I Was Hurt in an Auto Accident; How Much Time Do I Have to Seek Damages?

If either you or someone close to you has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, motor vehicle accident involving a commercial vehicle, motorcycle accident, or slip and fall, you only have a certain amount of time to bring your claim for monetary damages or you are barred from seeking recovery.
It is important to have experienced counsel if you are injured. Many people either deal with insurance companies alone or refuse to seek legal counsel because they believe the insurance companies are trying to help them, or they feel bad for the victim. First, you would not perform surgery on yourself, would you? Hopefully not, you would hire a doctor. So, why fight the insurance company without a lawyer? It has been statistically proven that your chances of obtaining a larger recovery are enhanced when you have legal counsel versus handling the process yourself. Second, the victim does not pay anything to you as a result of being the at fault party, rather the insurance company pays on behalf of the at fault driver.
The time frame you to bring a claim for injuries sustained at the hands of an at-fault driver is referred to as the statute of limitations. If the claim for injuries cannot be resolved by way of settlement, the claim will eventually expire. Often times, the insurance company will walk you right up to the deadline with the hope that it passes so they do not have to pay you anything. Nevada has a two-year statute of limitations, any attempt by you to recover personal injury damages in Nevada must be filed with the court no later than the required two-year deadline or the claim is lost. The two-year time clock to preserve the claim starts ticking on the day of the actual accident itself.
If the accident resulted in the loss of life of one of the passengers, Nevada provides a two-year limit to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company which starts ticking on the date of the deceased passenger’s death.
Nevada law treats minors differently when they are injured in a motor vehicle accident. Specifically, if a minor is injured, Nevada law requires that the minor wait until the day they turn 18 years of age. The day that they turn 18, a two-year time frame begins, and the file must be asserted before their 20th birthday. There is an exception here that is noteworthy: The parents of the injured minor could seek judicial approval to file a claim on behalf of their child; however, in doing so the minor child no longer may take legal action once they emancipate.
In the event there has been property damage to your vehicle, Nevada provides a three-year time limit to seek damages.
If you or your attorney attempt to submit a claim for damages after the required statute, not only will the claim most likely fail, but the defense attorney for the insurance company may dismiss the case and ask that you be responsible for attorney’s fees in the process.
If your attorney has missed the statute of limitations to pursue your claim, you may have a malpractice claim against your attorney rather than an injury claim against the insurance company now. Compounding that is the fact that Nevada does not require an attorney to maintain malpractice insurance, so it is imperative you are aware of all legal requirements, deadlines, and Nevada case law.
Personal injury claims are not just limited to automobile accidents, and while Nevada’s statute of limitations for auto accidents is described in detail in this blog, it should be noted that legal malpractice against an attorney must be initiated within four years of suffering damage or two years after the party discovers, or should have discovered through reasonable diligence, the material facts underlying the cause of action: whichever is sooner.
If you are injured by a doctor’s negligence, medical malpractice sets forth a three-year time frame from the date the negligent act or omission causing injury occurred, or one year from the date the injury was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered.
If you or someone you love was injured by a product, that would be a claim for product liability and the victim has three years from the date of the injury to file a claim.
At vegas west attorneys, we are transparent, practice law with integrity, dedicate our time and education to our clients, and are strong advocates. We ensure that each case is current, that each client has access to their case manager and attorney along the way, and that the health/treatment of each client is our top concern.
We offer free consultations for potential clients and/or claim review, and do not earn any compensation for our legal services unless we win your case.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Should I Have It?

