Category Las Vegas Family Law

Free Simple Wills for Police Officers, Fire Fighters and Healthcare Workers Through May 31, 2020

More than half of Americans do not have a Will or other estate plan in place. Sitting down and deciding what will happen to your property when you die is a task many people dread.   This burdensome and emotional task, however, is necessary to provide for your loved ones.

To show our appreciation for those who risk their lives daily to serve and protect our community, vegas west attorneys will prepare simple wills free of charge to police officers and fire fighters through May 31, 2019.   In a simple will, you designate how your assets will be distributed upon your death and who will be the executor of your estate.  The free offer applies only to simple wills and does not apply to complex wills, trusts or estate plans, which are available for a fee.

To take advantage of this free offer, call and schedule an appointment with vegas west attorneys.  Simply present your ID card or badge, and we will prepare your simple will at no charge for anyone who retains by May 31, 2019.  

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that designates who will receive your property upon your death, the guardian of your children, what you would like to happen to your pets and who will be the executor of your estate to it administer it accordingly. After you die, the probate court in the county you lived in will read your will and make sure the wishes you expressed in your will are carried out. If you do not have a will created by the time you die, there will be no way for the probate court to know what your desires were regarding your property or your children.

Do I need a will?

If you care what happens to your property and your minor children, if any, after you die, then it is crucial that you have a will prepared so that your wishes can be carried out once you are gone. Your will allows you the sole discretion in how your property will pass to your family, friends, or whoever you designate to receive your property. Additionally, it allows you to designate who you choose to be the guardian of any minor children you have. This will become an important document if both you and the other parent of your children are deceased.

What happens if I do not have a will when I die?

If you do not have a will when you die, the probate court will distribute your property according to the intestate statutes of your state. For example, in Nevada, if you die with one child but no spouse, parents, or other family, your child will inherit all your property. However, if you die with a spouse and one child, your spouse will inherit all your community property and half of your separate property, and your child will inherit the other half of your separate property. This setup could be troublesome for you if your child is from a previous marriage and you want your child to inherit all your separate property.

What should I do with my will after it is prepared?

Creating a will is only the first step. After you execute your will, you must ensure that you place it somewhere safe where it will be found in the event you die unexpectedly. For example, you can place it in the hands of your chosen executor or someone else you trust. If you do not want to give it to someone to hold onto, then make sure you place it in an easy-to-find location, such as a desk drawer, safe, or somewhere else where your loved ones will know to look. If you hide your will and no one ever finds it, then there will be no way for the probate court to know what your wishes were regarding your property.

How do I revoke or change my will?

To revoke your will, you simply need to destroy all your existing wills, or you can create a new will. The probate court will administer your most recent will that is provided to the court. If you would like to change your will, you can either create a new will, or you can create a codicil. A codicil serves as an amendment to your will. As such, it can be used to either make an addition to the provisions of your will, remove certain provisions of your will, or simply alter the terms of the provisions of your will. Whether you should create an entire new will or simply execute a codicil depends on the specific facts of your situation and the terms you would like to modify. When in doubt, you are likely better off preparing an entirely new will. If you are unsure or have questions about your specific situation, you should absolutely consult with an attorney to find out which option would best effectuate your wishes.

Can I create my will myself or should I hire a professional?

Although in many states it is possible to create a will yourself without the use of a lawyer, most lawyers do not recommend you do so. Take a holographic will, for example. A holographic will is a will that is written by hand by the person making the will. Although certain states do accept holographic wills as valid wills, this may not be the best option for you because it can be slightly riskier than having a will prepared by an attorney. Probate laws vary state to state, but generally speaking, a typed will must be signed by the testator in front of two witnesses. If you hire an attorney to prepare your will, your attorney will likely arrange to have your own signature notarized, as well as the signatures of the two witnesses notarized. Complying with these formalities will help ensure your will is taken as valid by the probate court and your wishes that you expressed in your will are carried out as you requested. When a person tries to create his will himself, he usually runs a higher risk of making a mistake that will render his will invalid. As such, your best option is always to consult a licensed attorney to assist you in the preparation of your will and any other estate planning documents you might need.  

May 2020 Blog Topics: (1) What do you do if you are Injured in a Car Accident (2) Moving Out of State with Children (3) IRS Innocent Spouse Relief

1. What do you do if you are Injured in a Car Accident?

Unfortunately, accidents happen. They come in all shapes and sizes. But, do you know what to do if you are injured by someone else in an auto accident? Were you the driver? Were you a passenger? Were you commuting in a Lyft or Uber rideshare? Believe it or not, many people do not know what to do immediately after an auto accident because they have just endured a traumatic event at no fault of their own.

There was a time not long ago when the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department would not respond to specific auto accidents.  That law, however, was changed and Metro is again responding to all accidents.

If you are involved in an auto accident, you should immediately call 911 and accept medical attention if you injured.  You should also make a police report as soon as possible.  The police report provides information about the accident and may contain witness statements, pictures, the police officer’s account of what he/she believed happened leading up to accident. Keep in mind, however, that police reports are not always accurate, so it is important that after you contact your local police department, you then contact an attorney.

Time is critical right after an accident. It is critical to your health should you be seriously injured; and, it is also critical to the value of your case. Going to the emergency room and/or a quick service medical facility is helpful, but it is not the end of treatment. Actually, it is just the beginning. A victim of an automobile accident must seek the proper medical care, whether that be through chiropractic work, pain management, surgery, etc. Your attorney should provide you with a list of medical providers to choose from.

