Personal injury

Like other states, Nevada has specific state laws that govern personal injury lawsuits and insurance settlements. Whether you’re planning to file a case in court or just negotiate a claim with an insurance company, the following discusses a few key Nevada personal injury laws that might affect your case.

Personal injury is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of circumstances that cause physical damage or bodily harm to an individual. Automobile collisions are one of the foremost causes of personal injury nationwide, and many of these accidents can result in extensive injuries or even death. Beyond this, some injuries may cause loss of valuable skills or abilities that, while not life-threatening, will change the course of your life forever. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, chances are you’ll have hospital bills, loss of time and pay from work, and a lot of
inconvenience at the very least. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you may be able to collect a financial sum for the money and time spent (and lost) on recovery. While you are free to negotiate with insurance companies yourself if you wish, it’s probably a better idea to consult a legal professional.

You’ve seen the ads late at night about lawyers that can get you millions without a problem. While exaggeration may be a fact of television advertising, the truth behind the hype is that you will likely get a higher settlement with a professional than if you brave the courts yourself. Tort laws in this country are a labyrinth of nuance and precedents, and a professional knows the system well. Many attorneys, including Owen & LoBello Law Firm, will not charge an initial consultation fee, and many even have a no-win, no-fee arrangement (often called a “contingency fee basis”) that can benefit you in the short and long runs. If you make the decision to hire an attorney, you should do the following:

1. Consult the attorney as soon as possible after the accident, so information is still readily available.

2. Begin gathering documentation for your attorney, including accident reports, insurance letters and offers of settlement, witness accounts, medical bills, and personal contact information for all involved parties.

3. Do not give a statement to any insurance companies until you’ve consulted with your lawyer. Even if you’re approached early on, you have the right to say you’re not prepared to give a statement, and that you will do so after consulting your lawyer.

4. Have a rough idea of the money you’ve spent on recovering; this amount should include money lost from not working, damaged property, and so forth.

5. Assert your right to stop working with your attorney if he or she asks you to do or say something illegal, or if you feel that you aren’t being treated fairly. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion.

TIME LIMITS FOR NEVADA PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS

Nevada law sets a limit on how much time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in state court. Generally, you have two years after the date of an accident to file your case in Nevada’s civil court system.

The law that imposes this two-year limit is known as a statute of limitations. It is important to pay close attention to this law, because if you try to file your lawsuit after the two-year deadline has passed, a Nevada court will almost surely refuse to hear your case. Nevada has several different statutes of limitations that apply to different kinds of civil law cases. To see the full text of these laws, read Nevada Revised Statutes Section 11.190.

SHARED FAULT IN NEVADA INJURY CASES

When you’re injured by another person, it’s easy to assume all the fault belongs to them. In some cases, however, a jury may find that you share some or all of the fault for your injury or the underlying accident. Nevada applies a special rule, known as a modified comparative fault rule, when an injured person is found to share the fault for an injury. This rule works to reduce or eliminate the compensation an injured person can receive, depending on the circumstances.

Here’s an illustration. Suppose that you are walking to work one day when you are struck by a driver. You were crossing the street against the light at the time. Your total damages for the accident equal $10,000, but a jury also finds that you were 40 percent at fault and the driver was 60 percent at fault. Under Nevada’s modified comparative fault rule, you will be allowed to collect $6,000 from the driver as compensation for your injuries. This number represents the $10,000 total, minus $4,000 or 40 percent — the amount of fault assigned to you.

In Nevada, you may recover a reduced amount of damages as long as you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If you’re found to be 50 percent at fault or more, however, your damages award drops to zero automatically, and you will be barred from collecting anything from any other at-fault party. If fault is shared in a case, Nevada courts must apply the modified comparative fault rule. However, insurance adjusters frequently bring up the rule during settlement negotiations as well, so be prepared to hear about it even if you’re not in court.

DAMAGE CAPS IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES

Nevada has specific rules that cap, or limit, damages in personal injury cases. Specifically, Nevada caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases — a category that includes “pain and suffering” damages. Nevada caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases at $350,000. This cap does not affect “economic” damages like medical bills and lost wages, and it does not affect any other kind of personal injury case, just those stemming from medical errors.

OWNER LIABILITY FOR INJURY BY A DOG OR OTHER ANIMAL

There is no specific statute in Nevada governing personal injury liability for dog bites. Owners will be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured party can show that the owner “should have known” the animal was dangerous.

This is known as the “one bite” rule. These cases are oftentimes difficult because it is not always easy to determine whether the involved animal previously bit someone or acted aggressively.Finding this kind of information requires a skilled practitioner. Also, it is more often the case that the incident causing injury occurs on another’s property, often far from the animal’s owner.

In these cases, not only is it difficult to find whether the animal has a history of incidents, it is also difficult to find the owner or his or her insurance to cover the injuries and pain and suffering that occurs from these events.

INJURY CLAIMS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT

Injury claims that involve a negligent Nevada government employee or agency follow a different procedure than claims against private parties. The two-year time limit discussed above still applies to cases filed against the government in Nevada. But instead of filing in court, you must file your claim first with the state Office of the Attorney General.

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