Ask the next person you see – it could be a stranger: “Do you know what UM or UIM automobile coverage is? Chances are the person will give you a bewildered look and ask: “What is it?” Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage, known as UM and UIM coverage, is a form of insurance that protects you against drivers who choose to drive without insurance or only bare minimal policy limits. If such a driver negligently causes an accident, your ability to recover from your injuries and secure compensation for damages is put at severe risk. You may be forced to pay for your own vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, co-pays, and deductibles. You cannot even be compensated for the pain and suffering the other driver caused no matter the extent of your injures. To protect against such a nightmare scenario, drivers are offered UM/UIM coverage that allows you to make a claim against your own policy when the other driver does not have enough insurance to pay your reasonable losses.
In areas of the country containing especially aggressive drivers, like Las Vegas, you should have UM/UIM coverage to protect you and your family. UM/UIM is not mandatory in Nevada so it must be specifically requested. In fact, your insurance agent must have you sign a document to affirmatively decline this coverage. Many people decline without understanding the potential consequences.
According to USLegal.com, uninsured motorist coverage is defined as follows:
Additional coverage in a policy of insurance on an automobile which provides that if the owner (or a passenger) of the automobile is injured by a negligent driver of another vehicle who does not have liability insurance, then the insurance company will pay its insured’s actual damages.
Not having UM/UIM coverage could carry heavy consequences and result in the following scenario:
You are driving to work, as you do every morning, when someone runs a red light and t-bones your vehicle. Your air bags deploy, you are hurt and disoriented, and you are fault free. After calling 911, you exchange insurance information with the other driver and secure a police report then immediately seek treatment for your injuries.
The next day or so after the accident, you meet with an attorney and learn the consequences of the negligent driver having no insurance or only minimal coverage. Your attorney then reviews your own auto policy to learn that it does not contain UM/UIM coverage. You are now left without recourse or remedy – you must pay your own damages, often out of your own pocket. This consequence is potentially devastating depending upon your level of injuries and the extent of damage to your vehicle.
Unfortunately, the above scenario is all too common.
If you do have UM/UIM coverage, your attorney will negotiate with your insurance company regarding that coverage to ensure you receive compensation for your loss. Each case is different, but the one constant should be that you have UM/UIM to rely upon. The lawyers at vegas west attorneys strongly recommend that you immediately call your insurance agent or pull your written policy to verify UM/UIM coverage. If you do not have this coverage, consider adding it.
If you, or someone you know, is injured by the negligent driving of another, whether it be in your car, ride-share, or company vehicle, do not wait to consult with an attorney. First, seek treatment for your injuries, then immediately meet with an attorney to discuss your rights. Do not speak with the adverse insurance company or give a recorded statement until you have “lawyered up.” The insurance companies have teams of defense attorneys and adjusters that diligently aim to pay you the least amount possible for your injuries and damages. Do not fall victim to their tactics.
At vegas west attorneys, we have defense attorney experience which allows us to meet and beat the insurance companies at their own game. We will protect your rights while you undergo appropriate treatment and recover from your injuries. Once the extent of your losses are known, we will aggressively seek a fair recovery that properly compensates you for the inconvenience you have suffered, property damage, medical treatment, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you had to endure because someone chose to act carelessly at your expense. By not reaching out to a legal professional after suffering an injury, you risk not knowing the answers to the following important questions:
• Should I provide the insurance company with a statement and, if so, when?

• Do I call my insurance company to make a claim or call the person’s insurance who hit me?

• Who do I call to fix or replace my damaged vehicle? Is a rental car available?

• I cannot miss work to attend doctor appointments. What should I do?

• If I don’t know a doctor who can provide treatment, how do I find one?

• If I do not have medical insurance to pay my medical bills, what other options are available?

