Pedestrians knockdowns...where a car or bike crashes into a pedestrian...are more common in Nevada than in most other states.1 If the pedestrian can show that the driver was negligent, the injured pedestrian may be able to file a lawsuit and recover money for:
- doctor's bills,
- lost wages,
- lost earning potential,
- pain and suffering,
- wrongful death and/or
- punitive damages (if the wrongdoer maliciously caused the accident)
Even if both the driver and pedestrian were at fault for the knockdown accident, the pedestrian should still be entitled to damages under Nevada's comparative negligence law as long as the driver was no less to blame than the pedestrian.
In this article, our Nevada personal injury attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about pedestrian knockdown in Nevada, including possible claims, statutes of limitations, and financial rewards.
- 1. What can pedestrians do if they get injured by a car in Nevada?
- 2. What money can pedestrians get if they are hit by a car in Nevada?
- 3. Who can pedestrians sue if they get injured by a car or bike in Nevada?
- 4. What if the driver ran into the pedestrian on purpose in Nevada?
- 5. What if the pedestrian was partially at fault for getting hit in Nevada?
- 6. When can an injured pedestrian sue in Nevada?
Also see our related article on Las Vegas bus stop accidents.
Pedestrians who get hit by motorists (including motorcyclists and bicyclists) can sue the driver for negligence. There are four elements the pedestrian would need to prove in order to prevail on a negligence claim in Nevada:
- The defendant(s) owed the plaintiff (victim) a duty of care;
- The defendant(s) breached this duty;
- This breach caused the plaintiff's injury; and
- This injury resulted in damages.2
The following common scenario in Nevada illustrates how driver negligence can lead to a pedestrian knockdown:
Example: A tourist is lawfully crossing the Las Vegas Strip. Joe is driving while texting, so he does not notice the red light. Joe runs the red light and hits the tourist. The collision causes the tourist to sustain severe lacerations and a fractured hip.
Here, the tourist would probably win in a negligence lawsuit against Joe: Like all drivers, Joe had a duty of care to operate his vehicle safely and in accordance with traffic laws. Joe breached this duty by texting while driving. Tom's preoccupation with his phone caused him to ignore the traffic signs and hit the tourist. And the tourist's injuries resulted in severe pain and suffering and exorbitant hospital bills.
1.1. Pedestrian knockdown causes
Pedestrians get injured in Nevada for various driver-related reasons, including:
- Distracted driving (as discussed above);
- Reckless driving;
- Exceeding speed limits (especially in school zones);
- Failing to yield right of way at intersections and crosswalks;
- Backing up without looking first;
- Passing a school bus; and
- Defective steering or breaks
Note that if the accident involved a malfunctioning car, the injured pedestrian might have a cause of action against the car manufacturer for strict liability as well as negligence. In addition, the manufacturer may be liable for breach of implied warranties and failure to warn.3
1.2. Pedestrian knockdown injuries
When a car hits a pedestrian...especially at high speeds...the results can be horrific and even deadly. Children, the elderly and the disabled are the most vulnerable.
If a driver is found liable for causing a pedestrian knockdown, the court can award the injured party "compensatory damages" for:
- hospital and doctor's bills,
- lost wages (while the pedestrian is too injured to work),
- lost earning capacity (if injury impedes the pedestrian from being able to work in the future),
- pain and suffering, and/or
- wrongful death
Pain and suffering is capped at $350,000 in Nevada. And if the driver was a government employee acting in the course of his/her job (such as a cop on patrol), then the employee is liable for only $100,000 in medical bills and lost wages. Otherwise, there are usually no caps to compensatory damages.4
Potential defendants in Nevada pedestrian accident cases include:
- The driver of the car or bike, if he/she was being negligent;
- The city or county where the accident took place, if they were negligent in maintaining signage, traffic signals and safe roads;
- The car manufacturer, if it malfunctioned or was defective; and
- Anyone who recently possessed the car (such as a valet driver), if he/she was negligent in keeping it functional
In addition to facing serious criminal charges, drivers who purposely plow into pedestrians would be on the hook for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. In general, Nevada caps punitive damages at:
- $300,000 (if the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff is less than $100,000), or
- Three times (3) the compensatory damages if the amount of compensatory damages is $100,000 or more.
Note that there are no punitive damages caps if the defendant is a manufacturer, distributor or seller of a defective product, or an insurer acting in bad faith.5
The pedestrian may still be able to recover damages as long as the court finds the pedestrian was less than 51% at fault. But the damages will be less than if the pedestrian was not to blame at all...
If a pedestrian is 50% at fault for getting hit by a car because he/she was jaywalking, then the pedestrian will receive 50% less damages that he/she would otherwise. And if the pedestrian is 51% or more at fault, then the pedestrian receives nothing.6
Note that in many knockdown cases, the pedestrian is partially at fault. Perhaps the pedestrian was texting, or drunk, or simply looking up and admiring the Vegas skyline. Lawyers on both sides will search for surveillance video, phone records, and eye-witnesses to try to piece together their allegations and defenses.
Injured pedestrians usually have two (2) years after the accident to bring a personal injury suit in Nevada.
Call a Nevada personal injury attorney...
Were you injured while out walking in Nevada? Then call our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation on how we fight to get our clients the largest financial settlements possible. In most cases, we can settle a matter without a trial. And you pay absolutely nothing unless we win. for cases in California, please see our page on filing a pedestrian knockdown injury lawsuit under California law.
- Nevada Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety; see also Christina Caron and Niraj Chokshi, "Pedestrian Deaths in U.S. Approach Highest Number in Nearly 30 Years, Study Shows," New York Times (March 7, 2019).
- See, e.g. Scialabba v. Brandise Const. Co.,112 Nev. 965, 921 P.2d 928 (1996).
- Valentine v. Pioneer Chlor Alkali, 109 Nev. 1107, 864 P.2d 295, 297 (1993).
- NRS 41.035.
- NRS 42.005.
- NRS 41.141.