Suffering an injury, no matter how minor, due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior can often throw your life into a tailspin. You may have to take time off work to recover, incur medical and vehicle repair bills, or even reconsider your ability to keep working altogether. Each year, nearly 40 million people seek medical care for accidental injuries—and many of these injuries are someone else’s fault.
A personal injury attorney can help you negotiate with insurance companies and, when necessary, take your claim to court to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Below, learn about Nevada personal injury law and what personal injury attorneys can do to help you fight for your rights.
What Does Nevada Consider a “Personal Injury” Claim?
Nevada’s personal injury laws are expansive and cover any number of claims, including:
- Auto and motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian and bicyclist accidents
- Workplace injuries
- Construction site accidents
- Casino injuries
- Train and railroad crossing accidents
- Product liability and defects
- Food poisoning
- Elder and nursing home abuse
- Medical malpractice
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Wrongful death
- Premises liability
- Airplane and aviation accidents
- Ship and maritime accidents
Nevada’s status as a tourist destination means that a personal injury attorney can handle any and all of the above-listed claims or specialize in one particular area of personal injury law. Because medical malpractice operates by a slightly different set of procedures than many other injury claims, medical malpractice attorneys tend to specialize in that area; other firms may be more focused on car, motorcycle, and train accidents or workers’ compensation litigation.
What Does a Nevada Personal Injury Attorney Do?
A personal injury attorney doesn’t just represent you in court—they can also work with you behind the scenes before a lawsuit is filed or even if a lawsuit is never filed. At the outset of a case, your attorney can deal with insurance agents and adjusters who may be trying to force a quick settlement so they can close the claim.
If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, or if there are multiple at-fault parties and not all are cooperating, a personal injury attorney can take your case to trial to fight for a judgment in your favor. Some personal injury attorneys will even continue to represent you on appeal if there’s a problem with how the trial court handled your case.
What Will You Need to Prove to Recover Damages?
To recover damages against a personal injury defendant in Nevada, you’ll need to establish three elements:
- the at-fault party owed you a reasonable duty of care; and
- they breached this duty;
- causing you damages.
Only if you prove all three elements with a preponderance, or majority, of the evidence will you be able to recover financial damages from the defendant and/or their insurance provider.
Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff can recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident that led to their injuries. However, the plaintiff’s total damages award may be reduced by the degree to which they’re held responsible, and a plaintiff who was more than 50 percent at fault for an accident might not be able to recover at all.
What Compensation is Available?
If your claim is successful, either at the settlement stage or after a jury trial, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages.
These are the damages based on your actual degree of financial loss. They can include lost wages, medical bills, and out-of-pocket expenses, and property damage like vehicle repairs. They can also include loss of future earning capacity, though this may be more difficult to quantify than your actual out-of-pocket costs.
These damages aren’t necessarily tied to any financial loss you’ve suffered, but instead include pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and (for spouses of the injured person) loss of companionship or loss of consortium. For Nevada medical malpractice plaintiffs, non-economic damages are capped at $350,000, but other categories of personal injury claims don’t contain the same limitation.
Payment Structure for Personal Injury Attorneys
Because it can take months, sometimes even years for a personal injury case to settle or go to trial, very few personal injury attorneys charge an hourly rate. Instead, these attorneys are paid on a contingency fee arrangement, where the fees are instead deducted as a percentage of the total settlement or judgment that’s recovered. This means that if a claim is decided in the defendant’s favor, the plaintiff won’t be required to pay any legal fees, and it prevents plaintiffs from being expected to come up with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees just to have a claim filed.
Nevada’s Statute of Limitations Can Bar Untimely Claims
It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as you can after an accident—the statute of limitations clock begins ticking as soon as an injury occurs, and for most Nevada claims, it’s only two years. If a plaintiff doesn’t file a lawsuit against one or more defendants within this two-year limitations period, their claim might be forever barred, even if liability is otherwise clear.
This doesn’t mean that a claim must be resolved before the statute of limitations expires; as long as you’ve sued before the deadline, your claim should proceed. And plaintiffs are generally free to amend their complaint, even after the statute of limitations has run, if they learn new information that changes the claims that should be raised or who should be named as a party. Over time, some parties might settle, allowing those defendants to be dismissed from the case while you proceed only against those who remain.
But this short limitations period just illustrates one of the many reasons it’s so crucial to hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Gathering evidence and tracking filing deadlines can be the last thing you want to worry about while you’re recovering from an injury. Having an attorney handle this complex process on your behalf can allow you to focus your time and energy on what matters most—your own health and recovery.