State law determines fault and avenues for compensation in car accident cases. Nevada, like many other states, operates under a modified comparative negligence rule. If you were partially at fault for an accident in Las Vegas or any other area of the state, your percentage of fault could diminish the amount of damages awarded in any personal injury claim.
Understanding Modified Comparative Negligence in Nevada
Under the theory of comparative negligence, each driver in an accident may bear a certain portion of responsibility for causing the incident. If you were speeding and another driver was speeding at a faster rate and texting while driving and an accident occurs, both drivers may bear partial fault for the accident, but additional reckless driving behaviors could elevate the percentage of fault of one party over the other.
In this example, the driver going 10 mph over the speed limit but following all other rules of the road might only bear 10% of fault for the accident, while the driver going 25 mph over the speed limit and texting might bear 90% of the blame.
In a personal injury claim, the court can diminish the total damages the courts award by a driver’s percentage of fault. If the total award was $20,000 and the plaintiff was 10% at fault, the plaintiff could only receive a maximum of $18,000. Under Nevada’s modified comparative fault rules, any driver more than 50% responsible for an accident loses the right to any compensation.
This understanding of fault extends not only to the courtroom but also into settlement negotiations with insurance companies. Insurers will consider percentages of fault as they investigate accident claims and develop settlement offers for those injured.
The Subjective Nature of Fault in Personal Injury Claims
While the rules for determining fault in car accident claims are clear, applying those rules is not always so black and white. A car accident claim may involve two drivers who were similarly reckless, a third-party fault element, or unsafe acts that aren’t necessarily illegal. In each case, the representation of the facts, the circumstances of the accident, and the likability of the people involved can all affect the ultimate determination of fault.
Clear accident documentation and strong legal representation can increase the likelihood that the truth of an accident will prevail in any settlement negotiation or trial. A car accident lawyer can push for fairness in all investigations and ensure that all parties follow the letter of the law in determining fault and damages awarded.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights in Car Accident Cases
While the state can assign partial fault, drivers can take steps to protect themselves from an argument. In addition to safe driving practices, drivers can:
- Document as much as possible at the scene. Take pictures and record videos with a smartphone to assist investigators and preserve evidence that you used a reasonable duty of care while on the roadways. Suddenly changed weather conditions, roadway hazards, vehicle defects, and any other elements that may have contributed to an accident beyond your control.
- Invest in a dash cam. While a dashboard camera cannot preserve evidence of every type of accident, it may provide a clear video of any accident involving the front of a vehicle and protect you from claims of liability. On the other hand, dash cams can also prove a degree of fault in some accidents.
- Try to recall the other driver’s behaviors. Accidents happen fast, but if you notice any acts of carelessness, that information could support your negligence claim in future personal injury claims. Distracted driving, speeding, reckless behaviors, failure to follow the rules of the road, and signs of alcohol abuse could all increase the percentage of fault the law assigns in an accident.
If you’re a safe driver and you follow the rules of the road, comparative negligence rules may not come into play in your claim at all. For others, it could mean the difference between the ability to recover compensation and the obligation to pay for someone else’s injuries.