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Answers To Accident And Injury Questions

What is a personal injury?

A personal injury is any injury to the physical or emotional health of a person. Often, a person or a company may be liable for the injuries and the suffering when negligent or intentional misconduct caused the harm. A lawsuit based on negligence is the most common type of personal injury claim. Negligence is often the cause of car accidents, wrongful death accidents, slip and fall accidents, workplace accidents and medical malpractice. Negligence can be a factor in virtually any personal injury claim. Basically, negligence occurs when there is a duty to exercise reasonable care and the negligent person or company fails to be careful. Intentional actions fall under personal injury law and some of these claims could include situations where a person threatens to hit you and/or actually hits you (assault & battery). Personal injury law can also include claims for trespass, nuisance, defamation, negligent security, negligent entrustment, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, airplane accidents, train accidents, boating accidents, dog and animal bites, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, construction accidents, injuries on the property of someone else, burn accidents, explosion accidents, defective products injuries, medical malpractice and numerous other claims. If you aren't sure if your type of accident would entitle you to compensation, talk to a Las Vegas Lawyer to get your questions answered.

Read more about Negligence on our Vegas Injury Law site.

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How do I know if I have a claim?

You should know whether you have a viable claim to be compensated for your injuries after a free consultation with a Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer. A Las Vegas Attorney who practices personal injury law will look at many factors to evaluate your Las Vegas accident claim. The Las Vegas Lawyer will ask you many questions about how the accident happened. The Las Vegas Injury Attorney will look over any accident documentation such as the Accident Report, your medical records and any other documentation which supports your claim. Then, the Las Vegas Accident Lawyer will decide whether there is a legal theory of liability with which to hold the other party responsible for the harm you have suffered. A negligent act by an employee can often make the employer responsible for the injuries you received. A violation of a traffic law by the other driver can make your negligence case stronger in a Las Vegas car accident case. If a household product is unreasonably dangerous, establishing liability may be very easy. Simply, the Las Vegas Injury Attorney will match the facts of your case to existing theories in order to determine if you have a legitimate right to sue the other party for money damages as compensation for the physical and emotional injuries you received due to negligent or intentional misconduct. The Las Vegas Lawyer should tell you up front the strong and weak points of your case in easy to understand language, so you can evaluate whether you want to pursue a lawsuit in the event your case does not settle. Evaluation is an extremely important phase and some Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers may use experts during the evaluation phase to determine the strength of the case. This early use of experts is common in medical malpractice cases where the negligent act of a Las Vegas doctor, nurse or hospital may not be apparent to an untrained person. Make sure the Las Vegas Injury Attorney you consult discusses all the pros and cons of pursuing a lawsuit and answers all of your questions to your satisfaction.

Read more about
Liability on our Vegas Lawyer site.

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What is a demand letter?

Normally, it will save you a lot of time and money if your case settles without going through the time and expense of a jury trial in Las Vegas. A Las Vegas Accident Lawyer will make every attempt to settle your case prior to filing a lawsuit. An important step in the settlement process is the Demand Letter. The Demand Letter is usually sent to the negligent party's insurance company. A Las Vegas Injury Lawyer will include the following in the Demand Letter:

  • A statement of the facts surrounding the Las Vegas accident.
  • A section describing how the other party has liability for the accident due to negligent or intentional misconduct
  • Comprehensive details of all of your injuries including your medical treatment, your medical bills, any permanent physical impairment, any need for future treatment or surgery.
  • Information on any time you missed from work and your lost income.
  • All of the damages you have suffered and will suffer including loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of support, care and comfort in the event of a Las Vegas wrongful death claim.
  • The Demand Letter will also include any documents which support your Las Vegas personal injury claim including medical records, medical bills, the Accident Report (from LVMPD, NHP or whichever police unit or hotel security staff investigates the accident scene), photographs, witness statements, lost wages information from your employer and any other documents which can substantiate your loss.
  • Finally, the Demand Letter will include your settlement demand figure. This is the dollar amount which is requested from the other party's insurance company (or from the party if there is no insurance available) to settle your Las Vegas accident claim in full. The Demand Letter normally states that the Las Vegas Attorney will file a lawsuit if the settlement amount is not agreed to within a specified time period.

