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Can A Car Owner Be Responsible For A Car Accident Involving Their Car?

Can A Vehicle Owner Responsible If Someone Gets Into An Accident In Their Car?


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Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney

Can A Vehicle Owner Responsible If Someone Gets Into An Accident In Their Car?

The owner of a vehicle can be responsible in some cases if they permitted someone to driver their car and that person gets into a car accident. This concept is called negligent entrustment. In essence under this concept, if an owner permits a person they know is unfit to operate a vehicle and that person causes a crash, the owner is responsible. Negligent entrustment can also apply when an owner knew or had a reason to know that unfit driver was using their vehicle and failed to stop it.

Who Can Be Responsible For Negligent Entrustment?

One of the leading cases on negligent entrustment in Nevada is the case of Zugel by Zugel v. Miller, 100 Nev. 525, 688 P.2d 310 (1984). In that case, a 13-year old purchased a motorcycle with the permission of his parents. The parents claimed they told their son not to drive the motorcycle on the public streets. But the son did, with a friend of his as a passenger. The son ran a stop sign and caused an accident. The passenger made a claim against the teenage driver and his parents. The parents disclaimed responsibility for negligent entrustment.

 

The Nevada Supreme Court disagreed with the parents. What swayed the Court was the son’s testimony that his parents knew he routinely rode his motorcycle on public streets. As stated by the Court, “[f]rom this fact alone the jury could have inferred that respondents possessed knowledge of their son’s activities of driving the motorcycle on public roadways.”

Under this theory of liability, the entrusting person need not have known that the motor vehicle was going to be driven on a public roadway. In fact, a parent who entrusts his child with a motor vehicle may be found liable under a theory of negligent entrustment even when the parent expressly instructs the child not to use the vehicle on a public roadway.

Nevada Supreme Court

The doctrine of negligent entrustment does not apply unless the person that gave permission is the owner of the vehicle. For example, in Mills v. Continental Parking Corp., 86 Nev. 724, 475 P.2d 673 (Nev. 1970), a parking attendant gave keys to a car’s owner who was allegedly obviously drunk. The drunk car owner then hit and killed a pedestrian. The Court held that the parking attendant cannot be held responsible for returning the keys to the owner, even though the owner was drunk. The Court reasoned, essentially, that the parking attendant had an obligation to return to the keys; otherwise, the attendant can be liable for conversion.

 

In Las Vegas, tourists too get into car accidents in rental vehicles. The question arises in those situations as to whether the rental car company can be responsible for a renter is an unfit driver. Under N.R.S. 483.610, a rental car company is required to check driver’s licenses, unless the renter comes from a country or state that does not require driver’s licenses. This statute further requires the rental company to visually inspect the license and compare the driver’s signature with that on the license. Attorneys for insurance companies and the rental companies have argued that this statute does not require rental car companies to verify that a driver has a valid driver’s license or is fit to drive a car.

What does it mean to be unfit or incompetent driver?

Not everyone who negligently causes a car accident is an unfit or incompetent driver. To answer the question of what is an unfit or incompetent driver, we have to look at the laws that says who can’t or shouldn’t drive. The easiest and least disputable is a drunk driver. The law says that a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs shouldn’t be driving and penalizes drunk drivers. A car owner who lets a driver they know to be drunk or otherwise impaired to driver their car is responsible for negligent entrustment.

An owner who permits an unlicensed person to drive their vehicle may also be responsible for negligent entrustment. In Zugel v. Zugel, the Court found the parents liable even though their son had driven the motorcycle a number of times. Why? Because the law said that the son, who had no driver’s license, was not legally competent to drive.

There may be other situations where a vehicle owner is responsible for a car accident caused by a driver they lent the car to. To find out if negligent entrustment applies in your case, it is best to speak to a car accident attorney who has experience pursuing claims for negligent entrustment.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident and want to know who is responsible for paying for your injuries, speak to an experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates. Our skilled Las Vegas accident attorneys will answer your questions and conduct any needed research and investigation to ensure full compensation for our clients.

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Injured In A Hit & Run? What Can You Do And What Can We Do For You

Car in hit and run crash

Hit and Run Accident Attorney Las Vegas

According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit and run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads. It found that an average of 682,000 hit and run crashes occurred each year since 2006. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 737,100 hit-and-run crashes occurred in 2017. In 2016, hit and run crashes resulted in an estimated 2,049 fatalities, a 60% increase since 2009.

