You can still win money in a Nevada personal injury lawsuit as long as you were no more than 50% to blame for your injuries. Here are five key things to know about Nevada’s modified comparative negligence law:
- The money damages you receive in a negligence lawsuit will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
- If you were more than 50% at fault for the accident, then you are completely barred from recovering damages.
- Juries in negligence trials reach two verdicts: one for your total damages, and one for the percentage of negligence attributable to you.
- Other terms for Nevada’s modified comparative negligence standard are comparative fault, shared fault, and modified comparative fault.
- The modified comparative negligence rule does not apply to strict liability claims or intentional tort lawsuits (such as assault).
To help you better understand Nevada’s law on shared fault, our Nevada personal injury attorneys explain the following:
- 1. Does Nevada follow the “comparative negligence” rule?
- 2. What is Nevada’s “modified comparative negligence” rule?
- 3. How does a jury apportion blame in a Nevada personal injury lawsuit?
- 4. What if more than two people are at fault?
- 5. Which cases do not apply comparative negligence?
- 6. How do I prove fault?
- 7. What is negligence in Nevada?
- 8. Does Nevada follow the “contributory negligence” rule?
Yes, but with a twist. Under a pure shared fault standard, blame can be apportioned in any combination, as long as the total adds up to 100%.1
For instance, let’s say that in the above example, it was Joe that had run the red light and Bill that had been speeding. Under a “pure” shared fault approach, Joe would be 80% responsible for the accident. His $1 million in damages would be reduced by 80%. But Bill would still have to pay him $200,000 even though Joe was largely responsible for the accident.
While this may seem fair, in some cases this could lead to grossly unfair results. For instance, Bill — who was only 20% at fault — would still have to pay the full costs of defending the lawsuit. He would bear all of his attorney’s fees and costs.
To remedy this, the state of Nevada adopted a “modified comparative negligence” standard in 1973: You can only recover for a personal injury if you are 50% or less at fault.
As set forth in Section 41.141 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), comparative fault is “modified” in that it allows proportional recovery only when you are 50% or less responsible for an accident or injury. This principle is often referred to as “modified comparative negligence.”
Specifically, NRS 41.141 provides:
In any action to recover damages for death or injury to persons or for injury to property in which comparative negligence is asserted as a defense, the comparative negligence of the plaintiff or plaintiff’s decedent does not bar a recovery if that negligence was not greater than the negligence or gross negligence of the parties to the action against whom recovery is sought.
In other words, if the jury determines that the defendant or defendants together are 50% responsible for your injuries, then you will recover something. Though if you are more than 50% at fault, you are entitled to nothing, no matter how serious the injury.2
Modified Comparative Fault
Pure Comparative Fault
|Plaintiff’s Recovery||The plaintiff can recover damages as long as their fault is below 50% or 51% depending on the state.||The plaintiff can recover some portion of damages even if they are mostly at fault.||The plaintiff cannot recover any damages if they are even slightly at fault.|
|Fairness||Largely fair by preventing mostly at-fault plaintiffs from recovering damages.||Can have unfair outcomes by allowing mostly at-fault plaintiffs to recover damages.||Can be unfair by denying recovery to plaintiffs with even a tiny degree of fault.|
|Jurisdictions||50% states: AR, CO, GA, ID, KA, ME, NE, ND, TN, UT |
51% states: CT, DE, HI, IL, IN, IO, MA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NH, NJ, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TX, VT, WV, WI, WY.
|AL, AZ, CA, FL, KY, LA, MS, MO, NM, NY, RI, WA.||AL, DC, MD, NC, VA|
If the jury determines that you are entitled to recover, the jury will return two verdicts:
- A regular verdict indicating your total damages (without taking into account your fault); and
- A special verdict indicating the percentage of negligence attributable to each party.3
As long as your shared fault is 50% or less, the judge will then reduce your damage award by the percentage of the accident attributable to you.
Example: Carrie and Delilah are involved in a car accident that causes $100,000 in property damage to Carrie. Carrie sues Delilah. The jury decides that Carrie’s negligence contributed to the accident and that she is 25% at fault while Delia is 75% at fault.
