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How Does The Amount of Property Damage Affect My Car Accident Case?

Cory M. Jones
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Representing injured victims throughout Henderson and the surrounding Las Vegas area since 1993.
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Another question I get from clients all the time is whether or not they can file a case if there is little to no property damage to the vehicle. This has become a hot topic in Nevada personal injury cases over the last few years. 

In a recent Nevada Supreme Court case, the Court created all kinds of problems for innocent individuals who were involved in car accidents. In the case of Rish v. Simao, the Court looked at the issue of whether defense attorneys (who primarily work for insurance companies), can use what has become known as the “low impact” defense. The court was considering whether lay jurors could draw conclusions about the extent or severity of a person’s injury by basically looking at photographs of the property damage. The case is controversial because on one hand the Court affirms prior rulings that so-called “biomechanical experts” cannot relate property damage to injury to an occupant of a motor vehicle. However, the Court appears fine with the idea that a lay person with no training in physics, medicine or mechanical engineering can- simply by using their “common sense” – make a determination as to whether an occupant of a motor vehicle was injured in an accident. 

The Court inserted the following language to attempt to cover up the inconsistency of its ruling:  “We do not intend by this opinion to suggest that low-impact collisions cannot result in serious injuries. Low-impact collisions can cause serious, as well as minor, injuries, but, as noted above, the nature of the impact is a factor for the trier of fact to consider in determining the causation of the injuries that for the basis for the claim.” This does not cure the harm which occurs when insurance attorneys simply defend their cases by holding up a poster-sized photograph (which is usually not very good quality), and say to the jury, “come on, how could anyone be hurt in a car accident like this?” 

How Does The Court's Language Impact Your Henderson Car Accident Claim?

While this seems unfair on its face, the reality of the situation is that this defense is effective. For this reason it is important following a car accident to preserve good quality photographs of not only your vehicle, but the other vehicle as well. In many instances there may be almost no visible damage to a vehicle involved in a rear-end accident.  However, the car which hit them may have significant damage. If this is the case it completely nullifies the insurance company’s attempts to minimize or invalidate the personal injury claim of the car which was struck from behind. 

In addition, if there is little damage to your vehicle following an accident, many times photographs of what lies underneath the bumper or quarter-panel can demonstrate a significant impact. Obtaining a line item summary of the property damage repair can be used to show the jury exactly what took place following the accident. Whatever steps can be taken to demonstrate a significant impact can make or break a personal injury case following a car accident.

In the end, the Court’s statement is true – property damage and personal injury do not necessarily correlate. However, until this ruling is reversed or clarified, juries will still be allowed to make injury decisions based upon photographs of property damage following a car accident. As a result, it is critical that you retain an experienced personal injury attorney who can protect you from the insurance company’s attempts to minimize your case using underhanded and misleading tactics.

Have You Been Involved In A Henderson Or Las Vegas Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Henderson office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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