• How much should I expect in a settlement or judgment following trial?
At vegas west attorneys, we work directly with you to provide proper legal advice to answer these important questions and others. Our experienced attorneys and case managers provide aide in different aspects of your accident case as well. We are your injury advocates and will speak with the insurance companies, so you don’t have to; instead, you can focus your attention on getting better.
It is most important in any accident case that you recover from your injuries and pain to the greatest extent possible. This requires that you receive all the health care that you need and deserve, including, if necessary, physical therapy, proper imaging, orthopedic services, pain management treatment, neurological analysis, and sometimes neuropsychological treatment in cases involving closed head injuries. Often, various experts are required such as accident reconstruction engineers, biomechanical experts, vocational rehabilitation experts, and others. Hopefully, your injuries will not require such extensive treatment and analysis, but if it does, vegas west attorneys are equipped to handle every aspect.
Often, an accident can involve forces that cause your head to whip so violently that your brain collides with the bony interior of your own skull. This contact can cause bruising to your brain tissue and tearing of blood vessels. Not every head injury is immediately followed by a loss of consciousness and, often, the symptoms from a brain injury do not manifest until later. Other injuries, such as spinal injuries, may seem minor at first but ultimately require extensive treatment, including surgery. Seeking proper treatment for injuries that you might not even suspect initially is crucial to recovery.
Waiting to seek legal advice may prove detrimental not only to your accident case, but to your health and ultimate outcome. At vegas west attorneys, we evaluate our client’s insurance policies when injured in an accident, along with all potential insurance policies that may be applicable, so we may provide you the best chance of returning to your pre-accident condition. UM/UIM is just one benefit that many people do not secure when obtaining automobile insurance because they want to keep their monthly premiums low. However, UM/UIM coverage is not overly expensive and can prove extremely valuable in case of an accident. We recommend asking your insurance agent about the cost of adding this coverage with the hope that you’ll never need it, but if you do, you will be thankful to have it.

What is Probation?

Probation is a procedural option for a defendant as an alternative to being sent to jail or prison. Rather than sentence the person and ordering them to serve time, the judge may provide an opportunity for the defendant to demonstrate that they want to rehabilitate themselves. Probation results in the release of a defendant back into the community without the same level of freedom as a normal citizen.

Probation usually occurs at a sentencing hearing and may occur in either one of two instances: 1) the judge will find the defendant guilty of the crime but suspend the jail or prison sentence until they successfully complete probation; or 2) the defendant is given probation without a pre-determined sentence. Either way, once the defendant completes the conditions of probation, they will avoid prison for the remainder of their sentence. Do not confuse probation with parole. Parole is when a defendant is already in prison but will be released earlier than they were initially sentenced for.

Probation requires that the defendant be supervised, that they follow certain rules and guidelines, and they illustrate extreme well-mannered behavior. While it is probation that may be viewed as an alternative to time behind bars, probation does carry many requirements and rules.

Some of those specific requirements and/or rules include, but are not limited to:
– Mandatory reporting to the Division of Parole and Probation;
– Completion of a written report each month that must be true and correct in all respects;
– Permission to change your residence (applies to each move);
– Refraining from possessing, having access to, or having under your control any type of weapon;
– Permission before you leave the state;
– Seek and maintain legal employment;
– No consumption of controlled substances unless first prescribed by a licensed medical professional;
– Submit to a warrantless search at any time;
– No consumption of alcohol or drugs;
– Follow a daily curfew; and,
– Follow all the orders from the Division of Parole and Probation.

In addition to the conditions of probation, the Judge may have also sentenced someone to added conditions such as community service, financial restitution, anger management, mental health court, mandatory fines and fees, etc.

There are no constitutional protections for someone on probation as it relates to searches. The person is subject to a warrantless search of their person, property, place of residence, vehicle, or areas under one’s control. Warrantless searches also extend to electronic devices like cellular phones, computers, tablets, smart watches, and electronic surveillance data for monitoring of your location.

If anything goes unattended to, whether it be the failure to pay a nominal fee, failure to allow a search, or the failure to check in with a probation officer, the officer will issue a report to the Judge that includes the defendant’s probation violations. If the report is in fact issued, the defendant will be remanded for violating their probation.

Once the defendant is remanded back into custody, they will appear before their presiding Judge whom will ask them to explain why they violated their probation. Also, present at this hearing will be the prosecutor, who may want to contribute argument supporting the revocation of probation. It is here that your criminal defense attorney needs to advocate on your behalf. They should be attempting to convince your Judge why you deserve a second chance, rebut the arguments of the prosecutor, and/or argue why the case should have never been remanded back to the court in the first place. If successful through argument, the defendant will be provided another chance by the Judge to resume probation and the programs that are associated with it.

