Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Personal Injury Claims in Las Vegas and Clark County Nevada
How is an injury case valued?
The basic elements of injury case value include past medical expense (special damages) and pain and suffering (general damages). Depending on the nature of the claim other elements of damages may exist such as future medical expense, and past and/or future, wage loss.
What is meant by “injury case” or “injury claim”?
If someone in las vegas or clark county nevada sustained an injury because of the negligence of another person, company and or government agency, the injured person has a legal right to present a claim for reimbursement of the damage caused by the negligent conduct.
How is the pain and suffering part of an injury claim valued?
There is no one set way to value the pain and suffering part of an injury claim for a claim occurring in Clark County. Some of the factors that are taken into consideration include the amount of past medical expense, nature of the injuries and future anticipated medical expense, if any.
Often times attorneys, including attorney Eric Woods and insurance companies disagree about the valuation of injury claims, and the valuation of pain and suffering during negotiations, and to resolve the dispute, arbitration, mediation, a bench trial or jury trial may be required to resolve the dispute.
Why shouldn’t I give a statement to an insurance company if I am just going to tell the truth anyway?
An insurance company is obtaining a statement for its own purposes, not to help you. You have no obligation to give a statement prior to having had the chance to speak with an attorney. Consult and hire an attorney prior to giving any statement. Giving a statement without having consulted an attorney will almost always negatively affect your injury claim, unfortunately. Would you like to be fully compensated for your injuries? If your answer is yes, don’t give a statement to an insurance company without first consulting and hiring an attorney.
Why hire an attorney if it’s clear that the other party was at fault?
Even if fault is clear, the amount of damages that the injured party is entitled to is almost always disputed. The first hours and days after the accident often have a disproportionate effect on how much the insurance company ultimately does or does not pay for the claim.
When you hire an experienced personal injury attorney like Eric Woods you shift the odds in your favor regarding valuation of your injury claim – and that’s true whether the insurance company has to admit fault for the accident from the beginning, or starts by trying to escape taking responsibility.
Are all lawyer’s contingency fees the same?
In Las Vegas and Clark County Nevada contingency fees are different at different law firms. Many attorneys and law firms have set fees that they rarely deviate from.
Most injury attorneys have two contingency fees percentages in their agreements. The first is often set at 33% or one third of the gross or total recovery. This fee applies typically if the case was settled prior to a lawsuit being filed. The other percentage that is defined is often 40% of the gross or total recovery and usually applies if the case is settled after filing of a lawsuit.
Attorney Eric Woods most often has an attorney fee of 24% of the gross settlement in injury cases, other than workmen’s compensation cases. Most of Eric Woods cases are settled prior to filing of a lawsuit, but where a lawsuit is filed, the fee is generally 39%. It should be noted Eric Woods seeks to have satisfied clients, and the cases in the office will only settle when the client approves the settlement.
Attorney fees in any case involving a minor (under 18) must be approved by Court Order irrespective of the terms of the fee agreement signed by the parent at the beginning of the claim.
If the case does not settle, against whom would a lawsuit be filed: the person that caused the accident, or the insurance company?
In Nevada the lawsuit will be filed against the negligent party, and not an insurance company. In the case of an auto accident, if a lawsuit is filed it will be against the driver or drivers that caused the accident. In the case of an in injury in a store, called a premises liability claim, the lawsuit will be filed against the corporation but may also name any employee known or believed to have been negligent. Generally speaking it is only a person’s own insurance company that may be sued by its insured, where the insurance company has failed to honor its contractual duties to the insured.
What if the partial or entire cause of the injury was a family member?
In Nevada, family members may bring a claim against another family member who injured them through negligence. If in a motor vehicle accident, one spouse was driving, and the other spouse and children were passengers, and the driver spouse caused an accident, then the non-driver spouse and children would have a legal claim against the driver spouse payable by the insurance on the vehicle.
Would a claim still be allowed if the vehicle i was in was uninsured?
In Nevada, if you are injured by the negligence of another driver your claim is valid irrespective of whether the vehicle you are in is insured. California law differs on this.
Is an injury claim valid in Nevada, even though I wasn’t wearing my seat belt at the time of the accident?
Yes, the claim is valid.
Would my injury claim be valid even though I did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident?
Yes, your injury claim is valid even if you had no driver’s license. Your injury claim would also be valid if your vehicle registration had expired.
Can an injury claim be presented even though the police did not investigate the accident?
There is no legal requirement that the police investigate an accident prior to presenting an injury claim. In fact, the police generally will not investigate an accident on private property, like a store or casino parking lot, even though accidents at such locations often result in injury. However, where there is no police report the at fault party might not be honest and might claim that the accident happened in a different way than it did. Lack of a police report may make it more difficult to win an injury case, so whenever possible the police should be called after an accident, and the long wait for the police to arrive may save you time in the long run.
How should a hit and run accident be handled?
Stay at the scene of the accident and call the police immediately. Have them investigate. If you obtain the license plates of the other vehicle, but don’t call the police, it is very difficult to get the owner information, because the Nevada DMV will ask for the police report number. If no police report number, our experience is that they will not provide owner information. If a lawsuit is filed, perhaps they would. If the other vehicle fled, then it is considered uninsured, and if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your own vehicle, you can present a claim on your own policy.
In Nevada, when does uninsured motorist coverage (UM), underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) or medical payments coverage (“Med Pay”) on my own policy come into play to help me.
If you were involved in a collision in which the responsible driver was uninsured, and you have this coverage, then this coverage would be responsible for paying an amount equal to the damage caused by the uninsured driver, excluding damage to your vehicle. It would cover reasonable medical expense, wage loss and pain and suffering. UIM or uninsured motorist coverage would apply if the at fault party had insurance but not enough to cover the damage done. This is actually a very frequent occurrence, especially if there are more than two vehicles involved, or more than 2 claimants.
Medical payments coverage, or med pay, will pay up to the specific dollar limit, and the amount is not reimbursable to your insurance carrier, even if you also were to collect this sum from the at fault party. Thus, your settlement will be more if you had med pay coverage in effect at the time you were injured by someone else’s negligence.
In Nevada, if I have medical insurance, should I use it to pay expenses I incurred as a result of the accident injury?
Many times, the answer is yes. Almost all health insurance policies have a subrogration or re-imbursement clause in their policy, meaning they have a right to be reimbursed what they paid out when the claim settles. In the meanwhile however, utilizing the coverage can avoid a bill going into collection. Also, the insurance company gets a writeoff generally in what it pays the provider. It is better for the person with the injury claim to re-imburse the insurance company the reduced amount than pay the provider the full amount. The full amount of the bill will still be presented to the at fault party. The at fault party is not entitled to pay less just because the injured party happened to have health insurance. Some of the medical expenses incurred after an injury can be very costly. While many times the Law Offices of Eric Woods can obtain treatment for you on a lien, in the case of an expensive surgery you may be able to obtain the treatment more rapidly or at a lower cost using health insurance, if you have it.