Losing your loved one in a preventable car accident can be an incredibly distressing and devastating experience. If you believe that someone is responsible for the death of your loved one in Nevada, you have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it is important to act quickly, as there is a risk of forfeiting your claim to compensation if you delay. That's why it would be beneficial to contact Dallas Horton & Associates' auto accident lawyers as soon as possible. This article covers the most important information regarding wrongful death and the Nevada statute of limitations.

Understanding a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

When a loved one's death is caused by another person's reckless or careless driving behavior, the surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The purpose of these legal actions is to seek compensation for the damages that the dependents or living family members have suffered as a result of their loss.

The main purpose of a wrongful death action is to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of a deceased person who, while alive, could have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. Since wrongful death lawsuits are civil matters, the appropriate party must present them to the court.

Furthermore, liability will only be limited to monetary damages. In contrast, a prosecutor's accusation of homicide could lead to the imprisonment of the guilty party. It's important to note that even when a criminal prosecution is pending, a lawsuit can still be filed.

Parties Eligible to Pursue a Wrongful Death Case

According to Nevada law, only certain individuals are eligible to file a wrongful death case. As per the state legislation, the following individuals are authorized to bring legal action:

  • The deceased's spouse
  • The deceased's domestic parents
  • Children of the deceased who are still alive

Any person who qualifies to inherit the deceased person's inheritance under the intestate statutes of succession could file a claim if there are no surviving individuals in the deceased individual's line of descent. This could include the deceased's siblings or parents, depending on who was still alive at the time of the deceased's passing.

If the evidence below shows that they relied on the deceased financially, they could file a wrongful death claim. These include:

  • The deceased's parents
  • The deceased's stepchildren
  • Both the presumed spouse of the deceased and their offspring

Even if the responsible party passes away before a claim can be initiated, the victim's family members still have the option to pursue legal action against the liable individual's agents. Additionally, if the responsible party employed the culpable parties who were in control of his or her actions, that person could also be involved in the case.

As a result, multiple individuals who were involved in the incident that resulted in the victim's death could face wrongful death lawsuits. For instance, in the case of an automobile accident, the driver responsible for causing the death can be held legally accountable, depending on the circumstances.

How to Establish Wrongful Death

To demonstrate that negligence caused the wrongful death of their loved one, the claimant must present specific examples of negligence during the trial. These elements form the basis of a negligence case against the defendant.

Your auto accident lawyer can utilize the evidence presented during the criminal trial against the perpetrator to build a strong case for a wrongful death lawsuit. Throughout the trial, your attorney must establish each element of negligence beyond a reasonable doubt to effectively pursue monetary compensation.

Obligation to Exercise Duty of Care

When a court receives a negligence claim, its first step is to determine if the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. By law, every business, doctor, and driver is obligated to take reasonable precautions to ensure the well-being of others.

If a loved one dies in an automobile accident, the court will assess your claim to determine if the responsible party had a duty of care towards the deceased. This duty of care is established if a reasonable driver in a similar situation would have recognized the need to exercise caution to prevent such accidents or fatalities. It is essential to demonstrate that an appropriate level of care was not met in both personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Violating the Duty of Reasonable Care

To establish the defendant's liability for wrongful death, it is crucial to demonstrate to the court how their breach of duty directly caused the untimely demise of the individual. This should be done after establishing the existence of a duty of care between the perpetrator and the deceased.

For instance, if alcohol was a factor in the vehicle accident that resulted in the untimely death of your loved one, the driver could be held accountable. In such cases, the perpetrator is required to provide just compensation for the losses you have suffered, both before and following the wrongful death.


Next, the attorney representing the plaintiff must persuade the judge that the wrongful death of the victim was a result of the defendant's negligence in failing to fulfill their duty of care. To be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit, it is essential to demonstrate that the defendant was not only the main cause of the victim's wrongful death but also breached the required standard of care.

The accused's breach of duty of care doesn't need to result in a crash or a wrongful death lawsuit. However, your auto accident lawyer must demonstrate in court how the defendant's negligence directly led to the untimely death of the victim to secure the full amount of compensation.

Nevada's Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations governs the period within which an individual can file a specific type of action. In the case of personal injury claims, you generally have two years from the incident date to initiate a civil lawsuit against the responsible party. After this period, even if the facts are accurate and the claim is legitimate, the case is considered void. Nevada statutes of limitations for wrongful death claims vary depending on the specifics of the victim's death.

If a pedestrian or automobile collision results in death, the surviving family members have two years from the date of discovering the injury to file a claim against the negligent driver. Your personal injury attorney could be able to help you extend the deadline if you fail to file your claim within the time limit set by the statute of limitations. This can be done through the use of the "discovery rule" or tolling.

