempt to collect an amount owed to a hospital, including, without limitation, contesting a lien obtained by a hospital.

4.  As used in this section, “third party” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 439B.260.

(Added to NRS by 2011, 1524)

You must also understand that you will not know the policy limits of the other driver and your hospital bill can easily exceed the $15,000.  Please do not think that the other driver is off the hook if you have health insurance.  That is far from the truth. The collateral source doctrine in Nevada as held by the Nevada Supreme Court states as follows :

We now adopt a per se rule barring the admission of a collateral source of payment for an injury into evidence for any purpose.  Collateral source evidence inevitably prejudices the jury because it greatly increases the likelihood that a jury will reduce a plaintiff’s award of damages because it knows the plaintiff is already receiving compensation

Proctor v. Castelletti, 112 Nev 88, 911 P.2d 853, 854 (1996).

This means that regardless of who pays your medical bills, the adverse driver is also liable for them and they are not entitled to the reduced rate that your insurance company may have negotiated to resolve those bills. This means, as we are all familiar with, that when your hospital bill comes in and it is $25,000 and your health insurance company pays their negotiated rate of $3,000, the adverse driver is still liable for $25,000 bill. However, if he only has a $15,000 policy, you can at least collect the $15,000 to help compensate for everything that you have been through.  This is also one of the reasons it is extremely important to make sure that you are covered through your own policy.

who pays medical bills after an accident

I  will have separate blogs on  underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. When you see your declarations page it will list your different coverages including collision, comprehensive, bodily injury,  UM/UIM, towing, rental, medical payments coverage (etc.)  (all covered in other blogs).

Briefly, Collision coverage is coverage to fix your own vehicle, usually subject to a deductible.  Comprehensive Coverage covers damage done to your vehicle from events other than accidents like theft, vandalism, fire, impacts with deer, etc.  Comprehensive  is not collision coverage but they are generally sold together.  Bodily injury coverage is coverage to pay other drivers that you may injure.  UM/UIM is coverage that covers you if the other driver is not insured or underinsured. You should always carry UM/UIM  coverage.

I never understand why agents would recommend to clients that they cover themselves less than they cover other drivers on the road.  In fact, in Nevada, insurance companies must offer you this coverage and if you reject uninsured /underinsured coverage you must sign a waiver that the insurance company must produce at a later time in the event of a claim that you knowingly rejected this coverage.

I highly recommend that you carry underinsured and uninsured coverage to protect yourself. Unfortunately, the Nevada state legislature does not protect our drivers.  Nevada is one of the lowest bodily injury coverage states in the country.  Only Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana have lower limit requirements.  South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, California and Arizona also have $15,000.00 state minimum requirements.

By contacting a personal injury lawyer immediately, you can receive the most money for your vehicle. At my office, we are happy to handle the health insurance company’s subrogation claim for you.  Having worked for the insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of medical claims.   With extensive experience in the insurance field, I can help you review your coverages to maximize the money you receive.

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868.

 

 

taking photos after a car accident

The Need to Take Photos After an Auto Accident

Laura Hunt AttorneyThe moments after a car accident can be confusing and stressful for most people.  It is a traumatic event which most people are not expecting and most have not experienced before.  As with any trauma, there are numerous concerns that immediately flood your mind. Of course, always foremost, is the well-being of all persons involved in the collision. Immediately following any accident, if you are physically able, you should always check on the health and condition of your passengers and passengers in the other vehicles.   Call for medical help immediately if emergency care is needed.

Everybody is OK. Now What?

Once you have confirmed that persons are stable or have called for emergency help for anyone who is not stable, it is critically important that you document the scene of the accident as quickly as possible. In a digital world people no longer expect to hear the testimony of witnesses to determine how the event happened.  It is almost expected that there will be photos and even video.  Although it seems at the scene of the accident that there can only be one explanation for how the impact occurred, many years of experience shows us that witnesses will have different accounts of the same event. For that reason, it is critically important that evidence from the scene be preserved so that at a later time, it can be easily determined who is at fault and how the collision occurred.

Therefore, taking photographs of the vehicles in their location in which they came to rest after the impact is crucial. In the age of the smart phone, it is a convenience we often take for granted and do not use to its most effective potential.   If the accident occurs at night, it is important to make sure you are using a flash when taking photos.  When taking photos, be sure to obtain photographs with license plates and identifying information on vehicles. If possible, it is often helpful to have photographs of the other driver or witnesses at the scene of the accident for later identification.  Take photographs from a wide angle so that you can see the entirety of the vehicles involved in the collision. Now that film is not an issue in the modern age, there cannot be too many photographs taken.

What else should I take pictures of?

In addition to photographs of where the vehicles came to rest,  take photographs of any debris left from the vehicles on the road way or on the side of the roadway before it is moved for safety reasons. In addition, take photographs of the roadway, any signs near the scene of the accident and if the accident occurred at an intersection take photographs of the entire configuration of the intersection.  Also photograph any witnesses and other drivers, just in case.

