A 50-year-old woman with possible medical problems lies in critical condition at a local hospital after a serious car wreck.
The wreck occurred near the intersection of McDaniel Street and Lake Mead Boulevard. As the woman slowly made her way across the street outside of a crosswalk, a motorist hit her. Police ruled out alcohol impairment, but they are still searching for a cause.
None of the names were released.
Comparative Fault in Las Vegas Car Wreck Cases
Contributory negligence is by far the most common insurance company defense in Nevada vehicle collision cases.
In most jurisdictions, comparative fault is a two-part operation. First, insurance company lawyers must convince the judge that contributory negligence was a factor. Drinking a soda while driving technically constitutes distracted driving. But most judges would not consider this conduct dangerous enough to invoke the contributory negligence defense.
Second, the jury must apportion fault between the victim and tortfeasor. Sometimes, this phase of the case is quite complex.
The above story is a good example. It appears that the victim was not inside a marked crosswalk and, presumably, crossing against the light as well. Based simply on those facts, a jury might roughly evenly divide liability for the crash (e.g. 50/50, 55/45).
However, there is more to the story. Unless the woman darted out into traffic, and considering the below discussion that’s not very likely, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was probably not keeping a very good lookout. Moreover, there is a difference between straying a few steps outside of the crosswalk and crossing in the middle of the street. So, upon further review, the division of liability might be more like 70/30 in favor of the victim.
The percentage division is very important. Nevada is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, if the victim is to recover a proportional share of damages, the tortfeasor must be at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck.
Thereafter, it is a numbers game. The higher the tortfeasor’s share of responsibility, the more money the victim receives.
The “Eggshell Skull Rule” in Nevada
Pre-existing medical conditions are quite common in Nevada and elsewhere. One might think that the comparative fault logic applies here. After all, if the victim has a medical problem that a car crash worsens, that’s certainly not the tortfeasor’s fault.
But from a legal standpoint, there is a big difference between causation and damages. It would be wrong for tortfeasors to receive financial windfalls because of the status of the victims.
That’s where the eggshell skull rule comes into play. The foreseeability doctrine is suspended in these situations. The tortfeasor is legally responsible for all damages that result from the car crash, and not just some of them.
That includes things like bad knees or a heart condition.
Work With an Experienced Lawyer
Pedestrian-auto accidents often cause fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. We routinely handle matters in Clark County and nearby jurisdictions.