Nevada is a popular tourist destination, with many residents and tourists opting to explore its natural and manmade scenery on foot. Due to high traffic from motorcyclists, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, the streets and walkways pose a considerable risk of accidents or injuries. Pedestrian accidents are very regular in these streets, and often, victims are left with catastrophic injuries. Las Vegas Personal Injury Law Firm is here to help if you are a victim of a pedestrian accident. We are ready to pursue a considerable settlement by holding liable the driver who hit you, his or her employer, the motor vehicle manufacturer, or the local government agencies if they had a hand in the injuries you sustained.
Overview of Nevada Pedestrian Laws
Out of the 243 traffic deaths reported in Nevada in 2009, 35 of them involved pedestrians, according to a report by the NHTSA. The majority of these accidents are caused by distraction or carelessness. Nevada Statute 484B.287 provides pedestrians with right-of-way at intersections and crosswalks. The law further prohibits pedestrians from putting drivers in a position where it’s impossible to yield by leaving a place of safety and darting into a roadway with oncoming traffic. The right of way doesn’t apply in all circumstances. Also, if you are not on a crosswalk or intersection, you have no right of way, and you might be arrested for jaywalking. You should thus be vigilant when crossing the road to avoid accidents and use crosswalks or intersections. Even though pedestrian knockdowns might occur in crosswalks, negligence by car drivers is the primary cause of these crashes.
Overview of Nevada Negligence Laws
Nevada is a modified comparative negligence state. It means if a pedestrian is involved in an accident, even if they are to blame for a portion of the accident, he or she can still recover damages. Negligence claims seek to assign blame for injuries sustained in a crash by holding liable those who breached their duty of care to other motorists. As codified under Code section 41.141, a plaintiff can always receive compensation if the fault is less than 50%. But if the fault is more than that of the defendant, that is 51% or higher; the plaintiff cannot recover any damages from the court. 51% is the contributory negligence limit. Also, if the parties involved share negligence or fault by half, the plaintiff might still be awarded damages, but the percentage of negligence will reduce the compensation.
Proving driver negligence is challenging, especially if you thought that traffic will stop or that you will have crossed the road before the signal turns. You must convince the jury the driver was negligent by driving while distracted, driving under the influence, or speeding, otherwise you won’t win the case.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Nevada attracts many tourists who prefer walking on foot to enjoy various sceneries. It also ranks among the ten leading states in terms of pedestrian knockdowns in the U.S. You can try to relate pedestrian accidents with unfamiliarity to the surroundings by the tourists. However, 90% of those pedestrians involved in these crashes are residents or employees within the city. It is an indicator that other factors contribute to the increase in pedestrian accidents. Some of the frequent causes of crashes are:
- Failure by pedestrians to use sidewalks
If construction on a building is ongoing, many people will avoid a sidewalk near the construction site. If cyclists are using the paths, they become impassable, leaving pedestrians with no option other than using active roadways, thus increasing the risk of being hit by motor vehicles.
- Failure by drivers to yield right of ways
Drivers are required to yield the right of way in crosswalks and interchanges. At these points, drivers are expected to make a traffic stop until pedestrians are crossing the road. If drivers fail to stop, they end up hitting pedestrians.
- Poor visibility at night
At night, visibility by motorists is compromised. If a pedestrian is putting on dark clothes at night, drivers might see him or her when it’s too late, thus causing an accident. To avoid being hit by cars at night, wear reflective or bright clothing so that motorists can easily spot you. You can also carry a flashlight if you are wearing dark clothes for easy spotting by motorists.
- Unmarked crosswalks
Most roundabouts have no defined crosswalks hence the reason for many pedestrian accidents at those spots. If you need to cross a roadway and there is no designated crosswalk, wait for a break in traffic; otherwise, you might end up being hit since drivers cannot see the crossway.
- Distracted driving
Drivers who are distracted by things like talking or texting on the phone while driving are likely to hit or kill a pedestrian due to inattentive driving. Drivers are therefore advised to avoid using cellphones while behind the wheel and pay more attention to the road.
- Left-hand turns
Pedestrian accidents still occur in crosswalks when both parties, either the pedestrian or driver, fail to pay attention to the road. Often, the driver making the left-hand turn is focused on the oncoming traffic so that they can turn while the pedestrian is looking ahead. If the driver fails to see the pedestrian or the pedestrian see the vehicle making a turn, then an accident will occur.
Other common causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Trip and fall
- Slipping on uneven sidewalks
- Stepping into holes and dips
- Children stepping out of a parked car
With the knowledge of the causes of pedestrian accidents, it is clear that they can be prevented or reduced. Some of the ways of minimizing these accidents include:
- Obeying traffic rules and observing traffic lights and signs
- Use sidewalks, if any
- If there are no sidewalks, walk along the roadway but do it facing the traffic
- Keep your eyes focused on the road
- Establish eye contact with the driver to ensure they can see you
- Watch car movement
- Avoid driving while impaired
- Do not dart or run when crossing the road
If you do some of the foregoing things, the risk of accidents will be reduced significantly.
