The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way of life for individuals across the United States. Children are home from school, adults are working from home. There are fewer visits to see friends and family or to attend events. During such a disruptive and confusing times, people are doing their best to see the silver lining. More time with family and reduced pollution are some positives that have been pointed out.
Many have speculated that another bright side to the pandemic shut down is safer streets. The assumption is that with fewer cars on the road, there will be fewer accidents. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case — the risks have just changed.
Accident Statistics in Las Vegas
In 2019, there were 284 traffic-related fatalities in Nevada, down slightly from the 330 fatalities recorded in 2018. The 2020 data pre-pandemic indicated that fatalities were on the rise. January and February alone saw 14-traffic related deaths in the Las Vegas Valley. The Las Vegas Metropolitan police department has now invested 54 traffic-related fatalities.
The following statistics were compiled by the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Zero Fatalities Nevada initiative:
- One in five people admit to running a red light in the most recent ten intersections;
- Nearly 3,500 people were killed in 2016 because of distracted driving; and
- 30% of traffic fatalities were related to being intoxicated
While fewer cars on the road means less people able to run red lights, text while driving, or drive under the influence, new risks have emerged.
Reckless Drivers During the Pandemic
With emptier streets, risky drivers are taking the opportunity to put the pedal to the metal. Across the United States, state highway officials have noted a significant spike in speeding vehicles, with numerous drivers reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph.
Las Vegas hasn’t escaped drivers seeking these increased speeds. In a three-hour period, Las Vegas police officers stopped six vehicles doing triple digit speeds. At least six fatal collisions occurred in between Las Vegas’ shutdown and the end of April, and four of the six were related to excessive speeds.
Extreme speeding is likely to result in increased vehicular deaths, even though there are fewer drivers on the road. While there may be less overall collisions, the ones that occur are likely to be more deadly. If you are struck by a vehicle going 100 mph or more, the damage and injury will be severe.
The impact of reckless driving has even wider reaching consequences during the pandemic. An increase in traffic-related injuries has the potential to place an undue burden on an increasingly overwhelmed hospital system.
Next Steps After an Accident
If you were injured in a car accident, your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention. This could be done at the scene or visiting a hospital, though a visit to the hospital can be more complicated given COVID-19. No matter what, it is important to take care of your health. Additionally, failure to secure prompt medical attention may limit your ability to recover for injuries. The other party can argue you exacerbated through the delay.
Once you have seen to your own safety, keep the following tips in mind:
- Secure a police report. A police report is a valuable piece of evidence in any car accident case. The report will include pictures of the accident scene, witness reports and contact information, and any traffic citations issued for violating traffic laws. Documentation of traffic violations is particularly important because it is compelling evidence that a party acted negligently — a critical component to proving your case for recovery.
- Watch your words. Be cautious what you say about the accident and to whom you say it. The responsible party will be looking for any opportunity to escape liability. This includes taking an innocent statement, such as “I guess I could have paid closer attention,” out of context to push the fault back on to you. Be especially careful of any statements made to the media or press.
- Keep track of paperwork. You will find yourself overwhelmed with paperwork after the accident, including medical records, doctor’s bills, and communications from insurance companies. All of this paperwork will need to be reviewed by your attorney to determine if it is relevant to your case.
- Don’t sign without reviewing. As more and more paperwork comes your way, you may be tempted to sign it without a careful review. Avoid this instinct. Some documentation can waive important rights, such as the right to file a lawsuit. Be aware of any restrictions placed on you before you sign.
- Act quickly. You may be tempted to put off taking legal action against the party responsible for the accident while you deal with your injuries. It is important not to delay too long. Any lawsuit for injuries caused by a car accident must be brought within two years of the date of injury.
One of the most helpful things you can do after a car accident is contact an experienced attorney who can help you manage each of the steps above as well as advise on the strength of your case and prepare a comprehensive case strategy.
Contact Gina Corena & Associates Today
If you are a victim of a car accident or have lost a loved one in a Las Vegas car accident, it is important to work with an attorney experienced in securing recovery for accident victims. Our team is staffed with compassionate and skilled professionals with deep experience in car accident cases. We have secured millions of dollars in settlements for our clients.
We work with our clients to analyze and advise on all aspects of their case. We understand each case is unique and deserves individual, focused attention. You should not be forced to bear the financial burden of a car accident that was not your fault.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all nonessential businesses to close effective at noon today, March 18. The impact on those who work in service industries as well as casino workers will not be understood for weeks or perhaps months. Currently, the governor has yet to lay out a definitive plan for these workers, although the federal government through the Department of Labor recently issued guidance to employers about extending emergency unemployment benefits as well as shortening the waiting time for receiving initial checks. Everyone who is eligible should apply for benefits online if possible, though the unemployment office will be accepting claims by telephone as well.
