Known as the “Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno is home to minor league and NCAA sports teams, a University of Nevada campus, and any number of casinos and other nightspots. While enjoying all there is to do here, however, residents and visitors sometimes overindulge in cocktail consumption, and when they get behind the wheel instead of taking an Uber or RTC bus home, tragedy can strike.
A Reno drunk driver could change your life forever. Whether you received catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one to a drunk driving accident, no amount of money can take away your injuries or bring your loved one back. But, it can help you financially, especially if you are facing years of treatment and/or therapy to try to repair the damage to your physical or emotional wellbeing.
If you suffer from injuries because of a Reno DUI wreck or you lost a loved one in a Reno DUI crash, contact Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC, to talk to our Reno drunk driving accident lawyers for a free consultation. Over the years, we have recovered more than $180 million for our clients, including verdicts and settlements of $1 million for a DUI accident and $180,000 for a Good Samaritan hit by a drunk driver. Call us. We want to hear from you and see what our Reno drunk driving accident lawyers can do to help you pay for the treatment of your injuries.
In a recent year, Nevada had 299 DUI crashes, which resulted in 329 deaths. Of those, 17 DUI crashes that resulted in 24 fatalities were in the Reno area. Reno’s DUI laws provide for minimum penalties of up to six months in jail, up to 200 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and probation for up to three years.
For the first offense of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a conviction gets the defendant no less than two days in jail or community service for 48 hours, plus a minimum fine of $400. Convicted drivers also have to pay fees, assessments, attend a mandatory Victim Impact Panel presentation, take an alcohol class or attend counseling, and pay $60 for a chemical testing fee, plus a $100 DUI fee.
However, if the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is more than 0.18 percent, the defendant must install a breath interlock device (BID) for up to three years if he or she wants his Nevada driver’s license returned. The BID has to be on the vehicle for at least 185 days
Though a second offense is still a misdemeanor, the minimum penalties, including fines, increase. Jail time increases to 10 days or 10 days of house arrest. If the defendant is under 21 years of age and her BAC is over 0.18 percent for a first offense, or is under 21 with a second offense, the defendant must undergo a substance abuse evaluation to determine the level of treatment needed.
A third offense within seven years of the first two offenses is a B felony and carries a prison sentence of up to six years. Fines significantly increase to up to $5,000. If any DUI results in substantial bodily harm or death to another person, the defendant could face up to 20 years in prison with no probation.
Finally, the DMV could revoke the defendant’s driver’s license for at least 185 days for a first offense, one year for a second offense, and three years for a third offense. The driver’s license revocation is a separate issue from the criminal prosecution of the crime.
What should I do after a Reno drunk driving accident?
After any accident, you need first to ensure your safety and well-being. Move your car and yourself to a safe place, out of traffic and away from the drunk individual, if necessary.
Call 911 once you are safe. If you or another person needs an ambulance, tell the dispatcher. Leave in the ambulance if you are seriously injured; your safety always comes first.
If you are not seriously injured, don’t leave the accident scene. Wait until law enforcement arrives. The officer will talk to everyone involved, observe the scene, the weather, the time of day, and put the observations into an accident report.
If you notice the other driver seems impaired by alcohol or other substances, tell the officer. The police can test for drunk driving.
Exchange insurance information and contact details, such as e-mail, with all other drivers.
If there are eyewitnesses, talk to them about what they saw. Obtain information that allows you to contact them later if necessary.
You should obtain a copy of the accident report, either at the scene or later, as it’s one of the most crucial pieces of evidence about what happened and who caused your accident.
It is also crucial to see a physician as soon as possible, to diagnose and treat any injuries. Save all medical records as well, for potential evidence.
Who is responsible if I’m injured in a drunk driving accident in Reno?
The party responsible for causing an accident is also responsible for injuries or other harm directly caused by the accident. Drivers, of course, can bear responsibility if they cause an accident by violating traffic laws or imprudent action. Other entities, such as car manufacturers, can also bear responsibility, particularly if poor or shoddy manufacturing causes an accident.
The law calls responsibility for an accident negligence, and negligent parties are financially responsible for injuries and other harm that their negligent actions cause.
Is a Reno drunk driver always responsible?
A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving (or 0.02, if the driver is under 21 years old) means the person is legally driving while intoxicated (DUI), and can thus receive a DUI charge from law enforcement. Drunk driving causes impairment of multiple driver functions, including reaction time, perception, and judgment. For that reason, drunk drivers are, tragically, often responsible for accidents that injure or kill other people. However, not every accident involving a drunk driver is caused by the drunk driver. For example, say two cars collide because the tire of the first one blows out in the heat, and the second car contains a drunk driver.
In this case, the blown tire caused the accident. The car’s owner may face liability, if he or she didn’t check the tires properly, buy new tires when needed, or properly load the car. The tire manufacturer may also face liability, or a repair shop that didn’t check tire tread properly. Regardless, in this example, the drunk driver is not liable—or not fully liable—for the accident.
