Battle Born Injury Lawyers | November 3, 2022 | Personal Injury
When you sustain injuries in an accident or other personal injury incident, the personal injury claims process begins in earnest. For many individuals, their personal injury case is their first time hiring a lawyer, dealing with an insurance adjuster, or trying to understand Nevada personal injury laws.
The good news is that you do not have to handle a personal injury claim alone. Instead, you can hire a Reno personal injury attorney for your case. A lawyer handles all aspects of the claim process so that you can focus on healing from accident injuries.
What Are the Steps in the Process of a Personal Injury Claim in Nevada?
For the most part, personal injury claims proceed through a specific process. The steps in the process of a personal injury claim in Reno are generally the same. Understanding the process and the basics of a personal injury case can reduce stress and help you know what to do to improve your chance of receiving a fair settlement offer.
Hire a Reno Personal Injury Lawyer
The first step is to hire a personal injury attorney who handles cases like yours. For example, if you were injured in a motorcycle accident, hire an accident lawyer with substantial experience handling motorcycle accident claims. Likewise, if you sustained an injury at a resort, hire a premises liability lawyer.
Begin by researching personal injury lawyers in Reno, NV. You can search an attorney’s disciplinary history through the State Bar of Nevada. Make sure to read reviews, including client testimonials and peer reviews.
Create a list of potential attorneys to interview. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so you can meet with several lawyers to find the best personal injury lawyer for your case.
- What is your experience handling my type of case?
- Do you have special certifications?
- What is your record of settling cases and going to trial?
- How long will it take to settle my personal injury case?
- How much is my personal injury case worth?
- Do you see any potential problems with my case?
- How do I communicate with you and your office?
- Will you handle my case or assign it to an associate or paralegal?
- What are your fees for a personal injury case?
Once you decide to hire a personal injury lawyer, read the retainer agreement carefully. Make sure you understand the contingency fees and the costs of the case. If you do not understand any terms or have questions, do not sign the retainer agreement until you are comfortable.
Accident and Injury Investigation
Your personal injury lawyer conducts an independent investigation to determine how you were injured. In Nevada, you have the burden of proving the other party caused your injury. Most personal injury cases are based on negligence, so you must prove the following:
Your lawyer gathers evidence to prove causation and fault to establish liability for your damages. During the investigation, your attorney might hire an accident reconstructionist and other expert witnesses to assist with the investigation.
Evidence in a personal injury case can include the following:
- Medical records
- Accident reports
- Photographs and videos
- Expert opinions
- Employment records
- Witness testimony
The evidence used in your case depends on the type of personal injury case and the circumstances of your injury. Personal injury law firms have the resources necessary to conduct a comprehensive investigation.
During this time, the insurance company investigates your claim. An insurance adjuster might contact you about the claim. It is best to refer the insurance company to an attorney because statements you make could be used to allege contributory fault or failure to mitigate damages.
Settlement Demand Letter and Settlement Negotiations
Your attorney prepares a settlement demand letter for the insurance company. The letter contains:
- Description of how the accident or injury occurred
- The legal basis for holding the other party liable for your damages
- A description of your injuries and damages
- Demand for a specific amount to settle your claim
The insurance company can accept or decline the settlement offer. In many cases, the company issues a counteroffer for a lower amount. The counteroffer begins a back-and-forth negotiation process to agree on a fair settlement amount for your claim.
Understanding Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Your personal injury lawyer pursues all damages available for your case. If you represent yourself, you could receive less than your claim is worth because you are unaware of the damages you could receive. Many people do not realize their personal injury claim is worth more than the insurance company offers for settlement.
Generally, most injured victims can recover compensation for their economic damages. These damages include:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Personal care
- Lost wages
- Nursing care
- Diminished earning potential
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Impairments and disabilities
- Mental anguish
- Decrease in quality of life
- Physical discomfort
Some injured parties can recover punitive damages if they file a lawsuit. Punitive damages are a way of punishing a defendant for conduct that rises to the level of malice, fraud, or oppression. Punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of cases.
Most personal injury cases settle through negotiations between the parties. When you agree to a settlement amount, your lawyer drafts a settlement agreement. All parties sign the settlement agreement before the insurance company issues a settlement check.
The settlement agreement releases all parties from any other claims or further liability for damages. Therefore, you do not want to sign a settlement agreement or other documents in a personal injury case without a lawyer. Once you sign the settlement agreement, you give up the right to file a lawsuit or seek additional compensation.
Your lawyer holds the settlement check in a trust account until it clears. Then, the lawyer pays medical liens and subrogation claims, deducts attorneys’ fees and costs, and issues you a check for the net settlement proceeds.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Reno
A small percentage of personal injury cases do not settle through negotiations. Those cases may go to trial. The steps in filing and pursuing a personal injury lawsuit include the following:
- Filing a complaint with the court
- Receiving answers, counterclaims, and other responses to the lawsuit
- Engage in discovery to gather additional evidence and evaluate the other side’s case
- Filing pre-trial motions
- Settlement negotiations
- Trial and verdict
During a trial, each side presents evidence for the jury to consider. Jurors are “triers of fact” in a personal injury case. They decide whether to believe or discount evidence and testimony.
The jurors decide whether the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. If they find the defendant is liable, they award a specific amount for damages.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Nevada
It is always best to speak with a Reno personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury or accident. Delays in seeking legal advice could hurt your chance of receiving full compensation for all damages. It could also result in losing legal rights to pursue a claim.
The statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing lawsuits and claims. For most personal injury claims, you must file a lawsuit two years from the injury date. However, there are exceptions, so talk with a Reno personal injury attorney to protect your rights.
Contact the Reno Personal Injury Attorneys at Battle Born Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident in Reno and you need legal assistance, contact our personal injury attorneys at Battle Born Injury Lawyers and schedule a free consultation with our legal team.