Often times, the scene will change from the time of the accident until the time a claim against the other driver is made. For example, additional roadway signs can be added or construction can be started or concluded.  Also, the condition of the roadway can change.   For example, there could be sand rock or debris on the road at a later time or at the time of the accident.  For that reason, it is critical to document the scene of the accident as it was on the date of the accident.

Pictures of vehicle damage.

In addition to documenting the accident scene, it is critical to document the damage to the vehicles. This evidence can be of significant importance to your personal injury attorney if there is a liability dispute.  It is also persuasive evidence to show the extent of damage to a vehicle as well as the persons occupying the vehicle. For those reasons, you will want to take photographs of all vehicles damaged in the accident at the scene.  Keep in mind this will likely be your only opportunity to take photographs of the other driver’s vehicle.  Thus, it is crucially important to capture this evidence at the scene.

Also in the digital age, it is always a good idea to back up any critical photos that you take of an accident. I would highly recommend that when you have the opportunity following the accident, that you download and archive the photos of the scene to a safe and secure location such as a zip drive. That way these photos will be available to you in the future should you need them in pursuing your claim.

Do police take photos of an accident scene?

Although the police do sometimes take photographs of an accident scene, they are often difficult to obtain and are sometimes lost. If you’re able to capture your own evidence it will be much easier to present your claim to the other driver’s insurance company. However, if you are severely injured and you are unable to capture this information the police may take photos in a serious accident.

In the event that the responding emergency agency takes the photos, they will archive those photos and they can be obtained at a later time. There is generally a cost involved in obtaining those photos and some delay.  With extensive experience in the handling of auto accident claims, I can obtain any evidence that was collected by a responding agency including police, fire and ambulance responders.

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents or tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868.

tips for towed car

My car has been towed. What do I do?

Laura Hunt AttorneyHas Your Car Been Towed?  Here’s what to do.

  • Relax. You’ll find it! The worst thing you can do is stress out.
  • If you’ve been towed from a parking lot or garage, look for signs indicating the towing company name and number.
  • if you’ve been involved in an accident do not have your car towed to the tow yard if possible. Have it towed to your home.
  • If possible, arrange to have the car towed to your home or a friends home instead of a tow yard to prevent theft of personal property.
  • Call your attorney, just in case. Your instinct might be to call your insurance company, but check with your attorney FIRST!

There are several instances in which your car could be towed. Commonly, if your car is not drivable from the scene of an auto accident, the police or responding highway patrol officer will have your car towed from the scene. Critical advice that I give all clients is to have the car towed to your home or a friend’s home. If you are ever in an accident, please store this advice in your mind should you need it someday. Have the car towed to your home or the home of a friend. When the car is towed to a tow yard multiple problems arise.

Problems with Tow Yards

First, unfortunately I will not name names but I have personal experience from helping many clients over the years who have had personal property stolen from their vehicle at tow yards. This is a very difficult issue to prove and from my experience in working with clients over the past 20 years it is a common practice. In addition to the potential theft of your personal property out of your vehicle, many tow yard to require a ridiculous amount of identification to even look at or get to the vehicle and they charge exorbitant rates by the day to hold your vehicle there.  In fact, often times the tow bill has gotten so large that on an older vehicle, the tow fees are greater than the value of the vehicle and the tow yard sells the vehicle at auction.

In order to avoid these risks and pitfalls of trying to get your vehicle out of the tow yard, advise the tow company at the scene of the accident tow the vehicle to your house or a friend’s house. Even if you live in an apartment your insurance company will pay to have it towed to a collision center from your home.

Towing Coverage on Insurance

That brings me to the next issue of towing, and that is towing coverage on your insurance policy.  Towing coverage, often listed as TL on your policy, generally pays the cost of towing of your car to a repair shop when it is unable to be driven.  It also covers a specified amount of labor that is necessary in towing the vehicle. Often times on insurance policies, if you do not have collision coverage, they do not offer towing coverage. It is important to check with your agent or review your online purchase and specifically look for towing coverage and see if you have towing coverage separate from collision coverage. However, I highly recommend that everyone carry collision coverage on their vehicle.

Supplemental policies can also be purchased at a very low rate. For example AAA offers a roadside assistance policy for $85-$100 a year approximately which will cover towing costs in the event that your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident.  If you do not carry collision coverage, this is a valuable option.  These policies can be invaluable in the event of emergency. When purchasing a roadside assistant policy it is important to review the policy. Often the basic policy only allows for 10 miles or less in towing and then you are subject to the rate of the towing company that is sent. Generally for another $10-$15 in upgrading the roadside assistance policy they will cover you from 50 to 100 miles. This is an important element of your policy to check when you are purchasing it. It can save you hundreds of dollars in the event of a breakdown when you’re not close to a repair facility.  It is not something you want to learn the hard way. Usually when they offer different policies it is important to review the differences in the policies. Often, for only a few, dollars you can receive a great deal more coverage.

Towed from a Parking Lot?

