Rear-end accident in Las Vegas, Nevada? Assigning fault & filing a lawsuit

Rear-end collisions are among the most common automobile crashes in Nevada. The cause is often a tailgating rear driver, but the lead driver can also be negligent in Nevada by stopping short or abruptly changing lanes. 

People injured in rear-end car accident in Nevada may be eligible for a massive settlement to cover their:

Even if the victim was partly to blame for the accident, he/she may be still be entitled to money damages as long as the defendant was at least 50% at fault.

In this article, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss rear-end collisions lawsuits, including how to determine fault under Nevada's comparative negligence laws and potential damages:

tailgating accident
Tailgating is a common cause of crashes in Nevada and throughout the U.S.

1. Who is to blame in a rear-end crash in Nevada

The rear driver is not always to blame in rear-end automobile collisions. In many cases, the front driver's negligence caused -- or at least contributed to -- the accident. 

1.1. When the front driver is at fault

A lead driver in a rear-end collision could be at fault -- or partly at fault -- if he/she either:

  • cut off the rear driver with insufficient signaling and space;
  • changed lanes with insufficient warning;
  • stepped on the brakes instead of the gas by accident;
  • knowingly drove a car with defective brakes;
  • had the car in reverse by accident;
  • had broken tail lights;
  • failed to turn on the hazard lights if the car stalled;
  • stopped without warning and for no good reason; and/or
  • failed to move his/her stalling car out of the road in a timely manner

1.2. When the rear driver is at fault

Certainly, the majority of rear-end fender benders are the fault of the back driver. Typical reasons for these accidents include:

Of all these causes, tailgating is the most common. Under NRS 484B.127, rear drivers are required to keep a prudent distance between themselves and the vehicle in front. Otherwise, the rear driver may not have adequate time and space to defuse the situation if the front vehicle stops short.

1.3. Third parties who may be at fault

Sometimes parties other than the drivers involved share the blame in causing a rear-end crash. Other potential causes of these crashes include:

  • mechanical defects, which could be the fault of the vehicle's manufacturer;
  • foggy or rainy weather, which is no one's fault unless the drivers were not driving cautiously; and/or
  • poorly maintained roads, which could be the city or county's fault;

And if multiple vehicles were involved in the collision, the situation becomes far more complicated. Perhaps only one driver (the "trigger") caused the pile-up, or perhaps many of them share some blame.

1.4. Common evidence that proves fault

When car collision victims file a negligence lawsuit, their lawyers typically rely on such evidence as:

  • eyewitness testimony and smartphone video;
  • police reports;
  • video surveillance (especially from cameras mounted on traffic lights);
  • testimony from accident reconstruction experts (who are skilled in decoding skid marks, debris, and dents);
  • medical records; and/or
  • testimony from medical experts, who are skilled in determining what caused a particular injury

If a car crash case goes to trial, the plaintiff has the burden to prove the defendant is negligent "by a preponderance of the evidence." This means that it is more likely than not that the defendant is at fault. This standard is far lower than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard used in criminal cases.

2. Comparative negligence in Nevada rear-end crash cases

tailgating accident
Sometimes both drivers in a crash are to blame.

Some car crash cases are clearly the fault of one driver. But many result from both the lead and rear drivers being negligent.

In Nevada, a driver who partially caused a rear-end collision may still be able to sue and recover damages: The only condition is that the other driver be at least 50% at fault. Any driver that is more than 50% at fault cannot recover any damages.1

Example: Joyce is driving her car when she realizes she is about to miss her turn. She changes lanes really quickly without using a turn signal. This causes Julia -- who happened to be speeding -- to plow into Joyce. Julia sues Joyce for negligence.

At trial, the jury determines that Joyce was 60% at fault for changing lanes quickly and without a turn signal, and Julia was 40% at fault for speeding. Since Joyce was at least half to blame, Julia can recover damages from Joyce.

Although Julia in the above example will get money, it is less than what she would recover had she not been speeding. Courts reduce plaintiffs' financial rewards by the amount they were to blame.

3. What damages you can get following an automobile collision in Nevada

People harmed in a rear-end accident may be eligible to recover Nevada compensatory damages to pay for their

  • medical bills (including rehab),
  • property damage (body shop work),
  • lost wages,
  • loss of future earnings, and/or
  • pain and suffering

In cases that go to trial -- which is rare since most cases settle -- the court can also order that the defendant pay punitive damages in Nevada:

The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for reckless or malicious behavior. Punitive damages also serve as a warning to other drivers not to behave like the defendant. And punitive damages are often much higher than compensatory damages.

4. Rear-end collision injuries

Approximately one-third of car accidents are rear-end crashes. And each year, these accidents injure about a half a million people.2 Common injuries that stem from rear-end crashes include:

Anyone who has been in a motor vehicle accident should seek medical help as soon as possible. These medical records can serve as crucial evidence when bringing a legal claim against the culprit.

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Call our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation today.

Call a Nevada personal injury attorney...

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation at 702-333-3673. Our Las Vegas accident attorneys want to fight for all the money available to cover your expenses, including pain and suffering.

We understand that car accidents are traumatic, and that you may be tempted just to accept an insurance adjuster's first offer so you can get on with your life. But we want you to get the maximum possible settlement, not the minimum. And we will take care of all the negotiations and paperwork so you can concentrate on healing and living your life. We take no money unless we win your case, so you have nothing to lose.

The statute of limitations in Nevada personal injury cases can be as short as two (2) years, so be sure to contact us right away to start working on your case.

Also see our related article on Nevada bicycle safety laws.

Injured in California? See our article on California rear-end collision lawsuits.


Legal References

  1. NRS 41.141; Heric v. Christensen, 73 Nev. 6, 306 P.2d 769 (1957)(Lexis overview: "At the trial in the individual's suit against the driver to recover for damages sustained in a rear-end collision, the driver testified that the individual stopped his car abruptly, without warning and, although the driver applied his brakes, his pickup struck the rear-end of the individual's car. The individual testified that he was stopped at a light when the pickup struck his car. The trial court refused to give an instruction requested by the individual to the effect that if the driver was not operating his pickup in such a manner that he could stop it within a reasonable distance before striking object in front of it, or if it was not equipped with brakes that complied with a statute, and such failure was the proximate cause of the accident, the jury should find for the individual. On appeal, the court held that there was substantial support for the jury's verdict for the driver. The court noted that the jury apparently rejected the individual's version of the accident. Because the driver pleaded contributory negligence and the requested instruction would have denied that defense out of hand, the court held that the trial court properly refused to give it.")
 

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