Based on data from the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety (NOTS), 2021 was a challenging year for motorists, passengers, and pedestrians across the state. There were 385 traffic-related fatalities logged, reflecting a 15.62% increase from 2020. While the number of deaths increased, NOTS also reported an 8.54% decline in unrestrained passenger deaths from 2020 to 2021.
In 2022, however, the number of fatal accidents continued to climb. According to the Nevada State Police, four people died on January 10 in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas. Nevada Highway Safety officers cite speeding and impaired driving, especially truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel, as the major causes of wrong-way accidents in the state. Understanding the state's car accident laws can help folks recover compensation for their injuries and protect themselves on the road.
Legal Duties of Individuals Involved in Car Accidents in Nevada
Individuals who are involved in car accidents in Nevada have several legal obligations following a collision to protect their rights. The state’s car accident law requires car accident victims and at-fault parties to move out of traffic, exchange contact and insurance information, and help anyone who needs medical attention. If the crash involves an unattended vehicle or other property, drivers must give the owner their names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers, either in person or by leaving a note.
Calling the Police after the Accident
Under Nevada law, individuals involved in a crash are obligated to notify the police using the emergency contact number 911 or the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) immediately after an accident. They can also call 311 or the NHP at *647. Police will not attend the scene if an accident causes no injuries and less than $750 in property damage.
Reporting the Collision to the DMV
If there was $750 or more in damage to any vehicle or property or anyone was injured or killed in a car accident, those involved must submit a Nevada DMV Traffic Accident Report (SR-1) within 10 days of the date of the incident. The attachments required to validate the SR-1 report include a copy of the driver's insurance for the vehicle involved on the date of the crash, an estimate of repairs or a statement of total loss, and a doctor's statement of injury for each person injured in the vehicle if the crash resulted in bodily injury or death. Minor fender-benders do not require reporting to the agency.
Speeding Laws in Nevada
Between 2016 and 2020, a total of 496 speeding-related fatalities and 436 deadly speeding-related crashes occurred on urban roadways in Nevada. The highest number of fatal speeding-related crashes was recorded in Clark County. The most fatal speeding-related crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Almost half of the logged incidents were at night, in both well-lit and poorly-lit areas. Sixty-seven percent of fatal speeding-related crashes happened from Thursday to Sunday, and the months of May, July, and September saw the highest number of fatal crashes.
For these reasons, the state does not tolerate speeding motorists, who could endanger themselves and others. Nevada has an absolute speed limit law that leaves no wiggle room. Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is generally 65 mph on urban freeways and 30 mph in residential areas. Additionally, the speed limit in school zones and areas with heavy pedestrian traffic is typically 25 mph.
The DMV's driver improvement program employs a demerit point system in which all traffic violations are assigned a point value. If a driver receives 12 or more points in any 12-month period, his or her license will be suspended. Attending a traffic safety school can result in the removal of up to three demerit points. However, the conviction record remains on one's driving record.
New Car Seat Laws in Nevada in 2022
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 71–82% reduction in the risk of injury to children in accidents with the use of car seats. In an effort to reduce or prevent traffic accidents, the state of Nevada has implemented new road rules in 2022. A new car seat law that went into effect in January requires children under the age of six who are shorter than or equal to 57 inches to ride in a car seat. The new law also requires children under the age of two to ride in rear-facing car seats in the backseat of a vehicle unless they exceed the manufacturer's height and weight limits. Rear-facing car seats reduce the impact on the child and allow the car seat to absorb impact on itself rather than the child.
Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rejects reusing car seats involved in moderate to severe collisions. The agency allows the use of a secondhand car seat if it does not have missing parts, comes with its instruction manual, and has not been recalled. A child-restraint system must be approved by the United States Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards outlined in 49 C.F.R. Part 571. It must be appropriate for the child's size and weight and must be installed within and securely attached to the motor vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer's installation and attachment instructions or in another manner approved by the NHTSA.
