How a Personal Injury Case Works in Nevada
A personal injury case in Nevada is a civil court case provided for by statute and case law. When a case is filed in court through a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, state laws that govern fault will impact monetary damages awarded for personal injuries and property damage.
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What is a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case is brought about when one person is harmed by the intentional actions or negligence of another person. Personal injuries can be caused by car accidents, as well as workplace accidents, medical negligence, and defective products. When injuries result from a car accident, an investigation of the accident details will help to determine who is at fault for the accident and responsible for the injuries.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In Nevada, a car accident that results in personal injuries is a civil matter, not criminal, and usually handled by a car accident lawyer in Las Vegas. A personal injury lawsuit is always between private parties. The person who files the lawsuit, “the plaintiff,” brings an action against the person (or business, organization, etc.) that is alleged to have caused the injury, “the defendant.” If a personal injury case is $7,500 or less, it is usually handled in the small claims division of the Nevada court system. If a case is $10,000 or more, it is typically filed in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Clark County.
A personal injury case begins with an opening legal document, called a complaint, that is filed by the plaintiff with the court. A copy of the complaint is also served upon the defendant. The complaint alleges facts that if proven, would entitle the plaintiff to a judgment against the defendant. The complaint will:
- Identify the parties in the lawsuit
- State the plaintiff’s arguments for holding the defendant responsible for injuries
- Make a formal request of the court to hold the defendant responsible for monetary damages
Time Limits to File
When personal injuries or property damages, or both, result from a Nevada car accident, a person has two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the case isn’t filed within the two-year period, the “statue of limitations,” it will not be heard in a Nevada court. After a Nevada car accident, an injured party should seek immediate medical attention and document injuries and medical treatment. If an accident claim or personal injury case is filed, medical records will be necessary to prove injuries and damages. An experienced personal injury attorney will invest a substantial amount of time and resources gathering medical records and physical evidence, including statements of witnesses and expert witnesses. Insurance companies look to limit their liability. A meritorious claim presented to the insurance company with persuasive evidence often elicits an offer to settle.
Proving fault in a Nevada car accident is critical to a personal injury case. Typically, the person found at fault for the accident will be responsible to pay for damages. If fault is not clear, or it is shared by more than one person, fault is usually divided between the involved parties according to their percentage of negligence. Sound evidence is usually presented for each party in court.
In Nevada, a modified comparative negligence rule is used to calculate damages from a car accident. Negligence or fault is decided in accordance with the percentage of fault assigned to each party. According to Nevada law, a plaintiff’s recovery for damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to him/her. If the total accident damages are $200,000, and the plaintiff is found to be 25 percent responsible, $50,000 (25 percent) will be deducted. The plaintiff would receive $150,000 in damages instead of $200,000. In Nevada, a car accident victim must be less that 50 percent at fault to receive any monetary damages for personal injuries.
Damages for personal injuries are typically divided into two categories – economic damages and non-economic damages. In Nevada car accidents that result in serious injuries, plaintiffs often seek both through a personal injury lawyer. In limited Nevada personal injury cases, plaintiffs also seek punitive damages to punish the defendant for the harm they caused. There are generally limits on punitive damages, and they are awarded only in certain cases.
- Economic Damages – Includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and property damages. “Special damages” for future medical costs and future lost wages are also awarded in certain cases.
- Non-Economic Damages – Includes compensation for present and future pain and suffering, disfigurement, disabilities, and inconvenience. Serious car accidents often result in permanent injuries and long-term pain and suffering.