A wrongful death lawsuit is a critical source of support for grieving family members following the death of a loved one. With this law, Nevada has allowed certain family members to bring a lawsuit against the person responsible for the death and obtain compensation in the form of money damages.
This is a difficult lawsuit to bring. There are many requirements you must meet, including a filing deadline. This deadline is found in the statute of limitations.
If you need help with this legal claim, contact a wrongful death lawyer in Las Vegas today. We can meet to discuss the tragic death of your loved one and map out a strategy for protecting your rights.
A Quick Overview of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death is any caused by the neglect or wrongful act of another person. We see all sorts of accidents which lead to wrongful deaths, including car crashes, truck accidents, and premises liability claims. The wrongful death lawsuit compensates family members for their loved one’s death.
Under Nevada Revised Statutes § 41.085, an heir or the estate’s personal representative has the right to file the lawsuit. An heir is someone who would inherit from the deceased if your loved one did not have a last will and testament and can include:
The personal representative should be named in your loved one’s will. Usually, people appoint a family member to serve, but it could be anyone the deceased wanted to shepherd the estate through probate. Locate your loved one’s will to identify this person.
You Have Two Years to File the Lawsuit
Like other states in the country, Nevada gives accident victims a certain window of opportunity to file a lawsuit against the person who injured them. This deadline is found in our statute of limitations, Nevada Revised Statutes § 11.190(4)(e). You absolutely must always be aware of this deadline.
According to law, you have two years from the day your loved one died to file the lawsuit. This deadline is easy to calculate. Find the date your loved one died and add on two years. So if your husband was killed in a car accident on July 2, 2021, you have until July 2, 2023 to file.
Remember, the clock starts when your loved one dies—not when the accident happens. Some victims bravely hang on for weeks or possibly longer on life support, only to die later. The clock will begin on the day of death.
A Judge Will Dismiss Your Case if You File Too Late
The statutory deadline isn’t a recommendation. Instead, your right to sue will literally expire if you wait too long. Accordingly, the defendant can ask the judge to dismiss your case—and the judge will. It doesn’t matter if your case has merit and the defendant was responsible for the death. Because you missed the deadline, your case gets tossed from court.
Even worse, you can’t refile later. The case will be dismissed “with prejudice.” As a result, the defendant responsible for your loved one’s death won’t be held accountable. The case is over—all because you missed the deadline.
Why People Miss the Deadline
We aren’t surprised some people don’t file the lawsuit in time. There are many reasons:
- You’re grieving. Who wants to think about a lawsuit when the death is so fresh? Many people only want to spend time with family, not thinking about a lawsuit.
- You are also injured. Your loved one might have died in a car accident which also injured you and your children. Struggling to overcome injuries is difficult. You could be in incredible pain and worried about whether you can regain lost functioning. You could be so busy going to rehab you completely forget to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- You don’t want to sue for money. We hear this from some people who think it’s wrong to “profit” from a loved one’s death. But a wrongful death lawsuit isn’t a lottery. You are being compensated because someone wrongfully caused your loved one’s death.
- You think the prosecutor files this lawsuit. That’s not true. This is a civil suit for money damages. A prosecutor decides whether to bring criminal charges. It’s possible to bring a civil wrongful death lawsuit even when the defendant isn’t prosecuted for a crime.
How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To meet the deadline, you must file a legal document called a “complaint” in court. This document will provide some preliminary background facts on the accident, such as where it occurred and when your loved one died. You also ask for compensation for your losses. After filing, you send a copy along with other documents to the defendant so they can respond.
Ideally, you will file your complaint in the correct court. For example, if the defendant lives in Las Vegas—or if the fatal accident happened here—you would file in Clark County court. But if the defendant lives in a different part of the state, or if the accident happened there, you would file in that county.
This is one reason to hire an attorney. A skilled wrongful death attorney in Vegas knows how to properly file a complaint that contains all necessary information. Ladah Law Firm can also analyze where to file. There is no reason to undertake this difficult task when a lawyer can quickly protect your right to compensation.
You Can File and Still Negotiate a Settlement
There are two ways to resolve a wrongful death claim: settlement or litigation. Many of our clients prefer the former. With a settlement, they can avoid the tension that comes with litigating an issue all the way to a jury trial. They usually can receive compensation much faster in a settlement.
There’s good news. You can still work to negotiate a settlement even if you file a lawsuit. Negotiations don’t stop simply because you filed the complaint in court. In some situations, defendants will take your claim more seriously once you file a lawsuit. They now know you mean business—especially if you hire a seasoned Las Vegas law firm to represent you. Consequently, they might start making more reasonable settlement offers.
Negotiations often take months. In today’s environment, your case won’t be ready for trial for probably a year, possibly longer. There is still time to negotiate a favorable settlement for your loved one’s death.
And if you miss the deadline? Suddenly, the defendant has less incentive to make a fair settlement offer. They know you can’t go into court and sue them, so they might offer only pennies on the dollar—or no money at all.
Speak with a Wrongful Death Attorney in Vegas
Ladah Law has helped accident victims and their families for decades. We understand how emotional this must be for you. Losing a beloved spouse, child, or parent is painful. Time has a way of slipping by without you even knowing it. In the blink of an eye, two years can pass.
Nevertheless, you need to act quickly to protect the rights of your family to compensation. A wrongful death lawsuit is often a powerful way to force defendants to be more careful. If your loved one died at work or in a trucking accident, a lawsuit like this can spur changes in the industry that benefit everyone.
To learn more, give us a call at (702) 252-0055 to schedule a free consultation. Our consultations are free and with no risk. You have nothing to lose by picking up the phone and reaching out.