No, Nevada is a "fault state" for car accidents. This means the at-fault party -- and his/her insurance company -- is obligated to pay for the injuries and damages that result from an automobile collision.
How to recover money damages following a car accident in Nevada
People in a car accident can either:
- file a claim with their own insurance company;
- file a claim with the at-fault party's insurance company; or
- sue the at-fault party in a personal injury lawsuit
It is highly recommended that people in a car accident hire a personal injury attorney to bring suit (or at least to engage in aggressive pre-litigation settlement talks in an effort to avoid a lawsuit). This typically results in the highest payout for the victim.
Experienced Nevada car accident attorneys know what to say -- and what not to say -- to maximize the odds of a large settlement. An insurance company's sole focus is to pay out as little as possible, whether the recipient is at fault or not. A personal injury attorney's job is to hold these insurance companies to task to help ensure their clients are getting every cent available under the law.
Determining fault following a car accident in Nevada
When insurance companies determine who was at fault for a collision, there is a lot of potential evidence they look to. This includes:
- statements by the drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
- police reports
- photographs of the property damage
- video surveillance footage
- smartphone footage
- accident reconstruction expert opinions (in rare cases)
- weather reports
- visiting the site of the accident to inspect the state of the roads
- the latest reports from the mechanics who last serviced the vehicles involved in the crash
People in car accidents are strongly advised against speaking to insurance adjusters -- these adjusters know what to say to coax blameworthy statements out of unsuspecting accident victims. People in an accident should rely on their personal injury attorneys to do all the talking. What accident victims unwittingly utter in the traumatic aftermath of an accident can come back to haunt them during settlement talks or in court.
When more than one party is at fault for an accident
Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state ("shared fault"). This means that parties who are at least 50% responsible for the crash are liable to the victims, even if the victims share some of the blame. For example, crash victims who were speeding or not wearing a seat belt may be partially to blame because their actions made the injuries worse.
Should a car crash case go to trial, defendants who are only partially at fault are required to pay less money than defendants who were 100% to blame. For example, a defendant that was only 50% at fault should pay only 50% of the damages.
How fault influences insurance premiums in Nevada
People who are less than 50% at fault for their car accidents should not have their insurance premiums increased under NRS 687B.385. But people found to be at least 50% at fault are susceptible to getting their premiums increased. (State, Div. of Ins. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 Nev. 290, 995 P.2d 482 (2000).)