When a personal injury victim is deciding whether or not to pursue a personal injury claim against the other party, it is often important that they understand what kinds of compensation may be available to them through the legal process. Read on for more information about this important topic.
Types of Compensation Available
Compensatory damages are the kind of financial compensation that accident victims commonly imagine when they discuss the litigation process with their personal injury attorney. This type of court-appointed award is meant to compensate the victim for any expenses they have realized as a result of the accident. This often includes the costs of medical care, lost wages from time taken off work including potential future losses of income, pain and suffering, and quality of life changes that may inhibit the individual from returning to the same level of functioning that they knew before the incident.
Punitive damages are the other common type of compensation awarded by civil personal injury courts. Punitive damages are meant to “punish” the negligent party in cases in which their negligence is clearly reckless and dangerous. Punitive damages are not awarded in every personal injury case, but reserved only for those cases where gross levels of negligence are apparent.
Often, punitive damages are capped at a multiplier of the amount of compensatory damages awarded. However, this cap may be removed in cases where criminal charges are also filed against the defendant.
The Important Role of Negligence
Although every state has their own doctrine when it comes to fault determination in personal injury cases, all states follow the same basic set of principles in regard to whether or not negligence was present.
The determination of negligence begins with the assertion that the defendant owed a duty of care to another party (in this case the victim of the accident). This duty of care can vary depending on the specifics of the case. For example, in cases of premises liability the duty of care is often defined as the duty to keep the property safe and maintained for guests, while in cases of traffic accidents the duty of care is seen as the responsibility of all drivers to follow the rules of the road.
Once a duty of care has been defined, it is the responsibility of the plaintiff and their personal injury attorney to show that the defendant breached their duty of care by behaving in a negligent manner and that the behavior in question caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury. Finally, the plaintiff and their legal team must be able to prove to the court that this injury resulted in damages, the term for some type of identifiable and quantifiable loss.
Nevada employs a doctrine of fault determination known as modified comparative fault. Under this system, the courts look at the behavior of both the defendant and the plaintiff with regards to the accident and assign a degree of fault to each party.
Sometimes, it is clear that the defendant was totally responsible for the accident. However, in many cases this level of fault is shared between both parties. In Nevada, plaintiffs are able to recover compensation for their damages as long as they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. If they are 50% or more at fault, they forfeit all ability to recover compensation for their damages.