Nevada is not a no-fault state. Unlike New York, New Jersey, Florida, and several other states whose residents often come here as tourists, in Nevada, the party at fault for causing a traffic accident owes monetary damages to injured crash victims in most cases. These damages can encompass a wide range of injuries and losses, which the at-fault party's mandatory auto accident liability insurance coverage typically pays at least in part, if not in full.
In this blog post, we explore Nevada's fault-based insurance system for auto accident cases, explain how it compares to no-fault auto insurance states, and examine the critical role an experienced lawyer plays in securing compensation for victims of Nevada motor vehicle accidents.
If you recently suffered injuries in a car accident, contact an experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer today to learn about your rights.
Overview of Nevada's Fault-Based Auto Insurance System
In Nevada, auto insurance and liability for motor vehicle accidents are based on an at-fault system. This means that the driver who causes a car accident must pay for the crash victims' losses. In other words, if you suffer injuries in an accident in Nevada and the other driver is at fault, you could seek compensation from that driver and their liability insurance company.
The minimum required coverage is $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident, $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident, and $20,000 for injury to others or destruction of property in any one accident.
It is illegal to drive in Nevada without this minimum accident liability coverage. Failure to comply with the state's coverage requirements can subject drivers to severe sanctions, including fines and loss of driving privileges.
How Nevada's System Compares to a No-Fault System
Some states impose a no-fault auto insurance system on drivers. In contrast to Nevada's at-fault system, a no-fault auto insurance system does not require a determination of who caused the accident before processing an insurance claim in most cases. In no-fault states, each driver's insurance pays for their injuries or property damage regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
No-fault insurance coverage is also known as personal injury protection (PIP) because it requires drivers to carry insurance to protect against their own personal injury expenses.
In theory, under a no-fault system, all injured drivers and passengers in a crash receive quick funds from the driver's PIP insurance to pay for medical treatment and lost income and avoid going through the complicated process of determining and proving who was at fault for the accident.
But no-fault laws also typically limit a crash victim's right to sue for losses their PIP policy does not cover. In many no-fault states, an injured accident victim can only sue an at-fault party for damages when the crash inflicted especially severe or costly injuries.
In other words, while no-fault auto insurance systems might offer quicker access to treatment funds and limit the necessity for litigation, at-fault systems like Nevada's can entitle crash victims to greater amounts of compensation and the opportunity to hold at-fault drivers accountable for engaging in wrongful actions behind the wheel.
Potential At-Fault Parties in a Nevada Crash
Nevada law allows motor vehicle accident victims to seek compensation from any party whose careless, reckless, or intentional misconduct contributed to causing the crash. Any individual, business, government agency, or other entity could have liability for an accident.
The most obvious potential at-fault party in a crash is the driver of the other vehicle, who may have triggered the accident by engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as drunk, drug-impaired, drowsy, or distracted driving. But drivers are not the only parties who can bear the blame for a motor vehicle accident. Other parties may bear some (or all) of the responsibility for the accident, too.
For example, if a defective vehicle or vehicle part contributed to a crash, the manufacturer of that vehicle or part could owe damages under a legal doctrine known as strict liability. Likewise, if an unreasonably dangerous road design or construction played a role in triggering the accident, a local government agency or private road owner could potentially owe damages to injured victims.
Every crash differs. It is not always immediately obvious who should pay damages to injured victims. The most reliable way to find out who is liable for a crash that injured you or your loved one is to speak with an experienced Nevada traffic accident lawyer.
In Nevada, you typically have the right to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible costs that you incurred, such as medical bills, property damage, or lost income and earning opportunities.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that do not have a dollar amount attached to them but that nonetheless significantly affect you. These can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
You may also have the right to receive punitive damages from the at-fault party. Not every case awards punitive damages, but they may apply in situations involving exceptionally reckless, malicious, or fraudulent conduct. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior by others.
After a fatal car accident in Nevada, the victim's surviving spouse, close family members, or personal representative may pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. This legal action seeks compensation for the loss of the deceased's income, services, companionship, and guidance, as well as for the survivor's emotional anguish and the deceased's expenses and pain and suffering before death.
