Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Personal Injury Claims in Las Vegas and Clark County Nevada

Why shouldn’t I give a statement to an insurance company if I am just going to tell the truth anyway?

An insurance company is obtaining a statement for its own purposes, not to help you. You have no obligation to give a statement prior to having had the chance to speak with an attorney.  Consult and hire an attorney prior to giving any statement.  Giving a statement without having consulted an attorney will almost always negatively affect your injury claim, unfortunately.  Would you like to be fully compensated for your injuries?  If your answer is yes, don’t give a statement to an insurance company without first consulting and hiring an attorney.

Why hire an attorney if it’s clear that the other party was at fault?

Even if fault is clear, the amount of damages that the injured party is entitled to is almost always disputed.  The first hours and days after the accident often have a disproportionate effect on how much the insurance company ultimately does or does not pay for the claim.

When you hire an experienced personal injury attorney like Eric Woods you shift the odds in your favor regarding valuation of your injury claim – and that’s true whether the insurance company has to admit fault for the accident from the beginning, or starts by trying to escape taking responsibility.

If the case does not settle, against whom would a lawsuit be filed: the person that caused the accident, or the insurance company?

In Nevada the lawsuit will be filed against the negligent party, and not an insurance company.   In the case of an auto accident, if a lawsuit is filed it will be against the driver or drivers that caused the accident. In the case of an in injury in a store, called a premises liability claim, the lawsuit will be filed against the corporation but may also name any employee known or believed to have been negligent.

In cases where a lawsuit is filed against an insurance company, it is generally a policy holder suing his own insurance company, based on the failure of the insurance company to live up to its promises in the policy.

Are lawyer’s contingency fees a factor to consider in hiring an injury attorney?

Contingency fees vary law firm by law firm, although many firms have the same fees. In Nevada attorney fees are not set by law nor by the State Bar.  Fees are set by agreement  between client and lawyer.

Most injury attorneys have two contingency fees percentages in their agreements.  The first is often 33% or one third of the gross or total recovery.  This fee applies if the case was settled prior to a lawsuit being filed. The other percentage is often 40% of the gross or total recovery and usually applies if the case is settled after filing of a lawsuit.

Eric Woods most often has an attorney fee of 24% of the gross settlement in injury cases, other than workmen’s compensation cases.  Most cases are settled prior to filing of a lawsuit, but where a lawsuit is filed, the fee is generally 39%.

Eric’s clients are advised of what their exact net settlement will be prior to their approval of the settlement with the insurance company, as often as practical.

Attorney’s fees are worth considering in hiring an attorney, in part because many recoveries at all injury law firms are for “policy limits” meaning the amount recovered was limited by the coverage available. In such a case a lower attorney fee virtually always results in a higher net settlement.

If Eric Woods determines that your case has a value of one million dollars or more, he may offer you a reduced fee or layered fee with a lower percentage fee above threshhold settlement or verdict amounts.

Many personal injury attorneys advertise heavily and incur great expense which they must recover as a part of their fees. Most of Eric Woods’ clients come through referrals, and he has limited advertising expense, allowing him to keep his fees low. Eric Woods will negotiate his fee: in some cases he agrees to accept or settle a case for less than his standard fee where the facts or circumstances indicate that this could be a fair arrangement for the law firm and the client.

Claims of Minors In Nevada (Below age 18):  Attorney fees in any case involving a minor  must be approved by Court Order at the conclusion of the claim. The Court reviews all the medical records and documentation prior to approval of any settlement.

How is the pain and suffering part of an injury claim valued?

Factors that are taken into consideration include the amount of  medical expense incurred, the types of treatment received, and the nature of the injuries. Future anticipated medical expenseand treatment may be considered as well. There is no one set way to value  pain and suffering.

Often times attorneys, including attorney Eric Woods and insurance companies disagree about the valuation of injury claims, and the valuation of pain and suffering and to resolve the dispute, arbitration, mediation, a bench trial or jury trial may be required.

What if the partial or entire cause of the accident and injury was a family member?

In Nevada, family members may bring a claim against another family member who injured them through negligence.  If in a motor vehicle accident, one spouse is driving, and the other spouse and children  are passengers, and the driver spouse causes an accident, then the non-driver spouse and children have a legal claim against the driver spouse which is payable by the insurance on the vehicle.

Would a claim still be allowed if the vehicle I was in was uninsured?

In Nevada, if you are injured by the negligence of another driver your claim is valid irrespective of whether the vehicle you are in is insured.  California law differs on this.

Is an injury claim valid in Nevada, even though I wasn’t wearing my seat belt at the time of the accident?

Yes, the claim is valid.

Would my injury claim be valid even though I did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident?

Yes, if you were driving your vehicle but didn’t have a license, your injury claim is stillvalid, if another driver caused your accident.  Your injury claim would also be valid if your vehicle registration had expired.

Can an injury claim be presented even though the police did not investigate the accident?

There is no legal requirement that the police investigate an accident prior to presenting an injury claim.  In fact, the police generally will not investigate an accident on private property, like a store or casino parking lot, even though accidents at such locations often result in injury.  However, where there is no police report the at fault party might not be honest and might claim that the accident happened in a different way than it did.  Lack of a police report may make it more difficult to win an injury case, so whenever possible the police should be called after an accident, and the long wait for the police to arrive may save you time in the long run.

What should the victim of a hit and run accident do?

It is best for the victim to stay at the scene of the accident and call the police immediately. Once the police arrive, they will initiate an investigation.If the victim leaves the scene, the police generally will not investigate, even if a station report is filed, and even if the plates of the hit and run driver are provided Nevada DMV generally  will not provide the victim of a hit and run accident with information based on the plates of the hit and run driver unless the police came to the scene and prepared a report.

If the other vehicle fled, then it is considered uninsured, and  if the victim has uninsured motorist coverage  a claim can be presented..

In Nevada, when does uninsured motorist coverage (UM), underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) or medical payments coverage (“Med Pay”) on my own policy come into play to help me?

If you were involved in a collision in which the responsible driver was uninsured, and you have this coverage, then this coverage would be responsible for paying an amount equal to the damage caused by the uninsured driver, excluding damage to your vehicle.  It would cover reasonable medical expense, wage loss and pain and suffering.  UIM or uninsured motorist coverage would apply if the at fault party had insurance but not enough to cover the damage done.  This is actually a very frequent occurrence, especially if there are more than two vehicles involved, or more than 2 claimants.

Medical payments coverage, or med pay, will pay up to the specific dollar limit, and the amount is not reimbursable to your insurance carrier, even if you also were to collect this sum from the at fault party.  Thus, your settlement will be more if you had med pay coverage in effect at the time you were injured by someone else’s negligence.

In Nevada, if I have medical insurance, should I use it to pay expenses I incurred as a result of the accident injury?

Many times, the answer is yes.  Almost all health insurance policies have a subrogration or re-imbursement clause in their policy, meaning they have a right to be reimbursed what they paid out when the claim settles.  In the meanwhile however, utilizing the coverage can avoid a bill going into collection. Also, the insurance company gets a writeoff generally in what it pays the provider.  It is better for the person with the injury claim to re-imburse the insurance company the reduced amount than pay the provider the full amount.  The full amount of the bill will still be presented to the at fault party.  The at fault party is not entitled to pay less just because the injured party happened to have health insurance.  Some of the medical expenses incurred after an injury can be very costly.  While many times the Law Offices of Eric Woods can obtain treatment for you on a lien, in the case of an expensive surgery you may be able to obtain the treatment at a lower cost using health insurance. Contact us today for a FREE Consultation.