Finally, there is the event that your vehicle is towed from a parking place or parking lot. Although it does not happen frequently it does happen. Always be careful when parking especially in downtown areas in looking for signs. If the sign is posted and you park in that area they do have the right to tow your vehicle. You could be subject to $300 to $500 towing charges and impound fees for parking in a towing area. However, if this occurs be sure to take pictures of the parking lot, the location of all signs, where your vehicle was parked, and make sure the signs were visible from location where you parked. If they tow your vehicle illegally you will need this documentation to fight the fine and recoup your losses. Please do not hesitate to contact the Law offices of Laura Hunt should you have any questions regarding a towing issue or your towing coverage on your policy. We are happy to review your policy with you to make sure that you have coverages the best suit your needs.  Having worked in the insurance industry as an attorney for 9 years before opening our boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of insurance policies.   With extensive experience in the insurance field, I can help you review your coverage quickly and efficiently so that you know exactly what coverages you have or need in the event of an accident.

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents or tragedies occur. We wish everyone a safe and happy season. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868.

Apology means guilt?

Is Saying I’m Sorry an Admission of Guilt?

Imagine this. You’re driving along on Eastern, trying to get to your favorite donut shop. The tunes are playing loudly on the radio and you’re not paying much attention to the road as you sing along. The light ahead of you turns red and the cars stop, but you miss it. You slam on the brakes, unexpectedly. Suddenly, your rear fender finds itself lodged in the front fender of the car behind you. Horrified, you call the police and your personal injury lawyer. Then, you get out of your car and apologize profusely. After all, your mom raised you to be polite and apologize for things. But did you just admit your guilt? And can it cause you legal difficulty if your case goes to court?

Outcomes of Apologies in Court Cases

There’s two possible outcomes when you apologize after an accident. In one case, a sincere apology can lessen a person’s anger, thus making it less likely that they will seek legal action. In the other case, it’s a question of “anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” By apologizing, they may argue you indicate your liability in the matter and it gives the other party a compelling case against you.

Thirty-six states have recognized the detriment that an apology can cause to a potential defendant and have enacted “Apology Laws”. First applied to medical malpractice, the laws protect anyone who makes a statement of sympathy or benevolent gesture following an accident. As long as the person doesn’t actually admit guilt, such statements are not admissible as evidence. Unfortunately, Nevada is not one of those states, so legal protections for an apology are limited.

So, how do you apologize without admitting guilt?

First, think about if an apology really is important in the situation. It might be your gut reaction, even if you did nothing wrong, but is it necessary? In our example above, there was obviously a lapse in judgment by driving distractedly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should apologize for being in an accident.

Second, if you decide that an apology is worthwhile, don’t admit any fault or place any blame. It’s important to not give any indication that you are liable. You shouldn’t express any opinions or hunches about what caused the accident or how it could have been avoided.

Third, consider finding something different to say, instead of “I’m sorry.” Simply saying “I’m sorry” is relatively ambiguous and can be applied to many different situations, including accidents, funerals, and arguments. Find specific language for the sentiment you are trying to express. In our above example, you might say, “I understand how frustrating this situation is” instead of “I’m sorry I stopped so abruptly.”

Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, a Ph.D. in persuasive strategies, gave two suggestions on how to show you are sorry: one, acknowledge pain, death, loss, and inconvenience; two, don’t let acknowledgement get confused with responsibility. In short, there are many occasions when apologizing is meaningful, and can even be beneficial, but don’t let anyone mistake saying “I’m sorry” for saying “It’s my fault.”

In general, when you’ve been in an accident, the old adage probably still holds true: “It’s better to say nothing at all.” And if you have been in an accident, please call our office today at 702-450-4868 and we can explain your legal rights and remedies under the law.

Why I Do What I Do

Laura Hunt:   “I often find clients come into my office and we sit down for a consultation to discuss their case, they are stressed.  They frequently tell me that no one else has explained or listened to them as clearly as I have. I take great pride and find great satisfaction in to listening and caring about the clients that come to my office.  Something clients often say to me is “I don’t want to bother you.”   My reply is always you are not bothering me; I work for you and if you have a question, never hesitate to call or text me.  I am always available for my clients.”

When I graduated from law school in Oklahoma in 1992 I knew I wanted to help people. I thought about becoming a public defender but after two years in the criminal system I decided that criminal law was not for me.  Being a criminal defense attorney was exciting and I gained the valuable experience of arguing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding federal sentencing guidelines.  I also became knowledgeable in criminal law.  However, I determined that I did not want a career as a criminal defense attorney, but I wanted to help people.  I also knew that as a rookie lawyer, I needed to hone my skills and become a seasoned litigator before I could benefit people who have been wronged by large corporations and insurance companies.  So I went to work for a large insurance company and worked there for over nine years. During my time working for the insurance company, I was able to gain the experience, knowledge and capacity to not only try cases but understand how the insurance companies look at, review and determine value of cases.  I trained insurance adjusters in the law and how to deal with attorneys.  As a result of that extensive experience, I was able to enter private practice as an attorney representing injured clients and their families with an insight into the business that few other attorneys have.

