Key Terms in a Personal Injury Case
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When you’re involved in a personal injury case, there are a lot of new words you may see and hear as the case moves through the Nevada courts. These words can make it hard to understand what’s going on in your case. A better understanding of standard terms in a personal injury case can help you navigate your claim more successfully.
Here are some of the words you might encounter when you’re involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
An answer is a document that one side in a lawsuit files to respond to another party’s court filing. For example, when a plaintiff files a complaint, the other side responds by filing an answer. An answer addresses the allegations made by the other side.
A breach happens when one person has a duty of care to someone else and fails to maintain that responsibility. A person breaches their duty to someone else when they fail to act reasonably.
The person who holds the burden has the job of showing that something is true. If the law says a person carries the burden of an issue in the case, it’s up to them to present the evidence to the court to show that it’s true.
Burden of Proof
A burden of proof is the amount of evidence that you need to win the case. In most personal injury law, the burden of proof is considered to be the preponderance of the evidence.
A cap is the most amount of money you can recover from a particular type of loss in a personal injury case. In Nevada, there are damage caps for certain types of damages in medical malpractice cases.
In a lawsuit, causation means that a person’s negligent behavior is the cause of the victim’s losses. That is, a person’s behavior must be the reason for the other person’s injuries or losses for the injured person to recover from that person.
A CDL, or commercial driver’s license, is a special type of driver’s license that a driver has to get when they drive for a living and is primarily for tractor trailer drivers.
Collateral Source Doctrine
Even if you have insurance that pays you for your damages, you still have a right to full recovery for your losses from the person that hurts you. That is, even if you have a collateral source to pay for your damages, you can still demand full recovery from the individual who hurts you.
The original court documents in a case are called the complaint. This is always the first document filed in court that initiates a lawsuit. It puts your losses in writing and asks for compensation.
In some cases, more than one person may have acted negligently. When the injured person also behaves in negligent ways that contribute to their own personal injury, this is called contributory negligence. In Nevada, if the injured party is more than fifty-one percent at fault for what happened, they can’t recover for their losses at all.
In personal injury cases, damages are what the injured party seeks to recover, usually monetary compensation. Damages can be financial losses such as medical bills and lost wages or emotional losses like pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
When someone brings a lawsuit against you, you’re called the defendant. A defendant is the person or entity that might have hurt someone else.
In Nevada, district courts handle cases for the largest amounts of money. Cases in the district court usually involve $10,000 or more.
Duty requires a person to act or to refrain from acting in a particular way. Usually, people have to act reasonably towards each other. Failing to meet this requirement can be considered negligence, and can be a cause for legal action.
A personal injury case is made up of elements designed to prove negligence. These are all the steps that must occur for a victim to have a valid case against someone else. In most cases, the elements of a personal injury case that prove negligence are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
In Nevada, a justice court hears cases that involve less than $10,000.
Med-Pay, or medical payment coverage, is a type of first-party insurance. This supplemental insurance pays the medical bills of each person in your vehicle who is injured, without regard to fault.
Related: PIP vs. Med Pay Insurance Coverage
If a person acts carelessly in a way that a reasonable person shouldn’t, they’ve acted negligently. When a person’s negligent behavior hurts someone else, it can be grounds for financial recovery under Nevada law.
Nevada does not have no-fault laws. No-fault laws require each driver to buy insurance that pays for their own damages regardless of whether they’re at fault for the accident. In Nevada, you can bring a lawsuit whenever another party acts negligently in a way that causes you losses.
A paralegal has legal training and experience, but they are not a lawyer. They often collaborate with attorneys and perform work with a great deal of expertise.
A plaintiff is the person who brings the lawsuit. If you’re the one that’s hurt, you’re the plaintiff who brings the case to recover for your losses from someone else.
Prayer for Relief
This is the part of the court document that tells the court what you’re asking them to do, usually outlining how much money you want. A prayer for relief often comes at the end of a court filing.
Preponderance of Evidence
When the burden of proof is a preponderance of evidence, as is customary in civil cases, that means you have to show that something is more likely than not to be true. That means if you’re the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you have to demonstrate that what you’re saying is more likely than not to be true.
A person acts recklessly when they disregard an obvious risk. While negligence is not using enough care, recklessness is ignoring an apparent danger.
Statute of Limitations
Nevada law places restrictions on the amount of time that a person has to bring a case when they’re hurt. This time limitation is called the statute of limitations. In most cases, the limit in Nevada is between two and four years depending on what exactly occurred.
Related: How Long Do I Have to File an Injury Claim in Nevada?
In some cases — usually those involving defective products — a person can be liable to others for damages they cause even if they never intend to hurt someone else. When a person must pay someone else for certain losses even if they didn’t even act negligently, this is called strict liability.
A tort is when someone commits a legal wrong against someone else. It’s not a contract violation or a crime, however, in some cases, an intentional act can be a tort as well as a crime. A tort occurs when one person wrongs another in a way that allows for an injured person to recover for their losses under Nevada civil law.
As you can see, personal injury cases can be confusing. When you work with the experienced attorneys at Adam S. Kutner & Associates, they know all of these terms, and they know how to apply them and Nevada law in the best possible way to help you get the recovery that you deserve.
If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Nevada, working with an attorney may help you maximize your recovery for losses. An attorney can also guide you through the complex legal system, so you know what to expect at each stage of the process. You can focus on your recovery, while an attorney uses their training and legal experience to bring your case to the Nevada courts for the best possible result.
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Adam S. Kutner
PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
With more than 32 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.
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