Nevada Medical Malpractice Laws & Statutory Rules

Find out what steps you'll need to take to file a negligence lawsuit against a medical professional in Nevada.

If you've received substandard health care in Nevada, you might be considering a medical malpractice lawsuit. These cases are almost always very complicated, making the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney a must. But, as you weigh your options, it can be helpful to understand some of the most important state laws that you must follow when filing a medical malpractice claim in Nevada. In this article, we'll look at several of these laws, including:

  • the time limits for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Nevada
  • the "affidavit of merit" requirement, and
  • the state's cap on damages that can be awarded if your case succeeds.

Time Limits for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Nevada

All states have laws called "statutes of limitations" that set deadlines for filing lawsuits in the civil court system. There are different time limits for different types of cases, but these deadlines are always strictly enforced. That means that if you try to file your lawsuit after the applicable time limit has passed, the health care provider you're trying to sue will almost certainly ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court will almost certainly do so (unless some rare exception applies). That's why it's so important to understand—and comply with—the statute of limitations in your case.

Nevada, like most states, has a specific statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice cases. The law states that a lawsuit against a health care provider for injury or death must be filed within three years of the date the injury occurred or within one year of the date the injury was discovered, or should have been discovered "through the use of reasonable diligence," whichever is sooner.

The law provides an exception for any time period during which the health care provider has "concealed any act, error or omission upon which the action is based and which is known or through the use of reasonable diligence should have been known" to the health care provider. The limitations period is "tolled" (or paused) for as long as the concealment lasts.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 41A.097 (2022).)

The Affidavit of Merit Requirement in Nevada Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

As part of their effort at tort reform, many states—including Nevada—have passed laws that require medical malpractice plaintiffs (the party filing the lawsuit) to jump through specific procedural hoops when starting their cases.

Nevada law requires an affidavit of merit to be filed alongside a medical malpractice complaint (the court filing that gets the lawsuit started). The affidavit must be submitted by an expert medical witness who practices in a "substantially similar" area of medicine as the defendant health care provider, and it must:

  • support the allegations made in the lawsuit
  • identify each health care provider named in the lawsuit, and
  • set out the facts of each instance of alleged medical negligence in "simple, concise, and direct terms."

If an affidavit of merit does not meet the above requirements—or is not filed with the complaint at all—the court will dismiss the lawsuit. But the dismissal will be "without prejudice," meaning that the plaintiff has the opportunity to correct the errors, refile a compliant affidavit of merit, and move forward with their medical malpractice case.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 41A.071 (2022).)

Nevada's Cap on Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Also as part of tort-reform efforts, many states have laws on the books that cap (or limit) the amount of damages a successful medical malpractice plaintiff can receive. Nevada law caps noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases at $350,000. That is the maximum amount that the plaintiff may receive as compensation for noneconomic losses, regardless of the number of defendants in the case.

So, what are noneconomic damages? Noneconomic damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the negative effects of medical malpractice that aren't easily calculable—losses that are more subjective from plaintiff to plaintiff. They can include damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and similar losses stemming from the malpractice.

Keep in mind that Nevada has no cap on economic damages resulting from medical malpractice, so a plaintiff can recover the full amount for losses like the cost of medical treatment (past and ongoing), "care or custody," lost income, and reduced earning capacity.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 41A.007, 41A.011, 41A.035 (2022).)

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