Third, you must maintain the treatment plan. Failure to follow the treatment plan could lead to massive loss of value in a personal injury case. If you cannot get a ride to treatment, find one. If you are forced to miss a treatment day in a given week, make up the treatment in that same week.

Lastly, you must maintain contact with your attorney throughout treatment. Ensure that all documents are being sent from the provider to your counsel, verify that the treatment has a course (i.e. end goal and/or date), and always make sure any major medical procedure is discussed with your attorney before it is performed.

2. Relocating Children Out of Nevada

You went through the child custody legal process already and have a custody order from the Judge. Now, however, you must move out of town for a job, or perhaps you need to be closer to family for support, or maybe even you’re in the military and will soon receive PCS orders. Whatever the case, you intend to take your children with you – can you just take them, without asking the other parent or getting an order from the court?

The answer to that question is a resounding “no.”  If you try to move out of state with a child without the other party’s permission or a court order, you can be found guilty of felony child abduction. So, what do you do?

Two Nevada statutes outline the procedure for relocating with a child. Nevada Revised Statute 126C.006 applies to parents who have a court order for primary physical custody of a child (generally defined as a parent who has a child more than 60% of the time). In this situation, the law requires that the relocating parent must first attempt to gain the permission of the other parent to move with the child. This permission, if given, must be in writing.  If the other parent does not give permission in writing, the parent wishing to move must then file paperwork (specifically, a “motion”) with the court.

Nevada Revised Statute 125C.0065 applies to parents who have joint physical custody of a child, either by court order or by operation of law. In this situation, the parent wishing to relocate with the child must again first attempt to obtain the consent of the other parent, in writing.  If consent is not given in writing, the parent wishing to move must file a motion with the court.  The difference this time is that the joint parent’s motion must also include a request to modify joint physical custody to primary physical custody.

In either case, after the motion for relocation is filed, the Judge will likely hold a motion hearing in which the parties and/or their attorneys will argue for each position. In order to get an evidentiary hearing (similar to a trial), the parent asking to move, must demonstrate, through their allegations in their motion, that there is the possibility that they could prove that relocation would be granted under Nevada law.   demonstrate that he or she the parent wishing to move must show the Judge why it would benefit the child to relocate and show that he or she is not trying to move just to keep the child away from the other parent.

If the parent wishing to move can prove this “adequate cause” to proceed, the Judge will then set an evidentiary hearing.  The evidentiary hearing is when both sides will have the opportunity to call witnesses and offer evidence in support of their case. 

In preparation for the evidentiary hearing, the parties are permitted to conduct “discovery,” which is the formal, legal process of information-gathering. During discovery, both parties will likely ask the other party to answer certain questions and provide certain documents. They may also issue subpoenas to obtain additional records, such as the child’s school or medical records, as well as conduct depositions of witnesses.

Nevada Revised Statute 126C.007 lists several factors the Judge will consider when deciding whether to allow a parent to move. These factors include:

  • How much the move will improve the quality of life for the child and the relocating parent;
  • Whether the relocating parent’s motives in relocating are honorable, and whether the relocating parent wants to move just to keep the child away from the other parent;
  • Whether the relocating parent will comply with the Judge’s orders for visitation between the child and the other parent;
  • Whether the non-relocating parent’s reasons for not giving permission for the relocation are honorable; and
  • Whether there will be a realistic opportunity for the non-relocating parent to have adequate visitation time with the child.

Once the judge has analyzed all of the statutory factors, and determined whether the relocation would be in the child’s best interests, he or she can grant or deny the relocating parent’s request to relocate with the child.  If the relocation is granted, the Judge will also issue a visitation schedule for the non-relocating parent, institute or modify the child support order, and determine how the cost of transporting the child is to be allocated. The Judge also has discretion to order that the non-relocating parent reimburse the relocating parent for his or her attorney’s fees if the Judge finds the non-relocating parent did not give permission for the relocating parent to move without having reasonable grounds for the denial or to harass the other party.

Relocation cases are difficult, emotional, and involve a lot of legal strategy and research regardless of which side of the case you are on. An experienced attorney can help you present your best case possible.

3. Why the IRS Isn’t Completely Heartless: Innocent Spouse, Separation of Liability, and Equitable Relief

It’s not uncommon in a marriage that one spouse is responsible for preparing the couple’s joint tax return and the other spouse signs off without ever reviewing it. After all, it’s their spouse and they’ve always done the taxes. They’re not going to do anything wrong, right?

Typically, when a married couple files a joint tax return, they are jointly and severally liable for the taxes and any interest or penalties that arise from that return, even if they later get divorced.  This means that the spouses or former spouses are not only jointly liable for 100% of the obligations, but they are each also individually liable for 100% of the obligations.  And this is true even if their divorce decree says that only one party is responsible for the debt. Divorce decrees are entered by state judges who have no authority to alter federal law. So, even if the divorce decree mandates that one spouse hold the other harmless from any tax debt that arose before the divorce, the IRS still has the ability to come after both spouses.

What do you do, then, if your spouse makes a major mistake, or even commits fraud, on a joint tax return and you had no idea? The IRS offers three types of potential relief: innocent spouse relief, separation of liability relief, and equitable relief.Innocent spouse relief provides relief from additional tax owed on a joint tax return if your spouse/former spouse failed to report income, reported income improperly, or claimed improper deductions or credit and you did not know, or have reason to know, about the mistake. To qualify for innocent spouse relief, you must meet all three requirements:

Innocent spouse relief provides relief from additional tax owed on a joint tax return if your spouse/former spouse failed to report income, reported income improperly, or claimed improper deductions or credit and you did not know, or have reason to know, about the mistake. To qualify for innocent spouse relief, you must meet all three requirements:

  1. You and your spouse/former spouse filed a joint tax return that has an understatement of tax (deficiency) that is solely attributable to your spouse/former spouse’s error – for example, if you get a notice that you owe back taxes from a prior year because your spouse, unbeknownst to you, only reported $40,000.00 in income but actually made $60,000.00 that year, and that is the only reason for the deficiency;
  2. You prove that, at the time you signed the joint tax return, you didn’t know and had no reason to know about the error; and
  3. Considering all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the error.

