Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

What are the Requirements for Expert Witness Disclosure in Nevada?


When you need to disclose expert witnesses in Las Vegas injury cases, the first place to look is Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, (usually shortened to “NRCP”) Rule 16.1.  Rule 16.1 provides in part:

RULE 16.1.  MANDATORY PRETRIAL DISCOVERY REQUIREMENTS
(a) Required Disclosures.  (2) Disclosure of Expert Testimony.

                   (A) In addition to the disclosures required by paragraph (1), a party shall disclose to other parties the identity of any person who may be used at trial to present evidence under NRS 50.275, 50.285 and 50.305.

                   (B) Except as otherwise stipulated or directed by the court, this disclosure shall, with respect to a witness who is retained or specially employed to provide expert testimony in the case or whose duties as an employee of the party regularly involve giving expert testimony, be accompanied by a written report prepared and signed by the witness. The court, upon good cause shown or by stipulation of the parties, may relieve a party of the duty to prepare a written report in an appropriate case. The report shall contain a complete statement of all opinions to be expressed and the basis and reasons therefor; the data or other information considered by the witness in forming the opinions; any exhibits to be used as a summary of or support for the opinions; the qualifications of the witness, including a list of all publications authored by the witness within the preceding 10 years; the compensation to be paid for the study and testimony; and a listing of any other cases in which the witness has testified as an expert at trial or by deposition within the preceding four years.

 


So, what has to be given to the other side as part of the expert disclosure?  First and foremost, you must prepare what is called a Notice of Expert Witnesses.  Here, you list each expert witness, providing their name, address and telephone number and a brief description of what they will be providing expert testimony on in your case. In addition to this factual information, you must provide four separate documents. 

The first document that must be turned over to the other side, is the expert’s report. The report must state all conclusions and topics on which you plan to have your expert testify to at trial. This is very important. If your expert does not discuss something in their report, they are barred from testifying to it at trial, absent court order.

The next item is the expert’s curriculum vitae i.e. resume or CV for short. Their CV must state all of their education and work history, together with any publications they have authored in the past 10 years. In addition to the report and CV, your personal injury attorney will have to disclose the expert’s fee schedule, which list how much they get paid per hour, whether that is in preparing the expert report, sitting for a deposition or testifying at trial. The final document that must be produced is your expert’s case testimony list. This case testimony list must list all deposition and trial testimony the expert has provided in the prior 4 years.

Rule 16.1 goes on to state that this initial expert disclosure must be made on or before 90 days before the cut-off of discovery. Any rebuttal experts must be disclosed to the other side 30 days after the initial expert disclosure was made. Of course, your injury attorney will have your experts lined up well before the expert disclosure deadline, to make sure they have plenty of time to review all of relevant case documents and prepare their report.

Next time, we will discuss disclosure of damages in Nevada court cases.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Can a Person’s Immigration Status be Brought up at Trial?



Whether someone is here in the United States legally or not, is not admissible evidence in a Las Vegas personal injury action. So, whether someone is here on vacation from another county or has outstayed their visa, they both can recover if they were injured while in Las Vegas, through no fault of their own.


For those wanting to look at specific cases, a New York court held that a plaintiff's immigration status was properly excluded in a case involving a construction worker who fell two stories through an improperly covered hole in the roof of the defendant's construction project. Angamarca v. New York City Partnership Housing, 2011 NY Slip Op. 5361, 2011 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5251 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 21, 2011). 


However, if someone is from another country and they have sustained lost wages, then their immigration status may be relevant for the limited purpose of their wage loss claim. The reason for this is because the law states that a wage loss claim for a non-U.S. citizen must be based upon what that person could have earned in their country of citizenship not what he/she could earn in the United States. 


Next time, we will discuss expert witness disclosure in Las Vegas injury cases.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What is a Memorandum of Costs in a Las Vegas Court Case?


Which costs are allowed in a court case is determined by law.  Costs have been determined to mean a wide range of items, from copy charges, witness fees and legal research. NRS 18.005 defines costs in Nevada:

  NRS 18.005  “Costs” defined.  For the purposes of NRS 18.010 to 18.150, inclusive, the term “costs” means:
      1.  Clerks’ fees.
      2.  Reporters’ fees for depositions, including a reporter’s fee for one copy of each deposition.
      3.  Jurors’ fees and expenses, together with reasonable compensation of an officer appointed to act in accordance with NRS 16.120.
      4.  Fees for witnesses at trial, pretrial hearings and deposing witnesses, unless the court finds that the witness was called at the instance of the prevailing party without reason or necessity.
      5.  Reasonable fees of not more than five expert witnesses in an amount of not more than $1,500 for each witness, unless the court allows a larger fee after determining that the circumstances surrounding the expert’s testimony were of such necessity as to require the larger fee.
      6.  Reasonable fees of necessary interpreters.
      7.  The fee of any sheriff or licensed process server for the delivery or service of any summons or subpoena used in the action, unless the court determines that the service was not necessary.
      8.  Compensation for the official reporter or reporter pro tempore.
      9.  Reasonable costs for any bond or undertaking required as part of the action.
      10.  Fees of a court bailiff or deputy marshal who was required to work overtime.
      11.  Reasonable costs for telecopies.
      12.  Reasonable costs for photocopies.
      13.  Reasonable costs for long distance telephone calls.
      14.  Reasonable costs for postage.
      15.  Reasonable costs for travel and lodging incurred taking depositions and conducting discovery.
      16.  Fees charged pursuant to NRS 19.0335.
      17.  Any other reasonable and necessary expense incurred in connection with the action, including reasonable and necessary expenses for computerized services for legal research.


So, how does a party actually recover costs?  The winning party must submit what is called a Memorandum of Costs. This has a tight timeline and must be done within 5 days from the date of the entry of judgment. NRS 18.110 sets out all of the relevant guidelines to follow:

  NRS 18.110  Verified memorandum of costs: Filing and service; witness’ and clerk’s fee; retaxing and settling costs.
      1.  The party in whose favor judgment is rendered, and who claims costs, must file with the clerk, and serve a copy upon the adverse party, within 5 days after the entry of judgment, or such further time as the court or judge may grant, a memorandum of the items of the costs in the action or proceeding, which memorandum must be verified by the oath of the party, or the party’s attorney or agent, or by the clerk of the party’s attorney, stating that to the best of his or her knowledge and belief the items are correct, and that the costs have been necessarily incurred in the action or proceeding.
      2.  The party in whose favor judgment is rendered shall be entitled to recover the witness fees, although at the time the party may not actually have paid them. Issuance or service of subpoena shall not be necessary to entitle a prevailing party to tax, as costs, witness fees and mileage, provided that such witnesses be sworn and testify in the cause.
      3.  It shall not be necessary to embody in the memorandum the fees of the clerk, but the clerk shall add the same according to the fees of the clerk fixed by statute.
      4.  Within 3 days after service of a copy of the memorandum, the adverse party may move the court, upon 2 days’ notice, to retax and settle the costs, notice of which motion shall be filed and served on the prevailing party claiming costs. Upon the hearing of the motion the court or judge shall settle the costs.