A hit-and-run crash can leave injured victims with medical bills piling up and unable to earn income to pay those bills. Some people think they may have no options if they were injured in a hit and run car accident. That is not necessarily so. In our combined 50+ years of experience as car accident attorneys in Las Vegas, we have successfully recovered compensation for those who initially thought they had no options.

Locating The Fleeing Driver

There are ways to search for the hit-and-run driver. Of course, if a witness was able to jot down or take a photo of the license plate, we can conduct a search for the owner of the vehicle. If the police were called to the scene and given the license plate of the fleeing vehicle, the policy usually will contact the registered owner of the vehicle.

Locating the registered owner of the fleeing vehicle can lead to the applicable car insurance policy. Even if the registered owner was not the fleeing driver, the owner’s insurance on the vehicle may apply and provide protection to the hit-and-run victim. In most cases, the liability insurance policy on the car is the primary policy that applies.

In addition, the registered car owner may also be responsible for the negligence of the hit-and-run driver under the doctrine of negligent entrustment, which is a form of negligence. As described by the Nevada Supreme Court, “[u]nder this doctrine, a person who knowingly entrusts a vehicle to an inexperienced or incompetent person, such as a minor child unlicensed to drive a motor vehicle, may be found liable for damages resulting thereby.” Zugel by Zugel v. Miller, 100 Nev. 525, 527, 688 P.2d 310, 312 (1984).

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage

Even if the fleeing driver or the registered owner cannot be located, the injured victim’s own uninsured motorist (UM) policy would generally apply. UM insurance generally applies when you are injured in a car accident and the person who caused it has no insurance. It also applies where the person who caused the crash cannot be found. When the fleeing driver cannot be located, the UM policy of the injured victim applies if  there is physical contact between the fleeing vehicle and the injured victim or the victim’s vehicle. The insured is also obligated to report the accident to the applicable police department, sheriff’s office, or to the Nevada Highway Patrol. These rules governing when UM policies apply to hit-and-run crashes are set forth in NRS § 690B.020(2)(f).

In Nevada, drivers are not required to purchase UM coverage. However, car insurance companies must offer their insured the opportunity to purchase insurance specifically covering hit-and-run accidents. See Nev.Rev.Stat. § 690B.020. The limits of the insurance offered must be at least equivalent to the Nevada minimum liability limit of $25,000 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. Insureds can purchase higher UM/UIM limits for their protection, up to an amount equal to their liability insurance limits.

What Can You Do If You Are Injured In A Hit-And-Run Crash?

  • Call 9-1-1 and report the car accident. As mentioned above, your car insurance company will likely require you to obtain a police report of the hit-and-run crash.
  • Speak to any witnesses on the scene and see if anyone noted the license plate of the fleeing vehicle. Make sure to get contact information for all witnesses. Ask the witnesses if they can stay to provide a statement to the police.
  • If you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. Usually, when you call 9-1-1 and report that you are injured, an ambulance will be dispatched to the accident scene.
  • Call the experienced and award-winning Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates. We can hire private investigators to search for the hit-and-run driver, if the police cannot locate them. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin the search and investigation. Our experience as Las Vegas personal injury attorneys have taught us that locating the fleeing driver as soon as possible is important in order to preserve evidence, such as damage to that driver’s vehicle.

Will Prior Accidents Affect My Car Accident Claim?

car accident attorney Las Vegas

Prior car accidents or other types of accidents may affect your car accident claim. First, insurance companies may blame prior accidents for a victim’s injuries. The more recent those accidents are, the more likely the insurance company will use those prior accidents against the victim. Second, auto insurers may use those prior accidents to test a victim’s credibility. Under the guise of needing to know more information about those prior accidents, insurers will seek more information from the victim about those accidents. Then, they will use any discrepancy – regardless of how small – against the victim. Thus, it is important to tell your car accident attorney your accident history so they can be prepared to deal with these tactics from insurance companies.

How will insurance companies learn about my prior accidents?

Insurance companies generally run a background check on the claimant in the ISO ClaimSearch database. This database contains detailed records of auto and property insurance claims and payments. Insurers claim they use the database to detect fraud. But they also use information from the database to challenge the cause of a car accident victim’s injuries. An ISO search will reveal the date, insurance company, claim number and possibly the injuries reported.

Why is my prior accidents relevant to my current injuries?

