Author: drpadmin

Award of Attorney’s Fees in Personal Injury Litigation

Award Of Attorney’s Fees In Personal Injury Litigation

A common question experienced personal injury and car accident attorneys typically hear from clients is can we get the at-fault party to pay our clients’ attorney’s fees. The answer is usually no, but there are a few exceptions.

The general rule regarding awarding attorney’s fees is called the “American rule,” where each side is responsible for their attorney’s fees, regardless who wins. This rule applies in Nevada as well. Unless an exception applies, a personal injury victim who files a lawsuit and wins will not be able to recover attorney’s fees from the at fault party.

In personal injury cases, exceptions to the American rule are usually found in statutes or court rules. The following are some of those exceptions that allow a winning party in a personal injury lawsuit to seek an award of attorney’s fees and costs.

Cases Less than $20,0000

A plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit who wins $20,000.00 or less may recover their attorney’s fees from the losing party. This is permitted under Section 18.010(2)(a) of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). The purpose of this rule is to allow plaintiffs in small lawsuits the opportunity to be made whole or to be fully compensated. See Northern Nevada Homes, LLC v. GL Construction, Inc., 134 Nev. 498, 422 P.3d 1234 (2018). Often times, the cost of litigation and attorneys deter those with minor injuries or smaller claims from filing lawsuits. This in turn motivates insurance companies to deny or force small cases into litigation, in hopes that some attorneys or litigants will stop pursuing their case. This happens particularly in low property damage car accidents or minor impact soft tissue or MIST injury cases.

Mandatory Arbitration

In Nevada, all personal injury cases valued at $50,000.00 or less generally proceed under the Court Annexed Mandatory Arbitration program. The prevailing party in cases in the arbitration program can ask the arbitrator to award attorney’s fees up to $3,000.00. This rule is set forth under Rule 16(E) of the Nevada Rules of Alternate Dispute Resolution.

Short Trial

Personal injury cases in the Court Annexed Mandatory Arbitration Program can end up in a short trial. Any party to a mandatory arbitration case can request a short trial within thirty (30) days of an arbitrator’s decision. In addition to the offer of judgment rule below or NRS 18.010 discussed above, Rule 27 of the Short Trial Rules permits and award of attorney’s fees up to $3,000 to the prevailing party.

Prevailing Party Wins An Award Higher Than Offer of Judgment

One of the most common way to obtain an award of attorney’s fees in a personal injury case is by issuing an offer of judgment and, if the offer is not accepted, winning an award higher than the offer of judgment. This is allowed under Rule 68 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure.

To invoke this rule, the prevailing party must have first issued an offer of judgment at least 21 days before trial. In the offer, a party states they are willing to settle the entire case or certain claims for a specific amount. The offer must be reasonable and in good faith in both timing and amount. See Beattie v. Thomas, 99 Nev. 579, 588-89, 668 P.2d 268, 274 (1983). This means that the offer made was reasonable in amount and based on the information available at the time that offer was made.

The other party to whom the offer of judgment is issued has fourteen (14) days to accept the offer. If the offer is not accepted within that time, the offer is considered rejected. If the party that issued the offer then wins an amount higher than what they offered to settle the case for, that party can ask for an award of attorney’s fees.

Under the recent Nevada Supreme Court decision in Capriati Construction Corp., Inc. v. Yahyavi, 137 Nev. Adv.Op. 69, 498 P.3d 226 (Nov. 2021), a trial court may now award a personal injury attorney’s full contingency fee. The Court reasoned that permitting award of a personal injury attorney’s full contingency fee promotes the public policy behind the offer of judgment rule.

The public policy behind Rule 68 or the offer of judgment rule is to promote settlements. The purpose of Rule 68 was to punish parties who fail to accept a reasonable offer of judgment. Permitting the award of an attorney’s full contingency fee fulfills that purpose.

If you or a loved one are facing a lawsuit for injuries you sustained as a result of a car accident in Las Vegas, the experienced accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can assist you. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, we can advise and guide you through the process and obtain the best results possible.

Failure to Use Seat Belt Increase Deaths from Car Crashes

Best car accident attorney

Failure to Use Seat Belt Increased Deaths from Car Crashes

According to the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), car crash deaths have increased despite the Covid Pandemic. Contributing to this increase is the failure to use seat belts. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) reported the number of deaths of non-seat-belted drivers and passengers in Nevada increased by 20 percent from 2019 to 2020.

A recent crash highlighted how failure to use seat belts have contributed to more crash deaths. On a Thursday morning in September, two cars crashed into each other at the intersection of Flamingo and Lindell, and one of the drivers was thrown out of their car and died. The driver that died was not wearing a seatbelt. According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, this was the 92nd crash-related death in Metro’s jurisdiction.

In May, a crash in North Las Vegas left one person dead and two others with critical injuries. The person who died and one of those critically injured weren’t wearing their seat belts.

Statistics from OTS showed that seat belt use in Nevada fell from 93.2% in 2010 to 89.4% in 2016. Nationally in 2020, only 90.03 percent of vehicle occupants used seat belts. Users of rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have also a tendency to not use seat belts.

Nationally, 22,215 were killed in car crashes in 2019, and 47% of them were not wearing seat belts. In Nevada, 22.3% of those killed were not using seat belts. From 2014 through 2018, Nevada saw 337 unbelted occupants die in crashes. A large number of deaths from crashes involving pickup trucks and SUVs involve occupants not wearing seat belts. Also, a greater number of crash deaths at night involve occupants without seat belts.

