Understanding Nevada Offers of Judgment: A Guide to Settlements and Attorney Fees
Today we’ll walk you through a brief explanation of Nevada offers of judgment. But before we dive in, let us make it clear that this is just an overview and we won't cover all the details. Offers of judgment can be a little tricky, especially since other jurisdictions have different rules. So, it's always best to consult a qualified attorney if you have any questions.
What is an Offer of Judgment?
An offer of judgment is a unique type of settlement offer. Suppose the offer is rejected, and the person receiving the offer (the offeree) needs a better result. In that case, they can use the offer as grounds to request attorney fees from the point the offer is made forward. Usually, the offer must be made at least 21 days before trial however, it comes in with some exceptions. The offeree has 14 days to accept the offer after it's been served. If they don't accept it within that time, the offer is considered rejected and withdrawn.
How Nevada Offers of Judgment Work
In Nevada, offers of judgment are governed primarily by the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure 68. It's important to remember that the federal rules related to this matter vary significantly from the rules of Nevada. There was a significant change to the rule in 2019, so it's essential to stay updated on the latest version.
What's the Purpose of Offers of Judgment?
The primary purpose of offers of judgment is to encourage settlement. However, they should not force plaintiffs to give up legitimate claims. The offer must be made at least 21 days before trial and must be formally served in writing. In most cases, the offer will resolve all claims in the action between the parties, including costs, interest, expenses, and attorney fees, unless specified otherwise.
Making Offers to Multiple Parties
An offer of judgment can be made by or to more than one party, but there are specific conditions. If pushed to multiple parties, it must be an apportioned offer, meaning it's clear how the offer would be divided between the parties on the other side. Also, the liability against all defendants should be common if a plaintiff makes an offer to multiple defendants.
Accepting the Offer
The offeree can accept the offer by serving a formal acceptance notice within 14 days. Suppose the obligated party fulfills all obligations within 21 days of receiving the acceptance notice. In that case, the claims can be dismissed instead of entering judgment. If not, the court can enter a formal judgment for execution or collection.
Penalties for Rejecting an Offer
If the offeree rejects an offer of judgment and fails to obtain a more favorable judgment, penalties can apply. The offeree may not recover any costs, expenses, or attorney fees. It may not recover interest for the period after the service of the offer that was rejected and before judgment. The offeree must also pay the offer's post-offer costs and expenses, including expert witness fees. Under some circumstances, they might be required to pay the offerer's post-offer attorney fees.
Timing and Amount of Offers
Deciding when and how much to offer can be nuanced and depends on the specifics of each case. Generally, an offer of judgment should be made at least 21 days before trial unless an exception applies. Discussing this with your attorney is crucial. Offering after initial disclosures have been made is often a reasonable approach.
Offers of judgment are a complex yet valuable tool to encourage settlement in legal disputes. Consulting with an attorney and understanding the rules to this law is important so you can make the right decisions for your specific case. Remember, the key is to balance encouraging settlement and protecting your rights.
If you live in Nevada and want talk more about this, please feel free to give our office a call for a complimentary phone consultation. You can book directly online or you can call our office at (702) 850-7798 to schedule.