Las Vegas Wrongful Death Lawyer Zachary D. Clayton: Your Ultimate Guide for Compensation
Losing a loved one in a preventable accident is one of the most traumatic and overwhelming experiences anyone can endure. In the blink of an eye, your world is turned upside down, especially if your lost loved one was supporting your family financially.
During this difficult time, you probably have a myriad of questions that need to be answered – How am I going to pay the mortgage? How can I raise the kids alone? Can I take legal action against the negligent individual who caused the preventable accident that resulted in my loved one’s death?
The legal team with LV Personal Injury Lawyers is here to help. First and foremost, please accept about deepest condolences for the loss of your loved one. We fully understand the fact that losing a spouse, child, parent, etc. unexpectedly is a heart-wrenching event that far too many people in Las Vegas, and around the State of Nevada, have to endure.
For example, according to the Nevada Office of Public Safety, in 2018, there were more than 330 fatal auto accidents on roads and highways in Nevada. That number represents a 6.4 percent increase over the reported 311 deadly car wrecks in 2017. As a result, 2018 was the deadliest year on record for Nevada motorists over the past decade.
Unfortunately, many of these tragic automobile accidents were likely caused by careless and reckless motorists who were texting on their cell phones, speeding, or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
When you learn that the accident that took your loved one was preventable and likely caused by another individual’s reckless or careless decision, your grief and pain are exacerbated. You want to seek some semblance of justice on behalf of your loved one, and you want to hold the negligent party accountable for the poor actions, or inaction. This is when it makes sense to schedule a free, confidential consultation with a member of the LV Personal Injury Lawyers legal team.
When you hire Zachary D. Clayton, Esq., you will never have to be concerned about what comes next or be left with questions unanswered. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys will help guide you through the complex process of investigating the incident, compiling substantial evidence and records, filing a claim, and taking your case to court, if necessary.
We will advise you of any potential problems or issues to avoid while your wrongful death case is being litigated. For example, we advise our clients to avoid publishing inflammatory posts on social media about their situation and to modify your settings on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin to “private.” We are living in a digital era, and it is quite common for insurance claims adjusters and defense attorneys to devote time to scouring the interest to try and find a post, a photograph, etc. that they could use to try and weaken your case.
Another reason to contact a Las Vegas wrongful death attorney is to have someone who can help answer many of those pressing, important questions.
The legal team with LV Personal Injury Lawyers takes pride in being available to answer any questions our clients may have about the complex legal process in Nevada. Also, unlike other Las Vegas law firms, we will not charge you any upfront legal fees. We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless and until you receive compensation from your wrongful death case.
What Our Clients Say
I suffered a devastating auto accident in Las Vegas due to someone else's fault. I was fortunate enough to call LV Personal Injury Lawyers who helped me in the most effective and client-friendly way possible.
This means you can hire an attorney with our law firm regardless of your current financial situation, which we fully understand can be tenuous when you suddenly lose a loved one who was helping support the family financially.
When Is It Possible to Pursue a Wrongful Death Civil Action in Las Vegas?
A wrongful death civil action may be pursued when someone loses their life due to the negligence of another individual or entity.
In these types of cases, it is usually a surviving family member or representative of the decedent’s estate who will formally file the wrongful death legal action in a court of law.
It is worth noting that the representative for a wrongful death action is based upon specific statutory provisions. This means there are certain individuals who cannot file a wrongful death action.
For example, if you were dating someone who died in a preventable accident, but were not married, then you would not have the ability to file a wrongful death action.
It is also important to note that a wrongful death action is a civil lawsuit. This means the objective is to obtain financial restitution for the decedent’s family to help provide for the sudden financial hardship that is often associated with wrongful death. A wrongful death action will not bring your loved one back, and there are no criminal penalties in a civil wrongful death claim. Though, there could be criminal charges pursued separately if the defendant violated the law when the accident occurred (e.g., drunk driving, speeding, etc.).
What Are Some Examples of Preventable Accidents and Other Incidents That May Form the Basis for a Wrongful Death Claim?
