Bodily injury liability insurance covers physical injuries to other people when you are at fault in causing a car accident. Nevada law requires all vehicle owners to carry bodily injury coverage with policy limits of at least:
- $25,000.00 for the injury or death of one person,
- $50,000.00 per accident injuring or killing two or more persons, and
- $20,000 for property damage sustained by others.
Bodily injury liability insurance does not cover the insured driver’s own injuries, regardless of who is at fault for an accident (many drivers carry Med-pay to cover their own injuries). Nor does it cover damage to vehicles or other property damage (“collision coverage”).
Below our Nevada personal injury lawyers discuss:
- 1. What is bodily injury liability insurance in Nevada?
- 2. Whom does it protect?
- 3. What expenses does it cover?
- 4. Will it pay for my medical bills after a car accident?
- 5. How much bodily injury insurance must I carry in Nevada?
- 6. What if I don’t have enough insurance?
- 7. What if more than one person is injured?
- 8. What if I am only partially at fault?
Bodily injury liability insurance is part of a standard auto insurance policy. It covers injuries to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians in the event of an accident when the insured is at fault.
Bodily liability limits are represented by two numbers: The first number represents the limit for damages to any one person injured in an accident. The second number represents the maximum amount that will be paid to all people injured in any one accident (sometimes referred to as the “per occurrence” limit).
So, for instance, if you have a 25/50 bodily injury liability coverage limit, your insurer will pay a maximum of $25,000 to any one person and a maximum of $50,000 in total to all people injured in the accident.
Often you will see a third number in a listing of Nevada auto insurance (for instance 15/30/20). The third number represents property damage liability insurance. This property damage coverage applies to damages you cause to another person’s car or other property.
Nevada car insurance coverage for bodily liability protects at-fault drivers from claims brought by:
- Other drivers,
- Passengers in other vehicles,
- Passengers in your own vehicle, and
- Pedestrians (if you are at fault for an accident involving a pedestrian in Nevada).
Bodily injury insurance applies to all damages arising from physical injuries to people, not just to getting your medical bills paid after a Nevada accident. Such damages can include:
- Doctor and/or chiropractor medical payments,
- Physical or occupational therapy medical expenses,
- Hospital and urgent care bills,
- X-rays, MRIs and other tests,
- Equipment such as crutches or a wheelchair,
- Ambulance charges,
- Short- or long-term nursing care,
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning capacity / future earnings,
- Pain and suffering,
- Other non-economic damages (such as scarring and loss of limbs), and
- Funeral expenses (in cases of wrongful death).
Bodily injury liability insurance does not cover your own medical bills. For that, you will need to purchase optional Med-Pay or Uninsured Motorist Coverage or have another source of medical bills payment (such as personal health insurance or Medicare).
But when you have bodily injury liability insurance, you are protected (at least up to your policy limits) for amounts an injured party might otherwise sue you for.
Another advantage to bodily injury liability insurance is that your insurer will defend the claim on your behalf if it decides you were not at fault or it wants to fight the case.
Keep in mind that the insurance company will always act in its own best interests, even if it means raising your rates. Therefore it is usually to your advantage to consult with your own attorney as soon as you are involved in an accident in which anyone is injured.
Under Nevada’s insurance requirements, Nevada drivers must carry a minimum of 25/50 bodily injury liability insurance.
In many cases, however, these limits are not high enough to cover all of the other party’s damages from an accident.
If damages to the other party exceed these limits, the insured driver is personally on the hook to pay the balance.
Example: Veronica runs a red light and gets into an accident with a motorcycle in Las Vegas. The driver of the bike suffers a fractured wrist and misses a month of work. The driver claims compensatory damages totaling $35,000. However, Veronica has only the minimum 25/50 bodily injury liability insurance required under Nevada law. Veronica’s insurer pays out the limit of $25,000 and the driver sues Veronica for the other $10,000.
An insurance agent can help drivers find the best rates. Remember that drivers must drive with proof of insurance. And if they have an accident, their insurance premiums and deductible may increase.
If you do not have enough insurance to cover the other party’s damages, the other party or parties can sue you personally for the excess. It may be a good idea, therefore, to purchase higher policy limits if you can afford them – particularly if you have assets you wish to protect.
Example: Pete has the 25/50 bodily injury insurance Nevada law requires. One night, while driving on I-215 in Las Vegas, he checks his text messages. Distracted, he doesn’t notice that the cars in front of him have stopped. He rear-ends Rhonda’s car, causing her a serious spinal injury.
Rhonda claims compensatory damages of $45,000. However, Pete’s insurance will only cover $25,000 of this amount. Rhonda can sue Pete personally for the extra $20,000, if she thinks she can recover. Otherwise, she may be able to get some of her bills paid by her own medical insurer or, if she has under-insured motorist coverage, by her own automobile insurer.
If you injure more than one person and have insufficient auto insurance coverage, your bodily liability coverage will be divided up proportionately based on the other parties’ total damages.
Example: Carrie has Nevada’s minimum bodily injury liability limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. She is at fault for a car accident on the Las Vegas Beltway in which three people – David, Esther and Frank — are injured as follows:
- David – $50,000;
- Esther – $20,000; and
- Frank – $10,000.
David has suffered 60% of the total damages in the accident. However, 60% of $50,000 is $30,000, which is higher than Carrie’s per person limit of $25,000. So David will only recover $25,000.
Both Esther and Frank have damages below the $25,000 per person limit. But there is only another $25,000 left from the “per occurrence” limit of $50,000 per accident. Esther’s and Frank’s total damages of $30,000 exceed this amount.
However, 75% of the additional damages is attributable to Esther’s injuries, with the other 25% attributable to Frank. So Esther will receive 75% of the remaining $25,000, or $18,750. Frank will receive 25% of $25,000, or $6,250. David, Esther and Frank will then have to decide whether it is worth suing Carrie for the balance of their damages.
Nevada law allows victims who are partially to blame for a car accident to recover damages if they were no more than 50% at fault.
For more information, please see our article on Nevada’s comparative negligence (shared fault) law.
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See our related article on uninsured motorist insurance and underinsured motorist insurance (UM / UIM) in Nevada.