Nevada's vast landscapes and diverse terrain make it a dream destination for motorcycle enthusiasts seeking thrilling rides and breathtaking scenery. With popular routes like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, and Lake Tahoe, the Silver State offers various spots for individuals who want to go on two-wheeled adventures.
The state's allure as a motorcycle riding destination all year round means it sees significant motorcycle traffic. Although Nevada implements strict motorcycle safety strategies and laws, accidents can still occur. From 2015 to 2019, nearly 300 fatalities were recorded in 293 fatal motorcycle crashes in the state. Of these, 32% were angle crashes, and 55% were due to collisions with moving vehicles. Other common causes of motorcycle accidents are unsafe lane changes, DUI, failure to see a motorcycle, and lane splitting.
To enjoy the beautiful scenery and rideable weather of Nevada safely, riders should know the following information about motorcycle laws in the state. Understanding these laws and regulations is also helpful for other people on the road, as it provides guidance on their rights in case they get injured in motorcycle crashes.
Nevada Motorcycle Driver License Requirements
Nevada does not issue a special endorsement for motorcycle riders. Rather, a Class M license is required to operate a motorcycle in the state. To obtain this, an applicant must be at least 18 years old and complete one of two ways to get a license.
The first option is passing knowledge and skills tests at a DMV office. Riders must take a written knowledge exam before the driving skills test. They must pay a $25 testing fee, present a valid ID or an existing license, and complete a Class C written test if they still need a Class C license. Once they pass the written test, they must take a driving skills test, which includes performing various maneuvers. Riders who pass both tests will get their new license. Those who fail the driving skills test twice will not be able to get a motorcycle instruction permit in the future.
Another way to obtain a Class M license is by taking a course certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and offered by motorcycle dealerships and colleges in the state. It covers lessons on motorcycle safety, hands-on learning experiences, traffic strategies, maintenance, and protective apparel selection. After completing the course, applicants must present their Certificate of Completion from MSF to a DMV office to receive their Class M license.
For individuals under the age of 18, a motorcycle instruction permit is required to get a license. They must carry this permit for six months before applying for a license. They are also required to complete a motorcycle safety course and 50 hours of supervised motorcycle riding experience. A parent or guardian must accompany them to the DMV office during the application, as their signature is necessary for the financial responsibility statement.
Nevada Helmet Law
In Nevada, all motorcycle riders and passengers must wear helmets that meet the standards set forth by the Department of Transportation. This means that the helmet must bear a DOT-approved label on the back, indicating that it has met specific federal specifications, including:
Weight of three pounds or less
An inner liner that is made from firm polystyrene foam and is around one inch thick
Durable chinstrap and rivets
No protruding parts that extend further than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet's surface
A close fit on the rider’s or passenger's head
If a rider's motorcycle isn't equipped with a screen or windshield, wearing a pair of goggles or a protective face shield is necessary.
Individuals riding without a helmet in Nevada may be charged with a misdemeanor. Fines for violating the law can go up to $205, depending on the city where the violation was committed. They may also receive two demerit points on their driver’s license, which can last a year.
Wearing a helmet can save lives and protect riders from serious head injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41% effective for passengers.
Lane Splitting in Nevada
Lane splitting happens when someone rides a motorcycle between lanes of traffic that are moving in the same direction. Riders typically do this when traffic is slow-moving or stopped.
This can be dangerous, especially if the motorcycle rider splits the lane and ends up alongside a large vehicle. The vehicle driver may not see the rider, which could result in an accident on the road.
Under NRS 486.351, it is illegal for motorcycles to pass another vehicle within the same traffic lane in Nevada, even if the vehicles can fit in the same lane. However, two riders can drive next to each other in the same lane if both have consented. There is also no restriction on which lane motorcycle riders can drive on a road unless signage indicates otherwise.
Motorcyclists caught lane splitting may get a fine of $190 or more.
Nevada Trick Driving Display Laws
Trick-driving displays refer to performances that showcase skillful yet dangerous driving techniques. These include stunts like high-speed drifting, jumps, wheelies (lifting the front tire off the ground), and donuts (spinning in tight circles).
Nevada considers trick driving displays to be reckless driving. Riders and organizers involved in such activities may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. They may receive a minimum fine of $1,000 and community service of at least 100 hours. They may also face vehicle impoundment, driver's license suspension for up to two years, or jail time.
When done in a proper location or event and with extensive training and the right type of vehicle, trick driving displays are entertaining. However, performing stunts on public roads puts people at risk of accidents that may result in injuries and fatalities.
Nevada Motorcycle Equipment Requirements
Nevada implements motorcycle equipment requirements designed to enhance rider safety, minimize accidents, and protect motorcyclists and other road users. The following are some of the state's basic motorcycle equipment requirements:
Mirrors: According to NRS 486.311, motorcycles must have two mirrors with reflective surfaces at least three inches in diameter. Each mirror must be placed on each handlebar.
Handlebars: The NRS 486.201 mandates that handlebars must not extend more than six inches above riders’ shoulders when seated.
