In the blink of an eye, a car accident can change your life forever. While the accident itself is a frightening experience, you may have to live with physical and emotional injuries for the rest of your life. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may also have to deal with medical bills, a changed schedule, vehicle repairs, lost wages due to your inability to work, and other miscellaneous expenses. On top of that, you have to deal with a complex legal process involving insurance companies whose primary goal is to reduce the amount of compensation due to you.
If you are in Las Vegas, NV, and have recently been injured in a car accident, the last thing you need is having to chase your compensation for months. Our Las Vegas auto accident compensation lawyers at Dallas Horton & Associates know all the tricks that insurance companies can use to deny what Nevada laws entitle you to. Using their expertise and extensive networks, the lawyers will ensure that you get what your claim is worth and as quickly as possible.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
With Las Vegas having some of the most dangerous drivers in America, car accidents are a familiar scene in the city and surrounding areas. However, Vegas dangerous drivers are not the only cause of road accidents. There are so many factors that increase the likelihood of your car being in an accident, including bad roads, poor weather conditions, and defective car parts. With insurance companies looking for the slightest excuse to reduce your compensation amount, it is essential to understand the underlying cause of your car accident and who is liable. While knowing what causes car accidents might be useful in helping you avoid an accident in the first place, identifying the underlying cause of your accident can be crucial in an insurance compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Some of the common causes of car accidents in Las Vegas include:
- Drunk Driving: Despite the state of Nevada strict DUI laws, road authorities and law enforcers have cited driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as one of the major causes of fatal car accidents in Las Vegas. As a victim in a drunk driving accident, it is essential to have a skilled attorney who will not only ensure your rights are protected, but you also receive compensation for your injuries.
- Distracted Driving: Similar to drunk driving accidents, car accidents as a result of distracted driving can be catastrophic. In this case, the driver was driving while using their phone, talking to passengers, eating/drinking, or even grooming. The driver may also be distracted when focusing on the radio, navigation system, or something on the road, including another car accident or a billboard. With the insurance company of the at-fault driver always seeking to reduce the driver's liability, it is crucial to have an experienced Las Vegas auto accident compensation attorney to fight for your rights and compensation.
- Reckless Driving: This may involve over-speeding and running a red light. With Las Vegas hosting a mix of fun-seeking tourists and busy locals, most in Las Vegas are in a constant rush. This rush is prominent in the reckless driving habits of most of them. Driving above recommended speed limits, running stop signs, and carelessly changing lanes can be very dangerous, especially in a busy city such as Las Vegas. Even in cases where it is evident, you are a victim of a negligent driver; you still need an attorney to ensure that insurance companies do not reduce or delay your compensation claims.
- Other Causes: Other common causes of car accidents in Las Vegas include hazardous road conditions, defective vehicle parts, and poor weather conditions. A combination of Las Vegas mountainous terrain and sometimes poor weather, including snow and rain, can cause car accidents, especially for tourists unfamiliar with the roads. Mechanical problems caused by defective parts or products in vehicles is another cause of car accidents on Las Vegas roads. In some of these cases, it might not be clear who is liable for your accident. However, a skilled attorney can help you navigate the different scenarios and ensure that you receive compensation from whoever is liable.
Nevada Car Accident Laws
Whether your car accident caused severe injuries, minor bruises, or only resulted in property damage, Nevada laws require you to stop at the accident scene immediately. The state laws, as outlined under NRS 484E, will charge you with the crime of hit and run in case you flee the accident scene. Immediately stopping at the scene of the car accident is among the legal duties that Nevada laws impose on drivers involved in a car accident. Other legal duties include the drivers exchanging personal and insurance information. As part of this legal duty, you may exchange names, addresses, and social security numbers. You may also get personal information of any witnesses, including occupants of the cars in the accident.
However, the exchange of information should be after ensuring that everyone involved in the accident is safe. Giving priority to the injured and ensuring everyone receives the proper medical attention is another legal duty. You should help anyone who has been injured in the accident and notify the police of the same. If there are no police near the crash scene, you should consider reporting the car accident to the Nevada Highway Patrol office or the nearest police station. In case the accident is serious, you should also report to the DMV if the police have not already done it.