Pursuing Compensation for a Wrongful Death Under Nevada's Statute of Limitations

To safeguard your legal rights to compensation in a wrongful death case, the first step should be to consult with a vehicle accident lawyer who specializes in such cases. An attorney will assess the details of your case and determine the appropriate amount of compensation you are entitled to.

The amount of evidence that can be used to support damages in a wrongful death case directly influences the monetary award granted to the plaintiff.

To ensure that you receive proper compensation for your losses, it is ultimately the responsibility of your lawyer to bear the burden of proof. There are two main methods to pursue wrongful death claims for damages within the statute of limitations:

Civil Action

Obtaining compensatory damages through a civil action can be risky because the outcome relies heavily on the quality of evidence presented by each party. However, in cases where the accused's insurer is being dishonest regarding the amount of the compensatory damages settlement, pursuing this course of action could be necessary.

You have a two-year window from the date of your loved one's unfortunate death to initiate a wrongful death case against the responsible party. It is crucial to seek the assistance of a vehicle accident lawyer during this period to help you gather the necessary evidence to establish liability.

Cases involving personal injury and wrongful death share similarities in that they both require proof of misconduct that resulted in harm or death to another person. The only exception is when a wrongful death occurs, as the victim is no longer alive to pursue a damages claim.

To establish a wrongful death suit, the claimant essentially needs to provide the court with proof of the following elements:

  • Another person passed away
  • The unfortunate demise of the deceased has resulted in financial losses that the surviving family is currently experiencing or has already encountered
  • The claimant is either the victim's heir or their designated legal representative
  • The death of the victim was directly caused by the carelessness or recklessness of another individual


Before considering filing a potentially costly and difficult lawsuit, it is advisable to explore the option of negotiating a settlement for your wrongful death compensation.

First and foremost, your attorney will assist you in determining the full extent of damages, both monetary and non-monetary, that you are entitled to following the untimely death of your loved one. To initiate compensation settlement negotiations, you will send a demand letter outlining the amount of compensation you are seeking to the accused. It is crucial to attach any relevant supporting evidence to the demand letter to strengthen and validate your claim.

You can expect a response from the accused's insurance company within thirty days after mailing the letter. However, if they do respond, it is likely to work in their favor, as they often offer a smaller settlement than what you are requesting.

To request an increase in the settlement amount, it is necessary to schedule a final settlement negotiation meeting. During these talks, your objective will be to seek a fair settlement amount and present compelling evidence to support your claim of needing the requested sum.

The insurance company of the accused is legally obligated to respond to your demand letter for reimbursement in an honorable manner. If negotiations do not lead to a fair settlement, you could need to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the perpetrator or their insurance.

Many insurance firms are willing to settle disputes out of court to avoid the uncertainty and potential trial proceedings. By choosing this option, the court will assess the damages you are entitled to based on the evidence you present to support your wrongful death claim.

Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death benefits are designed to compensate for the loss of financial and emotional support that the loved ones of the victim would have received if the deceased were still alive. The compensation covers both economic and non-economic damages.

Recovering compensation is based on:

  • The victim's expected lifespan at the time of the accident
  • The average age of the deceased at the time of the incident

The court should determine the average life expectancy, considering various factors such as occupation, lifestyle, and overall health. If you win the case, the claimant will often be eligible for reimbursement in the following categories:

Monetary Compensation

In terms of economic compensation, the claimant is entitled to full reimbursement for any expenses he or she incurred before and after the victim's passing. Economic compensation covers a range of harms, including:

  • The medical expenses of the victim before their death
  • Funeral costs
  • Income loss before death
  • Potential risk of losing financial support in the future

Non-Monetary Compensation

The court takes into account not only monetary losses but also non-monetary losses when granting compensatory damages. This includes the victim's anguish and suffering before death. Additionally, the court considers any non-economic compensation received by the claimant as a result of the wrongful death.

The party filing the complaint will receive non-economic damages in this suit, which could include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional suffering
  • Lost the happiness and joy in life
  • The deceased's loss of:
    • Protection
    • Moral support
    • Love and affection
    • Companionship and community
    • Sexual relations
    • Guidance and advice

Punitive Damages

Punitive penalties are not always necessary for the family of the deceased, but they can be significant in cases of wrongful death involving extreme carelessness or intentional behavior. They serve to hold the offender accountable for their crimes. Additionally, punitive damages have the potential to act as a deterrent for individuals with similar dispositions, discouraging them from engaging in similar careless practices.

The type of proof presented to the jury to support the claimant's existence will determine the amount of damages awarded in this case. Your attorney could utilize expert witness testimony to establish your entitlement to a specific amount of damages for the unfortunate loss of a loved one.