However, if the Judge does not believe the defendant is telling the truth, believes the prosecutor, and/or the defendant has multiple probation violations in the past, the Judge will more than likely revoke their probation and remand them into custody. It is at that time that the Judge may impose the remainder of the prison sentence on the defendant and probation will no longer be an option. This also deeply weakens an argument later for parole.
The average person charged with a crime is usually concerned about the quality of their legal representation when facing time behind bars, rightfully so. If you, or someone you care about is being charged with a crime, you have a right to an attorney. That right should always be exercised. Even those accused of lesser crimes like battery, simple assault, or larceny are likely to need legal representation from a licensed criminal defense attorney. Vegas West Attorneys ensures your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly in the process. The attorneys at Vegas West Attorneys have been defending people in Clark and Nye County courts for over a combined 20 years.

Grandparent Rights- It All Comes Down To The Best Interest Of The Child

According to the United States Supreme Court, being a parent is a fundamental right. This is a long-protected right and as far back as 1923, the Court stated: “liberty” protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right of parents to “establish a home and bring up children” and “to control the education of their own.” Thus, the law in Nevada, and every other state, provides considerable statutory emphasis to ensuring that parents, if possible, maintain that right. The mechanism to ensure that parental “liberty” in Nevada is the multi-pronged “parental preference” statute, and any person who wants to obtain custody of a child other than a parent, with certain exceptions, must overcome that preference. This represents a very formidable burden for anyone who is not a parent, and thus far, the law bundles grandparents into this same mix, with everybody else who is not a parent.

The Law Gives Parents Preferential Treatment

Because being a parent is a fundamental right, attempts by state legislatures in several states to provide more custody rights for grandparents have been declared unconstitutional as an undue and additional burden on parental rights. The bottom line therefore, is that if a parent is fit and proper, the law assumes and creates a strong preference that it is in the best interest of children to be with their parents, and neither the state, nor anybody else, has the right to interfere with that parent/child relationship. By corollary, this also means that grandparents, since the law views them in the same manner as any other non-parent, do not have legal rights to obtain custody from a fit parent.

The parental preferences are a lengthy list of factors called “extraordinary circumstances” which must be proved prior to granting custody to a nonparent. In Nevada, the extraordinary circumstances necessary to overcome the parental preference presumption are those which result in serious detriment to the child. Those non-exclusive factors include:

• abandonment or persistent neglect of the child by the parent;

• likelihood of serious physical or emotional harm to the child if placed in the parent’s custody;

• extended, unjustifiable absence of parental custody;

• continuing neglect or abdication of parental responsibilities;

• provision of the child’s physical, emotional and other needs by persons other than the parent over a significant period;

• the existence of a bonded relationship between the child and the non-parent custodian sufficient to cause significant emotional harm to the child in the event of a change in custody;

• the age of the child during the period when his or her care is provided by a non-parent;

• the child’s well-being has been substantially enhanced under the care of the non-parent;

• the extent of the parent’s delay in seeking to acquire custody of the child; the demonstrated quality of the parent’s commitment to raising the child; the likely degree of stability and security in the child’s future with the parent;

• the extent to which the child’s right to an education would be impaired while in the custody of the parent;

• and any other circumstances that would substantially and adversely impact the welfare of the child.

If Parents Are Unfit To Have Custody

It is not all bleak for grandparents however, as the law does provide for considerably more leeway for those seeking only visitation with their grandchildren. Regarding visitation, initially, predictably, the courts start from the proposition that if a fit parent decides to deny the grandparents visitation, it is assumed to be in the best interest of the child. However, if a grandparent has previously obtained an order of custody, or visitation, then the parental preference statutes do not apply, and the parent does not get the benefit of that considerable assumption to prevent visitation. The reason for this is that since the grandparent(s) obtained a custody or visitation order previously, they have already overcome the parental preference.