After this Memorandum of costs is filed, the opposing party only has 3 days in which to object to the costs request. This is called a Motion to Retax. Once the court has both documents, and supporting documentation, they will make a decision (either with or without a court hearing).
 

Next time, we will discuss immigration status in personal injury actions.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is Speed of a Car Admissible in a Court of Law in Nevada?


A car accident happens in Las Vegas. One car is going over the speed limit. The injured party is going 55 in a 45 zone, when another car makes a left hand turn in front of them. The left hand turn driver attempts to argue that if the injured party had been going the speed limit, then the parties would never have collided. This argument is not allowed pursuant to Nevada law.

The seminal case from the Supreme Court of Nevada is almost 100 years old and titled Bawden v. Kulinski, 48 Nev. 181 (1924).  This case held excessive speed cannot be used in this manner. Courts have determined that when a driver has the right of way, and his speed does nothing but bring his vehicle to the same location as the other driver, his speed is irrelevant. Regardless of the injured party’s speed, the injured party had the right of way, and the right to assume that no one was going to invade it and cut him off. 

Courts have held this way because, saying that a driver’s speed caused a collision, can be construed as an irrational argument. For example, this argument can also be used to say that the speeding driver would have cleared the point of impact by driving drastically higher than the speed limit, or much lower. So, if the injured party had been traveling slightly faster, the accident would not have taken place. To avoid these absurd arguments, courts consistently hold that the mere fact that someone’s excess speed brought the two vehicle together, is not allowable argument in a court of law. 

Next time, we will discuss what costs are allowed in Las Vegas court cases.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What Happens When A Minor is Involved in a Car Accident?



Most people do not know that when a minor is involved in a car accident, special legal steps must be taken in the minor’s personal injury claim.

First, Court approval must be sought, before any settlement can be confirmed. That means, once the parents have agreed to the settlement amount, the Court must also agree that the settlement amount is in the best interests of the minor child. It also doesn’t matter if the minor is a teenager and will turn 18 soon. As long as they have not reached 18 years of age, the Court must agree to the settlement terms.

Additionally, the parents cannot hold onto the settlement money for the son or daughter. That means, parents cannot invest the monies in the stock market or any other type of higher yield investment.  Instead, the settlement funds for the child must be placed in an interest bearing blocked account with a local financial institution. Only when the child reaches 18 years of age can they can access that money. So, parents cannot take any money out of that account at any time.

Next time, we will discuss if whether a car is speeding is admissible in a court of law.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Happens When You Get a Ticket for Not Having Your Registration Sticker Even Though You Registered Your Car Online?


There are two separate laws that govern registration tags in Las Vegas, Nevada. One is the City law, called municipal law. While the other, state law, located in Nevada Revised Statutes, usually shortened to simply “NRS”.

Municipal is another word for City and includes the laws in the City of Las Vegas. According to Municipal Code §11.24.010, it is unlawful, on a street within the City, to "[p]ark a vehicle which does not display thereon a valid registration permit …  So, what happens when you renew your registration, but haven’t received that new color-coded sticker in the mail?

Nevada state law may come to your rescue. NRS §482.280(4) states that a car owner who has applied for renewal may continue to drive the vehicle for the time it takes the DMV to issue a new registration card aka sticker. NRS §482.280(4) states: an owner who has made proper application for renewal of registration before the expiration of the current registration but who has not received the license plate or plates or card of registration for the ensuing period of registration is entitled to operate or permit the operation of that vehicle upon the highways upon displaying thereon the license plate or plates issued for the preceding period of registration for such a time as may be prescribed by the Department as it may find necessary for the issuance of the new plate or plates or card of registration.

According to state law in NRS §482.280(4), your car registration is valid for a short time even if you have not received your new sticker. If you are issued a ticket under city law, you should be able to argue state law overrides the lower, city law.   



However, if you want to avoid these problems, it is good idea to print out your online registration renewal sheet and tape it to the interior of the back of your car, while you wait for your new sticker to arrive in the mail. This way, you won’t have the headache of dealing with a ticket. 
 


Next time, we will discuss what happens when a minor is involved in a car accident.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What is the Law Allowing the Police to Not Respond to Car Accidents?


You are in a car accident and you call the police. They ask you if you are injured. At that moment, you are in a state of shock and are not feeling any pain. The police tell you to exchange insurance information with the other driver.
 


Many people want to know, what gives the police the right to no longer come to all car accidents scenes. The answer may surprise you. It was actually the Nevada State Legislature who said that no report is needed in these types of car accidents. Nevada Revised Statute, (NRS) §484E.070, establishes the right that no report need to issued in any minor, “non-injury” causing auto accident. The key provisions of NRS §484E.070:   NRS 484E.070 Written or electronic report of accident to Department by driver or owner; exceptions; confidentiality; use as evidence at trial.
….   
 2.   . . . the driver of a vehicle which is in any manner involved in an accident on a highway or on premises to which the public has access, if the accident results in bodily injury to or the death of any person or total damage to any vehicle or item of property to an apparent extent of $750 or more, shall, within 10 days after the accident, forward a written or electronic report of the accident to the Department. ….

So, if no one is injured, no accident report is required. However, if there is substantial property damage, which appears to be $750 or more, then a report is required.


Next time, we will discuss what happens when your renewal sticker is not on your license plate.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What is the Law on Car Rental and Loss of Use in Las Vegas Auto Accident Cases?



You are in a car accident. Your car is damaged, needing extensive repairs. You need your car to get to work, take care of your family and do every other errand to manage your life.  But the at-fault driver’s insurance company is dragging their feet on getting you a rental car. So, you rent a car yourself. After weeks of rental car, you decide you can no longer afford it.  You rely on friends and family for another week, while your car is being repaired.
 