After graduating from high school in Las Vegas with distinction for academics, track and cheerleading, I enrolled at UNLV as journalism major.   I worked at the school newspaper as well as school radio station. I always enjoyed meeting new people to interview for the paper and on the radio and hearing their story.    Having a personal connection with people as an attorney and counselor at law was important to me.  It was what drew me to the law, that personal connection to people and the ability to help them.  I graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Arts degree when I was 20 years old. I immediately enrolled in law school and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University.  I loved my time in the south and enjoyed Oklahoma immensely.  But Las Vegas is my town; it’s where I grew up.  It is where my family and friends live, as well. I am as passionate about our community as I am my clients.  I am supportive of kid’s sports leagues and volunteer with my sons frequently in community outreach charities.

Those early experiences performing as a cheerleader, interviewing amazing people for the newspaper, and broadcasting live on the radio prepared me to be a public speaker and be comfortable in a court room.  I have never been shy or one to back down from controversy. I have admired many strong women over the years like Venus and Serena Williams for their grace, beauty and strength on the court and intelligent demeanor off the court. I have also admired women who’ve been pioneers in their fields like Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. So many amazing women have paved the way like, Coco Chanel who came from a humble background and used her amazing talents to build a legacy.

When I’m not working or attending the baseball games of my three sons, I  love yoga, skiing and riding ATV’s on the trails of the beautiful mountain ranges  all around our area.

I am licensed to practice law in all courts in the state of Nevada and the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals. I am also admitted to practice in Texas and California.  I am a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Clark County Bar Association, and the Southern Nevada Women’s Bar Association.

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents or tragedies occur. We wish everyone a safe and happy season. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868

Pregnancy Discrimination and Your Rights

Knowing Your Rights Against Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman whether, an applicant or a current employee, unfairly  because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition associated with pregnancy or childbirth. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)  makes discrimination based on pregnancy illegal when it involves employment, this is inclusive of  hiring practices, termination, pay rates, job levels, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, such as vacation and  insurance, and any other term of employment. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm

 The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Affects Small & Big Business

The following are requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and requirements of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they apply to women with pregnancy-related conditions.  The PDA and ADA apply to employers with 15 or more employees and therefore include all large and many smaller employers.

PDA Requirements

The PDA establishes that an employer with more than 15 employees must  treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.  The PDA refers to and includes all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, and benefits (such as leaves of absence and insurance benefits).  Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.  http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm.

  • Potential Pregnancy.An employer may not discriminate based on an employee’s intention or potential to become pregnant.  For example, an employer may not exclude a woman from a job involving processing certain chemicals out of concern that exposure would be harmful to a fetus if the employee became pregnant.  Concerns about risks to a pregnant employee or her fetus will rarely, if ever, justify sex-specific job restrictions for a woman of childbearing capacity.
  • Past Pregnancy.An employer may not discriminate against an employee or applicant based on a past pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition or childbirth.  For example, an employer may not fire a woman because of pregnancy during or at the end of her maternity leave.
  • Medical Condition Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth.An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of a medical condition related to pregnancy and must treat the employee the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  For example, under the PDA, since lactation is a medical condition related to pregnancy, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of her breastfeeding schedule (For information about a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that provides additional protections for breastfeeding employees, see the section on “Other Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers” below.).
  • Current pregnancy. Under the PDA, an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote, or take any other adverse action against a woman if pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition was a motivating factor in the adverse employment action.  This is true even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee’s best interest. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability_regulations.cfm.

Benefits of Employment Under the PDA

An employer must provide the same benefits of employment to women who are affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions that it gives to other workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Light Duty Policies.  An employer has to treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work with respect to light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability_regulations.cfm.

Leave: While an employer may not compel an employee to take leave because she is pregnant as long as she is able to perform her job, it must allow women with physical limitations resulting from pregnancy to take leave on the same terms and conditions (e.g., provide them with the same amount of leave) as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

A covered employer: may not use an employee’s pregnancy-related condition for medical clearance procedures that are not required of employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work, and may not remove a pregnant employee from her job because of pregnancy as long as she is able to perform her job, and must allow her to return to work following recovery from a pregnancy-related condition to the same extent that employees on sick and disability leave for other reasons are allowed to return.

If the pregnant employee used leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the employer must restore the employee to the employee’s original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. (For information about the Family and Medical Leave Act, see the section on “Other Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers” below.).

Title I of the ADA may require an employer to provide leave beyond that which it usually allows its employees to take, as a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a pregnancy-related impairment that is a disability.

Medical Benefits. The PDA requires employers who offer health insurance to include coverage of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.  An employer must provide the same terms and conditions for pregnancy-related benefits as it provides for benefits relating to other medical conditions.

