Is a “Physical” Injury Required to Make a Personal Injury Claim in Las Vegas?

Today’s blog deals with the issue of whether a “physical” injury is needed to make a personal injury claim. While at first blush, this may seem like a silly question, the answer may surprise you. Your Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer will tell you that a “physical” injury is not always necessary in asserting a Las Vegas personal injury claim. A recent decision from our state’s high court explores this issue.

You may remember the outbreak of hepatitis C that struck the Las Vegas Valley a few years ago, when a medical facility was accused of re-using syringes and vials. This was the Sadler v. Pacificare of Nev., Inc.,130 Nev. Ad. Op. 98 (2014). To make things easier, we’ll just call it the “Hepatitis C” case. In the Hepatitis C case, patients who had been treated at the medical facility were scared that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C. Through their Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer, they wanted the at fault medical facility to pay for their diagnostic testing and monitoring.

It was claimed by their Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer,  that although the initial test results came back negative, they would have to be re-tested in the future. They alleged that hepatitis C can sometimes take time to progress, to give a positive test result. Since the tests were negative, the defense argued that there was no evidence that they were currently “injured”. As a result, the medical facility’s lawyers tried to dismiss the victims’ claims for negligence.

Any first year law student and Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer worth their salt, knows the elements needed to make a claim for negligence: (1) defendant (at fault party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured party); (2) the defendant breached their the duty of care; (3) the breach was the cause of plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages/injuries. So, in the Hepatitis C case, the issue before the court, was the plaintiff actually “injured”?

The trial court determined that since the plaintiff hadn’t proved they suffered any “injuries”, they dismissed the lawsuit. On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court differed. They split “injuries” in two and said, you don’t need to have a “physical” injury. Instead, a “legal” injury was enough to bring a claim for negligence. The court reasoned that if someone was knocked down by someone’s negligence and the “injured” person went to the hospital, to make sure they hadn’t suffered any internal injuries, the at fault party would still be responsible for diagnostic testing, even if it turned out that they hadn’t suffered any injury. If you have any doubts as to whether you have a viable personal injury claim, consult your local Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Next time, we will talk about jury selection and whether medical liens come into trial.

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