Monday, May 26, 2014

How is Service of Process of a Lawsuit Conducted in Las Vegas, Nevada?

There are special rules on how you can give lawsuit paperwork to someone, and who can receive the lawsuit paperwork. Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, section (6) governs regular service of lawsuit paperwork upon individuals. Today’s discussion is service of lawsuit paperwork on adults, as opposed to corporations or minors. When you are serving a lawsuit on someone, you, the injured party, are known as the ‘plaintiff; and the at-fault party, the one being sued, is called the ‘defendant’.

Service of lawsuit paperwork is legally called “service of process”. Rule 4 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure requires that to legally serve a lawsuit on a person, it must be done: “. . . to the defendant personally, or by leaving copies thereof at the defendant’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein . . .”

This rule requires that a defendant be “personally” served. Although there are special rules for a defendant when you do not know where they live or if they live in a guard gated community, today’s discussion applies when you know where they live and it is not in a gated community. Based upon the rule, you cannot mail a copy of the lawsuit to the defendant. This also means that your process server cannot simply slide the lawsuit documents under the door. Questions then frequently come up as to who at the house can accept the lawsuit paperwork if the defendant is not home.

What happens when the defendant’s 12 year old child takes the lawsuit paperwork? The statute says the person who receives the lawsuit paperwork, must be “of suitable age and discretion”. It is unlikely that a minor child would be considered ‘of suitable age and discretion’. In this example service is invalid.

Also, what if you are out of town and your neighbor is feeding your cats for you when the process server comes to the door and gives them the lawsuit paperwork? The rule requires someone “residing therein” to accept service of the paperwork. Since your neighbor does not “reside” at your house, service of the lawsuit would be inadequate, even if they did leave the paperwork at your house for you to find upon your return.

What if your roommate is home and is served with the lawsuit paperwork? In this example, service would be in full compliance with the rule. Your roommate is an adult, therefore “of suitable age and discretion”. Also, your roommate does “reside” in the same home as you do. Based upon this scenario, service of the lawsuit paperwork would be valid.

Proper service of the lawsuit documents is integral to your lawsuit. Without serving the lawsuit paperwork on the defendant, properly, you cannot move forward with your case for personal injuries.

Next time, we will discuss trial dates in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What is an ‘Offer of Judgment’ and What Does it Mean for Your Case in Las Vegas, Nevada?

An Offer of Judgment is a special type settlement offer in a case where a lawsuit has been filed. What makes an Offer of Judgment different from a regular settlement offer will be discussed today. Offers of Judgment are governed by the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 68 and Nevada Revised Statute, Rule 17.115. 

Both parties in a lawsuit can issue an Offer of Judgment. That means the injured party, as well as the at-fault party can issue an Offer of Judgment. In an Offer of Judgment, the party desiring to settle, issues a written settlement offer to the other side. If you are the injured party, you are basically saying to the other party, "this is how much I am willing to accept to resolve this lawsuit." If the at-fault party wants to settle, their Offer of Judgment says they will pay a certain amount to the injured party to resolve the lawsuit.

In both instances, if the party who writes an Offer of Judgment is able to obtain a more favorable award at trial, then they can ask the judge to award them attorneys fees and costs from the time the Offer of Judgment was made through trial. 

For example, if the injured party issues an Offer of Judgment for $7,000 and she gets a trial award of $8,000, then she has gotten a better award at trial. That means she can ask the judge to require the other side to pay her attorney’s fees and costs from the time the Offer of Judgment was made, through trial. The reason, is that if the other side had accepted the Offer of Judgment, then they would have paid less.

The purpose of the Offer of Judgment rules is to encourage parties to settle their cases before trial. Any time, at least 10 days before trial is scheduled to start, a party can issue an Offer of Judgment. The trial judge has discretion as to whether to award attorneys fees and costs of suit.

Next time, we will discuss how to serve a lawsuit on an at-fault party in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What is Involved in a Deposition in Las Vegas, Nevada?

If you are involved in an injury accident in Las Vegas, Nevada and a lawsuit is needed to protect your rights, you may be asked to give a deposition. A deposition is simply a statement under oath. The rules governing depositions are found in Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 30. Rule 30 goes on for pages and pages. Today’s blog will give a quick summary of Rule 30.

During a lawsuit, the at-fault party’s attorney is allowed to take your deposition. However, they have to provide you with at least 15 days notice of the deposition. In practice, you are usually given more notice than the 15 day minimum. Additionally, the deposition will be coordinated with your schedule in mind.