Nevada Traffic Laws on Using Cellular Phones while Driving
A total of 53 fatalities and 52 fatal distracted driving crashes occurred in Nevada between 2016 and 2020. Fifty-one percent of fatal distracted driving accidents happened on the state's urban roadways. Hence, laws are implemented across the state to help reduce the incidence of distracted driving.
It is against the law to manually use a wireless handheld device while driving in Nevada. This includes texting, talking on the phone, and accessing the internet. However, motorists may use cell phones and other mobile devices in hands-free mode. Emergency medical technicians, volunteer or paid firefighters, and law enforcement officers or individuals designated by a sheriff, the chief of police, or the Director of the Department of Public Safety are exempt from this regulation.
Laws on Driving under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
There were 687 fatalities and 618 fatal impaired driving crashes that were reported in Nevada between 2016 and 2020. During the period, 70% of fatal impaired driving crashes occurred on urban roadways, with the majority involving males 21 to 30 years of age. Regulations against impaired driving are in place in Nevada to prevent more deaths caused by DUI.
It is a misdemeanor for a person to drink an alcoholic beverage while driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a highway. Commercial vehicle drivers with a .04 blood alcohol concentration and motorists with a concentration of alcohol of .08 or more in their blood or breath are not allowed to drive under Nevada law. Motorists are not also allowed to operate a vehicle if they are under the influence of prohibited substances, such as cocaine, amphetamine, and heroin.
Nevada Auto Insurance Requirements
The state of Nevada requires registered vehicle owners to maintain liability insurance on their cars, trucks, or SUVs during the entire registration period, even if they do not use them. The minimum coverage for bodily injury or death of one person per accident is $25,000, $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people in one accident, and $20,000 for property damage per accident. Motorists are advised to purchase more than the minimum coverage to recover compensation that sufficiently pays for the medical expenses incurred in major car wrecks.
Additionally, two coverages help ensure that drivers and passengers have the protection needed to pay for medical treatment costs. Uninsured motorist coverage is offered alongside underinsured motorist coverage, while Medpay pays for treating injuries caused by reckless drivers and from being struck as a pedestrian by a motor vehicle.
Settling an Insurance Claim in Nevada
Insurance carriers have 30 days to approve or deny a claim in writing after the victims have provided proof of physical injuries or property damage. If they need more time to investigate the crash, they may extend the number of days as stipulated in NAC 686A.675. Insurers that fail to provide a payout within 30 days are charged interest.
Insurance Coverage for Other Drivers
In Nevada, regardless of who is driving, the vehicle owner's auto insurance can cover accident-related expenses. To drive a car, a borrower must first obtain permission from the owner. If the borrower did not have permission to operate the vehicle, the car owner becomes solely liable for any accident-related expenses. If the vehicle borrower has auto insurance, their policy would supplement the owner's policy. This rule helps offset liabilities that exceed the limit of the owner's auto insurance policy.
The parties named in the insurance plan are covered in the same way as the car owner. If the vehicle is borrowed by a spouse or another family member and an accident occurs, the damages are covered by the car owner's insurance. Typically, the spouse and other family members are named as beneficiaries on the policy.
Even though insurance laws are in place to protect motorists from financial losses, they are still advised to drive cautiously at all times to avoid car accidents.
Consequences of Failing to Maintain Insurance
Failure to maintain insurance can result in the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license in the state, which is a separate action from any court case. A motorist's driving privileges may be suspended if they fail to provide proof of financial responsibility and have repeated lapses in vehicle liability coverage. The cost of the reinstatement of a suspended driver’s license is $75, which is separate from the cost of the license itself and any applicable testing fees.
Nevada Is an At-Fault State
Nevada is an at-fault insurance state, which means an at-fault driver must pay for the accident they have caused. Car accident victims may file damage claims against the insurance companies of the at-fault parties. To recover fair compensation from negligent parties, injured victims and their legal teams have to prove fault. This can be accomplished by providing a police report, physical evidence, and witness statements. The state also has a contributory negligence law in place, which means that victims' damages can be reduced proportionally to their level of fault.