Under Nevada’s shared fault standard, Carrie will receive a judgment of $75,000 (75% of the total amount) from Delilah. However, let’s say that instead, the jury finds that it was Carrie who was 75% responsible for the accident. Under Nevada law, Carrie recovers nothing because she is more than 50% at fault.
This is, of course, a simplified example of how the modified comparative fault standard operates under state law. There are variables and complexities in each case that may affect your ability to recover for injuries suffered in an accident.
Our Nevada personal injury lawyers can go over the facts of your case and help you determine whether it makes sense to proceed with a claim for your losses.
See our related article, Is Nevada a “no-fault state” when it comes to car accidents?
The modified comparative negligence rule still applies, but the calculations become a little more complex. The party who is most to blame may have their recovery offset by what they owe to the other parties.
Nevada’s comparative negligence laws are inapplicable in the following five types of civil lawsuits:
- strict liability
- intentional torts (such as battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress)
- the emission, disposal or spillage of a toxic or hazardous substance
- the concerted acts of the defendants
- an injury to any person or property resulting from a product which is manufactured, distributed, sold or used in Nevada.
So in these types of cases, you may pursue 100% of your damages from any of the defendants until you recover for all of your losses. Then if one of the defendants paid more than their degree of fault, that defendant can seek the difference from their co-defendants later.4
Learn more about joint and several liability in Nevada.
Common evidence that can help prove fault in a personal injury case for negligence includes:
- surveillance video of the accident
- eyewitness testimony
- medical records
- expert testimony by doctors, forensic experts, accident reconstruction experts, etc.
- texts, voicemails, emails, and other recorded communications that indicate time/place/intent
- GPS records
- maintenance records
The more evidence you compile, the better chance you have of reaching a favorable settlement without having to go to trial.
Under Nevada personal injury law, negligence occurs when a person breaches their duty of care towards you – and this breach results in you sustaining injuries and damages.
When determining whether a defendant breached their duty of care, a jury would consider whether the defendant acted as a reasonably prudent person would in that situation. If the jury finds that the defendant did fall below the standard of care – and that this failure was the proximate cause of your injuries – then the defendant is liable to you.
Note that defendants can be found negligent even though they never meant to harm you. Intent is irrelevant in negligence cases. What matters is the defendants’ actions (or omissions), and whether they caused your harm.5
Not any longer. In the past, many states — including Nevada — followed a “contributory negligence” standard. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if you were even slightly at fault for an accident, you would not be entitled to any recovery whatsoever.
This approach came to be viewed as draconian and unfair to many accident victims in negligence cases. As a result, most states (including Nevada) now apportion blame under a system known as “comparative negligence.”
If you are partly to blame for an accident, the total compensation you would otherwise be entitled to is reduced by the percentage of the injury you are responsible for.6
Example: Joe is driving 45 mph in a 35 mph residential zone. The light is green in his direction. As he crosses the intersection, Bill runs the red light at 35 mph and hits Joe, leaving Joe with a catastrophic injury under Nevada law. At trial, both sides call expert witnesses to prove causation by the other party.
A jury determines that Joe’s injuries are worth $1,000,000 in damages. However, the jurors also determine that because Joe was speeding, he is 20% to blame for the accident even though he is the injured party. As a result, Joe’s award is reduced by 20%, and the amount of damages he recovers in the injury claim is $800,000 (80% of $1,000,000).
Contact us for help…
Call our Las Vegas, NV personal injury law firm for legal advice on your claim. We fight for the maximum payout to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
The statute of limitations in Nevada accident cases can be as short as two (2) years, so contact us right away to start working on your personal injury case.
- Piroozi v. Eighth Judicial District Court, (2015) 131 Nev. 1004, 363 P.3d 1168.
- NRS 41.141.
- See Perez v. Las Vegas Medical Ctr., (Nevada Supreme Court, 1991) 107 Nev. 1, 805 P.2d 589. See also Cox. v. Copperfield (2022) 507 P.3d 1216; Detwiler v. Eighth Judicial District Court (2021) 486 P.3d 710.
- Joynt v. California Hotel & Casino, (1992) 108 Nev. 539, 835 P.2d 799.