“Bodily Injury Liability” Insurance in a Nevada Car Accident Case

Bodily injury liability insurance covers physical injuries to other people when the insured driver is at fault for a car accident or other vehicle accident. In Nevada, all drivers must legally carry bodily injury liability insurance with limits of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.

Bodily injury liability insurance does not cover the insured driver's own injuries, regardless of who is at fault for an accident. Nor does it cover damage to vehicles or other property.

To help you better understand Nevada bodily injury liability insurance, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss, below:

two drivers after collision with injured passenger on the ground

1. What is “bodily injury” liability insurance?

Bodily injury liability insurance is a type of motor vehicle liability insurance. It covers injuries to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians when the insured is at fault for an accident.

Bodily liability limits are represented by two numbers.

The first number represents the limit for damages to any one person injured in an accident. The second number represents the maximum amount that will be paid to all people injured in any one accident (sometimes referred to as the “per occurrence” limit).

So, for instance, if you have 15/30 bodily injury liability coverage, your insurance will pay a maximum of $15,000 to any one person and a maximum of $30,000 in total to all people injured in the accident.

Often you will see a third number in a listing of liability insurance (for instance 15/30/15). The third number represents property liability insurance. It applies to damages you cause to another person's car or other property.

2. What does bodily liability cover in Nevada?

Bodily injury liability insurance covers damages arising out of physical injuries to innocent people when you are fault for an accident. It protects you from claims brought by:

  • Other drivers,
  • Passengers in other vehicles,
  • Passengers in your own vehicle, and
  • Pedestrians (if you are at fault for an accident involving a pedestrian in Nevada).

3. What expenses does bodily injury liability insurance cover?

Bodily injury insurance applies to all damages arising from physical injuries to people, not just to getting your medical bills paid after a Nevada accident. Such damages can include:

young woman in shopping mall with cast on her arm

4. Will bodily injury liability insurance pay my medical bills after a car accident?

Bodily injury liability insurance does not cover your own medical bills. For that you will need to purchase optional Med-Pay or Uninsured Motorist Coverage, or have another source of medical bills payment (such as personal health insurance or Medicare).

However, when you have bodily injury liability insurance you are protected (at least up to your policy limits) for amounts an injured party might otherwise sue you for.

Another advantage to bodily injury liability insurance is that your insurer will defend the claim on your behalf if it decides you were not at fault or it wants to fight the case.

Keep in mind, however, that the insurance company will always act in its own best interests, even if it means raising your rates. It is usually to your advantage, therefore, to consult with your own attorney as soon as you are involved in an accident in which anyone is injured.

5. How much bodily injury insurance must I legally carry in Nevada?

Under Nevada law, drivers must carry a minimum of 15/30 bodily injury liability insurance.

In many cases, however, these limits are not high enough to cover all of the other party's damages from an accident.

If damages to the other party exceed these limits, the insured driver is personally on the hook to pay the balance.

Example: Veronica runs a red light and gets into an accident with a motorcycle in Las Vegas. The driver of the bike suffers a fractured wrist and misses a month of work. The driver claims compensatory damages totaling $35,000. However, Veronica has only the minimum 15/30 bodily injury liability insurance required under Nevada law. Veronica's insurer pays out the limit of $15,000 and the driver sues Veronica for the other $20,000.

6. What if I don't have enough bodily injury liability insurance?

If you don't have enough insurance to cover the other party's damages, the other party or parties can sue you personally for the excess. It may be a good idea, therefore, to purchase higher policy limits if you can afford them, particularly if you have assets you wish to protect.

Example: Pete has the 15/30 bodily injury insurance Nevada law requires. One night, while driving on I-215 in Las Vegas, he checks his text messages. Distracted, he doesn't notice that the cars in front of him have stopped. He rear-ends Rhonda's car, causing her a serious spinal injury.
Rhonda claims compensatory damages of $45,000. However, Pete's insurance will only cover $15,000 of this amount. Rhonda can sue Pete personally for the extra $30,000, if she thinks she can recover. Otherwise, she may be able to get some of her bills paid by her own medical insurer or, if she has under-insured motorist coverage, by her own automobile insurer.

7. How is bodily liability insurance divided when more than one person is injured?

If you injure more than one person when you are at fault for an accident and you don't have enough insurance, your bodily liability coverage will be divided up proportionately, based on the other parties' total damages.

Example: Carrie has Nevada's minimum bodily injury liability limits of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. She is at fault for a car accident on the Las Vegas Beltway in which three people – David, Esther and Frank -- are injured as follows:
  • David - $30,000;
  • Esther - $15,000; and
  • Frank - $5,000.
David has suffered 60% of the total damages in the accident. However, 60% of $30,000 is $18,000, which is higher than Carrie's per person limit of $15,000. So David will only recover $15,000.
Both Esther and Frank have damages below the $15,000 per person limit. But there is only another $15,000 left from the “per occurrence” limit of $30,000 per accident. Esther's and Frank's total damages of $20,000 exceed this amount.
However, 75% of the additional damages is attributable to Esther's injuries, with the other 25% attributable to Frank. So Esther will receive 75% of the remaining $15,000, or $11,250. Frank will receive 25% of $15,000, or $3,750. David, Esther and Frank will then have to decide whether it is worth suing Carrie for the balance of their damages.

8. What if I am only partially at fault for an accident?

Under Nevada law, a party who is partially to blame for a car accident can still recover damages as long as they were not more than 50% at fault.

For more information, please see our article on Nevada's comparative negligence (shared fault) law.

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