Tag: Liability

Defective Product Claims In Nevada

Products liability law is an area of Personal Injury Law which is used to provide compensation for a consumer was injured because a product was defectively designed, manufactured or marketed. Design defects are inherent in a defective product. This means that the flaw existed even before the manufacturer made the product. A manufacturing defect happens when the product is being made. A marketing defect concerns product labels and instructions which fail to warn consumers about product dangers. A Nevada product defect lawsuit can sometimes be brought against any business in the “chain of commerce” of the defective product. This can include the wholesaler, retailer, distributor and manufacturer.

Products Liability is often a strict liability claim. This means that the defendant can be held liable upon proof that the product is defective and the defect caused injury. Nevada Products Liability Law is based on Tort Law principles derived from common law. Also, since Nevada has adopted the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), Nevada consumers who were injured by defective products can make additional claims based on the express and implied warranties of merchantibility in the sales of goods under the UCC. Many familiar products can cause serious injury, disfigurement, impairment and sometimes death. Some of the familiar common defective product lawsuits have involved exploding gas tanks, tire blowouts, SUV rollovers, defective medical devices and drug side effects.

Nevada products liability law protects Nevada consumers from products which are or can be dangerous. Here are some rules from Nevada cases which may apply in a Nevada defective product claim: When an injury occurs because of a defective product, the manufacturer and the distributor of the defective product are held responsible instead of the injured consumer. Under a strict tort liability theory in Nevada, in order to prove liability, a person must show that the injury was caused by a product defect, and that the defect existed when the product left the defendant’s hands. With respect to the term “defect” as used in products liability law, the definitions share the common premise that those products are defective which are dangerous when they do not perform in the manner reasonably to be expected in light of their intended function and nature. The failure to give proper warning, renders a product defective. A manufacturer cannot be relieved of its responsibility to assure that an unsafe product is dispensed with a proper warning.

If a defective product has caused you pain and suffering, you may have the legal right to recover money damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and sometimes punitive damages. You can get free legal advice on Products Liability and any other person injury matter in an initial consultation with David Matheny, Esq. of the law firm of Dempsey, Roberts & Smith, Ltd. Our office is located in Las Vegas, and we provide legal services for personal injury claims throughout Nevada.

Short Term Lessor’s Liability For Statutory Minimum

The short-term lessor of a motor vehicle who permits the short-term lessee to operate the vehicle upon the highways, and who has not complied with NRS 482.295 insuring or otherwise covering the short-term lessee against liability arising out of his negligence in the operation of the rented vehicle in limits of not less than $15,000 for any one person injured or killed and $30,000 for any number more than one, injured or killed in any one accident, . . . is jointly and severally liable with the short-term lessee for any damages caused by the negligence of the latter in operating the vehicle. . . .

NRS 482.305(1) creates a limited “safe harbor” protecting short-term lessors of motor vehicles that provide the minimum statutory coverage from being held jointly and severally liable for damages caused by a negligent lessee. The statute does not, however, expressly address the specific issue presented here. We are, nonetheless, able to discern the legislature’s intent from the broader context of Nevada’s financial responsibility law.

NRS 485.185 requires that every owner of a motor vehicle provide insurance in the minimum amounts set forth therein. Also, in lieu of the “owner’s policy” required by NRS 485.185, the driver may provide an “operator’s policy,” which essentially insures the driver while operating any motor vehicle, in the same minimum amounts. See NRS 485.186. Observing the foregoing in light of NRS 482.305(1), we infer that, in instances where the lessee of an automobile under a short-term lease agreement is covered by an owner’s or operator’s policy, the legislature was aware that more than one insurance policy would cover the automobile lessee — the driver’s personal policy pursuant to NRS 584.185 or NRS 485.186 and the lessor’s policy provided pursuant to NRS 482.305(1). We therefore conclude that, by enacting a scheme that contemplates dual coverage, the legislature intended that both policies provide coverage up to the respective statutory minimums.

Allstate counters that such a construction leads to the absurd result of providing a windfall for accident victims. We disagree. We first observe that a “windfall” describes a situation in which the recipient receives some benefit undeserved or unmerited. This term does not describe the recovery that accident victims may receive to compensate their actual losses. Furthermore, reason and public policy support our conclusion: the general spirit of Nevada’s financial responsibility law clearly favors protecting accident victims to the extent possible. See Hartz v. Mitchell, 107 Nev. 893, 896, 822 P.2d 667, 669 (1991) (“Nevada has a strong public policy interest in assuring that individuals who are injured in motor vehicle accidents have a source of indemnification.”).

Allstate cites Alamo for the proposition that, once the statutory minimum is paid by the lessee’s personal insurance, the lessor is absolved of further liability. See Alamo, 114 Nev. at 154, 953 P.2d at 1074. In Alamo, we held that in cases where the lessee’s own insurance policy and the policy provided by the lessor both contain mutually repugnant “other insurance” clauses, the driver’s personal insurance is the primary insurer up to the statutory minimum. See id. at 160, 953 P.2d at 1077. Accordingly, we stated that absent a personal policy covering the driver, the lessor “will step in and compensate the victim up to the minimum limits.” Id. In Alamo we determined that the lessee’s personal insurance is “primary” and the lessor’s insurance is “secondary,” but we did not address the specific scenario at hand, wherein the lessee’s personal insurance has been consumed to the statutory minimum and the damages incurred allegedly exceed that amount. Thus, Alamo does not guide our analysis of the instant matter.

Instead, we conclude that the legislature enacted a statutory scheme providing dual coverage in instances such as this. Sound public policy dictates that a short-term lessor of motor vehicles may be required to compensate the victim, at least up to the statutory minimum, in cases where the lessee’s personal insurance does not fully compensate the victim(s). Therefore, in this instance, where the lessee’s personal insurance policy has first been extinguished pursuant to Alamo, Allstate may still be required to compensate the victims up to an additional $30,000.00, the statutory minimum for one accident pursuant to NRS 482.305(1), depending on the damages proved.

Liability For Defamation

To create liability for defamation there must be:

(a) a false and defamatory statement concerning another;

(b) an unprivileged publication to a third party;

(c) fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and

(d) either actionability of the statement irrespective of special harm, or the existence of special harm caused by the publication . . .

A statement is defamatory when it would tend to lower the subject in the estimation of the community, excite derogatory opinions about the subject, and hold the subject up to contempt. In reviewing an allegedly defamatory statement, the words must be reviewed in their entirety and in context to determine whether they are susceptible of a defamatory meaning. Whether a statement is defamatory is generally a question of law; however, where a statement is susceptible of different constructions, one of which is defamatory, resolution of the ambiguity is a question of fact for the jury.