That doesn’t mean the drunk driver isn’t responsible for any wrongdoing, however. Driving under the influence of alcohol is against the law in Nevada, and drunk drivers should and do usually face legal charges. Those charges carry stiff penalties, including fines, jail time, and license suspension, but they do not make drivers responsible for injuries due to accidents they didn’t cause.
Injuries in a Drunk Driving Accident
Reno considers drunk driving a serious offense because of the injuries and damage a drunk driver could cause. Depending on several factors, including speed, the size of the vehicle, and the location of the accident, injuries could be catastrophic or even lead to death.
DUI injuries might include:
Sprains, strains, pulled and torn muscles, and other soft tissue damage;
Internal injuries; and
Nevada allows you to collect three types of damages if you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a DUI accident. Economic and non-economic damages make you whole again. The court orders punitive damages as a punishment to the defendant.
Special damages, or economic damages have a fixed price and might include:
Past and future medical expenses;
Past and future lost wages;
Repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed personal property;
Medical aids, including ambulatory aids;
Upgrades to your home to make it handicapped accessible; and
Funeral and burial expenses.
General damages, or non-economic damages, do not have a fixed price and might include:
Pain and suffering;
Loss of use of a body part or bodily function;
Disfigurement, including scarring;
Loss of companionship;
Loss of consortium; and
Nevada allows unlimited punitive damages in cases where the defendant “willfully consumed” alcohol or drugs when the defendant knew that he or she would drive after the fact. The court sometimes orders punitive damages in addition to any compensatory damages—economic and non-economic damages—you might receive for your injuries and losses. If the court believes that the defendant should pay punitive damages, you may be required to attend another proceeding to determine the amount of punitive damages the defendant should pay.
How do I receive compensation for my Reno drunk driving accident injuries?
Nevada is an at-fault State for car and other vehicle accidents. Financial responsibility is simple in fault states. If you’re responsible, you owe the injured people compensation.
You can seek compensation via approaching the at-fault party’s insurance company, your own insurance company (which will approach the at-fault entity’s insurance company, in turn), or filing a lawsuit in civil court.
You are entitled to seek compensation for:
Medical bills, both present and future
Income lost from work, if the injury, treatment, and recuperation required you to take time off work
The lifetime value of income, if your injuries were disabling
Personal property damage
Pain and suffering
What if the Reno drunk driver is uninsured?
While Nevada requires that drivers obtain car insurance, that unfortunately doesn’t stop uninsured drivers from cruising around Reno, Sparks and Carson City roadways. Whether they are out-of-state tourists or uninsured Nevadans, what should you do if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured drunk driver?
Consult an attorney to discuss your options, as you may have several.
Can I bring a charge against a Reno driver for DUI?
DUIs are charged in criminal court by the government. The police arrest suspected drunk drivers, and the state of Nevada files charges and prosecutes them for crimes against society, not for the damages caused to you. Therefore, you do not need to (and, indeed, cannot) bring a criminal charge against the drunk driver.
You bring personal injury and wrongful death suits in civil court, which is a separate system from criminal court, and it’s designed to compensate you or the family of the victim.
What if my loved one died in a Reno drunk driving accident?
Roughly 26 percent of all people killed in vehicle accidents in Nevada are impaired by alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If someone dies in an accident, and that individual would have been entitled to bring a personal injury case had he or she lived, Nevada allows certain parties to bring a type of suit called wrongful death.
Although nothing may adequately compensate you emotionally for the death of a loved one, the State of Nevada also recognizes that family members suffer both emotional and economic loss from a death. Wrongful death suits are intended to economically compensate both family members and the deceased’s estate for these losses.
You may bring a wrongful death claim in Nevada if you are:
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
The surviving spouse or domestic partner of the decedent
The child(ren) of the decedent
The parents of the decedent, if there is no surviving spouse or child
Nevada law also allows you to bring a wrongful death suit if you can successfully argue that you received support from the deceased person for a reasonable period of time before his or her death.
Wrongful death claims seek compensation for:
Medical expenses due to the decedent’s final illness or injury
Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
Lost wages and benefits, including those the decedent would reasonably have been expected to earn had they lived
Loss of benefits to heirs
Personal property damage stemming from the accident
Loss of companionship, care, and affection that the family members received from the decedent
If you suffer from injuries or lost a loved one because of a DUI accident, contact Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC at (775) 600-6000 today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Even if you are still in the hospital, give us a call—we can do the consultation over the phone or via video chat. We also serve clients in Lake Tahoe, Sparks, and Carson City.
Benson & Bingham (Reno Office)
1320 E Plumb Lane Ste A
Reno, NV 89502
“I was driving on the freeway when a lady made an unsafe lane change and slammed into the side of my car. I had my kids in the car with me at the time. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I knew I needed help and called Benson & Bingham, referred to me by a friend. They helped me and my kids get the treatment we needed. Even though it wasn’t about the money, they obtained a wonderful settlement for all of us. We are happy with Benson & Bingham. Thank you Danielle Richardson and Cassidy Kay for all your help. You are both very caring, understanding, available, and hard working. You kept me informed over months of care. I couldn’t have asked for more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
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