When a Nevada car accident causes personal injuries and/or property damage, state laws affect what happens next. This article examines a few key Nevada laws on traffic accidents, including the time limits for filing a court case and how Nevada's "modified comparative fault" rule might affect the claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Nevada?
If you suffer personal injuries or property damage (or both) in a car accident, you have two years to file a lawsuit in Nevada. (Chapter 11, Sec 11.190.)
The two-year "clock" starts to run as of the day of the accident. For instance, if your accident occurs on October 1, 2011, you must file a lawsuit before October 1, 2013 in order to have your case heard by the court. If your lawsuit isn't filed in time, you risk being shut out of court altogether. This rule is known as the "statute of limitations," and it's pretty unforgiving.
It's important to keep in mind that this two-year deadline only affects cases filed in court; it doesn't govern how long you have to file a claim with an insurance company. But it's a good idea to file your insurance claim quickly. That lets your insurance company get started investigating your case and negotiating a settlement, so that you can start receiving the funds you need. But filing your insurance claim promptly also means you're more likely to have time left over in the two-year "window" so that you can still go to court if negotiations fail.
(Note: Drivers involved in crashes on government property or with a government employee will need to play by different rules. You'll need to get a claim filed quickly, and with the right government agency, in order to protect your rights. More information is available in our article Accidents Involving the Government: Claim Basics.)
What If I'm Partly at Fault for a Nevada Car Accident?
When you file a lawsuit after being injured (or suffering property damage) in a car accident, you may end up going to trial. Part of the purpose of a trial is to determine who is at fault in the crash. Another purpose is to figure out what dollar amount -- known as "damages" -- will fairly compensate you for all the losses that would not have happened but for the accident.
Nevada uses a "modified" comparative negligence rule when it comes to calculating damages. A "modified" comparative negligence rule works something like this:
Suppose that, in your case, the jury decides that the total dollar amount of your damages is $100,000. The jury also decides that you were 10 percent at fault in the accident, and the other driver was 90 percent at fault. Under the "modified" comparative negligence rule, you will receive $90,000. This is the total amount of your damages ($100,000), minus a portion equal to the percentage of your fault (10 percent of $100,000, or $10,000).
The "modified" comparative negligence rule works this way if your fault is 49 percent or less. For instance, if the jury found you were 49 percent at fault instead of 10 percent at fault, you'd receive $51,000 ($100,000 minus $49,000). But if the jury found you were 50 percent or more at fault, your damages award would drop to zero. In other words, you must be less than 50 percent responsible for the accident in order to receive money damages in Nevada.
Nevada's comparative fault rules don't just matter if your case goes to court. You can bet that any insurance claims adjuster who handles your case will have these rules in mind too, when it comes time to figure out who was at fault for the accident -- and who should get what dollar amount in a settlement.
How Do Nevada's Car Insurance Requirements Affect My Claim?
Nevada requires drivers to carry certain types (and certain amounts) of auto insurance coverage. To learn more about these requirements and how they might affect your claim, see our companion article, Car Insurance Laws in Nevada.