In Nevada, when another person dies due to recklessness, negligent, or intentional acts of another person, the surviving family can sue the responsible party for damages compensation. The surviving family of the deceased is entitled to compensation for several damages in a wrongful death lawsuit for losses such as funeral expenses and loss of support. However, for your case to remain valid, time will be of much essence, also known as the statute of limitations. Statute of limitations law ensures criminal or civil cases are brought in court when the evidence is in plenty and memories are still fresh. To stay in light of the deadlines for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada, you need to contact a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm to collect pieces of evidence and eyewitness testimonies to help you build a case against the at-fault party.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Overview
Wrongful death is a severe offense that can lead to criminal and civil actions in Nevada. Civil actions mostly come after criminal actions against the defendant. The plaintiff can be able to use the same evidence presented during criminal action against the defendant to solidify a wrongful death lawsuit for adequate damages compensation. According to Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 41.085, a person who causes the death of another person, whether intentionally or negligently, should be liable for the plaintiff’s damages in a wrongful death civil lawsuit. The main aim of wrongful death laws is to provide financial compensation/support to the deceased widows or orphans.
NRS 41.085 defines the laws and procedures for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada. Under this statute, only the deceased family members who are entitled to property ownership, such as the heir and victim estate, can submit a wrongful death lawsuit. The deceased heir could be the spouse or children if he/she were married while the deceased estate could be his/her mother, siblings, or father if he/she were unmarried. Other people, such as close friends, foster children, or girlfriend of the deceased, will not be eligible for compensation under NRS 41.085. The deceased estate or heir is the “plaintiff” in a wrongful death lawsuit, while the person or entity that led to the death of the victim is the “defendant.”
A wrongful death could be as a result of various life-threatening circumstances or situations such as:
- Criminal behavior
- Medical malpractice
- Automobile accident
- Exposure to occupational hazards
- Product liability in case of defective products
Regardless of the circumstances that led to the wrongful death of your loved one, you will be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit as long as you do it within the Nevada statute of limitations. In preparation for a wrongful death lawsuit, you must contact a personal injury attorney to know how long you have to file such a civil lawsuit in Nevada. Your attorney will also help you collect relevant pieces of evidence you need to hold the defendant liable for your damages after a wrongful death of your significant other.
Nevada Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Statute of limitations determines how long a person has to file a particular type of lawsuit. Generally, you’ve two years to bring a civil action against the at-fault party for a personal injury, after which the case will become null even if it was factual and eligible. Nevada statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit may vary depending on the circumstances that lead to the death of the victim such as:
Under Nevada product liability laws, the manufacturer of the product that led to the death of your loved one should be liable for your damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. If that is the case, the plaintiff will have three years from the date of the discovery of the injury to submit a wrongful death suit against the liable party, after which the claim will be barred and nullified.
Medical malpractice involves players such as doctors, nurses, dentists, or surgeons. NRS 41A.015 defines medical malpractice, also known as professional negligence, as the failure of a health provider to observe a reasonable duty of care when treating a patient, which another health provider would find under similar circumstances. If medical malpractice caused the death of your loved one, you would have three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for your damages.
Vehicle and pedestrian accidents are another leading cause of wrongful deaths in Nevada. Wrongful deaths caused by negligent or reckless acts of another person on the road are subject to compensation under Nevada's wrongful death laws. In case of wrongful death through a vehicle or pedestrian accident, the surviving family has two years from the date of discovery of the injury to submit a wrongful death suit against the at-fault party.
If you are aware of the circumstances that led to the death of your beloved, you should file your wrongful death lawsuit in light of the Nevada statute of limitations for your specific type of case for it to be valid. If you fail to submit your wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations for your type of case, your injury attorney may be able to appeal for an adjustment of the deadline using the “discovery rule” or through tolling. We will discuss more of the discovery rule and tolling below in this article. At Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney, you will find reliable professionals with significant experience on wrongful death lawsuits to help you achieve the maximum compensation you deserve for the loss of your loved one. Make sure you talk to an attorney as soon as possible to gather useful pieces of evidence and eyewitnesses’ testimonies while their memories are still fresh for a successful wrongful death lawsuit.