Were Closures Done Early Enough?
One question which we cannot answer at Gina Corena & Associates is whether these closures occurred fast enough to avoid employees being exposed to COVID-19. There may be service workers, including food service workers, hairdressers, nail technicians and casino workers who may have been exposed because of a customer they assisted prior to the mandatory closures. This and the fear our healthcare workers are facing daily as they deal with the sick and infected adds a great deal of uncertainty to this entire pandemic. If you believe you may have contracted COVID-19 on the job, you may have a work-related injury claim.
Employees who are symptomatic for the coronavirus should contact their primary care physician immediately and let them know they may have been exposed on the job. Assuming you meet the testing criteria for COVID-19, your doctor will likely order a test to verify whether you are in fact sick with coronavirus.
If you do not have an existing condition, chances are high your recovery will go smoothly. However, you may need to quarantine in your home away from other family members. Following a positive test, your family should be monitored carefully for any signs they may also be infected.
What Happens if You Did Contract COVID-19 at Work?
This is quite a predicament for both employees and employers. Normally, any illness you have contracted on the job is covered under Nevada’s Worker’s Compensation once you have filed a claim. However, proving you contracted coronavirus while on the job may prove complicated, particularly if you do not normally work in the healthcare sector. This does not minimize the fact that service workers, particularly those who work in crowded casinos, barbers and hair stylists, and even nail technicians could have contracted COVID-19 on the job.
Since we are uncertain about the life cycle of this virus, we do not currently have any firm data on how long it may live on surfaces. What we do know is the virus is easily transmittable by anyone who coughs or sneezes in close proximity to others.
Your first step, as previously mentioned, is to obtain immediate medical attention and get tested. Once a positive test result is received and you are either hospitalized or you are in self-isolation at home, speak with one of the attorneys at Gina Corena & Associates and explain the situation to them. This free consultation will help you understand the best steps to take for your specific situation.
Living in the New Normal
There are an estimated 60,000 workers who are employed in casinos alone in Nevada which makes this a scary time for everyone. Many of these workers are unaccustomed to isolation given the high-energy jobs they enjoy daily when they can go to work. All service workers may also face feelings of isolation which could lead to mental health issues. Currently, families may be worried about paying their mortgage, obtaining necessary goods while they are at home with children, or how they will recover financially from this devastation. There is some good news though because there was an announcement today regarding those who have an FHA-insured mortgage will be spared any foreclosure action for several months, even those who are currently facing foreclosure.
Temporarily, many of us may have to deal with numerous challenges including how to make sure our children remain healthy, protecting our parents and grandparents from contracting any type of illness, and dealing with temporary financial hardships. As of today’s printing (March 18) there is no indication of how long service workers will be out of work.
Other Injuries in Nevada in Upcoming Weeks
Ironically, with the number of people out of work, and potentially doing their shopping during the day, traffic may be heavier on Las Vegas roadways than it normally is during business hours. This could potentially mean more car accidents as people travel to pick up necessities, take their children for rides to alleviate boredom, or simply get out of the house. A quick view of the traffic reports as shown on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department showed that between 12:45 and 2:10 pm, there were seven traffic accidents, despite the lighter traffic.
There is no sector of our economy which is free from the impact of COVID-19 virus which is currently plaguing nations worldwide. It may be months before we understand the full economic impact of this virus on municipalities, states, the federal government, and individuals. What we do know today is the roller-coaster ride the stock market has been on since the first case was brought to our attention. Forbes recently published an article warning this outbreak could result in a rolling recession which will have an impact on businesses of all sizes. However, today, there are victims of COVID-19 who are not just business owners, but individuals as well. Here are some of the potential problems we could face well before this pandemic is done ravaging the country.
COVID-19 Negative Impact on Businesses
Business owners depend on consumers to spend money. While people will still need to eat and take care of their personal needs, thousands of small businesses depend on walk-in traffic. Many small business owners have business interruption insurance but in many cases, this may not help them at all. The reasons for this is that most of these policies do not cover this type issue. While more policies today than ever before do cover a pandemic, because of the lessons learned during the SARS, MERS, and Ebola outbreaks, many still do not. Businesses such as restaurants, retail outlets, or others who may be required to perform sanitizing may be able to recover financially from the direct costs of the sanitizing, but may still lose money due to shutdowns, or slowdowns.