What are Nevada’s Seat Belt Laws?

Nevada law requires all passenger cars to be equipped with at least two shoulder-harness seat belts for front seat occupants. Nevada law also requires all occupants of passenger cars to be wear seatbelts. Under NRS 484D.495, the maximum penalty for not wearing a seat belt is a traffic ticket for a non-moving violation and a mere $25, with no Nevada demerit points. This $25 penalty has remained the same amount for decades, despite other changes to the statute.

Also in Nevada, law enforcement can’t stop vehicles merely because the occupants are not wearing a seatbelt. Traffic citations can be issued for non-seatbelt use only if a vehicle is stopped for other legitimate reasons. Such a law is called “secondary enforcement” seat belt law.

Nevada’s seatbelt statute also prohibits defendants and their insurance companies from arguing that not wearing the seatbelt as contributory negligence.

AHAS, amongst others, have argued that Nevada’s seat belt laws are not enough to save lives. They advocate for adopting laws that better enforce seat belt requirements.

How Does Nevada’s Seat Belt Laws Compare with Those of Other States?

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have what’s called primary seat belt law. This means that law enforcement can stop and cite vehicle occupants for non-seat belt use. Some states issue citations if only the front seat occupants are not wearing seat belts; others issue citations for both front and back seat occupants. In its recent report, AHAS has given Nevada poor grades for its seat belt laws.

The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety estimates that if the state were to adopt a primary seat belt law, the state could save at least 9 lives, 125 serious injuries, and $25 million in costs.

Buckle Up and Save Your Life

By now, it should be common sense that using seat belts saves lives and prevent greater injuries. Seat belts can help prevent car occupants from being thrown out of their cars on impact. Being ejected from a vehicle in a crash is nearly always deadly. By using seat belts, a car crash doesn’t have to produce devastating results. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that buckling up can reduce the risk of fatality in a passenger car by 45% and by 60% in a light truck.
Let’s dispel the excuses for not wearing seat belts:

  • I’m not driving that far, just down the street.” You don’t have to drive far to be the victim of a crash. A crash can happen on the road just in front of your house.
  • “I’m just driving in the parking lot.” Crashes happen in parking lots too. A lot. After decades of experience, we’ve seen far too many parking lot accidents.
  • The airbags will save me.” Airbags do not work like seat belts. They are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts, not replace them. Without a seat belt, a driver could be thrown into a rapidly opening air bag. Such force could injure or even kill you.
  • Seat belts are uncomfortable.” Being injured or dead is more uncomfortable.
  • I’m a safe driver.” While you may be a safe driver, others you share the road with may not be. The best defense against distracted drivers or drunk drivers is to wear your seat belt.

From personal experience, the car accident lawyers of D.R. Patti & Associates know what it’s like to lose a loved one from a crash. We stood by a grieving mother who lost her 18 year old daughter in a single vehicle accident. There were six occupants in the car, and only our client’s 18 year old daughter died. Why? Because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car on impact. We too have lost loved ones from car crashes. One of our attorneys lost a family member who was thrown out of his car during a crash; that family member also wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

If you or a loved did become a victim of an unfortunate collision, the personal injury law firm of D.R. Patti & Associates can help. Our top-rated car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have over 50 years of combined experience in car claims in Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin, and Reno, Nevada. We know Nevada personal injury law and have the skills to get you the compensation you deserve.

Online Shopping Leads to More Truck Accidents

Truck Accident Attorney Las Vegas

Online Shopping Surge Lead To More Trucks And Accidents On The Roads

When the COVID Pandemic forced many to quarantine from home, home delivery services, in particular Amazon, saw their business boom. That boom, however, resulted in more large commercial trucks on the road and more truck accidents. According to a report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, deaths from truck accidents increased by 48% from 2009 to 2019.

As of 2019, there a reported 2 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. This includes 300,000 to 500,000 long-haul truckers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of trucking jobs to increase by 2%.

The effect of Amazon’s growing business on the number of trucks on the road cannot be underestimated. While there are no specific hard numbers on how much of the truck increase is due to Amazon, there are stories that Amazon has caused increased demand for trucks and truck capacity. Common sense dictates that as Amazon sales increase, the more trucks will be servicing Amazon’s needs.

Amazon is not alone in contributing to the trucks on the roads. In trying to keep up with Amazon, other retailers, including Walmart, have offered free shipping. This means even more trucks on the roads. More trucks results not just in congestion but more crashes, traffic fatalities, and injuries.

To satisfy the demand, Amazon has relied on its own fleet, as well as contracting with freelance or independent truck drivers and other commercial transporters. According to reports, Amazon has emerged as the fourth largest delivery company in the nation, it has also relied on a network of small trucking companies and owner-operators. In either case, Amazon controls the drivers’ schedule. The New York Times reported that “Amazon requires that 999 out of 1,000 deliveries arrive on time, according to work orders obtained from contractors with drivers in eight states.”

Their paychecks are signed by hundreds of companies, but often Amazon directs, through an app, the order of the deliveries and the route to each destination. Amazon software tracks drivers’ progress, and a dispatcher in an Amazon warehouse can call them if they fall behind schedule. Amazon requires that 999 out of 1,000 deliveries arrive on time, according to work orders obtained from contractors with drivers in eight states.