Innocent spouse relief must be requested within two years of the date the IRS first tried to collect the deficiency. 

What constitutes knowing or having “reason to know” about the error? You “knew or had reason to know” of the error if you had actual knowledge of it or if a reasonable person in a similar circumstance would have known about it. You can also be found to have known about it if you make a deliberate effort to avoid knowing about the error to avoid liability, or if the property resulting in the error was jointly owned by you and your spouse/former spouse.

In determining whether you had “reason to know” about an error, several factors are considered, including:

  1. Your level of education;
  2. Deceit or evasiveness on the part of your spouse/former spouse;
  3. How much involvement you had in the activity leading to the tax liability;
  4. How much involvement you had in the marital business or household finances;
  5. Your business or financial expertise; and
  6. Whether there have been “lavish or unusual expenditures” compared to the past.

Separation of Liability Relief comes into play when an item was not reported properly on a joint tax return and provides for the separate allocation of any additional tax owed, making one spouse responsible only for the amount of tax allocated to you, as opposed to jointly and severally liable for all of it. This type of relief is available for joint returns and you must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. You are divorced or legally separated from the spouse with whom you filed the joint return;
  2. You are widowed; or
  3. You have not lived in the same household as your spouse for at least a year before you request separation of liability relief.

Like Innocent Spouse Relief, Separation of Liability Relief must also be requested within two years of the IRS trying to collect the tax owed.

Generally, Separation of Liability Relief is not available when you had actual knowledge of the understatement of tax. Even where there is actual knowledge found, however, you may still qualify for relief if you were the victim of domestic violence before signing the erroneous tax return and you did not challenge the errors on the return for fear of retaliation.

Finally, there is Equitable Relief, which may apply if you don’t qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief or for Separation of Liability Relief. This is available where something was not properly reported on a tax return and this error is attributable to your spouse/former spouse, or if the amount of tax reported on the tax return is correct but the tax owed was not actually paid. This type of relief must be requested during the period the IRS can collect the tax from you.

To qualify for equitable relief, it must be found that under all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax or the underpayment of tax. If the relief you’re requesting is 100% based on an item of your spouse/former spouse or unpaid taxes from your spouse/former spouse’s income, total relief will be considered. If, however, the tax liability is only partially attributable to your spouse/former spouse, relief will likely only be granted to you for the portion of the liability attributable to your spouse/former spouse.

These types of relief are not an Injured Spouse claim, which can arise when there is a joint tax return filed but one spouse owes past-due child support, federal agency non-tax debts, state income tax obligations, or certain unemployment compensation debts. In those cases, the injured spouse may be entitled to request a portion of their refund back.

Any of these types of relief are not available and will not be granted if any of the following apply:

  1. The IRS can prove that you and your spouse/former spouse transferred assets to each other as part of a fraudulent scheme, whether you planned to defraud the IRS or any other third party;
  2. The IRS can prove that at the time you signed the joint tax return, you had actual knowledge of the errors (and the domestic violence exception doesn’t apply); or
  3. The IRS can prove that your spouse/former spouse transferred property to you to avoid tax or paying taxes.

This blog is only intended as a general overview of a possible option available under the law and should not be relied upon as a legal opinion or as the position of the  IRS.  If you believe that you may be entitled to one of these forms of relief, you should contact an experienced tax attorney to discuss your options and potential relief.

Will the Coronavirus (COVID-19) affect your Divorce or Custody Case?

While the nation is worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) it is understandable if you are also worried about your pending divorce, custody, child support, adoption or guardianship case. We understand that you are concerned about how this health crisis will affect your family. Our attorneys are responding to phone calls and emails from clients and accepting new cases to provide as many answers as possible. Further, information on court proceedings is being updated daily and we are closely monitoring the Courts to provide up to date information for our clients and potential clients.

Court Closures and Continued Trials

In Clark County, the Eighth Judicial District Court issued an order that effective March 16, 2020, all non-essential District Court hearings are to be conducted by video, phone, decided on the papers or rescheduled. At this time, each Family Court Judge has the discretion to suspend trials and hearings or use phone or videoconferencing to handle hearings. Our office is keeping track of each Family Court department and can give you up to date information on how your case will be handled by your judge.

In these uncertain times, it is especially important to consider settlement options. If we are able to negotiate a full settlement for your divorce or custody case, we can submit the Order without further delay. If your case cannot be resolved, we can advise you on whether we believe a fair trial can be accomplished through videoconferencing. However, some judges may continue all trials on a temporary basis while we access how coronavirus will affect Las Vegas and Henderson.