While President Trump recently announced some business owners will be allowed to file late tax returns, and be eligible for small business loans, not every business will qualify for this type of aid. Some businesses may ultimately be forced to close their doors which will impact the owner, their family and the employees of that company.
Depending on numerous factors, some of these businesses may also be facing lawsuits from other employees, customers, or suppliers. Employees and customers who are infected with COVID-19 may consider filing lawsuits against a business. Businesses who have contracts which cannot be fulfilled may be facing breach of contract lawsuits. We will be unable to tell for several months what the final economic toll to these businesses will be.
Victims Negligently Exposed by Businesses and Employers
When an employee suffers an illness or injury in the normal course of their employment, they are generally eligible for any worker’s compensation benefits. However, with the dangers associated with COVID-19, an employer who does not have proper policies, protections, and procedures in place may be deemed negligent by providing the employee contracted COVID-19 as a result of this type of negligence.
Employees in the United States enjoy protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). When an employee becomes infected at work with COVID-19, the employer may be liable for the medical care of the employee. While employers should always have a policy in place which includes a communicable illness policy as well as a response plan, many do not. Employees working at a company where there is a lack of a policy and plan may have the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Employees are not the only ones who are at risk if a facility is a breeding ground for COVID-19. Vendors, salespersons, customers, etc. may also contract this virus if the business failed to take proper precautions which could be life-threatening in some cases. Business owners may be held accountable for your losses.
Tourism Industry and COVID-19 Exposure
We live in a mobile society and during this pandemic, we have been told to remain as far from others as possible. While many may be able to heed this advice, there are others who have previously made plans for a cruise, vacation, a visit to family and loved ones and will therefore be flying on planes, checking into hotels, and boarding cruise ships. These travelers depend on sanitary conditions existing on ships, planes, and in hotels. When an airline, cruise line, or a hotel chain fails to take proper precautions and ensure the safety of passengers and guests, they can be held accountable.
Oftentimes, cruise liners and airlines have small print on tickets, itineraries, or other documents provided to passengers which minimizes their liability. However, this does not mean you should bear the full cost of treatment and loss of income created by the negligence of these companies. Anyone who has contracted COVID-19, or another illness because of negligence should seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after being diagnosed.
Nursing Home Negligence and COVID-19
There are currently few deaths in the United States as a result of COVID-19 but we are merely at the beginning of this pandemic by most accounts. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidelines for cleaning hands, sanitizing surfaces, and has provided guidance to let everyone know who is most at risk. Unfortunately, those who are at the highest risk of danger from COVID-19 are those who may already be among the most vulnerable, our seniors.
One of the first, and likely the most visible case of COVID-19 in the United States occurred in Washington. The virus ran rampant throughout Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington resulting in 60 percent of the known deaths in the United States as of March 13. In addition to the loss of patients, 70 staff members and 12 first responders were also infected as a result of the infection. There are still 21 patients in the facility who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 which puts each staff member and remaining patients at higher risk because of the rate of transmission.
By their nature, nursing homes are considered “communal”. Residents often gather in large dining rooms to share meals, they often have activity rooms where residents may join together to play board games, play cards, read or watch television. Because of the way COVID-19 is spread, this puts an already vulnerable population at higher risk.
Nursing homes often have people from the general public going in and out all day long. Physicians, barbers, volunteers, food and medication delivery staff, and visitors may frequent the facility. Additionally, should a patient need to be transported to a hospital or other facility, first responders are often on site. The CDC has recommended enhanced guidelines to protect everyone in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, provided the guidelines are followed. Some of these guidelines include:
- Eliminating any outside entry of volunteers and all non-essential personnel
- Prohibiting visitors except in cases where the patient is nearing the end of life
- Limiting community based activities within the facility
All healthcare workers should be taking proper precautions, even without COVID-19 including washing their hands frequently, staying home when ill, and wearing protective gear when working with patients who may be ill. All healthcare facilities should have specific procedures in place to minimize the risks of a patient becoming ill and possibly resulting in the rapid spreading of any type of disease or virus throughout the facility. When these procedures fail, the facility may be facing a medical malpractice lawsuit as a result of their negligence.
Has you or someone you love contracted COVID-19 as a result of negligence? Have you lost a loved one to COVID-19 virus? Do you have questions about COVID-19 because you are ill and not certain how you were exposed? If so, contact Gina Corena & Associates at our Las Vegas office at 702-680-1111 to speak with an attorney to find out what options are available to you. We accept cases from residents across the state of Nevada, and our attorneys are available 24/7.