— Patricia Callahan, “Amazon Pushes Fast Shipping but Avoids Responsibility for the Human Cost,” The New York Times

But it’s not just more trucks. Amazon boosted its sales with promises of 2-day free shipping. This promise increased pressure on truck drivers for quicker deliveries. BuzzFeed News reports that Amazon dispatchers “often compel [drivers] to skip meals, bathroom breaks, and any other form of rest, discouraging them from going home until the very last box is delivered.”

Amazon Boom Resulted in Increased Pressure on Drivers and Caused More Accidents

We’ve heard the stories of Amazon delivery drivers urinating or defecating in their trucks because they don’t have the time to go to a restroom. They have deliveries to make, and everyone wants their Amazon Prime 2-Day deliveries. With a shortage of truck drivers, delivery companies have to make keep up with demand with less drivers.

On the truck driver shortage, NPR reports:

The driver shortage has been a persistent issue in our industry for many years,” says Bob Costello, chief economist of the ATA. “We have numerous examples of fleets of all sizes raising pay, increasing bonuses and increasing benefits, like time at home, in response to the shortage.” Costello says the “shortage” has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and new regulations that require better drug testing of drivers (which the ATA supports). And, he says, this issue will get worse in coming years as truck drivers begin to retire. The average age of American truck drivers is 48.

— Greg Rosalsky, “Is There Really A Truck Driver Shortage,”

High turnover or retention rates at long haul trucking companies, as high as 90%, may contribute to the shortage. This means that 9 out of 10 long haul truck drivers don’t return.

The Covid pandemic contributed to the shortage as well, with the trucking industry reportedly losing 6% of its workforce.


More Truck Accidents Means More Injuries And Deaths

Recently, a Florida jury found two trucking companies responsible for the death of a teenager in a truck accident and hit them with a $1.2 billion verdict. Of that amount, $900 million was for punitive damages against the Canadian trucking company whose truck plowed into 20 vehicles, including that of the teenager. Those vehicles had been stalled in traffic because of the crash caused by the other trucking company.

Evidence at the trial showed that the driver for the Canadian company was traveling at 70 mph on cruise control and did not attempt to brake until one second before the truck crash. As to the first driver that caused the initial truck accident, the attorney for the teenager’s family argued that the driver was distracted by his cell phone, driving over the legal limits of hours and did not even have a commercial driver’s license. That driver hit a car, causing it to flip and burst into flames.

Like the rest of the nation, truck accidents in Nevada are increasing. Recently, two semi-trucks crashed into each other on U.S. Highway 95 in east Las Vegas, causing fuel to spill onto the freeway. In June, an Arizona commercial truck driver was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in state prison for plowing into and killing five bicyclists, as well as injuring others. Found to be under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, the truck driver told investigators he fell asleep while driving his regular work route.  On July 13, 2021, a semi-truck driver was killed when the front tire of his truck blew out on I-80.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a crash involving a commercial truck, the accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can help. Our team of truck accident lawyers have successfully litigated and obtained millions of dollars for families affected by truck accidents. When involved in a crash with a commercial truck, it is very important to retain a personal injury attorney right away. An injury lawyer experienced in dealing with trucking companies will ensure that evidence, such as the “black box” and even the truck, are preserved. Our accident attorneys will then retain experts to review the evidence and conduct any further investigation to prove our clients’ case.

Steps To Take After Experiencing a Cycling Accident in Nevada

Steps To Take After Experiencing a Cycling Accident in Nevada

Being on a bicycle that is hit by a car can be extremely frightening for all people involved. In many cases, the vehicle will hit the person on their bike directly. Unfortunately, these sorts of accidents often lead to injuries for the cyclist, including severe injuries like broken bones, facial trauma, road rash, and spinal injuries.

Even if you were wearing a helmet, being on a bicycle that is hit by a car can lead to head injuries. If you’ve recently experienced a bicycle collision in Nevada, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. This individual can discuss what happened and assist you as you move forward toward recovery.

What To Do After a Cycling Accident in Nevada

There are several steps you should take after being in an accident with a car while cycling. The safety of yourself and others on the scene should be a priority. You can walk through the steps below to make sure you handle everything appropriately at the scene of the accident and beyond.

This applies whether you are the cyclist, vehicle driver, or someone who happened to be at the location when the accident occurred.

Check Up On Others

If you are at the site of an accident between an automobile and a bicycle, the first step is determining whether anyone is injured or at risk of further injury. The cyclist might be injured, as may the driver of the car. In some cases, these injuries are serious and moving the individual to safety may not be immediately possible. If possible, let drivers coming near the scene know to drive carefully.

Ask for Medical Treatment

After everyone at the scene has been checked for injuries, the next step is contacting emergency services. While it might seem as if the accident was minor, it’s challenging to be sure of the extent of everyone’s injuries. In addition, the confusion and adrenaline surrounding an accident may cause injured people to be unaware that they are hurt.

This is particularly true for the person on the bike. Many individuals believe they are fine even when severely injured. Watch for signs of an injury and make sure emergency services are aware of any symptoms you notice. If someone in the accident has a serious injury, ask them to stay where they are until emergency workers can check on them.

Call the Police

An officer should be called to the scene of the accident. Don’t allow anyone to dissuade you from calling them. A police officer can ensure everyone is safe while determining whether the driver should have behind the wheel, ensuring accurate information is gathered, and preparing a report.

The police report will give information about how the bicycle accident occurred. It will explain the location, who was involved, and whether any witnesses were at the location. This is an important factor in protecting the cyclist if they choose to seek damages for injuries later.