Options to Resolve your Case while the Courts are Closed

During these uncertain times, some people will decide that they no longer want to fight their ex in court or that they are willing to make compromises to reach a settlement. If you are interested in resolving your case outside of Court, there are several options. Some cases can be resolved through attorneys negotiating directly. However, another option is private mediation. While private mediation is often conducted in person, it can easily be conducted via phone or videoconference. During private mediation, an experienced attorney will speak with both sides to assist them in making compromises to reach settlement. Further, during mediation, your attorney will advise you and assist you in reaching a settlement that works best for your circumstances. Unlike a Judge, a mediator does not make decisions based upon the evidence of your case or force you into a settlement. A mediator listens to the evidence and concerns of both sides and can provide information on what would likely happen in Court. Even though your attorney has likely already explained to you what could happen in Court, there are many variables to each case. Hearing an opinion, from a neutral third party mediator is often the final push both sides need to reach a settlement. If you already have an attorney, our office has a team of attorneys who can provide private mediation. If you are an existing client and want to have our office set up a private mediation, please contact your attorney.

Travel Restrictions Can Affect Visitation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) may cause travel restrictions that will affect non-custodial parents who live in another state, or even custody timeshares within the state of Nevada. For example, if your children are scheduled to visit the other parent in another state for Spring Break, travel to that state or from your state may be restricted. At this time, many parents do not feel comfortable putting their children on a plane, even if the flight remains an option. For travel by car to a parent’s home in another state, the parents should discuss their options and try to reach an agreement. If you and other parent have poor communication, an attorney can help you negotiate Spring Break and summer custodial arrangements. In the event that you or the other party decide to withhold for safety, the other parent can seek make up time when this situation is under control. Further, if you are separated from your child, for any length of time, do not underestimate the value of frequent phone calls and video calls. If the other parent denies you custodial time you should seek the advice of an attorney to determine your rights. Further, if you are the parent considering withholding time from the other parent, with good cause, you should consult an attorney.

If you reach an agreement with the other parent modifying your summer custody plan, make sure you get it in writing. After you come to an agreement, you should have an attorney prepare a Stipulation and Order, to be signed by the Judge, so that your agreement is enforceable.

Check your Parenting Plan, Decree of Divorce, or Custody Order

At this time, it is unknown when the Courts will resume normal operations. It is never too early to look ahead and make sure you are complying with your custody order. For example, you may want to reserve late summer or early fall vacation with your children in case life has returned to normal.

Check your Parenting Plan/Custody Order to see how much notice you need to provide for travel with the children. Further, in the event that travel is deemed safe by summer, you may want to negotiate additional time during the summer if the children are still out of school.

If you have questions about your Parenting Plan, now is the time to consult with an attorney. Further, if you have tried and failed to negotiate changes to the custody plan, which are in the children’s best interest, you may want to file a motion. At this time, the Court is still accepting motion filings and some Judges are making permissible decisions on the pleadings alone. While custody cannot be modified absent a stipulation or evidentiary hearing, you may wish to preserve your rights so that your case is heard as soon as the Courts are fully operational.

Even though this is a stressful time with many unknowns, our attorneys have made a commitment to continue representing our clients and to take on new clients. Please contact our office at 702-629-7553 to set up a consultation for any family law issues.

Distracted Driving and What You Should do After a Traffic Accident

In the United States, nine people die every day in car accidents involving distracted drivers according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Distracted driving causes up to 3,500 crashes in Nevada every year and more than 50 deaths in Nevada were related to distracted driving in the past five years. In 2011, Nevada banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving. The penalty for talking or texting while driving, carries a fine of up to $250.00, yet there are still many drivers violating this law every day in Las Vegas. The Nevada Department of Transportation has cautioned drivers:

In fact, driving while talking or texting can delay your reaction time as much as driving legally drunk, even if it is by Bluetooth or other hands-free method.

Even the most cautious drivers are at risk for getting in an accident with the rising number of distracted drivers on the road.

If you’ve never been in a traffic accident, you may not know what your legal responsibilities are following an accident.

-Always stop after the accident. Even if you think there is no damage to the other vehicle or object, you need to stop. You have a legal duty to stop but you may need to stop at a safe nearby location to avoid causing another accident. In addition, fleeing the scene could cause you to be blamed for an accident that was not actually your fault.

-Always check to see if your passengers or occupants of the other vehicle are injured. You have a duty to render aid or call for an ambulance.

-Always exchange information, including your driver’s license and insurance with the other party. Make sure you take a picture of the other party’s driver’s license.

-Always get the name and phone number of any witnesses to the accident. Do not forget to get the names of any passengers in the other vehicles.

-Always take pictures of the accident scene but do not stand in a busy street to take pictures. Look for a sidewalk or other safe area to photograph the damage.

Duty to Report the Accident. You have a duty to report an accident with injuries or property damage to law enforcement, but if there are no injuries or significant property damage, a police officer may not come to the scene. If you contact the police and are informed that an officer will not be sent to the scene, you can still report the accident to your nearest law enforcement office or Nevada State Police. Should an officer come to the scene, make sure you obtain his name, badge number and contact information.

-Never decline medical care if you are injured. In addition, if you start feeling pain from the accident in the days after the accident, do not delay seeing a doctor.

-Do not admit fault. Often in the moments after an accident, you are in shock and unsure exactly what caused the accident. Sometimes the other party will blame you for the accident, but you should not admit fault. You should limit your conversation with the other party to making sure no one in their vehicle was injured, getting the names of all passengers and exchanging insurance information.

-Almost all accidents should be reported to your insurance company. You may need to review your insurance policy, but most require a statement from you after an accident. Many people call their insurance company from the scene, but you need to make sure that your vehicle is parked in a safe location prior to making this call.

-Consult an attorney if you are injured and need advice on your rights. An experienced attorney can guide you and help you navigate the process to ensure you are able to receive the medical care you need.

