Nevada Medical Malpractice Law - An Overview
By Aaron Larson
Important Notice: The following overview of Nevada's medical malpractice laws is presented on an as-is basis. This information is believed accurate as of the date of authorship, but is not intended to provide a complete analysis of medical malpractice law and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law. For a full review of Nevada's medical malpractice law, or for a determination of how the law applies to a specific incident or injury, please consult a malpractice lawyer licensed to practice in the state of Nevada.
- What Is Medical Malpractice
- Limits on Malpractice Damages
- Collateral Source Rule
- Rules for Expert Witnesses
- Joint and Several Liability
- Statute of Limitations
- Limits on Attorney Fees
- Additional Rules
- Why Use A Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice, sometimes referred to as medical negligence, occurs when a health care provider violates the governing standard of care when providing treatment to a patient, causing the patient to suffer an injury. Medical malpractice can result from an action taken by the medical practitioner, or by the failure to take a medically appropriate action. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis of, or failure to diagnose , a disease or medical condition;
- Failure to provide appropriate treatment for a medical condition;
- Unreasonable delay in treating a diagnosed medical condition;
Medical malpractice actions can be brought by the injured patient against any responsible licensed health care provider, including doctors, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists.
Nevada imposes a $350,000.00 limit on noneconomic damages.
Under a traditional collateral source rule, a defendant may not seek to reduce its liability by introducing evidence that the plaintiff has received compensation from other sources, such as the plaintiff's own insurance coverage. For medical malpractice cases in Nevada this rule has been abolished such that awards are offset by payments received from a collateral source, including any prior payment by the defendant health care provider.
Nevada does not impose special restrictions on expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases; however, the Plaintiff must file an affidavit from a medical expert witness practicing in an area similar to the defendant, and failure to do so will result in the dismissal of the malpractice suit.
Under a traditional rule of joint and several liability, where more than one defendant is found liable for the injury suffered by a plaintiff, each defendant is individually liable for the entire amount of the judgment, such that if one defendant is unable to pay the other defendant or defendants are liable for the entire amount of the judgment. Nevada has abolished joint and several liability, such that each defendant is responsible for damages only in proportion to the defendant's degree of fault for causing the plaintiff's injury. Joint and several liability remains applicable in cases involving strict liability, intentional tort, toxic substances, product liability or when defendants are found to have acted in concert.
Medical malpractice actions msut be filed within three years of the date of the act or omission giving rise to the injury, or within one year of the date the injury was or should have been discovered, whichever is earlier.
For medical malpractice actions, Nevada parents are generally responsible for bringing an action on behalf of a minor child within the limitations period. However, in cases where malpractice results in either brain damage to a minor or in a birth defect, a lawsuit that would otherwise be time-barred may be filed at any time prior to the minor's tenth birthday. Where a minor's injury results in sterility, the action must be filed within two years of the date the injury was discovered.
Attorney fees are limited to 40% of the first $50,000.00, 1/3 of the next $50,000.00, 25% of the next $500,000.00, and 15% of any recovery in excess of $600,000.00.
All parties, attorneys, and insurance companies involved in the malpractice suit are required to participate in a settlement conference before a district judge other than the trial judge.
The Plaintiff must file an affidavit from a medical expert witness practicing in an area similar to the defendant. Failure to submit an affidavit results in dismissal of the malpractice suit.
The court may order periodic payment of future economic damages at the plaintiff's election.
Medical malpractice law is a highly technical field of law, and malpractice lawsuits tend to be fiercely defended by well-funded defense firms.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be exceptionally expensive to pursue, with costs often exceeding $100,000.00. Due to the technical skills involved in prosecuting a malpractice claim, the possibility that an inexperienced lawyer may not be sufficiently conversant with the medical issues, or might make a technical error which causes a case to be lost or dismissed, and the very high costs the malpractice law firm typically must advance, an injured patient is very well served by going with a specialist firm.
Even within the specialized practice of medical malpractice law, you will find that some lawyers have subspecialties of practice, for example focusing on surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or birth trauma cases.
Copyright © 2003-2011 Aaron Larson. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you believe you may lawfully use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article under the Fair Use exception to copyright law, except as otherwise authorized by the author of the article, you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.