It turns out the insurance company never gets their act together and you have three property damage losses:1. Car Repair costs; 2. Rental Car Costs; 3. Vehicle Value and 4. Loss of Use for your own car while you didn’t have your car or a rental car. The seminal case on car issues after a car accident is Dugan v. Gotsopoulos, 117 Nev. 285 (2001)
 

Car Repair Costs. This is the easiest property damage to prove. Evidence of the car repair costs from the car repair shop can be used to document your out-of-pocket car repair costs.
 

Rental Car Costs.  In Dugan, the Nevada Supreme Court determined that the lower trial court should have allowed Dugan herself to testify about rental car costs. Furthermore, the court held that expert testimony is not required when discussing car rental costs. Here again, any out of pocket expenses can be documented through the rental car receipt.
 

Loss of Use. ‘Loss of Use’ is a term of art used to describe the situation when you do not have your own car (as it is in the car repair shop), but cannot afford to rent a car, after a car accident. In Dugan, the Nevada Supreme Court determined that the lower trial court should have allowed Dugan to recover loss-of-use damages. The Nevada Supreme Court stated that a party may recover loss-of-use damages for the time period in which that party has lost use of her personal vehicle as a result of damages to her automobile. These damages may be measured by reasonable rental car costs for a reasonable period within which to repair the vehicle. A party need not actually rent a vehicle to recover loss of use damages if that party is financially unable to rent a substitute vehicle. "The owner has suffered compensable inconvenience and deprivation of the right to possess and use her chattel [personal property] whether or not a substitute was obtained."
 

Moreover, in order to establish loss-of-use damages, expert testimony is not required. A party is permitted to testify about rental car rates, as long as that person had some basis for the valuation. Loss-of-use damages may also be awarded for the inconvenience of loss-of-use based on individual circumstances, to which the party can testify. If you rented a car for a period of time, using that daily rate would be a good starting point for the value of “Loss-of-Use”.
 

Vehicle Value. The Nevada Supreme Court also stated that the Kelley Blue Book could be used as evidence of the vehicle's value. They cited NRS 51.245, which  provides:  “Market quotations, tabulations, lists, directories or other published compilations, generally used and relied upon by the public or by persons in particular occupations, are not inadmissible under the hearsay rule.” The Nevada Supreme Court stated that Kelley Blue Book is a publication that is generally used in the automobile industry as a price list and generally relied on by persons in the trade to determine the value of an automobile. Therefore, the damaged party is allowed to present the value of her automobile through the Kelley Blue Book.

Next time, we will discuss when the police must respond to a Las Vegas auto accident.

Monday, October 13, 2014

How Are Arbitrators Selected in Las Vegas, Court Mandated, Arbitration Personal Injury Actions?


The Nevada Arbitration Rules (“NAR”) govern arbitrations in Clark County, Nevada. Rule 6 describes how an arbitrator is actually selected in your personal injury case. First, the arbitration commissioner gives both parties identical lists of 5 arbitrators. These 5 arbitrators are randomly chosen from the arbitration commissioner’s global list of approved arbitrators in Las Vegas.

Each party only has 10 days to strike up to 2 arbitrators on the list. If both sides strike 2 different arbitrators each, then the remaining fifth arbitrator will be the arbitrator that decides your case. If both parties have stricken the same arbitrators on the 5 person list, then the arbitration commissioner will randomly pick an arbitrator from the remaining names.
 

It is important to note that the parties are able to bypass this 5 arbitrator list if they choose to do so. This is done by the parties jointly selecting an arbitrator from the arbitration commissioner’s global list or a private arbitrator. If this is done, the willing arbitrator must submit an affidavit to the arbitration commissioner, stating that they have agreed to arbitrate the case and will comply with Nevada’s arbitration rules.
 

Next time, we will discuss getting a rental car after you have been in a Las Vegas car accident.

Monday, October 6, 2014

What Are Mediations and Settlement Conferences in Las Vegas Personal Injury Court Cases?


Mediations and settlement conferences are one of the most useful tools in your injury attorney’s tool belt to settle Las Vegas litigation cases. Both are ways to settle your case and avoid trial. In Las Vegas personal injury cases, a mediation is meeting, with an experienced personal injury attorney and/or former judge, to possibly settle your case.  All of the parties and their attorneys will be present during the mediation.  


Prior to the mediation, each parties’ attorney will submit confidential mediation briefs, discussing the case and providing all necessary supporting documentation. The mediator will have received and reviewed these briefs prior to the date and time set for the mediation. This way, the mediator will have a thorough understanding of your case, before you even walk into the door to meet the mediator. During the mediation, the mediator will meet with each side privately in an attempt to bring the parties together for a successful resolution of the case. This process may take hours as the mediation goes back and forth between each party. If the mediator is successful and the parties have reached a settlement agreement, then the parties will put their agreement in writing. At the end of a positive mediation, each side will have avoided a costly and uncertain outcome at trial.


There are a few differences between mediations and settlement conferences in Las Vegas injury cases. Settlement conferences are just like mediations, expect for a few key differences. In a settlement conference, a current judge, sitting in Clark County’s District Court, acts as the “mediator”. However, they are called a “settlement conference judge” instead of a mediator. The title is different, but the role is the same. Additionally, since judges are paid by our tax dollars, the judge acts as the mediator without additional payment from the parties.


In settlement conferences, the judge who is acting as the “settlement conference judge”, is NOT the judge who would hear your case, if your case proceeded to trial. The settlement conference (aka mediation) is conducted by different trial court judge, randomly assigned by the courts, based upon availability. 


A “settlement conference judge” is therefore a current sitting trial court judge, while a mediator is private attorney or former judge, who devotes much of their time in their role as mediators. Depending on the complexity of the case, the parties may agree to hire a private mediator. A private mediator may have more time to review a very complex case. Additionally, in a settlement conference, the parties generally cannot choose which trial court judge will actually mediate their case. As such, sometimes the parties want to know ahead of time, who their mediator will be in their case. Whether you have a mediator or a “settlement conference judge” to facilitate settling your case, this decision is made on the specific facts of your case. You can discuss this choice with your experienced injury attorney


Next time, we will discuss Arbitration Selection Lists in Smaller Las Vegas Personal Injury actions. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Is the Client’s Role in a Las Vegas Personal Injury Litigation Case?



If a lawsuit needs to be filed in a personal injury case, your injury attorney will be doing much of the work. Your job is get the medical care you need and recover from your injuries.  However, there are three main times in a lawsuit where the client’s involvement is critical.


Prior to any lawsuit being filed, you will have initially met with your injury attorney and had many interactions prior to any lawsuit being filed. These three times of client involvement are what happens after a lawsuit has been filed.