Five Tips for Taking Accident Photos
1. Remember to get a picture of the entire accident scene. When possible, take photographs of the vehicle prior to moving from the scene.
2. Take photographs of all vehicle involved and be sure to include the license plates.
3. Take close up pictures of damage, including any interior damage especially if the airbags deployed.
4. Look for skid marks and anything that could have caused the accident, such as road construction, potholes, faulty lights or obscured road signs.
5. Take picture of any visible injuries of any person who claims injury at the scene.

Tips for driving Again after an Accident

Bring a Friend- If you are feeling nervous about driving after an accident, try to bring someone with you on your first drive. Having a friend or family member with you will make you feel safer and they can take over if you feel too overwhelmed to drive. If you are still feeling anxious after your first drive, try to arrange a few more drives with a comforting passenger so you can regain your driving confidence.

Start with Shorter Drives- If you have the option, start with shorter drives, during non-peak traffic times. If you simply cannot alter your schedule to start with shorter drives, do not avoid the crash site. Avoiding the crash site or altering your route around the crash site will feed your anxiety. We recommend going back to your regular path, so you can become comfortable with the routes you have to travel.

Consider a Defensive Driving Course- Many people never had any formal driving instruction, while others took a short course in high school. Learning defensive driving tips from a professional can decrease your driving anxiety. Also, gaining practice in situations that could become dangerous will help you learn procedures to minimize risk.

vegas west attorneys is a full service law firm that can represent your interests in personal injury and accidents, family law, bankruptcy, criminal matters, civil litigation, adoptions, stepparent adoptions, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, marital settlement agreements, Hague cases, child support cases, termination of parental rights, custody and visitation, paternity, domestic violence, names changes, relocations, traffic violations, guardianships, corporate formation and other areas.

vegas west attorneys is proud to announce that Holly Fic has joined our group as an Associate Attorney

Holly Fic has joined vegas west attorneys as an associate attorney. Holly graduated 21st in the Charter Class at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Holly obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 1997. Holly has been a member of the State Bar of Nevada since 2001; a member of the State Bar of Nevada, Family Law Section since 2008; member of the Clark County Bar Association since 2002; Member of the Associated General Contractors from 2003-2004; Member of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce from 2003-2004; member of the American Bar Association from 2002-2004; member of the Young Lawyer’s Section in 2001.

Holly brings an eclectic experience to vegas west attorneys. Before attending law school Holly worked as a medical insurance biller for more than eight years. While practicing primarily in family law and personal injury, Holly has extensive experience in construction defect, real estate, business law, commercial litigation, Homeowner’s Association disputes, torts, wills and trusts and legal malpractice. Holly currently serves as the Pro Tem Hearing Master for Discovery and Domestic Violence at the Clark County Family Court and has also served in the past as a Pro Tem Hearing Master for mental commitment and the guardianship court. Holly participated in the Child Welfare Clinic as a student, has presented to the Family Court Community Legal Education classes, represented children in the Children’s Attorney Project Cases and regularly participates in the Clark County Family Court “Ask-A-Lawyer” program.

With almost 20 years as a practicing litigator, Holly is a committed and caring attorney and is accepting new clients with vegas west attorneys.

I Am Hurt and It’s Not My Fault, Do I Need an Attorney?

Whether from a vehicle accident, dog bite, or slip and fall, if you’ve been injured in Nevada, personal injury laws should be a priority on your mind of things to examine, especially if you were not at fault in the accident.
From a monetary perspective, to receive financial compensation for injuries sustained, you must show that another person was negligent, or at fault, and that the negligence displayed was the direct or indirect cause of your injury.
If your accident was recent, you will want to promptly save any evidence. Here are a few pointers to follow after being injured in an accident:
1. Physically write down everything you can remember about the accident itself, your injuries, time of day, location of accident, etc.
2. Make sure you obtain both the names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident;
3. Call the proper local authorities (i.e. the police department for a vehicle accident or animal control would be called for a dog bite);
4. Make an incident report if you slip and fall on the premise of a commercial establishment (i.e. casino, gas station, supermarket, sporting event, etc.);
5. Take a picture of the incident report with your cellular device to later provide the same to your attorney: The establishment may make it difficult to obtain the incident report later and/or hold it against you if you did not complete a report;
6. Take additional pictures of any noticeable injuries you or anyone with you suffered, along with pictures of any damages to both your property and that of the person’s property who struck you. If you slip and fall, take pictures of any wet services of cautionary measures taken (i.e. cones, signs, etc.) at the time of the accident;
7. Immediately contact a personal injury attorney to see if you have an actionable claim against the person who injured you before making any statements, either written or verbal, to insurance company representatives.
8. In Nevada, the statute of limitations to file a claim is two years from the date of your accident or your claim is lost forever.
If your attorney can prove the at-fault driver was in fact the cause of your injuries, you could be entitled to specific compensation for past, current, and future medical expenses; property damaged because of the incident; paid help for caring for you or your loved ones; lost wages from employment which includes time spent going to and from medical appointments; emotional distress that results in anxiety and/or depression, interference with your sex life; or any other expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
If you were the cause of the accident, or partly at fault, it will affect the value of your case. Nevada is a comparative negligence state, which means if you contributed to the incident, your recovery in the case will be reduced by your percentage of fault in the case.
By not reaching out to an attorney, you risk providing a damming written or oral statement, fighting over damaged property that the insurance company may refuse to fix, seeing a medical professional who does not diagnose you properly, or most importantly, limiting the value of your case. Many drivers who are injured believe they do not need an attorney, especially because auto insurance companies have funny commercials and claim they are good neighbors, so they must want to help you, right? Wrong, the advertisements from insurance companies are simply misleading. Insurance companies have more in common with a neighbor who cuts down your tree only to say they thought it was on their yard, not yours. You do not need to be tricked into a settlement, or forced to believe that your injury is insignificant.
At vegas west attorneys we evaluate the value of your claim and fight for your right to be compensated. The insurance company owes you a fiduciary duty as their insured and policyholder, this is no different than the fiduciary duty we owe to you. The result is vegas west attorneys fighting for the compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages or income, medical expenses and more as set forth above.
At vegas west attorneys, we have experienced attorneys who work directly with you, directly with your doctors, and provide you with the proper legal advice to answer those common questions. Our experienced attorneys and case managers provide aide in different aspects of your accident case as well. We are your injury advocates and will speak with the insurance companies, so you do not have to. Vegas west attorneys participates on YELP for purposes of client reviews and customer service, and also posts client reviews on its website located at to help share the trust and results that actual clients have experienced when working with vegas west attorneys.

