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What Happens if a Personal Injury Defendant Appeals?

Few personal injury cases go to trial. When they do, there are often close questions of fact or disagreements about narrow points of legal interpretation that prevent pretrial settlement. At the conclusion of a trial in which the plaintiff has prevailed, the jury will award the plaintiff compensation. From time to time a losing defendant will attempt to appeal the verdict of the jury in hopes of reducing or eliminating its liability at a higher court.

What can justify an appeal?

Either party to a civil case may appeal to a higher court if it feels that the trial court failed to correctly decide a particular issue. For a losing defendant, there are several common arguments that might be raised by a defendant upon appeal, including these:
  • Technical problems with jury instructions.
  • A misinterpretation of the law by the presiding judge.
  • Incorrect application of evidentiary rules.
  • Improper admission of an expert’s testimony.
Regardless of the reason, the defendant who makes the appeal must have a good reason for doing so. The attorneys who file the appeal are ethically bound to do so only if they have compelling, good faith arguments to make. That isn’t to say that an appeal might not be made on flimsy reasoning in hopes of further delaying payment of what the plaintiff is owed, but this sort of abuse can lead to sanctions against the attorney and a worse outcome for the defendant.

What happens when a case is appealed?

While a valid appeal is pending the plaintiff may not receive anything from the defendant under the trial court’s decision. So long as there’s a chance that the trial court’s judgment could be overturned, it isn’t considered “final” and therefore is not binding on the defendant. This can lead to additional hardship for the plaintiff, a fact that the courts will try to take into consideration as they schedule hearings. Cost is a frustrating component of being faced with an appeal. An appeal often raises new and difficult legal questions that must be closely analyzed by the attorneys involved, adding to the cost of litigation for both sides. A goal of every trial lawyer is to ensure that appeals aren’t a serious threat, because the ultimate compensation that goes to the client will be chipped away by the fees that will have to be paid to an appellate lawyer. On the other hand, protecting a trial court’s judgment is usually worth the investment. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury,  auto accident, and workers compensation cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Suing Multiple Defendants for Injuries with Uncertain Causes

Suing Multiple Defendants for Injuries with Uncertain Causes
In a more perfect world, someone who is injured in an accident or by some act of negligence would always know what caused the injuries. But we don’t always see things coming. A car crash can be caused by a chain of events that is largely invisible at the point of collision. A product could become defective at any point in its commercial lifecycle, from its design to the point where it’s sold to the customer. When the cause of an injury isn’t clear, but it’s clear that someone was responsible for it, the injured person may need to sue multiple defendants.

The purpose of suing multiple defendants

When an injured plaintiff doesn’t know who should bear responsibility for an injury, suing everyone who may be at fault isn’t a mere fishing expedition. It’s good strategy. Quite often someone recovering from an injury is faced with mounting medical costs, lost work time, and pain. During such a crisis it’s important to take an aggressive position, even if potentially blameless defendants get temporarily caught up in the controversy. Suing several defendants at once has a number of advantages:
  • Each defendant will pursue its own interests, which among other things encourages them to shift blame onto each other or identify other potential at-fault parties (through a so-called impleader).
  • Each defendant will need to put forward evidence and testimony, shedding light on details that were hidden from the plaintiff at the beginning of the case.
  • As the facts of the injury become clear it may turn out that more than one defendant bears some degree of responsibility, spreading out the liability and potentially improving the chances of collecting on a judgment.

Be aggressive, but be ethical

It’s important for both the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyers that a personal injury lawsuit not be frivolous or merely harassing. Suing someone just to intimidate them into a settlement, by threatening high legal costs and an endless stream of paperwork, is unethical and unlawful. So is suing someone without having reasonable grounds for doing so. Courts are unkind to plaintiffs who attempt to abuse the judicial system. For the plaintiff, a court that determines that a suit was an abuse of process may order the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s legal costs. NRS 18.010((2)(b). The plaintiff’s attorney can also be subjected to sanctions, ranging from fines to potential disbarment (in extreme cases). NRCP Rule 11.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

Filing Lawsuits Against Out-of-State Defendants in Nevada

Filing Lawsuits Against Out-of-State Defendants in Nevada
Tens of millions of visitors come to Las Vegas each year, many of whom come from other states. Accidents involving out-of-town visitors raise questions about how someone who lives in Las Vegas might file a lawsuit against someone in another state. Before a court can hear a case against someone it must have jurisdiction over that person. By default, each state’s courts have personal jurisdiction over the residents of their states. But establishing personal jurisdiction over someone who does not reside in the state requires a more nuanced analysis.

The service of process requirement

Nevada’s courts follow federal due process rules for establishing personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants. NRS 14.065. The first thing to understand about personal jurisdiction is that it requires delivery of service of process on the defendant. Service of process simply means that the defendant in the lawsuit is provided with a summons and a copy of the plaintiff’s complaint so the defendant will have an opportunity to respond. Personal service of process requires giving the summons and complaint to the defendant personally, leaving them at the defendant’s home “with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein,” or by giving them to the defendant’s authorized agent (typically, a lawyer). Nev. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(6). Complying with this requirement can be harder than it sounds, because many defendants avoid being served with process or are hard to track down. Nevada law provides that a defendant who hides behind a locked gate can be served by mail with court approval, but generally speaking service can’t be completed by mail. NRS 14.090. Serving process on an out-of-state defendant often requires hiring a professional process server located where the defendant resides.

Car crashes and personal jurisdiction

Nevada law provides an exception for people involved in car crashes. Nevada law deems anyone who drives in the state to have appointed the Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles as his or her attorney for purposes of serving process. In these cases the plaintiff need only submit a copy of the summons and complaint, along with a $5 fee, to the DMV, with a copy sent by mail to the defendant’s address as provided at the time of the accident. NRS 14.070.

Establishing specific jurisdiction over an individual

Serving process on a defendant isn’t enough to establish a court’s personal jurisdiction. Three things must be true for a Nevada court to exercise personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state individual:
  1. The out-of-state defendant must have purposefully directed his or her activities or consummated some transaction with a Nevada resident, or otherwise “purposefully avail himself of the privilege of conducting activities” in Nevada, “thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws.”
  2. The plaintiff’s claim must arise from the defendant’s activities that are related to Nevada.
  3. Exercising jurisdiction must “comport with fair play and substantial justice.”
Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1016 (9th Cir. 2008). The plaintiff is responsible for showing the first two prongs are true, while the defendant can argue that the fairness standard of the third prong makes exercise of personal jurisdiction inappropriate. Most cases where personal jurisdiction is tricky involve defendants who have never physically stepped foot in the jurisdiction. For personal injury cases where the defendant who is allegedly liable for hurting the plaintiff, it can be enough that the defendant caused the injury while in Nevada. Of course, if the injury took place outside of Nevada, establishing personal jurisdiction may be more difficult, because the defendant has not “directed activities” at Nevada. In those cases, filing a lawsuit in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives, or where the accident took place, may be necessary.

Let GGRM help you sort through jurisdiction questions

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover for personal injuries. If you have been injured by an out-of-state individual, our attorneys can help you sort through your options. Call us today for a free consultation at 702-388-4476, or reach us through our contact page.