Nothing could be more upsetting and devastating than losing a loved one in a vehicle accident that could have been avoided. Under Nevada law, you have the right to take action against the individual who caused your loved one's death in a wrongful death claim. However, you must act quickly or you risk losing your right to receive compensation. For this reason, speaking with our car accident attorneys at the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm as soon as possible could be beneficial. This article will cover the most important points you need to know about wrongful death and the statute of limitations in Nevada.
Basics of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a party's careless, or negligent acts behind the wheel result in a victim's death, the deceased person's loved ones can bring a wrongful death claim. These lawsuits or claims are intended to compensate the surviving members of the family or dependents for different losses incurred as a consequence of the death of their loved ones.
A wrongful death action is primarily a lawsuit filed on behalf of a deceased individual who could have initiated a personal injury lawsuit against the culpable person when he or she was still alive. Wrongful death lawsuits must be submitted to the court by the relevant party since they are regarded as civil cases. Additionally, culpability will only be in terms of monetary damages, while a prosecutor's homicide charge could lead to the party at fault being imprisoned. A lawsuit can still be submitted even when a criminal charge is still in progress.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Nevada, only certain people are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Nevada state laws, the following individuals may file a lawsuit:
- The spouse of the deceased
- Domestic parent of the decedent
- The deceased person's surviving children
If nobody in the dead person's line of descent is alive, any individual eligible to receive the deceased estate under the intestate laws of succession can submit a claim. Based on who is alive at the time of the deceased's death, it could be the deceased's siblings or parents.
Also, if the following can show that they had been financially reliant on the decedent, they can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The parent of the deceased
- Stepchildren of the deceased
- The decedent's putative spouse as well as the putative spouse's children
In instances where the culpable person passed away before the lawsuit could be filed, the family members of the victim can still go on to launch a lawsuit against the liable person's representatives. However, if the liable party was employed by somebody who was in charge of his or her actions, the lawsuit can involve that individual as well.
As a result, a wrongful death claim can be brought against several people who were involved in the accident that resulted in the victim's death. In a car accident, for instance, an at-fault driver can be found legally accountable for someone's death based on the situation.
How to Prove Wrongful Death
The claimant must prove specific aspects of negligence throughout the trial to show that there had been negligence that resulted in their loved one's wrongful death. A negligence lawsuit against a defendant is made up of these factors.
Your car accident attorney can put together solid pieces of proof for a wrongful death claim by using evidence utilized against the offender during his or her criminal trial. For a proper damages compensation recovery, your lawyer must prove the following aspects of negligence beyond a shadow of doubt throughout the trial:
Duty of Care
The initial question a court will ask in a negligence claim is if there was a duty of care between the offender and his or her victim. Every company, physician, or motorist has a statutory obligation to exercise due care to guarantee the safety of others.
If your loved one's death was caused by a vehicle accident, the court will look into your claim to see if the offender owed the deceased a duty of care. If another sensible motorist in a similar scenario would have identified a cause to exert a reasonable standard of care to avoid such accidents/deaths, then the duty of care emerges. For a wrongful death claim, as in a personal injury claim, proving the presence of a standard of care is critical.
Breach of the Duty of Care
After proving to the court that there had been a duty of reasonable care between the offender and the deceased, you need to demonstrate to the court how the defendant violated that duty and caused the wrongful death of the deceased person.
For example, if the motorist was under the influence of alcohol when he/she led to your loved one's wrongful death in the car accident, he/ she could be held responsible. In that situation, the offender must compensate you fairly for any damages incurred before and following the wrongful death.
The plaintiff's counsel must then convince the court that the offender's negligence in violating his or her duty of care resulted in the victim's wrongful death. To collect compensatory damages in a wrongful death action, the accused must not only violate a reasonable duty of reasonable care but also be the main cause of the wrongful death of the victim.
Although the accused's violation of the duty of care could lead to an accident or a case of wrongful death, it doesn't have to. To obtain proper compensation, your car accident attorney must prove to the court how the accused's negligent actions caused the victim's wrongful death.
Nevada Statute of Limitations For a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The statute of limitations governs the amount of time a person has to bring a specific kind of action. In most cases, you have two years to file a civil action against an at-fault person for personal injury cases, after which that case becomes null and void, even though the facts were true and the claim was valid. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Nevada varies based on the facts surrounding the victim's death.
