Is Your Insurance Claim Affected if You are Found Negligent During a Car Accident in Las Vegas?
After a car accident, ideally it would be clear who was at fault, and making a claim for damages would be a straightforward process. However, in reality, the circumstances of a car accident can be complicated, and it may not be obvious only one party was responsible for causing it. Making a successful insurance claim for damages from another driver’s insurance company is based on evidence proving the driver was at fault. But what if you are also found to be negligent during a car accident? Is it still possible to claim damages for property damage, medical bills and pain and suffering?
Comparative Negligence Laws in Nevada
No matter what impression a driver has about who caused a car accident, the decision ultimately lies with the insurance companies. In deciding who is at fault, and therefore liable for paying damages, insurance companies refer to comparative negligence laws, which vary by state.
The legal definition of negligence, in simple terms, states that individuals are expected to behave within acceptable standards. If an individual does not meet those standards and as a result, someone is injured, then that individual is responsible for paying damages to the injured party. Comparative negligence laws acknowledge more than one party can be negligent in an accident, and therefore not all damages should be paid by one person’s insurance company.
A car accident in Las Vegas is subject to the comparative negligence laws of Nevada, which adheres to modified comparative negligence rules. Under this law, an individual who is partly at fault can still claim damages from the other driver – but only if they are found to be less negligible than the other party.
How Can Negligence Be Measured if Multiple Parties Are Fault?
A car accident may not be as straightforward as one driver making a mistake and the other driving completely without error. Below are some examples of how modified comparative negligence can be measured:
- Driver A turns left at an intersection without using their turn signal. They collide with Driver B, causing an accident. However, Driver B is found to be over the speed limit by 20 miles an hour. The insurance company determines if Driver B had not been speeding, they could have prevented the collision with Driver A. Driver B is found to be 60% negligent and Driver A to be 40% negligent. Driver A incurred $23,000 in costs. Therefore, Driver A can claim damages from Driver B for 60% of the costs incurred due to the accident, or $13,800.
- Driver A thinks they see an animal in the road and comes to a sudden stop. Driver B is not able to stop in time and rear-ends Driver A. However, Driver B was tailgating Driver A at the time. The insurance company determines Driver B could have stopped in time to prevent the accident if they were not tailgating. Driver A is found to be 55% negligent, and Driver B, 45% negligent. Driver B is awarded 55% of their medical costs and property damage.
Nevada’s modified comparative negligence law follows a 51% threshold. Unlike other states with a 50% threshold, both parties cannot claim damages from each other if they are found to be equally negligent. Only the party with the lesser percentage of fault is eligible for damages.
What Else Determines Fault in a Car Accident?
Insurance companies are the most active in determining how negligence is allocated when there is more than one party at fault in a car accident. They may investigate the scene of the accident, interview witnesses, and examine vehicle damage. However there can be other types of evidence to support a claim. If a driver violates a traffic law – such as following too closely or driving over the speed limit – and is issued a ticket by the police, that supports the case the driver’s actions were negligent. A driver may have footage from a dashboard camera recording the accident as evidence of the other driver being partly at fault.
What Should I Do If I Am In a Car Accident in Las Vegas?
No driver expects to get into an accident. However, the aftermath of a car accident can be confusing, and it is important to know what steps to take ahead of time should an accident occur.
If the accident is minor, only results in property damage, and there are no injuries, the driver can report the accident using the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s online non-emergency form. Under Nevada law NRS 484E.070, it must be done within 10 days.
The driver may also be required to report the accident to their insurance company, according to their policy – which is different from making a claim. If the policy holder wishes to pay for minor damages out of pocket, they should not see any increases in their premium.
If a driver, passenger or pedestrian is injured as a result of the accident, the police should be called immediately. If the police are not notified and a driver leaves the scene, the accident could be considered to be a hit-and-run, which is a felony charge. No driver should take that risk.
Considering how many calls come through to emergency services in Las Vegas, the police may not come to the accident scene if it is deemed not to be too severe enough to warrant a police presence. If this is the case, the drivers should file a police report with the local police department within 24 hours if someone has been injured, or there is more than $750 worth of property damage.
What Damages Can Be Claimed Under Modified Comparative Negligence Law?
In an accident where one party is determined to be completely at fault, the victim is entitled to damages for medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Under modified comparative negligence law, damages can be awarded for the same costs – they will just be awarded according to the percentage the other party is found to be at fault.
If you have been involved in a car accident, please call 702-680-1111 or contact us online so we can start discussing your case.