Rules Against Harassment (In Addition to Protections)

In addition to protecting her job, it is against the law to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.   Harassment is unlawful  when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm

 What To Do if You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will help you to decide what to do next, and conduct an investigation if you decide to file a charge of discrimination.  Because you must file a charge within 180 days of the alleged violation in order to take further legal action (or 300 days if the employer is also covered by a state or local employment discrimination law), it is best to begin the process early.  It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for contacting the EEOC or filing a charge.  For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov, call 800-669-4000 (voice) or 800-669-6820 (TTY), or visit your local EEOC office at:

 

Las Vegas Local Office

Location: 333 Las Vegas Blvd South
Suite 5560
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
Fax: 702-388-5094
TTY: 1-800-669-6820
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
Director: Richard Burgamy
Regional Attorney: Anna Y. Park
Office Hours: The Las Vegas Local Office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m. Please call first to obtain information or to schedule an appointment with the Intake Officer.

(see also https://www.eeoc.gov/field/index.cfm  )

Additional Federal Laws Affecting Pregnant Workers

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of employers with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for, among other things, the birth and care of the employee’s newborn child and for the employee’s own serious health condition.  The Department of Labor enforces the FMLA.  For more information about the FMLA see http://www.dol.gov/whd.

Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide “reasonable break time” for hourly employees to express breast milk until the child’s first birthday.  Employers are required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to this requirement if it “would impose an undue hardship by causing significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”  DOL has published a Fact Sheet providing general information on the break time requirement for nursing mothers.  The Fact Sheet can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm

 The Americans with Disabilities Act

Although pregnancy itself is not a disability, pregnant workers may have impairments related to their pregnancies that qualify as disabilities under the ADA.  Amendments to the ADA made in 2008 make it much easier than it used to be to show that impairment is a disability. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/ada/  A number of pregnancy-related impairments are likely to be disabilities, even though they are temporary, such as pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related sciatica, postpartum depression and preeclampsia. https://adata.org/learn-about-ada

An employer may not discriminate against an individual whose pregnancy-related impairment is a disability under the ADA and must provide an individual with a reasonable accommodation, if needed, because of a pregnancy-related disability, unless the accommodation would result in significant difficulty or expense (“undue hardship”).  https://www.ada.gov

 Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be necessary for a pregnancy-related disability include the following:

1)      Re-assigning marginal or nonessential functions (such as occasional lifting) that a pregnant worker cannot perform, or altering how a nonessential or marginal function is performed;

2)      Allowing a pregnant worker more frequent breaks or allowing her to keep a water bottle at a workstation even though the employer generally prohibits employees from keeping drinks at their workstations;

3)      Changing a work schedule so that someone who has morning sickness can work later than her usual start time and leave later to make up the time;

4)      Providing equipment such as a chair when standing is generally accepted;

5)      Providing additional breaks;

 Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Discrimination against a worker with caregiving responsibilities violates Title VII if it is based on sex, and violates the ADA if it is based on a family member’s disability.  For example, an employer violates Title VII by treating a female employee with young children less favorably than a male employee with young children when deciding on work opportunities, based on a belief that the mother should focus more on the children than on her career.  In addition, an employer violates the ADA where it takes an adverse action, such as refusing to hire or denying promotion, against a mother of a newborn with a disability over concerns that she would take off a lot of time for the child’s care or that the child’s medical condition would impose high health care costs.

For Additional Resources Regarding your rights in the workplace regarding pregnancy,  caregiving or a disability, the following are additional resources:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/25/news/economy/rights-pregnant-workers/

http://www.workplacefairness.org/pregnancy-discrimination

https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/caregiver-best-practices.html

http://www.workplacefairness.org/family-responsibilities-discrimination

https://www.care.com/c/stories/2678/what-caregivers-need-to-know-about-the-domest/

 

All about car insurance

What Auto Insurance Should I Have

One of the most frequently asked questions I get  from friends and family members as an insurance attorney handling peoples injury and property claims is “what kind of insurance do I have?

The most common statement a client makes when they come in the offices usually is, “I have full coverage.”

However after reviewing thousands of insurance policies, it has become clear that most people don’t know what “Full coverage” is. In past years, many people used insurance agents who were helpful in explaining what types of coverages people needed.  Agents would have assisted them in purchasing their insurance. If you are able to use an insurance agent that you know and trust, I would highly recommend that.  Understanding insurance coverages can be complex, and often times a large increase in coverage comes with a very small rate increase.

What Insurance Coverages are Available?

For that reason, it is extremely important to understand what insurance coverages for your automobile are available and what the different coverages mean in the event that you are injured or your property is damaged or you have injured someone else.   Most auto insurance policies are relatively simple to understand if you know the terminology they use. I think insurance companies intentionally use vague and ambiguous language so that people don’t know what they’re really buying. The following are the type of coverages that you will be asked if you buy insurance online or by an agent when you go to purchase insurance. Your responses and your purchases can be critical to your well-being in the event that you or someone you love is injured in an accident.

Liability Coverage

The first coverage that you purchase, which is required by law, is called liability coverage (often called bodily injury coverage).   What that means is the amount of money that your insurance company will pay for property damage and bodily injury for the adverse driver and passengers ( a.k.a. third-parties) in the event you cause an automobile accident. In Nevada, state minimum is 15/30/10. Most people do not know what that means either.