Take Down Evidence

Taking photos of the accident is useful. It can show how serious the crash was, who was at fault, what happened, and how injuries were sustained. Try to take photos of the vehicle and bike from various distances, including pictures of the full scene, pictures from several feet away, and close-up photos of the damage. Photos of the surrounding area can also be useful.

Speak To Witnesses

In addition to taking photographs, talk to anyone who saw the accident take place. Witnesses can give information about how the crash happened, which is very useful if the cyclist and driver give different stories. Write down their information, such as their phone number, name, and address. This can be provided to the police officer when upon their arrival.

Get Compensation for Cycling Accidents

If you were injured in a cycling accident with a car, you need an experienced attorney who works with personal injury cases. This is the best way to ensure you get the damages you deserve. You can reach out to a Nevada injury attorney for a free consultation to learn more about your options.


Nevada Injury Lawsuits and Recovering Lost Earning Capacity

Nevada Injury Lawsuits and Recovering Lost Earning Capacity

If you are injured after an accident, it’s not uncommon to miss work. Sometimes the amount of time away from work is limited. But in other cases, severe injuries can completely change your career course. If you have any injury that keeps you from working in Nevada, lost earning capacity is considered in your damages.

Lost earning capacity is any future income that a victim is largely certain to lose after an out-of-court settlement or a lawsuit. When victims cannot return to work, these damages are often awarded lost wages in Nevada. Lost wages are defined as any income that has already been lost at the date of the settlement or lawsuit.

The Difference Between Lost Earning Capacity and Lost Wages

In accidents or other types of personal injury cases, Nevada law lets you recover for each of the following:

  • Loss of income that is reasonably expected going forward as a result of the injuries you have experienced.
  • Any wages and benefits from work that weren’t received between the time when the injury occurred and the lawsuit or settlement.

Lost wages are often proven with a large amount of certainty. This is because they are the amounts you have already lost due to missing work following an accident. However, lost earning capacity can be more challenging to prove. The amount is based on what you would have earned in the future if you were not injured.

The amounts are more speculative and harder to prove, but it can be done. The attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can help you prove the certainty needed by the court to recover lost earning capacity damages.

How Lost Earning Capacity is Calculated in Nevada Personal Injury Cases

Many factors can go into calculating your lost earnings in the future, including the following:

  • How long the injuries are likely to last?
  • Whether your income was performance-based or fixed?
  • Whether you will likely be able to return to normal employment?
  • What your long-term employment goals are?
  • How old you are and what your life expectancy is?
  • Any raises you might have received?
  • Your state of health before the injury or accident?
  • Potential for promotions in your work field?
  • The number of working years before your probable retirement?
  • Anything else that relates to your earning potential?

Length of Injury Time Needed to Recover Lost Earning Capacity

There is no specific amount of time that you must be injured to claim lost earning capacity in the state. However, Nevada typically only grants lost earning capacity if your injuries make it impossible for you to work for an extended period. This period typically extends beyond the last date when you can file a lawsuit.

The statute of limitations starts to count down as soon as you realize that you have an injury. In most cases with Nevada personal injury cases, this is a two-year period. However, it can be longer or shorter depending on the type of case. Failing to file a suit within the statute of limitations will cause you to lose your right to sue for the injuries.

With serious injuries, you may find that you cannot work while the statute of limitations is running. Other situations may lead you to miss out on promotions or other advancements within a company. Lost earning capacity in Nevada lets you recover damages for these opportunities and income.

Acquiring Damages in Nevada for Lost Earning Capacity

If you have been severely injured in the state of Nevada, you could be looking at a huge level of compensation from an insurance company. However, they work to delay your case and keep their losses low. Having an expert personal accident attorney on your side will help you get the damages you deserve for your injury.

Car Crash Deaths Increased Despite Pandemic

Car Accident Attorney Las Vegas

Despite the Covid Pandemic and the ensuing business shutdowns, the number of car crash deaths in Nevada rose by 3.3 percent in 2020 from the previous year. According to the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, there were 314 traffic-related fatalities on Nevada roads in 2020, 10 more from the previous year.

The increases in car crash deaths continued in the first half of 2021. In May 2021 alone, the total number of crashes and deaths were higher compared to May 2020. In that period, Clark County saw 86 deaths, a 31% increase in traffic fatalities. These Nevada traffic fatalities include deaths of automobile drivers and their passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The increase in traffic deaths from 2019 to 2020 came despite a 39 percent and 44 percent decrease in fatalities in March and May 2020. However, the summer months of 2020 saw an uptick in traffic deaths. Compared to the same time in 2019, June 2020 saw a 47 percent increase in traffic deaths.

In 2020, Emptier Roads Turned into Racetracks, Impaired and Distracted Driving was Reported as More Widespread, Protections Like Seat Belt Use Appear to Have Dipped, and the Traffic Fatality Rate Spike.

–Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

According to a report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), the increase in car crash deaths is part of a nationwide problematic trend. According to the report, even as overall traffic reduced, “the fatality rate increased dramatically and it was reported that dangerous behaviors such as excessive speed, lack of seat belt use and impaired and distracted driving were on the rise.”

Every day on average, approximately 100 people are killed & over 7,500 more are injured on America’s roads.

–Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

The increased traffic fatalities are not limited to cars and SUVs on the roads. The AHAS report cited statistics showing a 48% increase in large truck crashes from 2009 to 2019.

