If you have been injured in a Nevada accident, you may be wondering, “Is Nevada a no-fault state?” A no-fault state allows an injured motorist to file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
While there are a few states that follow this rule, Nevada is not one of them.
Nevada is an at-fault state, meaning that the person responsible, or their insurance company, must cover your damages. To recover damages, you must prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries.
To effectively prove the other driver’s negligence, you need an experienced Nevada car accident attorney on your side.
At Friedman Injury Law, attorney Blake S. Friedman can help gather the evidence you need to prove your case while you recover from your injuries.
Proving Negligence in Nevada
Nevada’s negligence law is based on the legal concept that people have a duty to behave with a level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would behave under the same circumstances.
An individual or a company is considered negligent when they fail to fulfill a duty owed and fall below the appropriate standard of care by not acting as a reasonably prudent person or company should.
In car accidents, negligence may be as simple as failing to follow the rules of the road (NRS Chapter 484B). To prove negligence in Nevada, you must provide evidence supporting the following four elements of negligence.
The first element of a negligence claim is duty. To prove another driver’s negligence after a car accident, you must first prove that they owed you a duty of care.
In Nevada, all drivers on the road owe a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a safe manner and to follow Nevada’s traffic laws, which are codified in NRS Chapter 484B and titled Rules of the Road.
This duty helps ensure the safety of other drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians using the road.
Breach of Duty
The second element of a negligence claim is breach.
Once you establish that the defendant owed a duty of care, you must prove that they breached this duty by failing to act like an ordinary prudent person would under the same circumstances.
In a car accident case, the element of breach can be proven by showing that the other driver failed to abide by the traffic laws.
For example, you can show that another driver failed to yield the right of way at an intersection by running a red light. This can be proven through a defendant’s admission, witness testimony, or video evidence.
The third element of a negligence claim is causation. After you prove that the other driver breached their duty of care, you must show that their breach of duty is what caused the accident and your injuries.
This element can be proven by a variety of means, including, but not limited to, photographs of the injuries, medical records, diagnostic imaging, your testimony, your doctors’ testimony, lay witness testimony (i.e. witness who knew you before and after the accident and have seen a change), expert reports (i.e. biomechanical engineering expert), etc.
The insurance companies usually attack this element two ways.
First, they hire their own doctor to opine that your injuries were pre-existing (meaning they were already present prior to the accident). Second, they hire a biomechanical engineer to opine that there was not enough force placed on your body in the accident to have caused the injuries you are alleging.
The fourth and final element of a negligence claim is damage. After you prove the other driver’s breach of duty caused your injuries, you must prove the extent of your damages.
There are several different types of damages you can claim.
“Special” damages are monetary losses that have a measurable dollar amount. Common examples of special damages include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Loss of wages (past and future)
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Transportation costs, etc.
“General” damages are intangible, non-monetary losses that do not have an exact dollar amount. Common examples of general damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Physical disfigurement or impairment, etc.
“Punitive damages” are meant to punish a defendant who exhibits a conscious disregard for safety and to be used as an example to deter others from behaving similarly.
Punitive damages are sought in car accident cases when the defendant was operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or a controlled substance.
There is no capped amount on this type of punitive damages. NRS 42.010.
How Is Fault Determined?
Insurance companies use many different forms of evidence to determine fault in an accident. The insurance adjuster’s goal is to minimize your claim as much as possible.
Here are some of the things that insurance companies may take into consideration:
- Whether you admitted fault after the crash;
- The condition of the road at the time of the accident;
- Your speed at the time of the crash;
- The opinion of the responding officer; and
- Witness statements.
This is why it’s important to gather as much evidence as you can after the accident. Anything that proves your side of the story helps.
How Nevada Calculates Fault
Nevada follows a modified comparative negligence rule. According to NRS 41.141, “the comparative negligence of the plaintiff . . . does not bar recovery if that negligence was not greater than the negligence . . . of [other] parties.”
This means that if a victim is partially at fault for their injuries, they still may be able to recover some damages. The amount of compensation depends on the percentage of fault attributed to each driver.
In addition, if the jury finds that the victim is more than 50% responsible, the victim may not recover any damages.
For example, let’s say that Alex is approaching a four-way stop sign and decides to do a rolling stop. When he crosses the intersection, Mia runs the stop sign and t-bones him, causing severe injuries.
Alex files a lawsuit for $100,000 in damages, and the jury decides that he is 30% at fault for his own injuries. Since Alex’s fault is not more than 50%, Nevada allows Alex to recover compensation.
However, since he is 30% responsible, Alex’s damages are reduced to $70,000.
Will My Insurance Rate Go Up?
Whether your insurance rate will go up depends on the circumstances of the accident and your percentage of fault.
Under NRS 687B.385, your insurance company cannot cancel, refuse to renew or increase your premium if you’re not at fault.
However, if you are 50% responsible, you may be considered at fault by your insurance company, which could cause your premium to increase.
Contact a Nevada Car Accident Attorney Today
Navigating the personal injury claim process alone can be difficult. Attorney Blake S. Friedman is dedicated to helping clients manage their claim so they can focus on recovery.
He will fight for the compensation you deserve and walk you through every step of the process.
If you or a loved one sustained an injury in a Las Vegas car accident, contact Friedman Injury Law today for a free consultation.