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Understanding the Statute of Limitations and Your Personal Injury Case

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Understanding the Statute of Limitations and Your Personal Injury Case

A personal injury statute of limitations is a state law that sets a deadline for the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit over a particular personal injury claim.

If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, you will forever forfeit your right to file a lawsuit over that claim – unless an exception applies. 

The Purpose of Establishing a Statute of Limitations

The Purpose of Establishing a Statute of Limitations

Evidence grows stale over time. Witness memories fade, or they move out of state.

Physical evidence deteriorates or gets lost. How can you fairly resolve a claim under these circumstances? That is why the government limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit.

How to Beat the Statute of Limitations Deadline

To beat the statute of limitations deadline, you need to accomplish four tasks:

  1. File a lawsuit complaint with the appropriate court.
  2. File a summons with the court clerk.
  3. Pay the filing fee, which is likely to be several hundred dollars.
  4. Arrange for a neutral third party to “serve process” on the defendant. 

Serving process means delivering a copy of the complaint and the summons so that the defendant will have notice of the lawsuit. You must pursue service of process diligently to beat the statute of limitations deadline. Missing even one of these steps could kill your claim if the deadline passes before you can complete it.

If You Miss the Deadline

If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, all the opposing party has to do is file a Motion to Dismiss based on your failure to meet the statute of limitations deadline. The judge will certainly grant the motion, thereby throwing your case out of court. You will not be able to refile your case—it is over.

If You Miss the Deadline, Can You Still Settle Your Claim Out of Court?

If you miss the statute of limitations deadline, your claim will effectively die. Technically, it is still possible to settle your claim out of court, but any opposing party would be foolish to agree to a settlement with you. 

The reason for this is that without the ability to enforce your claim in court, you have no bargaining power. You cannot penalize the opposing party for simply ignoring your settlement demand. 

To protect your rights, you must either file a lawsuit (as described above) and take your case to court or have already finalized a settlement agreement before the statute of limitations passes. 

How Long Do You Have To File in Nevada?

In Nevada, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim unless an exception applies. If you die, the executor of your estate, or certain surviving family members, have until two years after your date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The medical malpractice statute of limitations

The Nevada medical malpractice statute of limitations deadline is (i) three years after the date of the injury or (ii) two years after you know or should know of the injury, whichever happens first.

Exceptions to the General Statute of Limitations Deadlines

There are several exceptions to the general two-year statute of limitations.

“Tolling” the statute of limitations

In certain circumstances, the Nevada statute of limitations can be “tolled” (paused). For example, if the person you need to sue has fled the state, you might have additional time to file your lawsuit. There are other situations when this may happen as well.

Medical malpractice and children

There are two special rules concerning medical malpractice when the victim is a child:

  • If medical malpractice causes a child brain damage or a birth injury, the statute of limitations does not expire until three years later or until the child turns ten years old, whichever occurs later.
  • If a child becomes sterile as a result of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations deadline is two years after the child discovers or should discover their condition.

Remember, in Nevada, a child cannot file a lawsuit in their own name-–an adult must file for them.

Product liability

If you suffer an injury due to a defective product, a product liability claim might arise. A defective prescription drug, for example, can trigger a product liability lawsuit. 

In a product liability lawsuit, you have three years after the injury, or two years after you discover or should discover your injury and the cause of it, to file your claim.

Construction or real estate improvements

If defective construction or a real estate improvement injures you (a stairway railing collapses beneath your weight, for example), you can only file a lawsuit within the first ten years after the construction or improvements are completed. 

This is a hard deadline, no matter whether you have discovered your injury by then or not. 

Minors (other than medical malpractice victims)  

As stated above, a minor cannot file a lawsuit in their own name. Accordingly, the statute of limitations countdown doesn’t even begin ticking until the child’s 18th birthday. Since the countdown goes on for two years, that gives a child victim until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit.

Workers’ compensation claims

Workers’ compensation claims apply to workplace accidents where the employer is the defendant. Because of the workplace connection, you probably cannot file a personal injury lawsuit over your injuries. Instead, you must file a workers’ compensation claim.

Certain deadlines apply to workers’ compensation claims. You have seven days to report an injury to your employer, for example, and 90 days to file your claim. You don’t have to prove fault to win a workers’ compensation claim.

Suing the government

Any government–state, local, or federal–places restrictions on your ability to sue them for monetary damages. Suing a government usually subjects you to additional, shorter deadlines. It also involves a considerable increase in red tape.

Most Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyers Won’t Charge You Unless They Win Your Claim

Most personal injury lawyers don’t use “billable hours” to calculate their legal fees. Instead, their legal fees are based on a pre-agreed percentage of the compensation you receive–the contingency fee system. The contingency fee system benefits you in two ways:

  • it gives your lawyer an even greater incentive to maximize the value of your claim, and
  • it means that if they don’t win compensation for you, you will owe them nothing in attorney’s fees.

If the size of your claim is significant, you almost certainly need a seasoned Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to represent you. Schedule a free initial consultation today from De Castroverde Acccident & Injury Lawyers at (702) 222-9999.

Areas We Serve

At De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers our personal injury attorneys serve the following localities: Angel Park, Anthem, Boulder City, Downtown Las Vegas, East Las Vegas, Gibson Springs, Green Valley, Henderson, Lake Las Vegas, MacDonald Ranch, McCullough Hills, Mission Hills, Paradise, Peccole Ranch, Queensridge, Reno, Seven Hills, Smoke Ranch, Spring Valley, Summerlin, The Lakes, The Strip, Whitney, and more.
We also represent accident victims in Oakland, CA.

About Our Firm

De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers, located in Las Vegas, NV, is a personal injury law firm established over 30 years ago.
We have 100+ years of combined experience securing hundreds of millions for injured people throughout Nevada. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today to discuss your case.

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