The exact amount and types of compensation you may have the right to receive after a Nevada motor vehicle accident can depend on several factors, including the severity of your injuries, the strength of the evidence supporting your claim, the skill of your lawyer, and the financial ability of the liable parties to pay (using liability insurance or liquid assets).
Contact an experienced Nevada car accident lawyer today to learn about the compensation you could claim for injuries you or a loved one suffered in a crash.
Accidents Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists in Nevada
Under an at-fault auto insurance system like Nevada's, all road users face a risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. An uninsured driver is someone who breaks the law by failing to carry the required minimum liability coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, recent studies estimate that roughly 10.4 percent of Nevada drivers are uninsured.
An underinsured driver is someone who carries insurance but not enough to cover the victims' losses in a crash the driver causes. It is difficult to estimate the number of underinsured drivers in Nevada because crash damages vary widely. Considering the ever-rising cost of medical care and the relatively low minimum coverage requirements in Nevada, a crash may involve an at-fault driver who lacks sufficient liability coverage to pay the full amount of your losses.
Getting hurt in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured at-fault motorist in Nevada can create complications when seeking compensation for your damages. But this does not mean you cannot obtain the money you need to pay your expenses and rebuild after a crash. You may have other options for covering your losses.
One such option is uninsured/underinsured (UI) auto insurance coverage, an optional form of insurance that covers any shortfall in the at-fault driver's ability to pay for your losses in a crash.
Nevada statutes do not require drivers to carry UI coverage, but many choose to do so as a backstop against the risk of getting hurt in an accident with an insufficiently insured driver. Obtaining payment under your UI coverage may require proving the other driver's liability and your damages to your insurer.
Another option you may have after getting into an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver is to hold other parties liable for your losses. Multiple parties other than the driver could owe you money for the harm you suffered in a Nevada accident. The more of them you can identify, the better your chances of receiving compensation in a crash.
The Role of a Skilled Lawyer in a Nevada Accident Case
A car accident lawyer's primary job is to secure compensation for injured crash victims. A lawyer handles all aspects of obtaining payment on their client's behalf. By putting your case in the hands of an experienced lawyer, you can focus on healing from your trauma and rebuilding your life.
Every motor vehicle accident in Nevada is unique. The steps a lawyer takes to secure money for an injured accident victim vary depending on the circumstances. Lawyers tailor their services to suit their clients' needs.
For that reason, a skilled accident attorney possesses the know-how and resources to perform a wide range of services.
These might include:
- Investigating the accident and gathering the necessary evidence to establish the other driver's (or someone else's) fault.
- Evaluating all insurance policies and coverages that might cover your losses.
- Calculating the full extent of your damages, including medical costs, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.
- Handling all interactions with insurance companies on your behalf.
- Explaining your rights and options and answering any questions you may have.
- Filing lawsuits and insurance claims on your behalf to enforce your right to compensation.
- Negotiating settlements on your behalf and advising you whether to accept or reject settlement offers.
- Taking your case to court, if necessary, to secure a judgment or jury award.
- Following up to ensure you receive all money that at-fault parties and insurance companies owe you.
Hiring a lawyer to handle a claim under Nevada's no-fault system is affordable. Most law firms offer free consultations for crash victims to learn about their rights and options. You can meet with a legal professional and explore the avenues available to you without any risk or cost.
Accident injury lawyers in Nevada also represent their clients on contingency. That means they do not require upfront payments from clients like you. Instead, they collect a fee from any money they recover on your behalf. This means you only pay them if they win your case. You may, however, have to pay an opponent's court fees and costs in the event of a loss.
Contact an Experienced Nevada Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Nevada is an at-fault state for auto insurance and accident liability purposes. That means that the party who wrongfully causes a crash owes damages to its injured victims.
But payment is neither automatic nor guaranteed. Seeking compensation in an at-fault state requires proving someone's liability for your losses. And that is a job you should leave to an experienced motor vehicle accident injury lawyer.
If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in a Nevada traffic accident, contact a skilled Las Vegas personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation to learn about your rights.