Nevada car accident laws also require you to move out of traffic to avoid causing another accident. However, if, for any reason, you are unable to move your vehicle out of traffic, you should immediately inform the police. You should also take photographs of the accident and the vehicles involved before moving out of traffic. You should also consider documenting the road and weather conditions as they may come up as the cause of the accident in your insurance claims or personal injury lawsuit. All these legal duties are outlined in Nevada laws NRS 484E. Even though law enforcers are not likely to immediately respond to an accident if there are no injuries, you should consider contacting the police if the driver of the other vehicle is uncooperative, is intoxicated, or appears to be intoxicated.
In addition to the above legal duties, cars without automobile insurance are forbidden on Nevada roads, and driving such a car has serious consequences, including the driver's license and registration. However, despite the requirement to have insurance coverage, there are still some uninsured cars and drivers on Las Vegas roads. Being injured in a car accident where the driver is uninsured may be one of the most stressful things to deal with for a victim. Once you have fulfilled all the legal duties and obtained all the relevant information, you should contact your insurance company and submit the SR-1 form. While the compensation and settlement process in an auto accident seems straightforward, it is confusing for some people and leads to several questions
Is it Mandatory to Report the Accident to my Auto Insurer?
While most insurance policies clearly state that you should immediately notify the insurer when in an accident, some drivers choose not to. It is especially the case when the driver some other stationary object and not another vehicle and is willing to make out of pocket payments for the car repairs. A driver may also choose not to notify their insurer if there are no injuries in a car accident, and the liable party is willing to pay for the car repairs or any other property damages.
While many drivers opt not to report in such instances, there might be consequences, especially if there was a police at the scene of crush, and he/she made an accident report. Regardless of the magnitude of a car accident, you should consider notifying your insurer, especially if a police officer visits the scene. Failure to report such an accident may impact your insurance policy, including reducing the insurer's obligations to you.
Is it Mandatory to Report the Accident to Nevada DMV?
Reporting an accident to the DMV is one of the legal duties in case you are involved in an accident. It becomes mandatory if and when the accident was serious and someone was severely injured or killed. It is also compulsory to submit a DMV report if the estimated damage to the vehicle or any property in the accident is more than $750. You should submit a DMV report within ten days of a car accident. However, regardless of the magnitude of the accident, you are not required to submit a DMV report if a police officer visited the accident scene and filed a report.
Since the accident scene can leave one in a state of shock and confusion, some drivers are usually not sure whether they gave the correct information to the police officer at the scene of the accident. The law allows you to submit a DMV report yourself if you doubt the information contained in the initial police report. Considering that you could have your driver's license suspended for up to one year for willfully failing to report an accident, it is important to adhere to the entire reporting process, including DMV reporting. Additionally, you risk gross misdemeanor charges if you intentionally give false information in a car accident report. The penalties include up to one year in jail and or a fine of up to two thousand dollars.
Can I Sue the At-fault Driver for Non-economic Damages?
Even though you may be sufficiently compensated for all your economic damages and financial loss, including medical bills and lost earning capacity, a car accident can leave you in a lot of pain and suffering. In most cases, the pain and suffering are not quantifiable; hence is not covered by insurers. However, you may still get compensation for such non-economic damages by suing the at-fault driver in a civil case. While Nevada laws allow for such personal injury lawsuits, most car accident cases are out of court settlements; hence you might not need to sue. However, it is within your rights to sue if you are not satisfied with what the other driver's insurer offers you as compensation.
Nevada’s At Fault and Comparative Negligence Laws
In Nevada, you can still recover damages even if you are partly at fault for a car accident. The state adheres to the standard of comparative negligence while evaluating who is at fault and the amount of compensation due. However, Nevada has modified its comparative negligence standard such that the injured party has to prove he/she was not equally to blame for the accident. Consequently, the law allows for damages to be in proportion to the victim's percentage of fault. It means that the compensation due to you could be reduced by 30% if it is proven that you were 30% to blame for the car accident.
For example, if the law entitles you to $10,000 compensation for your injuries and damages, but the jury determines that the other driver was 70% to blame and you were 30% at fault, you will only be paid $7,000 in damages. However, Nevada's 'at fault' and 'comparative negligence' laws do not take the liability away from the defendant. As long as he/she is at least 50% at fault for the accident, he/she is liable to pay for damages. Considering that these Nevada laws can complicate a car accident lawsuit, it is crucial to have a skilled attorney help you gather and document all the relevant information about the car accident.