How to Seek Compensation for a Wrongful Death in Light of Nevada Statute of Limitations
Contacting a personal injury attorney should be your first step if you want to preserve your legal rights for compensation for wrongful death. A personal injury attorney will analyze your case to determine the amount of compensation you deserve for the wrongful death of your spouse or father. The amount of compensation award a plaintiff receives in a wrongful death lawsuit is adjustable depending on the amount of evidence available to prove the damages. Therefore, your injury attorney carries all the burden of proof to ensure you receive adequate compensation for your damages. There are two known ways in which you can seek compensation for wrongful death in Nevada within the state’s statute of limitations, that is:
Before thinking of filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which is costly and time-consuming, you may consider seeking your damages compensation for a wrongful death through a settlement negotiation. First, your injury attorney will help you calculate the total amount of compensation award you deserve for both economic and non-economic damages that resulted from the wrongful death of your loved one. To initiate a compensation settlement negotiation, you will send a demand letter to the defendant indicating the amount of compensation award you need from them. On the demand letter, you should also attach some relevant pieces of evidence essential to prove your demand is legit.
After you’ve sent a demand letter to the insurer of the defendant, you should wait for at least 30 days for their reply, which they may reply or not. Often if they respond, they always come up with a lesser settlement award than the one you’re demanding, which to them is a profit. At Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we don’t care about the defendant’s insurer profit if our clients do not receive adequate compensation for their damages arising from a wrongful death.
If the settlement award amount from the defendant is not enough, you will have to schedule the final settlement negotiation meeting for a raise of the compensation settlement award. During the negotiation, you will present your pieces of evidence to show why you deserve the amount you are claiming and negotiate a fair settlement amount. The defendant insurer has a legal obligation to act in good faith when responding to your compensation claim. After negotiation, if you do not come into an agreement for a fair compensation settlement award, you will have to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant or his/her insurer.
Most insurance providers will agree to settle a compensation claim outside the court because no one wants to leave the civil court at the expense of the trial. However, if you come to this decision, it is upon the judge to decide the amount of compensation you deserve depending on the amount of evidence you present to prove your damages for wrongful death.
Seeking damages compensation through a civil lawsuit is risky because the outcome depends on each party's amount of evidence. However, sometimes you’ve to come down to this decision if the defendant’s insurer is acting in bad faith on their compensation settlement offer. Just like in personal injury claims, you have two years to submit a wrongful death suit against the at-fault party after the wrongful death of your beloved. It will be in your best interest to retain a personal injury attorney during this time to collect and compile essential evidence you need to build a case against the responsible party.
There is a great similarity in wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury lawsuits because they both involve proving negligence leading to injuries or death of another person. The only difference is that in a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim is not alive to file his/her own damages compensation claim. Generally, for a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following to the judge:
- There was the death of another person
- The deceased family are suffering or suffered financial damages as a result of the sudden death of their loved one
- The plaintiff is a victim’s estate personal representative or an heir
- The death of the victim was as a result of negligence or reckless acts of another person
To prove that there was negligence leading to the wrongful death of the victim, the plaintiff must prove particular elements of negligence during the trial. These elements make up a negligence case against the defendant. Your injury attorney can use pieces of evidence used against the defendant during the criminal trial to build up viable pieces of evidence for the success of a wrongful death lawsuit. Your attorney must demonstrate the following elements of negligence above a reasonable doubt during the trial for an adequate damages compensation award:
Duty of Care
The first thing the judge will consider in a negligence case is whether there was an existence of a duty of care between the defendant and the victim relationship. Every company, doctor, or driver has a legal responsibility to observe a reasonable duty of care to ensure other people are safe. If the wrongful death of your significant other were as a result of a road accident, the judge would examine your case to determine if the defendant owed the victim duty of care. The duty of care exists if another reasonable driver under similar circumstances would have found the reason to exercise a reasonable duty of care to prevent such accidents/death of another person. Prove of the existence of a duty of care is essential in a wrongful death lawsuit, just like in a personal injury lawsuit.
Duty of Care Breach
After demonstrating to the judge that there was the existence of a duty of care between the defendant and the victim, you must go ahead and show the judge how the defendant breached his/her duty of care, thus causing the wrongful death of your loved one. For instance, if the driver was DUI when he/she caused the wrongful death of your loved one in a road accident, he/she could be found guilty of negligence. In that case, the defendant must provide you with adequate compensation for all the damages that arose before and after the wrongful death of your intimate partner or brother.