Another factor cited in contributing to some of these deaths is the failure to use seatbelts. In Nevada from 2019 to 2020, the number of unrestrained driver and passenger fatalities increased by 20 percent.

The AHAS criticized Nevada’s seatbelt enforcement as not being enough. In Nevada, drivers can’t be stopped for merely not wearing a seatbelt. Instead, drivers can only be cited for non-seatbelt use in conjunction with another citation.

To mitigate the increase in car crash deaths, the AHAS have championed for better laws and adoption of advanced life-saving technology. The AHAS called for making available affordable Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, also known as ADAS, more available and more affordable. Examples of ADAS include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind spot detection systems. This group is calling for federal and state lawmakers to adopt minimum safety standards for ADAS.

Its platform includes lobbying lawmakers to update current performance standards for vehicles. For example, citing the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the group criticized the performance of headlights in most vehicles.

The AHAS also called for changes not just in consumer vehicles but also for large trucks. It reported that U.S. Department of Transportation have ignored many lifesaving truck safety advances, “including effective underride guards, adequate entry-level driver training, and screening for obstructive sleep apnea.”

Car Crash Deaths and Wrongful Death Claims

If someone you love lost their life in a traffic accident, you may have a wrongful death claim. Such a claim is a type of claim made for the death caused by the negligence or other wrongful conduct of another. The death of anyone can have devastating emotional, psychological, and financial consequences to those left behind. Unexpectedly losing someone in a car crash leave people unprepared for those consequences.

Nevada law allows a deceased person’s immediately family or the person’s heirs to seek compensation for the loss of that person’s companionship and love, the family’s grief, and lost financial support. Imagine a child’s loss, growing up with a father or a mother.

The estate of the decedent can also make a claim for the decedent’s medical bills, as well as for the pain and suffering the person suffered before dying.

If you have suffered a loss of a loved one in a tragic accident, call the personal injury lawyers of D.R. Patti & Associates and see if you have a wrongful death claim. At our firm, you will speak with an experienced and skilled car accident attorney. We will investigate your claim and gather the evidence necessary to prove your case. Most importantly, we will be there for you every step of the way through this tough time.

How Much Is My Pain & Suffering From An Accident Worth?

Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney

Anyone injured in a car accident may want to know how much their pain and suffering is worth. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Generally, how much pain and suffering is worth varies from case to case and depends on how much juries have awarded in similar cases.

Unlike medical bills and income or wage loss, pain and suffering cannot be calculated with a simple mathematical formula. Nevada law leaves the amount awarded for pain and suffering up to a jury to decide.

What is Pain & Suffering?

One of the damages that the victim of a car accident or slip and fall claim can get compensated for is “pain and suffering.” This form of damages refers to the pain, discomfort, anguish, inconvenience, and emotional trauma. “Pain and suffering” damages is generally referred to as “non-economic” damages, because it is not compensating an individual for an amount of money they actually spent or lost, such as medical bills and lost wages. Rather, “non-economic” damages are less concrete and based on subjective evaluation of what an injured person had to go through because of a car accident, slip and fall, or other type of injury-producing events.

In Nevada, “non-economic” or “pain and suffering” damages also include “lost enjoyment of life.” Damages for “lost enjoyment of life” are also called “hedonic” damages. The Nevada Supreme Court explained hedonic damages as follows:

The term “hedonic” is derived from the Greek language and refers to the pleasures of life. Hedonic damages are therefore monetary remedies awarded to compensate injured persons for their noneconomic loss of life’s pleasures or the loss of enjoyment of life.

— Banks ex rel. Banks v. Sunrise Hosp., 120 Nev. 822, 835–36, 102 P.3d 52, 61 (2004)

Citing another court, the Nevada Supreme Court distinguished between “pain and suffering” and “lost enjoyment of life” as follows:

An award for pain and suffering compensates the injured person for the physical discomfort and the emotional response to the sensation of pain caused by the injury itself. Separate damages are given for mental anguish where the evidence shows, for example, that the injured person suffered shock, fright, emotional upset, and/or humiliation as the result of the defendant’s negligence.
On the other hand, damages for “loss of enjoyment of life” compensate for the limitations, resulting from the defendant’s negligence, on the injured person’s ability to participate in and derive pleasure from the normal activities of daily life, or for the individual’s inability to pursue his talents, recreational interests, hobbies, or avocations.

— Banks ex rel. Banks v. Sunrise Hosp., 120 Nev. 822, 835–36, 102 P.3d 52, 61 (2004)

Just because “pain and suffering” is not considered concrete does not make it less important. Often times in personal injury cases, “pain and suffering” forms the biggest or most important part of a victim’s damages. For example, an injured victim may have to endure decades of daily pain because they cannot undergo a procedure that will eliminate that pain. For that person, the medical bills may be low, but the pain and suffering award could be high. Essentially, the “pain and suffering” component of personal injury damages is about how an accident and the ensuing injuries affected someone’s life.

Who Decides The Award for Pain & Suffering?

In all cases tried before a jury, the jury is considered the fact finder. That is, the jury and not the judge gets to decide the extent of the injuries and other damages a car accident victim has suffered. Juries gets to decide the amount of medical bills the victim needs to be compensated for, along with lost income and other lost out of pocket expenses. In addition, juries gets to decide how much to award an injured victim for their pain and suffering.