Common Injuries Associated with Pedestrian Accident
An average of 21 people is treated in trauma centers while a hundred others die due to pedestrian knockdowns monthly in Nevada based on a report by The Nevada University School of Medicine. The injuries are often very severe because pedestrians don’t put on any protection. The severity of the injuries, however, varies based on the speed of the car involved in the crash, the angel with which the client was hit, and the type of motor vehicle. Some of the common injuries sustained in these crashes include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
Your brain is what makes you unique. In the event you sustain injuries in the brain, then you might lose connection with yourself and the things you used to do. The loss of various abilities after a brain injury comes with emotional, physical, and financial stress, hence the need to seek compensation when you suffer brain injuries from a pedestrian accident.
- Broken bones
Pedestrians who are hit by a bike or car end up with fractured bones. Such injuries are painful and take time to heal. If you are a career person, you might be forced to stay away from work for months. For those victims whose fractures fail to heal, they are forced to live with chronic pain forever, or they might become disabled.
- Cuts and lacerations
The majority of pedestrian accident victims are left with tears and wounds when they get in contact with road surfaces or broken grass, which are painful. Also, cuts and abrasions can cause disfigurement, which results in low self-esteem. The cuts and lacerations at the same time expose you to dangerous bacterial infections hence the reason you should seek medical attention immediately after the crash.
- Spinal cord injuries
An injury on the spinal cord is catastrophic. Temporary or permanent paralysis are some of the severe effects of spinal cord injuries. Apart from paralysis, patients endure chronic pain, which some experience for the rest of their lives.
- Internal organ damage
- Muscle sprains, strains, and tears
After being hit by a car or bike, you should go for a medical checkup even if you are feeling okay. Deadly symptoms of brain and spinal cord injuries might not manifest themselves immediately. They might appear later after days, weeks, months, or even years when it’s too late.
When a pedestrian accident occurs, and you are injured, you should begin the process of recovering damages immediately after receiving medical attention. NRS 11.190 states that victims who have suffered injuries or fatalities due to wrongful acts by other individuals have twenty-four months after the accident to file a claim. You can choose to pursue the insurance company for compensation or file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Grounds for Suing At-Fault Parties in Pedestrian Accident
A plaintiff or the person bringing a lawsuit against the defendant who can be a motorist, motorcyclist, or bicyclist must have grounds for filing the claim. Some of the grounds for suing the negligent party include:
If you are filing a claim due to the negligence of the at-fault party, you need to prove the following elements:
- The person you are suing owed you a duty of care
- The individual being sued failed to exercise the duty of care
- The breach was the actual cause of the injuries
- The breach of the duty by the defendant was the proximate cause of harm
- The plaintiff suffered real injuries that resulted in damages
- Negligence per se
If the cause of action you decide to take is a negligence per se claim, you must be ready to prove:
- The defendant had a duty to follow a specific law
- The law was intended to protect people, among them the plaintiff
- The defendant violated the law
- The violation of the law by the defendant was the immediate cause of your injuries,
- The injuries led to losses
- Respondeat superior
If the motorcyclist, bicyclist, or driver was on duty or performing a task for the benefit of a company or employer, then the employer should be held liable for the accident. To get a favorable outcome in a respondeat superior lawsuit, you must verify the following:
- The defendant had employed the driver at-fault at the time of the crash
- The driver was performing his or her duties at the time of the accident
- The action by the driver was the immediate cause of your harm
- The injuries resulted in damages
- Strict product liability
If a malfunction caused the accident due to a faulty part, the manufacturer could be sued for strict product liability. Some of the things a plaintiff must prove in this claim include:
- The car was defective due to design, manufacturing or warning defect
- The faulty or defect was in existence when the part of the vehicle left the hands of the manufacturer,
- The defendant used the car in a reasonably foreseeable manner
- The faulty part resulted in injuries sustained by the person suing sustained
- The injuries resulted in damages
- Wrongful death
If a pedestrian is involved in an accident and dies, his or her descendants or the estate can file a wrongful death claim. To prevail in the lawsuit, you should prove the following things to the court:
- The victim of the crash lost his or her life
- The death was as a result of a wrongful act by the defendant
- The plaintiff is an heir or representative of the decedent
- The plaintiff suffered losses due to the death of the victim
If a plaintiff succeeds in convincing the court in the claims, he or she is awarded damages in monetary terms.
