People injured by automobiles, motorcycles, or bikes while walking across the road or on a sidewalk in Las Vegas can file a “pedestrian knockdown” lawsuit in Nevada. The drivers, their employers, and perhaps the vehicles’ manufacturers may be liable to pay for the victims’ losses.
Pedestrian knockdowns are more common in Nevada than in most other states.1
- From January to June of 2019, Nevada’s fatality rate per 100,000 people was 1.36 – the seventh highest in the United States.2
- In the first two months of 2020, Nevada saw 19 pedestrian deaths, up from 15 deaths during the same time period in 2019.3
- In the first month of 2020, Clark County had eight pedestrian deaths. That is twice the amount of deaths reported during the same time in 2019.4
- Fatal pedestrian crashes comprise 24.4% of Nevada’s traffic fatalities. In Nevada, 63% of pedestrian fatalities happen where there is not a crosswalk. And most fatal pedestrian crashes occurred between 6pm and midnight.5
- Half of all pedestrian fatalities in Las Vegas involve SUVs or pickups.6
Even if both the driver and pedestrian were at fault for the crash, the pedestrian should still be entitled to damages: The only condition is that the driver was no less to blame than the pedestrian.
Below our Nevada personal injury attorneys discuss the following about Las Vegas pedestrian accidents:
- 1. What can pedestrians sue for if they get injured by a car or bike?
- 2. What compensation can injured victims obtain?
- 3. Whom can pedestrians sue if they get injured by a car or bike?
- 4. What if the driver ran into the pedestrian on purpose?
- 5. What if the pedestrian was partially at fault?
- 6. When can an injured pedestrian sue?
- 7. What are common causes and injuries?
Also see our related article on Las Vegas bus stop accidents.
Pedestrians who get hit by motorists, motorcyclists, or bicyclists may have grounds to sue the at-fault parties for various “causes of action,” including:
- negligence per se
- respondeat superior
- strict products liability
- wrongful death
The victim bringing the lawsuit is called the “plaintiff,” and the parties being sued are called the “defendants.”
There are four elements a plaintiff would need to prove in order to prevail on a negligence claim in Nevada:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
- The defendant breached this duty;
- This breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
- This injury resulted in damages.7
The following scenario illustrates how driver negligence can lead to a pedestrian knockdown:
Example: Helen is walking down a sidewalk by Flamingo Road in east Las Vegas. Jim is motorcycling down the road when he looks down to scratch an itch on his leg and accidentally swerves off the road, colliding into Helen. The car accident causes Helen severe lacerations and requires medical attention.
Here, Helen would probably win in a negligence lawsuit against Jim: Like all motorists, Jim had a duty of care to operate his motorcycle safely. Joe breached this duty by swerving and causing a “pedestrian hit.” And Helen’s lacerations resulted in medical bills and pain and suffering.
1.2. Negligence per se
There are five elements a plaintiff would need to prove in order to prevail on a negligence per se claim in Nevada:
- The defendant had the duty to follow a certain law;
- The plaintiff is one of the people that law was designed to protect;
- The defendant violated this law;
- The defendant’s violation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- The injuries resulted in damages.8
The following scenario illustrates how a driver’s negligence per se can lead to a pedestrian knockdown:
Example: A tourist is lawfully crossing Las Vegas Boulevard at a marked crosswalk near Allegiant Stadium. Joe is driving his sedan while texting, so he does not notice the red light. Joe runs the red light and hits the tourist with his motor vehicle. The collision on the Las Vegas Strip causes the tourist to sustain a fractured hip.
Here, the tourist would probably win in a negligence per se lawsuit against Joe: Like all drivers, Joe had a duty of care to operate his vehicle in accordance with traffic laws. Joe breached this duty by committing the Nevada crime of texting while driving (NRS 484B.165). Tom’s preoccupation with his phone caused him to ignore the traffic signs and hit the tourist. And the tourist’s broken bone resulted in severe pain and suffering and exorbitant hospital bills.
1.3. Respondeat Superior
When the drivers or bikers were on duty for their job at the time of the crash, their employers may be liable under the Nevada legal theory of respondeat superior. There are four elements a plaintiff would need to prove in order to prevail on a respondeat superior claim in Nevada:
- The driver is employed by the defendant at the time of the accident;
- The driver was acting in the scope of his/her employment at the time the accident occurred;
- The driver’s actions proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- The injuries resulted in damages.9
The following scenario illustrates how respondeat superior may work in Nevada:
Example: Jenny is driving a company car through the Las Vegas valley from Henderson to Summerlin to visit a client. While daydreaming she swerves and crashes into a pedestrian on Charleston. The collision causes the pedestrian to sustain serious contusions.
Here, the pedestrian would probably win both a negligence claim against Jenny and also a respondeat superior claim against Jenny’s employer. Since Jenny was on duty at the time of the crash, her employer could be “vicariously liable” for any accidents Jenny caused.