In addition to automobile accidents (discussed above), a wrongful death claim could be pursued in any of the following instances:
- Fatal crosswalk accident in or around Las Vegas
- Fatal skydiving accident;
- Fatal bicycling accident;
- Medical malpractice;
- Defective consumer product;
- Defective prescription medication;
- Fatal truck accidents;
- Fatal motorcycle accidents;
- Taxicab accidents;
- Nursing home neglect; and
- Negligent security.
What Are the Types of Damages That Can Be Pursued Through a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Claim?
In a wrongful death action, you are generally able to seek financial restitution via two different forms of damages: (i) special damages and (ii) punitive damages.
In Nevada, special damages are generally considered to be the calculable harms and losses you and your family suffered as a result of the accident. They typically include the following:
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s care before they passed away (e.g., ambulance bill, ER bills, surgery costs, etc.);
- Funeral expenses;
- Burial expenses;
- Lost wages that would have been earned by the decedent;
- Lost future income that would have been earned by the decedent had they not lost their life in the accident;
- Loss of benefits to surviving heirs;
How Do You Calculate the Loss of a Loved One?
It can be difficult for a grieving spouse or parent to try and quantify the harms and losses they’ve suffered from a tragic accident. This is perfectly understandable and why it makes sense to retain a Nevada wrongful death attorney to do this work on your behalf. We fully understand that no amount of money will ever be able to fully compensate you for the loss of a loved one, but it is important to remember that the objective in a wrongful death action is the pursuit of damages to help you and your family going forward.
Compiling and calculating certain costs like funeral expenses and medical bills is fairly straight forward. We can quickly review receipts and invoices. However, when it comes to calculating your loved one’s future income, the task is more complicated.
To properly assess how much your loved one would have been earned in their career and been able to contribute financially requires an analysis of numerous factors, including:
- The age of the decedent;
- The overall health of the decedent at the time of the accident;
- The estimated life expectancy of a comparable individual;
- The estimated earning capacity for a worker in the decedent’s chosen profession
Making these assessments and calculations generally requires retaining experts and economists who are able to testify in court concerning your loved one’s future earning potential. An economist can also help with calculating the monetary harm to a family with the sudden loss of a loved one who assisted with childcare, home maintenance, education, transportation, cooking, and so forth.
It can also be difficult to establish pecuniary loss when the decedent was a child or someone who was retired and not actually generating an income. However, a wrongful death loss includes seeking damages for the emotional trauma associated with the sudden loss.
There is no set formula for the amount of monetary damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death civil claim. Nevada law simply mandates that the damages awarded in a wrongful death action must be fair and reasonable.
How to Pursue Punitive Damages in Nevada Wrongful Death Cases?
In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in a Las Vegas wrongful death case. Punitive damages are different than the special damages described above, which are intended to help a family with the aforementioned calculable harms and losses.
Conversely, punitive damages are intended to inflict punishment on the wrongdoer since the evidence indicates they acted egregiously and with reckless disregard to the safety of others. An award of punitive damages is meant to send a signal to others that they should not act the same way as the liable defendant.
Not every state in the country allows for an award of punitive damages in wrongful death actions. However, Nevada is a state in which a jury can award punitive damages.
Nevada’s punitive damages law is set forth in Nevada Revised Statute Section 42.005. Pursuant to this statutory provision, a plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages when the defendant’s actions consist of “fraud,” “malice,” or “oppression.”
According to the statute, “fraud” is defined as intentional misrepresentation, deception or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant and made with the intent to deprive you of your rights or property or otherwise injure someone.
According to the statute, “malice” is defined as conduct which is intended to injure someone or despicable conduct which is engaged in with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.
Finally, “oppression” defined as despicable conduct that subjects someone to cruel and unjust hardship with conscious disregard of their rights.
What Does It Take to Prevail in a Wrongful Death Case in Las Vegas?