15/30/10 ?

When there are three numbers, the first number is the amount your insurance company will pay per person for bodily injury and the second number is the amount your insurance company will pay per accident for bodily injury. For example if you get into an automobile collision and it is your fault and there’s one person in the other vehicle they can only obtain $15,000 from your insurance company. If there were two people in the vehicle they could obtain $15,000 each. However if they were three or more people in that vehicle, the $30,000 would be split between those people if they were injured.

It is not rocket science to know that in today’s exorbitant world of medical billing, $15,000 does not go very far.

The third number is the total amount your insurance company will pay for property damage to the other vehicle or property such as a damaged road sign as a result of the accident.

Does minimum liability insurance protect me?

If you purchase a minimum insurance policy you could wind up being personally exposed. Meaning, if there’s not enough insurance coverage, the other driver could sue you and obtain a judgment against your personal assets to recover their damages. For this reason, it is extremely important to insure yourself and your family as high as you can afford to in order to protect your personal assets. Meaning if you own your home, and you have savings accounts, you want to make sure that you have enough insurance. I often recommended umbrella policy to people which is usually a cost of approximately $12-$15 per month and will protect your assets.  An Umbrella policy provides a higher layer of coverage for your auto, home, boat, etc. on top of your limits, usually in the amount of a million dollars.

Collision / Comprehensive

The second type of coverage which most people consider to be “full coverage” is collision coverage. Collision coverage means that payments will be made to fix your vehicle in the event that your car is damaged in an accident. If you purchase collision coverage, that coverage will cover damage to your automobile.

Deductible?

It is extremely important to know what your deductible is. Often times, changing your deductible from $1000.00 down to $500.00 is as little as $8.00 to $10.00 on your overall premium. It is important that you check what you’re paying for and what you could get for just a little bit more. When you go to Target, you can see all the items on the shelf and you can see what all the items cost and their value so you can choose accordingly. Unfortunately, with buying insurance, they don’t make it that simple.   You have to ask these questions either of the agent or when you’re buying online you need to change the deductibles and change your coverages and see how it affects your premium.

Medpay / PIP

A little known coverage that many agents don’t even mention or offer is called Medical Payments coverage and this can be extraordinarily important for you if you are in an accident. Medical Payments Coverage is usually a fixed amount anywhere from $1000.00, or $2,000.00, or $5,000.00 on up. It means that your insurance company will pay your medical bills regardless of whether you have health insurance if you are in an automobile accident and you’re injured.

Medical payments coverage can be very important because often times you may have large co-pays, especially for ambulance bills, from an accident. Health insurance often will not cover things like physical therapy as much as you need or you may have large deductible on your health insurance policy. Medical payments coverage is generally an expensive coverage which will protect you from out of pocket medical expenses if you are in an accident. It’s important to know that even if it is not your fault, it can take months or years to recover from the other driver. Your medical providers, (hospitals, ambulances, quick cares, etc.) will not wait until the claim is final to send you to collections. When purchasing insurance always look at what medical payments coverage is available and the cost.

If it fits your budget, you should purchase medical payments to protect yourself. Another important issue to know about medical payments is that it is not an at fault coverage, meaning if you use your medical payments coverage on your policy,  it is not counted as a claim against you for your rates.

UM/UIM

Another extremely important coverage that people often drop to save money is called UM/UIM. This means uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured is self-explanatory, it means that if someone without insurance hits you, you have coverage for your medical bills and injuries. Underinsured coverage means that if someone with a small policy, like the state minimum of $15,000 hits you and you are seriously injured, you can recover against your own policy after the $15,000.00 is paid from the other driver.

In the state of Nevada, it is estimated that 13% of all drivers on the road do not have car insurance.  It is extremely important to protect yourself and your assets from reckless and illegal drivers. In the state of Nevada, when you purchase insurance, the insurance company is required to offer you UM/UIM benefits and if you reject the same they must have you sign a waiver. Think carefully before you reject these benefits because if you are in a serious accident these benefits could protect you and your loved ones from undue financial burden.

Rental car & roadside assistance

Also, there is the coverage for rental car benefits and towing. These are somewhat self-explanatory, however, there are a few tricks. When looking at your towing coverage always check the amount of miles that they will tow your vehicle. Sometimes they have separate towing packages where they’ll only tow your vehicle 5 -10 miles and then you are at the mercy of the tow truck company for the rest of the bill. It’s often pennies to change the policy to a better towing policy where they will tow you up to 100 miles.  It is similar with rental coverage. If you, like me, drive a large vehicle to take your family places and haul groceries, and you are need of a rental car from an auto accident, most policies will offer you the $20 a day, very basic economy car.  This may not fit your needs, and if it does not, it can be very costly to you to rent a larger vehicle. When purchasing rental insurance you usually have the option of $20-$30 a day or $50 a day in rental coverage. Again, this is generally a very inexpensive change on the policy and when purchasing rental insurance, check to see the cost of having a better vehicle in the event that you need a rental car. Often it is less than five dollars.

