Car accidents can be emotionally devastating for drivers and occupants alike. Those involved must deal with their own potential injuries, emotional trauma, and hospital stays, along with property damage, days or weeks without transportation, the difficulty of caring for loved ones and dependents during this time, and stressful insurance claims. Car accidents come in many forms. The most familiar ones are collisions between two or more vehicles, which often occur at intersections, during lane changes, and in parking lots. Accidents can also involve pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, or may just involve one car.
In Nevada in 2015, 326 people were killed in fatal car accidents, 210 of which occurred in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. As many Las Vegas natives already know, the sheer amount of tourism and weekend visitors to the city increases the likelihood of both minor and major car accidents. Drivers are not only unfamiliar with the roads, they may choose to drive under the influence or become distracted by the sights of the new city. For every fatality, there are dozens of injuries, instances of property damage, and minor collisions.
Immediate Steps after an Automobile Accident
If you get into an automobile accident, there are a few steps to take immediately to ensure that you are following safety and reporting regulations. Nevada law requires that anyone involved in a car accident of any kind in which a person is injured or killed or in which property is damaged must remain at the scene of the accident. If possible, it is important to pull your vehicle over to the side of the road as quickly as you can. Additionally, any driver involved in the accident is required by law to do the following:
- Give the other driver(s) his or her name, address, and vehicle's registration number. He or she must also show their driver's license if requested to any other driver, vehicle occupant, or person attending the damaged property.
- Give the same information to the police and surrender his or her license to the police who are investigating.
- Perform any reasonable assistance possible to those injured in the crash, including taking the person to a hospital or doctor or calling in emergency medical services.
- Report the accident to the local police station or to the Nevada Highway Patrol as soon as possible after the accident occurs if the police do not come to the scene.
In most cases, a police officer will investigate the accident immediately and file the report with information from both parties including names, addresses, insurance information, driver's licenses, and vehicle details. If they do not, however, you are required to fill out this information in a form later, so it is necessary to gather all the available information from the other drivers immediately.
In addition, it is never a bad idea to take photos at the scene of the accident, including photos of any immediate injuries, damage to the vehicles, the layout of the accident, the intersection or road where the accident occurred, any construction work or signs, and weather conditions. If applicable, a driver can also ask witnesses for contact information if they are willing to provide it.
Insurance Claims Vs. Lawsuits
Usually, the first step after sustaining injuries or substantial property damage in a car accident is to file a claim with the other driver's insurance company. Nevada is a “fault” state in car accident liability, meaning that the person who was at fault for the accident is responsible for paying for any damage or losses that were incurred. So, if you were injured due to someone else's negligent driving, you would file a claim with their insurance company.
If the insurance claim is not successfully negotiated, or if the injuries are extremely serious, drivers or passengers involved in car accidents may choose to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits stemming from automobile accidents generally fall under three categories: negligence, wrongful death, or product liability. If you decide to begin the process of filing a lawsuit, a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney can offer much-needed guidance.
Comparative Negligence in Nevada
Nevada practices something called “comparative negligence” or “shared fault” when allocating blame in car accidents. If your case ends up in court, the jury will decide which percentage of the blame can be given to which parties. For instance, if a car accident was caused by someone turning left across an intersection without checking oncoming traffic properly, but the other driver did not respond as quickly as they could have to avoid the accident, the first driver might be determined to be 80% at fault, while the second driver could be found to be 20% at fault.
The jury will also determine the amount of the award, which will be adjusted according to the comparative negligence. This means that, for example, if a victim was awarded $50,000 for their injuries, but they were found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their award would be reduced by 20% and they would receive $40,000 instead of the original $50,000. In order for an award to be given to a car crash victim, they must be less that 50% responsible for the accident. If they are more than 50% responsible, no award will be given.
Nevada Statute of Limitations
In Nevada, personal injury lawsuits of any kind must be filed within 2 years of the date on which the accident occurred. This law is strict, and courts will most likely refuse to hear the case of a lawsuit filed after the allocated two-year window. This means that car accident victims must act quickly to recover for their losses.
Representation for Las Vegas Car Accident Victims
Whether you are attempting to file a claim or considering a lawsuit against another driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can greatly increase your ability to recover just compensation. Without proper documentation and ample evidence, it can be difficult to prove your claim to an insurance company or jury, especially if another driver is contradicting you. For immediate legal counsel, call The Jacks Law Group today at (702) 834-6300 or contact us online and let us start working for you.