Under Nevada’s fault system for motor vehicle accidents, injured victims may file a claim with their own insurance company, against the insurance providers of the negligent parties, and in civil court against the at-fault parties.
Nevada Follows a Modified Comparative Rule for Car Accident Lawsuits
The state's modified comparative negligence rule, Nevada Revised Statute 41.141, states that fault is not always a bar to recovery in a personal injury accident. Injured victims may be able to recover some of their losses as long as they were not more than 50% to blame. In crashes involving three or more parties, Nevada law divides damages according to fault. As a result, one person's recovery may be offset by what they owe to others.
The comparative negligence rule does not apply in certain situations, such as intentional torts, toxic substance leaks, and product liability cases. In these instances, the victims may seek compensation from any of the defendants until they have recovered all of their losses.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Nevada
Individuals injured in car accidents in Nevada have two years from the date of the collision to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties. The immediate family members of the deceased have a similar number of years to file wrongful death claims, starting from the day the victim passed away. Meanwhile, owners of damaged vehicles or other personal property have three years from the date of the accident to file claims against the at-fault parties. Negligent parties can ask the courts to dismiss claims filed after the deadline.
If minors are injured in car accidents, the state requires them to wait until they turn 18 before filing a claim against the at-fault parties. They then have two years to pursue legal action. However, their parents may seek court permission to file claims before they turn 18. If the courts grant the request, they lose the right to sue the negligent parties once they become of legal age.
For car accidents involving a government entity, the two-year time limit mentioned above remains in effect. However, before filing a lawsuit, injured victims must first file a claim with the state's Attorney General's Office.
It may be possible for an attorney to ask the court to extend the statute of limitations in rare situations. These include the discovery of new injuries after the accident and the plaintiff being mentally incapacitated.
The injured victim’s attorney may try to resolve a personal injury claim out of court before the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations by not filing a lawsuit. Reaching an out-of-court settlement is a convenient way to avoid the statute of limitations.
Resources for Nevada Car Accident Laws
Nevada State Police Traffic Safety
The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, a division of the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS), is the state's federally recognized highway safety office. The DPS Director is the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. The agency’s mission is to eliminate deaths and injuries on Nevada's roadways so that everyone gets home safely, and its vision is to be committed to zero fatalities because every life is important. It can be reached at (775) 684-7470.
Nevada State Police Highway Patrol
The Nevada State Police Highway Patrol is a division of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. It has over 480 commissioned officers and more than 80 civilian staff members who ensure that Nevada highways are safe, economical, and enjoyable. Its mission is to protect peaceful citizens from violence and disorder, as well as to assist law enforcement agencies across the state and nation. Its Carson City office can be contacted at (775) 687-5300.
Nevada Official Driver Handbook
This handbook informs Nevada motorists about the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to drive safely. It discusses general licensing requirements, defensive driving tips, and basic traffic laws. In addition, the manual serves as a reference for the Nevada driver's license knowledge test.
The Nevada DMV is a state-run government organization that handles driver’s licenses, driver's permits, and car registration. It maintains offices in Reno, Las Vegas, and Carson City. The Las Vegas office can be reached at (702) 486-4368 (486‑4DMV).
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in charge of keeping motorists, passengers, and pedestrians safe on the country's highways. It aims to reduce deaths, injuries, and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes by enforcing vehicle performance standards and collaborating with state and local governments.
Strategic Highway Safety Plan
The Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) of Nevada is a statewide safety plan and framework for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on the state's roads. The SHSP establishes goals and strategies developed in collaboration with stakeholders from the federal, state, local, and private sectors. The SHSP is updated every five years.
Nevada Division of Insurance
This agency safeguards consumers' rights and the public's interests when dealing with the insurance industry. It also regulates the sector by establishing ethical and financial standards for insurers, reviewing rates, and licensing insurers, agents, and producers. Its Carson City office number is (775) 687-0700, and its Las Vegas office number is (702) 486-4009.
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