I DIDN’T PUT ON MY SEATBELT. DO I STILL HAVE A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
Thanks to laws and general public awareness, the use of seatbelts has become second nature to most motorists. Nonetheless, some of us out there forget to buckle up or still refuse to wear safety belts out of protest or comfort. When an accident happens, the unrestrained motorist often wonders whether his failure to wear a seatbelt prevents him from asserting a personal injury claim. The answer to this question is no, it does not.
According to the Nevada Supreme Court, “enough has been written about the ‘seat-belt defense’ to show the body of law related to it is split, fragmented and changing, varying in time, place, rationale, effect and implementation.” Nevada statutes clearly require the front and rear occupants of an automobile to wear seat belts. NRS 484D.495(4) and 484B.157. Fortunately, those same statutes provide that a person’s failure to wear seatbelts “may not be considered as negligence or as causation in any civil action” nor may it “be considered as misuse or abuse of a product or as causation in any action brought” to recover damages for products liability.
For the most part, Nevada statutes prevent personal injury defendants from asserting your failure to use a seatbelt against you. But beware if your case is against the automobile manufacture for crashworthiness. As the Nevada Supreme Court stated, “It is one thing to exclude seatbelt evidence and argument in a suit alleging that the accident itself—and therefore the injuries flowing from that accident—were caused by a defect in the automobile. It is another thing to exclude such evidence and argument in a crashworthiness case, where evidence that an automobile was equipped with seatbelts is generally admitted to defend the overall design of the safety restraint system.” Thus, “in secondary-collision product-liability actions,” seatbelt nonuse may necessarily be admissible to rebut, the essential element of causation.
So, if you were in an accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, you still have a good and solid claim for personal injuries in Nevada. Seek competent legal advice immediately.
Moratorium on Evictions during COVID-19 Crisis
On March 29, 2020, the Nevada Health Response published a directive declaring that Governor Sisolak has signed an emergency directive for a moratorium on all evictions in Nevada, to be in effect “through the duration of the State of Emergency.” What does this mean?
A “moratorium,” legally speaking, is an authorized delay in paying a debt. Note that this moratorium constitutes a delay in paying rent or mortgage, and does not relieve an individual from paying rent or their mortgage, as well as the delayed payments, after the moratorium is lifted.
For renters, this prevents landlords from exercising lockouts, serving notices to quit or pay, and filing for evictions as long as there is a state of emergency in effect. Landlords can, however, evict tenants who are deemed “dangerous” – i.e., those who “pose a threat to other residents, the public, or their property.”
In his prepared remarks, Governor Sisolak clarified that the moratorium applies to both residential and commercial tenants. He also encouraged landlords and tenants to “come up with a repayment plan” in order to “avoiding putting Nevadans into a hole they won’t ever be able to climb out of[.]” The Governor is also ordering that all late fees that accrue because of this moratorium should be waived. He encouraged landlords and tenants to come up with a repayment plan within 30 days. The Governor also noted the directive “applies to all evictions, including those already filed in the courts,” unless the exception for dangerous tenants applies.
As addressed by State Treasurer, Zach Conine, the moratorium applies to homeowners as well. Mr. Conine stated, “Most lenders are now offering homeowners facing financial hardships due to COVIL-19 a 90-day grace period allowing Nevadans to delay their mortgage payments[.]”
Mr. Conine also stated that nearly all lenders have also agreed to work with homeowners “to ensure that no one is hit with a giant lump sum bill if they need to stop making payments for a couple of months.” Instead, he explained, those payments could be added to the back end of a mortgage. Mr. Conine stated nearly all of the lenders agreed to waive late fees and not report late payments to credit agencies “so long as the homeowner has worked with their lender.”
Finally, Nevada Attorney General Ford announced that the Attorney General’s office is providing $2 million in funds to the United Way of both Northern and Southern Nevada for their Emergency Food and Shelter Programs. He stated more details on that funding is forthcoming.
Dating during a Pandemic
It may come as a shock, but since states have been enacting stay-at-home orders, active users of online dating site Bumble rose 8% during the second week of March. At OkCupid, users are chatting more often through the app.
On March 13, 2020, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “It’s fine to have a social life, but you ‘ve got to exercise some smart rules” when asked about how people can safely date during the COVID-19 crisis. A few days after he made this statement, however, New York enacted much stricter social distancing measures, and de Blasio would likely advise that, right now, it may not be so fine to have a social life at all, at least one that involves meeting people face-to-face.
According to an article by Roxy Zarrabi, Psy.D. for Psychology Today, there may actually be advantages to dating during this pandemic. Zarrabi notes that between March 12th and March 22nd, messages sent through Bumble increased 26% in San Francisco, 21% in Seattle, and 23% in New York City.
Zarrabi counts the coronavirus as a potential “pro” for dating right now, in the sense that it is a “topic that is at the forefront of everyone’s mind” and, therefore, the perfect icebreaker. She also notes that the current situation may cause people to be more open to conversation than they may have been, and that it may be more likely to build an emotional bond during a crisis. Zarrabi also notes that the quality of communication may increase, as individuals need to rely on communication to form a connection when they cannot meet in person.
Dating sites have been encouraging safe distancing as well. Grindr has advised its users to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Tinder is promoting social distancing. Sites that typically host events for singles are switching to virtual contact and virtual dating ideas.