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What Are Amended Complaints?

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Madeleine Jones
July 26, 2021

To start a case against someone who has injured you, you have to file a complaint with the court. This complaint is known as the initial filing. You may want to also file amended complaints to add defendants who might share liability for your injuries or to provide more information. Either because you have new information about your injuries, or because the court requested it.

You should always have the help of an experienced Henderson personal injury attorney with these matters. Rules regarding this can be complicated, and only an experienced attorney can assure you don’t make mistakes that might sabotage your case.

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The Original Complaint

In the original complaint, you find the names of the defendants, the facts and legal grounds of your care, and the request for the recovery of damages.

Reasons To Amend a Complaint

Sometimes when you filed your complaint you might have failed to have all of the information to make certain legal arguments. For example, you might find out that there is another person sharing liability for your injuries. You can then ask the court to amend the original complaint about this reason.

In Nevada, you have 21 days to amend your complaint, without having to ask the court for permission.  Most states have the same rules, but time limits for filing can be different.

The court will review the reason, and if it is reasonable, they will usually grant your request. Unless the court orders you to amend your original complaint, you will have to ask the court if you can amend your complaint.

Sometimes, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss your complaint based on what is in the complaint. Usually, the court will allow you to amend the complaint to add what the defendant thinks should be in the complaint or to delete facts that they think you should exclude. The court will then review the motion to dismiss, and if the court agrees with it, it will issue an order to amend your complaint. If they disagree, you don’t have to amend it.

Does The Court Usually Grant Motions To Amend?

The short answer is no. If the court thinks that your amendments are not fair to the defendant, they will deny your motion. If the defendant files a motion to dismiss the complaint and the court thinks it is not fair to you, they will deny their motion. The earlier you file your amended complaint, the more likely it is that the court grants your request.

Amended Complaints Summons and Fees

To amend a complaint you don’t need another summons. You do not even have to pay an additional fee. As long as the amended complaint filing follows all the rules, you should be good to go.

To amend a complaint, you have to draft a new one and add what you believe to be missing or deleting what the court asked you to.

How Long Does the Defendant Have to Answer My Amended Complaint?

Like we mentioned above, the time limits discussed refer to the rules in Nevada. If you are in a different state, you need to check your state’s rules. Even if many states have similar rules, the time limits for filing complaints can vary.

When you file your complaint in court in Nevada, the defendant has up to 21 days to respond with either a motion to dismiss your complaint or an answer. Sometimes, they might include a counterclaim. If you file an amended complaint within this time, the defendant has 14 days or the balance of time left to respond to it. The defendant’s attorney can ask the court for an extension of this time, which they can grant or deny.

Usually, a defense attorney can file their responsive pleading close to the end of the 21 days because it can take time for the defendant to get an attorney, for the attorney to review it, and to draft the pleading.

The Response

If you file an amended complaint, the defendant has to file a response to it as well. If they asked the court to dismiss your original complaint but it was denied by the court, the defendant will have to file a response. Otherwise, the court may hold the defendant in default. Once the defendant files their answer, it is time to move to the next phase of the litigation process.

Do The Amended Complaints Replace The Original Complaint?

Basically, yes. When you file an amended complaint, the original complaint no longer exists as far as the court is concerned. You have to make sure that everything the original complaint contains is also in the amended complaint.

For example, if you file a complaint to get compensation for a car accident damages, and then you find out the defendant was drunk and you want to amend the original complaint to request punitive damages, you have to make sure everything in the original complaint is also in the amended complaint.

If something is left out of the amended complaint, you can’t add it unless the court allows you to file a second amended complaint or the defendant agrees. Additionally, if you leave something out and you end up reaching the trial stage, you can’t ask for something that is not present in the complaint at the trial. It must be fixed before that time. This can become a very complicated process on the way and this is why having an experienced Nevada personal injury lawyer on your side is best.

Personal Injury Attorney in Henderson and Las Vegas

If you are navigating the personal injury process on your own, know that you don’t have to be alone. Our experienced attorneys are more than ready to help you guide you through it. Sometimes the simplest mistake in amended complaints can make your case go longer than it needs to be. For a free initial consultation, call Cogburn Law in Las Vegas at (702) 748-7777.