An issue in most personal injury lawsuit is whether the accident caused the victim’s injuries. This is because one of the elements of a negligence claim that a personal injury plaintiff has to prove is causation. Unless an injury is obviously and indisputably caused by a crash, insurance companies will typically question whether a victim’s injuries are related to the accident. An example of an injury that could be unquestionably crash-related would be a broken bone, as doctors would be able to tell from an x-ray if a fracture is fresh or not. However, the most common type of injuries from a car accident are not as clear cut.

One of the most common type of injury from a car accident is a neck pain. Neck pain from a car accident is usually diagnosed as sprain or strain, which can colloquially be called whiplash. There’s generally no definitive objective test from sprain or strain. Meaning, an x-ray or MRI will not definitively show sprain or strain. An MRI may show loss of cervical lordosis or the normal curve of the neck. This curvature loss may evidence muscle spasms, but it also could be from other factors, such as aging or repetitive motions. Doctors generally wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the x-ray whether the curvature loss is from the accident, unless they can compare the x-ray to one taken immediately before the accident.

Also, pain is the usual primary symptom of accident injuries. However, there is no objective test for pain. Doctors routinely rely on their patients reporting whether they have pain and when the pain started. So, if insurance companies and their defense attorneys can show you had the neck pain before the car accident, then they can attack the opinion of the accident victim’s doctors.

Prior accidents can be a goldmine for the insurance company. What better way to show prior neck pain than go back to any prior accidents the victim may have had. Again, neck pain is a common injury from a car accident. Thus, there is a good chance if the victim was in a prior crash, the victim would have had neck pain. Then, the insurance company will likely claim the victim’s neck injury pre-existed the crash.

Of course, it’s also likely that a person can be injured in an accident that occurred years before and fully heal from those injuries. And the person’s medical records prior to the current car accident may prove that. That is why a car accident lawyer needs to know a client’s accident history. The accident attorney would need to obtain the client’s pre-accident medical records or the medical records from prior accidents. With our combined 50+ years of experience as personal injury attorneys, we know what the insurance company is looking for and we know how to beat their game. We obtain the necessary evidence to prove our client’s case even before the insurance company even asks. That’s how we have obtained millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Las Vegas and had prior accidents, you should hire an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney. Personal injury cases where the accident victim had multiple prior accidents can get complicated and may even result in a personal injury lawsuit. The accident victim will need a personal injury attorney who has successfully handled many cases like yours, even through litigation and trial. The personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have represented many car accident victims who’ve had prior accidents. It’s actually quite common, since accidents can and do happen far too frequently. So call and speak to one of our Las Vegas car accident lawyers today.

Accident At Work? You May Have A Personal Injury Claim

Personal Injury Accident At Work

Where you hurt while working?

People injured in an accident while working will generally have a claim for worker’s compensation. What many don’t realize is that they may also have a personal injury claim. There are important differences between a personal injury claim and a worker’s compensation claim. One of those important differences provides an important benefit to an accident victim who presents a personal injury claim and could amount to thousands of dollars.

Differences Between Worker’s Compensation and Personal Injury Law

Worker’s compensation laws arose over a century ago to provide a faster way to provide compensation to injured workers. Traditionally, the law did not distinguish between injuries at work and injuries from any other accident. Before legislatures enacted these laws, people injured at work could only receive compensation from their employer for those injuries if they showed their employer was negligent. Employers can try to escape responsibility by showing that the employee was also negligent. In some states, if the employee had any negligent, the employee couldn’t recover anything, not even for their medical bills.

Because of these harsh results and other reasons, legislatures passed laws that allowed an employee to recover against an employer for his or her work-related injury without having to show the employer’s negligence. To provide this new benefit to employees, however, legislatures required a trade-off. In exchange for not having to prove fault, legislatures prohibited employees from bringing personal injury lawsuits against the employers, with few exceptions. Nevada’s worker’s compensation statute, for example, makes worker’s compensation the “exclusive remedy” against an employer for on-the-job injuries. Another trade-off is the loss of the right to obtain compensation for pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life. So, under worker’s compensation laws, an employee can get compensated for medical bills and wage loss. However, the injured employee can’t get compensation for the pain and suffering he or she endured. Nevada’s worker’s compensation statutes can be found in Chapter 616A, 616B, 616C, and 616D of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

An employee may have both a worker’s compensation and personal injury claim, however, if the work-related accident was caused by someone other than an employer. That is, if an employee was in an accident while on the clock and the accident was caused by a third-person, the employee can make a worker’s compensation claim and also a claim for personal injuries against the person who caused the accident. The worker’s compensation claim will cover the medical bills and wage loss, while the personal injury claim will cover the pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life. Also, if the third party who caused the accident acted recklessly, intentionally, or with malice, the injured employee may have a claim for punitive damages.

