Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Distracted Driving Accident

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In iconic Las Vegas, distracted driving is a primary factor contributing to vehicle accidents. Beyond the allure of the iconic Las Vegas Strip, numerous other distractions like cell phone use while driving can pose significant risks on the road.

Did you know cell phone use while driving causes 1.6 million crashes? To prevent this problem, Nevada has set penalties which include fines for distracted driving. 

While the threat of a potentially hefty fine is serving as a deterrent, distracted driving accidents still occur. If you’re involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you have legal rights. Protecting these rights helps ensure you can receive financial compensation for your damages.

Legal Rights After a Distracted Driving Accident

Steps to Take After an Accident with a Distracted Driver

The immediate actions taken following a vehicle accident can significantly impact the outcome of any subsequent insurance claim.

Contact the Authorities

If the accident doesn’t result in property damage exceeding $750, and there aren’t any injuries or fatalities, you aren’t required to immediately report the vehicle collision. You have up to ten days from the date of the accident to file a report with the authorities.

This may seem like a time-saving option. You’re not waiting at the accident scene for the authorities to show up. Sometimes, it can take a while for the police to respond when a vehicle accident is considered minor. However, driving away is often a mistake that can impact your accident claim.

You should report all vehicle accidents immediately and wait for the authorities to arrive. The reason for this is simple. Waiting on the scene makes it easier for the responding officers to get a clear picture of how the accident occurred. 

Also, if there are any witnesses, the authorities can take down their statements. Their memories of the accident are still fresh making it easier for witnesses to provide vital information.

Collect Evidence

Sometimes it’s not possible to gather any evidence after an accident with a distracted driver. Your injuries may be too severe. If the accident leaves the involved vehicles in traffic lanes it may be unsafe to exit your vehicle. 

If you can’t document the accident scene, don’t panic. You can get most, if not all of the information from your accident report. However, gathering some evidence at the scene can help move the claim process along a little more quickly.

Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and of any visible injuries you may have sustained. Get contact information from any witnesses, but don’t discuss the accident. Jot down any events leading up to the accident. You may also want to take some photos of the accident scene.

Don’t Admit Fault or Apologize

Something you want to keep in mind at all times is never admit fault or apologize. Anything you say to the authorities, witnesses, or other involved driver can be used against you when you file a personal injury claim. The insurance adjuster can use your admission to reduce the value of your claim.

Make sure to be polite and answer any questions asked by law enforcement, but keep your answers short and to the point. In other words, don’t go into too much detail.

Get Medical Treatment

Not all injuries sustained in an auto accident require a trip to the emergency room. Some injuries take a while to appear, and this is particularly true with soft tissue injuries. 

Making an appointment with a medical professional does more than help protect your health. If you’re planning on filing a personal injury claim, you’re going to need your medical records. Your medical records help support your injury claim and are something the insurance adjuster is going to request.

Navigating Nevada’s At-Fault Insurance System

Nevada is an at-fault insurance state. This means the driver responsible for causing the accident assumes all of the blame. What does this mean for your personal injury claim? Instead of turning to your auto insurance, you file a claim for your damages with the at-fault driver’s carrier.

Your claim can include both economic and non-economic damages, though every case is different. What’s included in your claim depends on the extent and type of your damages. For example, your economic damages may include medical and property damage expenses, along with lost wages. However, someone else may not list lost earnings since they’re able to immediately return to work.

If you’re wondering if Nevada has minimum insurance requirements, the answer is yes. All drivers with vehicles registered in the state must at least carry liability insurance. The minimum requirements are as follows:

  • $20,000 in property damage
  • $25,000 in injury or death of one individual
  • $50,000 to cover injuries or fatalities of two passengers

Since the minimum insurance requirements often aren’t enough to cover all of the damages sustained in a distracted driving accident, you can also file a lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver. This is different from the personal injury claim filed with the insurance company. Your lawsuit seeks compensation for your damages not covered by insurance caps.

Proving Liability in a Distracted Driving Accident

Before you can submit a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, you need to prove the elements of negligence:

  • Duty of care: This is the duty all drivers owe to others on the road. In other words, all drivers must follow all traffic rules.
  • Breach of duty: A breach of duty occurs when a driver doesn’t take reasonable care. This can include using a cell phone while driving. The driver is distracted by the device and this causes the resulting accident.
  • Causation: You must show your injuries and/or property damage is the direct result of the distracted driving accident. Your medical records and accident report can help support this part of your claim.

If you can prove the distracted driver’s actions are negligent and the direct cause of your damages, you can file a personal injury claim with the insurance company. From there, it’s up to you and your attorney to negotiate a settlement that covers your damages.

Protect Your Legal Rights After a Distracted Driving Accident

Distracted driving accidents happen every day, and you may find yourself involved in this type of vehicle collision. Instead of trying to navigate negligence rules on your own, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. 

Your attorney will help ensure your rights are protected and you receive adequate compensation for your damages, allowing you to focus on your recovery without the added stress of the extra legal complexities you could face.

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