After a Nevada traffic accident, if you've been injured or had your vehicle damaged, you may want to consider your options for getting compensation. In this article, we'll discuss a few Nevada laws that could have a big impact on any car accident claim you decide to make, and we'll look at the legal obligations of drivers when it comes to reporting an accident to law enforcement in Nevada.
A "statute of limitations" is a state law that sets a strict time limit on your right to bring a lawsuit to court.
(Note: The statute of limitations does not apply to a car insurance claim. Any insurance company, whether your own or the other driver's, is going to require you to make a claim -- or at least give the insurer notice of an incident that could trigger a claim -- "promptly" or "within a reasonable time" after the accident. That usually means a matter of days, or a few weeks at most.)
In Nevada, there are a few different statutes of limitations that could come into play after a vehicle accident.
First, Nevada Revised Statutes section 11.190 says: "an action to recover damages for injuries to a person or for the death of a person caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another" must be filed within two years.
That means, if anyone was injured as a result of the accident -- including a driver, vehicle passenger, bicyclist, motorcycle rider, or pedestrian -- and they intend to bring a lawsuit against the person who caused the crash, they must do so within two years of the accident date.
The same statute of limitations applies if the car accident caused someone’s death, and their family or a representative wants to bring a wrongful death claim. The only difference is that for these cases,the two-year "clock" starts running on the day of the accident victim’s death, which could be later than the date of the accident itself.
For vehicle or other property damage caused by a car accident in Nevada, any lawsuit must be filed within three years of the accident, according to Nevada Revised Statutes section 11.190.
Whichever deadline applies, if you try to file your lawsuit after the applicable time limit has passed, you can count on the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) pointing out that discrepancy to the court as part of a motion to dismiss. The court will almost certainly grant the motion (unless some rare exception applies to extend the filing deadline), and that will be the end of your case. That's why it’s crucial to understand how the statute of applies to your situation.
Even if you’re confident that your case will be resolved through the car insurance claim process, you'll want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit in case you need to -- if for no other reason than that you’ll have more leverage during settlement talks. If you think you might be running up against the filing deadline, you may want to contact an experienced Nevada car accident attorney.
Suppose you're seriously injured in a Nevada car accident, and you take your case to court. The jury, after hearing all the evidence, decides that the other driver was responsible for the accident -- but that you too bear part of the blame. What happens next? How does this verdict affect your right to compensation?
Nevada is a "modified comparative negligence" state. Under Nevada Revised Statutes section 41.141, this means that you can still recover damages in a car-accident-related lawsuit, but your award will be reduced according to your share of negligence, as long as that share was not greater than that of other parties.
For instance, suppose that the jury determines that your injuries, pain and suffering, and other losses total $100,000. However, the jury also thinks that you were 10 percent responsible for the crash. In that situation, the total amount of your damages, $100,000, is reduced by 10 percent, or $10,000, leaving you with a total award of $90,000.
Keep in mind that if your level of fault exceeds that of the other party (or parties), you'll be barred from recovering anything at all under Nevada law.
The comparative negligence rule binds Nevada judges and juries (if your car accident case makes it to court), and it will also guide a car insurance claims adjuster when he or she is evaluating your case. Also keep in mind that since there is no empirical means of allocating fault, any assignment of liability will ultimately come down to your ability to negotiate with a claims adjuster or to persuade a judge or jury.
In Nevada, the driver of a vehicle that was involved in a crash must report it if no police officer came to the car accident scene and the incident resulted in:
The driver must report the accident "forthwith" -- immediately, in other words -- to the nearest office of the Nevada Highway Patrol, or another law enforcement authority.
Willful failure to report an accident in Nevada may result in driver's license suspension for up to one year.
For more information on the rules for reporting a car accident in Nevada, check out Nevada Revised Statutes sections 484E.030, 484E.070, and 484E.080.
In almost every Nevada car accident scenario, insurance coverage is sure to play a key role, so it's important to understand the state's liability auto insurance requirements and other coverage rules that could affect your car accident claim. Get the details on Nevada's car insurance rules.