Examples of Personal Injury Claims From On-The-Job Accidents

  • A person running an errand for work gets into a car accident and is injured. That person will have both a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury claim. The car accident injury claim will be against the person who caused the accident and their insurance company. The experienced Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates have recovered millions of dollars for accident victims in this situation.

NOTABLE SETTLEMENT

Our client, a master painter, suffered a career-ending injury during a car accident in Las Vegas. While driving from one job site to another, his truck was rear-ended by an SUV. The at-fault driver’s insurance company gave our client a difficult time, because of a prior back injury. Nevertheless, shortly after filing suit, we were able to obtain about a million dollars in total settlement.

  • A person is injured at work while using defective product, such as a ladder, electric saw, or even a washing machine.

NOTABLE SETTLEMENT

A hotel employee’s was amputated while using a commercial washing machine at work. During their investigation, the accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates discovered that the employer had hired an outside company to repair the washing machine on multiple occasions. The outside company failed to properly repair the machine, which allowed the employee to unknowingly disable the machine’s safety features. After suing both the repair company and the washing machine manufacturer, D.R. Patti & Associates was able to obtain a multi-million dollar settlement for our client’s product liability and personal injury claims.

  • An employee, as part of their job, is visiting a construction site that is not owned by the employer and is injured due to the negligence of someone at the construction site.
  • An employee is shopping on behalf of her employer and slips and falls at the store. The employee may have a premises liability claim.

In their combined 50+ years of experience, our accident attorneys have handled the simplest to the most complex accident cases. In that time, the Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates have been able to obtain millions of dollars for work-related accident injuries caused by negligent third-parties. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident while on-the-job and want to know if you also have a personal injury claim, give us a call.

The Right Way To Handle Injury Claims From Multiple Car Accidents

Las Vegas personal injury attorneys

Some people are just unlucky. Through no fault of their own, they are injured in multiple car accidents in a short amount of time. We had a client who was in four crashes in 14 months, and he wasn’t cited in any of them. We had another client who was in three crashes in 3 months, two of them a week apart. Again, in none of them was she cited by the police as at fault. Those are the extreme examples, but sadly, it’s not uncommon to see someone become a victim to multiple car accidents.

What is also unfortunately, we have also seen personal injury claims from multiple car accidents handled incorrectly. Clients have come to us after being dropped by another Las Vegas car accident attorney or feeling that they are not receiving the fair value of their injury claim. In those cases, we learn that the clients’ prior attorney had treated each crash as a separate injury claim, even though the crashes combined to produce the clients’ injury. That is, the prior attorney sent out separate demands to the insurance company for each accident. Then each insurance company offered an amount far below the value of the claim, arguing that only a portion of the injuries was caused by that accident. The other insurance company on the second accident did the same. In cases where we get the case early enough, we were able to fix the case and obtain a much higher compensation for the clients.

Being involved in multiple car accidents does not have to complicate personal injury claims, if handled appropriately in the beginning. We’re going to cover the do’s and don’ts in handling personal injury claims from multiple car accidents. The primary thing to remember is to focus, not on the number of crashes, but on the injury or injuries. If two or more car accidents caused injuries to separate body parts, then you have multiple injury claims. However, if two or more car accidents injured the same body part, then you’re really looking at one injury claim against multiple defendants. In that situation, the multiple defendants are likely jointly and severally liable for the injury to the same body part.

What Is Joint And Several Liability?

Joint and several liability is a legal concept that holds multiple defendants equally responsible for the same damages. When two or more defendants are joint and severally liable, any of the defendants can be responsible for the entirety of a victim’s damages. The reason behind this concept is to protect an innocent victim. Under joint and several liability, if one defendant becomes bankrupt, the innocent victim can go after the defendants for all of his or her damages.

Nevada applies joint and several liability to only a few situations. Those situations are listed in NRS § 41.141. What is not listed there is a situation involving an indivisible injury. Even though not listed there, joint and several liability still applies.

What Is An Indivisible Injury?

In the context of a personal injury claim, an indivisible injury is an injury to a body part caused by one accident and is then aggravated by another accident. The injury would be indivisible if medical professionals cannot separate the injury caused by the first accident from the second accident.