To prevail in your wrongful death action, there are specific legal elements that must be established by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a fancy legal term meaning the majority of the evidence. Here are the four legal elements that must be established:
- Your loved one died in a preventable accident;
- The preventable accident was proximately caused by individual or corporation breaching a duty of care; and
- The surviving family members are suffering monetary harm as a result of the loss.
How Do You Establish Fault in a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Claim?
When a wrongful death claim is filed, it is vital to be prepared for the defendant’s insurance company to fight the claim or deny liability. This is especially common in fatal car wrecks, motorcycle wrecks, ATV accidents, trucking accidents, etc. The legal team with LV Personal Injury Lawyers is prepared for the arguments and challenges routinely presented by insurance companies.
For example, when necessary, we will work with accident scene reconstructionists and safety engineers to carefully analyze skid marks and property damage left at the accident scene. We utilize a detailed approach in reviewing key documents such as police reports and witness statements to gather as much evidence as possible to build your case.
Because the stakes are so high in Las Vegas wrongful death actions, we ensure to conduct thorough investigations into the incident. The following actions are commonly taken when we handle a wrongful death claim:
- Obtaining copies of any photographs or video surveillance footage;
- Obtaining copies of official police reports and other material;
- Retaining experts, including accident reconstructionists and economists; and
- Obtaining copies of your loved one’s medical bills.
The Clock is Ticking – Overview of the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
It is extremely important to understand that you only have a finite period to file a wrongful death action in the State of Nevada. Like other states, the Nevada legislature passed a statute that sets forth the specific time that a claimant can file a civil claim against a defendant. This is known as the statute of limitations. You may be surprised to learn that this statute begins to run on the date of your loved one’s death.
Pursuant to Nevada Revised Statute Section 11.190(4)(e), the appropriate plaintiff (usually a representative of the decedent’s estate) is only able to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of the victim’s death or the time that the death was discovered.
It is also important to note that this finite time period is further limited by the personal injury statute of limitations. Basically, this means the wrongful death statutory limitation period begins running from the date of your loved one was injured. If subsequent to the injury, they pass away, you do not get any additional time to file a wrongful death action.
When the time period expires, a plaintiff is permanently barred from pursuing recovery of damages for the tragic incident. Though, there are some notable exceptions to the statute of limitations, including when the surviving beneficiary is under the age of 18 at the time of the accident. In this situation, the statutory limitation can be “tolled.”
The tolling of the statute of limitations means that the time does not run while the condition exists. Under Nevada Revised Statute Section 11.250(1), when someone is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations tolled until they reach the age of majority. Basically, this means that a minor retains the right to file a wrongful death suit throughout their adolescence until they reach age 18.
For example, if the parents of a 13-year-old were killed in a car accident in Las Vegas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is tolled until the child reaches the age of 18. Once they reach the age of 18, they have the right to file a wrongful death action until they reach the age of 20.
Nevertheless, it is strongly advised not to wait to file a lawsuit. Why? Because your attorney needs time to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and collect vital evidence. As more time passes, the more difficult it will be to establish fault on a defendant.
How Can a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
As you can see, pursuing damages through a wrongful death action in Las Vegas can be challenging. There are evidentiary standards, filing requirements, deadlines, etc. that you need to be aware of at all times. This is why it makes sense to retain the services of an experienced and skilled Las Vegas wrongful death attorney Zachary D. Clayton.
You have enough on your plate without having to spend precious time trying to negotiate with an insurance claims adjuster. You should focus on your family and rebuilding your life after an immense loss. Our team of skilled and experienced Nevada personal injury lawyers can shield you from having to deal with the wrongdoers and/or insurers yourself.
Contact LV Personal Injury Lawyers To Schedule a No-Cost, Confidential Case Evaluation
If you lost a loved one in a preventable accident caused by the careless or reckless actions of another person or company, we are here to help you through this difficult time. Take action by contacting our wrongful death law firm today. We will work tirelessly on your behalf and honor the memory of your lost loved one. We will take as much time as necessary to get the financial restitution your family is owed.
To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with an experienced attorney associated with LV Personal Injury Lawyers, call us or contact us online.