Automobile accidents are scary no matter how severe the damage is. If you are hit by another driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may rightly feel angry at that person for putting you, your passengers, and everyone else on the road, at risk. Drunk driving in Las Vegas is particularly common because of the city's reputation for partying, letting loose, and living on the edge. Because of this, in 2015, there was 59 alcohol related automobile accident fatalities in Clark County alone. Dozens more are injured every month.
Nevada law enforcement has been working for years to combat this problem, putting more officers out on roadways to patrol for impaired driving during peak hours and implementing media campaigns about dangerous practices on the road including distracted driving, texting, and mental or cognitive impairment. Driving under the influence can include alcohol, marijuana, and prescription or over the counter drugs. The Nevada Department of Public Safety has also started a program entitled “Zero Fatalities” to educate the public with the hopes of lowering fatalities on the road.
Personal Injury Claims Involving Impaired Drivers
Because impaired driving is such a problem in the Las Vegas area, there are certain laws which help to protect the interest of those injured by drivers who are drunk or high. In Nevada, if a driver is convicted of a DUI in conjunction with the accident, this can serve as justification for their liability in a civil case. NRS 41.133 states, “Conviction of crime is conclusive evidence of facts necessary to impose civil liability for related injury.” This means that the burden of proof for personal injury cases against drivers who are criminally convicted is much lower.
Even if the other driver has not been convicted for their impairment at the time of the accident, victims can still file civil suits. The victim simply must be able to prove that the other driver was negligent and caused the accident. If you have lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you may also choose to file a wrongful death claim, claiming damages for medical expenses, funeral costs, and pain and suffering, among other things.
Nevada Punitive Damages
Additionally, in the case of accidents caused by impaired driving, victims may claim punitive damages. As the name suggests, these kinds of damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions, and they are usually considered during drunk driving cases. Punitive damage awards are limited in relation to the compensatory (other) damages that the victim is awarded. If a victim is awarded under $100,000, there is a punitive damage cap of $300,000. If a victim is awarded over $100,000, the punitive damage cap is three times the amount of the award. This means, for example, if a victim received $125,000 in compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering, the most they could possibly receive in punitive damages would be $375,000.
Victim Representation in Las Vegas
Impaired driving can have catastrophic effects on individuals and their families. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident involving drugs or alcohol, financial awards can never truly compensate you for your loss, but they may be able to help you begin to move on with your life. Call Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney David Jacks at The Jacks Law Group today at (702) 834-6300 or contact us online to get started.