The Nevada Supreme Court expressly addressed the situation presented here: two motor vehicle collisions, occurring at separate times, and causing a single indivisible injury. In Kleitz v. Raskin, 103 Nev. 325, 738 P.2d 508 (1987), the plaintiff injured his back in an auto accident that occurred on December 23, 1981. About a month later, the plaintiff’s doctor recommended that plaintiff be hospitalized for his injury. On his way to the hospital, the plaintiff was injured in a second accident. The plaintiff then sued the people who caused both accidents. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that two defendants can be jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of damages attributable to the back injury under the following conditions. First, the plaintiff must establish that the second accident caused or aggravated plaintiff’s injuries. Then, the defendants must apportion plaintiff’s injury, and if they are unable to do so, both defendants are jointly and severally liable. The Court reasoned that, since the defendants caused the accidents, they should bear the burden of trying to separate or apportion the injuries. An innocent victim should not have to bear that burden.

Applying joint and several liability to situations involving indivisible injuries is well recognized at common law. In fact, the Nevada Supreme Court in the Kleitz case relied on a Washington state court decision involving a similar factual scenario. In Phenna v. Whalen, 28 Wash.App. 19, 621 P.2d 1304 (1980), a plaintiff in her sixties was injured while a passenger in a Metro bus that was involved in an accident. Along with aggravating a prior injury to her back, she also developed neck and upper back pain. About four months later, she was driving her own car and was struck by another car. Afterwards, the plaintiff returned to her doctor and complained that the second accident worsened her symptoms. Her doctor ultimately opined that her injuries from both accidents were permanent.

The Washington court had to deal with the question whether the plaintiff’s damages should be apportioned between the two defendants or hold both the defendants equally and jointly responsible. Analyzing a number of other cases, the Phenna court reached the conclusion that the Nevada Supreme Court would later adopt in Kleitz

Do’s and Don’ts of Handling Indivisible Injury From Multiple Car Accidents

  • DO tell your doctors about the accidents you’ve been injured in
  • DON’T treat with different doctors for each accident
  • DO see the same doctors after each accident
  • DO keep a pain journal so you can document your pain level before and after a crash. Of course, no one knows when they could end up being involved in another accident. But, if you keep a pain journal after the first accident, then you already have a record of your symptoms and their severity IF you do get into a second accident.
  • DON’T send out separate demands and try to apportion the damages yourself.
  • DO send one demand to the insurance companies for the people that caused the accident.
  • DON’T think you can get more money by making a separate claim for each accident or hiring a different attorney for each accident.
  • DO maximize the value of case by hiring the same Las Vegas personal injury lawyer for both accidents

How Often Should I Be Able To Talk to My Car Accident Attorney?

Las Vegas personal injury lawyers

  • How long should I continue to receive treatment for my injuries?
  • When will I be able to get my car fixed?
  • Should I be using my health insurance for the doctors I’m seeing?
  • Can I claim time that I missed form work as part of my case?
  • What is happening on my case right now?
  • And of course, the biggest question for most clients….

    • When will I finally get some much-needed MONEY out of all this?!?!?

    Of course, there is a person who is perfectly qualified to answer any question a client might have – the attorney that was hired to give them legal advice!  The problem is actually being able to get that attorney on the phone.  Attorneys are well-known for being incredibly busy, and may not be able to answer a client’s call or return it right away.

    Paralegals can be a godsend in this regard.  While they do not possess law degrees, a sharp paralegal will know all the steps of the process, can provide updates on a clients’ cases, and answer most of the questions that clients have.  In fact, great paralegals can sometimes answer questions that even the lawyer may not have the answer to!

    However, as knowledgeable as paralegals may be, they are not the people ultimately “in charge” of the case.  They are also not the people with whom clients signed up to work their case.  While certain updates and questions can be fielded by paralegals, clients have an expectation that they should be able to speak with their lawyer directly when they really need to do so.  As well they should!

    In fact, there are rules in place that govern how attorneys are supposed to conduct themselves regarding client communication.  Nevada Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4(a) states:

    A lawyer shall:

    • Promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent is required by these Rules;
    • Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
    • Keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
    • Promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
    • Consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

    While all lawyers are expected to adhere to these rules, it is certainly true that some lawyers are better about communication than others.  Client stories about seeing their lawyer one time when they first signed up, then never seeing nor hearing from their attorney again, are unfortunately all too common.