I hope this information was helpful and if you ever have questions when purchasing auto insurance, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Laura Hunt. The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving insurance and auto accidents. Please feel free to call if you have questions when purchasing your auto insurance at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868

firework injuries lawyer

Personal Injury Damages for Firework Related Injuries

In calendar year 2015, the U.S., Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that there were 11,900 fireworks-related, injuries in the United States.  The majority of injuries caused by fireworks are the result of consumers not using them properly. Common mistakes include lighting the fireworks improperly, lighting the fireworks too close to other people, or lighting fireworks while holding them in one’s hand. Even when used properly, fireworks are dangerous explosives that can cause severe injuries.

However, often firework can malfunction and cause injury.  Improperly manufactured fireworks can explode prematurely, before users have made it a safe distance away.  Also, a defective fuse may ignite the explosive powders in the firework in a way the manufacturer did not intend, causing the firework to explode in an unexpected way. Finally, fireworks designed to soar through the air, such as bottle rockets, can take unpredictable flight paths, injuring onlookers or hitting nearby vehicles and buildings.

Fireworks injuries can be catastrophic and a firework injury attorney should be contacted immediately.  If injury occurs, it is important to immediately take the following steps:

  • take as many photos as possible of the scene, the debris, and the injury immediately.
  • Take the name and address and phone number of every person present who witnessed the accident.
  • Most importantly, keep all remnants of the firework including the packaging and the receipt.

Reported fireworks-related injuries have included  loss of eyesight, burns,  lacerations. punctures wounds and even death.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we urge all our fellow Nevada residents to prevent injuries and have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

The following safety tips can reduce the risk of firework injuries:

  • Always follow the directions on the fireworks package very carefully;
  • Be sure not to set off fireworks near fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other dry debris.
  • Do not try to reignite used or malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergency purposes, and soak any used or misfired fireworks before discarding to prevent fires or accidental ignitions.
  • Never allow children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even simple fireworks like sparklers have been known to cause injury
  • Never alter or modify or experiment with homemade fireworks.

If you are injured by Fireworks, Know your Legal Rights

Whether a spectator at a fireworks show gone wrong or the user of a malfunctioning firework, victims may be able to recover damages for their injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the firework injury, a number of legal theories may apply. It is important to contact an attorney immediately if you have been injured by fireworks.

If you are injured as a spectator, you may be able to hold the person or company setting off the fireworks liable through negligence.  This may include the organizers the shows such as cities or hotels that may be liable for failing to properly supervise the activity. Although a city’s liability may be limited by state law, entities hiring fireworks companies still have a duty to protect attendee’s from injuries. Cities and hotels and other show organizers can be negligent in fulfilling their duty to supervise and open the door to liability is their negligence

When fireworks malfunction and cause injury, the injured person may be able to recover substantial damages from the manufacturer, the importer of foreign-made fireworks, or the local retail seller. All of these entities have a duty to sell products that function properly.  Under the theory of products liability, they may be liable for any injuries caused by a defective firework. http://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/fireworks-injuries.html

Over the past decade, thousands of people in the United States have been injured by firework.  Aside from 2005, the number of people injured has risen steadily every year.

Estimated Fireworks-Related Injuries: 2000–2015

 Year                Estimated Injuries                               Injuries per 100,000 People

2015                            11,900                                      3. 7

2014                            10,500                                      3.3

2013                            11,400                                      3.6

2012                            8,700                                       2.8

2011                            9,600                                       3.1

2010                            8,600                                       2.8

2009                            8,800                                       2.9

2008                            7,000                                       2.3

2007                            9,800                                       3.3

2006                            9,200                                       3.1

2005                            10,800                                     3.7

2004                            9,600                                       3.3

2003                            9,300                                       3.2

2002                            8,800                                       3.1

2001                            9,500                                       3.3

2000                            11,000                                      3.9

Source: NEISS, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The estimate for 2003 excludes an estimated 150

emergency department-treated injuries following the nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI. Population estimates for 2010 to 2015 are from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015 (NST-EST2015-01), U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Release Date: December 2015. Population estimates for 2000 to 2009 are from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009 (NST-EST2009-01).Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

People often mistaking think that only the illegal fireworks cause injury.  This is a mistake.  In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, small fireworks accounted for a substantial number of fireworks related injuries in 2017.

Estimated Fireworks-Related Injuries

By Type of Fireworks Device

June 19–July 19, 2015

 

Fireworks Device Type           Estimated Injuries                   Percent (%)

 

Total                                                   8,000                                                   100

All Firecrackers                                1,200                                                   16

Small                                       500                                                       6

Illegal                                      200                                                       3

Unspecified                             500                                                       6

All Rockets                                        900                                                      11

Bottle Rockets                        800                                                      10

Other Rockets                                     100                                                      1

All Other Devices                              3,700                                                   47

Sparklers                                 1,900                                                   24

Fountains                                100                                                        1

Novelties                                 300                                                        4

Multiple Tube                                     400                                                        5

Reloadable Shells                   800                                                        9

Roman Candles                       300                                                        3

Homemade/Altered                           200                                                        3

Public Display                                   200                                                        3

Unspecified                                        1,700                                                     21

 

Source: NEISS, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Based on 208 NEISS emergency department-reported

injuries between June 19, 2015 and July 19, 2015, and supplemented by 31 completed In-Depth Investigations (IDIs).

