There is a high likelihood that you will be involved in a car accident in your lifetime. You are likely to feel shocked and shaken when this time comes, but you need to remain calm. And because accidents are sudden, it will take a moment to understand and evaluate the events that led to the crash. The first question to cross your mind is, “what happened?”. By the time you step out of your car, you will still be in shock, and the trauma can last for days.
Nevertheless, the action you take will play a critical role in determining whether you will obtain damages or not. What you do after an accident decides your action and reaction and will help you in the future when filing a claim. When possible, you should record all the events at the stage of the wreck because these will be pivotal in your lawsuit.
Nevada is a fault state allowing you to pursue compensation if you are not responsible for the wreck. Your main concern after the accident is recovery, but you should also protect and preserve your right to compensation. In this article, we at Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm discuss the steps you should take after the accident to preserve your legal and financial rights in the future.
What to Know About Nevada Car Accidents
Nevada adopts a fault doctrine, meaning whenever you are involved in an accident that is not your fault, you can claim financial damages from the negligent party’s insurer. Claims are often filed against the driver’s insurance company or any other party responsible for the crash, depending on the case’s circumstances. For example, when your auto accident stems from brake failure, you will go after the auto shop’s insurer for compensation. Alternatively, you could sue the parts maker if they are responsible. Nonetheless, before taking action, you must discuss this with your car accident attorney.
Please note that insurance companies do not exceed the policy’s limit when paying compensation. The minimum insurance coverage a driver should purchase is $15,000 per individual for bodily harm or death, 30,000 US dollars per accident for injury or demise, and 10,000 US dollars for property damage. Many drivers will not exceed this limit when purchasing coverage to avoid hefty premiums. However, you can still file an auto accident suit against the driver responsible for the crash to cover the remaining damages.
Also, Nevada adopts the contributory negligence system when many parties are to blame for a car crash. It means that even if you contributed to the accident, you are eligible for compensation when your fault is less than fifty percent. With fault below 50%, you can claim reimbursement, but your percentage of fault will reduce the amount.
Your financial damages will be significantly reduced if the at-fault party's insurer manages to place much of the blame on you. Therefore, you are encouraged to work with the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm to protect your rights and avoid unfair responsibility, which could significantly reduce your damages.
Steps to Take After an Auto Accident
When you are involved in a car crash, and you are the victim, you should take several actions that will benefit the legal and monetary elements later on after the crash. Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm recommends that:
1) You Stop the Car and Evaluate the Situation at the Wreck Scene
After an auto crash in Las Vegas, you should find a safe location to stop and evaluate the situation at the accident scene. You should not stop in an unsafe area where you will block traffic or risk the lives of other motorists. You can move to the side of the road, and if you cannot drive the vehicle, turn on the hazard light and wait for the authorities.
However, not blocking traffic should not be a reason to flee the accident scene because this could result in hit-and-run criminal charges whose conviction could result in up to twenty years in prison. You should find a safe location close to the auto accident scene but in no way should you leave the scene before the authorities arrive. As per the law, you should stop at the crash scene when somebody is injured or loses a life. Nonetheless, this should not mean you leave the crash location in a minor accident because the harm caused or property damage can be severe.
You should stop immediately after the crash, and the only time you can move is when you require emergency medical attention or want to move to a safe location to keep other motorists safe.
Once you have stopped and are in a safe location, you should check if you have sustained any injuries. Even if you are not the person to blame for the crash, you should step out of the car and check on others. NRS 484E.030 requires that you render help to those injured, including requesting emergency medical personnel at the accident scene. Besides, you can take the injured to the hospital when it is safe. However, as you render reasonable assistance, be very careful when removing victims from the vehicle wreckage because you can cause more injury, sometimes leading to death.
Therefore, when people are trapped in car wreckage, you should call 911 for professionals with the right equipment and skills to conduct a safe rescue without causing more harm. When phoning 911, make sure you describe your location, the car accident’s nature, type of injuries sustained, victims trapped in vehicle wreckages, and other dangers on the scene. This is the best way to offer assistance in an accident scene.
Once you have done this, you should exchange information with other drivers involved in the crash. Exchanging info involves:
- Collecting contact information and names of the relevant parties
- Recording vehicle identification numbers
- Collecting insurance info of other motorists
- Jotting down the car number plate
As you collect this info, be sure to share your information with other drivers.
2) Report the Car Crash
The most favorable fashion to report an auto accident is by dialing 911. Alternatively, you can call the nearest law enforcement agency. The officers can take time to arrive at the accident stage, but once they do, they will lock down the accident stage and commence investigations. From these investigations, the police issue an accident report, meaning reaching out to the authorities after a car crash is critical in your compensation.
