Monday, September 29, 2014
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
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
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
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
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.