One of the most common causes of personal injury claims is being involved in a car accident. Naturally, they’re also the type of case that we get the most questions about. People wonder how an auto accident claim works, the steps involved, and how much time it takes to get everything resolved.
Every case, of course, works a little bit differently. Injuries can be more or less severe. Some insurance companies are more responsive and willing to negotiate than others. Some cases can be easily settled without ever stepping into a courtroom, but there is still a minority of cases that do go all the way to trial.
We can’t tell you exactly how any particular car accident injury claim will go, but we can give you a general idea of what to expect and how the timeline will normally progress as a case goes on. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Las Vegas, or anywhere else in Nevada, here’s what you can expect to happen as your personal injury claim moves from its initial stages to final settlement or judgment.
Reporting The Car Accident
The first thing that will need to be done after a car accident occurs (after getting any needed medical attention) is to file a report. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may need to file the report yourself or it may be filed by a police officer that arrives on the scene.
If a police officer does not file a report, you are legally obligated to file one if one or both of the following conditions are true:
- The accident resulted in bodily injury or death
- Damage to any vehicle or property appears to be in excess of $750
The report must be filed within ten days of the crash and a written or electronic copy of the report must be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety. If there was damage to the driver’s vehicle, he or she should also attach an estimate of the repair cost. The report itself should be filed using the Nevada DMV’s Report Of Traffic Crash form.
Understanding Nevada Car Insurance Laws
Nevada falls into the category of a “fault” state or “tort” state. That means that when an accident occurs and it can be proven that one driver is at fault, that driver (or the driver’s insurance company) will be held responsible for all damages that result from the accident. To put it simply, if you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you’ll need to file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
All drivers in the state are required to carry minimum insurance of at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle, and
- $20,000 for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
Failing to have the required insurance can result in the suspension of registration and other penalties.
Filing A Personal Injury Claim Or Lawsuit In Las Vegas
Consulting with an experienced auto accident injury attorney is the only way to know for sure if you have a case that is worth pursuing and what sort of compensation you may be entitled to receive for your injuries, medical bills, missed work, etc. The initial consultation in this type of case is going to be free (with any reputable law firm) and the attorney’s fees will be negotiated and based on whatever settlement or judgment is finally recovered.
If your lawyer believes you have a good case, relevant information and evidence will be gathered, and either a claim will be fired with the other driver’s insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit will be filed on your behalf.
Auto Accident Injury Claim Settlement Process
A settlement means resolving the case between the parties involved without going to court. Most cases settle out of court because neither side wants to take the chance of an unfavorable ruling and the plaintiff (the one filing the injury claim) will usually prefer to receive their compensation as soon as possible as long as it is a fair amount.
Once a demand letter has been sent to the insurance company or a filing has been made with the court, the insurance company will conduct their own investigation of the accident and your claim and decide to either make a settlement offer or deny the claim. If the insurance company accepts the claim, they will make a settlement offer and negotiations will begin between both parties to come up with something that both sides can agree upon.
If the insurance company denies the responsibility to pay for your damages, your attorney will either file for an appeal with an insurance adjuster or begin the process of moving the case into the court system.
If A Settlement Can Not Be Reached
If a settlement can not be reached, the process will move into the court system. In most cases, the court will order further negotiations or appoint some sort of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as independent mediation, to help resolve the matter. Most cases will end up finally being settled at this point.
If, however, a settlement can not be reached at this point, the case will move into a full civil jury trial. Witnesses will be gathered, evidence will be presented, and a jury will have the final say as to who is responsible for the damages and what monetary compensation will be awarded—if any. A full-on jury trial will also add considerably to the costs of the case, which is why many times both parties will try to avoid it if possible.
Speak With A Qualified Las Vegas Auto Accident Attorney
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Las Vegas, NV, or surrounding areas, the law offices of Cap & Kudler can help. Our team of Las Vegas car accident attorneys has the knowledge and experience you’ll need fighting for your rights and working to make sure that you get the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled.
Nevada Revised Statutes 11.190 set a limit of two years to file a personal injury claim after a motor vehicle accident. It’s important to act quickly so that you don’t run out of time to make your claim and so that the evidence you’ll need to support your case is fresh and properly preserved. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation. We’ll be happy to give you a full case evaluation and discuss exactly what we can do to help you.