Interrogatories.
Soon after a lawsuit is filed, you "the client", will need to answer and sign written questions that the at-fault party’s attorney has submitted in your case. These are called interrogatories. Your answers to the at-fault party’s written questions will be based upon your medical history, medical records and the facts of the case. Your injury attorney will go over the questions with you, so you fully understand what is being asked of you. You will make sure that your answers are true, complete and accurate. Your answers must be verified, i.e., signed in front of notary, as true and accurate. Your attorney will make sure that they have a notary on hand. It is important to note that your answers can be used in court and during your deposition, since they have been verified as true and accurate by you.

Deposition. The next time in a litigation case where the client will need to be involved, is during a deposition. A deposition is a statement made under oath. Your injury attorney will meet with you prior to your deposition, to go over the deposition process with you and tell you what you can expect. The deposition will also be set at a date and time that is convenient for your schedule. Your injury attorney will also be present with you when the deposition takes place.  

Defense Medical Examination. If you are suffering from ongoing pain as a result of the injuries you sustained in the accident, then the at-fault party will likely request that you undergo a medical examination by a physician of their own choosing. This is called a defense medical examination. The defense’s doctor will be provided with all of your relevant medical records and after conducting a physical examination of you, will prepare a report as to their findings. 

Of course, at the conclusion of these three events, it is most likely that both sides will come together to resolve the case, through what is called a mediation or a settlement conference. You, as the client, will be present during any in-person settlement negotiation meetings.

Next time, we will discuss what are mediations and settlement conferences in Las Vegas personal injury litigation cases.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What Happens After a Case is Successfully Removed from Nevada’s Arbitration Program?



A common question your personal injury attorney gets asked, is what happens after a case is successfully exempted from Nevada’s arbitration program? Today’s blog sheds light on the start of the general litigation process and what clients can expect during this process.
 


Once a case is successfully taken out of Nevada’s mandatory arbitration program (which is designed for smaller personal injury cases), then the larger, non-arbitration cases, must comply with the strict requirements of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure. The first thing that happens, is that your injury attorney and the attorney for the at-fault party, will schedule a meeting to discuss the case in person and develop a timetable for discovery (discovery = the exchange of documents and witness lists). This meeting is called the “Early Case Conference”.  After the Early Case Conference is held, the attorneys will prepare what is called a “Joint Case Conference Report.” This report outlines the attorney’s timetable agreement and basic issues of the case.

The Joint Case Conference Report is then submitted to the court. After the report is given to the court, a trial date will be issued by the trial court. Additionally, official deadlines for the complete exchange of documents and witness lists, will also be issued. The timing for the disclosure of expert reports and deadlines for filing motions with the court will also be set by the court at this time. These documents issued by the court, are called the Discovery Scheduling Order and the Order Setting Civil Jury Trial. These documents get the ball rolling and your case moving forward. 


Next time, we will discuss the client’s role in the personal injury litigation process.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How Do You File a Petition for Exemption from Arbitration in a Las Vegas Personal Injury Claim?


The law governing how to file an exemption from the Nevada’s mandated arbitration program, is set forth in the Nevada Arbitration Rules (“NAR”), Rules 3 and 5. In personal injury cases, if your case has a case value of $50,000 or more, then your injury attorney will file a petition for exemption from arbitration (“petition”). This is done so your case is funneled into southern Nevada’s regular litigation channels and where there is no cap on the amount of damages that you can claim. 

This petition must be prepared and filed within 20 days after the at-fault party files its answer to the complaint (aka your initial lawsuit paperwork). The petition will included a brief summary of the accident and your injuries, together with a quick synopsis of your medical treatment and the amount of your medical bills.  


Your injury attorney will have to set forth in the petition that your case fits into one of the categories for exemption. Once the petition is signed and filed by your attorney, then the at-fault party’s attorney has an opportunity to file a response, called an opposition, to the petition. It will then be up the Arbitration Commissioner to decided whether your case qualifies for removal from the arbitration program. If your case is exempted from the arbitration program, then your personal injury attorney will move your case forward through the regular litigation track. 


Next time, we will discuss what happens after a case is successfully exempted from Nevada’s arbitration program.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Are the Discovery Rules Changed in a Las Vegas Personal Injury Arbitration Case?

 

If you have read my prior posts, you know that Las Vegas personal injury cases with a value of $50,000.00 or less, must go into Nevada’s court mandated arbitration program. The initial purpose of the program was to provide a speedy and cost-effective option for smaller personal injury cases. To further that end, once the case has been accepted into the program, the general strict rules of discovery as set forth in Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 16.1, do not apply. See Nevada Arbitration Rules (“NAR”), Rule 4. 

Instead, NAR, Rule 11 applies. According to NAR Rule 11, within 30 days from the appointment of the arbitrator, the parties’ attorneys will usually have a telephone conference with the arbitrator, to create a streamlined discovery plan. Because NAR Rule 11 says that discovery cannot be costly or burdensome, the written discovery is typically limited, as is the length of time a deposition can last.
 

During the actual arbitration hearing, the arbitrator will also typically relax the rules of evidence and procedure. See NAR, Rule 8. So, in an arbitration, the laying of a foundation or establishing a chain of custody, does not generally have to be done. Also, depending on what the arbitrator allows, witnesses can make “hearsay” statements, which would generally be excluded in a regular court of law. 
 

Next time, we will discuss how to file an exemption from the Nevada’s mandated arbitration program.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How Does Someone Qualify to be an Arbitrator in a Las Vegas Personal Injury Case?


Las Vegas car accident cases that are valued at $50,000.00 or less, are funneled through Clark County, Nevada’s mandatory arbitration program. In this special arbitration program, a private judge is assigned to your case. What qualifies someone to act as the private judge in your personal injury case?

First, the arbitrator must have a minimum of 8 years of experience as a licensed Nevada attorney, a member of the American Arbitration Association, or a professional with a law degree who has been working in their field for the minimum time requirement of 8 years.
 

Once this threshold minimum of 8 years of legal or arbitration experience is established, the potential arbitrator will then undergo a thorough background check. The background check is done to ensure that no one with a serious criminal history or questionable disciplinary record is on the panel.

If selected, the potential arbitrator must also complete an arbitration training program, to fully prepare them to act as arbitrators in Las Vegas personal injury cases. Once sworn in, the arbitrator is then subject to the same high ethical standards as set forth in the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct.