    If you have had difficulty reaching the lawyer handling your case, let them know your frustration!  As a person injured in an accident, you deserve an experienced car accident attorney that will listen to you.  Call the office and tell them that you need to speak to your personal injury attorney.  If you leave a message and do not hear back in a couple of days, call again!  Quality Las Vegas car accident injury lawyers may not be able to respond to you right away, but they will respond soon enough to meet your needs.

    The Las Vegas car accidents attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates take pride not only in the fantastic results they achieve for their clients, but also their commitment to client communication.  Our Google reviews show a sampling of the tremendous experience other clients have had with our car accident-focused law firm.  If you or someone you know were injured in a car accident, please give us a call.  One of our Las Vegas car accident attorneys will be available to speak with you – not just today, but throughout your case.

    Timeline of a Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawsuit

    Timeline of a Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawsuit

    A lawsuit begins with the filing of a complaint. Generally, if the accident occurred in Las Vegas, the complaint would be filed in state court. In some cases where damages exceed $75,000.00 and the parties reside in different states from each other, those cases can be filed with the federal court. This timeline will focus on cases filed in state court. The person on whose behalf the lawsuit is filed is called the plaintiff. The person being sued is called the defendant.

    The amount of damages an injured person is seeking determines which state court the lawsuit is filed in. If the damages do not exceed $15,000.00, the case is filed with the Las Vegas Justice Court. If the damages exceed $15,000.00, the case is filed with the Eighth Judicial District Court.

    Las Vegas Personal Injury Cases In The Eighth Judicial District Court

    In personal injury cases (except Medical Malpractice), a lawsuit must be filed no later than the second anniversary of the accident. This is called the statute of limitations. This means that if the car accident or slip and fall that caused your injuries occurred on July 1, 2020, the lawsuit must be filed by July 1, 2022. If the lawsuit is not filed by the second anniversary, the lawsuit will be dismissed. Nevada’s statute of limitations applicable in personal injury cases can be found in NRS § 11.190.
    Once the complaint is filed, the plaintiff has 120 days to serve the defendant with the complaint and a summons. This step is called service of process. A defendant must be served before the court can have jurisdiction over the defendant. The laws governing service of process can be found in Rules 4 and 4.2 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure (“NRCP”). Failure to serve the defendant without good cause before the 120 expires can result in dismissal of the lawsuit. If additional time is needed to serve the defendant, a plaintiff should seek an extension with the court before the 120 days expires.
    The best and primary way to serve a defendant is through personal service, which means that a defendant is personally handed the complaint and summons. Any person over the age of 18 years old and not a party to the lawsuit can serve the defendant. See NRCP Rule 4(c)(3). If the defendant is a legal entity, such as a corporation or a limited liability company, the company’s registered agent for service of process can be served. If the defendant is a Nevada corporation or limited liability company, you can find out who the registered agent is through the Nevada Secretary of State’s website.

    If the defendant cannot be found, Rules 4 and 4.4 of the NRCP provides for alternatives to personal service. To be able to utilize those alternatives, the plaintiff or her attorneys must show that they conducted due diligence in locating defendant and attempting to serve them. Alternatives to personal service including publishing the complaint and summons.

    Once the defendant is served, they have 20 days to file an answer. Once the defendant files an answer, the plaintiff can request exemption from the mandatory Court Annexed Arbitration Program or proceed through the program.

    The Mandatory Court Annexed Arbitration Program

    In the Eighth Judicial District Court, all cases are automatically enrolled in the mandatory Court Annexed Arbitration Program. Thus, unless exempted, all cases must first be arbitrated.  The purpose of this Arbitration Program “is to provide a simplified procedure for obtaining a prompt and equitable resolution of cervical civil matters.” Absent good cause, arbitration hearings for cases in the program must be held within 6 months after appointment of an arbitrator. The laws governing the Arbitration Program can be found in the Rules Governing Alternative Dispute Resolution.

    A case is exempted from the program if the case involves a claim in excess of $50,000.00. There are other reasons a case can be exempted from the program, such as public policy. A request for exemption must be submitted to the Arbitration Commissioner within 20 days after the defendant files an answer.

    If a Las Vegas personal injury case is worth less than $50,000.00, it will usually be first arbitrated. In an arbitration, the case is decided by a qualified neutral third-party. Sometime after an answer is filed, the parties in such a case will receive a list of five potential arbitrators, usually local attorneys. Each party can de-select two of the potential arbitrators, and the Arbitration Commissioner will select the arbitrator from the remaining names.

