Each year, thousands of people are injured in Nevada car crashes, while more than a hundred others (particularly young drivers) are tragically killed. An auto accident can change your daily life, costing you lost wages, medical bills and ongoing costs, and forever-changed relationships. What steps should you take following an auto accident, and how can a Las Vegas car accident lawyer help you fight for your rights?
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common injuries associated with car crashes, what steps you should take after an accident, and what you’ll need to do (with an attorney’s assistance) to recover the compensation you deserve.
What Injuries are Most Common in Car Accidents?
Each accident is unique, but the structure of cars and the most common causes of accidents means that certain types of injuries are more common than others.
- Airbag injuries, especially to the face and jaw
- Skin lacerations from broken glass
- Traumatic brain injuries and concussions
- Soft tissue injuries like whiplash (which can occur even in low-impact accidents)
- Broken and fractured bones
- Torn, sprained, and strained muscles and tendons
- Internal organ hemorrhage
- Spinal and nervous system injuries
- Neck and back injuries
Not all injuries are immediately apparent after an accident. Some soft tissue injuries like whiplash can take up to a week to develop, while the full extent of damage from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may not be revealed for years.
What Steps Should You Take After an Auto Accident?
The effects of shock and adrenaline after an accident can vary widely from person to person. You may find yourself calm, seemingly unhurt, and fully able to function after an accident, only later to realize you have no memory of the incident or are dealing with hidden or slow-to-develop injuries. This is one of the reasons it’s important to seek a medical evaluation and treatment after an auto accident, no matter how minor.
Some other steps you should take immediately following an auto accident include:
- Get to safety. If it’s not possible to get your vehicle a safe distance from the road, it’s important to get away from it to avoid potentially becoming another target.
- Call the police and EMS. Having a police report that was generated just minutes or hours after an accident can be strong evidence of who was at fault and what damages may have been sustained.
- Take photos or videos of the scene, if possible. Along with a police report, contemporaneous photos and videos can be strong evidence in support of your claim for damages. Don’t forget to take photos of any injuries you’ve sustained; your bruises and contusions are likely to fade before trial, so having photographic evidence of how you were hurt can boost your claim’s value.
- Contact a car accident attorney. You’re likely to be contacted by an insurance company within days of your accident—whether your own insurance adjuster or the at-fault party’s provider. Insurance companies have a financial interest in settling claims as quickly and cheaply as possible, so agreeing to a settlement without seeking legal advice could mean leaving money on the table. An attorney can help value your claim and ensure that you’re getting all the compensation you deserve.
What Will You Need to Prove to Recover Damages?
To recover financial damages from the person(s) or company(ies) responsible for your accident, you’ll need to prove three elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care;
- The defendant breached this duty;
- This breach directly caused your injuries and financial damages.
You’ll need to prove all three of these elements to win your claim. This means that simply proving you’ve suffered damages after an accident isn’t enough—you’ll also need to show that the defendant’s actions directly caused your accident and any resulting damages.
Under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws, plaintiffs can still recover damages from an at-fault defendant even if the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident. As long as the defendant was more than 50 percent at fault, they can be assessed damages—though the plaintiff’s total recovery will be limited by the amount they themselves were at fault. For example, if a plaintiff sustained $100,000 in damages in a rear-end collision but was 40 percent at fault by failing to signal before braking, he or she can recover a maximum of $60,000 from the defendant.
What Damages Are Available?
Under Nevada law, car accident plaintiffs can recover both economic and non-economic damages. As the names imply, economic damages are those that are based on your out-of-pocket costs and expenses after an accident. Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, and include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and (in some cases) punitive damages.
Economic damages that may be available include:
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Medical expenses reimbursed by insurance
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Higher future medical insurance premiums
- Property damage to your vehicle and any items inside
- Physical therapy or rehab costs
- Any costs you’ve incurred to modify your home or vehicle to accommodate the impact of your injuries
Many of these costs may not be incurred for years after an accident, which is one of many reasons it’s important not to accept an initial settlement offer until you’ve evaluated the full extent of your injuries and damages. Once you’ve signed a settlement agreement, you’ve waived your right to recover any future damages—even if you later learn that your costs are more extensive than you believed.
How Can An Attorney Help?
When you’ve been injured in an accident, the last thing you want to do is spend hours on the phone with claims adjusters, filling out forms, or negotiating payment with your medical providers. Having an experienced auto accident attorney can take this stress and burden off your shoulders while providing you with the legal expertise you need to secure a fair settlement of your claims. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf, seek out evidence, consult experts, and take all the other necessary steps to pursue your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.