Types of Compensation You Can Claim Through a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit
After sustaining injuries through a pedestrian accident, you can hold the driver, their employer, or manufacturer of the motor vehicle accountable for your injuries. The types of compensation you can claim include:
- Economic Damages
Economic damages focus on covering all costs associated with the injuries. They concentrate on damages with monetary value and cover past, current, and future medical bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, past, present and future loss of income, and property damages that occurred in the crash. So, before you accept a settlement, evaluate your injuries and losses to ensure that the damages recovered are enough to settle all expenses related to the injury now and even in the future.
- Non-economic Damages
They focus more on losses that have no dollar value. Non-economic costs include pain and suffering, lost companionship when the injuries sustained by the victims prevent them from participating in their hobbies and having fun with the loved ones, and loss of enjoyment. You cannot place a monetary value on the loss of enjoyment or companionship. But for your claim, it is vital to jot down on a piece of paper the pain and mental anguish you go through after an accident so that it can be easy to make the court or the insurer understand what you have been through due to the injuries.
- Exemplary and Punitive Damages
These damages are provided for by Chapter 42.005 of the Nevada law. The judge allows the plaintiff to recover dollar value when the conduct by the defendant consists of fraud or oppression. These types of damages are not based on losses; instead, they seek to punish the wrongdoers and make them an example to deter others from committing similar wrongdoings.
NRS 42 defines malice as an act that is intended to injure or wrongdoing with a conscious disregard of the safety of others. Conscious disregard is when you know that you might cause harm to another person by a despicable act and deliberately fail to avoid the wrongful act that might cause harm. In pedestrian accidents, you can receive punitive damages if you were involved in a hit and run accident or if drugs or alcohol-intoxicated the driver of the motor vehicle that hit you.
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident and the court can see malice or oppression in the conduct of the defendant, you will be awarded punitive damages limited to:
- Three hundred thousand dollars if you have been awarded a compensation of less than one hundred thousand, or
- Three times the amount you have been awarded as damages if the amount of payment is one hundred thousand dollars or higher,
There is, however, an exemption for capped punitive damages in Nevada. If the defendant is:
- A producer, seller or distributor of a faulty product
- An insurance company acting in bad faith through failure to provide insurance coverage, or
- A motor vehicle accident caused by a driver who is impaired by drugs or alcohol,
Then punitive damages are not capped. There is no limit on the amount of money you can receive as a plaintiff for your injuries.
- Wrongful Death Damages
Some pedestrian accidents result in death. The spouse and family of the decedent have the right to recover damages for the loss of a loved one. The financial compensation cannot help bring back to life a loved one, but it helps cater to the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Loss of the victim's future earnings
- Any out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills and transport costs for hospital visits.
If a spouse or family member has died in a pedestrian crash, reach out to a personal injury attorney so that you can recover damages for your loss.
Determining Liability in Pedestrian Accident
Both pedestrians and drivers have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care for the people around them. So, you cannot claim that all pedestrian accidents occur because of negligence by drivers. Pedestrians can also be at fault. NRS 484B.280 requires motorists to avoid reckless driving that could risk the lives of other road users and to surrender the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections.
Pedestrians, on the other hand, are required by the same law to use crosswalks and intersections when crossing the streets. Also, they are supposed to use sidewalks, and if sidewalks are impassable, they should keep left and walk when facing traffic and be careful not to step in front of oncoming traffic.
There are several ways in which pedestrians can be at fault after an accident. These ways include:
- Wearing dark clothing at night while using the road
- Darting into the street
- Failure to look out for oncoming motorists when crossing the road
- Distracting a driver intentionally
- Deliberately throwing items on the way
With proper investigation, where you, as a pedestrian, violated the law, you will be found to be the person at fault. Breaking traffic laws, however, doesn’t mean that you are to blame for the accident. Other several considerations must be made.
When it comes to the issue of filing a claim against the insurer or filing a lawsuit, the behavior of the defendant and the plaintiff will come into play. When bringing a claim against an insurer, don’t be fooled to think that they are on your side. They are after making profits, so they will try anything to deny you the claim or reduce it. Some of the ways they might use to deny or minimize your request include:
- Assigning claim agents many cases, which prevents them from doing a thorough investigation
- Undervaluation of past, current, and future medical expenses
- Underplaying the harm or injuries sustained in the accident
- Denying you the claim by blaming you for the crash
If you decide to go for a lawsuit, evidence will be gathered against you, including the videos and pictures of the scene. All the statements by the witnesses and even those that you made during an insurance claim will be used as evidence too. Therefore, it is wise to build a strong case by hiring an excellent personal injury attorney to enhance the chances of compensation.
Find an Excellent Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law Firm, we commit ourselves to ensure victims of a pedestrian accident get the compensation they need to recover from the injuries and other losses. We gather substantial evidence to back your claim, thus increasing the chances of the right compensation. Reach out to us today at 702-996-1224 for a free consultation.