In a Parking Lot? Back That Thing Up!

Parking lots in Las Vegas have become a lawless battleground of sorts, and it does not matter whether it is a supermarket, casino, sporting event, restaurant, or one of the many plazas a.k.a. mini malls scattered all over the city. Parking lot chaos is a concern as the population of Las Vegas grows. The city is growing with more and more people who are not from the area and thus are unfamiliar with the terrain. Just look at the lack of uniformity entering and/or leaving parking lots, or the herd of traffic moving day and night as cars speed in every direction. You might even see a car or truck going east and west in a north/south parking lot just to avoid driving through…more traffic.
Not only have parking lots become more difficult to navigate, they are almost unavoidable in Las Vegas. You might take interest in knowing that driving in a parking lot exposes you to more liability than when you drive on the highway. Insurance companies frequently find both drivers at fault when involved in a parking lot accident. Without witnesses and/or cameras, each insurance company will usually assume half of the blame. This means you are partly at fault, even if you did nothing wrong.
The residual effect of this may result in you not getting money to fix your car. Or, if you are injured physically, the impact may be even greater than the accident itself because you won’t receive the entitled compensation for injuries that you deserve.
Vegas west attorneys wants to provide you with some preventable tips to protect both you and your vehicle when located in a parking lot:
– Always REVERSE and BACK into your parking spot rather than pulling into it. When exiting the spot, you now have a 180-degree view of not only pedestrians and vehicle traffic, but the vehicle in front of you that may be exiting at the same time as you. Also, you avoid having to look backward then forward, and then backward again before exiting the space.

– If the parking lot has video surveillance cameras, always park near them or within view of the camera(s).

– At night, always park near lighting and/or well-lit areas.

– Park away from the crowd. There is nothing wrong with taking a walk.

– Yield. Never assume in a parking lot you have the right-of-way, even if you think you do.

– Slow down. You always need to keep a look out due to quick and sudden movements when in a parking lot.

– Do not use your cell phone because your attention needs to be at a maximum.

These tips are important because parking lot accidents often happen on private property. This means law enforcement will usually refrain from getting involved. Unless there is a serious injury or accident in a parking lot, do not expect the police to show up for a small accident or fender bender. Therefore, it is important that you take notes of the accident in real time; take photos of not only the damage to the property, but the location of the parking lot so it is identifiable; gather all insurance information from the people involved; and do not discuss whether you feel fine or whether you are injured because most of the time the victim rarely knows if they are okay—this is because of the adrenaline in your body that an accident creates. Adrenaline often results in you thinking you are okay when you are really not. Most victims feel their injuries days later, if not longer.
At vegas west attorneys we evaluate the value of your claim and fight for your right to be compensated. The insurance company owes you a fiduciary duty as their insured and policyholder, this is no different than the fiduciary duty we owe to you. The result is vegas west attorneys fighting for the compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages or income, medical expenses and more as set forth above.
At vegas west attorneys, we have experienced attorneys who work directly with you, directly with your doctors, and provide you with the proper legal advice to answer those common questions. Our experienced attorneys and case managers provide aide in different aspects of your accident case as well. We are your injury advocates and will speak with the insurance companies, so you do not have to. Vegas west attorneys participates on YELP for purposes of client reviews and customer service, and also posts client reviews on its website located at to help share the trust and results that actual clients have experienced when working with vegas west attorneys.