The police will examine the rational grounds for the crash and any traffic violations that have occurred. When police make any inquiries about the collision, ensure you cooperate and share your perspective of the car collision because if you do not, the liable party will share theirs, implicating you for the accident. Under NRS 197.190, it is a misdemeanor offense to lie to the police. When convicted for the crime, you risk paying monetary court fines of no more than $2,000 or as much as twelve months in jail. Therefore, ensure you share accurate information but avoid admitting fault. Besides, the officers will cross-examine witnesses at the accident site and take pictures. After the investigations, they will prepare a vehicle collision report giving their opinion on the accident.
A police report is critical in your car accident suit because most of the information you need to prove fault by the other party will be contained in this document. Once the report is ready, you can request a duplicate to share with the attorney you hire for the case.
The local law enforcement agency will not always arrive at the accident stage, especially if it is a minor accident with no injuries or fatalities and not blocking traffic. Even when the officers fail to show up, once you exchange information with the responsible parties and collect all the evidence required in a lawsuit, you should go to the nearest police station to record a statement about the accident.
Also, you can report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but only when someone has been injured or killed. Again, you can inform the DMV of the crash when a property of at least $750 has been destroyed.
In particular instances, the police or other law enforcement agencies at the crash scene send a copy of their report to the DMV after concluding investigations, eliminating the need to notify the agency of the crash. Even when the officers fail to send a copy of the report to the DMV, you should do it because failure to report an accident will result in the suspension of your driving privileges.
Your insurer is the other party you should notify about the accident. You are not at fault, so you should not be afraid of reporting the crash. Insurers require that you register any accident to them, although many people opt not to notify them in accidents involving stationary objects or those with no injuries or fatalities. It is advisable to report the crash within twenty-four hours for the insurance firm to commence its investigations. If you wait long without reporting, your claim will be denied or reduced.
Additionally, the company will increase your premiums, cancel your indemnity policy, or fail to reintroduce your contract. Therefore, when unsure of the timeline for reporting an accident, you should contact your insurance agent for the information.
Your insurer looks for all reasons to deny the claim because they are in business to make profits. So, ensure you work with one of our attorneys at the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm. When you employ an attorney, they will deal with the insurance firm on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected.
Apart from your insurer, you can claim financial benefits from the other driver’s insurance company. However, most insurers will cover your damages first and then go after the third-party’s insurer for compensation in what is known as subrogation.
3) Gather Evidence
Your claim depends on the evidence gathered. Therefore, when you can collect evidence at the site, do so to strengthen your lawsuit. When gathering evidence, start by taking accurate pictures of the vehicle collision scene to capture different angles and eyewitnesses. For example, you can begin by capturing images of the accident site and then the cars involved in the accident and the damage caused. Also, if debris from the crash is spread all over, you should capture its images. Expert construction experts will use these images of car damage to determine what caused the accident and the party to take responsibility.
Similarly, you should record a video of the crash scene if possible. A video will give the jury or judge handling your case a clear and accurate perspective of the events that took place. If you are lucky to have a dash camera, you can recover the video and preserve it as evidence to show what transpired leading to the accident.
Additionally, you should capture images of the physical injuries you have sustained from the crush. Even if they are minor cuts and contusions, a picture will draw a vivid picture of the harm in the jury's minds. Also, by the time the lawsuit is settled in court, the physical injuries will heal, leaving you with only the medical report as evidence for the harm suffered. Once you have taken these pictures, you can store soft copies in cloud storage to preserve the evidence. Further, you must include a timestamp to enhance the legitimacy of the video and photo evidence.
Once you have video and photo records of the crash, the next step in gathering evidence is to cross-examine witnesses. Eyewitnesses have seen events you or the dashboard cam missed them, making their statement crucial in your vehicle accident lawsuit. After you have interviewed these witnesses and recorded information, the next step is to gather their contact info to make it easy to track them down during the lawsuit or for further interviews with your accident attorney. Again, ensure these individuals jot down their statements and sign the report, and include the date of the testimony.
Elements like road conditions, traffic direction, and visibility can help prove the cause of an accident and the party to blame. Therefore, you can draw a diagram of the crash scene to communicate your evidence to the insurer or court.
Moreover, you can give your version of the events leading to the crash, including what you say and the conduct of other motorists. If you were an occupant in one of the vehicles involved in the crash, you could divulge what your driver was doing before the accident.
