Is a “Physical” Injury Necessary for a Personal Injury Case in Las Vegas?

With the soccer Fifa World Cup in progress, I am always reminded of the exaggerations that many people complain of following an on the field impact between the players.  This year (2018), Brazil’s Neymar has been the major focus of that controversy.  The question always arises, was that person really injured or should they enroll in Juilliard for an acting career?

At times I get calls from potential clients who explain to me that following an accident they might not have physical symptoms or injuries.  Instead, they have significant anxiety or other losses, including car damage, from a recent accident.  Following that explanation they ask me whether they can actually make a personal injury claim based on that experience.

Thankfully, a “physical” injury is not always necessary in asserting a personal injury claim in Las Vegas.  The Nevada Supreme Court confirmed as much following the outbreak of hepatitis C that struck the Las Vegas Valley a few years ago.  You may recall that outbreak when a medical facility was incredibly accused of re-using syringes and vials.

That outbreak lead to significant litigation resulting in the Nevada Supreme Court opinion known as Sadler v. Pacificare of Nev., Inc.,130 Nev. Ad. Op. 98 (2014). In the Hepatitis C case, patients who had been treated at the medical facility were very reasonably worried that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C.  Not surprisingly, those patients wanted the at fault medical facility to pay for their diagnostic testing and monitoring.  As a result, their Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney brought that claim for them in Clark County District Court.

Although the initial test results came back negative for those patients, their Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney claimed that they would have to be re-tested in the future. According to studies, hepatitis C can sometimes take time to progress which requires additional testing in the future. Since the tests were initially negative, the defense attorneys argued that evidence did not exist showing that the patients were “injured”.  Based on the lack of current “injury,” the medical facility’s lawyers tried to dismiss the victims’ negligence causes of action.

At Steve Dixon Law, Las Vegas’ preferred Personal Injury Lawyer, we are very familiar with the elements needed to make a claim for negligence and have the ability to prove them.  Those elements include: (1) the defendant (at fault party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured party); (2) the defendant breached that the duty of care; (3) the breach was the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages/injuries as a result of the breach.  Thus, in order for the hepatitis C claimants to recover on those claims of negligence, they had to prove they were actually injured.

At first, the District Court decided in favor of the hospital and ruled that the patients did not suffer any injuries.  As a result, the case was dismissed.  On appeal, however, the Nevada Supreme Court disagreed.  In the Sadler case referenced above, the high court of Nevada opined that one does not need to sustain a “physical” injury resulting from another person’s negligence. Instead, a “legal” injury was enough to bring a claim for negligence. The court reasoned that if someone was knocked down by another party’s negligence and the “injured” person went to the hospital in order to make sure they hadn’t suffered any internal injuries, the at fault party would still be responsible for diagnostic testing.  That would be true even if it turned out that they hadn’t suffered any “physical” injury.

If you have any doubts as to whether you have a viable personal injury claim you should consult your local Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer.  At Steve Dixon Law we will provide a free, confidential consultation, to discuss your case.  In addition, we won’t get paid until we win your case for you.

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