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What compensation is available?

If you were injured in a Las Vegas accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the financial and emotional losses you have suffered. A Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer can explain which damages might apply. Money damages can be obtained through a settlement or a jury trial. The damages are offered or awarded to compensate for general damages (non-economic damages) and special damages (economic damages).

General damages are often difficult to calculate as emotional losses are covered and this damage category can include compensation for:

  • pain and suffering
  • emotional distress
  • mental suffering (grief, fright, humiliation)
  • loss of love and affection
  • loss of care, comfort, and society
  • loss of enjoyment of life
  • loss of consortium
  • inconvenience
Special damages can be calculated and often include:
  • Loss of future income
  • lost wages (including overtime)
  • loss of earning capacity
  • medical bills
  • future medical costs
  • funeral and burial expenses
  • loss of business opportunity
  • loss of employment
  • property loss
  • property repair and replacement
  • out of pocket expenses
Punitive damages (exemplary damages) are available in rare situations when the negligent or intentional misconduct was so extreme that the actions deserve an extra measure of punishment. Consult a Nevada Lawyer to determine which of these damages could apply to your accident claim.

Read more about Damages on our Vegas Lawyer site.

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What is the value of my claim?

The determination of the value of your Nevada personal injury claim is a critical step. There is no set amount because the amount depends on the particular circumstances of your case. It is usually smart to talk to a Las Vegas Lawyer who may be more skilled and objective about the available compensation and may not be tempted to make an impulsive settlement decision. Insurance adjusters can make small offers early in the claims process before you may even know the full extent of the injuries you suffered in a Las Vegas accident. You could be tempted to accept a quick payout, but a Las Vegas Injury Attorney might advise you to wait for a more reasonable offer. Personal Injury Lawyers deal with insurance companies all the time and understand the tactics and pressure to settle for a low amount which insurance companies can exert. A Las Vegas Accident Lawyer will strive to get the maximum settlement value for your case without having to go to trial. A Las Vegas Injury Lawyer will normally take all the preliminary steps to take your injury case to a jury trial while constantly negotiating to get you an acceptable settlement without the time and expense of a trial.

In determining the value of your personal injury claim, a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney will find out if the party causing your injury is covered by an insurance policy. In many Las Vegas accident cases, it is not cost effective to go after the negligent person because that person may not have enough assets to cover your damages. In a Las Vegas car accident claim, if the other driver is uninsured or the insurance coverage is inadequate, you may be able to make a claim against your own insurance. Also, if you were injured by an employee who was on the job, it is possible to make the employer liable for the payment of your damages. Evaluating insurance coverage and liability is one of the first steps to determine the value of your claim. Insurance coverage is important because the amount you can actually obtain may be limited by the insurance policy limits. Liability is important because in some situations, liability is not placed on a person or a company when the risk which caused the injury was remote, not easy to foresee and unlikely to happen. Other steps to evaluate your claim can include determining if you waited too long to file - determining if your own negligence may limit your ability to recover - determining if the facts of your case are strong - determining if the legal theory for recovery is well-settled - determining if there will be excessive expert fees involved - and determining the costs to take your case to a jury trial.