When a personal injury case, like a car accident or slip and fall claim, goes to trial, a jury gets an instruction from a judge on what factors to consider. The following are sample jury instructions that may be given by judge at the end of a trial:


Measure of Damages

In determining the amount of losses, if any, suffered by the plaintiff as a [proximate] [legal] result of the accident in question, you will take into consideration the nature, extent and duration of the [injuries] [damage] you believe from the evidence plaintiff has sustained, and you will decide upon a sum of money sufficient to reasonably and fairly compensate plaintiff for the following items:

  1. The reasonable medical expenses plaintiff has necessarily incurred as a result of the [accident] [incident] [and the medical expenses which you believe the plaintiff will be reasonably certain to incur in the future as a result of the [accident] [incident]];
  2. Plaintiff’s loss of earnings from the date of the accident [incident] to the present [and any loss of earnings or earning capacity which you believe the plaintiff will be reasonably certain to experience in the future as a result of the injury(ies) sustained in the [accident] [incident]];
  3. The reasonable value of household services performed by another, which, except for the injury(ies), plaintiff would ordinarily have performed, which you believe the plaintiff incurred as a result of the injury(ies) sustained in the [accident][incident], from the date of the [accident][incident] to the present, and the loss of such services which you believe the plaintiff will be reasonably certain to experience in the future as a result of the injury(ies) sustained in the [accident][incident];
  4. The physical and mental pain, suffering, anguish, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life endured by the plaintiff from the date of the [accident] [incident] to the present; and

The physical and mental pain, suffering, anguish, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life which you believe plaintiff will be reasonably certain to experience in the future as a result of the [accident] [incident].

Nevada Jury Instruction 5.2:

Pain and Suffering:  No Definite Standard

No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of pain and suffering damages.  Nor is the opinion of any witness required as to the amount of such reasonable compensation. You must use your judgment to decide upon a reasonable amount based on the evidence and your common sense.

How to Prove Pain & Suffering

To prove pain and suffering, one has to start with the injury. Some injuries are worse than others, and some injuries, while they seem bad at first blush, don’t entail as much pain as others. For example, a fracture or broken bone is bad, but not all fractures are equally painful. The opposite is true too. There are injuries that don’t seem bad, like a “soft tissue” injury, but can entail a lot of pain. Medical records and doctor’s testimonies help show to a jury how an injury can cause pain and limitations on an injured person’s life.

The next step is to be able to explain how much pain or problems the injury is causing the injured victim. To prove pain and suffering, the accident victim’s testimony is crucial. Because there is no objective test or measure for pain and suffering, a jury has to rely on the testimony of the accident victim as to the amount of pain and suffering he or she is going through. If the accident victim is not believable, the jury will likely award less to that victim.

To help buttress the accident victim’s testimony, it is very helpful to have the victim’s family, friends, and co-workers testify about what they have observed the victim go through. For example, some people with severe back pain can’t sit or stand for prolonged periods of time. Those around them may testify how the injured person can’t seem to find a comfortable position or has to stand up after a few minutes sitting down. Friends and family can also testify as to how the pain and other symptoms affect their injured victim’s mood and how the victim goes out less or does less activities. The essence of these testimonies is to show how an accident and the ensuing injuries affected the quality of someone’s life.

If you or a loved one are having difficulties dealing with injuries and the pain resulting from a car accident or other types of accident, the personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can help. In our combined 50+ years of experience, our award-winning accident lawyers have helped thousands of injured victims in Nevada to get the treatment they need and the compensation they deserve. To better serve our clients, we have offices at four different locations – Downtown Las Vegas, Summerlin, Henderson, and Reno.

Nevada Car Accident Laws & What You Need To Know

Accident & Injury Attorney

Being involved in a car accident can be traumatizing and the aftermath can make decision-making difficult. However, there are certain things required of you as a party involved in a motor vehicle collision in Nevada. Knowing the obligations can ensure you take the appropriate steps after being involved in a car accident.

Nevada Car Accident Legal Duties

The five legal duties of anyone who is part of a collision in Nevada include the following:

  • Stop immediately or as soon as it is safe to exchange contract and insurance information.
  • Move yourself and your vehicle out of the way of any traffic.
  • Provide aid to anyone who has been injured in the accident.
  • Notify law enforcement officials.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone has been hurt.
  • Report the accident to the DMV for serious accidents unless the police have already done so.

These duties apply to car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. They also pertain to accidents that involve pedestrians or those associated with commercial vehicles.

Fleeing the motor vehicle collision scene may lead to being charged with a hit and run in Nevada. This article will delve into the most important things to be aware of related to Nevada car accident laws.

What To Do After A Nevada Vehicle Accident

A few steps need to be taken after a motor vehicle collision. First, stop and exchange your information with other motorists. This includes the other driver’s address and phone number and the make, year, model, and license plate number of the other vehicle. Sections 484E.010, 484E.020, and 484E.030 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) requires drivers to stop at the scene of a crash involving injury or death:

NRS 484E.010. Duty to stop at scene of crash involving death or personal injury; penalty.
1.  The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash on a highway or on premises to which the public has access resulting in bodily injury to or the death of a person shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close thereto as possible, and shall forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the crash until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of NRS 484E.030.
2.  Every such stop must be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
3.  A person failing to comply with the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years and by a fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $5,000. A person failing to comply with the provisions of subsection 1 commits a separate offense under this section for the bodily injury to or the death of each person that results from a crash with regard to which the person failed to comply with the provisions of subsection 1.
4.  A sentence imposed pursuant to subsection 3 may not be suspended nor may probation be granted.