Nevada Car Insurance Laws
Since in Nevada, any of the drivers in the accident can sue or be sued for damages in a car accident, drivers are required to have liability coverage. According to the state’s car insurance laws, for bodily injury or death, every driver should have liability coverage of at least $15000 per person and at least $30,000 per accident. The driver should also have liability coverage of at least $10,000 for property damages. You are also required to file the insurance claims immediately after a car accident. With Nevada's statute limitation of one year for a personal injury claim, you may not be able to pursue the negligent driver if a year passes without filing a lawsuit or seeking a settlement.
Car Accident Damages
If you are a victim of a car accident, there are a variety of applicable damages that you can recover from the liable party. It is possible to recover more than just monetary damages as the laws allow you to recover even those damages that are impossible to put a price tag on. Recoverable damages in a car accident are categorized into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those damages whose monetary value is easy to determine, including:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Vehicle repairs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capability
In addition to all your out-of-pocket expenses to date, economic damages also include all reasonably estimated future expenses you are likely to incur as a result of your car accident injuries and damages.
Non-economic damages are those damages that are non-monetary and intangible, including:
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Permanent physical injury including a lost limb or disfigurement
While economic damages may be straightforward, you need a competent car accident compensation lawyer to negotiate for the best possible value for your non-economic damages. Since many insurance policies may not be willing to pay the correct amount for some of these damages, you may also need to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the biggest mistake you can make is to accept the first settlement offer an insurance company makes to you without consulting your attorney. According to Nevada laws, you automatically waive your right to future claims by accepting a settlement offer. Considering you may not be aware of all the available and applicable damages, it is essential to seek the services of a car accident attorney to avoid being shortchanged.
Nevada Car Accident Settlements
Considering the amount of money and time that a court process can consume, many people chose out of court settlement for their car accident cases. It involves negotiating the compensation amount with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In some instances, it is not in your best interest for a car accident case to go to trial and arbitration may be your best option. While such settlements and negotiations may help speed up the recovery process, it is not advisable to attend them without a car accident attorney. In addition to having a lot of experience dealing with such cases, insurance companies always look out for their best interests and will undercut you at any given opportunity. While Nevada laws forbid deceptive insurance practices, including delaying companies, negotiating your compensation without an attorney by your side opens you up for deception.
As with all other forms of settlement, your willingness to settle for a certain amount should be determined by whether the settlement is fair. If you were 100% not at fault, then you are entitled to full compensation. Since these settlements are determined based on the available evidence, it is important to have all the required information with you while going for negotiations. Some of the necessary information includes police reports, photos taken at the scene, witness reports, and other relevant documentation. Whatever the case, do not make the mistake of agreeing to a compensation amount without thoroughly examining all the facts of the case. You should only agree to a settlement that you believe is fair and capable of covering all your present and future economic and non-economic damages.
Calculating Settlement or Compensation Amount
Since each car accident is unique, car settlement amounts are different. However, there are some general factors that you should consider when negotiating a settlement, including:
- Your medical expenses (present and future)
- The extent or severity of your injuries
- Damages to your vehicle or property
- Type of insurance coverage (yours and the other driver’s coverage)
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Your percentage of fault
- The available evidence and documentation to support your case
- Your or your lawyer’s ability to negotiate or argue the case
However, there might be limits to a settlement as it is primarily based on the policy limit of the at-fault individual and whether they have any uninsured or underinsured coverage. Essentially, there can be lots of money available in a car accident settlement. However, if you think that the amount being offered is not fair and cannot cover your damages, then you should let the case go to trial. While sometimes refusing a settlement can be unreasonable, let it be your lawyer's and not the other party's job to tell you when you are unreasonable. Even though the litigation process can be long and tiring, you should not accept an unfair settlement just to avoid the process.
In most of Nevada, including Las Vegas, a typical car accident settlement process should take between six to eight months. However, some settlement involves so many back and forth such that they take more than a year to settle. Whatever the case, a case should be resolved within the two-year statute limitation as outlined in Nevada laws.
Contact A Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Near Me
In addition to pain and suffering, there can be a lot to deal with after a car accident. From unexpected expenses to delayed compensation for your damages, the entire process can be stressful. With the other party seeking to avoid liability and insurance companies seeking to delay, reduce, or even deny your claims, it is vital to have a competent attorney by your side to represent your interests.
If you have been in a car accident in Las Vegas, our skilled auto accident lawyers at Dallas Horton & Associates are committed to fighting for your rights and the compensation you need and deserve as you focus on your recovery and healing. Contact us today at 702-380-3100 to learn more about our services.