Assuming that you have a viable claim - there is a liable party - there is insurance coverage (or sufficient assets), then the following factors can strengthen your claim:

  • Your personal injury award can be higher if your injury was more severe.
  • Your award can be higher if you had to endure invasive surgery.
  • Your award can be higher if you had a long recovery period.
  • Your award can be higher if the negligence was extreme.
  • Your award can be higher if the injury left you with a visible disfigurement.
  • Your award can be higher if you cannot perform your job anymore.
  • Your award can be higher if you have a permanent physical impairment.
  • Your award can be higher if a family member was a wrongful death victim.
  • Your award can be higher if the negligence was a violation of a law.
  • Your award can be higher if you were without fault in the accident.
There are no guarantees and your case could get better or worse as more information is uncovered and the case develops. A Las Vegas Lawyer should be able to give you a rough estimate of the value of your case in the beginning after the initial investigation to determine insurance coverage, liability, critical legal issues and the significant facts of your personal injury claim. Contact a Las Vegas Lawyer for a free evaluation of your Las Vegas accident claim.

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What if I have to file a lawsuit?

A Las Vegas Accident Attorney will advise you if settlement negotiations are not succeeding and you need to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit begins with the filing of a Summons and Complaint. These legal pleadings give the other party notice that you have filed a lawsuit alleging certain claims for money damages. The negligent party will be served with the papers and must respond to the Complaint with an Answer. The Answer will address the specific facts alleged in the Complaint, and will often contain many affirmative defenses. Once the Answer is received, the parties will assemble to have an Early Case Conference. Documents are swapped and the parties will discuss discovery, trial, and settlement. After the conference, each party will conduct discovery.

Discovery allows each side to explore the evidence which the other side has and to probe for new information. Written questions are sent to the other side. You will probably have to participate in a deposition. In a deposition, the opposing attorney will ask you questions under oath about the accident. Other forms of discovery include requests for admissions and for the production of documents. Often, after some discovery, the defendant may file a motion for summary judgment. This is a critical phase in the process because this motion could eliminate some or all of your claims. Basically, the other party is alleging that you cannot meet the elements of your claim. Your attorney will make a concerted effort to show the Court that there are genuine fact issues which have (or will be) developed which make summary judgment improper or premature.

Once the discovery period is completed, you may have a trial date. Cases often are continued and the trial date can frequently change. Prior to trial, your Las Vegas Trial Lawyer will contact you and discuss the trial preparation of your case. Usually, there will need to be medical testimony about the extent of your injuries. Sometimes, expert testimony is needed to explain complex issues which often arise in Las Vegas Medical Malpractice claims and Las Vegas Defective Products claims. Your Las Vegas Attorney will contact the experts and arrange to have them present at the jury trial. Your Injury Lawyer will also prepare exhibits, documents and file any pre-trial motions.

When your Las Vegas trial begins, a jury will be selected. The jury selection process allows each attorney to strike some jurors. Once the jury is impaneled, the case begins. Your attorney will put on your case first. This involves calling the witnesses and introducing evidence to establish that the defendant was at fault in causing your injuries. The other party's attorney will cross-examine any witnesses in an effort to disprove the facts you want to establish.

After your case has been presented, the defendant will present a case to the jury. Throughout this process, both attorneys will make several objections which will be sustained or overruled by the Judge. Once both sides have put on their cases, each attorney will make a closing argument. Then, the jury will receive instructions. Jury instructions are important because they guide the jury in making certain decisions. For example, one Slip & Fall instruction states that water on a floor is not obvious. This can be important if the defendant is alleging that the water was an open and obvious hazard which you should have observed. Once the jury receives the instructions, the jury will begin the process of deciding the case. If the jury's decision is wrong as a matter of law, the Judge may set it aside. If this does not happen, the jury's decision will become a judgment which can be enforced. An important consideration is whether the jury finds that your were partially negligent. This decision on comparative negligence can limit or bar your right to recovery.

The trial process is sometimes complicated and lengthy. It is a difficult decision to determine if you want to take a low settlement offer or endure a jury trial. Your Las Vegas Attorney can help you evaluate this decision. If you do have to litigate your claim, a little patience can sometimes get you the compensation you deserve in your Las Vegas personal injury claim.

Read more about the Legal Process on our Vegas Lawyer site.
See actual Jury Instructions on our Accident Claims site.

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Contact David Matheny, Esq. for a free consultation.

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Dempsey, Roberts
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