Next time, we will discuss how the normal discovery rules are altered in a Las Vegas arbitration case.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What Happens When the Police Do Not Respond to a Car Accident Scene?

You were involved in a car accident. You called the police, but since you aren’t bleeding on the roadway, they won’t come to the accident scene. What should you do after the car accident, while you are still at the accident scene? If you were involved in an auto accident and the police have declined to respond to the accident scene, there are few steps you can take to document the accident.
 

Step 1
Exchange Information.  After an accident, ask the other driver for their insurance information. They are required by law to have it with them at all times while they are driving on the Las Vegas roadways.
 

Step 2
Witnesses.  Sometimes, the word of a disinterested witness can decide your case. If there were any witnesses to the car accident, get their names and contact information. Only you can get this information. Ask them for their cel phone number and email as well as their home address and where they work. People tend to move or change phone numbers. So, if you have multiple ways to contact the person, if one way is no longer good, you will have other ways of getting a hold of that person, when it comes time for them to provide their version of events.    


Step 3
Take Pictures.  Take pictures of the areas of your car that were damaged in the accident. Also, remember to take photos of the damage to the other car involved in the accident. It would also be important to photograph the accident scene, including the intersection and the location of where both of your cars ended up after the crash.
 

If you are injured, seek immediate medical attention and speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.  

Next time, we will discuss what qualifies someone to be an Arbitrator in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What Is the Process of a Deposition Las Vegas Car Accident Court Cases?


Today’s discussion centers on the ground rules for a deposition in Las Vegas injury court cases. A deposition is just a statement under oath. For more information on depositions themselves, please see my previous discussions of them. 
 

Transcript. When a deposition starts, the court reporter will ask you to raise your right hand and affirm under the penalties of perjury, that you will testify to the truth. In a deposition, the court reporter will take down all questions asked and your answers. So, the final product will look like a play. Although the deposition will likely take place in a conference room, you need to be mindful that a deposition is considered an official court proceeding and anything you say will be part of the court record.

Best Testimony. The attorney asking the questions will ask you if you have taken any medication on the day of your deposition and if so, what medications. This question is asked to see if you can give your best testimony, or if the deposition should somehow be re-scheduled. If you are on heavy pain killers on the day of your deposition, it may affect your testimony. At minimum, the attorney taking your deposition, must be entitled to that information.


Information Reviewed. As part of the deposition process, the attorney may ask you what materials you reviewed and with whom you may have spoken to about your upcoming testimony. So, if you reviewed the Traffic Accident Report or spoke with any witnesses prior to your deposition, the opposing attorney would be entitled to know that information. Of course, any conversations you had with your own personal injury attorney would be excluded, as subject to the attorney-client privilege.


Verbal Responses. The person who is taking your deposition, will tell you what are called “admonitions”. These are basically the rules of the road during a deposition. One the first admonitions, is that since the court reporter is typing down all of your answers, your answers must be verbal. So, no nodding of the head or shrugs the shoulders will do in a deposition. If you want to answer affirmatively, you must actually say “yes”. Also, since the court reporter is typing everything down, they cannot take down hand gestures. So, if you want to indicate how much crush damage there was to your car in the accident, instead of using your hands to indicate two feet, you must actually verbally say “two feet”.


Answering Questions. If you do not understand a question, you have the right to ask the attorney to re-phrase the question. However, if you answer a question, then the opposing attorney will have the right to argue that you understood the question.


One Person at a Time. Also, since the court reporter is taking everything down, you must wait for the attorney to finish asking their question before providing your answer. The court reporter can only take down one person at a time. In everyday speech, we have a tendency to anticipate where a question is going and simply jump in and provide the answer, to make the conversation go faster. You must resist this urge during a deposition, as the questioner could take the question in a different direction. But, even if you correctly guessed where the question was going, you must let the court reporter type the question in full, before providing your answer.


Best Estimate. Also, the lawyer asking the questions in a deposition, is entitled to your best estimate of times, dates and distances. However, they do not want you to guess. The classic example of the difference between an ‘estimate’ and a ‘guess’ is that you could ‘estimate’ the length of the table you were sitting at while the deposition is proceeding, but since you had never been to the questioners home, you would be ‘guessing’ as to the length of their dining table.


Breaks. During the deposition process, you are allowed to take as many breaks as you need to use the restroom, or step outside for a break. However, if a question is pending, you must respond to the question before taking a break.


Testimony Changes. A deposition is a statement under oath.  After the deposition is over and the court reporter has provided a typed playbook of the questions and answers, you will be entitled to make any changes you feel are necessary to the transcript. However, if you make any substantive changes, changing your answer from a “yes” to a “no” in response to a question, then the opposing attorney can comment negatively on your credibility at the time of trial. Also, if you change your answer to a question at the time of trial, then the attorney can again say that you were either not being truthful at your deposition or at the trial. So, it is important to answer all questions carefully and honestly at your deposition.


Next time, we will discuss, what to do at an auto accident scene, if the police do not respond.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How Are Juries Selected in Las Vegas Car Accident Court Cases?


Many people wonder how juries are selected in Las Vegas auto accident cases. Potential jurors are questioned regarding their ability to act as jurors. This questioning is called “voir dire”. Most state court judges in Nevada, start this process off by asking questions of potential jurors to see if any of them could qualify to be on the jury. So, anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or has a felony conviction, would not be eligible to sit on a jury in Nevada.

When the judge asks their questions, it is usually of a broad nature. For example, if someone has a nursing baby at home and they therefore cannot be in a two week trial. These reasons to be off the jury are called “hardship” reasons and the judge may excuse a juror if severe hardship is present.

Once the judge finishes this initial canvassing, then each side gets to ask the jurors specific questions. If any juror is embarrassed or would like privacy when answering certain questions, then that particular juror can be questioned out of the presence of the rest of the potential jury members.

In most cases, strict time limits are not imposed on the time each side is allowed to ask questions of the jury. During this questioning process, both sides can seek to exclude potential jurors in two ways. The first way is for “cause”. The second one is called a “peremptory challenge”.

When a potential juror is excused for “cause”, it means that there is a specific reason that they would not be a fair and impartial juror. For example, if a juror knows one of the parties, then they would be unable to be a juror, since their personal relationship with one of the parties, could affect their verdict. Additionally, if a potential juror says that they cannot follow the rules of law as stated by the judge, then they too would be excused for cause. However, if a juror is excused for cause on a particular case, that juror could be asked to be a potential juror in another case. Once all of the potential jurors have been excused from service for cause, then both sides can simply exclude jurors without having a specific reason. 

