After being seriously injured in an automobile accident, the last thing anybody wants to have to do is to fight with the other driver and the insurance company. Unfortunately, this often happens—forcing the injured victim to sue the other driver. When taking this important step in asserting one’s legal rights, it can be helpful to understand what a person has to prove to win his case and the defenses he could come up against.
In Nevada, a car accident victim must prove the other driver was negligent. To do so, a person must prove these four elements:
- That a legal duty was owed. The person suing must show that the other driver owed a duty to him. This is relatively easy to prove because a driver owes a duty to others on the road to operate his vehicle in a reasonably safe manner.
- That the duty was breached. The person suing must show that the other driver breached this duty in some way. Common ways drivers breach the duty is by speeding, running stop lights, tailgating, texting, talking on a cellphone, and many other unsafe driving practices.
- That the breach of duty led to injuries. The person suing must show that the other driver’s negligence was the direct cause, or proximate cause, of the accident. He also needs to prove that the accident would not have occurred if the other driver had been more careful.
- That the victim suffered damages. The person suing must show that he was injured in the accident and suffered a loss.
How Comparative Negligence Can Hurt a Victim’s Case
Under Nevada law, a negligent driver can raise the victim’s comparative negligence to reduce his responsibility for the victim’s injuries or eliminate any liability. When this defense is used, the defendant claims that the person suing—the plaintiff—caused the accident by his own unsafe driving. If proved, this argument can affect the victim’s negligence case in one of two ways:
- If the plaintiff is found to be 51 percent or more at fault in causing the accident, he is not entitled to any compensation.
- If the plaintiff is found to be 50 percent or less at fault in causing the accident, he is entitled to compensation from the negligent driver. However, his award would be reduced by the percentage he was found to be at fault in causing the accident. This means that if the person suing was 40 percent at fault in the accident, his compensation would be reduced to 60 percent of the total amount he was entitled to.