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What's the NRS section on negligence?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Sep 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

There is no NRS section that defines "negligence" in Nevada civil cases (though NRS 193.018 does define it in criminal cases). Instead, Nevada's definition of negligence comes from the "common law" as spelled out in various Nevada Supreme Court judicial opinions. (One example is Turner v. Mandalay Sports Entm't, LLC, 124 Nev. 213, 180 P.3d 1172 (2008).)

However, Nevada's comparative negligence rule is defined in NRS 41.141. And NRS 41A.015 defines "professional negligence" in Nevada medical malpractice lawsuits.

Negligence definition in Nevada

Negligence is a "tort," which is the legal term for a wrong. People who have been victims of another's negligence can sue that person (or company) for the injuries that resulted from that negligence.

In order to prove that the wrongdoer ("defendant") committed negligence at a Nevada trial, the victim ("plaintiff") would need to prove the following four elements "by a preponderance of the evidence":

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
  2. The defendant breached that duty of care;
  3. This breach of duty caused the plaintiff's injuries; and
  4. These injuries resulted in money damages

Negligence is the most common claim in civil lawsuits stemming from car crashes, slip-and-falls, dog bites, and other accidents. In the vast majority of these cases, the parties reach a financial settlement out of court.

Comparative negligence in Nevada

Sometimes the victim him/herself is partly to blame for his/her injuries. Under NRS 41.141, Nevada law still holds defendants liable for their negligence as long as they are at least 50% to blame. In short, victims do not have to blameless in order to recover money damages.

When these cases go to trial, it is up to the judge or jury to determine each party's percentage of fault. And if the plaintiff was partly to blame for his/her injuries, the court will decrease his/her money damages proportionately:

Example: Ilene gets rear-ended on the I-215 by Jack, who was texting while driving. Irene severely injures her back. At trial, the jury determines Ilene was 50% at fault for her back injuries because she failed to wear a seat belt. Since Jack was only 50% at fault, he is obligated to pay Ilene only 50% of her damages.

Had Jack in the above example been found to be 49% at fault, then Jack would not owe Ilene anything because he was less than half at fault. Had Jack in the above example been found to be 100% at fault, then he would owe Ilene 100% of her damages.

Professional negligence in Nevada

NRS 41A.015 defines professional negligence as "the failure of a provider of health care, in rendering services, to use the reasonable care, skill or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care."

Therefore, patients who bring medical malpractice cases against their doctors have the burden to prove that their medical services fell below the standard of care that similar doctors would provide in similar circumstances.

Note that NRS 41A.035 caps non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases at $350,000.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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