Rule 30 states that the party wishing to take your deposition must pay for the cost of the deposition and tell you in advance how it is going to be recorded. Most depositions are recorded by a stenographer, more commonly called a court reporter. The other way a deposition may be recorded is via videotape. Again the videographer is paid by the person who wants your deposition videotaped. The videographer records your deposition with sound, just like you would videotape an interview.  By contrast, the court reporter has a special shorthand typewriter and types all the questions that are being asked of you and all of your answers. The court reporter then puts the all the questions and answers into a booklet form, so everyone can later look at the questions asked and your answers to those questions.

During the deposition, your injury attorney may make objections to the questions being asked. Unless your attorney directs you not to answer, you must answer the questions. In the deposition, you will be asked questions of your general background, such as education and employment. You will also be asked about the accident at issue, your medical treatment and the injuries you sustained.

After the deposition is concluded, you have the option to review and sign the deposition transcript for any typographical errors or if you want to change your answer to a question. However, if you change your answer to a question, the opposing attorney could attack your credibility if the case were to go to trial. It is therefore best to adequately prepare for the deposition, so you can give the most accurate responses at the time the deposition takes place.

Next time, we will discuss Offers of Judgment in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What are Defense Medical Examinations in Las Vegas, Nevada and What Can I Expect During the Examination?

Defense Medical Examinations happen in Las Vegas, Nevada personal injury court cases. It is important to note that Defense Medical Examinations only take place when the insurance company refuses to settle and you are forced to go to court to enforce your rights. When a Defense Medical Examination does take place, clients have questions concerning what they can expect in the process. Today’s discussion will hopefully answer some of your questions concerning the process. 

When you are injured an accident and now are having long term health effects, the insurance company for the at-fault party will sometimes want their doctor to examine you.   This is called a Defense Medical Examination. The rule governing Defense Medical Examinations is set forth in the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (“NRCP”), Rule 35:


      (a) Order for Examination.  When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) of a party, or of a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner or to produce for examination the person in the party’s custody or legal control. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made.

      (b) Report of Examiner.
              (1) If requested by the party against whom an order is made under Rule 35(a) or the person examined, the party causing the examination to be made shall deliver to the requesting party a copy of the detailed written report of the examiner setting out the examiner’s findings, including results of all tests made, diagnoses and conclusions, together with like reports of all earlier examinations of the same condition. After delivery the party causing the examination shall be entitled upon request to receive from the party against whom the order is made a like report of any examination, previously or thereafter made, of the same condition, unless, in the case of a report of examination of a person not a party, the party shows that the party is unable to obtain it. The court on motion may make an order against a party requiring delivery of a report on such terms as are just, and if an examiner fails or refuses to make a report the court may exclude the examiner’s testimony if offered at the trial.
              (2) By requesting and obtaining a report of the examination so ordered or by taking the deposition of the examiner, the party examined waives any privilege the party may have in that action or any other involving the same controversy, regarding the testimony of every other person who has examined or may thereafter examine the party in respect of the same mental or physical condition.
              (3) This subdivision applies to examinations made by agreement of the parties, unless the agreement expressly provides otherwise. This subdivision does not preclude discovery of a report of an examiner or the taking of a deposition of the examiner in accordance with the provisions of any other rule.

Before a Defense Medical Examination can take place, there must be a court order or an agreement between your personal injury attorney and the insurance company’s defense attorney, that the examination will take place. Most of time, the parties will simply agree to the Defense Medical Examination, if you are still suffering from the effects of the accident at issue. This is due to the fact, that when you are claiming ongoing pain and injury, the court is almost always going to order that you undergo a Defense Medical Examination.

Prior to the examination, you will know the name and address of the doctor performing the examination. The examination will take place at a date and time that is convenient with your schedule. Once it is scheduled and you appear for the examination, the defense doctor will perform a physical examination of the areas that have been injured in the accident. The doctor will also review your accident related medical records.

Once the examination is over, the doctor will prepare a report of his findings as to whether he thinks you are injured and if those injuries were caused by the accident at issue. The report will be given to the insurance company’ s lawyer as well as your personal injury attorney. Your attorney will then meet with you to discuss the defense doctor’s findings.  Of course, no matter what the defense doctor thinks, your accident treating physicians will still provide their own opinions of your injuries. This is just one part of the process in a Las Vegas, Nevada court case. As with all parts of the process, your personal injury attorney will be with you every step of the way.

Next time, we will discuss Depositions in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.