    The decision of the arbitrator is non-binding, unless the parties agree otherwise. This means that once the arbitrator issues her decision, either party to the lawsuit can elect to proceed to a trial by filing a “Request for Trial De Novo” within 30 days after the arbitrator issues her decision. If such a Request is filed, the lawsuit will proceed through the Short Trial program unless a party demands removal from the program within 10 days after the Request. If a lawsuit is removed from the Short Trial program, the lawsuit proceeds on the regular course of litigation.

    As with the Court Annexed Arbitration Program, the Short Trial program is intended to provide a faster resolution of a lawsuit. Unlike a regular trial, a trial in the Short Trial program must occur within 120 days after the presiding judge is appointed. In a lawsuit that is not in the Short Trial program, it can take a year or more for a case goes to trial. There are other difference. Unlike a regular trial, a case in the Short Trial program only has 1 day to try the case in front of a jury of four people. Also unlike a regular trial, a pro tempore judge, rather than a district court judge, can preside over a Short Trial. The Short Trial rules can be found in the Nevada Short Trial Rules.

    Scheduling Conference & Discovery

    After a Las Vegas personal injury lawsuit is exempted from arbitration or an arbitrator is appointed, a scheduling conference will be held with the parties or their attorneys. If the case is in the Arbitration Program, the scheduling conference will be set by the arbitrator. If the case is not in the Arbitration Program, the plaintiff will schedule the conference. In the scheduling conference, the parties discuss how long they need to conduct “discovery” and set deadlines.
    Discovery is essentially the process during which each side conducts their investigation and discloses the evidence they intend on using at trial. The Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure provide for the following ways to conduct discovery:

    • Interrogatories (NRCP Rule 33)
    • Requests for Production of Documents (NRCP Rule 34)
    • Requests for Admissions (NRCP Rule 36)
    • Depositions (NRCP Rule 30)
    • Site Inspections (NRCP Rule 34)
    • Independent Medical Examination (NRCP Rule 35)
    • Subpoenas (NRCP Rule 45)

    In cases outside the Arbitration Program or Short Trial Program, the discovery period could last longer than 6 months after the scheduling conference. Oftentimes, it could be as long as a year. The more complex a case is, the longer the discovery period could take. If the parties cannot agree on how long the discovery period should be, the district court judge assigned to the case or the Discovery Commissioner will set the discovery period.
    Along with the discovery period, the other deadlines the parties can either agree to or the court can set include deadlines for filing pre-trial motions, deadlines for disclosing experts, and the deadline for the case to be ready for trial.

    Dispositive Motions, Pre-Trial Motions & Trial

    In cases outside the Court Annexed Arbitration Program or Short Trial Program, the next deadline the parties usually face after the discovery period is the deadline to file dispositive motions. This deadline is usually set 30 days after the end of the discovery period. Dispositive motions are papers or briefs submitted by a party to the court, in which the party asks the court for a case-ending decision. The typical dispositive motion is called Motion for Summary Judgment.

    Another deadline the parties face after the discovery period is the deadline to file pre-trial motions. Pre-trial motions usually deal with evidentiary issues. That is, the parties argue what evidence can be shown to a jury or what must be excluded.

    The final step is the trial. In cases outside the Court Annexed Arbitration Program or Short Trial Program, trial can last days and, sometimes, weeks. By the time a trial starts in a case outside the Court Annexed Arbitration Program or Short Trial Program, over a year could have lapsed since the lawsuit was started.

    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 personal injury 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.

    Distracted Driving In Nevada

    Distracted driving is far too common and occurs for a number of reasons. Texting while driving is just one form. Reading a text or anything on your cell phone while driving is another form. Distracted driving is driving when you don’t have full attention on driving. You could be eating and drinking, talking to other people in your vehicle, looking at your navigation system, or even fiddling with the radio. Any activity that takes your full attention from driving and the road, even for just a few seconds, is a potential distraction and increases the risk of being involved in a car crash.

    The Nevada Department of Transportation estimates the increased chances of getting into a car accident by doing any of the following activities while driving:

    • Reaching for a moving object – 9 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Driving drowsy – 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Looking at an external object – 3.7 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Reading – more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Dialing a phone – 2.8 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Applying makeup – 3 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Eating – 1.6 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Reaching for a non-moving object – 1.4 times more likely to be involved in a crash
    • Talking on a hand-held phone – 1.3 times more likely to be involved in a crash

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. During that 5 seconds, a car going 40 mph can cover 294 feet. That’s nearly twice the length of a football field. So a lot can happen in those 5 seconds.