In the event of death caused by a pedestrian or car accident, the remaining family members have 2 years from the day of injury discovery to launch a claim against an at-fault motorist. If you do not file your claim within the time stipulated in the statute of limitations, your injury lawyer could be allowed to use tolling or the "discovery rule" to get the deadline extended.
Seeking Compensation For a Wrongful Death Within Nevada’s Statute of Limitation Period
If you wish to protect your legal protections for compensation in a case of wrongful death, the first step needs to be to consult with a car accident attorney who is experienced in matters involving wrongful death. A lawyer will evaluate the case to establish how much compensation you are entitled to.
In a wrongful death case, the sum of damages awarded to a plaintiff is determined by the level of available evidence to substantiate the damages.
As a result, your lawyer bears the whole burden of proof in ensuring that you receive proper compensatory damages for your losses. The two main methods of seeking wrongful death damages within the statute of limitations are:
Before you consider initiating a wrongful death claim, which could be expensive and complicated, you should explore negotiating a settlement to receive your compensation for wrongful death.
Firstly, your lawyer will assist you in establishing the entire amount of damages you are entitled to for both monetary and non-monetary damages caused by your loved one's wrongful death. To begin compensation settlement negotiations, you will issue the accused with a demand letter outlining the quantity of compensation you seek. You need to also attach any essential pieces of documentation to the letter of demand to indicate that your claim is legitimate.
After sending the letter to the accused's insurance provider, you need to wait approximately thirty days for a response. If they reply, they almost always bring forward a lower settlement amount than what you're asking for, which will be an advantage for them.
If the accused's settlement award is unsatisfactory, you must set up a final settlement negotiating meeting to request an increase in the compensatory settlement amount. You will provide your proof to illustrate why you need the sum you are seeking, and you will seek a suitable settlement amount throughout the negotiations.
When reacting to your compensation demand letter, the accused's insurance provider has a constitutional responsibility to conduct in honesty. When you can't reach an agreement on a reasonable compensation settlement verdict after negotiating, you'll have to bring a wrongful death case against the offender or his or her insurance.
Since no one wishes to exit the court with the risk of a trial, many insurance companies will consent to settle the negotiations out of court. If you choose this option, the judge will determine the sum of damages you need based on the proof you provide to substantiate your wrongful death claims.
Receiving compensatory damages through civil action is risky since the result is dependent on the degree of evidence presented by each side. However, when the accused's insurance is operating in dishonesty on their compensatory damages settlement amount, you could have to make this option.
Following the wrongful death of your loved one, you will have 2 years to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party. Throughout this time, it is advisable to hire a car accident attorney to help you gather and prepare the evidence you'll need to establish a claim against the liable party.
Wrongful death and personal injury cases have a lot in common as they both require establishing wrongdoing that resulted in someone else's injuries or wrongful death. The only exception is that for a wrongful death case, the deceased is no longer alive to bring a claim for damages. In essence, the claimant must prove the following elements to the court to establish a wrongful death claim:
- Someone else died
- The surviving family of the decedent is suffering or has suffered financial losses as a consequence of the deceased's unexpected passing
- The claimant is either an heir or the legal representative of the victim's property
- The victim died as a direct consequence of someone else's negligence or recklessness
Damages Awarded in Wrongful Death Claims
As stated previously, wrongful death compensation is designed to compensate the victim's loved ones for the loss of emotional or financial assistance you would have gotten if the deceased had survived. Non-economic, as well as economic losses, are included in the compensation.
The compensation can be recovered depending on:
- The victim's life expectancy at the time of the accident, or
- The deceased's average lifespan at the time of the accident
The court must decide on the average life expectancy based on variables such as profession, lifestyle, or overall health. If you are triumphant, the claimant will often be eligible for compensation in the below classifications:
The claimant is compensated for all damages involving costs he or she incurred both before and following the victim's death in economic compensation. Economic compensation is provided for a variety of damages, including:
- Medical bills incurred by the victim before their death
- Expenses for the funeral
- Loss of income before his or her passing
- Lost future financial assistance
As not all losses are monetary, the court also examines non-monetary damages like pain and suffering suffered by the victim before his or her death before awarding compensatory damages. The complainant's non-economic compensation as a consequence of the wrongful death is also taken into account by the court.
In this claim, the complainant will obtain non-economic compensation for losses including:
- Suffering and pain
- Emotional anguish
- Lost happiness in life
Loss of the deceased's:
- Moral support
- Community and companionship
- Sexual relationships
- Advice and guidance
Even though punitive penalties are not required to be paid to the families of the deceased, they are often important in wrongful death cases involving severe negligence or deliberate conduct to penalize the perpetrator for his offenses. These punitive damages could also serve as a deterrent to others who have similar tendencies from engaging in these kinds of negligent practices.