1.4. Strict Products Liability
If the vehicle or bike in the knockdown may have malfunctioned, the plaintiff could sue the manufacturer for strict products liability in Nevada. The plaintiff would need to prove:
- The vehicle was defective as the result of a design, manufacturing, or warning defect;
- The defect existed when the product left the possession of the defendant (the vehicle manufacturer);
- The vehicle was used in a manner which was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant;
- The defect was a cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- The injuries resulted in damages.10
The following scenario illustrates how a manufacturer’s defect can cause a pedestrian knockdown:
Example: Tommy’s Chevy pickup has a damaged brake system as a result of a mistake made while it was on the assembly line. While driving through North Las Vegas, Tommy tries to break at a crosswalk but ends up careering into Bill. Bill breaks his spine and is airlifted to the hospital in critical condition and with paraplegia.
Here, Bill would probably win a strict products liability lawsuit against Chevrolet since it was responsible for the broken brake system.
1.5. Wrongful death
If a knockdown causes a pedestrian to die, that victim’s family or estate may then file a Nevada wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. The plaintiffs would need to prove the following four things:
- The victim died;
- This death was caused by the defendant’s wrongful act or negligence;
- The plaintiff is an heir or personal representative of the victim; and
- The plaintiff suffered damages for monetary injury as a result of the death11
Example: A truck driver loses control of the wheel and runs over Stacy in a parking lot, killing her. Since Stacy was her family’s breadwinner, her family sues the truck driver and his employer for loss of support and funeral expenses.
Here, Stacy’s family would probably win the wrongful death case since the truck killed Stacy, and her death caused financial losses to her family.
If a defendant in a pedestrian knockdown case is found liable, the court can award the injured party Nevada compensatory damages for:
- doctor’s bills,
- lost wages,
- lost earning potential,
- pain and suffering,
- wrongful death damages (if the pedestrian passed away) and/or
- punitive damages
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 police officer 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.12
Typically, the victims’ attorney negotiates with the driver’s insurance company defense attorneys in attempt to avoid a trial.
Potential defendants in Nevada pedestrian accident cases may include:
- The driver of the car or bike, if he/she was being negligent;
- The employer of the driver, if the driver was on duty at the time of the crash;
- The city or county where the accident took place, if the local government was negligent in maintaining signage, traffic signals, and safe roads;
- The car manufacturer, if the vehicle malfunctioned or was defective; and
- Anyone who recently possessed the vehicle (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 as well as compensatory damages. In general, the Nevada damages cap on punitive damages is:
- $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.13
Under Nevada’s comparative negligence law, the pedestrian may still be able to recover damages as long as the court finds the defendant was at least 50% 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.14
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, eyewitnesses, and police reports (such as by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – LVMPD) to try to piece together their allegations and defenses.
Pedestrians usually have a two (2) year statute of limitations after they discover their injury to bring a personal injury claim in Nevada. In most cases, pedestrians realize they are injured right after the accident. In any case, victims should consult with an accident attorney as soon as possible.15
Pedestrians get injured in Nevada for various driver-related reasons, including:
- Distracted driving;
- Reckless driving (NRS 484B.653);
- Speeding (NRS 484B.600), especially in school zones;
- Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks (NRS 484B.283);
- Backing up without looking first – learn more about the improper backing (NRS 484B.113);
- Passing a school bus; and
- Knowingly driving with defective steering or brakes
When a car hits a person — especially at high speeds — the results can be horrific and even deadly. Children, the elderly, and the disabled are the most vulnerable. Typical pedestrian knockdown injuries might include:
If the car ignites, the victim may be burned as well. (For accidents in Las Vegas, NV the Clark County Coroner’s Office may examine the body.)
See our related article about crosswalk laws and lawsuits.
For additional help…
Were you injured while out walking in Nevada? Then call our Las Vegas pedestrian knockdown attorneys for a free consultation on how we fight to get our clients the largest financial settlements possible. In most cases, our law firm 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); Mick Akers, “Nevada among the most dangerous states for pedestrians“, Las Vegas Review-Journal (November 4, 2019).
- Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State 2019 Preliminary Data, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) (2020).
- Amy Abdelsayed, By the Numbers: A look at deadly crashes in Nevada for Feb. 2020: NHP: Pedestrian deaths up 20% compared to 2019, KTNV (March 9, 2020); see also Jeniffer Solis, Traffic records report rise in sidewalk pedestrian fatalities, Nevada Current (July 14, 2020).
- Mathew Seeman, 24 fatalities reported on Nevada roads to start 2020, KSNV (Feb 7, 2020).
- NEVADA Traffic Safety Crash Facts, ZeroFatalitiesNV.com.
- Heavy vehicles, higher speed limits lead to increased pedestrian deaths in Southern Nevada, Las Vegas Sun (Aug. 17, 2020)
- See, e.g. Scialabba v. Brandise Const. Co.,112 Nev. 965, 921 P.2d 928 (1996).
- Atkinson v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., 98 P.3d 678, 680 (Nev. 2004).
- NRS 41.130; NRS 41.745; Wood v. Safeway, Inc., 121 Nev. 724, 120 P.3d 1026 (2005).
- Valentine v. Pioneer Chlor Alkali, 109 Nev. 1107, 864 P.2d 295, 297 (1993).
- NRS 41.085.
- NRS 41.035.
- NRS 42.005.
- NRS 41.141.
- NRS 11.190