    Consequences of Distracted Driving

    Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone on the road – for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving resulted in 2,841 fatalities in 2018. This figure includes 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists. In 2017, 434 people died in crashes reported to have involved cell phone use. According to statistics reported by The Zebra, an estimated 391,000 drivers were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2017 and 2018 saw 4,637 deaths resulting from distracting driving. The Zebra also reports that distracted driving claimed approximately 9 lives per day.

    The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety reported that between 2013-2017, 73 fatalities resulted from crashes where distracted driving was confirmed in the crash report. However, they estimate the actual number of fatal crashes involving distracted driving is much higher, as confirming whether distracted driving occurred is difficult.

    The experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates know what it takes to prove distracted driving. If you or a loved have been injured by a distracted driver, call and speak to a Las Vegas car accident attorney at D.R. Patti & Associates at 702-331-3391 for a free consultation and see how we can help you.

    Documenting Your Injuries, Pain, and Suffering When You Can’t See Your Health Care Provider

    Documenting Injuries - Pain Diary

    With many of us practicing social distancing to help flatten the curve, we have come to learn that many people have been unable to continue their treatment for their accident-related injuries. Many people with accident-related injuries have regularly scheduled doctor, chiropractic, physical therapy appointments. If they miss some appointments, their healthcare providers would normally give them instructions on exercises they can do at home that may help relieve some of their sometimes. Unable to obtain medical treatment, accident victims may be concerned whether their injuries would linger longer or worsen.

    Missing health care appointments, however, cause another concern for their personal injury cases. Auto insurance companies tend to argue that a person who is truly hurt, that person seeks medical treatment and that a person who does not seek medical treatment is a person who is not truly hurt. The foregoing is a faulty syllogism, as there are many reasons why an injured person may not seek medical treatment or may have gaps in their treatment. Nevertheless, accident victims must be prepared to respond to such arguments.

    One way to counter such arguments and demonstrate injury is to maintain a pain journal. Some physicians will instruct a patient to maintain a written log (journal) of pain-related information and to bring this with them to their office visits. The physician reads the patient’s journal to identify trends in the pain and responses to treatment. The following types of information should be recorded on a daily basis:

    • Your symptoms that day
    • Time when your pain started or got worse.
    • What you were doing at the time the pain started or got worse.
    • The intensity of your pain from 0 to 10, 0 being no pain to 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt
    • How long did the pain last
    • What you were doing at the time the pain stopped or got better.
    • Did you take any medication (over the counter or prescription) and what was the dosage
    • Time you took the medication
    • Whether the medication worked and how long did it take to work
    • Any other thing you did to reduce the pain, such as ice/heating pad, TENS, bed rest, wearing a brace, etc.
    • If you had to skip out on any activities, whether work or social engagements, because of the pain or other symptoms

    To learn more about what you can do to document or prove your injuries from a car accident, call the experienced Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates for a free consultation.

    USA Today Article On Wayne Newton Monkey Bite Case

    In 2019, Marc C. Naron, Esq., of D.R. Patti & Associates filed suit on behalf of 15-year old Genevieve Urena for personal injuries she sustained when she was bitten by Wayne Newton’s pet monkey named Boo. The bite occurred during a tour of Newton’s former home, Casa De Shanandoah. The Associated Press wrote about the lawsuit, and this story was picked up by USA Today, amongst others. The text of the article from USA Today is re-printed below.

    Singer Wayne Newton sued by woman alleging his pet monkey bit her daughter

    The Associated Press

    Entertainer Wayne Newton is being sued by a Las Vegas woman who claims the veteran crooner’s pet monkey bit and injured her daughter during a visit to Newton’s showpiece mansion nearly two years ago.

    Jocelyne Urena seeks at least $15,000 in damages on behalf of her daughter, Genevieve, in a civil negligence complaint filed Wednesday in Nevada state court in Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press.

    Genevieve’s age and the nature of her injuries are not described in the lawsuit, which alleges the monkey attacked without provocation during a tour of Newton’s former estate, Casa de Shenandoah.

    Urena’s attorney, Marc Naron, did not immediately respond Thursday to messages.

    Pets and other animals can be so cute; but they can also be dangerous, if not outright deadly. If you or a loved one have been injured by a pet or other animal, you may have a personal injury claim. Call and speak to a Las Vegas personal injury and accident attorney at D.R. Patti & Associates to find out what your rights are.

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