Do you need Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Nevada?
Everyone who lives in Las Vegas and owns a motor vehicle is required by law to have at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in liability insurance coverage. If you do not have this, you cannot legally register the vehicle. This is because it is necessary for owners of motor vehicles to have coverage for any damages caused by an accident that you may be responsible for. Having said that, most drivers don’t realize that liability insurance alone may not be enough. If you don’t have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), then you may find yourself without any compensation for an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Many people have not heard of this coverage or don’t know what it is, so they don’t purchase it with their car insurance policies. Those who don’t often wind up without enough compensation for their damages when such accidents occur. When you hire an attorney, he or she is likely to seek damages from the negligent driver’s insurance policy, which may be no more than the minimum $15,000 per person per accident. If your damages are much higher than this (and they probably will be), and you don’t have UIM coverage, then you will not receive the compensation that you deserve. If the at-fault driver has no insurance at all, then you are left without any compensation, unless you’ve purchased UIM coverage. This situation is more common than you may believe, with over 12% of drivers in Nevada operating their vehicles without insurance.
Filling the Gap with Adequate Coverage
When you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver, you can face tens of thousands in medical expenses, lost wages, repair costs, and more, with no means of seeking recovery for these damages.
Purchasing UIM coverage can make all the difference in a case like this. It won’t typically help with property damage, but it will provide a means of filling the gap between what the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover and what your actual losses are. UIM coverage will cover things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
In Nevada, purchasing uninsured motorist coverage will also provide underinsured motorist coverage. Whenever your damages exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, you will be able to receive compensation from your own UIM insurance coverage policy, up to the amount of coverage that you’ve purchased. For example, if you have $15,000 of UIM coverage, and the at-fault driver has the same amount in liability coverage, then you can collect up to $30,000 from the combined coverage of both policies.
What Should You Know About Texting and Driving in Nevada?
These days, there are plenty of automobile accidents that are caused by texting and driving. Distracted driving (which includes texting, talking to passengers, talking on the phone, applying makeup, traveling with a pet, etc.) is one of the most common causes of automobile accidents in Nevada, with texting leading the list of distracted driving risks. More than 3,000 fatal accidents and over 400,000 injuries were caused by distracted driving in 2003. Because of this, different states have responded by creating new laws regarding distracted driving.
Texting and Driving Laws in the U.S.
There are only four states in the U.S. that do not ban texting and driving (Missouri, Texas, Arizona, and Montana). Most states (plus DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and Virgin Islands), including Nevada, have a total ban on texting while driving.
Nevada Texting Laws
In Nevada, texting was banned for all drivers while driving early in 2012. This ban includes using handheld devices (like cell phones) to access the internet. If you violate this law, you will have a fine of $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses within seven years. Beyond the first offense, all subsequent offenses hold an additional penalty of four demerit points applied to your driving record. This can mean that your license will be suspended or revoked when you get too many points. To accumulate 12 demerit points in one year will result in your license being revoked for six months. You can also end up with an extended period of higher insurance rates.
Because Nevada’s texting while driving laws are primary laws, the police can pull you over for texting and driving without any other traffic violations occurring. In some states, the police have to witness another traffic offense (like speeding or reckless driving) to pull you over and issue a citation for distracted driving.
Exceptions to Distracted Driving Laws
There are some exceptions to the distracted driving laws in Nevada, including the following:
- You can briefly touch your phone to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature/function.
- You can use your phone for voice or text to report emergencies/safety hazards/crime.
- Emergency workers/law enforcement/two way radio operators are exceptions.
How is Negligence Defined?
You may be aware that you have a right to file a lawsuit when you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else (slip and fall, car or truck accident, personal injury, etc.). What you may not know is how negligence is defined in these accidents and lawsuits.
There are four primary elements of negligence in Nevada and other states. These elements must be proven to a judge or to a jury if you want to win your case. To illustrate these elements in how Nevada defines negligence, we will use the example of a person who is texting while driving and evaluate the four factors of Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.
Factor 1 – Duty
The first factor to prove in a negligence case is duty. This refers to the duty of the liable party to the injured person, and it must be proven that the at-fault party did have a legal duty or obligation to the injured party to behave in a particular way. For example, a landowner has a duty to keep their property safe when people are on it. A driver has a duty to drive safely and comply with traffic laws. In a texting while driving scenario, the duty of the at-fault driver is established by the legal necessity of not endangering others through distracted driving.
Factor 2 – Breach of Duty
The second factor to prove is that the liable party who had a duty to the injured party has actually breached that duty. This means that he or she did not follow through on their duty to ensure the safety of the injured party by following the law. Thus, it must be proven that the at-fault driver in a texting and driving case breached their duty by breaking the law to text while driving and created the conditions for a distracted driving accident.
Factor 3 – Causation
There are two different types of causation that you will likely have to prove. These are Legal Causation and Proximate Causation. Legal Causation is focused on a “if not for” concept. To illustrate, “If not for the at-fault driver texting, the accident would not have occurred.”
Proximate Causation is focused on the proximity of the cause of the accident to the injury. For example, you cannot claim that the company who sold the phone to the at-fault driver is responsible for the accident because they provided the device that the driver used to break the law. While you might say, “If not for the sale of the phone to the at-fault driver, the accident would not have occurred,” this argument would not hold up with the proximate causation rule.
Factor 4 – Damages
When someone suffers injuries or losses through the negligence of an at-fault party, these injuries are identified as damages, and these damages must be proven. If you are involved in an automobile accident, call an experienced auto accident attorney in Nevada. If you are in an accident with a driver who was distracted by texting, but you escape without any injuries or losses, then you have no damages to prove, and no case against the at-fault driver.