Under Nevada's comparative negligence laws, if the court determines that the deceased shared equal blame for the car accident that resulted in their death, the claimant could receive a reduced monetary award based on the percentage of fault assigned. To protect your legal rights, it is crucial to promptly contact a vehicle accident lawyer if you wish to file a case.

Options for Statute of Limitations in Cases of Wrongful Death

There are two methods listed below that could allow you to regain the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant, even after the statute of limitations has passed:

     1. Using the Discovery Rule

According to Nevada law, the time limit for filing a wrongful death claim starts when the plaintiff, or the person making the claim, discovers—or should have discovered—the cause of the deceased's harm or death, assuming reasonable precautions were taken. In other words, you could be able to utilize the "discovery rule" to seek compensatory damages from the responsible party if you learn the actual cause of the deceased's death or injury after the specified time has passed.

In this instance, your lawyer simply needs to convince the judge that, given the circumstances surrounding the decedent's death, it was reasonable for you to be unable to file a claim within the allotted time frame.

     2. Tolling

The court has the authority to remove or revoke the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim under specific conditions. To toll the statute of limitations, the plaintiff's claim or circumstance must meet the requirements set by the court.

For instance, when a child loses both parents in an automobile accident or due to medical malpractice before the age of eighteen, they are not eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this particular case, the judge will determine whether to suspend or toll the statute of limitations.

You can potentially utilize Nevada's discovery rule to persuade the court to extend the statute of limitations if you uncover the true cause of your loved one's disability or death after the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim has passed. It is advisable to initiate your wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible to ensure compliance with this statute.

Additionally, consulting with a vehicle accident attorney is highly recommended, as the legal processes and regulations surrounding Nevada wrongful death claims can be quite complex, especially for those unfamiliar with them.

Nevada's Statute of Limitations To Out-of-State Defendants

Under Nevada law, if the defendant resides out of state, the statute of limitations is suspended. This law aims to ensure that the plaintiff has a fair chance to serve legal documents to the offender. However, in the 1966 case of Bank of Nevada v. Friedman, the Nevada Supreme Court declared that the suspension does not apply if the defendant's address can be served within the state using the standard legal process.

The Supreme Court has decided that the tolling of the statute of limitations is not applicable in this case. This is because civil court regulations allow for substitute service when a defendant who lives out of state still maintains a home in the state. It is important to note that different circumstances could affect how the statute of limitations works in various situations.

Reasons to Consult a Skilled Lawyer Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out

Here are some situations in which hiring a lawyer after the deadline could have an impact on your lawsuit:

Evidence That Could Be Crucial in Court Could Not Be Gathered Or Maintained

For example, it is crucial to record skid marks following an accident. If you delay hiring legal counsel, the skid marks will likely be covered up before the investigation reaches that point. Many law firms refuse to take on cases involving wrongful deaths when the statute of limitations is about to expire.

This is because it wouldn't allow the law firm sufficient time to thoroughly investigate and evaluate your claim. Consequently, your options for experienced attorneys could be limited, and you might have to settle for someone willing to take risks and potentially deliver subpar work.

A knowledgeable lawyer will ensure that all legal challenges are taken care of. An attorney can assist you in navigating what would otherwise be a complex situation. They will also ensure that all necessary documentation is completed and that the lawsuit is filed on schedule.

They will interact with the insurers and handle the liability side. Once your attorney has assessed your losses, they should be able to assist you in negotiating fair compensation.

Increases the Chance of Mistakes in Your Claim

If the person accused of causing the car accident was performing their job duties at the time of the incident, their employer might be held responsible for the resulting wrongful death. However, if this information is discovered during the investigation and before the statute of limitations expires, the guilty party will not be included in your lawsuit. It is important to speak with an attorney right away after the accident or death occurs to ensure that a thorough investigation takes place and all responsible parties are included in your claim.

There's a Potential Witness Testimony Could Be Lost

Witnesses to the car accident that claimed the life of your loved one could relocate, forget details of the incident or even pass away. This unfortunate reality can lead to the loss of crucial evidence. As it falls upon you to provide proof of what transpired during that tragic event, this can significantly undermine your case.

Find a Las Vegas Accident Attorney Near Me

Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can face. It becomes even more difficult when you have to file charges against the person responsible for their untimely death before you have had time to fully recover emotionally. At Dallas Horton & Associates, we understand this struggle and are here to assist you in navigating the process of filing a claim within Nevada's statute of limitations. Our team of knowledgeable lawyers will dedicate themselves to your case and work tirelessly so that you can receive the compensatory damages you are legally entitled to. Call us at 702-820-5917.