Monday, November 18, 2013

What Does the Las Vegas, Nevada Personal Injury Court System Look Like?

In the state of Nevada, we have what are called District courts, where all matters with a value of $10,000.00 or more are heard. That means a lot of car accident cases that do not settle and require a lawsuit being filed, end up in district court.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, we have 32 district court judges that hear personal injury matters. When making their decisions on cases, the judges look at the laws as written by the legislature and written opinions from our highest court in Nevada, the Nevada Supreme Court. As of this writing, there is presently no intermediate court of appeals in Nevada.  
However, there has been a growing movement to have a court of appeals in Nevada. Without a court of appeals, the Nevada Supreme Court has to decide all appeals. Given the limited resources of the Nevada Supreme Court, the court is not able to make decisions on all cases that request an appeal.
What happens when the legislature and the Nevada Supreme Court haven’t addressed an issue? You guessed it! Each district court judge makes their own decision! Oftentimes, that means that one judge can make a decision that is completely opposite from the judge in the next courtroom. Although that means there is always uncertainty in any lawsuit, your Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer is willing and able to fight for you!
Next time, we will discuss surgery and how it impacts your case.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What Does the Settlement Process Look Like?

What happens when you settle a case? A lot of people don’t know what the settlement process is like once a case settles. So, to take you through the process, we will be begin with your car accident lawyer negotiating the maximum settlement amount from the insurance company. Once a car accident case settles, there is still work to be done by your Las Vegas car accident lawyer.
Once the settlement is reached, the insurance company will prepare a document, called a Release of All Claims, outlining the settlement terms. The settlement document is usually just referred to as the Release. Your attorney will review the settlement agreement before you sign it.  The Release will have your name, the date of the car accident and the other parties’ information as well. The Release basically states that by accepting the settlement, the case is over and you have resolved all of your claims against the person who hit you in the car accident and their insurance company.
The insurance company will usually require that your signature on the Release, be done in the presence of notary. The notary just makes sure that you are the person actually signing the Release and not some other person. That way, the insurance company can be confident that you personally signed the Release and that you know the amount of the settlement. Since your LasVegas auto wreck attorney has a notary at their office, you can come down to their office to sign the Release, if that is more convenient for you. Otherwise, you can sign the Release in front of a notary of your choosing (at your bank or a mail plus center) and mail the Release to your car accident lawyer.
Once your attorney receives the Release, they will send the original document to the insurance company. After the insurance company receives the Release, they will issue the settlement check to your lawyer. Once the settlement check clears your attorney’s trust account, you can come pick up your portion of settlement monies (Your car accident attorney makes sure that all of your medical bills are paid). It takes about 30 to 45 days to receive your settlement monies once you sign the Release.
Next time, we will talk about the district courts in Las Vegas and how the different courts affect your case.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Does the Las Vegas, Nevada Car Accident Court System Look Like?

When your car accident case doesn’t settle and you end up in Court, which Court are you actually in? In Las Vegas, Nevada, there are three main Court levels for car accident cases. These Courts are called Small Claims Court, Justice Court, District Court. Each Court has a higher jurisdictional amount, meaning how much they can award.
Small Claims Court hears cases, where the value of your car accident case is $7,500 or less. Small Claims Court is great for Las Vegas auto wreck cases, where your medical bills are in the $2,000 to $3,500 range. In Small Claims Court, everything is moved along at a relatively fast pace and your case gets resolved quickly.  As part of the Small Claims Court process, you and your Las Vegas personal injury attorney will meet with the insurance company’s attorney at mediation. At mediation, an impartial third person tries to get both sides to come to an agreement on settlement.  If no agreement can be reached, then on a separate date, everyone goes in front of the Small Claims Court  Judge and the Judge makes their decision on what you as the injured person should receive.  If the insurance company is unhappy with the Small Claims Judge’s award, then they can appeal it to the Justice Court Judge.
If you Las Vegas auto accident case is valued at between $7,501 and $9,999.99, then you can go directly to Justice Court. Although Justice Court is not as fast as Small Claims Court, it is still a place where your case can be resolved in a relatively speedy manner. In Justice Court, the insurance company is allowed to do some limited formal fact finding regarding your case. Once that is completed, then you will go before the Judge, who will decide the amount to award you.
If you have a serious injury, then you will be placed in District Court, where all matters with a value of $10,000.00 or more are heard. If you case is worth between $10,000 and $50,000, then your case will be funneled through an expedited system, called Nevada’s Non-Binding Arbitration Program. That program is another blog in and of itself, so that will be discussed in a future blog post. In District Court, if your car accident case does not settle, and it is worth more than $50,000, then your case could take 1 to 2 years to resolve. These are reserved for the most serious of cases, such as if you had surgery or require lifelong care.
Next time, we will discuss how the settlement process works.