Nev.Rev.Stat. 484E.010

NRS 484E.020. Duty to stop at scene of crash involving damage to vehicle or property; duty to move vehicle under certain circumstances.  The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall:
1.  Immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash; and
2.  If the driver’s vehicle is creating a hazard or obstructing traffic and can be moved safely, move the vehicle or cause the vehicle to be moved out of the traffic lanes of the roadway to a safe location that does not create a hazard or obstruct traffic and, if applicable, safely fulfill the requirements of NRS 484E.030.

NRS 484E.020

NRS 484E.030. Duty to give information and render aid.
1.  The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall:
(a) Give his or her name, address and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving, and shall upon request and if available exhibit his or her license to operate a motor vehicle to any person injured in such crash or to the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in such crash;
(b) Give such information and upon request manually surrender such license to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash; and
(c) Render to any person injured in such crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.
2.  If no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such crash after fulfilling all other requirements of subsection 1 and NRS 484E.010, insofar as possible on his or her part to be performed, shall forthwith report such crash to the nearest office of a police authority or of the Nevada Highway Patrol and submit thereto the information specified in subsection 1.

NRS 484E.030

Next, the cars should be moved out of traffic as soon as it is safe. Finally, if anyone has been injured, they should be assisted. This includes things like calling an ambulance or physician if needed for injuries related to the vehicle collision.

If you have an accident with an unoccupied vehicle, you must leave your name and information or find the owner. Leaving a business card and a written note is an easy way to meet the requirements. A driver who hits an unoccupied vehicle must also notify law enforcement. These requirements are set forth in NRS § 484.040 and NRS § 484E.050:

NRS 484E.040. Duty upon damaging unattended vehicle or other property.
1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, the driver of any vehicle which is involved in a crash with any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately stop and shall then and there locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle or other property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or other property or shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on such vehicle or property a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and of the owner of the vehicle doing the striking.
2.  If the vehicle of a driver involved in a crash pursuant to subsection 1 is creating a hazard or obstructing traffic and can be moved safely, the driver shall, before meeting the requirements of subsection 1, move the vehicle or cause the vehicle to be moved out of the traffic lanes of the roadway to a safe location that does not create a hazard or obstruct traffic and minimizes interference with the free movement of traffic.

NRS 484E.040

NRS 484E.050. Immediate notice to police officer of crash involving unattended vehicle or other property.
1.  The driver of a vehicle which is involved in a crash with any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of such crash to the nearest office of a police authority or of the Nevada Highway Patrol.
2.  Whenever the driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of giving an immediate notice of a crash as required in subsection 1 and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the crash capable of doing so, such occupant shall make or cause to be given the notice not given by the driver.

NRS 484E.050

While not required, it’s also a good idea to get the contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident. These people can provide testimony about who was at fault. You can also use your phone to take photos documenting the scene or take notes about what occurred.

It’s important not to state that you have no injuries. If you have a soft-tissue injury, this may not be obvious right away. You also should not apologize to anyone or admit the collision was your fault. This is considered an admission of guilt and insurance companies will deny your claims for doing so.

As mentioned above, you must notify the policy if you are in a collision that leads to injuries or death. You can call 911, 311, or *647 will put you in contact with the Nevada Highway Patrol. If you are too injured to call the police or an officer is on the scene, there is no need to call.

A Traffic Accident Report will need to be turned in within 10 days if anyone was injured or killed in the accident or damages of $750 or more are done to a vehicle or other property.

Car Crash Personal Injury Claims

Nevada is an at-fault state so you can file a claim with the insurance company of the driver who was at fault and/or with your insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. The settlement that is agreed upon will ideally cover all of the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Loss of benefits and funeral expenses in wrongful death cases

Even if you are partially at fault, you may be entitled to monetary damages. This is because Nevada modified comparative negligence laws allow a defendant to win a case as long as the other party was 50% or more at blame. This law is codified in NRS § 41.141.

Evidence is important to proving a vehicle accident lawsuit. Take photos, go to a doctor for injuries, and document everything that happened during the accident. Nevada’s statute of limitations for car accident claims is typically two years after a collision so it’s important to work with a personal injury attorney quickly to get the money you deserve.

If you or a family member have been injured in a crash in Las Vegas, Summerlin, Henderson, Reno and its surrounding areas, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates can help. In our combined 50+ years of experience, we have recovered more than $250 million for our clients. You can read about some of our successful cases here. Call us now and see how we can help.

Is It Worth Getting A Lawyer For A Minor Car Accident?

Should I Get A Lawyer For A Minor Car Accident?

The simple answer is yes. It’s even more important to hire a personal injury lawyer for a “minor” car accident than it is for a major car accident. Why? It’s because insurance companies tend to aggressively fight “minor” car accident claims. Auto insurers tend to argue that car accidents with little damage to the car can’t injure the persons inside the car. To a person who is not represented by an attorney, an insurance company may make extremely low offers, if any. Many times, an insurance company may not even offer anything without a lawsuit. Thus, those injured in what could be considered a “minor” car accident need the help of a skilled trial attorney with extensive personal injury experience to prove their case and obtain maximum compensation. The car accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates have litigated, settled, and won cases involving so-called “minor” impacts.

What is considered a “minor” car accident?