Rideshare for Kids? Accidents Do Still Happen

Many Nevadans by now have used either Uber or Lyft at some point in their lives. Rideshare businesses have proven that they are here to stay, whether it be for convenience, your next business trip out of the state or country, or for the incidental check and balance it casts over the once monopolized taxi companies. If none of the above do much to move your needle, rideshare services at the very least help curtail impaired driving by offering a more prompt and convenient option to help keep Nevada roads safe. But, rideshare for kids?
Now, those of you with minor children here in the Las Vegas Valley probably have thought at one time or another, “Can I call an Uber or Lyft for my child or children to get to and/or from school?” The answer in most states is usually no; however, that is no longer the status in the State of Nevada, at least in Clark County. Nevada has joined states like California in embracing the concept of rideshare for kids, welcome “HopSkipDrive.” Per their website, offers a non-routine student transportation where you can book, edit, and cancel trips from your cell phone or via internet so your children can catch a ride at someone else’s expense. As of now, it seems the service is for school related purposes and activities only. Nevertheless, accidents do happen.
Every ride for a child is monitored by the company’s “Safe Ride Support team.” A parent is also able to review the profile of the anticipated driver of your child, and for identifying purposes, drivers wear bright orange t-shirts. Each HopSkipDrive vehicle has a specific sticker logo like the sister rideshare companies, and drivers/employees must maintain specific credentials and training in order to drive. Drivers are considered “caredrivers,” but have higher qualifications to meet than drivers of Uber or Lyft. Please note: the service is not available to children less than six years old.
Whether you agree with this service is not the true topic here, that is probably a debate for a different article. The true question is this, if you choose to use a rideshare service like HopSkipDrive for your child, and there is a resulting accident which causes injury to your child, what remedies are available for you and your family? As both a family law and personal injury attorney in Nevada, impact of the legislation breeds sweeping effects across the legal landscape of the Battleborn State. But, from an injury perspective, HopSkipDrive is required to maintain insurance just like Uber, Lyft, or any other commercial company.
If your child is either injured in a rideshare by a “caredriver” or in a rideshare with Uber and/or Lyft, you do not need to deal with it alone, you should follow these basic rules at the very least:
Rule number one: Never assume either you or your child is free from injury following an automobile accident. Barring major injuries, adrenaline will usually mask many medical concerns immediately after an accident to where a victim believes their “fine” when they really are not.
Rule number two: Never talk with an insurance company from any rideshare company following an accident, they do not have the best interests of your family at heart. In general, insurance companies are primarily concerned with protecting their bottom line, not your injuries or the care and cost needed for the same. This means they devalue your injuries, their own personal liability, and it undoubtedly has a negative effect in a given case.
Rule number three: Never waste time. Every day that goes by after accident can affect the value of an injury case. Gaps in time and/or treatment are a driving force for insurance companies to defend against liability.
Rule number four: Always contact an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to help you navigate through your injury case. It is statistically proven that injury victims who have an attorney receive more in compensation than those who remain unrepresented. You would not hire an electrician to fix your plumbing issues, nor would you operate on yourself as opposed to using a surgeon: Do not try to handle your legal problem without the proper team of legal professionals.
Rule number five: Policy Considerations. You should always check your policy after an accident. Did you know that there may be more than one insurance policy available for recovery? Did you further know that although your minor child was in a rideshare vehicle, your coverages may still apply as well?
As technology changes making life more convenient, especially for the children of Nevada, we should keep in mind that accidents can still happen. At vegas west attorneys we can represent you, your child, or both if injured in an accident. Vegas west attorneys also handles automobile accidents, tractor trailer and/or trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, and rideshare accidents.
If either you or a loved one is injured, or you are currently unhappy with your current representation, please contact an experienced attorney at vegas west attorneys for immediate help at (702) 629-7553.

Surviving the Holiday Season when Separated or Divorced

The holidays can be tough during a regular year, but if you are recently divorced, separated or going through a contentious divorce, the holiday season can be extra stressful.
Top Six Tips to Survive and Enjoy the Holidays after Parents Separate
1- Start a new holiday tradition.
Whether this is your first year after divorce/separation or several years after, embrace the change. Children often struggle with new schedules during the first year their parents are separated. Further, children are the ones who suffer when you and the other parent have conflicts over holiday time. Planning ahead and giving everyone new traditions to look forward to can help ease the transition. Las Vegas and Henderson have free holiday experiences for every age group. All ages can enjoy the Ethel M. Chocolates Holiday garden which has beautiful lights and no entrance fees. The Bellagio Conservatory is the perfect place to enjoy the amazing displays and take new family photos. Winter is the perfect time to visit Death Valley, which is great day trip. Plan a new holiday adventure with your family. Older children may want to be included in some of the planning and remember that the holidays can be an emotional time for your children as well.
2- Don’t break the budget on holiday gifts and try to coordinate gifts with the other parent.
When one family becomes two, the budget is often much tighter for both families. Don’t overspend on gifts for your children in an effort to outshine the other parent. If you and your ex have good communication, try to coordinate and buy some gifts for the children together. When it is not possible to buy gifts from both parents, try to coordinate gifts so that the children do not receive duplicate gifts from each parent. Don’t underestimate the gift of time and family adventures. Children need time to adjust to having the holidays at two separate homes, but showing them that you and the other parent are still united when it comes to the children is a priceless gift.
3- Be Flexible and Always Notify the Other Parent of Travel Plans.
If you have a divorce decree or custody decree, you likely have a holiday schedule for time with the children. Look at the schedule in advance and confirm the schedule with your ex. Let the children know which part of the holiday they will spend with you and with the other parent. Try to remember that the holidays can be celebrated on any day. In addition, if you and the other parent switch holidays or exchange times, make sure you have this in writing. Always confirm any agreed upon changes to the schedule via text message or email.
If your divorce case or custody case is pending during the holidays, it is important to check in with your attorney and make sure you are not violating any custody orders. If there are no orders in place for holidays, contact the other parent as soon as possible to make plans. In the event that you are able to reach an agreement for holiday time, confirm the agreement in writing. In many cases, an attorney can suggest and coordinate the holiday plans if there is no order in place. In addition, if you have questions about the holiday custody orders, you should seek advice from a family law attorney. Denying holiday time to the other parent, when there are no safety concerns for the children is never advisable.
The holidays often include travel and if you are recently separated, you may not know what your obligations are to the other parent. In Nevada, you must give the other parent notice of trips out of state, provide a travel itinerary and a phone number where the children can be reached. Think of this tip as advice for the future, because when your ex is traveling with the children, you will want to know details of the trip and how to reach the children.
4- Ask for Help from Supportive Friends and Family.
Close friends and family often want to help but are not sure what you need. If this is your first holiday on your own, you may want to join in on a friend or family celebration. Tell your support network what you need from them (listening, companionship, empathy, etc.) Keep in mind there are also many support networks online. If you find yourself feeling alone during the holidays, it can really help to connect with other parents who may be experiencing a similar situation. If the holidays feel like too much for you to deal with, seek professional therapy or counseling. Remember, having a good family law attorney on your side can also ease your stress during and after divorce/separation.
5- One Holiday and day at a time
While you may feel pressure to do everything you usually do during the holidays, especially for your children, let go of traditions that no longer work for you. Give yourself a pass and say no to one event/tradition that causes the most stress. Take a risk during the holidays to try something different. Schedule some time for rest and relaxation if possible. If slowing down gives you too much time to dwell, consider a volunteer opportunity. During this season there are endless opportunities to volunteer for as much or little time as you desire. Shifting your focus may give you just enough perspective to get through this year and look forward to the new year.
6- Look forward to the New Year and your new life.
If you are newly separated or divorced, look forward to a fresh start in the New Year. In addition, if you have been through a long divorce or custody action look forward to the day when you will have a final Decree of Divorce or Custody Decree. Having good legal advice from an attorney you trust while you go through divorce or separation can reduce your stress and allow to focus on the better times ahead.