The evidence collection process will not end at the wreck scene. You need to show the losses you have incurred in various life aspects after the accident. Therefore, you should document the loss of wages, disability and describe the pain and anguish you undergo every day stemming from the vehicle wreck.
Furthermore, you want to keep proper records of the expenses incurred seeking treatment and prescription, transport costs to and from the hospital, and repair or replacement expenses. When you keep track of these costs, it will be easy to demonstrate that they exist, increasing the chances of compensation.
4) Go for Medical Examination
When you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you should go for medical treatment right away. You can do it yourself, request help, or follow the paramedics when they react to the crash.
The panic or shock you are in after the accident can conceal injury symptoms causing you to think that you are not injured. These masked wounds will then be noticeable later, with some even fatal. Apart from risking your life, delayed symptoms can interfere with your claim, primarily when they manifest days after the accident. It will be challenging to link them to the accident, which could lead the insurance firm or court to deny your claim.
Therefore, ensure you go for a medical examination and explain to the doctor what you feel and whether it is related to the mishap. The medical expert will scrutinize these manifestations and sometimes recommend imaging tests to rule out internal injuries.
Treatment for car accident injuries is costly because often, the injuries are catastrophic. Therefore, you must be worried about footing the bill, especially when you have not started seeking financial compensation. Luckily, when you partner with the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we can arrange a medical lien where you sign a contract with medical providers to settle the medical bill after the reimbursement of your lawsuit.
Also, you can pay for treatment using your medical insurance coverage, although you will pay back the company once you receive compensation.
And when the medical expenses are included in your insurance policy, you can rely on the coverage to foot medical bills. You will not need to refund the insurer after obtaining a settlement.
Note that some injuries take years to heal while others are permanent. Therefore, you must document these expenses and estimate future costs to obtain compensation enough to cover your treatment, current, and future.
5) Retain the Services of an Auto Accident Attorney
When you are not responsible for an accident, you should seek compensation. Employing an attorney with experience in car accident suits is the first step in the right direction. These attorneys will gather evidence, cross-examine witnesses and file a lawsuit on your behalf, allowing you adequate time to focus on healing. Further, an attorney will negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster, eliminating worrying about an unfair settlement.
Retaining the services of a car accident attorney from the start ensures a streamlined process and a favorable outcome. Once you report the accident to your insurer, they will commence investigations immediately. Therefore, you also need to contact an attorney right away to conduct an independent inquiry on your behalf. After the cross-examination, it will be easy to determine the party at fault and the right amount you should claim as compensation.
Sadly, Las Vegas attorneys are not equal. Besides, the hiring process is a complex one meaning you need to take your time before hiring and compare several law firms before picking the best for the job. You can start by creating a list of local attorneys through recommendations. After, you can contact these attorneys with questions you need to be addressed. Their responses to these queries should guide your hiring. The bottom line is finding an attorney who makes you comfortable and has a reputation in handling car accident claims.
6) Filing a Vehicle Accident Claim
Once you have an attorney by your side, they will explain the claim process and the action you must take to obtain maximum compensation.
You are discouraged from waiting too long to file a claim because the statute of limitations for car accident suits in Nevada is twenty-four months. When this duration lapses without action, you lose the constitutional right to claim compensation. The clock starts ticking from the date of the car collision. Nonetheless, when filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one who lost their life after a car accident, the timeline for filing a claim is also two years, although the clock starts ticking from the time of death.
Car accident lawsuits are about timing. When you file a claim early, you will obtain maximum benefits because the memories will still be fresh in your mind strengthening the evidence. Also, waiting too long before taking action means you will miss out on your right to seek reimbursement. An attorney should guide you on when it is most appropriate to file a claim, but it will depend on the form of injuries sustained, the level of the harm, and healing progress.
Mistakes you Should Elude After an Auto Accident
Now that you know what is required of you, it is wise to understand the common blunders you should dodge to protect your right to compensation. The mistakes are:
- Destroying or failure to collect evidence
- Admitting fault
- Delaying a medical examination
- Failure to write down your pain and suffering
- Agreeing to the first settlement offer by the insurer
Hiring an accident attorney is the best way to avoid these mistakes and ensure you obtain value for your lawsuit.
Find an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney Near Me
Considering the at-fault system adopted in Las Vegas, a lot is at stake after a car collision. Being proactive by reporting the auto accident, collecting and conserving evidence, seeking medical examination, and employing an attorney is the best way to preserve your rights.
Hiring an attorney will make all the difference in the case, and this is why we at the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm are here to help if you have suffered injuries in a car crash. Call us today at 702-576-0010 for a free consultation.