Next, the plaintiff’s lawyer has to show the judge that the defendant's negligent actions of breaching his/her duty of care led to the wrongful death of the victim. Apart from the defendant failing to observe a reasonable duty of care, he/she must also be the actual cause of the victim’s death for you to receive damages compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. The defendant may breach his/her duty of care, but it does not automatically have to result in an accident or wrongful death. Therefore, it is upon your injury attorney to demonstrate to the judge how the negligent acts of the defendant led to the wrongful death of the victim for you to achieve adequate damages compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Lastly, the plaintiff must prove to the jury the existence of damages that arose due to the wrongful death of his/her loved one. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the judge may also consider other damages that the victim incurred before his/her death that includes medical and therapy bills. Typically, if a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff will be entitled to damages compensation under the following categories:
The plaintiff receives economic damages compensation for all the losses that involved out of pocket expenses or money before and after the death of the victim. Economic damages are available for losses such as:
- Victims medical expenses before his/her death
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages before his/her death
- Loss of future financial support
Since not all damages are compensable through financial means, the judge also considers the non-economic damages the victim incurred before his/her death, such as pain and suffering before an award of damages compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. The court also takes into consideration the non-economic damages the plaintiff is experiencing as a result of the wrongful death of their support system or intimate partner. The plaintiff will receive non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit for losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of life enjoyment
Although punitive damages are not compulsory compensatory damages awarded to the deceased family, they are always crucial in some wrongful death lawsuit, which involves gross negligence or malicious acts to punish the defendant for his wrongdoings. Punitive damages also act as an example to deter other people with similar habits from committing such life-threatening negligent acts.
The amount of compensation the plaintiff receives in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the type of evidence your injury attorney will demonstrate to the jury to prove the existence of damages. Your injury attorney can use testimonies from economists to prove that you deserve a certain amount of damages compensation for the wrongful death of your beloved person. If the judge finds that the victim was equally negligent during the occurrence of the accident that led to his/her death, the plaintiff will receive less compensation based on the percentage of the victim’s negligence, according to Nevada comparative negligence law. Make sure you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit to preserve your legal rights.
Ways of Altering the Statute of Limitations Rule for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If the statute of limitations period for filing a wrongful death lawsuit has elapsed, you might be able to reclaim your right for filing the lawsuit against the defendant again in two different ways, that is:
Use of the Discovery Rule
According to Nevada laws, the statute of limitations period begins when the plaintiff/or the party filing the wrongful death lawsuit discovers the cause of the victim's injury/death or should’ve discovered if he/she was exercising reasonable diligence. That means if you discovered the actual cause of the victim's injury/death after an elapse of the statute of limitations period, you might be able to use “discovery rule” to alter the statute of limitations to seek compensation from the at-fault party. All your injury attorney needs to do in this situation is prove to the judge that your failure to meet the statute of limitations period for filing a wrongful death lawsuit was reasonable considering the circumstances that led to the death of the victim.
Tolling/Suspension of The Statute of Limitations Time-Frame
Lastly, you may have the statute of limitations period for filing a wrongful death lawsuit waived or suspended by the court under certain conditions. The plaintiff case/situation must meet the court criteria for tolling or suspending a statute of limitations time-frame. For instance, in a situation where a minor loses his father wrongfully in a road accident or medical malpractice, he/she will not be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit until he/she is eighteen years old. In that situation, the court will see the reason for tolling or suspending the statute of limitations for that case.
You might also be able to use the discovery rule to convince the judge to suspend the statute of limitations time-frame if you discovered the cause of the victim's injury/death later after the deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada. To stay in light of the state statute of limitations, you’ve to submit your wrongful death lawsuit punctually. Then you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney because court procedures and laws surrounding wrongful death cases in Nevada can be very complicated, especially to a layperson.
Find a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Dealing with the pain and emotional anguish of losing a person you love or depend on is the hardest thing to do. It even gets worse if you’ve to sue the at-fault party for the wrongful death of the victim within a limited time-frame. To ease the hassle of filing a wrongful death lawsuit within the Nevada statute of limitations period, we invite you to contact Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm at 702-996-1224. Our experienced attorney will work on your case tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for the wrongful death of your beloved.