Injured victims in Las Vegas often ask, “Do personal injury cases go to trial?”
In Nevada, less than 10% of personal injury cases involve litigation. There are various reasons that this small number of claims and lawsuits don’t settle outside the courtroom. The most common reason personal injury cases are heard by a judge and jury is that the plaintiff and the defendant fail to agree on the settlement amount. When this happens, the intervention of the court is required to resolve the case. Sometimes, liability for the accident is disputed. Other times, plaintiffs head to the courtroom to hold negligent parties publicly accountable for their negligence.
The Trial Process for Personal Injury Cases in Nevada
You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to pursue compensation in civil court. The suit typically involves several phases:
- Complaint. The process begins with pleadings. You file a complaint stating your claim, losses, and the at-fault party. The defendant can then respond by filing an answer.
- Discovery. In the discovery phase, evidence is exchanged and witnesses are interviewed to develop cases. Attorneys can evaluate the opposing side’s claims. A solid case can lead to a settlement instead of a trial.
- Trial. Personal injury cases often settle before trial. If the case goes to trial, the attorney presents the facts to the jury, and they deliberate based on Nevada injury law before rendering their verdict.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Going to Trial in Nevada
Litigation can be a risky process since it is difficult to predict what a jury or judge will decide in a specific case. There may be advantages and disadvantages of going to trial.
Ensure Fair Compensation
At times, the insurance company or defendant’s attorneys may challenge your claim or subject you to an arduous process. They may present a meager amount in hopes that you’ll give up or be in dire need of money to pay for medical bills and other losses.
In such scenarios, the only opportunity you have to receive a just amount of compensation for your injuries is to proceed with a trial.
If you are comfortable with the stress of not knowing what the outcome of your personal injury case will be, it may be wise to discuss this with your lawyer. However, if the defendant has already made an offer that you are satisfied with, it’s best to inform your lawyer about it. He or she may know the average payout for a personal injury claim. There’s always a chance that something unexpected may happen during the trial that could change everything. So, be careful not to hold out for a little more and risk losing everything.
Choosing to settle your personal injury case can result in receiving compensation much sooner than going to trial. If you decide to go to trial, it may take a year or longer to reach a conclusion. Court calendars can become congested, and even when you are given a trial date, it could be postponed multiple times.
Considerations for Settlement During a Trial
Before accepting a settlement, it’s important to consider critical factors. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot pursue any further legal action regarding the injury. However, in some situations, it may be beneficial to file a lawsuit and then try to reach a settlement. In cases with complex liability and damage factors, litigation is often necessary to resolve the issue.
It is risky to try to settle a case if the plaintiff’s injury has not been resolved or has not reached a permanent and stationary status before the statute of limitations expires. It is important to wait until maximum medical improvement has been reached before filing a complaint when possible. This is because the extent of the plaintiff’s damages must be known before a complaint is filed.
Personal Injury Laws in Nevada
Nevada’s personal injury laws aim to compensate the injured person for their losses, as the harm caused by an accident can’t be undone. The individual can, however, recover lost wages, medical expenses (past and future), funeral and burial expenses, and damages for pain and suffering.
Negligence-Based Personal Injury Claims
Negligence is a significant factor in personal injury claims and lawsuits. If an individual has been negligent, resulting in the unnecessary injuries of another, the negligent party may be held legally responsible. The negligent party, or his or her insurance company, may be held liable for monetary compensation for the damages resulting from the injuries. This is done through an injury claim or lawsuit brought forward by the injured person.
To prove a claim of negligence in a personal injury case, you must show:
- The person responsible owed you a duty of care
- He or she failed to meet that obligation
- The failure caused your injuries
- As a result, you suffered financial or personal losses due to those injuries
All these factors must be recorded and presented in your claim against the negligent party to recover compensation.
Types of Personal Injury Cases Commonly Seen in Nevada Courts
Motor Vehicle Accident Injury
Car accidents are a common cause of personal injury claims in the US. Over 1.5 million accidents resulted in injuries in 2020. You can recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages if you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence. To file a lawsuit, you’ll need to provide a police report, insurance information, and medical records.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip-and-fall accidents are a common type of personal injury claim that can have serious consequences. Every year, over 800,000 people are hospitalized due to fall-related injuries, most commonly affecting the hip and head. Wet floors, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, broken railings, and other hazards can all contribute to these types of accidents.
Medical malpractice refers to when healthcare providers fail to uphold their duty to do no harm, despite taking an oath to do so. This failure can lead to serious consequences, including an estimated 250,000 medical error deaths annually in the US. There are several types of medical malpractice, including misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, childbirth injuries, medication errors, failure to treat, anesthesia errors, and surgical errors.
Workplace accidents are common, with 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in 2021, up 8.9% from the previous year. The most common injuries include contact with moving objects, vehicle-related accidents, repetitive motion injuries, trips, slips, and falls, and back-related injuries. Usually, workers receive compensation only through workers’ compensation insurance, but exceptions include a lack of insurance, intentional injury, defective products, toxic substances, or accidents caused by a non-employer.
If a person dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another party, it is considered a wrongful death case. Such cases can arise from various incidents like surgical errors, car accidents, animal attacks, or negligence in childcare facilities. Spouses, children, parents of unmarried victims, and other interested parties can file a lawsuit for wrongful death.
When a person gets injured due to a defect or design flaw in a product, it may result in a product liability claim. To establish liability, it is necessary to demonstrate the presence of defects in design, manufacturing, or inadequate warning. There are various types of products that may cause harm. These include dangerous drugs, medical devices, food products, toxic materials and chemicals, defective parts of vehicles, and children’s products.
Preparing for Trial in Nevada Personal Injury Cases
Discovery Process and Gathering Evidence
Your lawyer will gather evidence before starting legal proceedings to prove that the other party was negligent and calculate the value of your damages. Evidence may include medical records, accident reports, eyewitness statements, and photographs. After filing a lawsuit, the discovery process may begin.
Pretrial discovery is a set of tools that allow you to collect evidence held by the defendant. Discovery is conducted in accordance with strict procedural rules.
The four main tools used for discovery are:
- Depositions where witnesses can be cross-examined under oath outside of court, this is called deposition.
- Interrogatories, which are written questions that the other party must answer under oath.
- Requests for production, which are demands for access to documents or physical evidence.
- Requests for admissions that ask the other party to admit or deny the truth of a statement, which can simplify a trial by narrowing the issues in dispute.
This process is enforced by the court, which means that either side can be compelled to comply with each other’s discovery requests.
You may wish to settle your personal injury dispute out of court. Negotiation is key in personal injury cases. Settlements are usually reached before trial, with the help of a personal injury attorney who negotiates on behalf of the client. The process involves making offers and counteroffers until both parties agree on a settlement amount. A demand letter from the victim’s attorney outlining the case’s facts, relevant laws, injuries, damages, and compensation demanded is often the starting point. It’s important to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer before accepting any initial settlement offers from insurance companies.