Who is at fault in Las Vegas Car Accidents?
Each state has its own unique laws and insurance regulations regarding auto accidents, and Nevada is no exception. Laws and regulations affect how accident damages and injuries are paid and what amount each party is responsible for covering. People involved in a car accident in Las Vegas, especially those who are injured and have medical bills, need to know how the law applies to their situation. State laws have a significant implication on potential compensation for damages and injuries.
5 Legal Obligations for Drivers
Nevada’s laws require drivers to take specific steps right after an accident, including those that involve cars, trucks, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, and pedestrians. Leaving the scene could result in criminal hit-and-run charges. Drivers have five obligations:
- Exchange contact and insurance information, including driver’s license number and vehicle information like plate number, make, and model. Gathering eyewitness information isn’t required but is a good idea.
- Safely move away from traffic as possible.
- Assist any injured people at the scene.
- Call the police, which is required if there are injuries or over $750 in property damage.
- Report serious accidents to the Department of Motor vehicles, which the police officer on the scene may do. The DMV requires reporting within 10 days if there are injuries, fatalities, or more than $750 in damage.
Drivers must also leave contact information or contact the owner if they hit an unoccupied vehicle.
Given Nevada’s laws, it’s essential that those involved in an accident in Las Vegas do not admit any fault, apologize, or say they aren’t injured. Injuries may not be readily apparent, especially after a traumatic event where drivers and passengers may not be thinking straight. There might be underlying causes to an accident that aren’t readily apparent, like equipment defects, driving under the influence, or unsafe driving. Take photos of the damage and other possible pieces of evidence.
Report the accident to your insurance company, especially if an officer is on the scene or potential injuries. Insurance companies have rules on reporting accidents, so not reporting could affect your policy. Some drivers may choose to pay out of pocket for repairs in cases of minor crashes with no injuries or if they hit something other than another vehicle.
Is Nevada an At-Fault State?
Nevada is a fault state or a tort state, which means the responsible party covers costs for damage and injuries. The fault must be proven for accidents, with the at-fault party’s insurance company covering all of the damages and medical bills. Conversely, states with no-fault laws don’t require proof of fault for an accident, and insurance companies don’t look at fault when paying claims. More states follow at-fault laws, but some have modified no-fault provisions in their laws.
The laws in Nevada make proof of fault in an accident vital to damage claims and increase the importance of having a reputable personal injury attorney on your side. The responsible party’s insurer will seek to limit claim amounts and shift some of the blame for the accident back to the accident victim. Insurance companies may also seek to propose insufficient settlements. A skilled attorney will be able to evaluate compensation and push for a fair settlement. Nevada’s tort laws allow additional compensation by suing the at-fault driver for further damages like pain and suffering above and beyond the scope of insurance coverage.
How Is Fault Shared in Nevada?
Fault for accidents isn’t always apparent, so Nevada has provisions for shared fault, known as modified comparative negligence. This law allows recovery for damage and injury to be reduced for those who are less than 50% responsible for an accident. Most states follow the doctrine of comparative negligence, which reduces damages proportionally up to 50% based on the victim’s fault. An accident victim who was speeding, for example, may have their claim payout reduced by 20% if they are found to be 20% responsible for the accident.
What Factors Determine Fault?
Determining who’s at fault and to what extent is complicated, involving authorities, insurance companies, and legal representation. Insurance companies have their plan, which is limiting claim payouts. Finding an accident victim partially at fault is one way to reduce claims in Nevada. It’s important to have an attorney on your side to protect your rights and ability to collect a fair settlement after an accident. An attorney will help prove your case and ensure that all relevant evidence and other information is shared with the court.
Several factors can determine fault or shared fault in an accident:
- The speed you were driving, and the speed of the other driver.
- Weather and road conditions.
- Traffic signs, signals, and rules at the location of the accident.
- Reports from police and witnesses.
- An admission of fault after the accident occurred.
Fault may also affect insurance rates and policies. Claims made by drivers who were not at fault can’t be held against the driver, meaning insurance companies can’t refuse to issue, cancel, not renew, or increase policy rates. If a driver is exactly 50% at fault or higher, insurers may be able to take adverse action against the policyholder.
What Options Are Available for Accident Victims?
Accident victims who need to be compensated for property damage and injuries have options depending on the circumstances of the accident:
- File a claim with your insurer to cover property and injury costs; your insurer may, in turn, sue the other party’s insurance company for compensation.
- File a third-party claim against the other driver’s insurance company for damages.
- File a personal injury lawsuit, which can result in higher compensation but requires the skills of an experienced Nevada attorney.
Navigating insurance claims can be complex and often require the guidance of an attorney. Nevada drivers should carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) if an accident with damages exceeds the responsible party’s liability limitations. In Nevada, insurance companies must offer optional UM/UIM coverage equal to the policy’s liability limits. State minimum liability insurance amounts are $25,000 for injuries or death per person, $50,000 for total injury or death per accident, and $20,000 for property damage. The minimums are insufficient for covering more severe accidents; accidents with uninsured drivers or hit-and-run situations require UM/UIM coverage.
Schedule a free consultation with De Castroverde Law Group – Accident & Injury if you or a family member were involved in an accident, or call us at 702.222.9999. Our knowledgeable attorneys can evaluate your case and help bring it to a prompt and fair conclusion.