The degree of damages awarded to the claimant in this claim is determined by the sort of evidence presented to the jurors to establish whether the damages exist. Your lawyer might utilize experts' statements to show that you are entitled to a particular level of damages for your loved one’s wrongful death.
As per Nevada comparative negligence legislation, if the court concludes that the deceased was equally responsible during the event of the car accident that resulted in his or her death, the claimant would receive fewer damages depending on the proportion of the deceased's negligence. To protect your legal rights, contact a car accident attorney soon if you wish to bring a lawsuit.
Alternatives to the Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Cases
When the statute of limitations on initiating a wrongful death claim has run out, you could be able to restore your ability to bring the action against the accused in one of two following ways:
Application of the Discovery Rule
Under Nevada law, the statute of limitations period starts when the complainant or the person bringing the wrongful death claim finds out or should have found out the reason for the deceased's injury or death if he or she exercised due care. That is, when you find the true cause of the deceased's injury or death after the given time frame has passed, you could be capable of using the "discovery rule" to receive compensatory damages from the liable party.
In this case, all your attorney has to do is show the court that your inability to fulfill the statute of limitations for bringing a claim was reasonable given the circumstances surrounding the deceased's death.
Finally, in certain circumstances, the court could remove or revoke the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death claim. Tolling a statute of limitations period, the plaintiff's claim or situation needs to match the court's conditions.
For example, if a child loses his or her parents in a car accident or due to medical negligence, he or she would not be capable of filing a wrongful death claim until he or she reaches eighteen years of age. In this case, the judge will decide why the statute of limitations for this case should be tolled or suspended.
When you learn about your loved one's real cause of injury or death after the time frame for bringing a wrongful death claim in Nevada has passed, you may be entitled to utilize Nevada’s discovery rule to persuade the court to extend the statute of limitations. To comply with this statute, you must file your wrongful death claim as soon as possible. Then you need to speak with a car accident lawyer because the legal procedures and rules governing wrongful death claims in Nevada could be quite confusing, especially for a layperson.
Why You Should Hire a Skilled Attorney Before the Statute of Limitation Expires
Here are some instances that engaging an attorney late can cause problems with your lawsuit:
Raises the Possibility of Errors Occurring in Your claim
For example, if the accused was working in the course of their job when the vehicle accident occurred, their boss could be held liable for the wrongful death. However, the party responsible will not be involved in your lawsuit if the knowledge is discovered during the investigation before the statute of limitation expires. Consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible following the death or injury allows for an investigation and ensures that all offenders are named in your lawsuit.
Proof That Would Be Useful in Court Might Not Be Collected Or Preserved
It is critical, for example, to record skid marks after an accident. When you do not hire a lawyer as soon as possible, the skid tracks may be washed away before even being discovered during the investigation.
There's a Chance That Witnesses' Testimonies Will Be Lost
Witnesses of the vehicle accident that resulted in your loved one's death may forget what happened, pass away, or relocate. The essential proof is destroyed when this happens. This will harm your case because you bear the burden of proof to show what happened during that event.
Many Legal Firms Don't Accept Wrongful Death Cases When the Statute of Limitations is About to Elapse
This is because it won't provide the legal firm sufficient time to investigate and review your claim. That indicates you will not have a huge selection of skilled lawyers and could be forced to pick a lawyer who is ready to bear the possibility of making an error and delivering poor results.
A skilled attorney will ensure that each legal difficulty is addressed. A legal practitioner can help you make sense of what could otherwise be a complicated situation. The attorney will make sure that the case is filed on time and that all paperwork is filled.
In addition to dealing with the liable side, they will communicate with the insurers. After evaluating your damages, your lawyer ought to be capable of helping you in reaching a reasonable settlement.
Find a Las Vegas Accident Attorney Near Me
Living with the emotional pain of losing someone you love is one of the most difficult things anyone could have to deal with. It is even harder if you have to bring charges against the liable person for your loved one's wrongful death before you have even had the chance to completely heal. To minimize this headache of initiating a claim within the statute of limitations period in Nevada, you can contact the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm. Our skilled attorneys will work diligently on your issue to help you recover the compensatory damages you are entitled to. Call us today at 702-576-0010.