The List Of Alternative Custodians

In Nevada, if a court determines that it is not in the best interest of the child for the parents to obtain custody, the law provides a list of persons for the court to award custody or visitation to a non-parent. First on that list is someone who has previously provided a “wholesome and stable environment” for the child. This means that at some point, the child has resided with that person, very likely a grandparent, for sufficient time that evidence can be submitted which prove that the grandparent has in fact provided a wholesome and stable environment for that child. Next, if parents are for some reason deemed unfit to have custody, is a more distant relative of the child, “within the fifth degree of consanguinity to the child whom the court finds suitable and able to provide proper care and guidance for the child, regardless of whether the relative resides within this State.” (NRS 125C.0035). Note that this preference permits a potential removal of the child from Nevada. Finally, because best interest of the child is the overriding consideration, custody can ultimately be awarded to any person who is found to be suitable and able to provide proper care and guidance for the child. However, prior to awarding custody to any non-parent, a court must specifically find that it would be detrimental to the child to make an award to a parent.

If The Child Has Been Subjected To Abuse And Neglect

Similarly, in situations where a child is subjected to actual abuse and/or neglect, a parent can be judicially determined to be unfit, and custody can be awarded to a nonparent. This can also occur if a parent becomes too sick to care for a child. In abuse and neglect scenarios, a grandparent will frequently be considered as a potential “adoptive resource”. Again, however, a parent must be given the opportunity to rehabilitate their behavior, and the courts will only move to terminate the parental right of that parent if they fail in that regard. Thus, it is a mixed bag for grandparent rights and opportunities for custody and visitation can reach fruition, but only if parents are judicially determined to be deficient in parenting in some way.

Have you recently moved? Have you notified the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles?

Nevada Revised Statute 482.385 requires all new Nevada residents to register any vehicle operated in Nevada within 30 days of becoming a resident, or when they obtain a driver’s license, whichever occurs first. Additionally, Nevada Revised Statute 483.90 mandates that all individuals notify the Department of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of changing your residential address. A change of address and many other services offered by the DMV may be completed online, without having to visit the DMV.

Marijuana Legalization and Employee Drug Testing in Nevada

Looking for a job in Nevada? Do not be surprised if your prospective employer requires a drug test that includes a screening for marijuana use. Why would they test for a substance that is legal to consume in Nevada? Because they can.

Labor law in this country is federalist in nature, with the states and federal government sharing jurisdiction. An employer must maintain a workplace that conforms to both sets of laws. Some states have laws that regulate or restrict an employer’s ability to drug test employees, but Nevada is not one of them. Federal law does not prohibit drug testing.

Many companies, even in states with some form of legalized marijuana use, are keeping their “zero tolerance” workplace drug policies, or continue to test for marijuana. On the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts, for example, still drug tests as part of their hiring process. Others are choosing not to test potential employees for pot. Some hotels are finding it difficult to find enough workers who can pass, and are skipping the test. Caesars Entertainment is the latest company to drop testing for marijuana. According to a spokesman, Caesars will only drug test employees if they suspect that they are using.

While Nevada has legalized marijuana use, pot remains illegal at the federal level. The Controlled Substances Act still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. This classification labels marijuana as having “a high potential for abuse…has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States [and] there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” These conflicting rules put both employees and employers in a bind, and may lead to litigation.

Coats v. Dish Network, a Colorado Supreme Court case, is a good example. Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic who used medical marijuana at night for pain, sued his employer for wrongful termination when he was fired after failing a random drug test. He argued that he should not have been fired for “engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.” The Court ruled against him, finding that the term “lawful activity” extends to both state and federal law.

Though marijuana use is now legal in Nevada, there are situations where you may want to consult with an attorney before doing so. In addition to employment situations, your pot use could work against you in a custody battle. Legal does not necessarily mean acceptable.

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO FILE YOUR MOTION TO ALLOW YOU TO RELOCATE WITH YOUR MINOR CHILD FROM NEVADA?

It is early April and are you thinking of moving outside of Las Vegas, maybe to another state? Do you have school-age children that you want to take, and the other parent is staying behind? Even if the other parent doesn’t live in Las Vegas, but has legal custody rights, do you need their agreement if they do not agree to the relocation of the kids. What do you need to do? When should you seek relief from the court?

