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You’ve Been in a Car Accident. What’s Next?

Being in a car accident can be scary and overwhelming, and the aftermath may leave you injured and confused. If you have been in an accident, you are often left with many questions: Should I call the insurance company? How do I file a Claim?  Do I need an attorney? Below we detail some common answers people may have after a motor vehicle accident (MVA).

What are the First Steps?

If you are in a collision which is more than a minor hit, you should immediately call 911 and wait for an emergency responder to arrive at the scene. Medical personal at the scene can ensure everyone is stable and can communicate any injuries you should seek medical attention for  due to the accident. Often times, you may not feel symptoms for hours or even days for certain injuries like whiplash or a traumatic brain injury. If after an accident your health seem diminished in any way, immediately seek medical attention and get your symptoms diagnosed by a qualified medical professional.

After seeking medical attention, it is important to gather as much information as possible of the other parties involved. This includes the make, model, license plates, names, addresses and insurance info of any vehicles involved at the scene. If a sheriff or highway patrol officer is at the scene, they should also provide a “slip” listing preliminary findings of the accident and parties involved.  Subsequently, a police report should be provided within 5-10 business days after the accident.  The police report will have more detailed information regarding the events of the accident. In the event a police office did not investigate, it is mandatory to file an SR-1 Report of Traffic Accident within 10 days to the DMV in Nevada.

If you are not transported for medical treatment after the accident and are able to safely navigate the scene, it is important to photograph the vehicles and surroundings at the scene as well as any visible physical injuries of the parties involved.  These images can be documented as evidence when negotiating or litigating against insurance providers. After the accident, never admit liability if you believe you were not at fault for the accident. It is also best to limit speaking about the specifics of your accident with others, as insurance companies and other agencies investigating the accident may use what you say or publish as evidence to devalue your claims. This includes never posting anything on social media regarding the events of the accident.

Who Compensates Me after an Accident?

In Nevada, the person at fault will be held responsible for the damages caused in the accident, including property damage and any physical or emotional injuries the not-at fault party/s endure up to the limits and potentially beyond the insurance policy. Nevada law requires that drivers carry liability insurance and coverage must include the minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person, $50,000 for bodily injury or death for two or more people in an accident and $20,000 for injury or destruction of property in an accident. [1] If you were the one injured or had your vehicle damaged, you should file an insurance claim with the other party’s insurance to recover damages. If the motorist is uninsured then your insurance should have a underinsured motorist policy to help cover damages. A personal injury attorney can also help you understand your options.

An insurance adjuster helps calculate the value of the claim, and they will factor in economic and non-economic damages in the settlement including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and future rehabilitation services.

What if I was Partly at Fault?

Just because you may be partially at fault for the accident, doesn’t mean you can’t be compensated. Nevada is not a no-fault state, but an at-fault or tort state. [2]   What this means is that fault may be shared by the drivers and insurance companies will use comparative negligence to decide how much of the damage will be covered by each party.  If we were more then 50% responsible for the accident, you can not collect damages from the other insurance party; however, if you were less then 50% at fault, you can claim damages from the other party less the percentage you were at fault.  [3]

For instance, Driver 1 doesn’t yield to Driver 2 while turning on to a street, yet Driver 2 was going 25 miles an hour over the speed limit.  Law enforcement may place 25% of the blame on Driver 2 for speeding; however, under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws, Driver 2 could still recoup 75% of the damages caused from Driver 1’s failure to yield to oncoming traffic.  Driver 1 however would not be able to claim any damages from Driver 2’s insurance provider.

Do I go to Court? Can I file a Lawsuit?

Most of the time, personal injury claims are settled out of court; however, if it does end up in court, a jury will hear and decide on your case.  While insurance companies most often choose to settle accident claims prior to a trail due to the expensive and time associated, if it does go to trail, having an experienced personal injury lawyer to litigate the tenants of the case is essential.

If you sustained injuries in an accident, the Nevada’s Statute of limitation is two years from the date of the accident to file an injury lawsuit. In the case of wrongful death, the family of the deceased have two years from the date of the death. Lastly, with property damage, Nevada allows three years to seek legal actions.

When Should I Hire an Attorney?

While it is not legally required to have an attorney to file a personal injury claim, it is best to consult with a Nevada personal injury lawyer. They can help you evaluate the case, explain the police report, collect evidence, recommend the best medical care to alleviate your injuries, negotiate with the insurance company and ultimately represent your interests if the case goes to trial. Additionally, most insurance companies will offer less to those who are underrepresented in hopes they can get away with it. Experienced injury attorney will ensure you are paid what you deserve.


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