Victims of Nevada drunk driving accidents may feel powerless, but there are various rights they may employ for their benefit, including:
- The right to file a police report,
- The right to file a lawsuit for violating Nevada negligence laws,
- The right to file an uninsured or under-insured motorist claim in Nevada to seek compensation,
- The right to seek victim restitution fund money, and
- The right to share the story with police and prosecutors
1. The right to file a police report for DUI
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime in Nevada whether or not someone gets harmed. DUI accident victims who wish to see the driver prosecuted may always file a police report in the jurisdiction in which the accident happened.
There are three ways that people in Las Vegas may file a police report -- also known as an Incident Crime Report (ICR) -- with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD):
- Over the phone at (702) 828-3111;
- On the internet at LVMPD's File A Report Online website; or
- In person at either:
- an LVMPD area command (see locations here), or
- the LVMPD Records and Fingerprint Bureau, which is at 400 S. Martin Luther King Blvd, Building C. The hours are from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. on Saturday through Sunday. Phone 702-828-3271 to check the most current hours of operation and location information.
It is highly recommended that victims have an attorney help them write an ICR. The victim wants to be careful not to admit any liability while being as detailed as possible for the police to conduct an investigation.
Note that it costs nothing to file an ICR.
2. The right to file a negligence lawsuit for DUI
People injured by a drunk driver in Nevada can bring a civil lawsuit against the driver for negligence. The four "elements" that the victim ("plaintiff) has the burden to prove are:
- The defendant -- the intoxicated driver -- had a legal duty of care to the plaintiff to drive carefully;
- The defendant breached that duty by driving while impaired;
- The plaintiff's injuries were legally caused by this breach of duty; and
- The injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff
If the case proceeds to trial and the plaintiff prevails, the judge may award compensatory damages to cover the plaintiff's costs as well as punitive damages to punish the defendant for his/her behavior. Note that the majority of Nevada car accident lawsuits settle out of court.
3. The right to file an uninsured or under-insured motorist claim
Sometimes at-fault drivers have no car insurance or minimal car insurance that cannot cover the victim's costs. In these cases, the victim may file a claim with his/her own insurance company for compensation through uninsured motorist (UM) coverage or under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage.
UM and UIM claims are not always easy to win. Insurance companies always try to pay out the bare minimum, even to their own customers.
4. The right to seek victim restitution fund money
Drunk driving victims may be eligible for up to $35,000 from Nevada's Victim of Crime Program (VOCP). VOCP money does not cover:
- Expenses for lost or stolen property or cash
- Property damage
- Any expense not directly related to the crime
- Any expense payable by insurance or any other source
- Damages for pain and suffering
Victims must apply for the assistance within a year of the accident.
5. The right to share the story with police and prosecutors
Many crime victims want more than just money -- they also want to share their story. Police and prosecutors are a ready audience for DUI victims, who are often key witnesses in their mission to bring DUI defendants to justice.