To move, you must either get the other parent’s written consent or a court’s order allowing you to remove the children to another state, even if the other party already lives out-of-state. And, if you plan to relocate during the summer school break, now, or in the near future, is the time to file your request with the court. To grant a move, the Court will have to set the matter for a trial, and that could take several months. If you don’t file soon enough, and the trial gets set out past the start of next year’s start date, then, even if you win, the court will probably make you wait until the semester break before removing the children from school.

Here are a few things to consider: Even if the court allows you to move, generally the court will not grant a move mid-semester unless it is necessary, and what seems like a necessity to you is often not perceived as a necessity to the court. Further, a move request that is disputed will generally end up being decided only after a trial, meaning that you should plan far in advance. You should consider that some of the judicial departments will take up to six weeks to just hear your relocation motion, which means that even if your motion is filed in April, it could be mid-June before you get in front of a judge just to decide whether your request has enough merit to give you the trial. Then you need the time to prepare your case, such as engage in discovery, take some depositions if necessary, and maybe even fit in a child interview. And, some departments don’t have room on their calendar for three to four months to schedule your trial. The process takes more time than you think.

Ideally, you should plan your move sometime during the summer break, or Winter Break, and file your request about six months before the proposed move. Work transfers and other unforeseen circumstances are an exception that may allow the process to happen quicker. The more time you have to plan your move, however, the better your chances of being given permission by the court.

vegas west attorneys can assist you with your move related issue. Whether or not you are able to obtain the other parent’s written consent to move, vegas west attorneys can help. Call Gary Zernich of vegas west attorneys to schedule your consultation.

Courts Decide: Dog Lives Matter

Many police officers would say they would never want to hurt a family pet. Unfortunately, there are certain situations that place an officer in a position where he feels he has no other choice than to protect himself and shoot a dog. Most of families with dogs who are killed by police officers have little to no recourse available because the law widely considers dogs to be property. Sadly, this limits damages in a civil case for the death of a family dog at the hands of the police to the dog’s economic value. When you consider the fact that many dogs are adopted or cost next to nothing, families have no remedy available unless the family lives in a state that also allows for emotional damages. Fortunately, this trend is changing, as multiple courts have recently awarded substantial damages to families who lose a dog at the hands of the police.

The movement toward awarding a family money for the death of a dog at the hands of the police started in California in 2005. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco held that San Jose police officers violated the Fourth Amendment and committed an unconstitutional seizure when they raided a Hells Angels clubhouse and several members’ homes and killed three dogs. The city paid a $797,500 settlement. Since then, there have been multiple high settlements and judgments. The settlements include $100,000 paid by the city of Detroit in 2016 after a police officer killed a dog chained up next to a home, $885,000 paid by the city of Hartford in 2017 after an officer shot and killed a dog during an unlawful search, and $262,500 paid to a Colorado family in 2016 after an officer killed their dog.

Similarly, in May 2017, a jury awarded dog owner Michael Reeves $1,260,000, which is the highest civil judgment in U.S. history awarded for a pet’s death at the hands of the police. Reeves’ family dog, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, was shot twice by an officer investigating a robbery. Reeves rushed out and tried to save his gasping dog by putting his fingers in the bullet wounds, but Reeves’ efforts were unsuccessful and his dog died shortly after. Pursuant to a Maryland statute that limits local government liability, the court later reduced the $1.26 million judgment to $207,500. Nevertheless, this is still one of the highest awards for the loss of a family pet at the hands of the police.

No one knows exactly how many dogs are killed by the police each year, as there is no uniform reporting requirement. However, the frequently cited estimate from the U.S. Department of Justice states approximately 25-30 dogs are killed by police officers each day. For most dog owners, no amount of money can compensate them for the loss of their dog because their dog was a member of their family. Most of these families would rather just have their dog alive. The high judgments and settlements many of these cities paid out to these families caused some cities to instill training programs to teach officers how to appropriately handle encounters with family pets. Hopefully, cities can put far less money into these training programs than they would pay out in settlement or jury awards, and fewer families will endure the tragedy of a police officer killing their beloved dog.

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Vegas West