Generally, a “minor” car accident is where the damage is not extensive. While there is no fixed set threshold amount for property damage to be considered minor, damage that costs less than a couple of thousand dollars to fix will tend to be viewed as a minor crash. Usually, auto insurers look at whether the crash involved low speed. What is considered low speed? Generally, insurance companies will argue that speeds less than 10 mph, even sometimes less than 15 or 20 mph, won’t be enough to cause injuries. These are but myths spread by insurance companies to deter otherwise legitimate claims.

Of course, not all damage to a car can be seen at first glance. Just a visual assessment of the damage to a car may not reveal how bad an impact was. A lot of damage, even serious ones, can be hidden. Damage that is usually not visible until the car is torn down include frame damage and damage to the reinforcement bar that is behind the bumper.

Minor Impact Soft Tissue Injuries

In Nevada, low property damage equates to low offers and a take it or leave it attitude from insurance companies.  Such cases have often been categorized as MIST cases—Minor Impact Soft Tissue injury cases. Insurance companies equate minor property damage with low impact, as part of their “delay, deny, defend” strategy. They developed this strategy in the mid-1990s as a way to increase their profits. By taking a hardline approach, insurance companies made the car accident cases with less property damage more expensive and more time-consuming to fight. They take this approach regardless of whether the accident victim is an eggshell plaintiff or how other extenuating circumstances. An eggshell plaintiff is someone who is more susceptible to injury. The insurance company’s goal is to deter MIST or claims for personal injuries based on low property damages.

Can A “Minor” Accident Cause Injuries?

Even low speed crashes can cause injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, and spinal injuries. In fact, according to authors Croft and Freeman, there is little correlation between vehicle damage and the extent of injury. A low speed crash can still produce about 10-10 g of acceleration on a person’s head.

The amount of property damage is just but one factor to consider in assessing whether someone can be injured in a car accident. Other factors to consider are the type of vehicle, the age of the claimant, that person’s position at the time of impact, and whether that person is predisposed to injury. For example, a 70 year old woman with degeneration in her spine will respond differently to a low speed crash than an 18 year old. Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, a defendant is liable for “any physical injury they cause, no matter how unforeseeable, once they inflict harm on a plaintiff’s body.” Gibson v. County of Washoe, 290 F.3d 1175, 1192 (9th Cir. 2002). Thus, denying that someone can be injured based solely on property damage ignores the uniqueness of each individual.

If you or a loved one are facing a lawsuit for injuries you sustained as a result of a car accident in Las Vegas, the experienced trial attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates can assist you. With a combined total of 50+ years of experience, we can advise and guide you through the process and obtain the best results possible.


Understanding Nevada Personal Injury Damage Caps

Understanding Nevada Personal Injury Damage Caps

Generally, Nevada has no law that places a damage cap on the amount a person can recover in car repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and similar damages in most personal injury cases. However, exceptions exist for medical malpractice cases and government employees found negligent while carrying out their duties.

The law caps damages against a public employee to $10,000. In addition, Nevada does have caps on damages in two specific situations. There is a $350,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering as well as limits to punitive damages. This cap is $300,000 if the damages total less than $100,000 or three times the amount of damages if the damages are over $100,000.

Do Nevada Injury Cases Have an Economic Damages Cap?

The short answer is no. There isn’t a cap on what someone can try to recover for the purposes of economic damages. Economic damage awards consider past and future costs for expenses like lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, occupational and physical therapy, property damage, and short and long-term care.

You may also hear economic damages called special damages or pecuniary damages. Along with non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, economic damages are part of the compensatory damages in a personal injury case in Nevada

Are There Caps on Pain and Suffering Damages?

No, although an exception is made in medical malpractice cases. Recovery of non-economic damages is allowed in personal injury cases. These may also be called general damages. However, these damages can be hard to attach a dollar amount to. They can include compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Inconvenience
  • Loss of function of a limb or another body party

No caps exist except in claims of medical malpractice, which we explain below.

Do Caps Exist for Pain and Suffering in a Medical Malpractice Case?

There are caps on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case. The cap exists at $350,000 and is in place no matter how many people are liable for an injury. This cap was created in 2004 as a part of the Keep Our Doctors in Nevada ballot initiative. It applies to any cases related to the negligence of healthcare providers, like nurses, doctors, and hospitals.

What Punitive Damage Caps Exist in Nevada?

In most personal injury cases in Nevada, medical malpractice and otherwise, the cap on punitive damages is as follows:

  • $300,000 if the compensatory damages provided to the individual equal less than $100,000.
  • If the damages are more than $100,000, the cap is set at three times the amount of an individual’s damages in a lawsuit.

However, there are some exceptions here, too. For example, there will be no caps in the following situations:

  • Cases where a car or other vehicle accident has been caused by a driver who chose to consume drugs, alcohol, or both.
  • When a defective product was distributed, manufactured, or sold in Nevada.
  • Situations that involve a violation of state civil defamation laws.
  • Cases that show an insurer acted in bad faith concerning its requirement to provide insurance coverage.
  • Situations where injuries or damages were created through the disposal, emission, or spilling of hazardous, toxic, or radioactive waste or substances.
  • Specific violations of a federal or state law about the prohibition of discriminatory housing practices.

In each of these situations, no cap is applied to the punitive damages allowed in a Nevada personal injury case.

Experienced Representation Can Help You Win Your Case

Suppose you have been injured in an accident or as a result of using a dangerous product, a hotel accident, or a slip and fall accident. You will need the help of an experienced car accident and personal injury attorney in Nevada. This expert can help you determine your options and help you get the compensation you should obtain for your injuries. Reach out to use to learn more and receive a free consultation.