You are driving on the road one day with your loved ones, listening to music and thinking about what you will have for dinner when – BAM! – your car is hit on the side by another vehicle. Thankfully, you and your passengers – as well as the other driver – walk away with only minor injuries. After a police report is filed with local law enforcement and you exchange information with the other driver, you realize your troubles are just beginning. If you have been hurt in a Las Vegas accident, it is important for you to have a basic understanding of what to expect during your Las Vegas personal injury lawsuit.
The Steps of a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Filing an insurance claim: If you are involved in a car accident, it is critical that you start the claims process as soon as possible. Immediately after the collision, contact your car insurance company and file a claim. You will be asked several questions by the insurer including whether you suffered injuries and property damage as well as the contact and insurance information of the other driver. An insurer may pay for your damages, however, you will likely have losses beyond the coverage limits.
Filing a lawsuit: When an insurance claim does not provide you the compensation needed, the best option is to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is commonly referred to as a civil lawsuit or tort lawsuit. Keep in mind that Nevada’s statute of limitations requires a personal injury lawsuit be filed within two years of the car accident. Failure to do so will result in your claim being forever barred. Once a complaint is filed in court that includes the amount of damages sought, the insurance company has a certain amount of time to respond. If the insurer agrees and accepts the amount sought, the case will settle. If not, the parties will begin motion practice.
Mediating your case: After the initial motion practice stage of your lawsuit, the presiding judge will set a trial date for your case. Often times, an injured plaintiff may have to wait for more than a year for his or her day in a Nevada court. While awaiting a court date, mediation will be scheduled. During mediation, the attorneys for plaintiff and defendant meet with their clients and a third party mediator. The purpose of mediation is to achieve a settlement agreement before the case goes to trial.
Discovery phase: If mediation is unsuccessful, the next phase of the personal injury lawsuit is discovery. During this part of the case, attorneys on both sides investigate the evidence and build up their client’s case. This may include interviewing witnesses, collecting relevant documents, as well as photos. All information found during the discovery phase must be shared with the other side and can be used as evidence during trial.
The trial: If the case is not yet resolved and motions for summary judgment – legal documents asking the judge to make a decision without going to trial based on the evidence gathered – are not filed, then the case goes to trial. There are generally two options for trial. The first is a bench trial, which is a trial that is only heard by a judge or a panel of judges. The second is a jury trial, which may include a jury of six to 12 of the parties’ peers. The judge or jury will determine a verdict and the case will be resolved or dismissed.
Legal Help in Nevada
The experienced attorneys at Parry & Pfau have represented accident victims in Las Vegas and across the state of Nevada; contact us today for your initial case evaluation.