Top Five Myths About Child Custody in Nevada

In the United States, the most common custody arrangement is where the parents have joint legal custody and one parent has primary custody. Nevada, however, has developed a preference for joint legal and joint physical custody. When parents have joint legal custody, they make decisions together about the child’s health, education and welfare. Physical custody is based upon the custody schedule and how much time the child spends at each home. There are exceptions and times when the parties should not share joint legal or joint physical custody. Since each case is unique, you should consult an attorney when seeking custody rights for your children.
Top Five Myths about Custody of Children in Nevada
Myth 1-There is no child support if the parties have joint custody.
When parents share joint custody, child support is calculated using each party’s income in a percentage related to the number of children. If the parents’ incomes are relatively equal, child support may be waived. You should never agree to waive or lower child support without knowing your rights. An experienced attorney can advise you on the correct amounts for child support and whether there are any other factors which could raise or lower child support. Parents can agree that neither party pay child support, but you should obtain advice from an attorney regarding the child support amounts before making any decision to waive child support. Even if you agree to zero child support now, child support is reviewable every three years or with a 20 percent change in income. In addition, if the custody schedule changes, child support can be reviewed.
Further, many parents do not factor in the cost of health insurance for the children. Even if there is no child support owed to either parent, the parties usually split the cost of health insurance for the children. If one parent is fortunate enough to have health insurance for the children at no cost, keep in mind that with a job change or increase to cost this issue can still be addressed in the future.
Myth 2-To have joint custody, the parents must have the exact same number of hours with the children.
There are many options available for a joint custody schedule and it does not have to be with each parent having the exact same number of custodial hours. For example, a schedule where one parent has three days per week and the other parent has four days is a joint physical custody schedule. In some cases, one parent has more custody during the school year and less days in the summer. Since the Court does not know your children, you should always try to agree upon a schedule that will work best for your children. An experienced family law attorney can guide you towards schedules that have been successful given your children’s ages and both parents’ work schedules.
Myth 3-The mother always has custody if there is no custody order in place.
In the past in Nevada for unmarried parents, the mother had custody until there was a custody order, but this is no longer the law. NRS 125C.0015 provides the parents have joint legal and joint physical custody, regardless of marital status, until there is a court order. If there is a reason why the other parent should not have joint custody, you will need to seek an order from the court. Withholding custody from the other parent, without cause, can severely affect your custody rights. In addition, it is important to start following a temporary custody schedule to help the children adjust to the separation and to ensure both parents get to spend time with the children.

Myth 4-When children reach a magic age in Nevada, they can choose which parent they want to live with.
There is no set age in Nevada where children can choose which parent they want to live with. Further, it can be very difficult for a child who believes they must choose between two parents. When children become teenagers in Nevada, many parents request teenage discretion. Teenage discretion does not mean that the children choose their own custody schedule, but instead allows for the children to make requests and have those requests considered by the Court. There are limitations for teenage discretion, such as a child cannot change the custody schedule completely. Small modifications to the current schedule, are usually permitted especially when they are set around the teenager’s own activities or job. If the parents have poor communication, teenage discretion can be abused. If your teenager is allowed to make changes to the schedule, make sure you confirm with the other parent to ensure that the child is where they are supposed to be.
Myth 5- Only mothers should have custody of young children.
Nevada law provides that a parent may not be given custody for “the sole reason that the parent is the mother or father of the child.” NRS 125C.0035(2). The standard for child custody in Nevada is the child’s best interest. With that said, if either parent can prove that it is not in the child’s best interest for the parents to share joint physical custody, then the parent proving same will be awarded primary custody.
In Nevada, separated parents can agree upon a temporary custody schedule, but if you cannot reach an agreement, you should not wait to seek legal advice. When parents go to Court, the Judge will consider the schedule you have been following when setting temporary orders. For example, if you have been separated for a month, but have only spent a few days with your children, this could affect the temporary orders. Also, if the other parent has denied you time with the children, make sure you have documented your requests through email or text message. In addition, for parents who cannot reach an agreement on custody, Nevada requires mediation, through the Family Court Mediation Center. The goal of court ordered mediation is to agree upon a schedule that will be best for your children. At mediation, a neutral mediator will talk to both parents separately or together to try to help them reach an agreement. If you reach an agreement, the mediator will draft a Parenting Plan. If both parties sign the Parenting Plan, the Judge will sign and then this will become your custody order.
If you are a parent dealing with a custody issue or concerns about your custody rights, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with an attorney. Each case is different and we take the time to assist you with all of your custody needs.

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