Both sides take turns in using their peremptory challenge. A list gets passed back and forth between each side, with each side getting to cross off a potential juror off the list. The number of peremptory challenges varies in civil and criminal cases. Once the total number of strikes are made, then the judge has the remaining people enter the jury box and the case begins. Jury selection, called voir dire, is an important part of a trial and allows everyday citizens to take part in our justice system.

Next time, we will discuss what can you expect during a deposition in Las Vegas injury court cases.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What Are Common Negligence Causes of Action in Las Vegas Car Accident Cases?



When a lawsuit is filed, your injury attorney will have to state causes of action that apply in your Las Vegas car accident case. A “cause of action” is a set of facts that, if proved, entitle you to relief. In Las Vegas, typical causes of action in personal injury cases are negligence, negligence per se and negligent entrustment. The elements of each cause of action will be discussed. 


Negligence. The most common cause of action in an auto accident case is Negligence. The legal elements of Negligence are (1) defendant (at-fault party) owed a duty to plaintiff (injured party); (2) defendant breached that duty; (3) defendant’s breach caused plaintiff’s injury; and (4) plaintiff suffered damages. So, each party has a ‘duty’ to act reasonably. If they ‘cause’ an accident, then they ‘breached’ that duty. If you were injured in the accident, then you sustained “damages”.

Negligent Entrustment.
In a car accident case, where someone was driving another person’s car and they caused an accident, your attorney may make a claim for Negligent Entrustment. The facts needed to sustain a claim for Negligent Entrustment are as follows:  (1) defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff; (2) defendant breached that duty of care to plaintiff by knowingly entrusting a vehicle to an inexperienced and/or incompetent person, the driving defendant; (3) the breach by defendant was the legal cause of plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) plaintiff has suffered personal and bodily injury damages in excess of $10,000.00.   
 

Negligence Per Se. When the defendant has violated a statute that was intended to protect persons such as an injured person in a car accident case, then a case for Negligence Per Se may be alleged. This cause of action should be alleged after you have set forth the basic facts of the car accident at issue. Once you have done that, then you can state the following to make a claim for Negligence Per Se: (1) the above complained of actions of defendant are negligent per se in that her blatant failure to use due care was in violation of NRS 484.363 (or your statute at issue) requiring operators of motor vehicles to decrease speed as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person or vehicle. This statute was intended to protect the rights of persons, such as plaintiff, from injuries and damages which are foreseeable and likely when the provisions of these statutes are disregarded and/or violated by persons such as defendant here; (2) as a direct and proximate result of all the foregoing negligent per se acts of defendant, plaintiff has suffered the damages complained of above; (3) as a direct result of the above mentioned negligence of defendant, plaintiff has suffered personal and bodily injury damages.

Although there are many potential causes of action, the above are some of the more common ones in your typical car accident case. Next time, we will discuss how are juries selected in Las Vegas auto accident cases.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How Are Complaints Drafted in Las Vegas Accident Court Cases?



When your personal injury attorney files a lawsuit in Las Vegas, she has to file what is called a “Complaint”. A Complaint is the actual document that starts a lawsuit. If the insurance company will not settle your case for a reasonable amount, then your personal injury lawyer will file a Complaint on your behalf.


It is important to note that Nevada is what is called a “Notice Pleading Jurisdiction”. A ‘pleading’ is any written court document. ‘Jurisdiction’ is what gives the court authority to hear the case. In personal injury cases, jurisdiction is generally determined by physical location (city, county, etc.) and what is in controversy (monetary amount). Although Las Vegas has many courts (please see previous postings for a discussion), most injury cases will be filed in District Court. Our District Court hears injury cases that are valued at over $10,000.00.  Las Vegas is located within Clark County, Nevada. As such, if you case is valued over $10,000.00, then your Complaint will be filed in Clark County’s District Court. 

To establish jurisdiction, there must be language in the Complaint to indicate to the Court that it has jurisdiction to hear the case. As such, your injury attorney will state in the Complaint, that the accident took place, or the parties are located, in Las Vegas (Clark County). Additionally, the amount at issue, over $10,000.00, needs to be stated in the Complaint. However, even if your case has a value of over $50,000.00, your injury attorney is still required to put in the Complaint, that your case has a value in excess of $10,000.00, not the specific amount you are claiming.

As a Notice Pleading Jurisdiction, the Complaint needs to a have a short, plain statement of the case. Your injury lawyer will state that what happened in the accident and legal causes of action relevant to your case, negligence, etc. Since we are a notice pleading jurisdiction,  all of the witnesses and the entire history of your medical treatment, is not needed to be included in the Complaint. Once the Complaint is filed, then your accident attorney will serve it on the at-fault party and your litigation will proceed. 

Next time we will discuss common causes of action in Las Vegas personal injury cases.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What is “Discovery” in Las Vegas Car Accident Court Cases?



“Discovery” in a Las Vegas court cases is a term used for the exchange of information and documents. This exchange of information can be in written form or via personal means. The major areas of discovery will be looked at today.  


If your injury was due to a injury causing location, then a “site inspection” will  be coordinated with your personal injury attorney and opposing counsel.  A site inspection means, an investigation of the scene where your injury took place, will be conducted. Your injury lawyer will also ensure that any necessary experts are secured, to also investigate the accident scene. 

Discovery also consists of written questions, including Interrogatories, Request for Admission and Request for Production of Documents. Interrogatories are written questions that generally ask you what your injuries are, if you have any lost wages and related items.  Your answers will be typed up, and you will review your typed up answers for accuracy.  Since these are your answers, they must be attested to and signed by you. Your personal injury attorney will have a notary on hand, where you can set up an appointment and sign your answers in the presence of a notary. 


The other types of written questions are called Request for Production of Documents and Requests for Admission. In both of these, your accident attorney will prepare the responses, as your verification of them is not required by law. In Request for Production of Documents, the other side will ask for all documents related to your injury claim. For example, they may ask for all of your accident related medical treatment, documents supporting your claim for lost wages, and any relevant pre-accident injury records. 

With respect to Requests for Admission, the other side may ask you to admit certain facts. For instance, they may ask you to admit that you have completed treating for the injuries you sustained in the accident or to admit that you were stopped at a red light, when the accident took place. Your injury lawyer will answer these questions, based upon the facts of your individual case.