Lamps: Motorcycles must have one to two headlamps, one tail lamp that emits red light, and stop lamps on the rear end that other drivers can see from 300 feet to the rear, even in normal sunlight.
Horn: People must be able to hear the horn at least 200 feet away.
Tires: Both tires must be equipped with a US DOT sticker that shows they meet federal standards.
Reflectors: Motorcycles must have at least one reflector mounted 20-60 inches from the ground. Other drivers must be able to see it within 300 feet when it is in front of lower beam headlamps.
Fenders: According to NRS 486.221, motorcycle riders cannot drive without fenders that protect wheels from throwing dirt, rocks, water, and other substances to the rear.
Turn signals: If a motorcycle is manufactured after January 1, 1973, it is required to have turn signals on the front and rear ends. Other drivers must be able to see the front and rear turn signals even from up to 500 feet away.
Before embarking on a motorcycle ride, drivers should also conduct a pre-ride inspection to ensure their vehicle is in good condition. They can use the T-CLOCS Inspection Checklist as a guide.
Nevada Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
All motorcycle owners are legally required to carry minimum liability insurance for their motorcycles. In Nevada, the minimum insurance coverage requirement is 25/50/20.
$25,000 for bodily injury liability for one person
$50,000 for bodily injury liability for more than one person
$20,000 for property damage liability per accident
The 25/50/20 insurance covers only the payment for damages incurred by the victim if the policyholder caused the accident. It does not pay for the policyholder's own injuries and damages.
To get coverage for their own injuries and losses, motorcycle riders can purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist and medical payment coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage takes care of the motorcycle drivers’ and passengers' medical treatment if they get injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. On the other hand, medical payment coverage, or MedPay, pays for the policyholder's medical expenses regardless of who is responsible for the accident.
Nevada Is a Fault State for Insurance Claims
Nevada is an at-fault state for insurance claims, which means that the party who caused the accident must pay for the damages the other party incurred.
Motorcycle accident victims have three options for collecting payment for their losses.
First, they can file a claim with their insurance company if their policy includes coverage for their losses due to the accident. Another way is to file a claim with the at-fault party's insurance carrier. If the negotiations with the at-fault party and their insurance company do not yield a favorable settlement, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit.
How Much Can Someone Sue for a Motorcycle Accident in Nevada?
Every motorcycle accident claim varies, and what victims can recover will be based on different factors related to their case. These factors include the level of damages, insurance limits, and the parties' percentage of fault.
In Nevada, motorcycle accident victims can recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to objectively verifiable financial losses such as medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repair expenses, and physical rehabilitation. On the other hand, non-economic damages are losses to which a monetary value cannot be assigned, like pain and suffering and loss of consortium. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the at-fault parties.
Nevada has no set limit for the amount of economic and non-economic damages that motorcycle accident victims can receive.
Nevada Is a Modified Comparative Fault System State for Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
Nevada follows a modified comparative fault system. This means that when an accident occurs, a jury or judge evaluates the at-fault party's negligence and the plaintiff's contributory negligence to determine whether the plaintiff will recover damages and how much should be awarded. The state also practices the 51% bar rule. Under this rule, the plaintiff may not receive compensation if they are found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident.
For example, if a jury finds that a plaintiff contributed 30% to the accident, they are still entitled to damages. However, their compensation will be lessened in proportion to their degree of fault. If their losses amounted to $150,000, they would only receive $105,000 since they are 30% responsible for the accident.
Nevada Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accident victims have two years from the date of the crash to file claims against the at-fault parties. The families of wrongful death victims also have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Failure to file before the set time limit will result in the dismissal of claims, except in certain cases.
For instance, if a victim only discovers an injury months after the accident, the statute of limitations will be adjusted. It will only run on the day the victim learns of the injury.
If the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations will not run until they turn 18.
Legal Resources for Nevada Motorcycle Accident Victims
Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is a free resource for Nevadans seeking an attorney for their legal concerns. Its staff members connect people to over 300 pre-screened and qualified attorneys who are also members of the State Bar of Nevada. LRS can be reached 24/7 at 702-382-0504 or toll-free at 800-789-LRIS (5747). A staff member will answer the call and help the caller find the right attorney for his legal issue. Nevadans who already know what kind of lawyer they require can send a referral request through the LRS online portal.
Founded in 2011, BikerDown is a nonprofit organization that aims to help biking and motorcycle accident victims and the loved ones of wrongful death victims. It was established by motorcyclist Laurie Montoya after she lost several biking buddies while on a ride. The organization offers emotional support, financial advice, and medical equipment to riders and their families who need assistance. To get help, they can send a help request on BikerDown's website and wait for a response within 24-48 hours.
This agency aims "to protect the rights of Nevada consumers in their experiences with the insurance industry." In line with this goal, DOI allows consumers to verify whether a company, an agency, or an individual agent offering insurance is licensed, authorized, or certified to do business in Nevada through its website. Additionally, one of the agency's major functions is to help consumers with complaints and other concerns.
This resource contains information about motorcycle driving skills, the safe operation of motorcycles in Nevada, and the laws that riders should follow on the road. It helps to educate riders and help them avoid accidents that can lead to injuries and fatalities.
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