Fireworks types are obtained from the IDI, when available; otherwise, fireworks types are identified from information

in victims’ reports to emergency department staff that were contained in the NEISS narrative. Illegal firecrackers

include M-80s, M-1000s, Quarter Sticks, and other firecrackers that are banned under the Federal Hazardous

Substances Act (FHSA) (16 C.F.R. § 1500.17). Fireworks that may be illegal under state and local regulations are not

listed as illegal, unless they violate the FHSA. Subtotal estimates are presented below the estimates for firework type.

Estimates are rounded to the nearest 100 injuries. Estimates may not sum to subtotal or total due to rounding.

Percentages are calculated from the actual estimates, and they may not add to subtotals or the total due to rounding.

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Fireworks_Report_2015FINALCLEARED.pdf

Who Is Liable to Pay for Your Medical Bills After a Firework Injury?

Injuries from fireworks can be serious and the medical bills to treat such injuries can be substantial.  Homeowners’ insurance protection is liability coverage is often available, but is it extremely important to contact an attorney first to discuss the facts of your case and determine if coverage applies.  If your or a loved one is injured in a firework accident, do not give any statements until you speak with an attorney.  Criminal laws and contractual provisions apply in every instance. Liability coverage under a homeowner’s policy can cover the medical expenses, pain and suffering  and  property damages.   This means that if someone other than you or a family member sustains an injury in your home or on your property, your insurance policy may pay for their medical expenses. Health insurance will cover any injuries you or a family member may have sustained in a firework accident and should be used first.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may also protect you in the event you are sued for an accident involving fireworks you are lighting which causes injury to a guest or passerby.  For a covered loss, your homeowner’s policy will  pay the cost of litigation including attorneys fees and a judgment, should the person suing you succeed in getting the lawsuit to court. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has found that the typical homeowner’s insurance policy has a liability limit of $100,000. I would advise you to check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage if you typically put on a large fireworks display.

However, if  your state or county has made firework shows illegal in your jurisdiction, and you put on a private show in spite of the law, your insurance company may not be responsible to pay for any damages that you may incur as a result of a firework caused fire or injury. It is important to review your policy for an “illegal acts” exclusion. Because the use of certain fireworks was illegal, you should not have been using them.  Unlike the coverage on your home, the law of negligence would apply to your guests and they would be covered by your policy for your gross negligence in setting off illegal fireworks.

City Of Henderson and Clark County Fireworks Laws

Legal Use of Fireworks in the City of Henderson and Clark County

Only fireworks labeled as “Safe and Sane” are legal for use on private property for one week of the year, from June 28 until 11:59 p.m. on July 4. Safe and Sane fireworks can only be used on private property and cannot be used on the street or sidewalk, or on public property such as parks, schools, or federal land.

Safe and Sane fireworks  should only be used by adults and should be kept away from children. Safe and Sane fireworks can cause serious injury or death to adults and children and can cause fires.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we urge you and your family exercise extreme caution when using Safe and Sane fireworks.

Illegal Fireworks In the City of Henderson and Clark County

Fireworks that shoot  through the air, explode, or rotate on the ground are illegal throughout Clark County, including the City of Henderson. They have been declared to be unsafe because the fireworks user does not have control over where they land, which can potentially cause a fire. Illegal fireworks are usually sold outside Clark County and including on  the Indian Reservation. Those fireworks purchased on the Indian Reservation are expected to be used on the Reservation at a special designated area and should not be transported off the property. If you bring illegal fireworks brought into Clark County or the City of Henderson,  they can be confiscated, and a person possessing or using them can be ticketed. The penalty is a $1,000 fine and/or a maximum of six months in jail.  Private use of fireworks of any kind is not allowed on public property, such as those owned by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Lake Mead Recreational Area, or City of Henderson parks, trail facilities, streets or sidewalks. The use of fireworks on public property can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail as well as the costs associated with resource damage, suppression costs, and injuries.  Safe and Sane fireworks are illegal at any time of year other than the week of  June 28 until July 4 at 11:59 p.m.. on July 4.

http://www.cityofhenderson.com/fire/community-programs/fireworks-safety

Rain And Accidents

Las Vegas Traffic Statistics

Las Vegas remains the most populous city in Clark County, Nevada and features numerous attractions that attract a large influx of visitors. The heavy usage of major roadways by locals and guests alike causes the majority of motor vehicle collisions in the state. Continue reading

What to Do When Involved In a Slip and Fall Accident

Knowing what to do after you’re involved in a slip and fall accident can help you successfully bring a case against the liable party. Continue reading