Additionally, if you are suffering from an ongoing, permanent injury, then the at-fault party’s attorney, the defense, may ask that you undergo a medical exam. The medical examination will be conducted by a defense expert doctor of their own choosing. However, the defense medical examination will be coordinated at a date and time that works with your schedule.  

Your deposition will likely also be taken in Las Vegas litigation cases. As you may already know, a deposition is a statement under oath. Here, you will be asked questions by the opposing attorney.  A court reporter will be present typing all of the questions asked and your answers. Of course, your personal injury attorney will prepare you prior to the deposition on what to expect and will be present during the entire deposition process.
 

Next time, we will discuss initial lawsuit documents in Las Vegas injury court cases.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Is My Medicare Status Relevant in a Las Vegas Personal Injury Case?


Being involved in an accident presents a lot of challenges. But, if you are on Medicare then that is another issue that must be addressed after your accident. However, it is important to note that your personal injury lawyer will handle that aspect of your case for you.


When you come in for your initial visit, your accident lawyer will have you sign a Medicare form, to determine whether you are currently on Medicare. If you are not on Medicare, you will simply sign the form, indicating that you are not on Medicare. But, if you are on Medicare, then you will be required to provide your Medicare number. The reason this is done, is due to the fact that the at-fault party’s insurance company will require this before any settlement funds can be distributed.  


Your injury attorney will want to make sure the end of your case goes as smoothly as the beginning case. As such, your efficient accident lawyer will want you to sign this form at the start of your case. Your attorney will then provide it to the insurance company immediately.


By law, the insurance companies can and do ask about your Medicare status. This is also done because many insurance companies will contact Medicare before issuing the settlement monies. Also, even if you are not currently on Medicare, but will be eligible for Medicare within the upcoming two years from the date your personal injury case settles, then Medicare will have to be contacted as well.


If Medicare actually paid for any accident related treatment, then Medicare will require that they be re-paid for the accident related treatment they provided. Even if Medicare has not paid for any of your accident related treatment, some insurance companies will require a written letter from Medicare, that Medicare is not requesting re-payment of any of your treatment. This process will be handled by your injury attorney and the at-fault party’s insurance company. Since it may affect your case, it is something to keep in mind.
 

Next time, we will discuss effective communication with your personal injury lawyer.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What is a Release of All Claims in a Personal Injury Case?


When a Las Vegas personal injury case is settled with the insurance company, the insurance company will require you to sign a document, called a “Release of All Claims”. This document is often referred to as a “Release”.

A Release is a document which completely ends your personal injury case against the other party. The Release spells out all of the settlement terms, in writing. As such, the Release sets forth the date of the accident and the amount of settlement for the injuries you sustained in the accident. The Release will also state that the settlement being offered, is the full and final amount you will receive from the at-fault person and their insurance company. 


A Release is usually a short document discussing the above. However, before you sign it, your accident attorney will review and go over the Release with you. The insurance company will usually require that you sign the Release in front of a Notary Public, which your personal injury attorney will have available.


Once the Release is signed by you, your lawyer will mail the original Release, as they will not accept photocopies, to the insurance company. When the insurance company receives the signed Release, they will then mail out the settlement check to your personal injury attorney.


Next time, we will discuss what happens when you are Medicare eligible, or will be eligible for Medicare within the upcoming two years from the date your case settles in Las Vegas Nevada.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How is a Personal Injury Case Valued by My Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney?



A common question that comes up in my law practice is how a personal injury case is valued. There are many variables that go into a case valuation. Each of the main variables are discussed today.


Medical Bills. Your medical bills make up the first part of how your case is valued. Any accident related treatment you have received would be considered past medical bills and figure into the analysis. Additionally, if you have any future medical costs that have been attested to by your doctor, then those future medical costs will be part of your case valuation.
 

Lost Income. The next part of the analysis is if you have sustained any lost wages or other monetary losses. So, if you were off work due to accident related surgery, then those losses would be considered part of your past monetary loses. There must be documentation of your past lost income, which may include a letter from your employer and your prior and current tax returns. In serious cases, if your ability to work has been altered, then those future economic losses form part of the equation. In those cases, an expert economist is usually hired by your personal injury attorney, to properly calculate those future economic losses. 

Pain and Suffering. Your overall “pain and suffering” is also part of how a case is valued.  This is determined by the extent of your injuries and medical treatment. If you have only sustained a “whiplash” type of injury, then that would have a lower pain and suffering value, than if you required surgery due to your injuries. Also, if you have fully recovered from your injuries, that would have a lower pain and suffering value, than if you have ongoing pain and will require accident related medical treatment in the future.


Scars. If you were involved in a slip and fall incident and had scarring to your body, this would also be included as part of your damages. The location and size of the scar is also important. For example, scarring on your face would have a higher value than a scarring on your legs.


The above list make up the main variables that go into calculating the amount of your losses. However, each case is looked at individually by your accident attorney, as no two cases are exactly alike. 


Next time, we will discuss Release of All Claims in your Las Vegas accident and injury cases.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Should I Bring to my Initial Meeting with my Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer?


When you select a personal injury attorney to meet with, there are a few things that you need to bring to your initial meeting to make the best use of your meeting. Here is what you should bring to your consultation:

Pictures. If you are involved in a car accident and took pictures with your cell phone, you should bring your cell phone to your initial consultation. You will then be able to show your attorney photographs of your car and other vehicles involved in the accident. Once your personal injury attorney has seen the photographs, they will have a better understanding of the accident. You will then be asked to email those pictures to your attorney.


Police Printout. If the police were called to the accident scene, you will be given a printout concerning the accident. This is not the official police report, but it called the “Traffic Collision Information” sheet. It is about the same size as a receipt. This sheet lists where and when the car accident happened, as well as who was in the cars, including the drivers and all passengers. This information sheet will also list the insurance information for all vehicles involved in the car accident.
 

Hospital Medical Records. If you were taken the hospital immediately after the accident, then the hospital will supply you with a printout of some of your medical reports. By having a copy of these records and bringing them to your initial consultation, it makes requesting your complete urgent care medical records much easier for your personal injury attorney.
 

Insurance Information. If you have more than just the basic liability insurance policy, then it is important for your auto accident attorney to review your insurance policy. Your attorney will only need to look at one page. This important page is called the “Declarations Sheet”. This is the piece of paper your insurance company gave you that says how much you are paying for insurance and what insurance coverages you have. I have a previous blog post on insurance coverage, if you want more information on why this is important for your personal injury attorney to review at the time of your initial meeting.
 

Your attorney will go over the above documents with you, as well as go over what happened in the accident and your injuries. From there, you and your attorney will discuss the next steps in getting you the medical care you need and your car repaired.
 

