Fault: How Is It Determined In a Car Accident Case?

fault car accident

Any Las Vegas car accident attorney knows that being involved in a traffic accident can be one of the most traumatic experiences for anyone, but who’s at fault for the crash? Car collisions result in severe injuries which require hospitalization, treatment, and rehabilitation. These are expensive and they are made worse by the fact that the injured person no longer receives their wages while they are recovering. Thus, they have to file a personal injury claim in order to recover these economic losses.

But what if I was partly at fault for my accident?” This is one of the biggest worries our clients have when they come to their first appointment with a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas at our law firm. Since this is such an important issue for accident injuries, we will explain how fault is determined in our state and what you have to do if you are partially at fault for your car crash.

Nevada Is a Fault State for Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury legislation has two concepts:

  • Fault – when insurance compensation depends on proving who is responsible for the accident; the at-fault party’s insurance pays the victim’s damages
  • No-fault – when insurance compensation does not depend on the degree of fault.

Nevada is a fault state that applies the comparative negligence doctrine. This means that an accident victim has the legal right to seek damages from the other party (or parties) involved only if their proportion of fault is no greater than the combined fault of all the other parties.

How exactly does this work? Can fault be calculated as a precise number? A Las Vegas car accident attorney understands that no car accident is simple and straightforward. However, there are circumstances that lead to a greater proportion of the fault being assigned to one party, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substances
  • Tailgating and displaying other signs of aggressive driving.

Also, fault is not taken into account if the car accident was caused by a defective vehicle. In this case, the principles of product liability are applicable and the manufacturer or distributor of the faulty car part is fully liable. Thus, fault is not calculated, and the injured person has the right to recover damages irrespective of their proportion of fault.

Elements That Determine Fault in a Car Accident in Las Vegas

Now, how do a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas and the insurance adjuster representing the other party determine who’s wrong? How does one establish that one driver was 20% the cause of the crash and the other driver was 80% responsible?

Here are some of the most important elements taken into consideration during the analysis:

1. Speed

As we explained above, the driving speed at the moment of the accident is one of the key factors that make the balance tip in favor of one driver or another. If you were driving only slightly above the maximum speed limit, you will likely not be assigned a greater proportion of fault if the other driver was driving with 20 mph above the speed limit.

2. Driving Under the Influence

A Las Vegas car accident attorney will tell you that Nevada law prohibits anyone from driving if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is:

  • 0.08% for non-commercial drivers over the age of 21
  • 0.04% for commercial drivers
  • 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21.

Also, driving under the influence is against the law, even if the driver’s BAC is below these limits. Moreover, Nevada is an “implied consent” state, meaning that a driver cannot refuse to submit to a BAC test if they are pulled over by the police.

In conclusion, if one of the drivers involved in a car accident is driving under influence, their proportion of fault is automatically deemed to be greater than the other driver’s.

Car accident in Las Vegas

3. The Presence of Traffic Signals at or Near the Accident Scene

Traffic signals exist to create order in the movement of vehicles on public roads, especially at intersections. They also warn drivers of speed limits, dangerous curves ahead, railway crossings, etc.

Not following the indications of traffic signals represents a traffic violation. At the same time, it is treated as a sign of negligence, which contributed to a car crash. Thus, whenever traffic signals were present at or near the accident scene, the driver who failed to stop, yield, or slow down will be considered more at fault for the crash than the other driver.

4. Drivers’ Actions

Distracted driving is possibly the most frequent cause of car accidents. And, among all forms of distraction, texting and driving is the most common issue. Any personal injury attorney in Las Vegas knows that even a moment of not paying attention to the road may cause a driver to lose control of their car and hit another vehicle.

Other types of driver actions that contribute to a car accident are:

  • Drowsy driving (more common among truck drivers)
  • Reckless driving
  • Aggressive driving.

5. Road Conditions

In some cases, a car accident can be caused by a pothole or debris on the road. In this case, the party with the higher proportion of fault for the accident may be the local authority in charge of maintaining public roads and highways.

6. Weather Condition

When visibility is reduced due to fog or the road is slippery, drivers should be even more careful than usual. First of all, they should reduce their speed, allowing them to brake or swerve to avoid a crash on time.

If one of the drivers involved in an accident did not exercise proper care in poor weather conditions, then they may be found more than 50% at fault for the accident.

7. The Driver’s Admission

After a car crash, you are most likely in pain and shock. In these circumstances, you may say things that you are not fully aware of. For this reason, any Las Vegas car accident attorney advises you to say nothing about the crash to the other driver or to an insurance adjuster.

Do not even say “sorry,” as it will be interpreted as an admission of fault. You should defer all discussions for the moment when an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas is representing you to negotiate your claim.

Why Hire a Car Accident Law Firm to Prove You Deserve Compensation?

Proving fault is not a simple case of adding and subtracting numbers. Insurance adjusters represent the best interests of their company, not yours. They will try to artificially increase your proportion of fault, using tactics that you do not know how to counter with arguments.

Do not risk getting a lowball amount that will not cover your damages or, worse, getting your claim dismissed. Reach out to us as soon as possible after your accident and schedule a free case review with one of our personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas by calling (702) 434-8282!