Next time, we will discuss how a personal injury case is valued by your Las Vegas personal injury attorney.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Does Hearsay Mean in Las Vegas, Nevada Personal Injury Cases?


Hearsay is basically a statement that was not made in the courtroom, but that someone wants to discuss while on the witness stand. So anytime you hear someone say, “you’ll never believe what Joe told me . . .”, Joe supposed statements would be called hearsay in a court of law. Since you could be making up gossip about Joe, the court wants to make sure this information is true. However, there are a lot of exceptions to this general rule that second hand information cannot come into a trial.

Chapter 51 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (“NRS”) governs hearsay and what statements are allowed to come during a trial. Including the basic hearsay rule, there are about 40 different sections to Chapter 51! Today, we are just going to go over the sections that come up frequently in personal injury cases.


In an example of an auto accident case, where our driver, Joe, is sitting in his car on his way to work, stopped for a red light. Zoe, who is driving up to the intersection where Joe is sitting, doesn’t realize the light has turned red and rear ends Joe’s car. Immediately after the accident, Zoe is startled and gets out of her car.


Making sure Joe is okay, Zoe goes over to Joe’s car and apologizes for causing the car accident. Zoe tells Joe that she was looking at a website on her phone and not paying attention to the light. Zoe’s statement immediately after the accident, could be argued to be “present sense impression” or an “excited utterance” and therefore not excluded by the hearsay rule. See NRS 51.085 and 51.095. It also turns out that there was also a witness to the accident, Keisha, who was walking her dog and saw the entire accident unfold. Keisha gives Joe her contact information and tells him that she will testify on his behalf.
 

Since Zoe has overheard what Keisha told Joe, Zoe starts to be concerned, since she was driving her parents’ car and doesn’t want to get in trouble. Once the police arrive, Zoe gets nervous and changes her story. Zoe tries to blame the accident on Joe, saying that he pulled out in front of her, causing the accident. Although not bleeding, Joe has sustained serious injury to his spinal column and requires months of medical treatment. Since Zoe will not accept responsibility for the accident, Joe’s personal injury case against Zoe goes to trial.

Before the case goes to trial, Joe’s personal injury lawyer takes Keisha’s deposition testimony. (See my previous blog article on depositions if you are unfamiliar with them).   However, when the time for trial arrives, Keisha has moved and has not left a forwarding address. Since Keisha is nowhere to be found, her statements made in her deposition can be heard by the jury. See NRS 51.055 and 51.325.


In this car accident, Joe’s family and friends are also allowed to testify as to his physical condition after the car accident. When Joe’s sister, Kate, gets on the witness stand, Kate can testify as to Joe’s statements concerning how Joe was feeling after the car wreck. See NRS 51.105. Relatedly, any statements Joe made to his medical treatment providers, would also be allowed in, at the time of trial. See 51.115. From the above scenario, you can see that there are a lot of exceptions to the general rule that out-of-court statements, “hearsay,” do not come into a trial.


Next time, we will discuss what to bring and what to expect in your initial meeting with your Las Vegas personal injury lawyer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How Long Do I Have Before I Must File a Lawsuit in My Personal Injury Case, in Las Vegas, Nevada?


Depending on the type of personal injury case you have, there is certain time period in which you must file a lawsuit to protect your rights. Nevada Revised Statute 11.090(4)(e), is the law in Nevada that says if you have a personal injury action, that you must file your lawsuit within two years, otherwise you will be forever barred from doing so.

It is important to note that this section of the statute only governs the negligence of regular people, such as in car accident cases. For example, if a doctor is negligent in treating a patient, he is governed by a different rule and different time period. This statute only governs acts of negligence that we encounter in our everyday lives, such as slip and falls and car and truck accidents.


There are other parts of Nevada Revised Statute 11.090, which apply to different types of cases, such as contract cases. However, each type of case has it own, different, time period. Although this can be a bit confusing, it is important to note that in a personal injury case in Nevada, the statute of limitations in which to bring a lawsuit is two years.


Children who have not reached the age of 18 and people who are disabled (which disability prevents them from filing the lawsuit), the two year period does not start to run until they have reached adulthood or are no longer disabled. If you have a loved one who is disabled and are uncertain as to whether the time period is put on hold for them, seek the advice of an attorney immediately, so as to not harm their legal rights in any way.


Despite the fact that you have two years to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault person in the state of Nevada, you should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney immediately, as many things need to be done well in advance of the two year deadline, to ensure you have properly protected your rights. 


Next time, we will discuss “hearsay” in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How are Trials Dates Scheduled in Las Vegas, Nevada?


When you file a lawsuit in Las Vegas, Nevada, your case will actually take place in the Clark County, Nevada court system. As soon as you file a file lawsuit, your case will be automatically assigned to a specific trial judge. In Las Vegas, all trial dates are set by the trial judge assigned to your case. 

If your lawsuit is in Las Vegas’ regular litigation channels, once the at-fault party answers the complaint, the parties’ attorneys must meet and discuss what type of information needs to be exchanged before the case can proceed to trial. This exchange of information is called “discovery”. Once the attorneys meet, they must prepare what is called a Joint Case Conference Report and submit it to the Discovery Commissioner, who rules on all discovery disputes in the first instance (appeals are then brought to your individual trial court judge).  The Discovery Commissioner then prepares an Order regarding discovery, called a Discovery Scheduling Order.


Once the Discover Scheduling Order is signed by the Discovery Commissioner and filed with the clerk of the court, then a copy gets forwarded to your trial judge. Based upon how long when your discovery period is and the trial judge’s trial availability, that is when your trial date will be issued. 


When a trial date is issued, you are put on what is called a “trial stack”.  A trial “stack” means that many other cases are given the same trial date. Usually trial stacks last 5 weeks. This means, that if your case does not settle, you could go to trial anytime within that 5 week block of time.


Since most cases settle before trial, this has proven to be an effective way to schedule trials. So, for example, let’s say you have a trial “stack” date of July 1st. If your case has not settled, the week before you are scheduled to go to trial, your personal injury attorney will go to court for you and see if you are actually going to proceed with trial on that date or sometime within the following 5 weeks. That is called a “calendar call”. At the time of the calendar call, you will usually be issued a firm trial date. This is because, the judge knows which of the cases have settled and puts the remaining cases within that 5 week period, usually taking into account everyone’s schedules in the process. 


Next time, we will discuss statutes of limitations in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.